Fitness Goals and Baby Steps

Hands & Feet

As you know, two things I love are writing and fitness. I’ve been able to incorporate the two here and have been lucky enough to have you read it. Another thing I love to do is read lots of other blogs. (I’m a total stalker.) One of my favorites, The Well Written Woman, said they were looking for new contributors. I’m not even sure I finished reading that sentence before I was shooting off an email begging for a chance. (The subject line read, “Pick me! Pick me!”. No, I have no shame.) To my surprise, they said they would love for me to submit something for their review. To my shock, they said they would PUBLISH IT! Holy crap. I was literally jumping up and down with excitement. This is the first published piece that wasn’t “my story of weight loss” (on a page that I didn’t own or co-own). I hope you’ll check out the piece and The Well Written Woman. They blog on a variety of topics and the women over there are absolutely fabulous writers!

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Get Out of First Gear

Gear shift stick of my Mazda Protege SE 1999.

Image via Wikipedia

Do you know how to drive a stick shift or have you ever attempted to learn to drive a stick shift? It’s odd how something that is such a normal part of your life (driving) can become instantly terrifying. I drive a stick now and I absolutely love it. Being in control of my car like that is exhilarating. Learning to drive it? Uh, not so much.

Who knew my route to work was filled with so many enormous hills slight inclines? At stop lights! When you drive a “regular” car, you do so without much regard to the road itself (unless you hit a big pot hole or something). But when you’re driving a stick shift, you notice every incline, every stop light. You run yellow lights and loudly “will” the red lights to quickly turn green so you don’t have to stop. “Please turn green! Please turn green!” (It doesn’t work, by the way.) You notice the cars behind you and wonder why on earth they have stopped so close to your rear bumper. You pray the entire time you’re driving you don’t have to stop so you don’t have to worry about taking off in first gear.

Going to the gym is kind of the same way. Maybe you’ve worked out at home, or when you were younger. But now you walk into the gym and you are completely intimidated. The equipment is scary, you aren’t sure where to start, and (you feel like) everyone is looking at you. Maybe someone even gets a little too close to your “rear bumper”.

Just like driving a stick shift, the gym does get easier. You become more familiar with the equipment. You know how to turn on the treadmill without propelling yourself off the back. The only people on your rear bumper are the ones you want there. You just have to keep going. Just like you have to keep driving. The only way to improve at something is doing it over and over.

The gym isn’t the be all, end all for getting in shape. Just like you don’t have to drive a stick shift. However, if it’s something you DO want to do; something you feel would be beneficial for you, don’t let fear stand in your way. It’s time to get out of first gear!

Perceptions Are Cumulative

Children in Jerusalem.

The following was a facebook status on one of the parenting pages I follow. (I know! Can you believe I do anything aside from fitness stuff??):

PERCEPTIONS ARE CUMULATIVE. A child who consistently hears negative messages will perceive himself as bad, incapable, difficult, a trouble-maker, etc.  The longer he holds those NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS, the longer it will take to turn them around and the more ENCOURAGEMENT it will require. Fortunately, POSITIVE MESSAGES are also CUMULATIVE & can shift a child’s perception of himself to CAPABLE, IMPORTANT, and EMPOWERED. This week’s challenge: try to provide 10 positive messages to 1 negative/correcting message to your kids.  Let us know how they respond.

After first considering how I could use this to be a better parent (of course), I immediately thought of how we view OURSELVES. Read the above paragraph again…consistently hearing negative messages will make someone perceive themselves as incapable. This doesn’t just apply to children. This applies to ALL of us. (After all, we’re just grown up kids, right?) So of course I have to ask, what kind of messages are you feeding yourself?

Negative messages? “I’m too heavy to work out ~People will make fun of me ~ I’m not good enough ~ I don’t know what I’m doing ~ I don’t know where to start. ~ I’m not capable. ~ I’m bad because I ate something unhealthy. ~ etc”. If you consistently feed your brain those negative messages, guess what? It will become your truth! Why in the world would you want this to be your truth?

“Fortunately, positive messages are also cumulative and can shift a child’s perception of himself to CAPABLE, IMPORTANT, and EMPOWERED.” You are those things.

You ARE capable. You can do anything you set your mind to. It may require baby steps. It may require educating yourself on new ways of doing things. It may require a thought shift. As Henry Ford says, “whether you think you can or  can’t, you’re right”.

You ARE important. Just ask those that are important to you. They know how important you are. You matter! And you are worth the time to invest in yourself.

Positive messages: “I am smart. I am kind. I am beautiful. I am important.” The Help

You wouldn’t speak negatively to children, friends, or other family members. Why do you think you deserve that? You don’t! Replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. For every negative thought you have, replace it with ten positive ones. You WILL be empowered.

We’re just awesome little kids in grown up bodies. We deserve to feel good about ourselves. We deserve to look in the mirror and LOVE what we see. (Have you ever seen a 5-year-old pick out stuff they hated about themselves?) Perceptions ARE cumulative. So what is your perception?

*Thank you Positive Parenting Solutions for letting me borrow your quote.

Exciting Announcement!

 

Some of you may remember a post I co-wrote with my friend Tiffany, AKA Workout Girl. We had so much fun writing that post, we knew we needed to work together on a more regular basis. I hope you’ll check out our new project called 2 fitfreaks. It’s all the awesome you’ve come to expect. Times two. I’ll continue to blog here as well and I sincerely appreciate all the support and love you’ve shown to my page. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Dustin Maher – America's Trainer To The Moms

Dustin Maher

fitnessGETZeasy fans,
Meet Dustin. Our very first guest blogger. He was kind enough to feature me on his website and now has written for our blog. Enjoy…

I am Dustin Maher, America’s Trainer To The Moms. I am a leading expert on getting moms in shape. I have appeared 88 times on local and national TV, appeared in many magazines and newspapers, and been on over 25 radio shows. I have a blog (www.dustinmaherfitness.com) that receives over 1,000 visitors per day and an active mailing list of 6,000 people. I run 11 fitness bootcamp locations in Madison, Wisconsin, and have sold over 10,000 fitness DVDs. My mission is to reach one million moms by the end of 2015 with the support they need to change their mindset, eat better, exercise effectively, and be part of fit families and communities so they can transform their bodies and their lives.

Fitness: Getting Started, Maintaining, and Staying Motivated

GETTING STARTED

Getting started, continued maintenance, and staying motivated with your fitness and health goals can be a bit of a challenge.  Getting started is the most difficult, and it is a question I continually hear from individuals who, for many years, have let themselves go, or others who have tried everything but can’t seem to stick to any one program.

Here are some suggestions for handling these challenges:

Start with setting an end goal and consider what specific and measurable results you desire to see in a specified time period.  Visualize every day how good you will feel to be fit and healthy. Also visualize how you will feel if you continue on your same unhealthy path.  Understand results will not come overnight.  Consider how long it took you to get out of shape, or consider how long you’ve been making the same unhealthy choices that have created your body today.

Realize there will be setbacks and challenges.  When obstacles occur do not allow yourself to feel defeated or do not feel sorry for yourself.  Take the initiative and get right back on your plan as soon as possible.  Take baseline measurements like a pushup test, mile run test, pull-ups, plank, body fat, and body part measurements. All of these will be able to be retested once a month and seeing progress can add to your motivation.

Find people who share similar health goals and try to spend less time with those who bring you down.  Changing your environment is pertinent to changing your behaviors.  Study the experts – applied knowledge is power.  You will find consistent commonalities with health and fitness views.  Research those who have been successful at what you are trying to do and follow their lead.

If you are not a self starter, hire a trainer or expert. A qualified fitness professional can cut the trial and error time down and get you faster results.  A fitness professional can provide you with accountability to stick with it, and paying for a service, for some, will increase the commitment factor.

Include resistance training at least 3 days per week.  Resistance training won’t increase bulk, it builds and tones the muscles to give your body a better look.  Other benefits are increased strength, energy and mobility.  It will also reduce body fat, and lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

MOTIVATION THROUGH BALANCE

Keeping motivated can be challenging without a specific and an obtainable goal.  Once achieving noticeable results 4-6 months later, the motivation to push further can decrease if your goal isn’t clear enough.  Ask yourself why you made the goal to begin with, and if you’ve lost your clarity revise your goal.

Finding balance will help keep you motivated, but it can be one of the most difficult things to achieve.  Very few people have complete balance in their lives.  You can be wealthy, have poor family communication, and be out of shape.  You can have wonderful family relationships, be healthy, but struggle financially.  Or, you might be in amazing physical health, but lack a spiritual grounding or solid relationships.

It is pretty easy to achieve what you desire if it becomes your main focus in life.  But a one sided focus will not equally distribute energy in other important areas of your life.  Prioritizing what is most important to you and equally distributing your energy creates balance.  Prioritizing will not only help you find balance, but it will simultaneously fuel motivation.

MAINTAINING YOUR ACHIEVEMENT

Maintaining is second the most difficult factor after getting started. Once you’ve achieved your fitness goal, you must find a happy medium in order to maintain your results – it must become your lifestyle.  Start by deciding how much time you can devote to exercise each day or week.  During your transformation you may have been working out 75 minutes a day, 6 days per week.  Could you maintain that for the rest of your life? Probably not.  However, something more reasonable might be committing to 45 minutes 3 times per week, or 30 minutes 5 times per week.

It is important to understand that eating is 80% of your weight loss success. Working out and eating well are the keys to maintaining successful weight loss.  It would be difficult to never indulge in your favorite foods for the rest of your life.  Maintain the 80/20 rule; eat healthy 80% of the time and the other 20% eat what you want.  Monitor how you feel when you eat and learn to eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly, and stop eating when your stomach is full!

Continue to set specific goals and push yourself further from time to time – strive to run a marathon, climb a mountain, do 5 pull-ups.  Without continual goal setting, your workouts will become stagnant and your motivation to maintain may decrease.  Eventually maintaining won’t be a second thought, it will become your lifestyle.
If you enjoyed this, I have a free gift to give you at www.dustinmaherfitness.com. It is a free report called, How To Fit Into Your Skinny Jeans and Still Have Room Left Over.

You might also want to check out some of my home workout DVDs programs that have helped thousands of moms from around the world.

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

This is Tiffany and Chrystal. We both run 5ks. We both eat healthy (most of the time – hey, nobody’s perfect). We both work out regularly. We have both been told we inspire others to be more fit. However, people’s perception of us varies greatly. Here, we tell our own personal story. The funny thing is, we’re more alike than you can possibly imagine!

TIFFANY
People have told me (and my husband) that when they first meet me, they think I don’t like them, or that I’m stuck up.An old co-worker of mine actually told me she thought I was prejudiced when she first met me.Not because of anything I say, but just how I look at them.Obviously, this is not something I intentionally do.Quite the opposite.I’m SO worried about what people think of me when I meet them because of my weight.I think a lot of people see a heavy woman and think she is lazy, or eats a lot of donuts and ice cream.They would be wrong – about me anyway.

I do have my moments of weakness with food.When I do have those moments of weakness, and order a Big Mac or a donut, I wonder if people are looking at me and thinking, “Gosh, she shouldn’t be eating that.No wonder she’s fat.” I work out 5-6 days per week, sometimes every single day.I’m training to run a half marathon.I have run three 5Ks and completed a Warrior Dash this year.I LOVE to exercise.I don’t lock myself in my bedroom and eat bon-bons and watch TV all day.

I haven’t always been heavy.I was actually asked in high school if I was anorexic because I was so thin. (Of course, I thought I was fat at the time.) I was NOT anorexic.I didn’t become part of the obese crowd until after I gave birth to my son.I gained 65 pounds when I was pregnant with him.I finally lost all of that weight when he was 4 years old, only to get pregnant with my daughter the following summer.I gained 70 pounds while pregnant with her.I’ve lost 33 pounds so far, but the journey is far from over.

The problem is, if people look at me right now and don’t know that I am Workout Girl, or see me running at lunch time, they would make an assumption that I’m lazy.I’m not.You never know where someone is in his or her journey just by his or her current size.For all you know, I could’ve already lost 200 pounds.Don’t judge me.

CHRYSTAL
When I walk into a room, people notice. In fact, I usually get stares. No, no, no. Not what you’re thinking. Not the slow motion, hair blowing back, and my theme song is playing kind of stares. I get the “Who the hell does she think SHE is” stares. Other women usually automatically assume I am a bitch. Or at least that’s how I feel. This puts me on guard and generally shuts me down. Small talk seems impossible because I’m not even sure how to approach them. So, not only am I a bitch; now I’m a stuck up bitch. People watch to see what I’ll eat. They’ll give their friend a knowing glance if I pick up something healthy (Of course, she eats healthy. She probably had an iceberg leaf wrapped in a romaine leaf for lunch. I bet she’s hungry.)If I pick up something unhealthy instead, it’s a different kind of glance (Oh, look she can eat whatever she wants. She must have a high metabolism.) Neither of these assumptions about me are correct.

If I’m in the locker room, I also get looks. These REALLY suck because these are women I KNOW I have something in common with. We’re both at the gym. Obviously we’re both interested in our health. But they look at me like they’re daring me to say something to them. I DO want to say something to them. I want to scream, “Girl Power!”. Or ask them what their work out is going to be. Or if they’ve tried the new spin instructor. Or what did they do to get those beautiful shoulders. But I don’t. I offer a half ass smile and move on.

Here’s what you don’t know about me. It’s just as hard for me as it is for anyone else to turn down a donut. Or not order the cheese burger. I do not have magical will power. (Although I sure wish I did. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?)I don’t always want to work out. Or eat healthy. Sometimes I don’t do either. However, most of the time I do.

I haven’t always been thin. I’ve lost 30 pounds the old-fashioned way. Diet and exercise. Yes, diet and exercise. The two words no one wants to hear but the only true formula for success. I feel like people think I don’t have to try. Boy, how wrong that is. Maintaining is just as hard as losing was. You don’t get to stop when you get to your magic number. Don’t get me wrong. I jumped up and down like a ten-year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert when I saw “the number” on my scale. But you know what? I still have to work out. I still have to watch what I eat. That doesn’t stop.

This is not a sad tale where I’m garnering for your empathy. Quite the contrary. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m secretly cheering on every girl I see who’s working out, regardless of her size. I remember what it was like to “run” (more like a fast walk, slow jog type of thing) when I was heavier. It sucked. It was hard to breathe and my knees hurt. Now when I run, it also usually sucks. The thrill comes when it’s over. So you think I’m staring at you while you’re running? I am. I’m giving you a mental high-five. I think you rock because you’re doing something that most people aren’t – getting off your ass and doing something good for yourself. So like I said, I’m not looking for your empathy. I’m saying don’t judge a book by its cover. We may be more alike than you ever could imagine.

* For more info on Tiffany, AKA Workout Girl, please visit her fabulous facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/goworkoutgirl

Love Letters

We’ve all been there. King or Queen of Motivation. Nothing could make us miss a workout. We pushed ourselves harder than ever. We ran faster and longer. We lifted heavier. Our discipline was unwavering. Our willpower was stellar. Not even the yummiest of treats could sway us from our goals. People were in awe of our awesomeness. We talked about working out like we were Olympic champions and everyone wanted to know what we were doing.

Then BAM! The motivation is dead. Willpower is a distant memory. You don’t even know where your running shoes are. You forgot where the gym was and all the fruit in your fridge is growing mold. You eat junk food that doesn’t even taste that great, just because that’s what you used to do. You’re embarrassed to let friends, family, or co-workers see you eat your lunch because all you want is a big fried bucket of nasty.

How in the world is it possible to go from one extreme to the other basically overnight? First of all, it’s normal. It’s easy to get excited about a new workout plan or new healthy foods. The trouble with all this excitement is we go all out then fall flat on our face after it stops being new and exciting. Or we burn out from our workouts because we don’t change them up often enough.

Here’s an idea for you. Start writing little notes to yourself. For example, “Today I went to the gym and totally kicked ass. I lifted 10 pounds heavier than last time and surprised myself. I felt so powerful and strong. I feel so fit and amazing, like I can do ANYTHING!” When you just aren’t feeling a workout, read that note. Maybe it will inspire you to get to they gym or do a workout by remembering how fabulous you felt.

OR if you do skip a workout or eat something not so healthy, write yourself a note then as well. It would probably go a little something like this, “I skipped my workout yesterday. I was just too exhausted from life. So instead I went home and laid on the couch and watched TV. Then I got the munchies so I ate some Doritos. Just a little at first. Then I ended up polishing off the whole bag before The Real Housewives of New Jersey episode was even over. I hated that Doritos taste in my mouth so I chased it with some Twizzlers. There was only half a pack left, so I went ahead and finished that too. I didn’t want them to get stale in that open package. When I woke up this morning I felt like total crap. I didn’t have any energy, my skin felt gross, and I was totally bloated. Next time I think I’ll just go to the gym.”

Perhaps if you have these little love notes to yourself sitting around somewhere one of them will persuade you in the right direction the next time you’re “just not feeling” your workout.

Repeat After Me

Yes, I’m talking to you. Say this out loud to yourself, right now!

1. Today I will only eat when I’m hungry. Not because I’m bored, stressed, or just because it tastes good.

2. Today I will accept myself exactly where I am because in order to get where I’m going, I have to appreciate where I’ve been and where I am.

3. Today I will stop making excuses. I will not wait for tomorrow. I will not wait until my schedule clears, I graduate, I get my dream job, my kids are out of school, my kids are in school….whatever excuse I can think of. Stop it now! There will always be an excuse. There may not be a tomorrow.

4. Today I will stop being hard on myself for not working out like an Olympian. I will push past my own comfort zone and applaud myself for that hard work.

5. Today I will look in the mirror and say “you’re AWESOME!”. And mean it.

Perfectly Imperfect

I’m the girl you love to hate. I have a marriage envied by most. My children aren’t just beautiful; they are intelligent, kind, and loving people. My body is bangin’ and I eat healthy all the time. My house is always impossibly clean, I’m always dressed stylishly, and I always seem to know what to say. Who am I? An illusion!

She is not perfect. She’s terrified her marriage will fall apart because she’s insecure and has been left before. Her worst fear is being a horrible mother because hers wasn’t present enough to lead by example. She sees flaws in her body that you don’t and eats powdered donuts by the bag behind her cabinet door when no one is looking. Oh yeah, she also eats fast food, but only in her car in the back of some empty parking lot so no one can see her. Her house is a wreck, just ask her. She envies young girls in their stylish clothes and secretly wishes her budget would allow her to buy more, though she doesn’t want to be defined by her appearance. She has a way with words (it’s her gift) but  often has no idea how to solve her own problems and doesn’t take her own advice.

Don’t judge her! The reality is there are a lot of women like this. They are your neighbor, friend, co-worker, or maybe….you? You look perfect on the outside because you have an overwhelming desire to be perfect. Unfortunately that desire causes such turmoil within you, you can never be happy with yourself. Sure, you can function and most of the time are able to find your own version of happiness that gets you through your day well enough. Then there’s the dark side. The place you slip into that feels like you can never escape. The place where that mean girl in your head tells you that you aren’t good enough. You aren’t worthy of love or friends. Or happiness. In that place you feel like you are watching your life on a movie screen. You’re trying to scream at the girl on the screen that she’s awesome. That it’s okay. Just snap out of it because there really is a perfect life waiting for her where people love and need her. Unfortunately, she can’t hear you. She’s too busy being miserable. Although she does wonder why her friends don’t notice something is wrong, making her even more miserable. Of course they didn’t notice because she holds it together so well; they envy how perfect she is.

It’s hard to get out of that darkness. No one understands. I’m here to tell you, that’s where you’re wrong. There are a LOT of women who go through this. A lot of women have seen the darkness and have lived to tell about it. People you know who are just like you, but too ashamed to admit it. JUST LIKE YOU. They think you are holding it all together and you would laugh in their face if you knew the craziness they felt.

 There is light at the end of the tunnel, my friends. Once you reach the light, the logical part of your brain is able to understand how “crazy” you were while you were in the darkness. Reach out to someone you trust. When you want their help the least is when you will need it the most. They can help you get through that darkness and back into the light where you are perfectly imperfect. Don’t be afraid. You are so worth it!

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”  ~ Anne Lamott

Love YOUrself

The ladies in my neighborhood play Bunco. It’s technically a dice game, but it’s really just an excuse to get together with neighborhood friends – girls only, no kids or hubbies allowed. This gives us a monthly break to breathe, eat,  drink, and socialize without feeling guilty. We haven’t actually played the game in months. But, it’s a neighborhood function, after all, so you’re practically obligated to go, right?

At one of the most recent “Buncos” we got on the topic of fitness and body  image. (This was well into the night and after lots of beer and wine). I probably shouldn’t have been shocked, but it became clear very quickly that practically every woman there had a poor body image. So I went around the room and told each woman what I loved about them. (Thank you Bud Light for helping to  take my guard down so I could lift these women up.) Then I challenged each of them to tell one thing they loved about themselves. Just one thing. One. Most came up with something. Eyes, boobs, hair, strength. I was super proud of these girls to say out loud something they loved about themselves. It was as though with each self compliment, we all got stronger.

Then there were those that had nothing. Even after much probing and encouragement, we couldn’t get them to name one thing they loved about themselves and it made me genuinely sad. Unfortunately, I think this is a true representation of how a lot of people feel. Myself included. As a mother of daughters,  I’ve had to literally force myself from negative talk. I’ve had to stop talking about weight and losing it. I’ve had to force myself to look in the mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful (in front of them).  Even on days when I definitely don’t believe it.

I do this because I don’t want them to have self-doubt. I want them to love themselves for who they are regardless of their weight, size, or body shape. I want them to always love themselves while still striving to be better (or while maintaining their awesomeness). I don’t want them to think success is a number on a scale and happiness is a dress size. So, I’m trying to lead by example. I’m trying to love myself, flaws included. I try not to be too hard on myself after a binge eating episode. I try not to freak out if I miss a work out or if my jeans are uncomfortable from too many powdered donuts. Because this is what I want for my  daughters. And I want it for all women. All people for that matter, men and women. I would love people to just love  themselves, so they can love each other. We have to just stop judging and give genuine compliments. Not just to others, but to ourselves as well. Imagine the support we could find in one another if we just loved ourselves. Give yourself one genuine compliment right now. Then pass it on.

In Fitness and In Health,
Chrystal