Do You Have A Fitness Girlfriend?

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

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

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

Pop-Tarts

Personally, I prefer strawberry.

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

Fitness Model 1

This is NOT me.

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

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

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

Norman Wisdom Laughing

This guy really gets me.

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

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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

Three Kinds of People

"3"

“3” (Photo credit: striatic)

When it comes to fitness and nutrition, there seem to be three kinds of people. There are those who think they are never doing enough, those who think they are doing enough (but aren’t), and those who get it just right. This little Goldilocks would like to be one of those who get it just right, but I’m not quite there. Yet.

Those Who Think They Are Never Doing Enough
These are the people who think they need to work out HARD seven days a week. A rest day makes these people crazy. Rest? They don’t need no stinkin rest! When they leave the gym, they aren’t totally satisfied. Sure, they lifted weights for an hour, but what about cardio? Or could they have gone harder? Maybe just one more leg exercise? These people push themselves to the point of exhaustion and just give up. Their eating goes from almost “perfect” to total crap. They are just going to get fat anyway, if they can’t go to the gym and kill it every single day. (I am unfortunately one of these people. One hour spin, followed by one hour of yoga? Yes, please. And when I get home, I’ll go ahead and throw in some lunges as a bonus. Then I’ll eat a lettuce leaf and wonder why I’m tired. Okay, I don’t really eat lettuce leaves. That’s just silly. But after a week or two, I give up. No one can possibly keep up this pace.)

Those Who Think They Are Doing Enough
These are the people who think a ten minute walk is enough. Not that there is anything at all for a ten minute walk. If you’re just starting out, seriously, any movement you can get is fantastic. I’m talking about the people who never push themselves. They over-estimate how much they work out and completely under-estimate what they are eating. These are the people who will tell me Diet Coke is going to kill me while they have pizza juice dripping off their chin. Even if the pizza has a whole grain crust, light cheese, etc, if you eat the whole pie, you’ve defeated the purpose. The same people will eat an entire box of low-fat cookies, because they are “healthier”. They will get on the treadmill at the gym and go at a crazy slow pace, never breaking a sweat, and not understand why they aren’t seeing a difference. I’m not slamming these people. Trust me, the other category (up above) is just as messed up.

Those Who Get It Just Right
These are the people who have found a balance that works for them. They have figured out a schedule for working out and have stuck to it. The “when” doesn’t matter. It’s the consistency that gets these people to their goal. Whether it’s a morning workout before the family wakes up, lunch time, or after work, they have found what works for them. They have also found their workout sweet spot. They have found something(s) that they love doing that keeps them coming back for more. They don’t fret if they miss a workout. They know they’ll be back in the gym on their next day. They don’t freak if their workout was less than stellar. They know that not all days can be 100%. They take rest days. They also eat guilt free. Yes, you read that right. Guilt.freaking.free! They eat what they love and understand all things in moderation. And if they happen to eat a whole box of strawberry pop tarts, they dust themselves off and carry on. Nobody’s perfect. But these people have embraced their imperfections and have made being healthy a part of life. (Man, I’m starting to really not like “these people”.)

I’ve told you which one I am, but boy am I working on being the “just right” version of myself. Which one are you? If you’ve balanced it out, I’d love to hear from you about how you got to that place.

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.

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.

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.

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.