Fitness Goals, Do What You Can With What You Have

2-Do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have-where-you-are_-Theodore-Roosevelt

 

So it’s that time of night I should be doing stuff to get ready for bed, instead I have ideas bouncing around my head and I’m sitting down to write with a few pieces of Easter candy that somehow landed next to me and coffee to go with them.

Have mercy, I may never sleep tonight ūüėõ

But when ideas come, it’s hard not to let them out. They tend to swirl around like the dog under your feet when you’re cooking chicken.

Obnoxious. In the way. Won’t leave you alone till you acknowledge them.

Welcome to the brain of a writer.

brain pic
Often the truth of the matter….

 

I’ve come to accept this, the ideas that come at any given moment. They can wake me up, leaving me scurrying for a note pad to hastily scratch out the idea with beady eyes seeing it later wondering¬†who the hell wrote something so illegibly,¬†or as mentioned¬† it can keep me up till I get it out of my head.

I’m feeling a bit victorious today. I finished off another one of my furniture project pieces and it is the sweetest thing ever. I mean, I’ve got a few others under me but I’m pretty sure this is currently my favorite.

No… no photos right now. You’ll have to check back and see those soon ūüėČ

I will just say I love having a vision in my head and then having it all play in life is so satisfying. And when I look back at photos from day¬†1 when I dragged something home I’m always a bit shocked to see how much it really has changed.

Ok.. on with the show….

As things go with me, my ideas for writing come from all directions at any given time. Ideas come in subtle and not so subtle ways. Sometimes, it’s conversations with people that trigger it. When a similar thought comes from several people within the week, if I’m paying attention, I see it as a possible idea for a post.

Really, if it’s the same idea from a few people, there are most likely others out there who have thought or dealt with similar things.

For example; I’ve been encouraged to talk to some of my friends who are getting started in a fitness program. As I listened to what they were doing and heard the excitement in their voices there was the usual….

“Well, I’m not doing what you do.” “or¬† “I’m not where you are” or ” I can’t do what other people in class are doing”

No, they probably aren’t doing what I do. ¬†And no, they can’t keep up with me or someone else who’s been at it awhile.

Here’s the deal….

First, you should never, ever compare yourself to someone else. On any level. And especially on a physical level.

I would never start someone off working out where I am now. I wouldn’t have started in the place I am years ago.

Where I did start was at my level of physical abilities at the time.

I did what I could with where I was at.

Truthfully, I was a middle aged, sedentary, slightly overweight woman at the time who had no previous physical training or athletic abilities to fall back on. My best course of action was having a smart plan that allowed my body to adapt and change with my activities.

Of course at the time, I didn’t really see myself as a future athlete.

Nope… never even saw that coming, but I’m¬†really glad it did. The athletic lifestyle is my niche and it comfortably suits me now.

However what did I learn that¬†I believe is important to anyone getting started on a fitness program is this…..

Do what you can with where you are.

I know that sounds clich√© but the reality of it is true. You can’t show up at the gym and think you’re going to just start lifting heavy things or grinding out miles on the treadmill if your only activity has previously been sprinting to the ‘fridge.

Trying to keep up with others in a class or at the gym or even your neighbor isn’t only not fair to you, but not healthy for you either.

Doing more than your body is used to is a recipe for injury that will quickly derail your budding fitness plans.

Even now, I know I’m stronger and more fit than I’ve ever been and I don’t back down from much. I do however, know when I hit my limit of what I can handle. There’s a fine line between pushing out of my comfort zone where continued growth occurs, and not overstepping into the arena where my body hasn’t gone yet and needs time to grow into.

For instance I shared recently that I had “upgraded” to being able to use 25lbs to do curls with.¬† https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/03/16/strength-training-and-every-day-life/

Now for some of you, that’s baby weight. For a lot of you, you’ll never see it happen.

For me it represented another step to getting stronger. Could I have done that several years ago when I was starting out?

No. Way.

It’s taken time and practice and work. Lots of work. And my body has done what yours will do as well. It responds and it grows, changes and gets stronger and you can keep a forward moving process of improved strength and endurance.

Don’t apologize

Seriously. Don’t apologize for not being where someone else is.¬† We are all on our own journeys. Some of us are going to be a bit more focused and intense about getting better and improving.

**** cough, cough who me??***

Some will be happy with slow progress being content to rock along in a comfortable place. Some will form specific intentional goals while others will just take each day as it comes.

The important thing is that you are starting. Making a choice to get physically fit will have lots of rewards for a healthier life.

Better mental clarity, less body fat, an elevated mood, bright skin, a healthier more energetic body, improved lab results, or even learning a new activity all have big payoffs.

Learn from others

When I start into a new adventure, I am notorious for keying in on people who know more about it than I do. I then shamelessly pick their brains to gather useful information to add to my collection of growing education.

Thank goodness I’m not shy or socially awkward haha

Don’t be afraid to do that with people around you who have been on the journey longer. I love being able to offer advice and help to those seeking information on nutrition or who want to get physically active.

In both cases, I never suggest they start off with extremes.  A modest tweaking of the daily diet for awhile or encouraging them to get off the sofa for an evening walk is always a good place for anyone to start.

A few tips and tricks

Small steps are better than doing nothing. All of us have to start small.

Find something you want to do and will look forward to. This will help you stay committed.

Applaud your own efforts, really, it’s ok. You’re doing it!

Share your efforts or goals on social media. Really. You’ll find there will be a group who rises to the top who will cheer and encourage you. And you don’t know who you’ll be encouraging as well when you do.

Don’t.. don’t… over do. If walking 2 miles feels good, don’t think you’ll just do a few more. You don’t want to risk injury to a body that isn’t used to certain activities. Worse, when you are sore and can barely move the next day you’ll not want to do anything.

Small, slow, gradual increases will keep you moving and keep you from injury.

Focus just on you. Not the other girl or guy at the gym who appears to have it all together. Not the person who can do more reps in a class than you or the one who runs like lightening.

Focus on you.

Do what you can with where you are . Don’t be afraid to modify workouts if they are to hard. Don’t be afraid to walk if you can’t run. Don’t try and lift weight that could hurt you if lifting less can help you get stronger.

Be persistent and before you know it, you’ll be in a stronger, healthier, more fit place in your life.

Tell me… have you ever played the comparison game when it comes to exercise or fitness programs? What tips or tricks have worked to keep you on a fitness path?

Your Body Perfectly Imperfect

body 1

The perfect body. The right look. The best abs. The right “booty”. Sculpted arms.

The perfect “everything”.

Men and women are bombarded today with images and news stories that the media or fitness world tries to convince us that we should look like.

It might bring¬†you down before you even get started. The seemingly overwhelming and impossible task to look¬†“perfect” without living a restrictive diet and hours in the gym.

Does the average person even have time for it, if perhaps, that was their goal?

And let’s be honest, what’s perfect to one, will not always be perfect to another. It’s a very illusive pursuit.

Let’s also not forget how much genetics will play into our bodies and how we can shape them. If you have your¬†moms ¬†wide hips you might be able to slim them down or tone them up, but you most likely will never have a small round bottom like you admire on your fit friend.

You might want long lean cut abs, but again, depending on your body type and structure the look you want might be harder, if not impossible to achieve.

Besides a good disciplined exercise program, your nutrition needs to be on point the majority of the time to lose the fat and build some muscle.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I thought I wanted the past few years I’ve been on my health and fitness journey. I’ve learned more about what matters, or what is important to me.

Learning what I wanted

In the beginning, I thought just being “thin” was the goal. Just get “thin”.¬† I really had no goal beyond that and looking back now I wonder what seemed so desirable to me about just being thin ( as a goal)¬†Of course I needed to lose some fat.. that was important. And I did get thin.

But I was still learning…

Once I had lost weight ( I was exercising along the way too) I started to see how exercise and some weights were shaping me differently. I had picked up running and it was during the time of really cutting calories and more exercise I realized I had abs.

Ok…so… that’s cool… well at least to a middle aged woman who had never really had defined abs or a strong hard core before. Age is not a limiting factor to changing your body composition, by the way.

When I got injured and couldn’t run for over a year, I picked up cycling and did a lot more weight training. Not running 55-60 miles a week, it allowed a little weight back on me that was being reshaped into a stronger more powerful body.

Embracing my body. This is where I got it.

This is where I started to appreciate exactly what my body could do even if I wasn’t a perfect fitness model for a magazine or even if my body parts never shaped up like the articles I saw in magazines.

It didn’t matter and I didn’t care.

The important part?

In all my training and various activities, my body performed for me. It was strong. It was powerful. It adapted to my training to allow me to do more. It made more blood, grew more vessels, learned to deliver oxygen in a more efficient manner during my strongest workout sessions, it grew new cells and more mitochondria ( the literal powerhouse of the cells) it grew my heart and also made it more efficient by giving me a super low resting heart rate so it doesn’t have to work as¬†hard. The other side of that is¬†having a¬†faster recovery heart rate. My muscles grew and got stronger. I was able to run longer, faster and with more ease. I could lift more weight and do more reps.

body 2

Do we ever stop and ponder how totally adaptable and changeable our bodies are? What amazing machines they can be with the proper care and fuel?  The glorious things you can do with them with some investment of time and proper nutrition  to train them to be stronger?

Do we value them as they are, where we are, at this moment in time?

We live surrounded by media and the world that would constantly convince us we are not there yet, that we are lacking, that we aren’t “enough”.

If you’re on a weight loss journey, be patient with yourself and embrace what your body can do now. Know that as you lose weight and exercise you’ll become more fit and definitely more healthy.

If you’re already working out, stay the course, appreciate where you’ve come from and that if you want continued change, it’s possible for you.

But no matter where you are on your journey, never lose sight of the amazing, adaptable gift your body is and all it’s capable of doing for you.

As you move into this year with new goals and plans remember this: Love and value¬†your body,¬†it’s the only one you’ve got. Remember you are “enough” and don’t shrink from all you’re capable of being and all you’re capable of doing.

Have you learned to embrace yourself ? Do you appreciate your body for all it can do for you even if you may not have achieved certain goals?

 

 

 

What’s Your Next

whats your next

 

Happy Monday beautiful people!¬† Even as I write that I’m aware in the crazy way the universe rolls, it’s actually the end of Monday for some of you on this planet and you are now preparing for Tuesday.

This can be a bit much for my brain to process so I’ll just leave it here and say I hope you’ve had an awesome day no matter what it technically is.

For me though, it’s Monday. Monday morning.

And for the record I’m not “anti-Monday”. I’m glad I’m blessed to still be here, to experience another day of life.

Perspective people, perspective.

My last few Mondays, and today, and the next several will be heavy training days for me. I kick start my week by doing the entire duathlon course start to finish. It does seem rather daunting when I’m slowly coming to life waiting for the coffee to brew wondering¬†if I’m gonnna churn out all the energy this task in front of me will require.

Of course that is my non-coffee brain thinking. Once I wake up more and slip into my gear I’m all business and ready for the task at hand.

Weeks remain till race day. I’m already feeling that edginess that comes over me as an event approaches.

It’s not just the race, it’s the awareness that all of it will be… over.

I’m well acquainted with the feelings and emotions of preparing for a big athletic event and the inevitable let down of emotions when it’s done.

There is something that can’t be explained in the preparation and training ultimately culminating in this event I’ve prepared for.

In those miles and hours of training leading up¬†to it, there is a sort of hunger that develops. A hunger that really is disguised as passion.¬† To see myself improve, make better times, take things on a bit more effortlessly as my body adapts to the rigors of what it’s being put through.

Honestly, it’s a bit addicting.

All the while in my mind though¬†is the question… “what’s next?”

That question can taunt and challenge. It can intimidate and have a level of fear. It can also be the thing that makes me examine how much more I can bring to the table.

What’s my next thing

It’s never far from my mind. I’ve been asked if I’m gonna do a marathon again. Ha, I will most likely start with a half to warm up to it.

Yes, I love distance running and I love what it’s taught me and how I’ve grown from my experiences on the road.¬† In some crazy ways, I’ve missed it.

Obviously, training for the duathlon, my athletic goals have been much more laser focused. My running has been shorter and geared to my event. Not to mention, doing a multi sport race requires my body to perform in different ways so I need to keep my energies centered on that.

But I’m heading back to distance running. Maybe¬†a spring half marathon…we’ll see. I already have fully acknowledged I’m gonna miss those brick training days ( combined running and cycling back to back) I’ve come to enjoy the challenge and hard¬†work of them and I may just keep one built into my training week… because… duathlons. ūüėČ

What’s your next thing

ok this has been leading somewhere. Let’s talk about you.

Do you work and strive for something specific without a thought to where do you go from there?

How do you continue to grow, change and challenge yourself?

Do you see your current endeavor as a learning process to get to a new level?

Yeah I know, not everyone is doing something athletic oriented, but you for sure, have goals or dreams something you’re pressing on towards.

I’ve loved every step of the journey I’ve been on that’s built me as an athlete ( well, most steps haha) I’ve accepted it’s where I am at that moment.

You as well should embrace your journey to your goals.

But for all of us we should never lose sight of the fact we can always do more, be more, achieve more.

Maybe I’m wired a bit more intensely. Maybe the physical challenges I’ve put myself through have only caused me to wonder… what else am I capable of?

You know, that statement applies to you too, right?

What else are you capable of? How big can you dream? What new thing can you take on?

That next step

Don’t get me wrong. That next step once you hit a goal might actually scare you, and that’s ok.

I had 4 half marathons under me without a single thought to running a full one. I mean come on, that’s 26.2 miles! It was when I finished my fifth and walked off the course with my best time ever that the idea floated into my mind…

“It’s time to consider a full marathon”

I shoved it out of my head and dismissed the idea as a lack of carbs to my brain for the crazy thought.¬† Really. There’s no way I’d do a full marathon.

That was in the spring, and by end of year, I had my first one under me.

I had only a fleeting thought after I committed of wondering “if” I could do it. I stomped it out and never let myself think I couldn’t.

A few pointers

Nothing in our lives accidently happens. If you want to do something, you’ve got to be intentional.

~ Set your new goal.¬† I’m still so old fashioned and love writing stuff out where I can see it. Use a calendar to make reminders or things you need to do daily or weekly.

~ See yourself doing it.¬† Don’t allow any idea to creep in that makes you doubt yourself. Your mind is a powerful playing field!

~ Engage with like minded people who can encourage you on your journey.

~ Be the best student you can of what you are pursuing… always be learning!

~Don’t be afraid of new challenges. These bring us more growth.

Getting to the next step might be big and scary and we might wonder if we have what it takes.

You do. We all do.

Enjoy your journey, embrace where you are, but never stop asking “what’s next”.

 

 

 

Health, Fitness And Not Giving Up

people give up

Hello world! Are you still out there? I know I’ve been gone for some days, but if you remember from a previous post, I had a son get married this past week and I gained a new daughter in law.

To say my four day weekend was a little busy is an understatement. However, the wedding happened, it looked beautiful, and they are now married. The most important part, right?

To say I was proud watching my oldest get married, to see his petite bride taking his arm with a smiling face and eyes only for him, yeah ok I was proud.

So now here I am,¬†a week later trying to sit myself down and share something with you so you know I’m still alive and kicking.

So, on to todays program! As many of my posts are, they get generated through conversations with people, or sometimes a quote I see, or whatever current hype I want to address.

I recently saw¬†a post on social media¬†about “getting started again”. There was discouragement this person had gotten off track with their fitness goals and were attempting to get back heading the right direction again.

It really is so easy to do, to get discouraged and throw in the towel.

We forget it takes some time and perseverance to make progress! ¬†We tend not to chart our progress when we gain weight or skip workouts ( who wants to remind themselves they aren’t working out or eating right?)

Yet when we are wanting to lose weight or get more physically fit, we get frustrated with ourselves. We want quick results and almost instant change. We look in the mirror for visible results. We put clothes on expecting them to be magically bigger.

When it doesn’t happen, we just quit.¬† Maybe we quit because for awhile,¬†our old habits are just easy to fall back into. Like our fav pair of jeans or sloppy shoes.

It feels comfortable to us.

Those new changes feel uncomfortable and when we don’t get quick results it’s easy to think “why bother”?

We may look at the scale and see numbers that are seemingly so far away and getting to that goal feels overwhelming.

Maybe it’s lab results at the doctor that give a more in depth look of your health and those numbers aren’t so good.

Perhaps that walk you took off on has reminded you that, yeah, your cardio health, it’s as out of shape as the outside body you can see.

It’s not comfortable to move into a zone of “discomfort”.¬† And yeah, there is a certain level of discomfort that comes from moving ourselves into new habits and behaviors.

Change just won’t come unless we’re willing to accept and embrace it.

Our focus needs adjusted…

When we focus on how far we need to go to get to whatever goals we’ve set for ourselves it really hinders our progress. Not only that, it’s just not fair to yourself.

If you’re working daily to make changes ( even if you might not feel you always nail them) you aren’t being fair to yourself to consider all the work you’ve invested into the process of a lifestyle change.

I think, talking with people, this has to be one of the single most important thing to consider and remember.¬† I try and remind them of where they’ve come from, Whether it’s a new mentality about food, learning to listen to their bodies more about how to eat and when to eat,¬†learning to exercise,or thinking in more positive ways about themselves. Maybe they had a better report at the doctor or they have been able to do more physically with greater ease.

A lifestyle change is a slow, daily, determined process. Don’t believe that those small changes don’t matter, they do! And in time those small things will lead to that greater weight loss you want or being able to take on a physical activity you previously thought you couldn’t.

I’m no different. True, my goals and perspectives have changed for myself since I started my health journey. I’m no longer focused on weight or trying to lose it.¬†¬†But I still feel that way when I’m pushing myself to get faster on the bike, running,¬†or lifting something heavier.

I remind myself how far I’ve come and that this is indeed, a daily journey and¬†I need to keep¬†my focus on how far I’ve come and not the road in front of me¬†I’m still traveling.

Same for you. It’s much more enjoyable when you focus on what you’ve accomplished than what you still need to do.

Celebrate your victories, don’t be to harsh on yourself if a day doesn’t go as planned, and learn to enjoy your journey and all you will learn about yourself.

Are you in a place of discouragement or have you quit again? Have you done it before but now are on the right track again? What has helped you stick with it?

 

The Joy Of Your Health Journey

Find-joy-in-the-journey

 

It’s afternoon and I’m perched at the bar in my fav coffee cave with the hopeful expectation if I just start typing words, thoughts will form, and then¬†magically¬†my blog post¬†will be¬†born.

Actually, I have tons of thoughts that clamor to get out. Sometimes, they are all over each other and won’t let me separate them. I came in with a topic on my mind and realized awhile back I had written something almost exact on it ( I guess I feel kinda passionate about the topic. If you’re curious¬† it’s about.. fat… and the post is called “The Ugly Truth About Fat” you can read it too when you’re done here ūüėČ )

Anyway, I scraped that idea and was pulling down another long drink of my steaming coffee when hubby started messaging me. Now as much as I love hearing from the guy, sometimes, he can break my artistic and creative thinking.

However, today he actually stirred up some thoughts in my head with his teasing.

He threw out at me “didn’t I have a pill or shake or something to just magically make him lose weight and to help him get in shape?”¬† he says things like that cause he knows those over hyped products make me crazy… totally crazy.

I laughed and told him he was out of luck. He had to do it the old fashioned, not fancy, but get the job done way:  exercise and eat sensible healthy foods.

I jokingly said…” but if I gave you a pill or shake you’d miss out on all the fun of achy muscles and sweating”.

And then it hit me… it’s what I want to talk about…

Weight loss. Exercise. Committing to living a healthier lifestyle.

The journey.

It takes work.

Actually, it takes a lot of crazy hard work and discipline. Oh yeah, and an unwillingness to give up or quit. It takes a tenacity to get up each day and to keep going after it. You buckle into it as a life long commitment and not just a brief dating experience.

It takes a new mental focus to pass by the local fast food dollar menu that you wanna load up on and stuff in your face driving down the road, to pass on the chocolate bars checking out at the grocery store, or to scale down the big bowl of ice cream etc.

It takes intentional determination to  choose healthier foods over junk foods.

To eat less when your mouth and eyes just want to eat more but your tummy has said… “HEY! we’ve got enough down here!”

It takes a serious amount of mental work in the beginning to get in your workout gear and get after it. I never wear exercise clothes to just¬†wear exercise clothes. Those for me, mean work. They aren’t play clothes. My mind knows exactly what’s coming when I’m in my work gear… it’s time to get serious.

Then of course¬†there’s ¬†the physical out put¬†you invest into your chosen activity.¬† You already know what comes from it. If you do it right you’re breathing hard, sweating, and your heart is beating strongly in your chest.

How much I love those feelings now! How much I anticipate it!

So when I fired back at hubby he’d miss out on sweating and aching muscles I realized how much I’ve learned in the course of training and disciplining myself on this¬†journey I call a healthy lifestyle.

How much we would miss out on if there were …really.. some secret magic pill or¬†potion to help us¬† get rid of the weight we had put on from a lazy lifestyle and never have to exert any energy or invest anything of ourselves into the process!

Over the course of the past few years I’ve been at it I’ve learned to embrace some things…to look forward to them.. to see the fruits of my labor present themselves in my life.

I love a body that is tired from hard work of my physical labor! I don’t mind my muscles being tight when I know its from running or cycling or lifting heavy weights.¬† I don’t mind days I’ve done a 20 mile run and I’m ready for bed at 9 pm like some old person ( forget that I was on the road at 5:30 that morning getting after it)

I DID A 20 MILE RUN THAT DAY!

Did I ever think, years, or the year or even months before I could do that?

You don’t do things like that without investing a lot to get there.¬† I didn’t pop a pill or drink a magic potion.¬† I busted my butt to get to that point…involving hours and hours of training and sacrifice…

I think if I had a short cut I would’ve missed out on all the discipline it’s taught me.¬† I would not have the incredible fierce mental toughness I have that only miles and miles out on a road will teach you. I wouldn’t have learned about sacrifice to make things happen or the work needed to accomplish huge goals. I wouldn’t have experienced the joys and pains of pursuing goals bigger than I am.

I think back to my beginning days when a 2 mile walk was enough.

I realize how much I’ve grown and learned. How much stronger and more powerful my body is now. How much energy I have. How I’ve learned to eat better and how to eat to fuel not just my day but my athletic activities.

It’s been a birthing process. A journey. An adventure that can only be limited by¬†my mind.

Taking short cuts would not grow us. It wouldn’t teach us. We wouldn’t value what we were given if we didn’t have to invest and work hard for it. We wouldn’t have the satisfaction of reaching goals that have challenged us.

I know now that the process is ongoing. It will require consistent effort, discipline and hard work.

I know its worth it. The labors I go through make the end results all that much sweeter.

I for one, am grateful, there wasn’t a pill or magic potion to do it for me.

I would’ve missed out on so¬† much on my¬†journey. I would’ve certainly missed out on learning exactly what I’m made of and what I’m capable of doing.

journey arm pic

Wherever you are learn to enjoy the journey. Embrace the process. Learn from your experiences and celebrate how fierce and strong you are.

You don’t need pills or potions.

You just need your indomitable spirit to do it.

 

Building Your Own Workout Plan

building-your-workout-plan

 

Let’s talk a little about building your own fitness plan. It should be easy, right? Just decide you wanna lose some weight or gain some muscle or train for a race and do it.

Ah if it were only so cut and dried!

The best way to success is to have a plan, something that you develop, that will work for you, your life, your schedule and your goals.

Let me outline a few things that may help you

  1. Goal setting. I know this sounds clich√© but if you don’t know what you want or how to go after it, how will you achieve it?¬†¬†Whether you want to start walking, running, training for an event, lose some weight,¬†or get into a schedule for the gym… whatever it¬†is… your choice…¬†It’s old school now days but I just love having a basic calendar to outline what I need to do. When I’m marathon training I sit down and mark out the mileage for each day, as well as days I strength train and have active rest days.¬† There’s something satisfying about blocking off each day when I get it done…and it gives me a visual tool moving me closer to my goal.
  2. Be real. No one knows your life better than you do. Don’t plan to train for a big event if you work full time, have a family and other obligations that won’t let you do what’s necessary to prepare. Or don’t set a to lofty goal to lose a big amount of weight in a short time. Better to be realistic and maybe overshoot what you have planned than be frustrated you can’t get it done.
  3. Know where you are. If your intentions are to lose weight, you’ll want to gather some measurements so you have a baseline from where you start from. I know it can be rather…sobering… but if you want more than the fickle scale to give you feedback you’ll also want some starting measurements. Be honest and be real with yourself.¬†¬† Also, you might consider taking a “fit test”. This again, will give you a baseline for your strength and cardio abilities.¬†¬† A.¬† Record time it takes to walk a mile. B. How many push ups can you do in a minute? ( knees on floor if needed) C. How far can you reach to your toes, seated on floor and leaning forward?¬† D. Pulse rate before and after test. You won’t need to reassess but every 4-6 weeks.
  4. Commit to exercise, most days of week. No matter what your goals are, exercise should be a part of them. Start small, but start. Get  a partner if you need accountability. Again, you use your planner to track your activities.
  5. Finding balance. Rest days are just as crucial to your success as time in the gym, or out on the road.¬† I’ll freely admit to chafing at rest days. I feel..lazy… or like I should be doing something. Until I got that rest days aren’t about being lazy but should be active…as in… feeding my body good food, and doing things like stretching, or yoga to keep my muscles in working order.¬† Having a rest day also gives you some time to be more mentally focused for when you’re out again.
  6. Speaking of stretching. This is something I’ve really learned the value of and have tried to be much better at doing it before and after a work out. I use a variety of things from the standard foam roller, to a pvc pipe to roll out on. A lacrosse ball is also awesome for feet or really getting into a tight knotted muscle.
  7. Mix things up. I learned early on that having several activities would keep me from getting bored with always doing the same thing. Later, as I learned more, it just made sense to incorporate a variety of things because it worked my body differently to make me strong all over and not just good for one sport.  Not only that, doing things like strength training if you love running or cycling will hopefully keep your body from injuries.  Find things you love doing and then make a rotation in your week with them. For instance my week might look like: run, cycle, strength train, run,cycle, rest day. Sometimes I put my rest day midweek.  Other times I might have an extra strength training day if the weather is really awful and I cant get outside.  Sometimes I have two rest days if my training has been more physically demanding. Making your own plan is flexible!
  8. Listen to your body! I’m not talking about that part that is encouraging you to skip your workout… tell that part to shut up and get after it. I mean if you feel “off” or not well, are running a temperature or something is really hurting you take a rest day. That is far more beneficial than doing it to just “get it done”. Chances are, a day off, you’ll come back stronger the next day.
  9. Make a commitment to consistency. I won’t lie. It is crazy hard in the beginning to commit to anything new, especially exercise! I would encourage you to make a daily commitment to it, not make any excuses for not getting it done, and challenge yourself to systematically take one day, one week at a time doing it.¬† Habits take a few weeks for form. Give yourself time to develop exercise as a habit… once it is… you will not be able to imagine NOT doing it!
  10. Finally, have fun! Yes, I said have fun….exercising… have fun. Find things you love and commit to becoming the best student you can of it. Enjoy how you feel and the things you will learn and accomplish. Enjoy new strength and energy and being fit.

 

Now… get busy… grab a planner… your ideas…. and get started on your own personal fitness plan!

Conformity Won’t Know What Hit It

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Sorry… this just made me laugh.

 

Conformity ~

Compliance with standards, rules, and laws. Behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions or standards.

Conformity involves changing your behaviors in order to “fit in” or “go along” with the people around you.

Ahhhh conformity. We are all bound by it to some degree or another. Some of us willingly and unflinchingly go along with things even if we might have other ideas in our heads. Conformity silently and effectively directs our paths, thoughts, and ways of doing things.

Now hold on…. I already sense some of you might be thinking…well… you can’t just do what you want all the time….

So true. Catch the first part of the definition. To me it applies to the things in life that are kind of non-negotiable.

You have to follow laws and rules of government. You have to respect signs when you’re driving, you have to act like a respectable, decent citizen, you can’t just go blazing your way through the day and have no regard for the “structure” that we all operate in… and we have that for order and a lack of chaos.

Although… sometimes… when I get mail that states “Open now! Urgent! Open immediately!” I love just shredding it and ignoring it’s demands to do what it says. The bulk mail stamp gives it away as “junk mail”

I’m such a rebel. haha

Anyway, I digress. Now that we’ve established my post isn’t about disrupting world order by not conforming….

Let’s address where I’m coming from. The second part of the definition…

behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions or standards.

I like how Webster’s defines it :

Simple Definition of conformity

  • : behavior that is the same as the behavior of most other people in a society, group, etc.

  • : the fact or state of agreeing with or obeying something

 

Again on some levels, we will all conform. We do it most likely, unknowingly at times. Other times, we move along with others to just not make waves, stand out, or be different. We don’t want to cause “conflict” or have others think of us in a different way so we just blend in.¬† We keep out thoughts, opinions, personal likes/desires to ourselves as if being different was… a bad thing.

Having a daughter in high school, that theory is very much alive and well. I’m always telling her not to be a “sheep” following along with everyone without thinking for herself and doing what she wants. I might be having a margin of success with this but I fully understand it can take some maturity to get to that point too.¬† When you are in high school you simply must do what everyone else does.

conformity sheep

Like sheep, we often go along with the herd. It’s comfy, right? You’re all alike and have the same focus and it requires no effort. Trust me….I’ve been a sheep too. I still am in¬†many situations. Sometimes it’s ok to just be in the herd and hang out in the safety of all being focused in the same way.¬† Sometimes… for me… it’s easier to stay there because it requires no effort to push me out of the fold.

But…. even then… my sheep mind is very, very active. And really, I wanna be the different sheep.

I guess with age I’ve learned some things. Yes, my mother taught me well to be polite, respectful, courteous, pleasant even in the face of difficulties,¬† to respect those older than me,¬† and to obey appropriate laws, rules and authority.

But…. I’ve also learned it’s ok to be… me. To think for myself, have my own take on things even if it doesn’t mesh with those around me or even closest to me.

It’s ok to not conform to an “expected” social norm. I make jokes about there being some societal “rule book” but who the heck wrote it ? and why am I supposed to blindly follow along with it…like a …sheep ?

As stated, getting older and understanding myself better and really at some points being unwilling to stay in “the box” it¬†has allowed me to move into some areas of life where I freely, and unapolgetically feel no need to conform for anyone.

For instance, years ago when getting multiple ear piercings got boring, I had my nose done ( and yes it made my eyes water some ha) I still have it. I love how fun and carefree it is. I remember standing¬† in line for coffee one day when a man asked me if it was just “stuck on”. I gave him my best smile and said… “nope, I have a hole in my nose” … the look on his face…. I also got a couple other unique piercings after that one…simply because I wanted to, and why not?

Or the fact I’ve been around people with tattoos for years. I have admired the art work and reasons each person had for doing it. I never felt led towards getting one… just to “get one”. To me, that is one of the most personal and almost intimate things a¬† person does with themselves so I just wouldn’t do it to be “trendy”.

Until a specific thing began to get very real and very personal to me… enough to move me into the commitment to get my first one. And if you’ve read my other posts, you know I collected a couple more tattoos¬†since then, pretty much a half sleeve worth. Each one with meaning and importance to me.

Maybe it’s¬†not what a lot of middle aged women are doing…but then as mentioned… I’m not interested in conforming into a societal “norm” of what everyone my age is supposed to be doing.

I want to be out of the box… I don’t mind pushing back against the status quo…I want to experience things and don’t want to be forced to conform to expectations that are blindly followed by the majority.

“You are supposed to do this”, “You can’t do that”, “You must act this way, not that way”…

I don’t want to “conform” to those patterns. ¬†Does that make me a bit of a rebel? Maybe.

I’ll take that chance.

Or maybe it just makes me free to be who I want to be without worrying about someone else’s thoughts or opinions… to be free from staying in the box of conformity…..

To voice my own thoughts (respectfully) but be able to speak them and not¬†feel like… I can’t or shouldn’t…because those around me don’t feel the same… to view the world through my own eyes and not someone else’s….to find beauty in things others don’t… to live out loud….¬†to embrace my own style through how I dress and ways I¬†express myself.. well.. it’s hugely freeing.

There’s nothing I love more than encountering people who march to the beat of their own drum and who are¬†doing it quite unapologetically. ¬†Inevitably, these people resonate with me.

In this world, we will all share many common things that do conform us. It’s a natural, and in¬†some¬†way, a¬†necessary¬†part of society.

But don’t forget, you, are still a unique individual designed and purposed to stand out on your own… let that shine ūüôā

conformity

 

 

The Beauty Of Empowerment

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I’ve always loved words. I was a book worm as a kid and still enjoy getting lost in a good book. Today reading isn’t just in conventional book form but often takes place on my phone when I’m out on the go too.

There is always something to read that can entertain, inspire, teach, or simply amuse me.

It’s not a huge surprise then that there have been words along the way that I have attached to myself like invisible sticky notes that are “life” words to me. Words that have a depth and meaning to how I live, or to remind me of who I am, or what I’m about.

One word was strength. In fact, it became so full of meaning to me that I made my first commitment to a tattoo when I had it put on my body.

Not just physical strength, but mental, spiritual, and emotional. Life has forged a strength in me and it has become one of “my” words.

The other, last year, courage. It became the beautiful focus of my second tattoo. To live life takes courage. To go through trials, difficulties and pain, takes courage.

Another word that resonates with me, and has for awhile is the word empowered (actually that word in it’s various forms… empowering, empower, etc)

Here’s the definition for empower…. “enable… to promote the self-actualization or influence of”

empower

These past few years I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve accomplished things I never thought I’d do. I’ve taken on things that were larger than life to me.

And¬† I did them. And each time I accomplished something new … it was empowering. And empowerment builds confidence, and an empowered, confident woman feels like she can take on the world.

It builds a “don’t mess with me” take no prisoners¬†attitude.

And I’ve realized how much I want to share and convey that to others… but the crazy thing is… it’s not something I can just “bestow” on someone .

The word empower is a verb. It requires action from us. To be empowered we must be active in what we want to achieve.

It requires a certain amount of reckless abandon to what we’re doing. It requires us to shut down the “sensible” part of our brain that questions what on earth we are thinking? It will mean getting out of our comfort zone. Often it’s taking on a task that seems quite formidable. I’ve found, those are the best places to be.

Let me give you an example. After I ran my first half marathon the question came… “so now you’re gonna run a full one, right?”

“Uh.. no. You realize that’s 26.2 miles right? No. Other people do that not me.”

Then I ran my second, third, and it was only after my fourth that I walked away with the idea in my head… I knew it was time… time to consider a full marathon.

I made the commitment to it and early on I had the thought go through my head… “oh my gosh… a marathon? Like… 26.2 miles??? Will you be able to do that?”

And I pondered my sanity….

And then… I quickly, swiftly, stomped those thoughts down and never let them rise up again. You cannot allow thoughts like that when you are attempting something so much bigger than you.

You cannot allow those thoughts¬†to rule you or somehow convince you that you aren’t enough, or don’t have what it takes… if you do… you lose.

I trained hard. I trained conservatively with my goal to do it and successfully finish. And finish I did ( in 5:23)¬†on an unseasonably hot November day that topped 89 degrees…brutal was an understatement.

And yes, when I crossed that finish line, with sunburn marks, sweat drenched, mentally and physically exhausted with legs begging to stop moving, I had never felt more victorious or empowered in my entire life.

I did it. I didn’t back down. I didn’t listen to the “voices”. I didn’t convince myself I couldn’t do it.

It takes those times of empowerment to show us we are capable of so much more than we often think we are.

You.. my reading friend… what are you thinking of doing? What thing seems larger than life, yet scares you to do?

Stomp down all the reasons why you think you can’t, don’t listen to the “voices”, and dive with reckless abandon into that thing which will empower you like nothing else.

You’ve got this.

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The Sacrifice Of Self Caring

I was chattering away at hubby over breakfast on Sunday talking fast and excitedly as I’m prone to do when I’m really passionate about something.

He made careful work of his breakfast while I was shooting things off at him wondering when on EARTH the waitress might wander back and bring me more coffee….for real.

What passionate thing was I engaging him in ?

Something that has gotten closer to my heart more and more in the past couple years.

Health. Fitness. Wellness. Being empowered and strong… and more importantly… wanting it for others… to help them achieve that.

Here you thought I was gonna say running… didn’t you¬†? Well, you know I’m passionate about that, but we’ll save that for another blog ūüėČ

I am passionate about people “getting” it. When they figure out there’s no magic pill or secret formula, shake, drink or potion. When they get off the crazy carousel diet wagon. When they understand they can do things in a sane and sensible way and lose weight and still have a life….

When they find the balance that works for them that’s sustainable and allows them success.

I freaking love that.

But what I was particularly going on about with hubby was this…

I was reflecting on how people give up, give in, and walk away from the very thing they want to accomplish.

They quit. As if quitting is going to get them closer to their goals they have set for themselves. Why do so many quit? Give up? Throw in the proverbial towel ?

I’ll tell you. (uh… did I mention this might be a rather hard hitting post? )

Losing weight and getting fit requires A LOT of sacrifice. It requires a level of discipline that can make people uncomfortable. It means getting out of your comfy comfort zone. And honestly, it’s more than some want to give, and they quit.

The-important-thing-is-this-to-be-able-at-any-moment-to-sacrifice-what-we-are-for-what-we-could-become_-_-Charles-Dubois-700x525

I saw a meme on Facebook recently that said “There are only two options: Make progress, or make excuses.”

If we are to be successful in our pursuit of being healthy, fit and strong, we need to focus on slow, steady, and constant progress.

The other option is where people¬†make excuses and quit. ¬†There’s always a reason “why” they aren’t being successful or a reason why they can’t eat better or exercise or ate half a tray of brownies.

I’ve worked with some people who I (think) expected that somehow I’d lose the weight for them, or be along to slap food out of their hands.

It doesn’t work like that. It does come down to this….

You’ve got to determine you want it bad enough…for you. Not for¬†your bf/gf, husband, wife, or anyone else… it’s got to be for you. And no one can do it …for you.

And then… then comes the hard part… because to do this…to get on the wagon and get moving… requires that sacrifice I was talking about.

Self care requires sacrifice.

Sacrificing old ways, old beliefs.

Sacrificing ways of eating, things that you do eat, how you eat, and how much of it you eat.

Sacrificing time to get out and get your body moving in purposeful exercise on a daily basis. Sacrificing your comfort for discomfort that comes with exerting your body in new ways.

Sacrificing your sense of “entitlement” that you should be able to have or eat certain foods in the amounts you want.

Sacrificing old habits for new ones.

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It’s not easy boys and girls. I’d be lying if I said changing ingrained eating habits you’ve had for years and training your body to like exercise ( and look forward to it!) is easy.

On my journey I’ve had good days and bad days. Days I didn’t WANT to exercise and couldn’t imagine a day that it would be so ingrained in me that I couldn’t imagine NOT doing it. I’ve had days where I knew I ate more than I needed or ate when I knew I wasn’t truly hungry. I just shook it off and kept moving forward. In time, the bad days became less, as my new habits settled into place.

Remember what I said about so many quitting the process….you must take some not so good days on your journey along with the ones that make you feel on top of the world… and keep moving forward.

But… it’s so worth the effort invested… the sacrifice you will make. ¬†So worth your time to take care of your body…. which contributes to all of your overall health ( mental and spiritual too) and no, it’s not selfish. ( we’ll talk more on that in another post)

Which brings me back to my passion… to help others get it.. to encourage them that those daily sacrifices they make will in time add up and it really will get easier and become much more of a habit to do than something they have to “make” themselves do.

Maybe you’ve sidelined yourself more times than you can count. Perhaps you’ve given up after a few weeks declaring it was just “to hard” or “nothing is happening”. You’ve allowed self-defeating talk to rule you and your choices.

Come closer and I will tell you something…. are you ready ?

You don’t have to stay in that place. You have everything in you to be successful and achieve your goals.

Yes, sacrifice and struggle will be involved. Yes, there are times it will not be easy.

Don’t quit… you’ll never arrive if you do.

In the end though, you’ll see, it was all worth it.

 

 

Learning To Embrace Yourself

Last week while I was being busy droning around the house doing those varied and multiple tasks that need to be tended to, I heard a story come on one of those entertainment shows that happened to be on, ( let it be noted my tv “viewing” is more often listening while I’m doing something else haha)

Anyway, it was a story about Kate Gosselin, and how she had this incredible bikini body. You may or may not remember her claim to fame was being pregnant with eight babies at once, which then turned into a reality show for awhile. Honestly, I have no idea what she’s up to now…other than rocking it on a beach somewhere in her bikini.

So I did watch with some fascination and agreed, yes, she looked awesome. But then, hey, couldn’t every mom who’s given birth if they had a team of plastic surgeons nipping, tucking, shaping, lifting and “enhancing”?

Please, hear me out.

I’m not being snarky. I’m not bashing. I firmly believe that women need to build each other up and not tear down based on insecurities. I admire women and my goal is always to be encouraging and supportive.

I just don’t know that it’s a real honest assessment… like she’s busted her butt forever and got that ¬†body… to hold that¬†out to the average woman as something she can achieve.

I’m sure she works out… I mean… I don’t know for a fact… but it’s a strong probability.¬† I just don’t know it’s fair to hold¬†that image¬†out to women like “hey, after all those babies she can look like this and you should/can too!”

I mean, that’s Hollywood and unrealistic expectations for the rest of the world, right ?

We don’t have 24 hour personal trainers.

We can’t afford plastic surgery even if we might want to.

We don’t have personal chefs or nutritionists that plan and cook our meals.

We don’t have time to devote half our day to our bodies.

We work, have kids to chase down, homes we have to take care of and all that goes with it,  projects to do, meals to cook, etc. etc.

And somewhere, in the midst of all that, we try and carve out a little time to take care of ourselves ( hopefully you do)

And I hope, you have a positive, loving attitude about that body of yours. It makes me sad when women ( and maybe guys do this too) are critical and harsh with themselves.

Supposed “flaws” are singled out. Comparisons made to other peoples bodies. Self-defeating talk. Magazines with airbrushed seemingly “flawless” bodies that can leave us feeling inadequate.

Why are we so critical with ourselves? And why do we often miss how self-defeating that is.

No. Most of us will never be shaped, enhanced, or lifted to fix our “flaws”.

But hey listen up, there’s nothing wrong with you and it’s ok to embrace yourself as you are.

Working to lose weight? Be kind and patient with yourself as you move through the process of becoming a stronger, healthier, more fit you.

Maybe you’re at the weight you want to be but you’ve been working on that “thing” ( seriously will that loose skin EVER tighten up ??)

Perhaps you look in the mirror and hate your ( fill in the blank).

Stop it.

Learn to embrace you and love yourself. Understand some things will never change.. be ok with that. Know that many things CAN change… you need to determine if you want to work for it to make it happen.

My body has changed dramatically from my mid20’s when I was having babies, to my 30-40’s, to now.

Physically, I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been. I’m stronger, pack more muscle, and can do more athletically than when I was younger. I love that.

I’ve also carried to term, three beautiful sons.¬† My body miraculously housed and then delivered big, strong, healthy boys. No matter what exercise I do, I will still have marks from carrying them and skin that isn’t perfectly tight.

My turning point was a few years ago when I just decided to own every aspect of myself, and that meant not worrying so much about my perceived “flaws” and focusing overall on having a strong, healthy and fit body.

I did rock a bikini at the beach. I was more confident and proud of those muscles in my tummy that I had built than skin that wasn’t entirely “perfect”…. but even now I’d have to say…by whose standards would that be determined… “perfect”?

I simply learned to embrace myself… no excuses or pardon needed for anything.

There is a tremendous amount of freedom when you do that, learn to embrace yourself, and be truly comfy in your own skin.

Now I’m not saying you should dive into a bikini if you’re not comfortable with that… be you…¬† always be who you are…. but don’t hide behind something because you think you have to.

Don’t make apologies for yourself. Don’t look at yourself as flawed.

Embrace the beauty of who you uniquely¬†are…. and hey…. we might not look as reshaped as Kate… but if you wanna rock that bikini…. go for it ūüėČ