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.

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

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.

I Am Never, Ever, Ever…Going to be Perfect

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift (Photo credit: jennnnnyf)

I have discovered what my problem is. Okay, maybe not all my problems, that would take forever. But it is a big one that I’ve been struggling with. In fact, it’s one that seems to have started around the same time I started blogging and my facebook page. Here’s the problem. I’m not perfect. (GASP!!!!)

Okay, so you probably figured that out a long time ago. But sometimes you just can’t see the forest for the trees and I was sitting in the middle of a big honkin’ forest. Wearing wooden goggles. Covered in leaves. Look, I never actually thought I was perfect, but I did think I was supposed to be. Why? Well, I don’t really have a good explanation. That’s why the whole thing is crazy.

Here are a few things that led me to the ridiculous conclusion that I was supposed to be perfect.

People said I inspired them.
SO, if I’m inspiring to someone and then they find out I have failed (missed a workout, gained a few pounds, lost every ounce of motivation), then I’m  no longer inspiring. I have failed them. The very people who thought I was inspiring. Ya know what? It’s also inspiring to find out someone is real. I hate reading an article about a “fit” celebrity who says they never workout. 1 – They’re lying. 2 – They have a ridiculous metabolism, but forget that working out is about so much more than how you look.

I am a certified personal trainer.
Well, technically I was certified. I haven’t renewed my certification yet, but I digress. I’ve mentioned this before, but that certification didn’t come with instructions. It didn’t come with motivation. Sure, I passed the exam to become certified. But, that’s like taking a lamaze class and thinking it makes you a perfect parent. Guess what? When you take that baby home from the hospital, you don’t arrive in your beautiful new nursery with all the answers. As a parent, you do your best with what you know. You learn a lot (I mean A LOT) as you go. Things you thought would work don’t. Things you never imagined you’d be doing work like a charm. Guess what? Training, working out, finding your fitness sweet spot…it’s all trial and error. It’s learn as you go. Things that worked for you while you’re new to fitness may not work for you once you have more experience. Things change. The only thing that does stay the same is that I need to keep reading, keep learning. I will never, ever (“ever, ever” sung like Taylor Swift) know it all. And I’m okay with that. (Most days.)

I am a Lifestyle and Weight Loss Management Specialist.
Whatever that means.

I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect mother. Or a perfect wife. Or employee. Or anything. Neither are you and that’s totally cool. We’re not supposed to be. What would we do with all our free time if we were perfect and already knew it all?

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.

I Wish The Universe Was More Like Kohl's

photo credit: theskinnyveg.tumblr.com

Ever get a gift from the Universe? One you thought you really wanted but once you received it you wish you could return it? Too bad life isn’t like Kohl’s. Hell, they’ll take back anything. The Universe’s gifts, on the other hand, are like your Great Aunt Ida’s knitted sweaters. There is no returning that shit.

See, I’ve been kind of complaining about something. Mostly just to my husband because he has to listen. Plus, I don’t care if he judges me. The judge who married us said “til death do we part” and I fully intend to make him live up to his end of the bargain. But, I’ve been complaining about maintenance. Weight maintenance. I don’t do this often OR publicly because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. Losing weight was hard. It was a mental game for me, but once I conquered the mental part of it the rest came easy. Those numbers dropped on the scale pretty quickly for me and each pound lost was motivation to keep pushing forward. Once I reached my goal weight, it was AWESOME!

Of course, every once in a while bad habits would start to creep back in and I would have to reign myself back in. I would have to remember there is a reason powdered donuts are not allowed in my house. I kept it in check for a long time. After a while though, I got frustrated. I felt like I had nothing I was working toward. I no longer needed to lose weight. I wasn’t training for any “event” nor did I care to. I basically had to eat healthfully and work out just to look exactly the same way I always do. (Yes, health benefits, live longer, blah blah. I know. Those things don’t drive me. They aren’t tangible things to me. I’m talking about working toward something that drives me.)

So I kept complaining that I needed something to work toward. I felt like I was just floating along on auto-pilot. Going through my workouts, breaking a sweat, and going home. I wasn’t excited about anything. Buying single digit clothing sizes for the first time in years was exciting for me. Crossing the finish line at a 5k with a faster time than I had set as my goal was exciting for me. Having nothing new to look forward to – not so exciting. So here I am, whining and moaning and groaning like a little sissy that I don’t have anything to work toward. Guess what? The Universe gives me a “gift”.

I went to buy some new shorts (at Kohl’s, would ya believe?) and took my usual size into the dressing room. Except that size didn’t fit anymore. Uh oh. So I grabbed the next size up. It fit (thank GOD!). “Congratulations,” said the Universe in her snarky little voice. “Looks like you have something to work toward.” “NO!” I shouted inside my head. “I don’t want this. I want to return it. I didn’t know what I was saying. THIS is not what I had in mind.” But, you can’t return the Universe’s gifts. She’s a little bitch like that.

So now here I am, five weeks before Memorial Day and the start of bikini season. And I’m up a size from last year. Careful what you wish for. The Universe is kind of sneaky.

I Don't Know How She Does It

photo credit: nancycooklin.wordpress.com

Well, she doesn’t. Didn’t you read the book? Granted, I read this book probably ten years ago when it first came out so my memory of the details may be a little sketchy. And I didn’t see the movie because I was certain it would suck. The gist of it is this – this woman is a successful corporate type who appears to have it all. Perfect family, marriage, career, etc. Everyone wonders “how she does it”. The truth is, she doesn’t. Her marriage is falling apart. She suffers from major mommy guilt which also affects her ability to do her job as well as she could. Sound familiar?

I have personally been told, “I don’t know how YOU do it.” I kind of look around and wonder who the hell they are talking to. When I realize it’s actually me, I’m like, “huh?” How I do what? Apparently by appearances I seem to have it somewhat together. I have happy, healthy kids. I have a good marriage. I have a job I kick ass at. I have this blog which I try to write on somewhat regularly. And I have a facebook page that has a respectable number of likes. Well, I should start preparing my Oscar speech now because while I am more grateful for those things than you can imagine, they do not define me as “having it together”.

My kids rock. I wonder daily if I’m effing them up. My husband is a saint (mostly). He’s a far better spouse than I am. My job? Well, I do kick ass at that. But sometimes I could probably do better. Couldn’t we all? My blog and facebook page? Honestly, they stress me out. When I post something, I hover. I wait to see if anyone will read or like it. Or comment. If there’s any comment that isn’t absolutely glowing I freak out and take it completely personally. It feels like a kick in the gut and I think I’m not cut out for this. I’m not cut out for any type of feedback other than “I’m awesome”. Which is really stupid and I know that. Duh.

This idea of perfection – where the hell did THAT come from? I hate it. I hate comparing myself to others but can’t seem to stop. “Oh, SHE dyed four dozen Easter eggs with her kids, huh? Damn, I didn’t even make dessert.” “Oh, look at HER abs.” Have you ever walked into a birthday party and it looked like something out of a magazine? Yeah, we throw pizza and water guns at my kids and pray no one gets hurt. Have you ever walked into someone’s house and suddenly yours felt like it was someone’s first apartment? I’m not super mom. I’m not a trophy wife. I’m not a paid writer. I’m not perfect.

I’m embracing my imperfections. I’m not doing it very well, but I AM working on it. If I miss a school function because it slipped my mind, it’s okay. My kids still know I love them. If I skip a workout because I’d rather be on the couch, well, that’s okay (once in a while). I’m working on finding the balance that works for me. The huge list of responsibilities I have mean that I won’t be great at all of them all the time. Maybe I will remember that my kid is getting an award, but the whites have been in the washing machine for three days now. Maybe I will hit the gym five days this week, but I totally forgot to post something super inspirational on facebook.

Perfection is impossible. I’m working really  hard on living that truth. What are you working on?

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.

My Year as a Personal Trainer

Personal Training at a Gym - Pushups Category:...Last March I became certified as a personal trainer. I was lucky enough to train a few people. The trouble was, I ended up giving up on the training because it just didn’t fit in my schedule. Our family is crazy busy. With two kids in extra curriculars six days a week, there isn’t a lot of free time. The time that is “free” I’d like to utilize for sleep working out.

So here I am with this cert and I’m not using it in the traditional sense. And my renewal paperwork shows up in the mail. In order to maintain a personal training certification, you are required to do continuing education. So I have a decision to make. To renew or not to renew? Does having a certification make me more legit? And legit for what exactly? I started this blog initially as a way to show people what I’ve learned and continue to learn as I research my nerdy little brains out. As many blogs do, this one has evolved and went from constant “rah rah you can do it”, to “Hey, I’m having a suck ass time at this working out stuff this week”. I don’t need a certification for that, right? I mean, I realize I appear certifiable sometimes, but that’s something altogether different.

If I let my certification lapse, will I suddenly have less knowledge? I’ve had that piece of paper for a whole year now and have yet to see any of its magical powers. In fact, there are times it’s brought me stress because I thought there were certain societal expectations that would come along with it. You know, like the personal trainer police would bust me eating a Krispy Kreme. I won’t be leaving my day job to pursue a career in fitness. That is a fact. I’ve also proven that as much as I would love, love, love to help people I just honestly can’t squeeze it in my current schedule. So, what’s the point in keeping it? I don’t really think there is one.

So, I’m letting it go. I’m letting the certification go. I’m letting the stupid expectations that I set upon myself go. I’m letting the feeling of thinking I’ll finally know it all go. I’ll never know it all (hubby, this does not apply to you or the children. As far as ya’ll are concerned I do, in fact, know it all). But, not “knowing”everything can be a gift if you let it. That’s what I learned during my year as a personal trainer.