“Those Pants”…Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones

Stephanie Gish posing in those pants for her blog post

Most women have “those pants.” You know, the ones we wore 20 years ago or the ones that we keep in our closet because “one day” we’ll fit into them again…

My weight has fluctuated over the years, admittedly not very much, only +/- 10 pounds since I graduated high school 20 years ago (with the exception of my first Crohn’s flare when I rapidly lost more). But even still, I have (like I’m sure many of you have) received countless comments over the years related to how I look and my weight; people notice when I gain five or lose five…and some actually make comments, good and bad.

So, these are my pants… “those pants.” These are the ones I can’t get rid of, even though I rarely wear them. I’ve had these since high school and in some ways they’re worse than the scale. Many people close to me would probably be surprised to learn that I’ve spent years either berating myself or congratulating myself based upon whether these pants fit…and how they fit. Loose, snug, somewhere in between…

Between Crohn’s Disease, three fitness competitions, endless weigh-ins during my time in the Army, and society’s image of perfect…I have developed bad relationships with food and myself that I still continue to struggle with and work to overcome.

So why am I sharing these deep inner thoughts?

Because I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

Although I stay active, being fit and staying at the shape I want does not come easily. For most of us, it takes constant work and focus. But here’s what’s interesting…15 years ago I would spend two hours in the gym every day. I hit cardio hard for an hour and then hit the weights hard and heavy for an hour. I looked great, but my life revolved around working out and dieting–there was nothing else.

Fast forward to today, I don’t go to the gym at all. In fact, I rarely workout for more than 20 minutes at a time. Most days I just drop and do some pushups throughout the day and make sure I get in brief, quality walking sessions and rebounding. Although I’m not ready to get on stage and compete, overall I’m happy with how I look and my life is far more fulfilling than solely focusing on the next competition or whether my six pack abs could turn into eight–the level of obsession I had was, no doubt, damaging.

But this shift in mindset hasn’t been easy and it still takes continuous effort to remind myself every day what my goals are and that the scale or what I see in the mirror does not define me. Through the years, I’ve learned to find balance. I’ve learned how diet and fitness can play a role in my life without actually being my life. It may sound strange, but eating a ketogenic diet and following daily intermittent fasting has given me the boundaries I need and a solid/effective framework that I can operate within–I need that for my type A personality. Keeping my diet in check does far more for my body composition than hours in the gym ever did…as I’m sure you’ve heard countless times, you can’t outrun a bad diet and abs are made in the kitchen. So, I no longer count calories or macros, I’ve learned to listen to my body (though it’s still a learning process), and I focus on what’s inside–not what’s visible on the outside (which should be easy for someone with an invisible illness!).

I’ve also given myself new goals for fitness. It’s not about how long or how hard I can go in the gym anymore or whether I can beat my previous time on a HIIT workout, but whether I can still move with a wide range of motion, retain my flexibility, maintain my strength, and just be functional in my life. I’ve learned to adapt my training and understand now (after many years of lifting and training) that there are many ways to be active and healthy. I’ve learned various techniques and training methods over these past 20 years that all give me the end result that I want. There’s always more than one right way.

Here’s what’s most important though. At my current weight, people like me. When I weighed less, people liked me. And when I weighed more, people liked me. Your weight does not measure who you are. It has nothing to do with your character.

Yes, I’m still critical of myself. I still have negative thoughts about what I see in the mirror. I still nitpick…and for every one photo I post on Instagram, there’s probably 20 more I deleted. It takes practice to replace these kinds of habits that some of us have been doing our entire lives. So, my one simple tip for how I’ve been combating this bad habit (and it still takes practice) is that for every negative thought I have about my physical appearance, I make myself stop and think of two positive things about my character instead.

If I criticize my thighs in the mirror before I have a chance to stop the negative thought from coming in at all, I force myself to pause and remind myself: that doesn’t matter. The fact that I’m a good listener for my friends, that I spend time volunteering, and that I work hard to do my part at work and in society are what truly matter.

To all women (and even the men out there), be kind to yourself. Be cognizant of how you treat yourself and make the conscious effort to change your negative thoughts to good ones. I know it’s not easy, trust me, I’ve been doing this for 20+ years, but it gets easier and you’ll be happier for it.

Always be proud of how far you’ve come, what you’ve achieved, and who you’ve become. Every one of us will always be a work in progress. Don’t get stuck being focused on “those pants” or the scale or anything else you want to nitpick. I’m a big believer in self improvement, but our goals for self-improvement should focus around our overall health, our happiness, being better humans, and spreading love in this world. ❤️

“But you don’t look sick.”


steph smiling despite battling chronic invisible illness

My heart was racing at 100 beats per minutes. My skin was pale. My hands were cold and clammy…

Let me rewind 48 hours and take you back to Thursday with me.

My legs were weak when I arrived at work and walked down the hill toward the chapel on our school campus. I hadn’t worked out, yet my legs felt wobbly. Our seniors were graduating and every year we hold a Baccalaureate service to honor and celebrate them as they prepare for college and the next chapter of their lives. Continue reading ““But you don’t look sick.””

My top 6 tips for fighting Crohn’s Disease


Cover image of my top 6 tips to fight Crohn's Disease

I often get asked what I do to manage my Crohn’s. I’ve been battling Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) since my first major flare back in 2006. I did OK on biologics–never really having complete relief from my symptoms–but, I’m now on my second attempt at going medication free and about to hit the three year mark (my first attempt got derailed when I decided it would be OK to binge on Papa John’s pizza and cinnamon knots on the weekends…bad idea).

While everyone with IBD is different, I believe there are great benefits to learning from each other. So today, I’m sharing my top six tips for managing my Crohn’s Disease. Continue reading “My top 6 tips for fighting Crohn’s Disease”

Kidneys, fatigue, and Crohn’s


Ironically, two weeks ago I was planning to sit down and write a blog post about how I stay motivated to workout every day. No, I don’t spend 1+ hours in the gym everyday like I did when I trained for my fitness competitions (I’m getting too old for that and have too many other things to do–like drink wine and go boating!), but I’ve been working to refine my efforts so that what I do to stay fit and healthy is enjoyable, effective, and quick–with no room for excuses. But here I sit, writing to tell you that I have not worked out in two weeks. This is rare for me.

Continue reading “Kidneys, fatigue, and Crohn’s”

Crohn’s and a few more bumps in the road (part 1)

It’s been nearly three months since my last post…but in my defense, I ran off to Hawaii and got married, flew to Newport Beach to buy a boat with my husband of one week, and then turned around and went right back to California for a little wine tasting straight from the barrels in Napa Valley. In hindsight, I’m not really sure if that qualifies as much of a defense, but it’s definitely been a chaotic couple of months of traveling, stress, diet changes, and Crohn’s management.

wedding and boat collage
Continue reading “Crohn’s and a few more bumps in the road (part 1)”

I’m a podcast special guest!

A couple of months ago, I was asked to be on the Run Eat And Lift podcast hosted by Anthoney (@thelabstrength) and Lindsey (@ontherunfit). We covered a lot of health and nutrition topics from sourdough and ketosis to uBiome and Crohn’s. This was really fun to be a part of and I think you’ll enjoy the episode. As I mentioned, we actually recorded it a couple months ago, before I went carnivore, so we definitely talk about more than just meat! The episode went live and aired for the first time yesterday.

Run eat and lift
Continue reading “I’m a podcast special guest!”

A ribeye a day to make the Crohn’s go away… (My Crohn’s 2.0 diet)

No more messing around, I’m pulling out all the stops and embarking on a short, experimental detour in my Crohn’s journey. Pour yourself a drink, sit back, and keep reading if you’d like to come with me…I’m going on a zero-carb, plant-free, all-animal diet.

I know some of you who know me well may be confused right now, because you’re already under the impression that all I currently eat is meat. Contrary to popular belief, I have tried to incorporate lots of vegetables, nuts, and fruits into my diet over the years, only to regret the decision 99.8% of the time.

Continue reading “A ribeye a day to make the Crohn’s go away… (My Crohn’s 2.0 diet)”