The “R” Word

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I have come to strongly dislike the word “Resolution.”

And because it’s soon to be a new year, I know I’ll be hearing a lot of it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have GOALS. But that’s just it, I like the “G” word better than the “R” word.

Resolution makes me automatically think of the New Year. And the New Year is a HORRIBLE time to make a Resolution. They (someone smarter than me) said the best time to make a Resolution is in August. Why? No idea. But apparently, people are more successful when they make them in the middle of the year rather than the beginning.

With that in mind, about a month ago I told my trainer that I wanted to deadlift 200lbs.

Recently, he recorded me lifting 145lbs for several reps you can watch here. (Afterwards, I lifted 165lbs but they were only mediocre so we never posted them.)

And then on Christmas Eve, my trainer suggested we should try and “work on those deadlifts.”  At first I was all about going home to get ready for some Christmas Eve food…but then I remembered if I was going to hit this goal of 200lbs, I kinda needed to work at it. 🙂

The picture above is me before hitting 185lbs, a new PR for me! I’m very excited about one day hitting 200lbs. And there WILL be video proof of this when it happens.

I’m also aware that not everyone has strength training goals in mind when they join a gym or begin a new year and new plan to “get in shape.” I respect the fact that people get motivated at the thought of a “new body” in the new year. But I’m so used to seeing people get their hopes up only to fail because of their lack of planning (see below for specifics).

I’m more about being happy with the body you have and making reasonable changes to it, not in order to have a NEW body (because you’re body is aging and getting older everyday, it’s never going to be NEW) but in order to enjoy the one you HAVE!  It’s not about what it LOOKS like, it’s about how it FUNCTIONS.


 

Back to that dreaded “R” word:

EVERY time I hear it I cringe. It brings back memories of working at gyms, speaking with new members about their New Years Resolutions. Always the same speech, every time.

Client: “Yeah I thought since it’s the new year I would try and lose weight…again.”

Me: “Again? Have you been successful in the past?”

Client: “Yes, but as soon as I lost the weight I thought I could eat the way I used to and went back to my old bad habits.” (Didn’t have a maintenance plan)

or

Client: “Yes, but I lost the motivation as soon as my life got busy with other things.”  (Didn’t prioritize their health)

or

Client: “I worked out a lot and even trained for a race but never really lost any weight. I don’t know why!” (Didn’t learn any good eating habits)

or

Client: “I lost a ton of weight! I stopped eating carbs and I worked out 5 days a week! But the holiday ruined me and I ate all the foods I shouldn’t have and now I’m back up in weight. I guess the only way I can lose weight is to restrict myself.” (Took part in a diet that was not feasible or conducive to real life)

So here’s some quick advice for you to carry you into 2016:

  • Identify your MAIN issue and make a plan to WORK on it – Is it TIME? Is it MEAL PLANNING? Is it COOKING? Is it LACK OF KNOWLEDGE?  Is it LOGISTICS? The good news is that there’s a solution to all of these.
  • Ask yourself what you have done in the past that worked and if this is something you CAN and DESIRE to do again?
  • If you have NEVER been successful at reaching your health and fitness goals, ask yourself why? I think many times we don’t like to admit our failures but we have to in order to learn from them, right?
  • What was the barrier? Was it budget? Figure out what you CAN afford. Was it lack of support? There’s ALWAYS someone out there willing to support you, many times it’s a total stranger or even just the person behind the desk at the gym. But I promise you someone out there is supporting you and cheering you on! Was it just plain old procrastination or laziness? Set up some rules for yourself. I wrote about this recently on the faith blog that might be helpful.

Start off 2016 in the same way you’re ending 2015:

Hopeful, not dismayed.

Positive, not discouraged.

Eager, not afraid.

I hope this new year brings about change in you that’s positive, that’s exciting and continues on for years to come!

 

 

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!!

The Distorted Perception of Weight Loss

Let’s go back in time to July of 2013. This is what I looked like:

July 22 2013
July 22 2013

It was 9 weeks before the competition. So I was probably 112lbs.

But I recall a specific moment from this timeframe:

I recall telling my sister (and only my sister as I wouldn’t dare say it to clients or friends) the following statement:

“Everyone looks huge to me. Big. Everyone. The people I see on the tv. The models and celebrities in magazines and on the cover. Everyone on my Facebook feed. Everyone…looks…huge.”

It wasn’t so much that I felt and looked small – It was that everyone got fat. Everyone.

I remember looking at a swimsuit model and thinking, “Poor thing…she’s too big to be in that suit.”

I went to the grocery store and looked at people in line and thought, “Poor thing…she’s too big to be buying those chips and cookies.”

I went to the gym and thought, “Poor people walking the treadmill…they must be exhausted carrying all that weight.”

Just let that sink in for awhile. Me. A Personal Trainer. Thinking everyone I looked at was huge. Ginormous. BIG.

How is that normal? How is that acceptable to think that way? I was completely distorted. Why? Probably because every time I looked in the mirror, I was getting SMALLER. I was getting so lean, that it seemed like everyone else was gaining weight by comparison. AND because people kept telling me, “You’re so small! You look great! You’ve lost so much weight, oh my gosh, you look so small!”

Although people were trying to give me compliments, they were reinforcing my thought that, Yes, I am small. This is a good thing.

As I got bigger after the competition, that feeling and perception went away. And my perception returned to “normal.” THANK GOODNESS.

It was quite possibly one of the strangest and startling things that happened to me during that period of time.

Now, that I’m building again, I am well aware of potential setbacks and feelings having gone through this before. I’m feeling much more prepared and confident. I don’t think you can fully prepare yourself for what is reflected in the mirror staring back at you once you start to change your physique (on purpose or by accident). It’s startling to see yourself in a particular way (I’m so much bigger than I was! I’m so much smaller than I was! I’m way more muscular than I have ever been!) and hopefully it’s a positive experience.

But this is the part where I point out that double standard: Society says we can’t tell someone that they look too big or too fat or too muscular but we are completely allowed to tell someone they are too skinny or too lean or too small. As if telling someone they are TOO much of something based on their appearance is EVER a good thing. No. Not even when you’re complimenting them, it really isn’t.

Because although that person you’re trying to compliment might not be training for a competition, I’m trying to give you an idea of what goes through the mind of someone who is dieting or training or struggling with their journey since they, too, might have a body distortion issue.

Instead of attaching a size to a comment, can we change the dialogue to start saying things like:

“Hey there good lookin!”

“That dress you have on is a great color on you.”

“You’re looking well today.”

Is there a reason we have to tell someone how they look and give it a size?

“You look great, have you lost weight?” – What if someone just looks great because they’re in a good mood that day?

“You look great, have you been eating more? You were looking too small last time I saw you. Glad you put on some size.”  – Because your opinion matters, yes.

“You look great, what size are you now? A 3 or a 4? That’s awesome! How big were you? Like a 12?? Wow!” – So now that I’m smaller, am I a better person now? Wasn’t I okay at a size 12?

Let me give an example that just happened to me:

I was told I was looking “really small” by another female who really had no idea I’m trying to bulk up. I wasn’t insulted. She thought she was complimenting me! (It’s not very common for women to WANT to get bigger). I know this. But even though I know this, guess what I did about 20 minutes later?

I downed a bag of chocolate covered almonds because…ya know, “Gotta eat to grow, bro.”

I had the idea in my head that “I’m small. That’s not good. I need to get bigger, therefore, gotta eat more.”

It was actually kind of funny at the time, and I like to think I have a mostly POSITIVE body image, but what if I was a binge and purger? What if I had a really bad history of yo-yo dieting or poor self image? And what if she had said “You look kinda small” in a way that made me second guess her intentions?

“What did she mean by that? Did she mean I should be even smaller? Did she mean I’m not small enough? Does she think I’m TOO small?”

I should have said to my friend, “Hey thanks…Actually, it’s funny you should say that. I’m trying to put on muscle…So hopefully next time you see me, I’ll look bigger!”

Just be careful with the comments to someone who is struggling or trying to make changes to their physique.

Chances are, they have enough dialogue going on in their head. And what they see in the mirror might be in complete distortion to what you see when you look at them.

P.S. I have posted progress pics in the Progress Pic page but here they are to save you a click:

March 13th, 2015. 135lbs and feeling strong, but not too fluffy.
March 13th, 2015. 135lbs and feeling strong, but not too fluffy.

The caption from my Instagram page: I’m Huge! 🙂 5 Months to go until my next figure competition. Feeling good at 135lbs.

And I’m proud to say the comments were all positive reinforcement. 🙂

 

 

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!