A favorite exercise?

I know that feels like an oxymoron, but what is your favorite exercise? Before I started getting into lifting I thought there was only:

1. Bicep curls

2. Squats

3. Sit Ups --That's it.

Like somehow everybody got fit doing a combination of those 3 exercises. The last year has been pretty exciting for me because the deeper I dive into lifting I'm realizing there is so much more to getting fit than sit ups and running. I LOVE big movements: Dead Lifts, Bench Press and I want to love squats, I just struggle with body mechanics a bit. It took me a long time to build up to larger movements. I came into the gym pretty broken, I had to start with 40lb kettle bells, and I don't mean swinging them just lifting them. Considering a gallon of milk is about 10lbs that's not saying much.

This week I finally found myself strong enough and confident enough to get in some deadlifts. I have a spinal cord injury so I'm constantly scared that I am going to get hurt. We started small and with appropriate posture lifting 100lbs off the ground was cake. The funny thing about lifting is that it not only builds your muscles and makes them stronger, but it also builds your confidence. After you get the bar up off the ground once or twice a funny thing happens, You find yourself sure that there is no way you can lift it. Then you lift it. I maxed out at 155lbs for my first try. Not too shabby for my first go at it.

Dead Lifts are my favorite! According to Bodybuilding.com Deadlifting is the crem de la crem of building mass. Unlike some other large scale movements deadlifting requires so many muscles! Building not just smooth legs and an onion booty but you have to use your back, shoulders, forearms, quads and calves! Nothing supports your body as much as your core. For me a solid core is not so much about a tiny waist and a bangin' set of abs as much as it is for pain reduction and spinal support. You dont need some complex set of weights to get in deadlifting. Truly you can dead lift jugs of rocks if need be. Cost is minimal but the benefits are huge. What I find the most appealing about this exercise is its real life application. Being able to lift is imperative to living in this world, lifting kids, lifting bags or furniture. Lifting is important. Nothing makes me feel closer to my primal body, my inherent primitive capabilities like lifting steel off the ground

There are always going to be specific parts of fitness that shake your confidence. For me that is anything that requires balance, hamstrings, nacho cheese sauce & Baklava. For every aspect that scares you there is bound to be an equal but opposite movements that make you feel amazing and reminds you of what you are truly capable of.

Accept You

I always have believed acceptance of body image has to come from within.  Meaning it has to start from within oneself to move outward into the world.

I am a big body acceptance type of person.  Just because someone is not my ideal of beauty or health doesn’t mean I have the right to outwardly shame them for how they are.  Life happens, health issues arise, or one might not be psychologically ready to make the change.  Regardless, it really is none of my business.  If they are happy then let them be happy.

I have been working on myself for me.  And I like the progress that I have been making.  I know I have some completely petty and not very PC motivators in my mind that keep me doing squats when I rather be doing a Netflix marathon.  Top one would be all those girls that I am 10 years older than who have pancake butt.  Bring on the next squat!

Even with all those changes that I see that I like, there are still issues with my body that I am going to have to learn to accept.  I can’t scoop the extra body fat into my bra and gravity is a cruel mistress.  That isn’t something I can fix with hard work and dedication.  That is something I am going to have to accept.  There are a lot of things that sometimes you just have to work on accepting.

It’s OK that we cannot get younger.  Embrace the age that you are and rock it.  I rather live this life feeling attractive and strong even if it doesn’t fit society’s standards.  I will not have a thigh gap, my waist isn’t going to shrink to a zero and I may always have a kangaroo pouch.  But I have a whole long list of things that I like about myself.  Some of those things are completely vain and some of them have a deeper level of meaning.

In the end I rather be a hot, confident 30 year old with laugh lines and the start of white hair that rivals a unicorn, than a pancake butt 20 year old who is struggling to fit with what the magazine cover says is hot this year.  Wherever you are in your journey, love yourself.  You are the one you have to go to bed with every single night.  The one you won’t be able to escape when the days drag you down.  We won’t get out of life alive, spend your time enjoying it the best way you can.

How on earth do we lose our motivation?

How on earth do we lose our motivation?

We end up in a place where we are so unhappy or unfulfilled that we have decided that there is no other path than to forego pizza and spend our free time getting sweaty and sore? It seems like a crazy answer to melancholy and distress (but we all know its the right answer) Three? Six? months goes by and all of the sudden things start to drop off. A workout here, a day of charting there, and all of the sudden you find yourself eating fried chicken on your 3rd season of Mob Wives, in leggings that haven't seen the inside of a gym in forever.

Come to find out there is a lot of validity behind this type of behavior. You see it in alcoholics, they stop drinking for a while, repair their relationships a little and figure things are better. Often times it starts with one drink (slice of cheesecake) and before you know it they are drunk (eating McDonalds) everyday. This is a common behavior in people with mental illness. They are diagnosed and hit a bottom. They go see the doctor (trainer) get on a great therapeutic dose of medication (exercise) and after a little while they start to feel better. Things are great! you feel amazing and tell yourself that you don't even need medication.

We all have crazy things that pop up that deter our motivation. For me it is a stupid chronic illness. For you it might be work or kids? Death in the family? Divorce? The one thing that I am finding is more true than how long you lift, what you lift, what you eat or don't eat is motivation. Consistency.

I have been on this journey for quite a few years. I started at 220 got down to 165, back up to 195 and today I'm at 175. By all accounts this may seem like terrible "yo-yo dieting" but its not. Fitness is not linear. Despite what Pinterest tells you there is not sure fire way to "lose a pound a week" I, just like everybody else go through peaks and valleys when it comes to fitness. I have a handful of tools that I use to keep me on track that I would like to share with you.

1. Share your journey with your friends. If talking about your weight or your struggles is too embarrassing, take it to Instagram. Make an account with an alias and post your progress. Follow everybody and use a million hashtags. There is support and motivation there. I personally use my Facebook and it is amazing, the camaraderie. Everyone struggles like you do.

2. Ask for help! This is HUGE! I personally chose to seek out a professional trainer. I have a metabolic disorder and I have been in a few car accidents and sometimes I'm an absolute mess about it. I need professional help! ;-) I'd suggest this to anyone with old injuries, chronic disease or if you are even teetering on obese. It is important that we do things right or we will never make progress. Now, if you are none of those things, sign up for a class, enlist the help of a friend or even downloading the Couch25k app is sometimes enough.

3. Set a goal. Now we as women like to have a weight goal. Forget it! Quit fantasizing about "120 pounds" or being a "size 2" Here was my first goal: Walk around my block 3 times this week. That was it. My first goal wasn't to be a bikini competitor or to run a marathon. I'm 3 years deep and those still aren't my goals. Buy a pair of pants ONE size smaller, chart your food the day before and stick to it, make it to that fitness class.

4. Be easy on yourself. I have a tendency to hate myself for "failing" What do we do when we think we have failed? Blow it UP! Well I already had too much sugar today, so you know what Ill do? Finish a cake. A friend of mine calls this "going dark" Just stop tracking your foods, throw it all out the window and stomp on it. We all do this to an extent, but if you go over your limits that doesn't mean its time to gain 20 lbs and quit all together. It also doesn't mean start again on Monday or even tomorrow! Make your next meal on point!

5. STAY OFF PINTEREST! That place is where fitness dreams go to die. You spend 4 hours pinning squat challenges and water concoctions that promise instant weight loss. No one is getting a squat booty from a 30 day body weight squat schedule! Not all the information is bad, but the time you spend is wasted being led to believe that things happen fast and they happen easy.

I've just gone through a valley myself. I got sick, I got hungry, I got sad and I took 3 weeks off. Everytime you feel like you "failed" comeback at it with a few more weapons. Weight loss and fitness, just like life is never going to linear. Just dont give up.

What do you do when your own body hates itself? (Part 2)

I wrote recently about my ever recurring stomach pain and the battle within.  I had just come back from vacation with a renewed sense of vigor.  Unfortunately, that was incredibly short lived.

I tried to eat within my macros and somehow always seemed to wind up painful.  Mike and I talked and agreed I was going to have to let the macros go for a bit to see if there was any improvement.  Maybe I needed more carbs or fat?  The first half of the week after this decision went swimmingly well.  I wasn’t painful, I was eating everything in my path, the world felt right.  And then it happened.  Pain and lots of it.  I am not sure why my stomach had suddenly decided this was not gonna work but it certainly let it be known.

I called into my primary doc and requested to be referred out for an endoscopy.  The original place wanted me to wait a month for a consult.  A month?!  I felt like I was dying daily.  I would lay awake at night with my mind cataloging a list of the most horrible possibilities.  Fortunately, I was able to get them to send the referral to another office and they managed to get me in the next week for both consult and procedure.  Now I don’t WANT to be anesthetized or go through more than necessary but I didn’t know if I could keep sane if I had to play much more of the “what if it’s….” game, not to mention the pain.

It was a relief to hear that they didn’t see any cancer.  That is where my brain was fixated.  They took several samples for biopsies to rule out any other issues although the whole exam was pretty unremarkable.  I was sent home with two different medications to try.  One daily the other for any break through symptoms.  The goal was to slow my stomach down and eventually get off the medications once more.

I have been on the meds about 2 weeks with only one painful day.  My biopsies all came back normal.    I am starting back on the food tracking wagon, it’s a process.  I am a little afraid when the time comes to stop the medication.  For now I will just take it one day at a time and hope for the best.

Gym Tryouts

The gym at my work is great because it’s new, big and well equipped.  The locker rooms are roomy with clean, well lit showers.  The gym at my work is not so great because it has some weird, week long closures for “maintenance”.  I am not quite sure what they are doing for a whole week but it is screwing up my routine!

This week is one of those maintenance weeks unfortunately.  Instead of trying to limp along at home with whatever items I can find I thought I would use another gym for a week.  It has been several years since I have used this particular gym.  I used to really like it there.  It is quiet and clean, which are a priority for me.   This particular gym is non-coed, which I actually like.  I have had some uncomfortable experiences in the past at gyms of leering and bro talk.  Yes, we can hear you and read your body language across the gym bro’s, it’s not fun.  You want chicks to have bangin’ bodies?  Then stop being a creeper at the gym!  No one wants to squat with an audience.  But I digress.  When it came time to use the weight section I was severely underwhelmed.  The heaviest kettlebells I could find in the women’s section only went up to 20 pounds.  I did find some heavier ones in the boot camp section which was not in use therefore I could use the kettlebells in there.  There was no decent squat rack!  I found myself quite irritated when I peered in the men’s gym and spied a squat rack in there.  It would kind of defeat the pros of being in a non-coed gym if I threw a fit to be able to go in the men’s section to use their squat rack and heavier kettlebells.  

It was considerably busy for a Sunday.  It was supposed to be a long run day but the air quality was not lending itself to being conducive for a 10 mile run.  So I went to the gym, with the intention of running but ended up lifting.  As I was internally grumbling about the light weights and lack of free weight space I noticed that I was probably the most muscular woman there.  That was a huge shock to me.  There were several women there putting in hard work and getting their sweat on.  All in different shapes, sizes and age ranges but somehow I managed to feel like a giant in there.  It was then that I felt like I didn’t quite fit in.

I am able to cross signing up at that gym off my list.  It’s sad because it did really have potential but I can’t be someplace that I won’t be able to push myself.  I mean what’s the point?  I won’t limit my gains because whoever purchases the weights doesn’t think women should swing more than 20 pounds (I was able to swing 53 pounds by the way and it sucked) or could possibly want a squat rack.

Fortunately, I only have to figure out what to do there for the rest of this week and then I can go back to my normal routine.  Please be swift.

I did it!!

I did it!!

If you have been hanging around me or following my blog posts you may have picked up that I was training for my first half marathon.  Well, that day finally came!

I ran Beat the Blerch in Seattle.  What is a Blerch you ask?  It is a fat little cherub that follows you everywhere encouraging you slow down, to quit and do all manner of unhealthy things.  It is described in a wonderful web comic called “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances” by The Oatmeal aka Matt Inman.  This comic is actually what helped motivate me to start exercising and running.  It helped me know that I was definitely not abnormal.  That other people struggled with rewarding themselves with fat snacks and Netflix binges for unhealthy amounts of time.  The description of the Blerch is EXACTLY what I feel so many days.

So Mr. Oatmeal created a glorious race in honor of all our Blerchs.  Whether we are trying to outrun them or embrace them or both.  Last year was the very first year and I did the 10K.  This year I graduated to the half marathon.  At the aid stations there is cake, Nutella sandwiches, and magic purple drink.  Throughout the race there are comfy couches, Sasquatch and Blerchs personified.  At the end there are more snacks to be had.  This run there was chocolate drizzled, bacon sprinkled, whip cream topped marshmallows!!  I mean really?!  It’s a magical and beautiful creation.

I don’t have any notions that I am going to break the sound barrier with my speedy running.  Or even come remotely close to top three finishers.  My goal for myself is to complete the race in the middle of the pack.  And guess what folks?  I did that and better.  I placed slightly ABOVE middle of the pack!!  My time was 2 hours and 20 minutes (don’t mind me while I toot my own horn).  I know the pressing question is did I in fact consume cake, Nutella sandwiches and magic purple drink during my run.  The answer is abso-freakin-lutely!  But this was an endurance race so I made sure to pace myself.  One item at each aid station, I had a system.

My goal is to do the full marathon next year.  The half left me creaky and taking a week off but I want to be able to check it off my ‘bucket list’.  The Beat the Blerch pays homage to my inner fat kid that I regularly struggle with (and sometimes lose to).  Besides it’s really the best of both worlds.  I will be high on endorphins and cake!

 Keep smashing those goals boys and girls!  Let there be agony, let there be cake!!