Side Effects May Include: Being Awesome

Twenty pounds. That’s what I’ve gained over the last few months. That whole saying about it just happened “overnight”….that saying I used to scoff at in my slender little frame? Yeah, well, this shit just happened overnight.

Okay, I obviously didn’t just wake up one day twenty pounds heavier than when I went to bed. But it sure seemed that way. One day I’m running my kids around, fitting in all my workouts, eating in a way that supports my goals, getting all my household stuff done. The next day, I’m still doing everything, but maybe the laundry slips. Then the next everything is done, except maybe we do take out instead of cooking at home. Then the next, I skip a workout. You get the idea? It’s not easy to be living in a perfect little bubble. Things slip up. You don’t notice at first, but the next thing you know, you’re flying through a drive thru, late for some kid practice or another, rushing back home to do 47 loads of laundry because nobody has clean underwear. The only things getting done are the ones that absolutely MUST get done – the non-negotiables. But, your list of non-negotiables shifts the busier you get and suddenly working out doesn’t make the cut. Hell, clean underwear sometimes doesn’t make the cut. It’s just easier to stop off at Target and get NEW underwear instead of doing all that laundry.

You know what Target doesn’t sell? A nice ass. Trust me, I’ve looked. The funny thing is, I care a little less about how I look these days and a lot more about how I feel. I think that break from the gym may have been just what I needed in order to step back and reevaluate my priorities.

My husband and I went white water rafting this weekend. That was some intense shit! I can tell you, not one time was I concerned about what I looked like. I was just thankful that when it came time to paddle, I could do my part. And believe me when I tell you, there was some heavy duty paddling. There was a man in our group that was in his late 60s or early 70s. That dude was paddling like nobody’s business. He was definitely carrying his weight in that raft. I don’t know him personally, but those who do were telling me how active he is. He does all kinds of adventurous things. THAT is my goal. I want to be able to do anything I damn well please when I’m in my 70s and 80s and 90s. I don’t want to be all hunched over dependent on a cane or walker and lose my breath walking to the fridge.

I don’t want to be a body builder or bikini model. I admire those that have the dedication it takes to be those things. I am personally not willing to pay that price anymore. What I want is to dance like a rock star when my daughters get married. I want to be able to take my grandkids to an amusement park and do everything they do. I want to go white water rafting with my husband on our 50th wedding anniversary. I AM willing to pay the price for that. That means treating myself kindly now. It does mean being active, but it doesn’t mean punishing my body. It means eating things that are good for me but also things that taste good to me.

Look, I’m not rushing this whole aging thing. Oh NO! I’m just saying I want to feel kick ass now and 60 years from now. I want to know that even if my running shorts are a size larger than a year ago, I can still run as fast if not faster and farther. I want to be better a year from now than I am now. And a year from that, I want to be even better. If I look awesome as a side effect, then that’s just a bonus. But, I can’t imagine being active and having the mad confidence that comes along with that and not looking awesome.

Fitness Goals & Baby Steps

Happy

Happy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maintaining your goal weight is a little like having a baby. You know it will be awesome when you get there, but no one tells you the really raw details. While you’re losing weight, you are getting compliments like crazy. (It’s sort of like the baby shower. Instead of being showered in gifts, you’re being showered in compliments.) You are feeling confident and fantastic. In fact, some might even say you’re glowing.

Then the day you have been waiting for arrives! You see that magic number you’ve been working toward (your bundle of joy). You are jumping up and down. Your skinny jeans are loose. LOOSE for heaven’s sake! You ride this high for a while. You feel incredible. You walk around with your head held high and you’re pretty sure that the whole world notices how awesome you are. (Everyone wants to hold that beautiful baby and tell you how absolutely perfect it is!) This could quite possibly be your life’s greatest accomplishment. (Okay, the baby probably is but you get what I’m saying.)

Eventually all the hoopla dies down. People stop complimenting you all the time. (No one is coming over with a dinner casserole and helping with laundry anymore.) Your new, trim physique is just who you are now. People expect you to be that hot every day. (You suddenly realize that passing a person through your vagina or being unnaturally cut open from hip to hip isn’t that big of a deal because women do it every day. Whatevs!)

You walk by a mirror and catch a glimpse of your new <insert goal weight here>self and you’re taken back just a little. Your body doesn’t look quite like you thought it would at that magical goal weight. In fact, it’s oddly just a saggy version of its former fat self. (Really, I don’t think you need a comparison here, do you?)

You start to research and are shocked to find out that your smaller body requires fewer calories. Yes, I said fewer. You know, as in less. Not only that, it requires more exercise to burn the same amount of calories your larger body burned. What the what? Why didn’t you come across this information before? Why didn’t your skinny friends tell you? (I can assure you none of my mommy friends told me during a hot shower I would discover that breast milk actually comes out of about a bazillion holes in your nipple instead of just the one I assumed was there.)

Why am I telling you all this? It’s certainly not to discourage you. Quite the contrary, actually. I want you to know that your “journey” shouldn’t be to a magic number. It should be to a better you. There will be struggles and set-backs along the way (constipation or heart burn anyone?). There will also be fantastic and unexpected gifts, like reaching a jean size you haven’t been in since high school or completing your first 5k. (Much like hearing the baby’s heart beat for the first time or feeling her move.)

Don’t get bogged down with the “journey”. Being healthy is a lifetime commitment. It IS the journey. Approaching it as such will help you from getting discouraged on the bad days (baby being up all night teething.) It will also help you appreciate the good days (hearing that infectious belly laugh.)

Here’s the deal, my perfectly imperfect friends. You will have bad days. You will also have some super, fantastic days. Would you give up on that baby if you had a bad day? I didn’t think so.

Originally posted at The Well Written Woman.

Do You Have A Fitness Girlfriend?

Every time I feel like giving up on this blog and the facebook page, the universe seems to have something else in mind. I’ve had a pretty crappy couple of months as far as my overall fitness goes. I’ve gained weight. Of course that comes as no great surprise considering I’ve basically stopped working out and I’ve been eating like a homeless person at Thanksgiving dinner. So I thought, “who wants to hear fitness stuff from ME?”

I started this blog and the facebook page because I was so excited about everything I was learning about fitness, nutrition, and losing weight. It was all clicking for me and I couldn’t believe I had learned all this information that other people may not know. I was on a roll!

Then the last year or so I’ve struggled. My motivation has been so up and down it needs it’s own Prozac prescription. My eating…well, let’s just say I’ve rediscovered my bad habits of cereal and Pop Tarts in the evenings. I’ve joined new gyms, tried new classes, blah blah blah. Nothing seems to make a difference. I’m still struggling. I’ve gone from hitting spin class several times a week, strength training, and stellar nutrition to working long hours sitting on my ass and shoving anything in my face with more than 20 carbs.

Pop-Tarts

Personally, I prefer strawberry.

So, really? Who wants to hear fitness stuff from me?

Fitness Model 1

This is NOT me.

Then it occurred to me that the people who would want to hear from me are the people who are just like me. Okay, well maybe you’re not quite as fabulously demented as I am, but I digress. Here’s the deal. I don’t work out every day. There are some months I don’t work out at all. I don’t eat CLEAN. I eat sugar and drink diet coke. I eat Pop Tarts and pizza. I struggle trying to find time to be both a kick- ass mom and having a kick-ass ass. Some days I have so much work to do the last thing on my mind is exercising. There are days I think I can actually feel my thighs expanding. I’ve picked the least dirty clothes out of the hamper to give my kids to wear to school because I just didn’t have enough time or energy to do another frigging load of laundry.

The short of it – I’m human. Although I know exactly what to eat and how to exercise to get that “perfect” body, I just don’t have the energy for that shit. I’m a 38 year old mom who would just like to jiggle a little less. I would like to be able to spend time with my kids without wanting to poke their eyes out because I’m so tired. I would like to go to bed knowing that I’ve put out all the fires my job requires so I don’t get fired from said job. (I don’t want to be an actual homeless person even though I may eat like one at times.) I want all the important people in my life to actually feel important. And if the laundry gets done, that’s a bonus.

I’m no fitness expert. I AM your fitness girlfriend. (Not THAT kind of girlfriend. I’m a girl who is your friend, as my 8 year old says.) I have a lot of knowledge but I’m not so smart that I think I know it all. If you read this blog, I hope you know I’m here to inspire the “every woman”. There may be days where the inspiration is “Damn! I worked out today and she didn’t. HA!”. Or it may be, “I haven’t worked out in a week, but hey, neither has that fitness blogger. I’m NORMAL!” OR maybe you just want to read my stuff because I’m ridiculously hilarious.

Norman Wisdom Laughing

This guy really gets me.

Either way, the universe tells me that my job here is NOT done. I don’t know what that’s all about, but I’m not one to question the universe.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

sleeping

sleeping (Photo credit: riebschlager)

I’m tired. I’m not talking sleepy here – I mean like bone tired exhausted. A couple of weeks ago my computer crashed. Not like a little crash where you can press down the power button for a few seconds and get it to at least come back up. I’m talking full on super crash where only a black screen pops up and some fancy code words appear that translate roughly into “You.Are.Screwed.” One of my responsibilities at my real job is the bookkeeping. All of 2012 was completely lost.

Before you ask me why I didn’t back it up and I have to poke you in the eye, I will tell you that I did back it up. I had backed it up regularly on flash drives. Apparently there were some corrupt files and blah blah. Long story short, I’ve spent the last few weeks recreating my 2012 books. (Thank the Lord everything else was saved.) This means lots and lots of hours in front of my computer doing mindless data entry. It is necessary, but excruciatingly exhausting. I’m still working on it and hope to have it done in the next two weeks or so. (I have also subscribed to online back ups. This girl learns quick!)

I’ve let this be a(nother!) excuse for not working out. Now, don’t get me wrong, if I wasn’t at my office or driving my kids somewhere, I was diligently at my computer entering all the info. See what I said there, though? I made sure I took care of things at the office. I made sure I took care of getting my kids to their activities. I didn’t take little breaks for myself.

None.

I would look at my little calendar hanging in my bathroom where I log my workouts and think, “well, it’s not as bad as it looks. After all, I have been really busy with work.” mmmm hmmmm…. I’ll try to remember how “busy” I was when my pants don’t fit. Oh wait, they don’t fit!

busy

If you’re in a rut where you’re taking care of everything BUT yourself, I want you to know you’re not alone. It’s human nature to give all we’ve got and at the end of the day there’s nothing left for us. Being committed to yourself can be difficult to keep, but it’s as important, if not more than all the other commitments we have. Is it time for you to re-evaluate and take a little time for yourself?

busier

Resolving To Be Awesome In 2013 – Guest Post by SwimBikeMom

I am thrilled to bring you today’s guest post by Meredith Atwood of SwimBikeMom.com. She is an incredible inspiration and totally hilarious. She has serious goals without taking herself to seriously.

bike

Every New Year, I found myself looking at the same body and getting mad.  Each year, I would make a list:

1) lose 1000 pounds;

2) fit into jeans from the 80’s;

and 3) wear bikini by summer.

And then at the end of EACH year, I would scream and hate myself, saying, “I can’t believe that an entire year has been “wasted” and I still look…like… this.”  Uggggh.  (There might have been some flailing and cursing too. Just saying.)

Things began to change for me in 2010 when I found the sport of triathlon.  While I still really don’t love the way I look, triathlon has been a welcomed change to the standard, empty look-better resolutions. Therefore my one resolution for 2013 has been: NO RESOLUTIONS.

swim

Instead of resolving to not do things, I now set goals. Big, nasty, huge goals, and I work on completing those.  And that’s it.

I would love (love) to wear a bikini this summer, but I would much rather finish my big race –Ironman—in June than wear the bikini.  I am working on focusing on what matters (being healthy), instead of that which really, in the end game, doesn’t matter (wearing bikini).

For 2013, let’s all think about the things we can accomplish. The big goals we’d like to achieve.  Instead of thinking about the things we shouldn’t do (Stop eating this! Stop doing that!), let’s turn our eyes to what we should do… and what we can do.

Be grateful for the great things that our bodies can achieve… the bodies that look just like they do. Right now.

Instead of cursing my fat rear end, I’m turning my eyes forward…towards the big things I will achieve in 2013.  That, somehow, feels a lot more happy than any bikini.thumbnail

Meredith Atwood is a wife, attorney, author and blogger at www.SwimBikeMom.com.  Her book, Triathlon for the Every Woman, was just released and is available on Amazon, Amazon Europe and in Kindle editions.  She’s finished two half Ironmans, and is tackling Ironman Coeur d’Alene in June of this year.

December Challenge – Keep the Mojo

Oaxaca Calendar 2012: December

Oaxaca Calendar 2012: December (Photo credit: planeta)

My mojo seems to have reappeared recently and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. I find it takes just one missed workout or one bad week to fall off that proverbial wagon and much, much longer to claw my way back on it. I’m easily motivated, but lose it quickly. To keep myself going and to not fall off the friggin’ wagon, I’m challenging myself in December. It’s a pretty simple one since December can sometimes be pretty hectic.

Work out more days in December than I don’t.

There are 31 days in December. That means I have to work out at least 16 days to meet my challenge. See? I get 15 whole days of NOT working out if I choose. I really hope I don’t choose to take all 15 days off, but like I said, things get pretty hectic. Holiday parties not just for our family, but adult parties, kid parties, school parties, etc.

The thing about goals – they have to be achievable. If I say I’m working out 5 days a week in December I could miss a day the first week and get all pissy and throw my hands in the air (like I just don’t care). But, if I set an achievable goal, I’m encouraged to keep going. (There’s a difference between easy and achievable. Make sure you know it!)

So, who’s with me? Who can commit to working out just 16 days the month of December? Come on! You can do it!!!! You know you want to. 😉

Lady Beasts

Free weights

Free weights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the “perfect” gym would look like. If I’m being honest, I have used something I disliked about a gym as an excuse not to go. You know, “I hate that place because I don’t like their rough towels.” (What? I’ll use any excuse not to work out sometimes. I mean, I can’t be expected to work out if I have to wipe myself down with a scratchy towel. I’m not a barbarian!).

I’ve actually been bouncing ideas off a couple friends of mine in the fitness industry. I was surprised to discover both would be interested in women’s only gyms. I mean, yes, they are women too, but they are both fitness instructors. Instructors! That means they have confidence out the wazoo, right? They are both adorable and, of course, fit.

Well, it turns out no matter how cute and fit you are, some areas of a gym can be intimidating. The most intimidating? Free weights. Oh, I know, I’ve told you before to just waltz up there and grab some weights and go. And I totally believe that. I’ve done it and was always glad I did. That didn’t stop all the staring, however. (Guys, I’m talking to you!) Were they staring because I was some Hottie McAwesome pants? Or was it because they were impressed with my technique and strength? Or maybe I had toilet paper sticking out of the back of my shorts? The reason doesn’t matter. The fact that I was walking up to a free weight area that was dominated by men was intimidating. And that’s coming from a person who has researched and researched lifting routines. So it’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing.

My cute fitness instructor friends? Also intimidated. Yep. Women who are in shape as part of their jobs are also intimidated to grab a pair of free weights in front of a mostly male audience. It’s just uncomfortable.

So, what are our options? Well, until I hit the lottery and open up this dream gym of mine (oh you will LOVE it!!!), we have to make due. Guys, you’re not all pigs. We know that. And I don’t think most of us ladies are thinking, “OMG, every time I go in the gym all the guys are dying to ask me out.” Nope. We just don’t want to look like idiots.

Ladies, we have to suck it up and belly right up to that free weight area. Do some research and be confident with what you’re doing. Have a routine written or printed out so you aren’t just standing there wondering where to start. Make some friends at the gym. It is surprisingly easy to make friends at the gym. Make a lifting friend. Things are less scary in pairs.  And just know the hot fitness instructors are nervous too. Guys, it’s time to move over and make room for the lady beasts!

Do It Anyway

I’ve been in a funk. No, not the usual funk I write about where I’m just lazy and don’t want to work out. I’m talking about one of these funks. As I talk about in that piece, they come and go randomly. This one has been sticking around since last week and frankly it’s making me want to choke someone out. I haven’t yet – but I’m not making any promises to continue that trend.

Yesterday a little before 5:30 (the time I typically leave my office), I started thinking of ALL kinds of great reasons why I couldn’t go to the gym. Too tired, too hungry, too late, too sort of stormy looking. Oh yes, I had a lot of spectacularly stupid excuses. I knew they were just that – excuses. I looked at the gym’s group fitness schedule. None of the classes fit my schedule that evening. Oh, another excuse. However, I knew if I left work and skipped the gym, I would be sitting at the pool for over an hour waiting for my daughter to finish swim practice. That would be an absolutely ridiculous use of my time. Especially considering I didn’t have a book or anything to pass the time.

So I went to the gym. Begrudgingly. The front desk dude even said, “haven’t seen you in a while.” I offered a weak smile and just shrugged my shoulders. Inside I responded, “whatever, jackwagon. I was just here a week ago.” I know, I know, that’s not really a consistent effort on my part. I think he was probably pointing out how consistent I had been in his own stupid way. But, let’s not forget, I’m in my “I wanna choke you out” mood.

Anyway, I went. I lifted. I became aware that when I’m feeling pissy I can lift about 5 – 10% heavier than a normal day. So I did, in fact, get in a good work out. Did I leave there feeling like a new woman? Nah. I didn’t. I know they say exercise puts you in a good mood. It’s also a great stress reliever and can help cure depression. I didn’t experience any immediate satisfaction. But I was glad I didn’t skip the gym. At least it was one less thing to feel pissy about.

The moral of the story? I can’t promise you that working out will make you feel “better”, but it sure as hell won’t make you feel worse. So go do it! No, seriously, right now! Go! Oh, and try not to choke anyone out.

Chris Farley Teaches Spin?

Chris Farley

Chris Farley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve mentioned before that I recently joined a new gym. I’m trying out the different spin classes (my favorite cardio) to see what instructor I like the best. The regular Thursday instructor has apparently been out for a few weeks but last night he was back.

Now I won’t lie, when he walked in my heart sank just a teeny tiny bit. Some of the other class participants were coming into spin after just finishing up a body conditioning class. He commented that he would “have to get in shape” before he could even do that class. Uh, say what, now? Nonetheless, spin is my happy place so I was determined to make the best of it.

I should probably also add that despite my very clever title, the instructor didn’t actually look like Chris Farley. He looked like the guy that helps you do a keg stand at parties. (Oh, like you’ve never done a keg stand!) His mannerisms, however, were VERY Chris Farley-like. He was banging his head to the music in that way that makes you wonder if his neck actually has bones. He was singing along with the songs like most people only do alone. In their car. Where no one can hear them. Then he would look around like, “what?!”

He told us that track 3 (the 3rd song of the class) was totally going to suck. He was like, “dude, I’m scared. It’s gonna be hard, I won’t lie. Yeah, it’s gonna suck. We’ll need a beer after.” He would shout, “GEAR” when he wanted us to increase the tension on our bikes and then turn his tension up while saying made up words or phrases (abbra cadabra moogely). I’m pretty sure he was the guy who would dare other guys in his fraternity to do ridiculous things and then just do them himself. It probably never ended well, but I’m positive he never spilled his beer.

His class also had one of my absolute favorite things ever….regular participants. When a class has regular participants, there is a crazy camaraderie. There’s banter, teasing, and fun (and you know, support and friendship and whatever). During one song he just pointed his finger at a group of guys in the class and they all sang “their part” of the song. It was so much freaking fun.

Toward the end of the class one of the guys in the back (part of the “band”) was giving the instructor a hard time about not knowing how to work the sound system. Chris Farley was like, “oh yeah, well I know how to hit rewind, how about that?” And he did. He re-started the song we were on at least 3 times. That means we had at least an extra couple of minutes added on to that block of work.

We ended our workout properly with a cool down. To Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. I think I found my regular spin class.

I Pick Things Up and Put Them Down

Fitness Model posing with dumbell. Photo by Gl...

Fitness Model posing with dumbell. Photo by Glenn Francis of http://www.PacificProDigital.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember that one time where I totally freaked out like a little girl because my body fat % was too high? Gosh, I was such a baby back then.

True to my word, I have maintained my commitment to strength training. I have done full body strength training at least two days every week; three when I can fit it in. I’ve been working with a personal trainer. We’ve been doing something different each session so I don’t have anything specific to share with you as far as workouts go. Really, it isn’t even about what we’re doing. It’s more about creating the habit of strength training. For me, it’s so easy to go to the gym and head into a class. This is “mindless” for me. I’m a great follower and I damn sure am not going to quit in the middle of the class. So when I say it’s “mindless”, I mean that I’m following someone else’s lead. I’m not putting thought into my workout, I’m just doing it. With strength training, there had to be some amount of thought put into it. I had to determine if I was going to do full body workouts or split my workouts into body parts. I had to determine what exercises I would do. I had to push myself to keep going even when I didn’t feel like it.

I got so lost in all the planning of the routine that I lost the joy of the actual strength training. Going to a trainer has made it “mindless” again for me because he tells me what to do. By not over thinking it, I’m able to enjoy it. After three weeks of training with him, I’ve been reminded of how much I love the feeling of being strong. Sometimes I laugh and think, “oh crap, I can’t do that”. But I do it.  I love the feeling of trying something I’m not 100% sure I can do and rocking it out. Or maybe not rocking it out, but knowing that now I have something to work on. I’ve pushed myself. There have also been some things I just can’t do. Yet. I’ve fallen and looked like an idiot and laughed hysterically at myself. It’s fun again.

Yesterday I ended up strength training by myself because of some scheduling conflicts. Don’t get me wrong. I checked the group fitness schedule and saw there was a spin class going on and of course I was tempted. But that was the easy way out. I cannot build lean muscle mass by doing cardio. I went to the gym without a plan. I started with some weighted lunges. Then some squats with hammer curls. Then some scissor kicks. Then my mind started racing. I was like a kid in a candy store and so many exercises popped in my head I couldn’t wait to finish one so I could get to the next one. I also enjoyed experimenting with the weights and seeing just how much I could (safely) lift.

Planning is important and I wouldn’t advise going in without a plan every time. However, sometimes, we need to step back and stop over thinking it. I was obsessed with everything about strength training except actually doing it. I wanted to know the best methods, the best exercises, the machines to avoid, blah blah blah. By the time I actually got to the gym I had myself so freaking confused it just wasn’t fun. I wasn’t even confident that what I was doing was what I was supposed to be doing.

But yesterday, I just did it. I did my own thing. I made sure to hit all the major muscle groups and paid special attention to the areas I wanted to (legs). Next time, I’ll hit the big ones and then focus on another part (arms, probably). I didn’t leave the gym thinking, “man, I should have done this, or this, or that”. I left the gym proud I had gotten in some strength training. I was satisfied that what I had done was enough. I am enough.