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?
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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?

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.

Fitness Freaks That Freak Me Out

I started my fitness facebook page in May 2011. I was bursting with enthusiasm and had all these fabulous words of inspiration rolling around in my head. However, I was certain not all my friends wanted to hear about it on my personal page, so the fitness page was born. (I even got complaints when my Nike+ updated that I went for a run. Some thought I was “showing off”. Well, duh!) The numbers of fans started creeping up slowly and people I didn’t even know “liked” me. It was exhilirating and I was throwing out little nuggets of wisdom like it was my job. I was inspired by the thought that I might be inspiring others.

I posted a contest – working out for 30 days in a row. That’s when it hit me. I was a fraud. All these people who had “liked” my page were checking in every single day telling me their workout and they really did workout 30 days in a row. I did not. I totally flaked out. But I didn’t feel like I could tell them that. I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me since I was the one that was supposed to be inspiring them. I continuted to be their biggest cheerleader and just avoided posting anything about my own workouts. It made me miserable.

I finally gave in and confessed. I got tons of support from the little facebook community that had been built. I also confessed in my blog about falling off the wagon (several times). Ironically the posts where I open up about my own struggles have been some of my most popular. It’s so exhausting being perfect. So, I stopped pretending to be.

I follow a lot of seriously amazing blogs and facebook pages that are related to fitness and nutrition. There are a few that project this image of perfection. And you know, I get that. We are branding ourselves and it’s hard to be vulnerable enough to tell a big group of strangers that you skipped your workout in favor of your DVR and a 5 gallon bucket of ice cream. Besides, no one wants to hear us complain. Here’s the problem…it gives the reader a totally skewed view of reality. I’m pretty confident that every single person on this planet has had a bad day, a set back, fallen off the wagon, ate a big bag of sugar, or something not otherwise considered healthy.

Get the inspiration you need from these people but understand they are human. Just because we as writers, bloggers, and facebookers are able to project a certain image it doesn’t mean we can be or are that way all the time. I’ve caught myself reading certain updates or posts thinking, “man, she’s awesome. I suck.” Guess what? She IS awesome. But I do NOT suck. No one is perfect even if they seem to be. That is a public image. Don’t let these fitness freaks freak you out. And for the love of fitness, don’t get caught up in thinking success lies in perfection. It lies in persistence.

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.

Screw THAT – What Works For Me Wednesday

English: Emjoi AP-30. A near infrared optical ...

Image via Wikipedia

29.9%  – My body fat at my recent evaluation.

110% – My freak out as a result of said body fat %.

1000% – The level of ridiculousness of that freak out.

I’m such a hypocrite. If you came to me upset about a number (on the scale, in your jeans, etc) I would tell you that you are not defined by any number. However, I let that shit define me for two whole weeks. In normal Chrystal fashion, I went straight home and started researching diets to reduce my fat. Dude, I don’t even believe in diets. But I found one, printed it out and wrote out my grocery list. My very supportive husband went to the grocery store and bought every single thing on the list. I was deeply satisfied putting away all that fresh produce. That was it. My fight with my body fat was on and I was going to win.

Then reality set in. Steamed cauliflower, a boiled egg, and a green apple for breakfast? What’s wrong with my plain oatmeal and blueberries? Salads ONLY for lunch and dinner? Well, that’s not sustainable. An unsustainable way of “losing” is against absolutely everything I believe in.

So, I said screw THAT! We ate that produce. I made a fantastic salad. I had it for lunch a couple times last week and I enjoyed it. However, if I knew that was all I was going to eat for the next six weeks I’m pretty sure that salad wouldn’t have tasted so good.

I also stopped reading weight lifting articles. Here’s the deal – lift heavy things. It doesn’t matter if I do splits (legs one day, arms and back another, etc) or if I do full body workouts. Lifting heavy things WILL increase muscle mass. The contradiction of all the information that’s available WILL increase my stress level. Especially when I’ve already put myself into panic mode.

I’m a hypocrite. I was looking for the magic formula to reduce that body fat % (which, by the way, I’m pretty sure 29.9% is inaccurate). I’ve told you there’s no magic pill; no secret formula. Yet, I still went looking for it. I had a momentary lapse of sanity. But, I snapped back to reality and said screw THAT! I don’t need a stinkin number to tell me I’m awesome.

 

Hi. My Name Is Chrystal and I'm Skinny Fat

I’ve shared with you before when I’ve gotten into a slump. A rut. Fallen off the proverbial wagon. Whatever cute little phrase you’d like to use for “got lazy”. I struggle just like anyone else. Although I do have a personal training certification, it’s not what I do for a living. In fact, I really don’t use it at all. I don’t have the time! I’m just like most people out there trying to make everything fit into 24 hours. Kids, spouse, career, house, etc. It’s not easy and a have my share of struggles just like anyone else.

When I’m struggling, my go-to is cardio. I love the cardio classes because I’m good at being directed. I particularly love spin because it pushes me more than any other class I’ve taken. If someone tells me to go fast, I try to go faster than anyone else in the class. If she says to turn the resistance up to a 6, I like to go to 8. I can push in that kind of environment.

Strength training, to me is, well…boring. I know it’s super crazy important but while I’m standing there lifting weights, I’m thinking of all the other crap I could be doing. I’m looking at the people who are looking at me. I’m wondering where the cute blonde chick got her shorts. I’m easily distracted. So, I haven’t been lifting at all like I should recently.

I joined a new gym since my contract was up at my former gym. I was hopeful that a new environment and different classes would be the kick in the ass I need to get back on that proverbial wagon. Along with my new gym membership came a free assessment with a personal trainer and some free sessions. I had my assessment this week and I left there feeling like I was going to puke and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

My cardio health was superior. No surprise there really, after all I spin regularly. My flexibility was very good. (That sort of surprised me because I don’t feel flexible at all.) My strength was good based on a push up test. My body fat…was considered unhealthy. Yes, UNHEALTHY. Now, I knew it would be good. I can tell the difference in my body from just a year ago. But I didn’t expect to hear the % that I did. I am skinny fat. The term used to describe someone who is thin, but has too much body fat. It’s not something you want, to say the least.

And for the record, I will share that insanely high number with you. Just not yet. I’m still processing it.

So, what did I do with this information? Well, I sulked and pouted like any self-respecting girl would do. I went home and told my hubby. He said, “no problem. Just start strength training and you’ll get to your goal in no time.” Hmmph. I prefer to pout. I talked to my good friend Tiffany. She reminded me I wanted a goal and now I have one. To reduce my body fat. Look, I’m glad to have a support system. I realize how lucky I am. I also realize that even though my body fat % is totally out of whack, I’m at a healthy weight and wear a small size (still skinny fat). But right then, I felt like a big fat slob and I just wanted to wallow in it. So I did.

I sulked around for a couple of days. I went to spin class. Then I got called out by another personal trainer. One who has years of experience and loads of certifications. Serious certifcations. He messaged me privately and reminded me that spin class is NOT strength training and I will never reach my goals if I don’t suck it up and strength train. (He said it way nicer than this. In fact, I was totally not offended at all.) That was just the kick in the ass I needed to stop whining and start working.

I plan to increase my lean muscle mass, and in turn drop body fat in the next few months. Like I said, once it goes down a little, I’ll share the numbers with you. I’m just too horrified to write it right now. I’m going to share this journey with all of you and write about what works and what doesn’t and what sucks and what doesn’t. I did do strength training yesterday. REAL strength training. I’m sore today and I feel pretty great about that. It’s on like Donkey Kong! So stay tuned, as a remember everything I already knew and just apparently chose to ignore.

Getting Fit – Part 1 – Embracing My *AHA* Moment

photo credit recipes.howstuffworks.com

I’ve read that some don’t believe in *aha* moments. I totally get that. I had made up my mind to get in shape many, many times before and had only the crumpled up gym contracts and way less cash in my bank account to show for it. So, after settling into suburban life, marriage, motherhood, a career and being the same weight for years and accepting it what would make this time different? All I can tell you is something clicked. Something was set on fire inside of me and burned so hot I couldn’t think of anything else.

When we got back from that vacation I was telling you about, I could not read weight loss information fast enough. It was like I had been crawling in the desert for weeks and had just found a fresh stream of water. My appetite for information was insatiable. I was going to do it this time and that was going to be that.

I told anyone who would listen I was going to lose 30 pounds. Some people were like, “oh gosh, you don’t have 30 pounds to lose, are you serious?” (I learned to dress my body very well.) My husband and I were also very “social” and we were known for the amount of beer we could drink and the recipes I could find that included bacon (extra bonus if it included cream cheese and bacon). I got a couple of chuckles from some of our friends. It was one of those, “yeah right, we’ll see how long this lasts” kind of things.

I joined Weight Watchers. I went to one meeting and realized the meeting setting wasn’t for me but I loved tracking my food online. I was holding myself accountable for what I was putting in my body. It was then that I realized I had a major case of portion distortion. I was putting lumber jack portions in my 5’4 frame. (My wedding ring is a size 4 1/2. I seriously have a small frame regardless of how “curvy” I am.) I also realized that I was thinking about seconds before I had even finished my first helping. When something tasted good, I would rush through the first portion just to get to the next one. I didn’t eat to fill some kind of void or to hide from my feelings. I ate because food tasted good!

I began measuring out my food, learned what a real portion looked like, and ate only that. It was very strange at first. I was leaving the dinner table without feeling completely stuffed. It had been a long time since that had happened. I’ll admit I felt a little uncomfortable measuring food in front of my daughters. Having been around eating disorders in my childhood, I didn’t want them seeing anything that might make them associate anything “bad” with food. So, we never said the word *diet* in our house. We didn’t say fat or skinny. We talked about being healthy. We talked about what different foods could do for your body (or to it for that matter). I had to properly educate myself, so I could educate them.

I also willingly (ish) gave up my 2pm vending machine habit. Every single weekday, I had an incredibly crazy strong craving for peanut m&m’s and a diet coke. I succumbed to that craving every day for…well, a really long time. I gave it up cold turkey. Come 2pm, I would just walk around my office thinking about how badly I wanted those damn m&m’s. But how I wanted to meet my goals even more. I made sure I had no access to cash until I was sure this self-sabotaging habit was broken.

I also started walking. I would walk almost every single night. I started walking faster and faster until I thought, “hey, maybe I could try running.” I didn’t play sports in high school (or any other time for that matter). I was never “active”. Honestly, I didn’t even like to sweat. It felt icky. I had tried “running” a few times and I thought my lungs would explode in first 30 seconds. My bra strap would always fall down too and annoy the crap out of me. I didn’t even own a sports bra. But maybe, just maybe I could do this without dying. So I started reading up on running…

So You Think You Can Dance?

photo via Golds Gym

Okay, I’ll admit it. I was right. Okay, fine. You were right too. Those of you who kept encouraging me to try Zumba. Those who said, “seriously, it’s not what you think. It’s SO much fun.”

No matter your size or fitness level, being the new kid (and making a complete fool of yourself) is scary. But, how in the world can I encourage people to “get out of their comfort zone” if I don’t? So, I did.

I joined a new gym (that wasn’t scary, that was awesome!). I selected this particular gym because of the variety of classes it offered, one of which was Zumba. I had planned to go on Friday night after work, but I ended up being about 7 minutes late for the class. (My subconscious at work, I’m sure.) I looked at the schedule for Saturday morning and there was another class at 10:35. This was a class I would have absolutely no excuse to miss. I could still sleep in, have time to eat breakfast, and still show up to class on time.

I arrived a bit early and joined the group that had formed just outside the class as the current class was wrapping up. I was looking around at the diverse crowd. Young, old, heavy, thin…every body type, age, and ethnicity you can imagine. I followed my own advice and made small talk with someone as we entered the room and I secured my spot at the very back of the class. They assured me it would be awesome and this was the best instructor in the entire club. Well, I couldn’t confirm that just yet, but I can tell you that this instructor was HOT!

Without much ado, the class started. I felt like I had been sent to choreography in “So You Think You Can Dance”. She’s gliding and gyrating around quickly and I’m contemplating faking a sudden ankle injury. When the group went left, I went right. When they went right, I just kind of stood there and was like, “wow, an hour of this? Awesome!”

Then I got over myself. I realized that this hot instructor looked JUST LIKE ME after a few beers and some thumping club music (actually, there’s probably a good reason most bars don’t have mirrors near the dance floor). Honestly, I just got over myself. I mean, as long as I’m gyrating gliding and sweating, who really cares what direction I’m doing it in? No one in that class did.

Everyone was so busy doing their own thing they weren’t paying attention to anyone else. If you did happen to make eye contact with someone, there weren’t judgmental glances exchanged. It was more of “oh, god. If I die right here doing the salsa tell my family I love them.”

Zumba was totally out of my comfort zone. Once I sucked it up, I realized it’s a kick ass, super fun work out. And whether I looked as good as that instructor or not doesn’t even matter. Because in my mind, I sure as hell did. And we were SEXY! Arriba!