Pursue What Matters
Episode 32: Facing Fears with Andi Veenker
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
I’m so excited for our podcast today. I first met this woman years ago in the gym, who meets people in the gym. I’ve met a lot of cool ladies in the gym. And this lady is one of them. So I’m so excited to talk with her. She’s got a lot of great life lessons and perspective for us. So join me as we get to know this great lady.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:23
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the pursue what matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So today, we’re talking to someone I’m so excited to get to know a little bit better. So I met her years ago at the Rec Center, right at the rec center. And I remember when I first met her, I was just so struck, she was so nice. So, so nice. And that was the first thing that I was struck by And so we’d always like chatted up, you know, at the at the rec center. And then I remember moving on, I don’t know if you remember this, but I remember moving over to a different gym. And it you know, it’s kind of a little bit more gymshark. Right? You know. And I would, I would see you there occasionally. But I remember one of the first times I ran into you, I said, Oh, it’s so good to see you. I said, Do you know do you come here very often. And I remember you said something, something to the effect of, Oh, I don’t come here very often. It’s not very good for my health. And I. I remember, first of all, it was really to me, it was so funny to me. But then I just, I just thought, I’m impressed with this girl. I just thought that is a woman who understands herself. And I was actually so impressed with that. And I’m like, I want to get to know her better. Because that’s some really good self awareness. And I thought, well, that is there’s a lot of truth there for so many of us. Yes, but
Andi Veenker 2:28
I’m already grabbing tissues
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:32
So anyway, that’s, that’s a little bit of the history of kind of how I have have understood you. And so I’m just so excited to get to speak with you. So we’re talking today with Andi Veenker, who is she’s my neighbor. That’s what I figured out later. Like, we live just a few blocks away. And now I get to see her most mornings at the gym, which has been really fun. So I’m so excited to have you here. And so here is here is just the briefest of introductions, but then we’re gonna have Andy, tell us a little bit more about her. So I love this little introduction. So this is what she This is what she said. She said, I’m Andi. I’m a mom, a wife, a barbecue connoisseur, specifically ribs, a bodybuilder, a fitness enthusiast, a lover of all things self help, including Tony Robbins, Mel Robbins, and Baskin Robbins, really all the varieties, Robin, and I’m like, amen. That’s it.
Andi Veenker 3:38
That sounds pretty good. And then after this, Melissa is going to go change her last name to Robbins, too. So there you go. Smith Robbins.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:45
There you go. I’m gonna fit right in there. That sounds that sounds awesome. So okay, so first of all, thank you so much for joining us. I’m really excited about this. So tell us a little bit about yourself Andi
Andi Veenker 4:01
So many things. I’m just kidding. Not that much, medium things. I’m like Melissa said I’m a mom. I have two little boys. They’re my favorite part of waking up. And also there it’s just so fun. I so two little boys one super sent sensitive. My my spirit child. And the other ones just a little sass. So he keeps me on my toes. And then I am a fitness director at my local rec center.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:32
Oh, I didn’t know that. Okay.
Andi Veenker 4:35
So things have been a little busy. A little crazy. Yeah, but I also love doing stuff like bodybuilding. And I’ve really, really loved venturing into a new division this year. And I’ve been doing bodybuilding for like four years now. And so it’s been things things are also Oh yeah. And I’m also married to a really nice guy. Scott.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:57
He’s like what am i, chopped liver?
Andi Veenker 5:01
So he’s out there, shout out to him. He’s really nice, very supportive. So I, I’m just kind of that person that I’m in high school. I remember taking like those career aptitude tests. Yeah. And every single time it was totally different. And just because I’ve always well, I want to do everything. I’m obsessed with learning and trying whatever I can. I love putting myself out there and doing scary things because it makes me feel alive. Like I love a good challenge. And, and luckily, I found a guy that’s really supportive. And he, here’s my crazy ideas. And he’s like, All right. All right. This is gonna love it’s been it’s been super fun. So that’s, I think that’s me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:46
that’s so that’s so cool. Yeah. And you know what i have what I have learned. So I agree. I’m similar that way. Like, I love the challenge. I love learning. I love taking on things that that scare me just a little bit. But what I’ve learned over the years is not everyone is made that way. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It kind of it kind of surprised. Everyone was Yeah, show it. Yeah. Yeah. But isn’t it great when you have someone in your life? Who can support that? Yeah, yeah. Because I yeah, with my husband, he’s always when I tell him my crazy ideas. He kind of like shakes his head, like, Oh, here we go. Yeah. Yeah. And his response is always what’s the worst that could happen? And usually, it’s like, wow,
Andi Veenker 6:34
This one’s pretty bad.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:36
Yeah, exactly. But okay, so tell us tell us a little bit more about. Let’s talk about bodybuilding just a little bit. At because, you know, that I mean, that takes huge commitment. And then, you know, that can for a lot of people that can be all consuming. You’ve been doing that for four years, and then you, you just just barely mentioned you’re competing in this new division. Tell us about that, as well. And, you know, some of what that has looked like in the past year for you
Andi Veenker 7:11
So much. I’m just kidding. Um, so when it comes to bodybuilding, I think a lot of people hear the word bodybuilding and get intimidated or they visualize the giant muscle bubble, you guys are on stage in a speedo. So I do want to say that there’s like a lot of a lot of sides of bodybuilding. And sometimes it gets a bad rap. Yeah, so
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:30
a lot of misunderstanding, misunderstanding.
Andi Veenker 7:33
And so I do want to say that it is really hard sport. And unlike, unlike any other sport, this is this is kind of like that, why it has like that bad connotation, it’s like the only sport out there, that is completely subjective. It’s, well, it’s a very subjective sport. And so it takes a lot of hard work and discipline, discipline, eating, training, and work. But then also, you kind of go to stand on stage in front of a lot of people, with among a lot of people that have been doing the same amount of work, same amount of training, and it’s just all completely left to judge preference. There’s no qualifications of like, what makes someone a winner, more like things to like guidelines to follow. It’s all a very subjective sport. And so it’s like
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:20
10 minutes on a stage or less, five minutes, five minutes on
Andi Veenker 8:24
my division we get two, and that’s the longest most divisions get. And so it’s, it’s a very challenging sport. And I think that’s why people have such a hard time where they when they hear think about bodybuilding, but I will say that it is it is very fun as long as you’re in like the right headspace. And I think the biggest the biggest exercises come in that mental department and making sure that you’re okay, but I do. I do love it. I there’s something that has been super empowering about being able to have that discipline, I feel like discipline is a very important and value that I have I like I value discipline so much. Yeah, and being able to, to commit to things. I’m a huge committer. And I think, and I don’t know where that came from, like I was trying to reflect being like, why do I have such like a hard core love for people that come in? And I think it’s just because I’ve always been someone that just if I want to do something, I go all in. Yeah. And so bodybuilding has kind of been that venue that I could do that in a healthy, healthy and like guided way. It’s been awesome. Um, but it’s been it’s been so much fun. Like, it’s just, it’s it’s very, I don’t know, I just love hard stuff. Like I said before,
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:43
yeah. And that. I mean, it’s the way that you describe it. This is so true, right? I mean, it requires so much commitment, so much focus. It’s not for the faint of heart, but to keep it on the right side of That mental space is is probably a balancing act, I would imagine,
Andi Veenker 10:06
especially especially when you have kids, I feel like Yeah, I think that’s been it’s been a very positive thing. But again, you have to, like walk this like really specific line. Like, I have to be very careful around my kids to make sure that my goal is they know, my goal is always overall strength, health and wellness instead of just appearance. And that’s a very difficult thing to, like, we can go into that, but, um, but it’s been it’s still super fun. And it’s, it’s really important to me to show my kids that I believe in doing hard things and overcoming hard things. My, my brother in law said something that was really cool. He was like, why he’s like, it’s astounding to me, people that choose to do hard things he’s like, because there are people it’s like a specific breed of people that love hard things because they they pick and choose these hard things to accomplish. So when hard things really come in life, it’s like I’ve already done one hard thing. What’s another one? Right. And so I love that mentality too. And bodybuilding just kind of feels that for me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:04
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you you find out what you’re made of. Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s great. And I think it is, it is kind of unique. That is, yeah. So tell us about this new category. I’ve seen some of what you’re doing. And it’s so remarkable. Really cool.
Andi Veenker 11:25
So the division that I do is called fitness. There are a bunch of different divisions, especially for women. It’s, they have like bikini which is most popular probably. And then like figure and those are all like about posing and different physiques. But fitness is a totally different beast. Yeah. And it is, it’s awesome. Because it’s like, not only do you cut down to look fit, but you have to be athletic as well as got something to like, look good. And I always we always joke like, my friends might be like, I’m not strong, I’m just aesthetically strong. To be able to like, also be strong and do these physical things. Like most people that do fitness are those who grew up doing dance cheer, or gymnastic. Yeah, very, you know, like very strong bodies very good. Is it calisthenics is that it’s not? So it’s just like, very, very strong. Yeah. And so I don’t come from that background. And in fact, I was told when I had a very young age, so like, she can dance like my mom. girl can dance. And so, so it was always like in the back. If we ever ordered as cookies, which is fine. I was like, I’m just happy to be here. Yeah, um, but once I started to get older, I really didn’t like exercise, to be honest. Like I really hated exercise, which is ironic to where I am now. But yeah, my dad always would take us to exercise like every day, I hated every minute of it, and I would get as matching tracksuits. And I would like, wish we could burn them because I hated exercise so much it
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:58
What would he do? Like he takes you right to the rec center,
Andi Veenker 13:03
He’d take me to the rec center and be like, run the track, and I’m like this
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:07
in your matching tracksuits?
Andi Veenker 13:08
In our matching tracksuits. And it was the worst. They weren’t even like the cute sorry, dad. I know, you guys. Like at least asked me the color scheme. were like, trudging the track at the Rec Center, or we would ride our bikes to a local park. And he’d be like, all right, everyone try like a setup. And I’m like, No, my family would jog to like this one park in particular, they would all run together. Everyone’s so happy. And then I would like bag to ride a bike because running is just even still like I don’t run just not enjoy is no fun for me. Yeah, yeah. And so we would get to this park. My dad would be like, Alright, circle your bike around the park and I would just be weeping the whole time. So I was like, This is torture. I just want to eat a loaf of bread. Like exercise enough just get the bread sweats. And call it cardio because this is just torture to go from there, that was like my whole childhood. So much, but then I found a different kind of exercise that like rocked my world. And it was Zumba
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:19
I have never tried Zumba. Like I had decades of cardio like I used to. I used to teach step aerobics in high school and call it I know I was that girl. I was that girl. Yeah, but I hear people that do Zumba absolutely love it. I’ve never done it.
Andi Veenker 14:42
Like Oprah does Zumba. But yeah, Zumba is really fun. Because it’s very different. Like for the first time I like felt like it was a party. And I remember when I discovered it like I would go to clubs being like I want to like hear heavy beats, but I hated being in clubs, because clubs are the worst. Yeah, so it was fine. It was cool to find a place that felt like a party or a club, like the loud music and energy and people, but in such a positive way. And so I totally got hooked on Zumba, love the music, love the movement. And I ended up taking classes to a point where an instructor was like, you should be an instructor, which I’m like, have you Did you hear my story about like the dance teachers that told me I couldn’t dance?
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:24
I’ve been told I can’t I can’t dance.
Andi Veenker 15:26
And so it was like that School of Rock quote, If you can’t do teach, if you can’t teach, teach gym. And I’m like, this totally applies to me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:33
And also like the power of those early messages. I mean, if we’re not careful, they just get lodged in the back of our head.
Andi Veenker 15:43
We totally like slap that label and be like, yeah, I’ll never be a dancer. You’ll never be this.Yeah, it’s true. So if it wasn’t for Zumba I probably would. That silver would probably be my story. Yeah, like, first I hate exercise. And then second, I’m not I don’t dance. I don’t do things like that are scary. And I’m bad at it. But yeah, I started doing Zumba 10 years ago, I became an instructor and I’ve just from there found different outlets and fitness. And I love I love teaching group fitness. I’ve been a personal trainer for eight of those 10 years. And it’s just been the funnest. And so then once I started bodybuilding, I started bodybuilding medium early, and then took a long break until after I was like, settled in motherhood. Yeah. But it’s been it’s been super fun. So I that’s the only background that I had for like coming back to fitness. And so I’ve always seen it my first bodybuilding competition I did in 2011. I did a bikini one because again, it’s like the most popular ones. It’s the only I knew it was not for me. But there was somebody on stage that did this crazy routine. She was dressed in like a jungle outfit. It was like little john rap music playing and I’m like that is going on. That’s what I want to do. And but as I was watching her, I was like, what, what is that? Like, tell me what it is? How do I do it? She’s like, well, I just met with a zoom instructor. And we made that and I’m like, I’m a zoom. And she’s like, I could do that. Yeah. And so then I asked my, I remember, when I started competing again, I asked my coach, could I do fitness? He’s like, Well, do you have a background in gymnastics? No. So he’s like, probably not for you. But let’s try something else. Okay, and so I did something else. And it was okay. But it was really hard to like, want to stay like, again, kind of that mental place. And like I like it’s, it’s the one I did is called figure and you have to be really, really built. And I’m like, I don’t I don’t know where like I can’t compete because I don’t match that physique and really expensive to not even be competitive. So I guess I’m done. Until I met Whitney Jones, who is now there this year, I met this lady Whitney Jones. Yeah, is Miss Olympia, which is the highest title on bodybuilding and fitness. Yeah. And I remember telling her I’m like, you are just all my goals like you. I wish I could do fitness. I’d be awesome. Like, I think I’m done or competing. And she said, You know, I started when I was 30. She’s like, I was like a cheerleader. But then I really started when I was 30. You can do whatever you want.
Andi Veenker 15:55
And there’s the opening
Andi Veenker 16:26
Yeah, I’m like, I’m not even 30. I’m turning 30 next week. And so I’m like perfectly. I can beat her by a year. I was like, I can start now. And so immediately things started to fall into place. Like I found somebody that does fitness here in Utah, which is I don’t know, she’s the only one I know, here in Utah. So she’s helped me. And it turned out that I’m really good at learning skills very quickly, because I’m not afraid to like throw my body into different directions.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:41
Yeah, and I’ve seen videos of some of your moves. And I’m like, oh my gosh. I’m always like, oh, that hurts my wrist. Watching it always hurts my wrists.
Andi Veenker 18:51
Like, I would totally try that. If I didn’t love my wrists really love my groin is so fun to watch, I guess. Yeah, no, but it’s it really it was. It’s been so fun to do something that I felt like I’ve always wanted to do. And but I never thought I could. And so to be able to like start doing it. And it come not easily. Like it’s taken a lot of work times and it feels like I have to do like 10 times work because I’m older than like all these young gymnasts. So I grew up with this background, but it’s been so fulfilling. Yeah. And so worth it. And it’s been fun for me to do something. Not only hard, but something that’s that I’m excited about every day. Yeah, it’s hard to but I’m like, it’s fun. What else can I learn?
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:35
Yeah, absolutely. Well, and I think you know, that that path your story with this highlights such an important point that i think that i think that we see for so many of us on our path to purpose, which is, you know, for so many of us it’s like, like I didn’t know was possible, right until we have someone shows us the path. This, you know, even gives us permission. Yeah, even one person that says you can do this, some one person that says, I did this, or one person that says Why can’t you do this? You know, and so like, it’s so powerful to have people in our life, who gives us permission to dream, right? And I think I think, you know, obviously, we want to be in the place where like, we can give ourselves permission to dream, but it’s so important to surround ourselves with people who encouraged us and support us and say, like, absolutely, you can do this, you know? And, like, I don’t know if you can do it. But why don’t we try? What’s the worst that could happen? Yeah.
Andi Veenker 20:51
It’s hard too that when we have those people in our lives to recognize, I think something that’s been really cool to me is when I’ve had opportunities of people like giving me that permission, as long as I can turn around and be the one that also can give someone else permission. Absolutely. Because I know that there’s, you know, there’s a lot of fear out there, especially when people want to do big things, and are like the ones we love, want to do something big and scary, but you don’t want to see him get hurt. So we’d like to all our fears being like, but what if you don’t win? What if? What if you’re getting hurt? What if it’s a worse than nearly getting heartbroken? instead of like, being that guy, I think the most powerful thing that we could do is turn around to be like, you know what, no, yeah, what’s gonna happen? Yeah, I don’t know what it’s gonna look like. But let’s try it. Yeah, support you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:36
Yeah. And recognizing that there are a lot, a lot of things that are worse than falling through or failing, right, and just recognizing that, you know, the value lies in, in who you become, in the process of that work. Yeah, you know, like, what you what you learn about yourself, like, it’s not in, it’s not in getting the statues or the crown it’s in, although we’re never mad about, we’re never mad, nice in the crowd. But if you become in the process of Gosh, like, I can do hard things. And I’ve, like, I’ve banished some of those old beliefs that have been taking up real estate in the back of my head for all of these years. Like that is so powerful. So I think sometimes, one of the biggest mistakes that we make, is believing like, this is just about a fitness competition. It’s like, no, like, this is so much bigger than that, right? It’s about it’s about living to values and purpose and, you know, honing some of these disciplines over time, and it’s so inspiring. I love it. Okay, so tell us tell us where you’re at with this fitness. Competition. Cuz you got a crowd
Andi Veenker 23:06
So the first show I did, I got second place. But still, um, it’s a very small division. But um, yes. So, um, the top like two people in every in most competitions win and are nationally qualified. Okay, so you just have to place in like, I don’t know if it’s the top two or the top three. But I’m pretty sure it’s just the top two. So after my first show, I was nationally qualified. And I was really proud. But I remember going in it being like, I want to do this show because the overall is a sword. And I wanted a sword.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:38
Well,yeah. Especially with two boys.
Andi Veenker 23:41
I know. Right? And so and, and so I like at one point last year, I got so like hung up with like, achieving things I like had a big vision board that was just packed. And so when I was going into the shows, like I need to clear everything. So I took everything down and my kids and I printed off a giant sword. And that was the only thing on my vision board. And oh, yeah, at Disneyland. Um, I like went into it being like, I’m gonna win the sword and when the sword but again, like totally taking in being like, this is the craziest, coolest process I’ve ever gone to and everything is just worth it. And I left with second place to leave with a sword. But I still left feeling like super proud of what I had accomplished. Yeah, but I was like, I could have I could do better if I try one more time. I’m like, Just give me one more shot. So then last minute, like the week after. I did another show and I got first place which was like, YES! Like it was not planned, but I was not mad about it. And so I get a no two times nationally qualified. So next year I want to do like two more shows, and then go to Nationals. And just practice as much as I can get that stage time because I’ve heard that nationals is a totally different beast because that’s where I’m going to be really up against, like those pros and cons The competition that and the goal is to win and become a pro. But I’m like, yeah, I’m like, I’m just having to remember that I’m like here for the ride and, and putting in as much work every single day as I can. But then honoring my limitations, but just being like, I need to, I still want to, like work as hard as they can to be, you know, have a really good experience.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:25
Absolutely. Whoo. That’s exciting. That’s exciting. Well, congratulations. That’s really great. Okay, so talk to us a little bit about how you, how do you balance having these big goals, right, and goals that scare you? Which I like, I’m totally a fan of having goals that scare you. Right? And but how do you? How do you balance having these big goals and not getting, like not getting overwhelmed by them? And you know, keeping your eye keep keeping yourself focused, right, because like, for some people, they can get so hyper focused, they can get so hyper focused, they can get so obsessed. Sometimes they can, you know, maybe lose the motivation. So tell us about how you how you maintain that balance and that focus?
Andi Veenker 26:24
Well, that’s, that’s a really hard question. Because I think I’ve been, I’ve been in different seasons, where, you know, like, bodybuilding wasn’t a good thing, because I was too obsessed. Or, and, and so, with, with fitness, it’s been nice. And it’s been different. Because it’s been something that’s like fun, but I’ve been able to, to not like how do I say this, like when I go to the gym and train, for example, I’m able to train and then be done. And then move forward. I’ve had I’ve learned, is it Brendon Bouchard? Who talks about Yeah, yeah. So he, he taught me something really powerful through his books, his book High Performance Habits.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:05
Andi Veenker 27:05
I loved it. And it’s really good. Yeah. But he talks about transitions. And so that has been something that was that I’ve really, really focus hard on trying to bring because I’m the kind of person that’s like, at one point, my brain would be like, everywhere at once, or I’d like to see a clock and be like, okay, so 15 minutes, how can I clean my house, send out an email blast. Also post on social media and feed my kids. And, you know, it’s just like, I said,
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:32
I can do it!
Andi Veenker 27:35
And I would push myself. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person that has ever felt that. But it’s like, I would just be so all over the place. And I found myself like this time last year, in that space, always, always, I could never be present wherever I was.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:53
Andi Veenker 27:55
Yeah, it’d be like, my kids would be like, Mom, do you want to cuddle and watch a movie? And I’d be like, yeah, and so I’d be like cuddling. You can’t see what I’m doing, like the finger quotes. And like, snuggling, but in my head is like in work. And I might one hand is like typing something. And so I was never fully present. And so when Brendan Bouchard talks about transitions in between things, that has been a huge, huge tool that I’ve tried to apply. So it’s like, I’ll go to the gym. And I’ll sit there and be like, Gym, go, be present, be where you are. And say, like, because I could totally be like perusing Instagram, like, while I’m in between sets, and that would totally take me away from what I’m doing. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s like, we’re at the gym. And then when I get home, you’re a mom now. Yeah. And when I’m at work, you’re a director now and, and so being able to do that, and then even with my friends, like, we’ve gotten to a point that we like, address what we need from each other by like, calling that that person like director Andy, I need you for a second or trainer. Andy, I need your friend at the I need you. Yeah, and so it’s been nice to like, kind of set up those kind of compartments. I think that has been a huge, huge help, and like the focus department, and then other things is learning to let go of things. And that’s, that’s something I’m, I’ve, you know, it’s I wish we could just totally nail the first time but it’s something I like have to continuously be very aware of is what can I do and what can I control here? And what can I not? And so I don’t get obsessed over things I can’t control and my coach always says control we control our controllables and then we let go the rest Yeah, and and i think that’s it’s a really easy thing to like here in theory, but then to be like, Yeah, but what if I tried a little harder and I could control like, I’m so after my my last show, not my fitness Show. The show I did before in 2017. I did a figure competition or figure division. And after I had a really bad rebound. And so what that means is you put on an immediate kaboom have Wait, I had a bunch of different elements that like all added to this stress, eating the wrong things too fast. And then also a lack of exercise. And. And in like two weeks I put on like 30 pounds. It was that’s the scariest and also the most like mentally and emotionally and like the worst thing that can happen. Yeah. And at that point I really did become obsessed. So it wasn’t even the show. It was like, after being like, I’ve come and I’ve set this really high standard for myself. And I have to stay there. And so that’s really win, like all these huge, bigger patterns of like, distraction and not being present. I would like totally shield myself with all these distractions, so I wouldn’t have to focus as hard on where I was failing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:50
Yeah, so numbing
Andi Veenker 30:52
Yeah for sure. I’m totally What is it called an over when you overdo things?
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:58
Yeah. An over performer.
Andi Veenker 31:00
Yeah, I’m like, What can I load onto my plate? And so I think, coming back, just learning how to transition and let go. That I think that’s the biggest things. And it’s, again, something I’ve not mastered, I have to do it. And we catch myself all the time and being like, Hey, we have we can’t control this. Let it go. Or you’ve done your best today.
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:23
Absolutely. So much. So much wisdom in being able to tell the difference. Right. And okay, like, what can I manage here? And what do I need to let go of? Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, that’s really good. So I used to be an endurance athlete, right. So I used to do triathlons. And yeah, and I am stuff. Yeah, I did. I did step like, way back in the day. But you know, so many people, like they would they train, so they could race, right. And for me, it was always the other way around. I’m like, I race so I can train. And it’s like, I liked like, I like the daily grind. Like, I like being in the gym, because it feels like, for me, that’s kind of my meditation. Right? And I’m like, you live by yourself. Yeah, I’m like, I’m not checking email. I’m not doing anything like that. Because it’s like, like, be where you are, you know. So I love. I love what you said about transitions, because I think I think we unnecessarily stress ourselves out, because we’re trying to do too many things at once. And then we wonder why we’re never present where we are. So that’s great. Really, that’s really good counsel there. So. Okay, so um, okay, so you have like, you have a great following on social media, and I think you like you’re such a positive influence there. So tell us tell us a little bit about that. And how you how you keep yourself centered, you know, with that world, right? Like, it’s, it’s actually, I don’t know, I feel like it’s like, it’s this. It’s this alternate reality, and yet it’s real. And yet, it’s not. And, you know, like, I’m still trying to wrap my head look real. And yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around social media. But, you know, you you really are such a positive force for good there. So how do you how do you keep yourself centered with social media and the folks that you know, really look up to you and no pressure? I know, no pressure at all.
Andi Veenker 33:42
Centered isn’t even a big word don’t like, think do I feel pressure hearing the word that I’m centered?
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:47
Andi Veenker 33:52
I think so. It started four years ago, when I had my second baby. Okay, I finally came up with a story. And in sharing that like with my first baby, I had a postpartum suicidal postpartum depression, okay. And I felt I felt really strongly that was like a good time to finally share that because I’ve been, I’ve been doing the work I’ve been going to therapy for like two years, and really trying to be okay, and then I felt like it was a really good time to start sharing that. And after I had when, after I had my second baby, I had just had a really hard pregnancy. I was bed rested. I had just, you know, like, thought I was overcoming like we we were talking about how we never really overcome things, but yeah, and I thought I had overcome the suicidal depression and then I fall into this really hard pregnancy that I was so sick, I couldn’t take care of my baby. I was very expensive because I had to go to the hospital and yeah, I was like admitted at one point because I was so physically ill. And so to just like, be like thrown back in To this like lonely darkness, after thinking I’d like overcome it, I think was a huge test for me to see if I could, if I could get out of it and find that peace and find that okay state. And so, in that time, too, I had because I was better rested, I couldn’t do anything. And even though I couldn’t keep food down, don’t worry, I still put on 65 pounds. I don’t know, don’t ask me.
Andi Veenker 35:28
I was able to kind of start a new fitness journey, I wanted to start a new chapter of, really sharing what I’ve learned in, in my own mental health journey. I wanted to share how I learned self love, despite putting all those pounds, you know, putting on all this weight and
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:49
Especially where you develop this identity around being fit and fitness
Andi Veenker 35:56
Yeah, totally. Oh, it was a mind trip, for sure. And I felt all this pressure. So to like, kind of go through these these seasons of like, learning to let go of that pressure, let go of this identity and be like, you know, there’s more to me than just being that one fitness. zuba guy and yeah, and, and then also, to just feel like I need to share all these things. And so that’s really, when I started pushing my social media, I started sharing my weight loss, I lost 65 pounds after my first baby, ever my second baby. And then the whole time I started to share, like, how I was doing it, I wasn’t doing any fad diets and why? Because I wanted once once I started sharing, I like really was very prayerful about like the purpose I wanted to, to have behind it, I didn’t want it to be like about validation, I didn’t want to be about showing off. But I really wanted to prove to myself and share with especially women that like you can lose baby weight, you can be healthy, you can be happy, and you don’t have to worry about the scale or do extreme things to get to this happy point. Like you can be happy in the whole process. And, and how to do it healthy and safe. And so I started sharing and it was awesome to see like, very quickly, people started to follow and share and, and reach out being like I have, I’m going through the same thing and, and to really build this community of women that all kind of had my same story. But I was just the first in their life to verbalize it. You were brave. It was scary.
Dr. Melissa Smith 37:34
I bet it was so scary. It’s terrifying,
Andi Veenker 37:37
Especially because you like have this image that you like, portray, like, for me, it was all these things. And so to kind of break that down and be like, honestly, I’m just a regular human with real struggles. And absolutely, and it’s okay, because I know that I’m not the only one. Yeah. And so it blew up from there, which was awesome. And it’s just kind of say that this platform of, of me sharing what I’m doing, but then also being very open.I try I don’t overshare I really can’t generally but I want to be very open and transparent that like I’m I’m although I push myself to do very hard things and it is like impressive the stuff that we can do and accomplish. It’s okay to be real. And it’s okay to like, be okay with where we are. If that makes sense.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:28
And that everyone’s journey is unique. Yeah, right. And that what you’re pushing yourself with doesn’t need to be what you know, she’s pushing herself with.
Andi Veenker 38:29
Or you don’t need to be doing this to be worthy. Or you don’t have to like eat like this.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:46
Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. Wow, that’s incredible. So so you found very quickly that women really connected to what you were sharing. Wow. So how has that been for you?
Andi Veenker 39:01
It it’s kind of gone in waves? because like you said social media is just like a weird thing. Yeah. Because at some points, like I felt really fulfilled like I’ve totally had my fair share moments where I just sit by my phone because I received a message that is so touching. Yeah. And like people just being like, thank you for being this voice or thank you for what you said because I’m going through this. And so it’s been an amazing amazing thing for me to be able to learn how to hold space for people especially for strangers on the internet. Yeah, and and sometimes it’s I’ve had to learn like boundaries being like when is too much for me. When can I set my phone aside and be like I I can’t handle this right now. Yeah, so I need to like put it away but I want to be there for you just wait until I’m like ready to be there for you. Yeah. And then also I’ve gone through waves of people think I’m this way. People think I am like balanced or how do you do all this amazing stuff but they don’t see the truth and And so just trying to like find this middle ground of, of, like not having to be perfect even though it feels like people want me to be on social media looks like people are like, Oh, so always so vulnerable and, and so like willing to share, but there are some things that it’s like, like I really struggle with that, like I do, I do find okay to like, talk about, for example, my journey with mental health. And it’s been an amazing experience for me to share that. But there are other stuff like, earlier last year, I got sick with like leaky gut issues, and I feel like leaky gut sounds like an embarrassing word. I don’t know why. Like, I just like call it like, sick bill. I don’t even know. It’s gotta be a better way. But like, I had to kind of go off the grid for a minute, because I was like, how am I to show up as a fitness person, and I can’t physically get out of bed because I’m so sick, I can’t eat food. And so like, there, there are things like, my I remember, and that time I was going to therapy. I love therapy so much.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:06
It’s like such a gift to yourself. I mean, I’m totally biased that but it is such a gift.
Andi Veenker 41:12
Yeah, it’s awesome to be able to, like learn how to move out of your own way. Yeah, with therapy. Um, but my therapist at one point was like, you’ve always found healing through sharing, why don’t you share this experience? And I’m like, because this one hurts. And so I think, like, there are still some, like patches of life that it’s like, I’m totally okay, being vulnerable with the things I’m okay being vulnerable about. And so fine. I’ve had to learn with social media that it’s like, it’s okay not to share everything. And no one needs to know everything. I don’t ever need to explain myself, why I do what I do. But I’m also just having, just having that knowledge of like, I don’t have to be perfect. They’re not looking for perfect. I just have to be myself. And sometimes myself means stepping away, sometimes myself means sharing what I’ve learned, and sometimes myself means I don’t know, it’s whatever feels like that. So yeah, I don’t know if that answers your, that long winded answer to your question.
Dr. Melissa Smith 42:09
Yeah, no, it’s beautiful. I think it’s great. And this idea of like, that you get to decide and, and being intentional about that. And that the truth is, like, people will, people will project all sorts of things on you, right? Like with social media, and you get to decide how much of that you take on right. And I think, to your point, like, that’s where you have to have some really good boundaries. Because if you’re not careful, like, it’s easy to, like, take that all on. And that’s when I think the social media piece can get really stressful, are you sure like,
Andi Veenker 42:46
Oh my gosh, like, I have to take care of all these things
Dr. Melissa Smith 42:49
Or I have to live up to this image that other people are projecting on me and that and that gets in the way of, you know, what people really connected with in the first place, which is that authenticity. So I love that, you know, you kind of have that ability to say like, okay, like, I don’t need to share everything. And then you have some, you know, self care and that process, because that’s, that’s definitely kind of the name of the game. So can I train.
Andi Veenker 43:22
I try really hard to be also like really prayerful and thoughtful with, with what I share, because I’m like, am I sharing this? Because I want to talk about it, or am I sharing this? Because it could help somebody? Or? Or, like, what is the intention behind this? Exactly? It’s important too
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:39
Yeah, I love that. Well, and, you know, you, you’ve spoken to this, but that’s, you know, one of the things that I’ve also admired about you is your openness about mental health concerns, because, you know, we were talking about this before we started recording, but, you know, there still, there continues to be a lot of stigma around mental health concerns, and there are so many of us that, you know, hide in shame around mental health concerns, and we feel very alone, in in those concerns, but to have, you know, to be able to, to speak openly and to be brave about Hey, like, these are the concerns and, and, and from a place of like your own comfort, like to be able to say like, okay, like, I feel okay, talking about this, like it’s so empowering. And it, you know, it, it gives people permission, right, like we were talking about earlier, you know, you give others permission to do some of their own work, and hopefully they’re not trying to do that work with you. Yeah, that is that. I mean, have there been? Have there been times where that’s felt burdensome? Or do you feel like you’ve been able to have some of those good boundaries where you’re like, Okay, like,
Andi Veenker 45:12
I’ve had to learn, I’ve had to learn my fair share of boundary lessons, I think, yeah. I there’s a speaker named Garrett White. Heard of him?
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:22
Andi Veenker 45:23
He mostly speaks to men. I was like, at this event? And he, he had us like, screaming these like, kind of affirmations. But one of them was, I’m a leader, not a savior.
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:33
Oh that’s great.
Andi Veenker 45:35
That is, that was,I remember, like when he said that he was like, now yell it! And I’m like, I’m not a yeller. But he’s like yelling. So we’re like, screaming, I’m a leader, not a savior. I’m a labor leader, not a savior. Like so many times. And by the end, I just, like, totally caught myself just, like feeling stuff. And I’m like, What is this? What is this? I got to explore this feeling like, why is this? Why is this hurting to say? And I think I realized that I do. I do see a lot of pain through this process. Like when I when I, when you open your heart to sit in darkness with somebody? Yeah, you see a lot. And it’s hard not to be able to take it away. They are like, no one’s taking it from me. Yes. Is it’s a learning process. It’s, it’s essential to learn those those lessons through through those feelings. But to be able to have to learn those lessons of like, I see you, I’m with you. I hear you. But I can’t take this away. Right. But I’m here with you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 46:41
Andi Veenker 46:42
I think that’s been it’s very empowering. But it is, it can be hard. It has especially early on, it was very hard to not be able to rescue people. But it’s been really important for me, I think to learn those boundaries and learn how to help people learn the tools that I’ve learned, to take help them heal themselves, or help them find that healing, but not me be the one to fix it. Yeah. And I think that’s been super valuable.
Dr. Melissa Smith 47:13
Absolutely. Well, and, and, and sometimes the work is, you are helping to shine a light in the darkness. Yeah. And that, and that, that helps them to get to healing. And sometimes it is sitting in the darkness with them. And saying you’re not alone. Right. But yeah, this idea that Yeah, we mean, if we could, if we could rescue them from it, we probably would. But we know who to help. We know that it doesn’t work that way. It didn’t work that way for you didn’t work that way for me. But to to be able to bring light to darkness is pretty powerful.
Andi Veenker 48:00
And to move through it. I think it’s been something else. It’s been really cool. I love that my sister always would say like, when you’re feeling something, move, learn to move through it. And I like never knew what that meant until I really started to like, do that work and realize that it’s like, it’s so there are times where we can like sit with somebody, like we said, like in the darkness. But once you sit and empathize and you and you help them see like they’re not alone, being able to like, you know, metaphorically, like hold their hand and move with them through it. Yeah, like there’s a door and I’ve been there. Yep, let’s go there together. Yep. And I think that’s been the most empowering and fulfilling part of this whole processes. It gets heavy, but knowing that, like either me or somebody else out there has moved through that pain. And they can help us go through it without taking it away without rescuing or ending it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:00
Yep. The obstacle is the way right like you can you can, you can take action. You don’t have to figure it all out today. But what’s one step? One step in the dark? Yeah. Pretty poerful.
Andi Veenker 49:13
You should write a book called One Step in the Dark. And everyone listening should probably read that book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:20
Speaking of, you’ve written a book. Maybe you should write that book, or we’ll write it together.
Andi Veenker 49:27
It’s not that deep of a book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:30
What is that?
Andi Veenker 49:31
I can’t tell you today, but I will in a couple months, I’ll let you know. It’s a children’s book. It’s not as deep as One Step in the Dark.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:45
They’re kind of a counterbalance to each other maybe.
Andi Veenker 49:48
It’s just a cutesy book. Now, we all know Melissa is gonna write one too, so I’m excited.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:54
Okay, that’s good. You need to hold me to that. Because that
Andi Veenker 49:58
August 2021. Every one
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:00
August 2021. Okay, the clock is ticking
Andi Veenker 50:03
You remember the name, I already forgot the name. It was really good.
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:06
I know. Well, we’ll go back, we’ll go back and listen. That’s good. I know. And like, I’ll see her like every morning at the gym. So she’s gonna hound me about it. That’s good. That’s good. It brings up another good point, accountability, you got to have accountability on your goals. Right. So, okay. So Andy, this has been such a pleasure, like, thank you so much for, you know, sharing your perspective and your heart, right? Like you just this is just been lovely. So any, any last words of wisdom or, or wit or anything you want to share with us? And we know no pressure? Yeah, you know,
Andi Veenker 50:47
This has got to be funny. Really?
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:50
See, you did it, you did it right there. So I just, I, I’ll give you the final word, if you want it.
Andi Veenker 51:00
I feel like, I think it’s important to know where we are and, and to honor, honor our limitations, but also never be afraid to do something wild and crazy. And then also not be afraid to be the voice for somebody else to do that to and to, I just want to invite everyone listening, that if you’re the guy, that’s the warning, the warning, red flag guy is looking for reasons to to, you know, to what am I trying to say, you know, I’m trying to say,
Dr. Melissa Smith 51:29
Like, Oh, don’t do that. Scary. Sure.
Andi Veenker 51:32
Are you sure you wouldn’t do that? If you ever catch yourself saying that, like, totally flip it on its head and be like, you know what? Okay. And, and knowing that it’s okay not to understand why people do what they do just love them. Anyway, and, and then also do therapy, because therapy is really awesome. Yeah, I feel like, I should list a lot of things. So I’m just gonna moral wrap up, set boundaries, do therapy, encourage other people, honor yourself, be your best self do scary things, and write a book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 52:09
That sounds that sounds pretty good.
Andi Veenker 52:12
So it’s a really short list of homework for
Dr. Melissa Smith 52:14
so you should be able to do that. Right? You have a week. Yeah, yes. By Christmas. I love it. No, that’s, that’s awesome. So Oh, yeah. Thank you so much. It’s so much fun. You so much fun. So okay, so on. On my website, we will link to your Instagram account. And then I don’t know if you have any other any other links or anything like that. But we’ll we’ll make sure that we have those on the show notes. Because you’ve got to you got to connect with Andy because she’s awesome. And you’ve got to see her fitness routine, because it will blow your mind. It’s pretty cool. Yeah, it is. It’s awesome. It’s so much fun. I love I love watching it. So. Okay, so make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes. With all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-32 So one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-32. So thanks so much for joining us. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai