How Do You USE This Thing?

So admittedly…it’s been FOREVER since I’ve written something.

And I’ve wanted to – no really, I’ve wanted to write something…I just didn’t have the words. To be honest, I still don’t have the words. But I figured, even if I don’t have the best things or the “right” things to say, that in this space…saying something is better than saying nothing at all. Who knows, there may be a person or two out there who can identify with what I’m going through.

So what am I going through, exactly?

Well…in short…I’m comparing who I am to who I used to be. I used to be a solid 60lbs lighter. I used to be a person who ran at least 15 miles per week. I used to be someone who had a BOOKED running schedule. I used to be a regular(ish) blogger.

And I miss that person. No, if I’m going to be honest, I miss the way that person looked. I loved running, hell I STILL love running. I went for a run this morning and felt that familiar glow and sparkle…that feeling of peace and the satisfaction of completing a run. But my eating habits have changed along with a number of things…and yes I have gained that weight back, but with it I have gained a couple of other things.

…like muscle and strength

…like a love and appreciation for the power of the female body

…like the ability to see in myself, even my heavier self, an athlete

…like an appreciation for and a commitment to regular physical activity

…like the ability to cook real meals (versus those pre-packaged messes I used to eat)

It’s a journey they say – one filled with ups and downs. So this might be a down swing for me…and I’m trying my best to fight my way through it. Someone close to me told me to focus on appreciating me NOW and not looking back on the me THEN. And that’s been good to reflect upon. We never really stop and admire who we are – when I look back even to my smallest days I know this to be true. I remember being happy with my progress, and feeling great – but not really being full on satisfied. I still wanted and tried to push for more. Looking at those old pictures now though? Man…I was FINE! And I still am. *smile* but I want better. Not to chase an image, but to chase a feeling.

That feeling of looking in the mirror and seeing the person you believe yourself to be reflected back to you. I had that at one point. I am working on finding her again. And as I continue that search for her, I will try to share my story along the way. Inch by inch. Mile by mile.

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Why Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Last night was kinda tough on me. It was my last night as a member of the CrossFit box that I’ve been a part of for the past year. Now, people leave gyms and stuff all the time. You relocate, get a new job, find another gym, stop working out all together…etc. But this was different for me.

A year ago I decided I wanted to get into CrossFit in spite of all the negative articles and crazy videos out there that spoke to the high injury rate. I took the plunge, and literally on a whim decided to join this particular box with a friend. It was the best decision I could have made. At my box I found something more than CrossFit.

I found community.

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My team from our Battle of the Box

 

Here were a group of people, of all fitness levels and abilities, willing to come together and push their boundaries. We sweat, suffered, cursed, and cheered one another through wod after wod. We encouraged one another to push ourselves further and congratulated one another as we hit new individual milestones. I made some good friends here – coaches and athletes alike.

Coach Bobby. 'Nuff said.

Coach Bobby. ‘Nuff said.

It was at this box that I saw that CrossFit is MORE than the wod – it’s the entire experience. From the moment you walk through the door, to the moment you leave at the end of a workout…it’s this strange euphoria. I’ve learned a lot from the coaches at this box…the importance of mobilizing, how to properly prep your body to do physical work, knowing when and how to scale a workout down, and knowing when to check your ego/expectations when you need to drop the weights down a bit.

When I think about the lessons that I’ve learned, just in a short year, that knowledge and experience has proven to be invaluable to me. Even as I prepared for my NASM personal trainer certification, the practical experiences, conversations, and explanations of the human body and how/why it works the way it does – all things I learned from working out with the stellar coaches of CrossFit Praxis, made me feel that much more confident and prepared to take one of the toughest and most highly recognized personal training certifications in the nation.

It was also during my time at Praxis that I fell in love with the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. I never saw myself as a lifter, let alone an athlete, but…in time that self-perception changed.

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All these things and more I got from just 12 months at a CrossFit box. No…not, just a CrossFit box, an amazing CrossFit box. So, naturally the decision to leave was a tough one. And what it all came down to was finding the best fit for me in light of switching jobs and locations. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed at least a single tough girl tear as I walked out of Praxis as an official member for the last time.

And perhaps I was a little off with my original statement about breaking up, because it’s more like – wod ya later. 😉

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I Want to do ALL the Workouts…ALL of Them

I need a minute to complain. So hear me out for a lil bit – just humor me on this one. There is simply not enough time in the day to do all of the physical activities I love to do. There’s not even enough days in the week to plan out a schedule that allows me to feel fully fulfilled with the workouts I do have. It’s annoying. So I’m pouting right now.

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If only…but yes, this is how I often feel.

Running has been my main hitta, my number one, for about 3-4 years. But then? CrossFit. And then? Olympic Weightlifting. I kept telling myself that I’d find a way to run still, that my forray into the world of wods and 1RMs wouldn’t stop me from hitting my favorite trail a couple of days a week. That I’d still find time to incorporate yoga into my routine. Lies. There are so many options…sooooo many. Of course I find happiness in several of those options, but I’ve yet to find the right balance – the right mix of things. Oh, and still manage to go to work, eat, and ya’know…live.

Here’s the real rub though…to be good at something, ANYTHING, one must put a good 85-90% of their efforts towards that. I’ve never been good with ultimatums though, so naturally I am having a rough time with that kind of logic. Oly makes me happy. Running gives me peace. CrossFit gives me community. Yoga gives me clarity. It’s beautiful that I can get all of these wonderful, beneficial things from such varied forms of working out. But how to successfully enjoy them all in a way that is not detrimental to my goals? And body?

Truth moment? I need to revisit my goals. Which is right on time actually, as I spent the majority of this year working on and working towards the goals I’d set for myself last year. I took a break from running to dedicate myself to CrossFit. I dedicated myself to CrossFit to figure out which competitive lifting style (strongman vs powerlifting vs Oly) I wanted to pursue further. Well? The verdict’s in and the lady has chosen Oly. Now that I’ve discovered what area I want to focus on, I’m hoping to build out a schedule that’s a little more realistic of time constraints and my rather divergent interests. Any trainer or coach will tell you that when it comes to setting goals for yourself, you need to make them SMART:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

S.M.A.R.T. Reason being, if you start out with goals that are too vague and unrealistic, then you’re gonna bomb out. Know what you’re working towards and chart a course for getting there. I don’t always use SMART goals, but when I do, it makes my life a lot easier, as I have checkpoints along the way to map my progress. I start big, with my ultimate goal, and will work my way backwards from there. Detailing my steps helps to see what the steps are to get me to the goal. Then I assign a timeline to it. Or, if it doesn’t seem realistic…I’ll adjust. So, if right now my main issue is figuring out a way to do all of the physical activities I love to do, then I need to prioritize those activities and figure out what my baseline of participation needs to be for maximum happiness and wellbeing.

I’m thinking ahead to 2015 already…and I think my BIG goals for the year will be:
1. Participate in an Open (Olympic lifting competition)
2. Run a race – either a 10-Miler or a Half Marathon
3. Maximize the hours in a day to work, play, sweat, and rest.

It’ll get me back into running again and allow for me to push myself with the weights. Integrated training. It can work. At least I hope to stop whining about not having the time to run. *shrug*

Anyone else out there have that same issue finding balance? Or is it just me?

Fitness = Bubble Butt + Thigh Gap + Body Shaming?

I was on Pinterest this evening, looking for some worthy motivational and inspiration messages to both share with you all and to keep in my personal collection. It’s been awhile since I’d been on the site, but I happened to type in “Fitness” as my search term and these were some of the top images that popped up:

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Nitpicking…dissecting…and shaming of the female body as a way to inspire fitness? Is that really the way we want to go? Is this truly inspirational, or are we playing on the fears and worries of many women who may already have a number of body issues. Is it not enough that we are bombarded daily with society’s standards of what beauty is? So now we have brought that same comparison and shame to the world of fitness. Now, don’t get me wrong, I recognize that you can tag a photo with as many keywords as you’d like and perhaps I just got the unluck of the draw this evening, but as I’ve been observing the fitness movement that is sweeping the nation, I can’t help but think that there is a bigger issue that we are just NOT addressing.

If we’re going to talk about physical fitness, we are going to also have to talk about health – mental and emotional. Shame and fear are both terrible motivators. Health, true and lasting health, should come from a place of love and understanding. You want to be a better, healthier person because you love yourself and perhaps even because the love you have for those closest to you motivates you to take certain steps to ensure you can maximize the time you are able to spend with them. Understanding comes in as you recognize that there may be ebb and flow in your day to day healthy living, but that these changes are natural and a part of life. Personally, I do not think that chasing after an ideal body part(s) or running from the fear of cellulite is a way to have sustainable and healthy weight loss and fitness goals.

And what really gets me in the midst of all of this – is that all of these “fitness motivation” imagery is more or less targeted at women with a very distinct message..

“Who you are isn’t good enough. You need to have these physical qualities to be considered healthy/fit/sexy.”

*yawn*

*yawn* …riiiight.

The feminist in me isn’t buying that one bit. And while I know from a professional and personal standpoint, that naturally as you reduce caloric intake and increase calories burned (aka good eating and exercise habits) you will see a physical change in your body – depending on HOW you’re exercising and WHAT you’re eating, results WILL vary. And that’s not even getting into what kind of body type you may be. Fit looks different on every…body. Why then, do we insist upon driving home such a narrow and frankly superficial view of what fitness is. And further more…who the HELL are you to tell me what’s wrong with my butt/hips/thighs? I really…REALLY wish that society would spend LESS time concerned with the female body and MORE time focused on promoting holistically healthy imagery, guidance, and examples of the multiple avenues to fitness.

Which brings me to yet another question…what is fitness anyway? What does it mean to be fit? These are questions I’m posing to myself and you as well. What are the goals that you’ve set for yourself? And why? What is your motivation? What drives you to get up in the early morning or go out after a long day at work and put in some time at gym? I hope, that after some thought and reflection, that the answers you come up with are ones that make you happy and will do no harm in the long run. I want everyone to reach their highest self, to be the best they can possibly be. Fitness looks and feels like whatever works best for YOU. Perhaps isn’t thigh gap, or super chiseled muscles. Maybe it’s a dress size or two less coupled with the ability to run around with your dog or kids a little more. Maybe it’s reducing the number of medications you need to take. Or being able to walk or run up a flight of stairs without losing your breath. It could be something as simple as being able to bend over and touch your toes.

It could be any of those things.

It could be all of those things.

But it’s YOUR choice…and you have the power to decide what fitness feels like for yourself. Please, don’t let society or family and friends try to define your personal goals and aspirations for you. You’re the architect here. Make sure you are building on a solid foundation.

Does anyone even hear me out there? Am I the only one who’s kinda over it? What do you all think?

Ask Me Why I Lift…

…because my inner tomboy gets to come out and play

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…because I like lifting with the boys

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…because I like lifting more than some of the men I know

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…because it makes me feel strong…AND sexy

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…because muscles are hot

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…because I love chalking my hands

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…because no matter how shitty my day has been, I always leave a good session feeling like a new person

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…because it makes me feel like I can move mountains

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…because even when I struggle, I am making progress

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…because I love the funky socks I wear to protect my shins…when really, I’d wear the socks regardless

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…because I want others to understand they can too

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…because I don’t mind a little sweat, dirt, and grit

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…because it challenges me to get out of my head

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…because I feel like a complete badass

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…because it’s what I love to do

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Taking the Guilt Out of Eating

I follow a couple of healthy food and recipe accounts on Instagram and have recently noticed a lot of them talk about “guilt free” recipes and snacks. And that phrase just…bothers me for some reason.

Why is the word guilt even remotely associated with food and the way we eat? It’s remarkable that such a strong emotion, guilt, is tied to something as basic and necessary as providing sustenance for our bodies to function. Eating is an essential function of the human body. You literally will cease to function if you do not eat.

It speaks volumes that, in an attempt to eat healthier, it’s become a trend to take some of our less than healthy foods, ya know the ones we love but end up regretting having eaten later, and make them slightly healthy enough, or not as fattening and dubbed it guilt free.

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This kind of imagery is very detrimental. It just perpetuates the “fear” associated with gaining weight by eating a cupcake, which further exacerbates the guilt. If you want the cupcake, have it. But what you DON’T want to do, is have 10 of them in one sitting. MODERATION is key.

The term guilt free is a trap on both sides.

Firstly, the thought of something being guilt free can lead to overindulgence. Oh, it’s a guilt free cookie dough ball…it’s made with quinoa and all kinds of other healthy stuff – I’m good to down 6 of these right? I mean…it’s healthy! WRONG. Adding the term guilt free mentally flips a switch in most folks heads that gives them the green light to overindulge. Granted, the quinoa cookie dough balls probably have less sugar and fat that regular cookie dough, but either way you’re still missing the point of eating right if you down the entire batch in only a few (or one) sitting. Guilt free or no, you my dear, have failed in learning moderation.

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Secondly, I don’t like the idea that guilt should in any way shape or fo be associated with eating. And if those feelings of guilt DO exist when it comes to a persons daily diet, then it’s time to take a serious look at the way in which you relate to food. Good isn’t meant to make you feel guilty. It’s meant to nourish your body. What makes things complicated is that in out day and age there are SO many foods that may taste delicious or are quick to make/consume, but don’t nourish us nearly as well as a more natural and whole food counterpart. Add to that the emotional value that we place on food…it may remind you of a special memory or a loved one or provide some kind of familiarity and feeling of pleasure when you are eating.

But does it FEED you? Really and truly, FEED you the things you need and not the things you want. Do you eat more for joy or more for necessity? And if it is more joy based eating, then I wonder how you feel…how you TRULY feel when that meal or snack is complete. These are questions you have to ask yourself. I know there have been times in my heavier days when I felt a little guilt about eating too much of a bad thing. Yea it felt great when I choked down, but afterwards I kinda felt like whatever pleasure I got from eating was gone once I stopped eating. And worse, I felt bad for indulging too much. I personally had to, and still do, evaluate the way I look at food. I am making myself take the time to cool for myself. I’m always short in time, so Sundays are my days to cool and prep meals and snacks for the week. I get excited about my prep time. I look forward to it. And best of all, I know what I’m eating and feel happier and more empowered by that. My indulge days or moments are still there. I allow for a meal out or happy hour with friends – I know that in out society food is a means of bringing people together socially, so I’m not trying to change the system…I’m finding ways to function within it and still come out on top. Guilt and regret are no longer words I associate with eating. My advice to you is to try having a quick check in with yourself before you dive into the “goodies.” My check in sounds something like this…

Me: I think I want to eat *insert unhealthy meal/snack here*
Myself: Are you sure?
Me: Yea.
Myself: Ok, then you’re not gonna feel bad about this later right? No moaning and groaning about trying to burn the calories later, because you know that NEVER happens no matter how much folks say it.
Me: Yep, I’m willing to take the hit for indulging this time.
Myself: Ok, cool. Enjoy!

That is how I manage my cravings. Sometimes a snack or treat just isn’t worth it. And in those moments I will swiftly say no. I’m a big believer in living with no regrets. Learn to question your dietary habits and question why they are the way they are. It’s completely fine to do a quick check in with yourself to make sure you’re making informed choices about what you eat and when.

Make every meal a guilt free one by practicing accountability and setting realistic expectations on what you eat and what your food can and cannot do for you.

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Morning Motivation #121

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If you ask me how I’ve been feeling lately…I think this pretty much sums it up. Life is CONSTANT change. Our perspectives change, our bodies change, our exercise habits, our diets, the people we hold closest to us…all of it changes at some point. Some changes are more subtle, some more jarring, but regardless of the rate of change – it is the one thing we can ALWAYS count on. I’ve been going through my own changes for the past couple of years, and most of them haven’t been so gentle. I figure, the rough and tumble me is getting put to the test, and the more I embrace and come to expect the change, the easier the transition. I say all of this to say, be encouraged and inspired by the changes that happen around you. Learn to manage through the change and go with the ebb and flow of life, and you will end up a happier and more grounded person for it. 🙂