Lori Bell does not let fear hold her back– she harnesses it to propel herself forward. “When something scares me, I know I should pay attention. If it elicits a response from me then that is a huge signal.”
As the 2010 Military Spouse of the Year and Founder of the National Association of Military Moms and Spouses (NAMMAS), Air Force spouse Lori Bell has never allowed the military lifestyle to hold her back from her goal: creating communities and programs that directly help military spouses meet personal and professional success. And now, Lori has a new mission: empowering spouses by encouraging them to say YES to life and NO to the fears that hold them back.
Her new mission, however, sprung out of an unlikely journey for Lori: one that began with a single…rep.
Since 2010, Lori and her family have moved three times, from Alaska to Washington DC, to Rhode Island and now recently, to Oklahoma City. It was during her time in Rhode Island that Lori started to get serious about a fitness goal she’d considered briefly in her twenties. “Back in 2012, I lost weight with a health program that another military spouse was doing. When we moved to Rhode Island, I wanted to kick it up a notch and I knew that I needed to reach higher.” Lori remembered a friend she met while stationed in Okinawa who performed in figure competitions, a sport that includes men’s and women’s bodybuilding and physique categories. Initially Lori reached out to her to inquire about her diet-her friend’s answer surprised her. “If you really want to commit to the sacrifices of a figure competitor’s diet,” she suggested, “you should consider competing.”
“I thought that was crazy and I figured I could never do it. I was afraid. I told my husband and instead of agreeing with my fear, he encouraged me to investigate. He was serious: see what it’s about, see what is involved.”
“So I said yes.”
Lori started researching what a figure competition would require of her, her diet, her schedule and the impact of it all on her family. With a busy home life and three children, she wasn’t sure how she would find time to exercise at the level required. But, she had committed herself to the yes and on December 27, 2013 she started training for her first competition.
Hiccups Along The Way
There were a few hiccups along the way, but it was from those trying experiences that Lori found the path to success–a path she’d like to share with other spouses.
Lori was initially overwhelmed. With no laid-out or proven course before her, the end goal seemed unattainable. “I remember walking my daughter home from school, and I had a conversation with God. I asked Him out loud: what do I do? And through thoughts from within, I heard Him say to me: Everything you need: your entire life, everything, all the wealth, all the health, even time exists only in this moment. You can’t control life or plan so far out. All you have is right now; you don’t need all the steps in the process, you need to commit to the first step.”
And so Lori focused not on the overall goal, but the daily steps. “I had to commit every day and decide every day until one day it was no longer a choice I had to make, it was now a habit.”
There were other obstacles in her path. “I had to overcome a lot of body shame. I never really talked about the way I thought my belly looked, but I had to reframe my story around it if there was any chance of competing. So one day, I looked in the mirror and said ‘it is what it is. Stretch marks, saggy skin. Whatever! These are my battle scars, I got these from birthing my kids and becoming a mama.'”
But she wasn’t able to reach that point alone.
Frustrated with her lack of progress and diet that yielded no results, Lori switched to a new figure coach in the middle of her training. The change was remarkable. She dropped thirty pounds, decreased her body fat from 33% to 21%, and her final goal was no longer a faraway vision–it was within her daily steps. After five and a half months of training, Lori stepped onstage for the first time as a figure competitor on May 31. Her hard work was evident as she won third place in her division and fourth place overall.
But the lessons Lori learned from the hiccups and missteps along the journey–the importance of a top-notch support team, dedication and daily progress–pushed her to think beyond her personal fitness goal and bring those lessons to her fellow military spouses, and the goals in their lives. “We think we have to do it [live life] all on our own. I can see even now that you don’t have to do anything by yourself. If you learn how to link on to the right people, your vision will get clearer.”
Expanding The Mission
“I began to ask those simple questions: what DID make this different? What happened to me on this transformational experience? And for the first time I realized that what made it different wasn’t that my circumstances were different. We were still a military family, I was still a stay at home mom and we still had the same challenges. What changed was I finally stepped up to the possibility of becoming someone new. I simply said yes to the process of becoming the person I needed to be.” Why is saying yes important? Because, as Lori details, it’s the simple act of saying yes that gives momentum to future opportunities. Take, for example, a wedding proposal. The simple act of saying yes opens the door to new plans: dress shopping and wedding planning, the melding of two families and the creation of a new one.
“People frustrate themselves by setting goals and not getting them. Then they begin to question the why behind it. Why didn’t I reach it? Did I work hard enough? What did I do wrong? I think it’s time for a different question. If we ask ‘who do I need to become in order to achieve this goal’, we open ourselves up to a whole new level of mindset, attitude and habit changes. By saying a whole-hearted ‘yes’, meaning no matter what it takes or how long, you position yourself to be the person you need to be to get what you want to get.”
The Yes Process
Lori’s first steps in expanding her new mission come in the form of a podcast, to be found at www.theyesprocess.com. During the podcast, Lori hopes to help all spouses experience their own unique transformation in any area of their lives by practicing The Yes Process. She plans to do this by sharing her own journey, and the stories of other men and women whose lives dramatically changed when they engaged The Yes Process. “As military spouses, we know there are tons of opportunities to get involved, serve, or work on personal goals. But many times we forfeit forward motion when we dismiss the small yes’ as an inconvenience. You arrive at new base and you want to make friends. Someone invites you to coffee or a group. You’re inclined to say no because maybe Scandal is on or the house is a mess or a million other excuses. Instead of falling back on saying no, step into a ‘yes’ action! You don’t know what impact you can make and what you’re missing because you’re too busy looking inward. Remember, if you’re not saying yes, you’re saying no.”
Eventually, Lori’s end goal is to start a movement and organization of spouses dedicated to changing their lives and the lives of others through the yes process-much like she did when she founded NAMMAS and her signature program, ‘Prosper Where You’re Planted Boost Camp.’ Yet as she learned through her figure competition and her previous experience, she’s taking it one step at a time, moving forward by clearing the path. She invites you to take the journey with her, building the right kind of support for one another in the knowledge that success and goals are not achieved alone. “We’re not waiting any more. The excuses are over, the time is now, and all that counts is what you say and what you do in this moment.”
Lori’s Easy 3-Step System For Fearless Goal Achievement
1. Decide. Decide what you want and when you want it. Write it down using what Lori calls a Dream Sheet. Don’t consider how you will accomplish it, just decide that you will. A firm decision leaves no room for Plan B. Any other consideration steals energy and focus from Plan A.
2. Commit. This is your ‘Yes’. Commit to the process of becoming who you need to be in order to achieve your Dream Sheet desires. In Lori’s philosophy, these are your Yes Actions, or the tasks required to carry out your process.
3. Win. You win everyday! Every time you follow through with Yes Actions from your Dream Sheet this brings you closer to the life you imagine! Keep your focus on winning because winners are achievers.
Visit www.theyesprocess.com to get your free MP3 download and PDF quickstart guide where Lori shows you step-by-step how to fearlessly create the life you want with the military life you get!