It’s Fine By Me If You Never Leave

reality

My relationship with exercise has always had a remarkably similar storyline to my relationship with men. It all begins with one great day.

You know the day I’m talking about.  It ‘s one of those days that leaves you going to bed smiling and giddy at the promise tomorrow holds… so giddy that you can’t even sleep because you’re too excited and your mind is making a plan for what that week will hold. For guys, it was an upcoming steamy night. For exercise, it was the bikini I was going to get for this summer. Surprisingly similar outfits were attached to both visions.

Morning would come, and I would spring out of bed singing.  The sun is shining, coffee is brewing and I’m ready to meet each challenge that heads my way with the poise of Grace Kelly and dynamic influence of the Iron Lady, may she rest in peace. This manic, likely unhealthy state of sheer optimism and fortitude lasts for weeks on end. Ok, typically about three or four.

Reality would inevitably have a way of rearing its ugly head. I just don’t feel like going to my group class.  The gym is too packed for me to go. My arms are sore. I had to work late. The guy I’ve been seeing started talking about his car more than is necessary, unless he’s at the Ford Dealer. I found someone cuter. This guy is sweet, brilliant, and interesting… buuuut this guy has season UK Basketball tickets. Deuces. (People still say that. Yeah they do.)

Rinse and Repeat 

This cycle was my life from age 16-22. I don’t think there was the slightest problem with the guy side of it. Prior to age 22, there is no way I had the attention span to be in a real relationship, not to mention zero desire to do so. The exercise thing is where the problem resided.

However, it wasn’t until I met the love of my life that I realized I had commitment issues. My friends are probably laughing at this, because I couldn’t even commit to a hair color until about six months ago (light brown, shockingly my natural hair color in case you’re curious). I think I’ve just been born with a restless spirit.

When I ran across this quote while I was perusing an educational literary magazine, I thought it was a beautiful way to state a lesson with which I struggle. Oh, and it was definitely on Pinterest, but educational literary magazine sounds way better, right?

Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.

Through tough times, it is essential for me to remember why I started something in the first place. I want a stronger, healthier body to enjoy my life. Without exercise, my stress levels skyrocket. I have crazy high energy, and day-um can I wear some jeans now.

When M is really pissing me off (which is rare! Love you), I strive to keep in mind all the good times we have had, and my excitement for our future helps me when I’m convinced for a fleeting moment that I should be single again…after a good boxing class of course, because I am not that rational in the heat of the moment.  Then I remember I’m crazy about that guy, and common sense wins.  I’m still a work in progress, but hey—my favorite part of life is achieving what I’ve set out to do.  And wine.

Cheers!

Still Dreamin’ of California

I mentioned I’m happy to be back, right? But I had to share photos from my trip. Ok, or you could just go to my Instagram page. But it was so pretty!! So here (sorry Facebook friends, this is probably the zillionth time you’ve seen these):

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Just lookin’ out the window. Normal, right? Vacation just isn’t vacation without palm trees.

 

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Gorgeous flowers at Easter brunch. I just love flowers! It’s making me so happy that it’s spring. Soon I’ll be able to put baskets and pots out on my porch!!

 

 

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View partially up our hike. 

 

 

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And yet again…view:)

 

 

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You can see the trail we’d been hiking. It’s called Bump and Grind. The thirteen year old boy in me is still giggling.

 

 

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Happy (late) Easter from yours truly (left), and my aunt (right).

Cheers!

Run like the wind, Bullseye!

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Friends—it’s been a while!! I bet you thought I didn’t care anymore.  I bet you thought I was breaking up with you. Well, you thought wrong. I wouldn’t do that, not when we have come this far!

So where has the silent wanderer been? CHICAGO! CALIFORNIA! I’ve been quite the traveller as of late, but have since returned to my old Kentucky home.  While it was a glorious adventure, it is wonderful to be back in the bluegrass.

 My trip to Chicago was of the business variety. I had a conference in Chicago, which I will now lovingly refer to as the land of way too much food. Have y’all been there? It’s insane! My boss, a former Chi-Town resident, informed me that there were over 6,000 dining options in Chicago proper. And I believe I made a valiant attempt to consume all food in all those restaurants on that trip. Ok, in all reality, we ate at three of them, but I think I’m still full.  I don’t know how anyone in that city is under 300 lbs.

 I then traveled onward to one of my favorite places in the world. Palm Springs, California!! Have you SEEN it there? Sunshine every day, beautiful people, gorgeous clothes, so many shoes… Anyway, it was a fabulous trip and I have a new fitness tip I want to share with everyone, inspired by that California sunshine.

 GO OUTSIDE.  That’s it. So simple, and yet, so inspiring!  Even if it’s a chilly day, the scent of fresh air and view of nature is enough to get your blood going. We went hiking while I was in California, and I was reminded of how the summer sunshine gives me that extra oomph to get up and go.

 I realize at the ripe old age of 24, I don’t have the lifetime of wisdom that some may, but I can still use this phrase: “When I was a kid.”  When I was a kid, we actually would go outside and play on our swing set or go sledding down the hill in our side yard.  Friends in the neighborhood would play flashlight tag after dark, and we would go jump in leaves during the fall.  As I’ve gotten older, and more tech-dependent, I’ve found that I’ve lost that heart to be outdoors and I’m ecstatic that summer is coming and I can get it back.

 Sometimes I worry that M’s and my kids someday won’t have any imagination or even know how to play.  I fear that they won’t know what it’s like to fly their Little Mermaid kite on a windy day, or explore the creek next to their house looking for buried treasure. 

 It’s also very hard to focus on life’s little problems when there’s a big world all around you.  There’s something truly invigorating for me to realize for the millionth time that I’m not the center of the world…really, M, I swear that I do get that. Even with our impending wedding (in 100 days!).

Anyway, if you find yourself in a lull, I encourage you to take your workout outside. Get off the treadmill and run around a new part of town you’d like to explore. Take your yoga to the beach or the park. Take a hike…literally. Why are you riding that stationary bike when you have a real one in your garage?

 So, it’s short and sweet but there it is—my plea with everyone to leave that stuffy gym, escape your confined living room, and get yourself some sunshine.

 

Cheers!

Two Is Not a Winner and Three No One Remembers

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When M and I first starting dating, I was legitimately concerned when we were invited to our first game night. I mean, it was a perfectly harmless date, right? M was prepared for some fun times with our now best friends that we both love and get along with perfectly. 

The poor guy didn’t know any better; he didn’t see anything coming. I should have warned him, but it was month one and we were still pretending that we both had immaculate housekeeping skills no matter how busy we got, looked flawless at all times, and never went number two.

 Here’s the problem: Whenever there is an ounce of competition in the air, this typically bubbly and cheerful delight of a human being that he was growing to love turns into someone else completely. One of my dear friends/former roommate sent me this quote once, saying she had found the definition for my life:

 If you’re not prepared to lose every friend you have over a board game, you’re not playing hard enough.

 That about sums it up. I have this insane competitive streak. It gets pretty childish at times, and I hear myself saying things like, “We are going to rock this Cloodle, hop on the fast track, and beat your ass to the giant purple brain, son!”

 This competition embedded deep into my psyche affects every aspect of my life.  At work we completed StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The results really hit the nail on the head for me.  Basically, it assesses your top five strengths and shows you how you can use these to your advantage, and how to work with others. My number one was, of course, Competition. I love his description so I’m going to share the whole thing because, well, I can.

 Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.

 If I could have defined my entire outlook on life, it would not have been as accurate as those words. I remember as a kid, teachers would think I was looking off other kids’ papers to cheat. This was not to glean the maybe correct answers from the C student next to me, but rather because I was adding up the correct v.s. incorrect answers off his paper to compare our grades.  I got a rush, even then, from winning. M, please don’t leave me…

 This same competitive streak has been a helpful edge in my work life.  It ensures that I am constantly trying hard to stay on top of my game, thus earning the loving nickname A Game/Big Time (thanks Lar-Bo).

 Where it tends to bite me back is when it comes to my personal life.  Being in a constant state of comparison has left me pretty down on myself in the past, especially during that whole college/immediately post-college phase. Dangerous waters, my friend!

 That new-ish tv show Go On, the one with Chandler playing Chandler but with sports, had a very pertinent quote in it the other day. 

 You can’t seek happiness from outside sources; happiness comes from within.

 My measure of success had always been placed on outside sources. If I’m going to do something, I want to be the best at it.  The thing about fitness was that I’m not really the best at anything. I am not the fastest runner.  I can’t lift the most weight. I’m not the most flexible. I don’t have the most Latina hip-shakin’ moves. It’s a hard world at that gym for a competitive mediocre athlete.

 Learning to stop (ok let’s be real, lessen my obsession with) competing with others and start competing with myself has saved me much grief. It’s also been a fun way to track my progress.  Celebrating mini-victories, like shaving seconds off my run times, or, as of late, my newfound ability to begin doing some yoga, have been ways I can still celebrate winning without the risk of falling into a comparison trap.

I have embraced the rush I get in competing while maintaining my sanity.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing quite beats that adrenaline rush from actually winning versus others, but it has been a great way to keep my motivation up.

 Game nights? Well, that hasn’t changed. UNO!

Success!

yoga stretch

Guys! Guess what! I’m so happy! I had a major breakthrough this morning! I have learned it–the secret to my yoga enjoyment. It’s counterintuitive for me, but hey, that’s life.

I need my sessions to be longer. That’s it.  I was doing a short 15-minute morning routine, thinking it would be best to start slow. No, no my friends. Just do it, right Tony? I actually found that the longer session did not make my mind go crazy, but rather allowed me to relax and focus as I continued.

Other benefit–I was able to stretch just a wee bit deeper. It was very exciting!!! I can honestly say I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow morning. Who knew?

On that note, I think I need a celebratory glass of wine…

Cheers!

You’re Overcookin’ My Grits, Coach

we become

True confession time. I didn’t get up and do yoga today. I slept in. My alarm went off and M rolled over and said, “Babe, aren’t you going to do yoga?” I scowled at him as though he made a most ridiculous suggestion, rolled over, and grunted no as I reset my alarm 45 minutes later.

You know what? I think I was much more tired than if I would have just gotten up and done it. The extra sleep was so not worth it! I could kick myself!

Here’s the thing—I think yoga is hard. I really, really do.  It does challenge my strength, but the activities I love and look forward to do that. I’m used to pushing myself when it comes to strengthening my body. I love that challenge and the feeling of sore muscles repairing themselves.

There are two things that kill me with yoga. The first is that I am super inflexible. You know how giraffes are kind of awkward when they try to bend? I feel such kinship with them.  I’m 5’11” (and a half). My toes are really far away….

Even after a hard workout where my muscles got all nice and warm and pliable, I am just not flexible. Because of my lack of ability in this area, I’m having a hard time enjoying it. I feel like a new girl all over again, after I have worked so hard to achieve a higher level of fitness.

The second is my mind’s inability to focus with its multi-tasking default setting, which I’ve gone over before.  Why do I have to think about twelve things at once? I won’t belabor that point because I really haven’t had any major breakthroughs to share.

What this whole new routine reminds me of is the familiar feeling of utter frustration and contempt from when I first started working out. Every activity felt like a huge undertaking. A mile was climbing Everest—there is no way you’re making me go that far! Pushing that prowler was like taking on a semi truck.  Don’t even get me started on a pushup—are you trying to get me to hold the world on my shoulders? I was heaving after jogging for one minute. ONE MINUTE! And the word “jogging” is very generous for the relatively quick walk I was doing. Why was everything so hard???

Previously, I discussed the need to work harder and push yourself if you want to see results. How your body trains itself to tolerate strenuous activity is truly incredible. I’m trying to remind myself that this won’t be so hard soon.  I remember this epiphany I had while I was working out one day with Jackson, my fabulous and wonderful former trainer.

The activity isn’t getting any easier; I’m just getting better. I am able to tolerate it more. Jogging for a minute is the same level of difficulty as it was a year ago, the only difference is me. I’m different. There is very real, very tangible proof of progress.

One of the greatest exercises I did was after I’d lost about 50 lbs.  Jackson had me do the stairs with a 50-pound vest on.  It was a challenge that made me realize just how far I had come.  My body had become so much lighter and more efficient. I totally recommend doing an exercise like that no matter how much progress you have made just so you can really feel what you’ve achieved.

Keeping this in mind as I aim to improve my struggles with flexibility and strength of mind through yoga is a source of inspiration for me.  These feelings are familiar.  I will get stronger. Everything is hard at first. Discipline, baby! Well, I’m working on it…

Cheers!

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

rise up

Warning: Read at your own risk. It’s a little more touchy-feely than I usually write, but in order to continue to share about other aspects of my life, I felt the need to share this portion of my history. I do not equate my story with anything similar to real tragedy, and hope it doesn’t come across as self-indulgent. I only hope that through sharing my experiences, maybe, just maybe someone can find joy and their own self-worth.

Around these parts, I’m known for being almost annoyingly happy and cheerful.  The “almost” I added, as to make myself feel better because it has got to get irritating.  I can’t help it! It’s true! I genuinely love life, love my job, love my fiancé, love my family, love my friends. Ok, I’ll stop—don’t punch me in the face (but I’d dodge it anyway, man).

A big secret to my happiness has been confidence in who I am.  I haven’t always had it. Fitness wasn’t the only piece to this puzzle, but it was an irreplaceable tool I utilized to find my self-worth. Again, I did not find worth in fitness, but I used fitness to help myself discover my own worth.  It was more of a symbol of how I am capable of changing things in my life when I put my mind to it.

During my college years and immediately post-graduation, there were some tough days on the ego.  The weight gain caused me to lose who I was. I felt trapped in my body, and unless you’ve been there, you can’t quite get it.

Blessings through friends proved priceless. Fortunately, during this weak period of my life, I had an incredible group of friends to lean on.  Friends in whom I put my utmost trust.

Part of growing up for me, though, was learning that trust is a gift that I could not share with every person I meet.  Some of my friends were and still are wonderful people to be around, and I wouldn’t trade a day I spent with them. However, I know now that it is foolish to share details of your life with the selfish and insecure.  If a person can’t accept who they are, it can lead to a warped perspective on their views of others.

It took some time to get over the hurt of some personal ties being severed. It took even more time to forgive and move past it, accepting that sometimes what matters isn’t others’ perspectives, but rather your own knowledge of truth.

Experiences with this breaking of trust led me to a key perspective that I still consider my life mantra.

 

I can’t control what others think of me, but I can control my own actions. If I live a life I’m proud of, no one can take that from me.

 

This realization that the only person I can control is myself led me to the gym. After seeing firsthand what playing the constant victim looks like, I knew I never wanted that for myself. No one is to blame for my actions but me. I needed to take charge. I wasn’t going to live one more day in a life that I didn’t choose.

I don’t mean to be sappy, but that is what my experience felt like.  Basically, I had to decide to put on my big girl pants and take charge of my own life.  Fitness gave me a way of controlling who I was, and you know what? I felt incredible. I was stronger than I ever thought possible.

That kind of attitude couldn’t help but make me a happier, more confident person.  Stress was completely bearable because I was in control. My career was on course because I knew it was my responsibility to not just sit there, but to really make something happen. I can honestly say I’m grateful for the more challenging times because they were such turning points for me.

Oh, and for the record, a boyfriend never dumped me again because they “didn’t think I was very attractive.”  True story. Totally happened.

Cheers!

Because Sometimes I Need a Little Kick in the Keister

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Have you ever wondered why they call exercising “working out”?  I’m no etymologist, but I do notice that the word “work” is inside of it.

Webster’s Dictionary defines work…ok, just kidding. Dictionary.com defines work as “Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something.” Exertion? Effort? Ugh. I thought that I heard I could just walk around the park a couple times and the weight will just melt off.

I apologize if you feel like I’m saying something that is just too obvious that it insults your intelligence, but I figure that if this took some learning for me, maybe someone out there needs to hear it.  You are not going to lose a substantial amount of weight from a leisurely stroll around the park once a week. You are not going to lose it by parking further back in the parking lot.  You are not going to lose it by taking the stairs to your second-floor dentist appointment every six months.

Changing your body requires work.  Real work. Sweating, groaning, some serious intensity, and probably some cussing. That lesson was a hard one for me, because I read articles with titles like, “Ten Easy Steps to Weight Loss,” or “Six Easy Things to Do For a Six-Pack.”  I’ve found that anything with “easy” in the title is code for ineffective. Getting in shape is an entire lifestyle change, and there’s nothing easy about it.

There’s a saying that’s all over the Internet to which I absolutely subscribe. You may recognize it because it’s at the top of this post. Or perhaps you’ve gone on the Pinterest “Health and Fitness” category page in the past six months. Or attended one of those inspiration work conferences.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

It feels like common sense, right? But somehow, I spent several months just moving along on that treadmill feeling a false sense of accomplishment. I don’t mean to be a treadmill hater, it’s just that I didn’t challenge myself at all when I was jogging on it for months, and it was a huge discouragement.  If you’re not sore the next day, or at the very least if you’re really not even sweating and breathing hard, why bother?

That’s great for you. But shouldn’t it just kind of happen for me?

I think that we live in a time now where people (clearly myself included) believe everything should just happen for us.  This sense of entitlement permeates our consciousness. Things should be easy; life should be simple.  The idea of learning to relish a challenge left much to be desired for me at first.

My mind’s cure for this was the joy I got from taking on a challenge and coming out on the other end stronger—in the area of fitness, I mean that literally. Life isn’t easy, and neither is changing habits. If you’re going to succeed, you need to accept that you can’t do the same things you’re doing now and expect a different result.

There’s another big secret to losing weight that is basically the same sentiment.  By secret, I mean common sense idea that I took a while to pick up on.  

 Work harder. If you’re not getting results, you’re not working hard enough.

 The concept is so simple.  Step it up.  Don’t fake it. Try something new. Pick up something heavy. Punch something heavy. Hold yourself up. Run—really run. Ride your bike up hills. Make yourself go longer.  Make yourself go faster. Make yourself go heavier. Put more weight on that prowler. Throw on a weighted vest. Hike up something tall. Push yourself. Get the word “can’t” out of your mind, because it’s really just a substitute for “won’t try”. You’re better than that.

Not into it? Think it’s just too hard? That’s fine. The only person you’re cheating is yourself.

 

 

Mini Yoga Update:

Still on board. Still waking up to do it. Still the first week. Not a whole lot of change to share. I’ll keep you posted!

No Chrome on the Wheels. I’m a Grown-Up For Real

jay-z

My wedding is four months from today. That has nothing to do with anything I’m about to write. But there you go.

My support system has been an incredible blessing as I’ve transitioned to healthier lifestyle.  An amazing fiancé and a solid group of sexy ladies have kept me pushing through and encouraged me on any goals I’ve achieved.  It’s an irreplaceable thing.

Have you hit a plateau? Have you just lost the urge to go to the gym? Have you fallen into a trap of stopping at Krispie Kreme on your way to work everyday?  Share it with your support system! People who love you want you to achieve your goals and want to help you in any way they can.

Accountability with a group of friends or a significant other, or your mom (thanks mom!) is a powerful tool. Be sure you have someone in that group who will be the person who lets you know when you’re slacking and pushes you to be better. There is nothing that will renew a fire in you more than a friend pointing out that you haven’t been true to yourself and your goals. And that your ass really does look fat in those jeans.

Then there is a different group of friends. You love them. They are so fun…but somehow they convince you to skip your gym session and drink four margaritas with a cheesy enchilada chaser. When you say you can’t hit happy hour because you’re really committed to a group class, you hear a chorus of “What’s one class?”

Jay-Z said it best. Jay-Z always says it best.

All the rappers be hating, off the track that I’m making
But all the hustlers they love it just to see one of us make it

Got Dirt Off Your Shoulder stuck in your head yet? You’re welcome. Your day will now be awesome.

So here’s my point. You will run into people who aren’t supportive, be it conscious or not, of your fitness goals. I’m not saying defriend them on Facebook, as well as in life. I am saying that it will take some effort to change their opinions of how you should be spending your time.  Your eating habits may take a blow or two from them, and you may give into some bacon cheese fries now and again that you otherwise could have spurned.

I always try to make the most time for the supportive, positive folks in my life.  It’s amazing the effect another person’s energy can have on my own! My boss always says that in this world there are energy-givers and energy-takers. So while you’re trying to align yourself with those who are building you up, I also encourage you to identify which category you currently fall into.

I’m like young Marvin in his hey.

Cheers!

Yoga Update!

Success! 

This morning was the first day of my new wake up with yoga and quiet my mind plan. Of course I got up and did it. It was the first day.

I started small with this 15-minute yoga workout. It was invigorating.  I absolutely loved what he said at the beginning:

Don’t anticipate. Just be in the moment.

Convinced I was going to have a very zen, calming experience, I sat in preparation to begin this life-altering yoga routine. The sound of the ocean in the background was very soothing and helped me to quiet my mind…for like the first 5 minutes. After that, I went back to my 9:30 meeting, next week’s agenda, and my boxing class this afternoon.

Why is it I can be so focused on a jab-cross-hook-fade-cross combo, but when I’m in downward dog my thoughts race? I think the activity is almost more zen and quiet for me than the sound of the ocean.

5 minutes wasn’t too bad though. Who knows, maybe I’ll get 10 minutes tomorrow!

Bonus: Songza has the coolest yoga mix ever. 

 

Stay tuned.