Just a Man and His Will to Survive

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Have you ever felt just a little bit overwhelmed at the gym? Like maybe you’re the only person there who doesn’t bench 750 pounds or run marathons?

When I first started working out, I was in a constant state of being overwhelmed and down on myself.  The group class was the embodiment of anxiety. Do I want to spend 30 minutes to an hour being the chubby kid in the back row heaving like a beached whale? No thanks.

But I have a secret. You are one of the blessed few that gets to hear it.  Group classes can actually be an ego boost! They give you mojo and can crush that plateau. 

Sure, sure, I’ve mentioned them before but I wanted to highlight how big of deal they’ve been for me. That workout buddy you have is perfect and wonderful, but having a whole group of people who notice when you’ve been skipping out is such a motivation.  Here are some tips that I wish I’d known from day one.

Group Class Survival 101

1.  Not everything is about me.  Everyone in the class you just entered is working on their own fitness goals. You aren’t the center of the world.  Not everyone is staring at you.  Not everyone is wondering why the hell is that girl here.  Not everyone just noticed that you couldn’t knock out that last pushup. Promise.

 

2. Chill out. Take a break. There’s always that moment in the middle where I’m pretty convinced I’m about to die.  I’m a little embarrassed how long it took for me to have the realization that this is MY class and it’s all good if I take a little break and grab some water.  I always had this idea that I had to do everything exactly like the instructor—pace, intensity, length, speed, and height.  Yeah, that instructor that teaches these classes 4 times a day and has dedicated his/her life to teaching others fitness. Needless to say, I couldn’t quite keep up.

 

3. Bring water. And a towel. If it’s a good class, you’re going to sweat like crazy. Dehydration will make you shaky and unfocused. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Don’t get blinded by sweat dripping into your eyes, causing them to sting like mad.  You won’t be able to concentrate on the instructor or see what they’re doing, so a towel is a great plan too.

 

4. Don’t let your clothes be an obstacle.  I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again! Confession: I didn’t follow my own rule at a recent boxing class and really regretted it.  You know those sports bras that zip up in the front? Cute right? WRONG. While we were doing sets of burpees then mountain climbers, the zipper came unzipped…whoops. I can promise you I’ll never again be wearing that one to a high intensity class. Oh, and do us all a favor and wear shorts long enough to cover your ass.  

 

5. Talk to people! They’re probably nice. As an added bonus, you get a new support person cheering for your success and doing the same thing you are.

 Hopes this helps! Let me know if I missed your favorite tip 🙂

 

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!

A Bit of a Group Class Slut

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I have three loves in life right now. One is my man, the love of my life. Second is my job. However, I have a very close third. My most recent group class.  It’s a new love, and perhaps we are still at that fling stage, but I see our relationship lasting a long time.

Before I reveal this obsession, I feel the need to take you through my previous relationships. Remember how I said that I hated working out at the beginning of everything? Exercise was not my friend.  Well, when we became close acquaintances, I went through several group class phases.  Group classes have been great motivators for me, and if you feel like you need an extra push to get your butt to the gym, this may just be a good opportunity for you!

Channeling Shiva Rea

First was the yoga phase. There was a lot of stretching and strengthening. I am still incredibly fond of yoga, and I’m glad we were together. One of these days I’m going to master the crow. It’s a life goal. My fiancé appreciates the extra flexibility…;) What I didn’t expect was how tough it is! Seriously, have you tried to hold some of these poses?

Jillian Michaels says it best with her little catch phrase

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I believe yoga has enhanced my flexibility and strength, and love the calmness and piece of mind. I admit, however, one of the huge challenges for me is being still. Any advice in this area would be totally helpful. So as I continue to improve this skill, I needed an outlet.

 Channeling Jennifer Lopez

Trends make me curious. I’ve read Twilight, used to rock some saddle shoes, once was stylin’ with a bob, and am unhealthily manic over Harry Potter. Fitness trends are the same for me—I just have to try something!

Enter Zumba.  To this day, I’m not sure why I thought I’d be good at this. I’m a white girl with a predominately German heritage, accompanied by splashes of Irish and British. Zumba ain’t no folk dance and sure isn’t a river dance. I also can’t down a beer when I do it, so really there wasn’t much hope.

I’ll be damned if it wasn’t one of the most fun group classes I’ve attended, even if I lack some rhythm. The atmosphere was like a sweaty dance party. Loved it! I know I’ve mentioned the Zumba Core Kinect game, and it is the bomb, but a group class is great for Zumba! The people put it over the top.

Negative Nancy moment—I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted from the dance parties. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun cardio and I got really sweaty, but I needed something more out of a class. Perhaps something to challenge my muscles as well as get my heart pumping.

Clouds Parted. Angels Sang.

You know that moment when you try doing something and it just works? When I met M, he could crack a joke, carry on a conversation, and watch a good football game with me. It fit. It worked. I just knew I had something great.  When I started working at the nonprofit for which I’m currently directing Communications, I fell in love with the programs, the people we serve, and my coworkers.

That was my experience upon entering TITLE Boxing Club. When I slipped on my first pair of boxing gloves and went at that 100lb bag, I knew that this was something I wanted to keep doing.

What do I love so much? The three-minute rounds of high-intensity cardio with active rests that I could work up to completing. The conditioning in the first part of class. The hardcore ab shredder at the end of class. And the atmosphere: welcoming, fun, challenging, and a true learning experience each class, as I work to correct my form and hit harder.  I can’t recommend it enough. There are athletes and non-athletes at every level who attend, and I’ve heard nothing but excellent feedback from others as well.

Oh, also—I swear I’m not getting paid for this total plug, mostly because like 10 people are reading my blog;) Thanks guys! Anyone have something that they just fell in love with doing? I’d love to test the waters.  Who knows, maybe there will be something to knock boxing out of first place. Pun totally intended.

Cheers!