It’s Not Flashy…

I was chatting with another trainer friend of mine, discussing how frustrating it is to sell what really works. After gaining strength and losing fat, someone will inevitably ask, “How did you do it? What’s your secret?”

Usually it’s asked in a conspiratorial tone, the asker typically wants whatever book, diet guru, meal plan, macro elimination “thing” you must be doing. We so want all the reward with little to none of the work. Perhaps it’s human nature, perhaps it’s a cultural shift – or some of both. We look for the shortcuts.

Especially rampant in the fitness/health industry are the multi-level marketing products. These really get under my skin. The wraps, the pills, the shakes, even essential oils all promise amazing results. And you know what? Some of them actually work – when you pair it with healthy eating and exercise. We don’t have to chase the latest and greatest thing to throw our money at. It’s simply not necessary. Not only do their business practices promote the purchase of (often very expense) products, but it reels in “associates” by promising the ease of a debt free life. Did you know that the majority (like 99%) of distributors in MLMs actually lose money? I know, I know, there is always that one friend you know that makes amazing money doing their thing. But you know what? They worked their rears off to get enough distributors under them selling as well, most likely alienating friends and family along the way. As my friend asked, “How is this not different than a legalized drug trade?” Pushing product on people, asking them to sell it, too.

The bottom line: If it sounds to good to be true…it is.

Gaining health and fitness is not flashy. It’s not New and Improved! It’s not Now Formulated with More Vitamins! It’s not going to be endorsed by your favorite celebrity. (My first thought becomes Dolvett from NBC’s the Biggest Loser. He is endorsing Tropicana orange juice. Seriously? Eat an orange. I doubt he drinks juice outside of that commercial.)  It is not finding some guru who wrote a book to sell. It’s not your neighbor who sells some random product, no matter what those before an after photos look like.

This is what changing your life looks like:

It’s hard. It’s swimming upstream. It’s delaying gratification. It’s moderation. It’s consistency over time. It’s work. It’s persistence. It’s falling but getting back up and trying again. It’s educating yourself, learning what works. It’s getting professionals involved; be it your doctor, a personal trainer, and/or a dietician. (Not some goober on the internet!) It’s doing your homework. It’s long-term. Personally, it’s about saving my life. Every day making the choices that will enable me to live the life I want.

It’s your life, for the rest of your life. Why not do what works 100% of the time?! Exercise and a proper diet work every time, over the long term. Find what you love to do in terms of exercise and go do it! For me, it was a run this morning:

The view on the trail behind mi case
Sweaty, hot and tired!

Running not your thing? No problem – go find something that lights you up and do it! No sense in doing what you hate – that won’t last. Find what gets your heart pumping. Don’t like broccoli? Don’t eat it! Find a veggie you DO like. Don’t look for the easy button. Your life is not Staples.

It may be hard, I know. Change is very difficult.

What I can promise is, it is worth it. 

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The Mental Weight Room

A while ago we were prompted to discuss confidence and describe the things at which we excel. It was a hard post to write in that describing fears and humility can sometimes come off as false, or at worst fishing for compliments. Barf. That’s so not my intention.  I do wonder, though – do we ever totally have confidence? Do we ever arrive? Do we ever just get it? “I’ve got this and life is splendid!” My theory is probably not. There’s always something more to do, more ways to stretch ourselves, and areas where we feel inadequate.

My most recent experience in having courage to take scary steps to confidence is at the gym. Oh the gym! It’s such a weird and wonderful place! There are so many great things about the gym, things that make me angry, and many things that make me stifle laughter. (And yes, I still LOVE my online workout program DB4L!) In every gym I’ve been in, there are different sections that have a sort of unspoken rule about where you go and where you don’t. In my gym (and, honestly, in my head more than reality) these sections are as follows:

The Zumba/Step/Group Cardio Room

Always blasting awesome, thumping music, the Zumba folk go straight from the front desk and/or the childcare drop off area and head right for their class. No stops, no eye contact – straight in. Dance and step cardio only people!

The Cycle Room

25 stationary bicycles, music, speakers and sweat. Duh. My home away from home. *Sigh* I love this place!

The Women’s Only Workout Room

A bank of elliptical machines and treadmills line the wall, with the resistance training machines along the opposite wall with mirrors. There is one squat rack, some dumbbells, stability balls, etc. Most of the machines are older models, refurbished or are missing parts. Why do the women get the crap machines? There are plenty of tools to get the job done, but it leaves a bit to be desired. But what do we care, we’re just reading our magazine on the elliptical anyway. (Yeah, that was sarcasm.)

The Dark Cardio Room

Introvert central! My other happy place. Dark lighting, rows of state of the art treadmills and elliptical machines and you don’t have to interact with anyone! YAY! This room says, “Leave me alone. Let me do my thing. In and out and get it done.” No mirrors in this room so no having to watch people posing for selfies!

The Weight Room

Dominated by males mostly. Lots of ear buds, workout drinks, free weights, not-so-subtle selfies, weight plates clacking and crashing together, and grunting. Occasional swearing. Lots of “Hey bro” kind of talk. People checking out other people. (I live in a college/military town – it’s gonna happen.)  It makes me laugh. But it intimidates me, too.

Every week I eye that free weight area. I salivate over the opportunity to have the courage to walk over there like I own the place and do my thing. Instead, into the women’s only gym I go and do my workout in there. WHY?!

Despite losing 50 pounds (and relapsing and re-losing!), logging countless miles, doing crazy workouts, traveling and paying to do insane mud runs, completing a marathon, and no matter how many fitness certifications earned, I still have trouble believing in my capabilities.  In my head, I’m still the overweight mom that is tired by walking up stairs, that fears she won’t be able to keep up with her kids. I don’t look like a fitness model so I don’t belong in that weight room. I’m the one who wants to be a trainer, but I know I don’t ‘look’ like a trainer. Will anyone even take me seriously?

It’s another one of those let’s stick our foot in the face of fear and just do this already moments.

After arguing with myself, I took a deep breath, went in with workout in hand and did my deal. While outwardly, it was highly anticlimactic, but in my mind? Yeah, in-the-air-heel clicks and fist pumps all dang day! I mentally high-fived myself all over the place! I did deadlifts, back rows, climbed on the assisted pull up machine (unassisted pull ups are on my bucket list!) triceps, planks, hip thrusts – I did everything I had planned and then some! I OWNED that weight room.

I. did. it.

Yeah, the ‘bros’ were in abundance in all their selfie-taking, grunting glory. Smiling, I looked myself in the eye. None of my mental b.s. matters. It’s time to end the struggle in the mental weight room and get out and play in the real one.

I’m gaining strength. Results are coming. I’m seeing muscle mass increases. I’m learning. I’m teaching. I have a voice in this field and I have every right to stand in my own confidence and own this. 

A Dose of Real

Recently over on Single Dad Laughing, author Dan Pearce wrote about what he terms a disease of Perfection. (Please take the time to check it out and read through it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

In the article (that you just read), Dan discusses examples of very real situations, but that we are unable to reveal our true selves for fear of what people around us will think. For a long time, I’ve thought the same thing with regard to Facebook and other social media and wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that when we use social media, we tend to compare our real, messy, uncensored life with the highlighted, glossy, highly edited version of everyone else’s life. This only sets us up for feeling, well, like crap. In Dan’s examples, there are even fatal outcomes in situations when being less than authentic becomes the status quo.

There is always someone out there who is better, more giving, smarter, more fit, less selfish, richer, prettier, stronger, bigger, smaller….whatever adjective you like. Ultimately, there is only one YOU. There is only one Me. If we choose to be someone we are not, if we choose an inauthentic life, even virtually, then we are robbing the world of our voice, our talents and our contribution – whatever those may be. I get that, but it’s still so hard to be our authentic, let-it-all-hang-out selves, isn’t it?

He asks us to take the challenge and add a dose of “real”. So here goes:

I lost 50 lbs in 2011. I have over the last 3 years, gained 35 of it back. I loved the way I felt when I had lost the excess weight. Something changed along the way, however. I still feel pretty darn good most days. I continue to workout, I continue to gain strength, and I can still run half marathons. I still pursue health and fitness. I love moving my body, getting enough sleep, running, and being active with my kids. I care way less what the scale says. I was down to a size 6, now I’m a size 10. I started at a size 16-18. I sometimes feel like I failed because I didn’t maintain that 50 lbs loss, even though I’m in better health than I ever was before my weight loss journey began.

I struggle with depression. Yep. As a person who gravitates to the “light” and the “funny”, I still struggle with it. I’ve even seen a professional to gain tools to deal with it. It sucks. (Which is another reason I am fiercely passionate about healthful food and fitness – it keeps the darkness at bay.)

I am not perfect. We all know this intellectually, but seriously – I am not perfect. I post cute kid pics like most parents, but then there are some days that make me want to tear my hair out. I try to be the best parent I can be. There are days when I am definitely not.

I was fired and was crushed. I was told that my spin class was to be cancelled after only having taught 6 classes. The attendance wasn’t sufficient to continue to offer the class. I love spin, and was just starting to get comfortable. I was fired via email the day before Christmas. It sucked. Last week was the first spin class I have taken since being fired. It felt great to be back.

I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. I love to write. I love to teach. I love health and fitness. I’ve done combinations of all three. I do feel that when the kids are both in school full time, my windows of opportunity will be opening a bit wider and am sensing a shift. I don’t know what I want to do, but I’m excited about future possibilities even though the unknown scares me.

This whole post scares me and I do not want to publish it. Which is exactly why I need to.

Here’s to being real.  What’s your dose of reality?

More Miles

“Mom, I want to run one mile a day for a hundred days. Then I will have ran 100 miles!” – Jacob, 6.

Be still my beating heart.

Out of the blue my son told me this while driving to a haircut appointment. I wasn’t asking him to run, I wasn’t telling him “Hey, you should be active and get some exercise” while I sat the couch.

I’m sure he’s overheard Eric and I discussing plans to allow for me to run and get in my miles these past few weeks. He gets excited to play dodgeball in the back yard. He hears us discussing workouts, eating healthfully, and planning meals. He loves going on family bike rides. He understands why our dogs need plenty of exercise. It’s sinking in. When I lead the kids (and the dogs, for that matter) by example, they will follow. “Do as I say, not as I do” never works.

The fact that he chose running is the cherry on top! It looks like I’ll be continuing my streak at least to 200 – with a really great running buddy!

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Shut Her Up

I set out to run a total of 500 miles in 2014. Late this fall, inspired by my niece, I decided to kick it into high gear and complete a 100 day streak – which would force me to complete my mileage goal. There were days when I really really did not want to get out there and run. Days when I just had to force myself out the door after wearing my running clothes around the house for 3 hours battling that little quitter voice in my head. You know the one. Most of the time that voice tells nothing but lies. Every time I ignore that voice and do what I know will make me feel better (in this case running or working out) the next time that voice gets quieter and easier to shut down. As of today, I have shut her up 100 days in a row.

I shut her up when she told me that a goal of 500 miles was too aggressive.

I shut her up when she said that it doesn’t really matter what I’ll do – I’ll never get “there”. Wherever “there” might be.

I shut her down when she focused on how tired or sick I was*.

She stopped talking when I did my runs on vacation, while moving across the country, and while staying in the Navy Lodge.

I shut her up when she tried to make me feel like a bad wife, or a bad mom because my fitness was taking time away from my family. (As if self care doesn’t benefit them by my not being a raging lunatic!)

She didn’t have much to say when I challenged myself to virtual races, 5K Resolution runs, half marathons and even the Tough Mudder.

And she will shut up again tomorrow when I run 4 more miles to round out the year with 500 miles total.

Fitness doesn’t come naturally to me. That voice and I battle all the time. The more I ignore that voice, the stronger mentally I become. These 100 days have shown me how to deal with the procrastination, the natural laziness, and am so much better for it. I also set myself up for success. If I set a goal, I announce it. That holds me accountable. There is no way I could say “I’m running a streak,” and then not do it. Not a chance. By using Facebook and even this blog – I hold myself accountable.

I just love our running and fitness community.

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How cool is it that people who don’t know each other randomly grin and high five – simply because we are both out there doing our thing? I think it’s AWESOME. 10 days ago I calculated that I would need to run 5 miles everyday to the end to get these miles done. You know what happened? People volunteered to virtually run or walk them with me! Who volunteers to help out? Fellow runners, that’s who!!! Knowing my niece was up in the middle of a Minnesota winter running these miles with me, or that my pregnant friend was walking her miles with me, and my other niece who runs half marathons while dealing with Crohn’s  – that and more has kept me motivated more than you know. It gave me the push to the finish and I am so humbled and proud to say I am a part of your ranks. Runners: You ROCK!

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the one person who helps me shut up the voice on a daily basis; my husband. While not a runner himself (even though he can, has long legs and runs like a gazelle – grrrr….so jealous!) he knows how important is to me, and to my sanity. He always asks how my run was, if I got it in and rearranges his schedule to accommodate runs. I could not ask for better support!

Here’s to a fantastic 2015, a new year, new goals and continuing to shut up that voice that says you can’t!

Because you totally can. 

*A note on working out while sick: my rule of thumb is that if it is neck and up, go for it! If the sickness is in your chest, aka, neck and below – take a day off. All my sicknesses where colds/germs brought home from the minions and the germ havens (aka preschool and kindergarten) they attend. 

The Two Keys

Today is day 81 of running at least a mile a day for 100 days. There are many nuggets of wisdom in this process, but two key elements that keep coming up for me over and over.

1. It’s a mindset shift.
If you don’t give yourself a choice, exercise is just a given. If it’s something you do everyday – you will find a way to get it done. The “choice” of whether or not to exercise is taken away. Magic happens when that shift occurs.

2. You can’t wait to “feel good”.

If you wait for feeling like it – it’s never going to get done. This applies to running, strength training, meeting new people – any area of life where stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary. What we fail to realize is that the feelings come AFTER the action. It’s in the doing that confidence is built. Go and do. Feel good after. It’s so worth it!

Have you committed to a fitness goal? What nuggets have you pulled out of the experience?

Learning

Today marks 57 days consecutively that I’ve walked or ran at least 1 mile. (I actually thought I’d hit the half-way mark a while ago, but discovered I had miscounted, darn it!) While my poor sick daughter was resting comfortably after a bit of soup, I knew my daily mile was still waiting for me. It wasn’t much, but I walked it around the house, chased the dog, played fetch, raced the dog across the back yard, did laps around the inside of our house, and walked up and down the driveway. Then I repeated that a million times until I’d clocked in my mile.

It occurred to me during this little jaunt around my home that this 100 day streak thing has taught me a lot. More than I expected, in fact. It’s taught me be to be creative. That a workout doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. The laundry and the dishes can wait. The house doesn’t need cleaning first. I just need to choose to get it done. Even on vacation. Even when the kids are home. (They need exercise, too!) Even when I really don’t feel like it.

Making the time to get in at least a mile a day is essentially an appointment on the calendar. It’s become an appointment I don’t cancel. I don’t tell myself, “Next week.” Or “I’ll start Monday.” It’s today. It’s everyday choosing to move. You know what? There is time in the day to get it in. It may seem easy for me as a stay-at-home-parent, but I have plenty of friends who work full-time, have families, and still manage to get in daily physical fitness. It can be done.

I’ve had to relearn in this process that rest and recovery are just as important (if not more so) than going balls to the wall. There is nothing like the feeling of a crazy strenuous workout. You feel AMAZING afterwards, but rest days are actually where the muscles rebuild themselves. If all we do is tear them down during training and don’t allow for adequate recovery, we set ourselves up for injury. I’ve felt disappointed on the 1-mile days at times because it can feel like I’m not doing enough, that everyday should be a beast day. With cross training as well as running, recovery time is essential. I am typing this still sore from a leg day two days ago! It was painful to walk a mile yesterday, and today, less so. Tomorrow I will be back at it, but only because I’ve let my muscles rest and repair.

Finally, goals and accountability are crucial. When I know that I have friends in my corner rooting for me, it helps me keep going when I don’t feel like it in the moment. In these 57 days, I’ve never finished a mile or a workout and thought, “Meh. That sucked.” I’ve felt better at the end than I did at the start. Every. Single. Time. I also have a really, really hard time setting a goal and then not following it though. It bugs me. It’s just easier to tell my mind to hush up and then go get it done.

Here’s to the remaining 43 days!