Fitness Goals & Baby Steps

Happy

Happy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maintaining your goal weight is a little like having a baby. You know it will be awesome when you get there, but no one tells you the really raw details. While you’re losing weight, you are getting compliments like crazy. (It’s sort of like the baby shower. Instead of being showered in gifts, you’re being showered in compliments.) You are feeling confident and fantastic. In fact, some might even say you’re glowing.

Then the day you have been waiting for arrives! You see that magic number you’ve been working toward (your bundle of joy). You are jumping up and down. Your skinny jeans are loose. LOOSE for heaven’s sake! You ride this high for a while. You feel incredible. You walk around with your head held high and you’re pretty sure that the whole world notices how awesome you are. (Everyone wants to hold that beautiful baby and tell you how absolutely perfect it is!) This could quite possibly be your life’s greatest accomplishment. (Okay, the baby probably is but you get what I’m saying.)

Eventually all the hoopla dies down. People stop complimenting you all the time. (No one is coming over with a dinner casserole and helping with laundry anymore.) Your new, trim physique is just who you are now. People expect you to be that hot every day. (You suddenly realize that passing a person through your vagina or being unnaturally cut open from hip to hip isn’t that big of a deal because women do it every day. Whatevs!)

You walk by a mirror and catch a glimpse of your new <insert goal weight here>self and you’re taken back just a little. Your body doesn’t look quite like you thought it would at that magical goal weight. In fact, it’s oddly just a saggy version of its former fat self. (Really, I don’t think you need a comparison here, do you?)

You start to research and are shocked to find out that your smaller body requires fewer calories. Yes, I said fewer. You know, as in less. Not only that, it requires more exercise to burn the same amount of calories your larger body burned. What the what? Why didn’t you come across this information before? Why didn’t your skinny friends tell you? (I can assure you none of my mommy friends told me during a hot shower I would discover that breast milk actually comes out of about a bazillion holes in your nipple instead of just the one I assumed was there.)

Why am I telling you all this? It’s certainly not to discourage you. Quite the contrary, actually. I want you to know that your “journey” shouldn’t be to a magic number. It should be to a better you. There will be struggles and set-backs along the way (constipation or heart burn anyone?). There will also be fantastic and unexpected gifts, like reaching a jean size you haven’t been in since high school or completing your first 5k. (Much like hearing the baby’s heart beat for the first time or feeling her move.)

Don’t get bogged down with the “journey”. Being healthy is a lifetime commitment. It IS the journey. Approaching it as such will help you from getting discouraged on the bad days (baby being up all night teething.) It will also help you appreciate the good days (hearing that infectious belly laugh.)

Here’s the deal, my perfectly imperfect friends. You will have bad days. You will also have some super, fantastic days. Would you give up on that baby if you had a bad day? I didn’t think so.

Originally posted at The Well Written Woman.

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.

Shit Happens – Move On

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

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

Girl pouting because she didn’t meet her goal

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

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

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

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

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

commitment_jpg

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

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

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.

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.

 

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.

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…

Sellout or Money Making Genius?

If you see your favorite celebrity trainer hocking a new product or pill do you run out to get it or do you wonder, “what the hell are they thinking?” Of course, it obviously depends on the product but I have definitely have had some WTF moments with some of these people.

I think workout DVDs are fantastic! If you respect someone you’ve seen in a magazine or on TV and they are also pretty awesome to look at, I think it’s fantastic if you workout “with them”. Heck, I think anything that gets people moving is fabulous!

I also totally love the books. Yeah, of course I’m a voracious reader so I’ll read just about anything. And a lot of these books don’t necessarily provide any new information, but sometimes it is presented in a new way. Have you ever had that “aha” moment when something finally clicked? It may not have clicked because anything new was said, but in how it was said. So, if you read a book that finally puts something together for you, I’m totally down with that.

Pills. Ugh. The term “magic pill” comes to mind. If these trainers are good enough to have become famous, I have to think they know what they’re doing. That means they obviously know there is no magic pill,  just hard work and smart eating choices. So, why do they do it? Okay, money, I get that. But doesn’t that almost seem like giving up? Are they saying, “okay, these people will never get it, so I’ll sell them this crap to shove down their throats. Best case scenario is that it will have a placebo effect and they’ll finally start eating sensibly and maybe even exercising. And I can buy a beach house.”

I don’t know any of these trainers personally. I haven’t done extensive research on any of their products. I know some even claim to be “all natural” which hopefully at the very least means it can’t hurt you. Of course it probably won’t deliver any results either. If there really were a proven method of weight loss in a pill that wasn’t harmful, wouldn’t it be more widely distributed by medical professionals to fight this obesity epidemic? I’m probably naive, but that’s my opinion.

I love helping people. I love answering questions for people who genuinely want to know the answers. I, however, would not be able to promote any kind of magic pill. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a beach house. Hell, I’d just like to pay off my current house. I’m not greedy. However, I cannot promote something I know for certain doesn’t work.

Do you think these people really believe in the products they’re selling? Do you think they take them? Or do you think they worked for the body they have? Have they convinced themselves they work so they can sleep at night or have they given up and are looking for the money before their celebrity status disappears? Are they sellouts or geniuses?

Ceasing Ridiculous Opportunities – What Works For Me Wednesday

I took my youngest daughter to the doctor the other day. It seemed like it was taking forever for the doctor to come in. My daughter had stolen my phone so she could play games to entertain herself. Of course, this left me with nothing to do. I’ve adapted quite well to this new age of “instant gratification” so before she could even log in to Temple Run I was bored out of my head. I could have been checking work email, facebook, blog stats. You know, super productive stuff. Instead I was just sitting there looking at the brochures telling me why vaccines are important. YAWN! So I got up and started doing lunges. And squats.

I’m not sure what was more weird. The fact that I was doing lunges in this little room the size of a small walk in closet or that my daughter didn’t even bat an eye. So, while lunging (is that a word?), I’m like, “Hey, do you think it’s weird mommy is lunging right now?” She said, “what will you do when the doctor comes in?” I told her I would stop. She said, “well, maybe you could teach her if she doesn’t know how.” Unfortunately I was all done by the time the doctor came in. Otherwise, perhaps we would have gotten in a little exercise together (hey! Do you think they’d take that off my co-pay?).

I also do squats when I brush my teeth. It felt silly at first. Even in my own bathroom. My husband has caught me doing it as have both my kids. I always kind of pause and wait for confirmation that I have indeed lost my mind. But they just continue on with what they are doing and so do I. We’re busy people. We have to take these opportunities as they come. And Lord knows we have perfected the art of multi-tasking.

Do you squeeze in any kind of exercise during otherwise mundane parts of your day?

Getting Fat – Part 4 – My "AHA" Moment

AHA!

If you remember, I was super hot and thin when I met my husband (why yes, the description of myself does get better and better with each part of my story). Then we decided to have a baby. And then another. So here we are in a new home, in a new state, starting a new life. We have no family or friends here. We have a three year old and an infant and we settle into that. We go to work, come home, worship our babies until their bedtime and then fall into exhausted lumps on the couch. Welcome to our 30s. The only thing we were missing was a white picket fence.

Sure, there’s talk of getting in shape. There were even a couple hundred dollars thrown in the general direction of a gym we never went to (again). We just didn’t want that worse than we wanted to lay around on the couch and talk about how fat and tired we were. We were settling. And we really enabled each other with this. I would tell him I was really okay with the way I looked (even though I’m sure I wasn’t deep down) as long as I could keep doing what I was doing. I was willing to trade the drive thru meals for bigger pants, as long as they didn’t get any bigger. My husband would say the same to me. And we would confirm to each other that of course we loved the other just the way we were.

In August 2006 we went back home for vacation. We saw my family and his. We also saw a lot of friends. Some who we had seen fairly recently and some who we hadn’t seen in years. I was shocked to see a lot of these people had also “settled” into their lives. I could see myself in them. They were working parents and just as exhausted as we were. The bigger pants they were wearing was the price they paid, that we all paid, for the life we were “living”. The life where work and kids take over and there’s no time for anything else. The time in your life where you put yourself on the back burner because everything else requires so much attention. These babies aren’t going to take care of themselves! And babies spit up a lot so there’s tons of little laundry. I realized I was more worried about creating a perfect life than I was about enjoying it. That included taking care of myself. Don’t get me wrong. I was NOT judging any of these people. As I said, I saw a reflection of myself in them. I had no room to judge anyone. We were the same.

We also saw some people who looked absolutely amazing. They were also working parents and living their lives, but they fit in taking care of themselves. THAT was when I decided I wanted to change my reflection. I wanted to change what was staring back at me. Oh, sure! I had said that one hundred bazillion times before. But this time? This time is serious! I’m going to do this. I didn’t want to look the way I did anymore. I was no longer willing to accept double digit clothing for an eggroll at the drive thru.  I vowed then and there I would make a change. I didn’t want until “tomorrow”. I didn’t say, “oh, I’ve already screwed today up, I’ll start Monday”. None of that. I decided that moment I would start making better decisions. Seeing myself in those I knew while seeing what I could still be, THAT was my aha moment.