Expectations vs. Reality

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As an eternal optimist, I tend to go into all situations expecting the absolute best outcome.  This has served me well in many, many ways and I would never want to change that outlook. However, experiences in fitness have given me what I like to call a cautious optimism, and what M likes to call “finally, somewhat of a grasp of reality from a freaking Disney Princess.”

 

Clearly, my parents are to blame.  I was raised by two loving parents who encouraged me to go after my dreams and convinced me I could do anything with some hard work and a good attitude. Probably part of it is due to the fact that I’m a millennial, thus an entitled narcissist. Either way, I have some issues with realistic expectations.

 

Like camping.

 

It’s not that I don’t like the outdoors—it’s really the opposite of that.  I love a good outdoor workout. I’m extremely fond of front porches, especially when I have a glass of wine to go with them.  Beaches? Wait just one second—let me grab a bikini and some sunblock and baby, I’m there. Parks are delightful—in fact, I just returned from the park by my apartment. I can play catch all day, man.

 

Then my fiancé— I mean HUSBAND (how long does it take for that to sink in?) talks about going camping. At first, this seems like a great plan, but then we start talking details. My expectations and his reality are completely different.

 

You see, my friends can attest to the fact that my childhood ideas of outdoor frivolity were a bit skewed. My grandparents own a motorhome, and I don’t just mean one of those little pull-behind-your-truck, I’m-just-a-tent-with-some-mesh-walls kind of a deals. I mean, like something that Mick Jagger rolled around in with all those girls that dropped their panties at the mention of a rock star. And, you know, Keith Richards and the other two guys. 

 

Imagine my astonishment when I’m invited to a Christian music festival at the age of 10 (They do exist. Imagine Bonnaroo, but replace the pot and shrooms with Surge, Swedish Fish and WWJD bracelets) and discover that not all camping involves king-sized Sleep Number beds and DirecTV. And definitely no private shower and restroom facilities. How did they expect me to do my hair in butterfly clips and rock my Limited Too threads in this squalor?

 

Suffice it to say, I’ve had to readjust expectations many times since that day. The hardest of all these readjustments was when it came to my fitness expectations. There is absolutely nothing worse than having your hopes dashed to the ground by reality. 

 

When I began training, I expected immediate results with very little sacrifice on my part. Obviously I was going to don my most adorable outfit and go run for a bit on a treadmill and leave looking like Zoe Saldana’s hot white sister.  Somehow this did not happen! What?!?!

 

A major part, for me, of becoming more fit is the education that led to more reasonable expectations. Remaining ignorant surely wasn’t going to help me get results, neither would believing every single thing on the Internet or in the latest bestselling diet. Learning how my body worked, what nutrients actually DO, and the different functions of each aspect of a training program were imperative to my success in learning to become healthy.  If you have no idea how anything works, then there is no basis for an expectation at all, and a high likelihood of disappointment.

I’ve since then read TONS of books and articles claiming the best training programs and diets. Bodyweight only training, Crossfit, Tabata, HIIT, Running manuals, P90x with all its muscle confusion, yoga, Eat Stop Eat, The Skinny Rules, Paleo–I love them.  They may as well be the next Nora Roberts novel. The problem is, I was so incredibly confused! There were so many conflicting opinions! 

My best advice for wading into these waters? Ask a trainer that you trust and do some experimentation. It’s actually pretty fun to try all sorts of new things and learn different opinions.  Some are wacky and sound crazy, and more often than not (in my experience) that tends to mean that they are wacky and crazy. But before I leave you floundering, I wanted to add one more tip.  

 

I am obsessed with this girl, Molly Galbraith.  She’s legit. Her blog is crazy good and her story is inspiring. If you’re looking for a springboard to jump into this world of living healthily, I think she’s a great place to start. I’m always looking for experts to learn from, and I have gotten so much out of reading her stuff.  Since I am totally not an expert and am just an eager novice, it’s been so incredible to read from someone who just makes SENSE. 

How about you? Any training programs that you are obsessed with? 

 

Cheers!

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A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

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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!