Don’t Ask If You Don’t Want To Know

covering his ears

Ya know what I love? When people ask for advice and then tell you all the reasons why your advice is wrong. Those people are called “askholes”.

It doesn’t matter what it is…fitness, relationships, work, etc. Anytime I’ve ever approached someone for their advice, it was because they had knowledge I wanted. If I wanted to be fit, I would talk to someone who was fit. If I wanted relationship advice, I would ask someone who had a relationship I admired. You get the idea.

Maybe it’s because their advice will require too much work. What? You thought they’d tell you they got their six pack abs from eating six donuts every morning? Or they have a successful business because they play Candy Crush all day? Reaching goals takes work. Being healthy takes work. A successful career takes work. A marriage takes work. When those people tell you about the work, you can’t discount that advice.

Once you hear the advice, you have to decide if you still want to reach that goal. Are you willing to pay the price to get where you want? If you aren’t already where you want to be, obviously you have to start doing some things differently. (Or maybe stop doing certain things.) If you aren’t willing to do those things, perhaps you’re pursuing the wrong goals.

Ask yourself, which do I dislike more? Do I dislike my current job more or would I dislike the ups and downs and time investment of running my own business? Which is worse? Whichever causes you the most discomfort is the one you will avoid even if you think you want it. Your mouth might be saying you are MEANT to be an entrepreneur, but your brain is saying, “Dude, all that working sounds like a lot of work! Plus I have this steady paycheck. Plus if things go south, I can just find another job.” If that is in the back of your mind, no matter how much you think you want to start your own business, you will find a million excuses not to.

You need to be real with yourself if you are ever to reach your true happiness potential. If it’s your body image that’s holding you back, you probably already know what to do to get a better body. The question is, are you willing to do it? No? How much work are you willing to put in? What results will that give you? Will you be satisfied with those results? If you aren’t willing to put in the work of a fitness model, you can’t expect to look like a fitness model. If you are willing to do a moderate amount of work, be realistic about what you can expect from that.English: Apack of donut Français : Un paquet d...

If you want to be able to eat dessert guilt free, I think that’s AWESOME! So do I. Eating dessert occasionally will give me “X” results. Eating dessert a couple of times per week will give me “Y” results. Eating dessert every single day will give me “Z” results. I have to realistically determine the results I want and how much dessert I want. I’m definitely not giving it up, so I won’t get “X” results. Even though I would LOVE to eat dessert every day, I don’t want “Z” results. That leaves me with “Y”. I don’t get to eat it every day, but I still get “Y” results. Kind of like Goldilocks – I have to find what is just right. April Hunter in a fitness model competition

If I ever had a conversation with a fitness model, I’m sure I would have to ask them about their routine. I would love to know what their workouts are and how they eat, wouldn’t you?. I would also know as soon as I hear what they say that I wouldn’t be willing to do all that. So, I need to understand I won’t look like that either. I wouldn’t stand there and make excuses. I wouldn’t assume she had more time than me or better resources than me. I wouldn’t assume she has more support or more money or more anything. However, I would know that for her, looking that way was important enough to her to do all those things. And that’s cool; that’s her compromise. I have to find mine. Oh, and not be an askhole about it.

Shit Happens – Move On

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I remind you of this. I challenged myself to work out more days than I didn’t in December. In other words, work out at least 16 of the 31 days.

Wellll…..I didn’t. In fact, I worked out once. Three times if you count the couple of walks I took with my dog. Since he’s a Yorkie and his legs are approximately six inches long, let’s just say those walks weren’t exactly “brisk”.

Girl pouting because she didn’t meet her goal

There are reasons for this. I had to make a change in my work schedule. I’ve had the same job for the last ten years and I’ve always worked until 5:30, sometimes much, much later. This allowed me to hit the gym on my way home because my kids were always in their extra curriculars until around 8pm. A change in circumstances required me to be home when they got home from school instead, so I started leaving my office around 3pm. That meant I went straight home from work and helped with homework, got the kids ready for extra curriculars, and sometimes did car pool. After they left I would be able to focus on me. That ended up translating into laundry, making dinner, and picking up around the house. Basically everything for everyone but me. The thing is, once I walk in the door, my resolve to work out is G.O.N.E.

However, reasons why you didn’t do something are really just excuses, aren’t they?

At first I was all, “YOU SUCK! I can’t believe you can’t do this. You committed to all 4 of your readers that you would do this!” But, then I remembered this was the year of “Flaws and All”.  So, I forgave myself. Yeah, I know better; I know I could have easily done something. I didn’t –  and I’m moving on.

How can I try to “inspire” people when I’m not authentic? The truth is, we all have bad days, weeks, or sometimes month. EVERYONE. I cannot authentically try to motivate you to love yourself and have a positive body image, if I’m expecting perfection from myself. I blew off my work outs all month by making excuses. I’m human.

Moving forward, I’ve designed a work out plan for myself. I’m committing to exercising 3 days a week. That’s not a lot, however, the reason we often fail is because we set our expectations so high. Three days a week is a helluva lot better than what I’ve been doing, which is nothing. I’ll stay accountable to you even if that means telling you a month from now that I didn’t meet my commitment.

commitment_jpg

The thing is, shit happens. I can’t change the past and since what “you think about you bring about” means dwelling on past failures will lead to future failures, I’m not too worried about it. I’m focused on the future and being the best me I can be.

Is it time for you to forgive yourself of past failures? Whatever mistakes you’ve made, you have the opportunity right this second to change everything. Who else is ready to move onward and upward?

Why We Quit

Give Up Graffiti #ds367

Give Up Graffiti #ds367 (Photo credit: brendan-c)

“You can’t fire me – I QUIT!”

I’ve never said those words, but I’ve been in a few situations where, had the opportunity come, I might very well have. Can you just imagine that scenario? You’re working a job, probably one that sucks pretty badly. You think about quitting, but, well you’re not really that into dumpster diving for dinner so you keep showing up to work. One day something blows up and you end up getting fired (wrongly, of course). You think, ‘WHAT? I hate this place. You can’t fire ME. I’m firing YOU!” You are appalled at the very idea that YOU were the one in the wrong when you actually show up to this crappy job every day. It’s not like you’re heart broken that you no longer have that job. Quite the contrary; it’s a relief. But YOU didn’t get to make the decision – your boss did.

You didn’t control how it ended.

I think we’re like that with a lot of things, not just some crappy job or our commitment to fitness. We are so afraid of failing that we would actually rather quit. That’s why the diet industry is a $20 billion a year business. How many times have you started a fitness routine or a new “diet” and it was hard? Anyone? Anyone? It was SO hard, in fact, that you just gave up on it. You thought, “Ya know what? This doesn’t work. I quit.” Except here’s the truth – that work out DVD you gave up on? It would have worked. The reason these companies can offer you a money back guarantee isn’t because their program is magical or the only way to get in shape. It’s because if you go from doing nothing to do something – anything – you will see result. But you don’t see results, because you quit.

Quitting is easy. It puts you in charge of how things end. You can walk proudly away from your “stupid” gym because you didn’t like it anyway. You can come up with a million reasons why you quit going and they can all be because of the gym. But the reality is, if you would have put the work in, you would have gotten results. Putting the work in can suck. Putting the work in might mean admitting that you aren’t as strong as you thought. Or you might get embarrassed because you aren’t sure what to do. Putting the work in is uncomfortable.

Your fear of failing is so great you’d rather walk away.

Stop being a quitter. Easier said than done, right? Yes, especially if you’ve always been one to walk away when the going got tough. YOU are the decision maker. People don’t quit on you; you quit on them! But if you’re truly ready to meet your goals, you have to be prepared to keep going even when you want to quit. You have to prepare to fail. Failure isn’t permanent; quitting is.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”  ― Maya Angelou

You owe it to yourself to fail. There is no great success without failure. Pick a goal, any goal at all, and determine you are going to stick with it. If you struggle with discipline, read this. It was written by Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete (don’t worry carnivores, it has absolutely nothing to do with vegetarianism) and is by far my favorite thing I’ve ever read about creating habits.

You can start right now. Set goals that are worthwhile and be determined to see them through. If you are willing to quit on a goal when it gets rough, what’s the point in starting? Is it something you really wanted anyway? Make your mind up right now, in this moment, to only devote your time to things that are worthwhile. When that’s the case, quitting is not an option.

Fruit Loops For Lunch

English: A bowl of Kellogg's Froot Loops cerea...

I’m also taking that approach with my health, but it’s not been an easy road. Because I have been in pretty damn fantastic shape in my life, it’s easy to look at that as the gold standard. While I’m certainly no slob, I’m not in the “best” shape I’ve been in my life. I’ve caught myself thinking that “walking” isn’t an exercise and if that’s all I’m going to do then I might as well just do nothing. I mean, I was a runner for goodness sake. Walking is SO below my fitness level. I’ve thought, “I could really go for some relaxing yoga right now.” Just to talk myself out of it because it’s not “up to” my fitness level. I see people in blogs and on facebook who are less experienced than me doing AMAZING things and rather than encourage me, it discourages me. In the meantime, that kind of thinking led me to doing NOTHING AT ALL!

But dude, that kind of thinking is totally jacked up! By only accepting the highest level of fitness from myself, I’ve inadvertantly  accepted doing nothing. That has led to a 15 pound weight gain. That’s pretty much like saying, “Since I don’t feel like making my kids an elaborate breakfast buffet, I’m just not going to feed them. They deserve better. So instead I’m just going to sit here and read mom blogs about really good moms and feel sorry for myself.” WTF? See how stupid that is?

Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself. I’m a huge advocate of setting big goals and SURPRISING yourself. I truly believe we are totally capable of way more than we think. I also think we should give ourselves a break. If walking is truly all we have in us on a particular day, then walk. It is so much better than sitting on the couch. The couch is where motivation goes to die.

Sometimes walking – and Fruit Loops – are enough.

Flaws and All

I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now. While it seems like I just started it also seems, at the same time, that I’ve always blogged. I enjoy writing and most of the time, the stuff just writes itself. I’ve evolved from trying to do a motivational and instructional blog to sharing some of my own struggles with you. I’ve changed the look of the blog about a bazillion times (seriously, though, that’s super fun to do!). I’ve changed the web address of the blog a few times. If I would have stayed right where I was, who knows how many followers I might have by now. But, I took the chance and “started over” by starting a brand new address. And then another. Through all of that, what I was really seeking was me.

Over the course of the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve joined gyms, quit gyms, (I’ve quit and rejoined the same gym like 3 times). I’ve found new classes, I’ve tried classes that were definitely not what I was looking for. I’ve tried working out at home. I’ve tried working out at the gym. I’ve tried cardio only, I’ve tried getting serious about weight lifting. I’ve tried this weight loss method or that one. I’ve looked into “coaching” schools so I can help teach people how to live better. I’m constantly searching for answers. But the truth is, I only need one thing that will answer all of my questions.

I need a positive self-image and I don’t have it. All those other things I’ve been doing? Well, they were just the distractions while my brain finally caught up with the rest of me. So, I’m done “changing” everything around me (except maybe the look of the blog, because that shit is FUN I tell ya!). What I need to work on has absolutely nothing to do with my abs or how many calories a bagel has. What I need to do is learn to honestly and authentically love myself and my body for all that it is and all that it isn’t.

My “theme” for 2012 was simplicity. I think my brain needed simplicity to quiet down. I needed to get rid of all the excess so I could “find” what I was looking for. And what I was really, truly looking for was a way to accept myself, flaws and all. My theme for 2013 is going to be “flaws and all”. I’m flawed. I make mistakes as a wife, mom, employee, friend, daughter, sister, etc. Why? Because I’m flawed. I don’t look like a super model in the mirror. Hell, I don’t even look like pictures of myself from a few years ago. I’m flawed. I can’t have a team following me around telling me the right things to do or say. They can’t airbrush me to make me look idealistic. They can’t do my hair and make up. (Although that part would be sort of awesome.) I can’t have a team to tell me if I have broccoli in my teeth or toilet paper on my shoe. I can’t have a team motivating me constantly or pushing me at every work out. I can’t have someone slap the donuts out of my hand (dude, I will break someone’s hand!). You know what? That’s okay. It’s time to accept myself for all that I am.

Flaws and all.

What You Can Learn From An Eleven Year Old Swimmer

Coach

Coach (Photo credit: williamnyk)

My eleven year old daughter is a swimmer. She gives herself this label unapologetically. She doesn’t say, “oh, I swim.” No. She says, “I’m a swimmer.” It doesn’t matter how fast she goes, how many personal best times she hits, or how many first place positions she receives. She is  a swimmer. We don’t have to ask if she’s going to practice. She is. We don’t have to check before entering her into a swim meet. She’s swimming. We don’t have to wonder if she’ll like the funny swim tee we found. She will. She’s a swimmer.

At her meet this weekend she didn’t do so hot. She added times to every single swim; not just a little, but a significant amount of time. She tried to brush it off like it didn’t bother her. Of course it did. Her Dad and I are her biggest cheerleaders. We are at every single swim meet whispering under our breaths, “Come on, baby, come on, baby!” at her every stroke, every turn. We meet with her after every single swim and discuss how she did – good or bad. Her Dad is passionate. In fact, we don’t see eye to eye on the best way to motivate and keep her motivated. He grew up in a competitive household and I didn’t. Naturally we approach things differently. His passion sometimes manifests itself with flailing arms and a loud voice when he’s discussing her swim. He got so frustrated at the meet this weekend that he just stopped. He couldn’t say anything to her. And she cried. She asked me to talk to him. “Mom, he doesn’t even care. He didn’t even discuss my swim, he just asked if I had enough snacks.” I asked her in return, “I thought you got upset when Daddy talked to you like that. I didn’t think you’d want him going over each swim with you. You always get argumentative and insist you did your best.” Her response? “No, I want Daddy to talk about it with me. That’s how I get better. That’s how I know what to work on.” Daddy 1 – Mommy 0.

Her Dad emailed the Coach on Monday following the meet, asking what she needed to work on since she had posted some less than stellar times. (Side note – she cut some SERIOUS time on her previous two meets. I’m talking kick-ass, hell yeah that’s my baby! time.) The Coach responded with, “she’s doing fine”. Fine? But, she added time! The Coach went on to explain that if she focuses on technique, improved times always follows. The important thing is that she enjoys it and perfects her technique. She needs to focus on the “how” and the improvement will follow. And the most important thing of all is that she continues to enjoy her sport because she will not improve at a sport she resents.

I learn a lot from my kids. I’d be missing out on a major opportunity if I didn’t. Here are the lessons to be learned from this:

  • Own it. You are an athlete. If you run, you’re a runner. If you swim, you’re a swimmer. Own it. You don’t need an Olympic medal to be proud of what you do. It doesn’t matter if everyone around you is better. You just have to show up and claim it. Mindset is half the battle.
  • Find what works for you regardless of outside pressure. I thought her Dad’s style was too rough. I didn’t grow up playing sports. Not that I’m of the “oh, everybody’s a winner” mentality. Far from it. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. But, his style worked for her. She craved the feedback and apparently the way it was delivered even if it made me cringe. It pushed her. It made her want to be better. It helped her focus and she loved it. My hugs and high fives were only part of what she needed after each swim. She also needed a kick in the ass. She craved it and when she didn’t get it, she was upset. This is the feedback that worked for her and she knew that enough to insist on it. INSIST on using what works for you even if no one else can understand why.
  • Doing things the right way consistently is more important that being the best. You cannot improve if you don’t focus on doing things the right way. If she focused on having good times every single time she swam, she’d give up. Who wouldn’t? Does she get excited when she posts a good time? Hell YES! She worked for that shit. She practiced and practiced. She took the time to improve every stroke. She paid attention to the details. So WHAT if you can’t run as fast as your friend? So what if everyone around you has already run a half marathon, lost 100 pounds, or (seems to) eat perfect all the time. Do YOU, baby! Focus on the tedious, the technique, the little stuff. Show up. Every damn day. The successes will come. They always do when you put in the work.
  • P.S. If you tell my daughter I’ve learned anything from her OR tell my husband that he was right, I’ll have to delete this post and any supporting evidence. So, let’s just keep this between us, kay?

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. 😉

What Works For Me Wednesday – Bringing My Lunch

Brown Bag (without staple)

Brown Bag (without staple) (Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall)

Here’s what a day looks like when I rush out of the house because I’m too busy to bring my lunch to work:
I start starving around 10:30 am. Curse myself for not at least bringing a snack to hold myself over until lunch time. Around noon, start trying to get out of my office to pick up something fairly healthy. That’s when everyone needs me. It’s nice to be needed. It’s not cool to be starving to death. Finally get out of my office at 2:00 pm. Barely drag myself to the car, walking zombie like, because I’m weak from not eating.  Hope I don’t pass out at the wheel before I find something to eat. First place I see is Chick-fil-A. I’ll get a grilled chicken sandwich and a fruit cup. It will be healthy and quick. Suddenly hear myself ordering #1 with large fries. I must black out because the next thing I know I’m in the parking lot of my office with an empty fry container in my lap and some ketchup on my shirt. Crumbs everywhere and no memory of eating anything. Suddenly I’m craving chocolate.

Here’s a day when I remember to pack my lunch:
Rushing out the door with my daughter screaming we’re late. Oh crap, I didn’t pack my lunch. I grab the first bag I can find, open the freezer and grab a frozen meal. Not the healthiest, very processed, high in sodium, but it’s a lot better than a french fry coma. Grab some yogurt, string cheese, an apple, and some 100 calorie pack almonds – throw them in the bag. Takes less than 30 seconds. In fact, I think my daughter is still mid-sentence about being late. (Whatevs!) Start getting hungry around 10:30 am. Eat the yogurt. Realize I’m starting to get  a little hungry again around 1:00. Pop my frozen meal in the microwave at work. “How do you get full on that little thing?”, my co-workers always ask. Well, I just had a snack at 10:30 so I’m not starving. Eat the meal and feel satisfied, not stuffed. Around 4:00 eat the almonds and string cheese so I can be fueled for my 5:30 workout.

See how easy that was? And my whole day of eating was less calories than the one super-sized drive thru meal. Oh, and my stomach wasn’t eating itself from the inside out because of hunger. I didn’t feel bloated and crappy from eating so much at one time. I felt satisfied and never starving throughout the whole day. This is good news because once I’m starving, all bets are off. I will go through 2000 calories of craptastic junkiness before I even realize I’m chewing. True story.

Taking 30 seconds to throw a lunch together – that works for me.

A Kick In The Ass – What Works For Me Wednesday

photo credit: iseefitpeople on facebookAccountability. Blah. That’s another one of those fitness buzz words that gets thrown around so frequently it loses it’s value. However, it certainly applies in describing my friendship with Workout Girl aka Tiffany.

Here’s how it works. One of us, could be (and has been) either one, sends a text or email to the other. It says something like, “ugh, I feel fat. I just ate a whole bag of donuts”. (Okay fine, that one was me.) The other one begins with supportive questions trying to get to the bottom of the “why”. A productive conversation ensues with both sharing our struggles and/or successes of the day. The conversation ends with, “suck it up”. This is generally followed up later with, “so did you get your workout in?”

In order for the whole accountability thing to work you have to have the RIGHT kind of accountability partner. My hubby is very supportive but he’s only going to push it so far because he has to live with me. Tiffany will ask me the hard questions. She’ll tell me if I’m being lazy. She won’t let me off the hook. We don’t wallow in each other’s bad day. We listen, we talk, and we tell the other to move on. THAT is an accountability partner.

You also have to have someone that understands that everything is relative. I can feel the eye rolls if I tell most people I feel fat. Tiff gets that it’s all relative. Me feeling crappy shouldn’t be discounted because I look a certain way. We can tell each other anything without the fear of being judged by what we have done (or not done for that matter).

We are also huge cheerleaders for the other. Tiff can tell me she got an awesome compliment from someone (which she often does) and I don’t think, “god, you’re such a bragger.” Hell no! I think, “damn right, sister. You deserve it!” If she tells me she kicked ass at her 10k (or tough mudder, or half marathon), I tell her she’s my idol because she runs further than me. We are genuinely happy for each others’ accomplishments, big and small. There is no jealousy, judgement or animosity.

We push each other to do better and to be better. A good accountability partner listens patiently and then calls you out on your bullshit. A good accountability partner is one that you can tell something bad to and they don’t gasp (outloud). Oh and by the way, we met online. So you just never know when or where your accountability partner will show up. I highly recommend you get one! But beware – the right one will kick your ass. And you are so going to love it.