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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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

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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!

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!