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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Are You Kidding Me?

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You know what the biggest weight loss lie is out there on the interwebs/in gym world? Timestamp fitness promises.  You see that girl up there? I’m not going to look like her in 10 weeks or even 10 years.  That’s not a negative thing, that’s a my-body-isn’t-built-with-her-proportions thing.

I can’t even believe how many sites there are dedicated to 30 Days to Shakira’s Striptastic Bod, or Michelle Obama’s Arms in Seven Days.  The only way that’s happening is if you take a weeklong Photoshop intensive.  Plastic surgery wouldn’t even heal that quickly.

So why am I bashing scheduled plans? Aren’t goals a good thing?  Yay! Yes, you’ve been listening! Goals are fantastic and are the best way I’ve found to track how I’m doing.  The problem lies with unrealistic goals.  Setting yourself up for disappointment will make you lose confidence in yourself and forget everything you’ve already achieved. Don’t do that—you’re much too awesome to lose faith in yourself.

A while back, I committed to doing the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred program. Each morning I would wake up dedicated to my Level 1, 2, and 3 workouts. Guess what happened after 30 days??? I didn’t look like Jillian Michaels.

For the record, I think that’s a really fun workout. Results were definitely noted, but were overshadowed by my disappointment that this getting in shape thing is not a one-month process. Or two-month process.  Hell, it’s been a couple years now and I’m still reaching for more goals.

My point is, getting fit isn’t an event you can mark in your iPhone after a certain number of days have passed.  It’s an every day lifestyle decision. Those workouts will absolutely begin to strengthening your muscles and upping your endurance.  You’ll even notice definite progress, but please don’t get the idea you’re going to look like a Victoria’s Secret model in a month. You don’t even want to be a Victoria’s Secret model…no one likes juice that much.

My intent isn’t to crush your dreams, but to empower you by sharing that every decision you make gets you a whole extra step closer to your goals. I’m a get it done now kind of gal, so this foreign concept of patience was about as easy to digest as a muffin made from shredded phone books. Actually, was recently evaluated at a recent Mary Kay meeting, and that was one of the big markers of my personality. I like my actions to produce results and I like those results to happen before everyone else’s.

There is hope for you all who share that with me! Your ability to push yourself is out of control awesome. But just keep those goals realistic for your fabulous work ethic. The fun part about it is that you’ll start looking in the mirror and think, “Whoa. Is that a muscle right there? I didn’t even know muscles grew right there.  When did this happen?”

Cheers!

It’s You and Me Baby–Head Games

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I’d always been under the impression that there are athletic people and not athletic people. I envisioned God smiling as he created me and thinking, “Well, thank Me she’s got some smarts because I know she won’t be going to college on a sports scholarship.”

Gym class was never the bane of my existence or anything.  I’ve always just been kind of average at it, and was never really challenged to improve.  Mostly I cared if I looked/smelled gross after class because I knew I’d see my 11th grade crush, Phil Wieszcyk.

Anyway, my point is I didn’t try very hard because in my mind I was average, and that is all it was going to be.  There were the star athletes and then there were those of us who were just waiting for fourth period to roll around.

What has changed since then? Mindset. You can’t change what you don’t want to do.  You can’t do anything you won’t prioritize. You won’t prioritize anything that you don’t desire or anything about which you have no passion.

My health remained stagnant until I started training with some heart. Seeing each small success and meeting each mini-goal has maintained a passion for being healthy that makes it ten million times easier for me to fit a workout into my day.

Heisman Trophy winner (and former Dallas Cowboy! And MMA Fighter) Herschel Walker said,

My God given talent is my ability to stick with training longer than anybody else. 

I’m sure there is probably some genetic argument people use to say elite athletes are predestined to succeed, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about having the mental toughness to stick it out.  Skipping the gym, in my life, is based 100% on my lack of motivation as oppose to actual physical impairment.

Obviously I’m not claiming to be an elite athlete, but even we normal humans benefit from a tough mindset. It is so hard when you’re huffing and puffing after some “beginner” class to remember that it will all pay off, but hey when you’re looking back after 60 pounds, you’ll get it.

So take a page from Herschel.  Take that training up a level. You can do it!

Oh, and GO COWBOYS 😉

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!

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!

Back In The Saddle Again

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I’m about to leave today to get back to the bluegrass. My daddy had a hip replacement surgery, which is why I shared I was back in my hometown. It is one of the hardest things for me to see the strongest man I know laying in a hospital bed. He has worked hard at his job forever, and it just took a toll on his body. Luckily, the wonderful doctors and surgeons were able to replace it successfully, and, after a tough recovery, he will be up and able to walk me down the aisle in July.

Injuries happen. They are awful and unfortunate and can leave you feeling like all accomplishments you under your belt will reverse. Right at the peak of my training, I had a knee injury. It was right after completing my first race- The Warrior Dash.

If you’re looking for an incredible experience to have with friends that gives you a challenge, but isn’t crazy long, you’ve got to consider the Warrior Dash. It’s a giant obstacle course that will have you muddy, soaking wet, and having a blast. On top of all that, you’re supporting the research of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Does it get any better?

Anyway, I had been training for this race for a while, following a great running and lifting plan. I’d gotten to the point where I was truly looking forward to running—a feeling I never thought possible. Yes folks, it does happen!

My heart was getting stronger and I wasn’t winded as easily. The more in shape I got, the more I looked forward to my training. Race day happened, and it only pushed me to work harder when I felt that joy from crossing that muddy finish line.

Listen to your body

After training, my right knee would start to ache. I talked to my trainer about footwear, my running technique, surfaces I was running on, stretches to help—everything I could think of that would be causing this pain.

Finally, as a last resort, I went to the doctor when my knee started to swell pretty much every day. And ok, to be honest, my fiancé had to force me to go. I hate going to the doctor and like to just think that everything will work itself out.

I won’t bore you with the medical details, but basically my knee is built a little weird, and it caused some issues/tearing situations. I was able to work with a physical therapist to strengthen the muscles around it, but I had to seriously cut back on and modify my training.

After a couple months of physical therapy, I injured the other knee the same way. Stop, rewind, start everything all over.

Talk about frustrating! Being the terrible patient I am, the recovery was next to impossible to endure in that I felt like I was just being lazy. I needed to be more active! I was living with this fear that when my recovery ended, I was going to somehow gain all of this weight back. It wasn’t all vanity; my body was craving activity and my mind wanted that clarity I get after a good sweat session.

Did my fear come true of losing all my progress? Nope. I was able to slowly but surely work back into my usual routine, being more conscious now of how I was treating my knees. Getting my strength back was required, but it was nowhere near as hard as it was when I was first beginning.

It’s a hard lesson, but worth having. Sometimes you just have to sit back and let your body heal. Even when you don’t want to. And for the sake of your loved ones, I hope you can muster more self-restraint in the whining department than I did. Sorry, M;)

Cheers!