Only The Strong Will Survive

This past month I’ve been thinking a lot about strength. And my lack of it.

How it would frustrate me if I didn’t hit a big number on my lifts and set a new personal record, especially after weeks of training.

“I’m such a weakling.”

So back to the rack I go and try again.

Still, nothing momentous would occur. Proper form, great execution but no big amount of weight moved. Same with the following week.

“Why can’t I just be STRONG!?”

Then another week goes by and I try again. And STILL nothing major. I’m still pulling (or pressing) the same amount of weight.

“What’s the use?”

And then I thought, “What’s the point of even trying?”

But the story doesn’t end there. I go back and have gone back and tried and tried and tried again. It got me thinking though: This “weakness” mindset. I thought how if I let that little voice have it’s way, I would not have gone back. I could have given up and assumed this whole strength training/bodybuilding/weightlifting stuff is for the strong. And there is no place for the weak in that world.

Luckily, that didn’t happen because weightlifting IS a huge part of my life and one that I would like to never give up on. But what about those who have no desire to lift, no desire to be strong, no desire to even work up a sweat?

They would have given up. They would have assumed only the strong will survive anyways so might as well never bother. This is too hard, too difficult, impossible.

When you THINK and BELIEVE you are destined to be WEAK, destined to fail,  you start to think that you are inherently useless.  I’ve seen this a lot lately – People think because they are getting older, they can’t possibly hire a personal trainer because they aren’t young enough. And forget going to the gym “That’s for the young folks! That’s for the athletes! That’s for the people who have willpower!”

Or they have so many physical ailments that no amount of activity will do any good. So why bother? They resort to thinking, “If I can’t even work up a sweat, it won’t produce results.”

Or they aren’t smart enough to come up with a good workout plan on their own. So why bother at all? It’s easier to just go on the elliptical for 15 minutes and call it a day.

But here’s the bit that no one ever talks about:

Just because you aren’t producing anything, doesn’t mean you are useless.

We don’t have to constantly be moving and thinking and writing and working in order to be useful. We can be just as productive and get stronger in our mind, body and spirit by being still. Being quiet. Being silent.

I think the mind can play some tricks on you if you let it. I see, now, why my clients in the past would have a physical or mental setback and just quit on me. Even if they had a number of sessions left, they allowed outside circumstances affect them to the point that they just quit.

  • Perhaps it was financial – “I lost my job, I have to save some money before I come back to the gym”
  • Perhaps it was unsupportive family/spouse – “My husband thinks of this as a hobby for me and we should try and spend more time working/being with each other.”
  • Or a moment of weakness -“I cheated on my diet so badly, there’s no way I’ll get this weight off in time for my trip!”

Even if none of those clients came back, wouldn’t it have been great if they used this time to become stronger in other ways?

Stronger in their knowledge base in order to get a new/better job.

Stronger in their marriage/relationships

Stronger in their diet mindset.

The take home message: It’s okay to be weak! 

After all, if we have no weakness, how can we possibly grow in our strengths?

Mentally/Spiritually/Socially I have a lot of weaknesses. But for the sake of this post and speaking directly to my physical weakness, it’s my upper body. I’ve never had a strong back. But you know, after many years, its finally gotten stronger. I can pinpoint the moment I FELT stronger and GOT stronger – It was when I finally stopped and envisioned this muscle doing it’s job. I imagined and pictured it contracting and releasing. The next time I went to pull the weight, I didn’t rush it. I went slowly and methodically and it FELT different – I had finally FOUND my muscles! And I wouldn’t have found them if I hadn’t focused on resting and waiting and being still in that moment.

So here’s to leading with our weaknesses!

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

When The Fire Dies Out, Find a New Campsite

So it’s 13 weeks until my next figure competition and I am completely unmotivated to do anything about it.

Workout-wise, I’m doing well. No big problems there.

Diet-wise? That’s another story.

I’m not quite sure where the motivation and energy and fire went, but it is long gone and I can’t seem to get it back. I tried logging my food, thinking the accountability of my clients and random friends on My Fitness Pal checking in might help. It has helped a bit, but I’m still not all in.

I’ve tried going to my favorite fitness competitor’s websites and checking out their progress pics. That sorta worked but it didn’t seem to illicit any feelings of “YEAH!!! LET’S DO THIS!”

I’ve tried reading my old blog posts from when I first trained two years ago. Nostalgia, right? Eh…I just ended up critiquing my writing style in some of them. 😉

I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why I cannot seem to take this goal seriously like I did the first time.  I came to a few conclusions as to why this time around I am not as enthused about it:

  • This isn’t the first time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not EXCITED as much as I’m DREADING it because I’m thinking of all the negative aspects of competing instead of the positive ones.
  • I’m.busier than before. I have several social events coming up in the next two months including a wedding across the country, a week long retreat in Pennsylvania, and a class reunion in less than a month.  I want to look forward to attending and instead I’m  sitting here thinking “How can I fit a cooler on to a plane?” and “I wonder if I can fit in a workout before the rehearsal dinner?”
  • I’m distracted. I’ve been reading a lot of books on religion and Catholic doctrine and Christianity and although I’ve ALWAYS known that there is more to life than 6pack abs, I can’t seem to find a balance between living the “fit life” and exercising my mind as well. Granted I’m reading other books too but I also want to travel and hang out with my family and friends and sometimes I think training prevents me from doing this.
  • My family won’t be able to attend the show. I will have a large audience of friends in support of me there at the show but as soon as I found out the majority of my immediate family couldn’t make it, I  felt like maybe this wasn’t meant to be. It’s super important to me that they be there and if they aren’t, I won’t take it as seriously as I should.

I’ve talked to my trainer/friend/co-worker Chris about this the other day and we agreed that if I am not into this, let’s not push it. BUT, this doesn’t get me off the hook. He suggested I find something that DOES spark that fire in me that I could shoot for. In other words, as the title of this post suggests, FIND a NEW goal because this competition just ain’t cutting it.

So, with that said, I discussed the possibility of sticking to the plan of training and attempting to diet and just training to look great for summer! The wedding that I’m in takes place in mid-July. I went to try on the dress and order it today. I tried on a size 6 and although it fit, it was a tad snug. So, there’s my motivation!

I’m not about to SQUEEZE into a dress in the sweltering July heat for my friends wedding and look like I barely fit into this dress. Granted, no one looks at the bridesmaids at weddings, all eyes will be on her. 🙂 But, it’s motivating me to take things more seriously.

And, the best part is, if by some chance I happen to look pretty good and feel pretty good at the wedding, there will still be a month left to prep for the competition, if I choose to do it.

If not, I will take my own advice and book a photo shoot, the one that I wanted to do LAST summer but didn’t because I got lazy and didn’t want to diet. Hmm….I’m sensing a pattern with myself.

Either way, I have found new motivation: July 18th is the wedding for my friend. Progress pics will be taken next week.

Let’s Do This!!

I’m The Next YouTube Sensation

I like the exaggerated titles to my posts. It made you click on it….didn’t it?  😉

So I FINALLY shot some workout/exercise demo videos this weekend. I will be posting those as soon as they are edited but I would like to post them all at once instead of only as they are done. My goal is to do about 40 total. We shall see…

In the meantime I asked my friend/camerman to shoot me discussing my long term goal.  After watching it a few times I have come to a few conclusions:

1. Filming yourself and watching it back, no matter what size you are, will always end with “Well the camera DOES add 10 pounds.”

2. I used to cringe watching myself on camera or listening to myself talk…I STILL do, but I must have a case of “I just don’t care what anyone thinks” or I’m just finally getting old enough to realize this is who I am because I am over it.  A few years ago I would NOT have posted anything like this.

3. The double thumbs-up at the end is so cheesy that I think it’s actually cute.

Enjoy!

Accountability for the Unaccountable

I bought myself an accountability partner today – A Jawbone UP.  It’s very similar to a Fitbit tracking device that you wear on your wrist.  This particular one was on sale and marked down significantly at Radio Shack, plus I had a coupon (that’s a sure fire way to get me to buy something, gotta have a coupon) for $10 off. A steal!

Today is day #1 with this little gadget. I bought the warranty too because I heard how easily these things can bend and break.

You would think since I’m somewhat anti-tracking when it comes to food that I would be against using this tool. But really, I’m anti-obsessive when it comes to tracking. I would hate for any of my clients to become a slave to numbers and tracking incessantly and worrying about each and every bite of food that they take.

So when I first started tracking my intake on this, I estimated for the most part. For example, I probably had more than a cup of greek yogurt. It was maybe more like 1 and a quarter. But I logged it as a cup. Big whoop.

I also put about a dozen craisins on my salad today. (Maybe it was more like 20, I have no idea). But I logged more than that. I also logged less cheese than I had on top of it. I would never sit there and measure each and every piece of food. Not unless I was planning on competing in the near future. For all intents and purposes, it’s fine to just estimate.

Now as for my biggest vice, peanut butter.  Yeah I was accurate with that one. :/  I mean, one tablespoon is considerably different than 3 tablespoons (don’t judge me, you know you love PB as much as I do!!).

As for activity, I know these things don’t track heart rate so it’s not really possible to get a good idea of how many calories I’m burning when I’m lifting or doing cardio but again, it’s nothing to be obsessed about. I’ll enter in my stuff and see what it spits out at me.

So here’s the biggest update since the beginning of this month: My measurements aren’t too terrible.  I say “aren’t too terrible” because I’m not about to cry looking at them. I didn’t pick the best day of the month for a female to be measuring herself (sorry TMI) so I’m taking that little bit into account. But, although this isn’t indicative of someone who has been dieting, it’s okay. Because I haven’t been dieting! HA! If I’m being 100% honest I really haven’t been cutting too many calories at all, so this isn’t a huge surprise to see. This is basically my Bulk Phase 2.0.

I didn’t even flinch at 4 INCHES gained in the stomach. I have to laugh…I mean, what can ya do?

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Can you guess what I’m happiest about in this? The HIPS/BUTTOCKS! 1 more inch! YEAAAAHHH!!!! 🙂

NOW, with my little Jawbone UP tracking tool, and a new goal of another photo shoot in the FALL, I think I should be able to lose a few inches. I think maybe finally I will start taking this seriously. I have definitely enjoyed my summer haven’t I? Ph well…moving on…yet again. At least this time I have a little buddy holding me accountable. Jawbone_Up_35536649_05

Putting the fork down…and getting up off the couch. Moving on!

When All Else Fails, Stop Trying So Hard.

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You know how many times you have to fail at something in order to be successful? I don’t know the exact number, as I’m sure it’s different for everyone. But let’s just agree that it’s probably a very high number. Most people just stop and give up at whatever it is they are shooting for because of numerous failures.

But what would happen if you just “sorta tried?”  Like a half-ass attempt? You’d probably get half-ass results. But wouldn’t that be better than NO results?

Here’s where I’m going with this argument:  What if people just stopped trying SO hard to be perfect all of the time with reaching their goal?

For some (relevant to this blog and myself) it’s always about diet. And eating and maintaining perfectly 100% of the time. I know this isn’t possible so I usually shoot for 90% of the time. But for others it could be their mission to find the perfect mate. Or for others, they really want to get a promotion at work. So we try and we work really really hard and we might have a good week or a good month or just a good day and what happens? We get zero results. We don’t lose an inch. We go on a ton of dates and find no matches. Our boss doesn’t notice all the overtime we put in. No change, nothing.

Now most people give up completely. Throwing in the towel after just a few attempts. Others might try again and and again and come up short again and again. But what if we just stopped trying SO hard. And we tried just a little bit? I’m talking minimal effort.

For the dieters – we aim for for even lower – 80% adherence. For the workaholics, we don’t stay at work until the wee hours of the morning. We just stay long enough to what MUST be done and nothing more. For the serial daters, we cancel our online dating profiles and just hang out with friends.

So see, once the pressure is off to be 100% all of the time, you can relax and let the process happen organically. The point is, you can’t possibly aim to be 100% perfect all of the time because something else in your life with lose attention and will fall apart – lack of sleep due to staying at work late, less money in the bank by going out on all these dates looking for Mr/Mrs Right, no social life because you can’t stick to your diet when you’re out with your friends.

When your energy is focused solely on this one goal, the rest of your priorities get a little lost and put aside. But when you step aside and relax a little bit, the pieces fall into place. This isn’t about giving up – it’s about giving just a PART of you to your goal and not your entire self. Just a piece of you. And when you start to get on a roll (losing an inch or two here, getting kudos from the boss once in awhile, having a few nice dates) you’ll be glad you never gave up completely.

Sometimes, all it takes is just a little bit of effort to make a noticeable change. It doesn’t have to be full steam ahead the entire time.

Hit the Reset Button

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It’s been one of those months.  Not days, not weeks, an entire month of being way too liberal with my diet.

I had booked a just-for-fun photo shoot for June 28th but told my photographer I need much more time. If I would have stuck with the original date, I would have been miserable. I probably would look “okay” maybe even “good” to some people, but I’m setting my standards higher than just “good” and “okay.”  I will in no way look like I’m ready to hit the stage in a competition, but I aim to look my most FIT this year. That’s my goal.

So, today is day number 1. Again.  We’ve all been here I’m sure:

“I’ll start tomorrow.”

“Just one more party and I’ll get back on my diet next week.”

“I can’t possibly say no to birthday/graduation/wedding cake, so just one more cheat weekend.”

I consider the past month a mini-vacation for myself. I didn’t go nuts but NOTHING was working to get myself motivated to lean out. My usual tricks just weren’t cutting it. No motivational sayings posted on my phone or pictures of my favorite competitors helped. Writing about it didn’t help. Watching other people workout didn’t do anything for me. Taking progress pics didn’t do it either. Even pushing my own clients to work hard, which almost always works for me, didn’t make me want to take this seriously this time around.

I think I realized the problem: I believe it was a combination of stopping the coaching with Erik as well as having become USED to all the food during my bulk phase. I think my stomach was just like, “Ummm….what happened to all that food you were feeding me?”

Trust me, the food that’s on my diet phase of this plan is PLENTY of food for me. But of course, who wouldn’t just a little bit more? Just an extra bite here. A little more spoonful there. Oh just a few more grams won’t hurt.

The nice interesting part is that the scale doesn’t show any significant change. I didn’t completely undo all my hard work. So this tells me my cheats really weren’t that bad. This is more of a psychological RESET button I’m hitting. Because my mind and my heart were NOT into it this past month at all.

But that’s changing today.

No more slacking. Time to get serious.

So let’s this be a lesson to you boys and girls:

Even when you set goals, be ready to put the work in. Admit when you’re hearts just not into it, and hit that reset button when you are ready. It’s never too late!