The Gift of: Healing the Inside

While attending a Young Adult retreat recently I met a woman (I actually should refer to her as a “young lady” since I found out she’s 14 years younger than me) who mentioned her past life as a Crossfit athlete. Her and I bonded over the fact that we both have had a similar “departure” from the fitness world due in large part to the vanity that seems to accompany many of the wanna-be athletes who frequent the gyms these days.

This isn’t a knock on CrossFit by the way (although I do tend to enjoy giving them a hard time now and then). And it’s clearly not a knock on anyone who goes to the gym considering I am one of those people.

I mention this because I find it interesting to read stories of athletes and bodybuilders who didn’t get burn out per se, but they came to the realization that working out constantly and obsessing over their PR’s and what they ate and how much weight they pulled, pressed and pushed, or all their races they ran – none of it truly satisfied them. They thought they would find happiness at the finish line or after they crossed the stage and received a trophy or left the gym a sweaty mess.

They have since found that none of that really matters as much to them anymore.

The Thrill is Gone

I know I was super excited after I did my competition. I couldn’t wait to get in the gym and “bulk up” and hit some PR’s and lift some heavy weight and make progress.

It was fun for a long time. You could even say I made the gym my sanctuary.

But something isn’t quite right when even my independent, solitary-loving self felt like I spent more time in the gym and writing in my workout log than I did writing emails to friends or spent time with my family and friends. And I wasn’t even one of the “worst cases.” I have read and known many folks who became gym addicts and their relationships suffered.

What I find most interesting is that we can become addicted to something inherently good. Like an infatuation.

This desire to be strong, be fit and be a good athlete usually starts out all good. (Or, in some cases and I would actually say MOST, we give up after awhile or we get distracted by other life events and neglect our health).

But sometimes, and I would argue this is happening more and more, especially with social media – this desire to be healthy becomes an unhealthy desire for glory and praise.

You “Look” Amazing!

For me personally, it felt awkward to receive compliments from people. So many times my friends or even random strangers would comment on my blog or to my face, “You look fantastic!!! I want to look like that!” when referring to my before and after pics (I’ve taken them down, so don’t bother looking for them).

Why couldn’t I even accept a compliment of praise? For me, I felt like it was like people were congratulating me on how I looked and my appearance and it felt…vain. Fake. Like, “Why are you praising my body for looking this way?” I know this sounds strange and selfish and whiny – Who wouldn’t want to receive a compliment like that? But the keyword was “look.” I couldn’t get past that word. And to be complimented on my appearance was something I was not used to considering I never looked like that way ever before.

Of course I said thank you, I’m not rude. But still, it felt really strange and it was a feeling I couldn’t shake.

So imagine what it felt like when those compliments stopped after the competition.  I was bulking and trying to put on weight. I was somewhat relieved to not receive any more of them because then the pressure was off! But of course, looking in the mirror told a different story.

I cannot even begin to tell you the mind games the that went through my head. And I considered myself to have a good relationship with food and decent body image of myself.  Imagine what a professional figure competitor or bikini competitor goes through when he/she rebounds and gains a ton of weight too quickly! And we wonder why there are heartbreaking stories of these (mostly) women who can’t see their value anymore other than a body designed to win trophies or look good in photos. The bingeing and the dieting becomes obsessive and their health and metabolism is shot. And they take YEARS to re-cover.  Granted, this is a worse-case scenario but I assure you, the bodybuilding world is full of them.

Prioritize the Inner Self

I think the lesson learned is that we should keep our bodies healthy and in shape the best way we know how and dedicate a good amount of time to doing so. Perhaps invest in a Personal Trainer? 😉

But when the time spent in the gym or measuring our food or taking selfies (please don’t, just don’t) takes up the majority of our days, that’s when pride and vanity enter and that’s when I would suggest you take a big step back and re-asses your priorities.

I will tell you from experience, when outward appearance takes over your life, it does more harm internally than you realize at the time. And no one will tell you this – it’s something you will discover on your own.

My advice is to focus on mental and spiritual health before anything else. The physical stuff is easy to dedicate time to once you have the internal priorities set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kids are NOT OK

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“Deep breath. Don’t judge. You don’t know her. She’s not a client. You have no right to tell someone what to post online. You don’t have kids. You couldn’t possibly know the story behind this picture, if it’s fake or real. Don’t judge. Don’t judge. It’s just a kid…”

These are the thoughts going on right now in my mind. I don’t know who posted this. I believe it IS real and not photoshopped from the information I gathered from the original poster of this. *Updated to include that yes it IS real and it was posted by a father who promotes Herbalife. I saw pictures of his daughter and she indeed looks very fit.*

But, the fact that it was shared publicly makes me think I have the right to comment on it, right? Do I have the right to comment? Do any of us? I’m treading carefully here. This is no one I know personally. But it’s promoting a product I have no respect for. It’s using a child to do so and that makes me uncomfortable. When a regular person posts a photo like this on social media, I seriously question them. Do I have the right to do that? It’s on the internet. You put a picture of your child on the internet. It’s here forever, parent! I must first ask, okay WHY? She wanted to boast about her child’s transformation.

This child’s body transformation. And she’s a little girl. A little girl!!! I should be happy for her right?!? Right?! But why does a picture like this make me sick to my stomach?

Here are my issues, and I’m trying very hard not to judge this person. I just feel like a I need to voice my concerns.

  • When you post a picture like this of your small young child, who is your audience? Clearly parents of other children who might need to lose weight? Okay. I can sort of see that.
  • Why is she wearing a bikini in the first photo and then showing off her abs in the after? What message does that send to kids? Nevermind the parents for a second here…the kids. The young girls who look at this. I don’t know any 6 or 7 year old girls so I can’t ask them. Maybe they would be unphased. Maybe they would say “So what?!” But what if a young girl or boy looks at this and thinks, “My belly looks more like that picture on the left. Is that bad?”
  • I’m trying to overlook that this is promoting a product. A product I have ZERO respect for as a company. Spare me the nutritional value in Herbalife products. I do not care. It’s a pyramid scheme. But let’s say it’s NOT a pyramid scheme. Let’s say it’s just a super healthy smoothie. Heck, let’s take it a step further and take Herbalife out of it. Pretend the parent replaces “Herbalife” with “healthy fruits and vegetables and a balanced diet.” Would that change my opinion? Actually no, honestly. I have a problem with the PICTURE itself.
  • Why? I want to know why you feel the need to post your child’s transformation. Why are you using her like this? What happens if she loses that six pack Mom, Dad? Because, as we know as adults, to be that lean forever is a pipe dream. I don’t care if this girl turns out to be a gymnast or a dancer or star athlete. She will not look like that forever. How will she deal with that knowing you boasted about how great she looks now???

I want to cry for this little girl and I don’t even know her.

All I can say is please, to whoever this mother is, please don’t do this again. Please let Zoey go on doing whatever it is that she’s doing and please don’t boast. Be proud of her and tell her. But don’t tell the whole world (that my not have been your intention, maybe you just wanted to share this with a few friends on Facebook and it sparked a firestorm) but please understand that Social media spreads like wildfire.  I’m sure you didn’t intend to harm her or instigate anything with this picture. You’re just sharing. I get that, trust me I get it.

But please, everyone, think before you share pictures of your child. Body image issues and childhood obesity are serious concerns. And young people are so impressionable. We have to be realistic when it comes to setting expectations for our children and their health and their abilities. Obtaining a six pack is a pipe dream for the AVERAGE ADULT. If children think it’s EASY to accomplish this by just drinking shakes, they will be very disappointed when they realize it is not that simple.

And what kind of picture does that paint?

 

Strangers on the Track

Indoor%20Track%201I’ve been going to my local gym for over a year now and I’ve identified several people who are always there that I think are noteworthy. I’ve actually decided to give them names even though I have no idea what their real names are. Just thought it was cute and funny to do so. Here goes:

Harold and Harriet – the Old People

These are the older couple that always holds hands when walking the indoor track.  When it’s my turn or someone else’s turn to pass them on the right side, they stop holding hands and the man walks behind the woman until it’s “clear” to hold hands again and walk together.

I think it’s the coolest and cutest thing. No one else there does it, as far as I can tell. Just them. And they are adorable.

I always have my headphones in so I don’t hear if they talk about me as I speed past them. I have a feeling they might be thinking, “Why is she running so damn fast? Is there a fire?”

Once in a while they don’t hear/see me behind them and they are still holding hands as I’m coming up behind them. I’ve never had to say, “On your right!!” to them yet. I usually just start jogging LOUDER with my feet so they turn around and have this look on their face that says, “Oh Lord! Here comes that girl again!” And then Harriet probably says, “Move over Harold!”

I’m probably one of the youngest people on the track at the time of day that I go (mid afternoon before the teenagers take over) so it’s mostly stay at home Mom’s and old people. And then me.

Britney and Bobby – The “Too Cool for This Place” couple

But there’s also the annoying “Let’s pretend we own this track and disregard anyone else who is on it” people. And there’s a few of them.  I call them Britney and Bobby. They are the WORST. They are in their late teens, early 20’s and they just don’t give a damn.  They walk around like they own the track, walking extremely slowly,

If you have to yell, “On your right!” as you pass them by, they move over about an inch. They don’t hold hands. They just walk next to each other taking up the entire track. And they talk…and talk..and talk some more. In case you haven’t guessed, Britney and Bobby aren’t there to workout. They are there to socialize…with each other. Infuriating for people who are trying to get a little workout in.

Because of their lack of track courtesy and etiquette, they do force me to pay careful attention to whom I may literally run into as I jog past them. This is the only silver lining I can find with them. Most of the time, I secretly rejoice as they make their way to to the exits when they’re done with their leisurely stroll.

OCD Cindy – The Lap Counter/Obsessive Tracker

OCD Cindy is probably not obsessive compulsive, but she keeps track of everything, including the laps around the track. She holds a counter in her left hand clicking off each lap as she walks. (12 laps equals a mile). She also writes down a lot of stuff in a journal while she’s there. I assume it’s either her food or her laps in written form. Fascinating and also causes me to be curious. If OCD Cindy is walking the track as I come up the stairs to start walking, I want to walk just as long as she does.  This complete stranger pushes me to work harder even though she’s just walking.

So what’s the (life) lesson that we can learn from all these track stars?

– Slow down. But not too slow that you cause a problem.

– Be kind to others as they move past you, perhaps even a little faster than you. Let them go by.

– Be mindful of those around you. Smile, strike up a conversation, say hello.

– It’s not how fast you make your laps around. It’s more about how you feel at the end of your journey.

– Keep a count of how far your journey has taken you, adding a little bit more challenging to it each time.

– Don’t fault anyone for making your journey a little bit annoying. If they’re in your way, just move around them. Don’t let them bother you or get in your head.

– Keep running as long as you can, but know that you can always walk when the road gets rough and bumpy.

Look for those who can teach you something, not just about training and working out and being healthy, but about life in general. You can find them in the most unusual places, even at the gym.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The More You Know, the More it Sucks

So I kinda figured out this whole fat loss/dieting thing. I actually figured it out a long time ago, but unfortunately, it just took me until NOW to realize how much it really sucks.

See, there’s really no big secret to losing fat and keeping it off. We all know it’s basically being in a caloric deficit. And yes it requires hard work and patience and time and effort of course.

But to finally finally FINALLY understand that you cannot possibly see good results without adhering to your diet at least at an 85-90% compliance rate 100% of the time?  Well, that’s the part that really sucks.

Here comes the whining (I’m really good at complaining, so brace yourself).

So now I gotta get back to being the tupperware queen again. Now I have to resist the urge to eat something I’m not really supposed to. Now I have to toss the peanut butter that calls my name when I’m not even hungry at night. Now I have to suck it up and just deal with hunger sometimes. (Not starvation, let’s be clear).

I finally understand how most of my clients feel MOST of the time. I’m struggling like they do. I’m frustrated like they are. I’m cheating as many times if not more than they are on the weekends.

And here we go again on Monday morning, starting over. This time we will be 100%. This time we won’t cheat. This time we will prep our foods. This time we’ll get our workouts in. This time we’ll try really really hard and we will not fail.

But a few days or maybe if I’m lucky, a few weeks might pass and I’ll be back here again, repeating the same thing.

So goes this whole dieting thing.

And there’s really no other words of wisdom to share with this. There’s no big revelation. There’s nothing more to say other than THIS. SUCKS.

 

Why are you doing this?

Consider this your pep talk.  Even if you don’t need one right about now, this is a great read for anyone to stay committed to their goal of getting in shape this year.  You know I hate the word “resolution” and I prefer the word “commitment” instead.  Just reading this should get you back in the saddle….back on the wagon (or off the wagon, however that saying goes)…whatever analogy you prefer. 

Just read it and go workout, go cook something healthy, go COOK period.  Do some sort of activity.  Inspire someone else along the way.  If you need a reminder of WHY you’re at the gym on a Saturday morning or a Friday night, remember this note from BodyBuilding.com’s CEO:

I’m angry.

 

I’m angry because fat doctors exist.

 

Every day they go into work and deal with patients that are in pain and dying from complications related to being obese. They see in gory detail what diabetics have to go through after their first amputation. They listen to crying fathers that had a heart attack while simply playing with their kids. They comfort family members after their mother died from heart disease, the nation’s number one killer.

 

And when they leave the hospital, tired from helping so many sick and overweight people, they eat junk food. They skip the gym. They take the elevator. They go home and sit on the couch. They are a terrible example for the people they are trying to help.

 

I’m angry because it’s considered kind if you bake cookies and cakes for your family.

 

If you help your family to die a little earlier, to be a little more depressed, to have to deal with low energy levels, to have to get on medication for high cholesterol, to be stuck in bad eating habits for life, then you are thanked and considered a good person.

 

I’m angry because you are considered a mean parent if you don’t give your kids candy and sweets on a regular basis.

 

Children went hundreds of thousands of years without candy, but in today’s society, it’s borderline considered child abuse to withhold it from them. You would go to jail if you gave them a single cigarette (which won’t do any immediate harm), but if you kill them slowly with sugar, you are a good, loving parent.

 

I’m angry at gyms.

 

They know you aren’t going to keep showing up. They count on it in their business plans. If you don’t show up for a few weeks, do you get a call? Do they even notice? They exist to help you get into shape, and they are purposely failing and it’s our fault. We demand the lowest monthly cost, so we get the bare minimum in exchange.

 

I’m angry with large health associations that don’t address the actual issues.

 

How is it okay to sell Jumbo Cookies Platters, which include a cookie recipe with brown sugar, on your site to raise money? You don’t get it. Most health associations are focused on treating the symptoms with drugs, rather than doing the hard work of prevention. They are afraid to tell their members to change their lifestyle.

 

I’m angry that food companies make their food look healthy.

 

High fat and high sugar products promote “whole grain” or “high in vitamin C” on their packaging, creating a false sense that these products are healthy. 100 Calorie Packs (which are just junk food in small packages) make you feel like you are doing the right thing for your body. Subway restaurant appears good for you, but most people pack on mayo, bacon, cheese and white bread and a side of chips to their “healthy” lunch. If you show up at the office in the morning with an Oreo milkshake, you are unhealthy, but show up with a Starbucks Frappuccino, which is basically the same thing, and you are just having your morning coffee.

 

I’m angry that the media is constantly bashing vitamins, protein powders, and nutritional supplements.

 

The studies that show they work are multiplying, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the news. Out of shape journalists mostly promote the ones that show supplements in a negative light. Consumers deserve the truth.

 

I’m angry with all of the hucksters selling their latest fad diet book or miracle fitness program.

 

Not a day goes by that I don’t have somebody ask me about some new diet program that was just released. They are looking for the easy way to the body they want, and they don’t want to hear that it takes actual hard work and lifestyle change. It’s not rocket science; bodybuilders have been transforming and preparing for contests for decades. We know what works. The infomercials try to sell us the quick fix, and once we get it into our heads that we shouldn’t have to work for the life we dream of, we keep searching for the next miracle.

 

I’m more than just angry. I’m sad.

 

I’m sad when I hear about somebody’s family member that died too young. I’m sad when I see the number of prescription medications that people are taking on a daily basis due to their lifestyle. I’m sad when I hear that obesity is continuing to rise. I’m sad that our children will be the first generation to live shorter lives than the previous one. I’m sad when I see somebody start a fitness program and give up within weeks. I’m sad when I see people I love struggling.

 

I’m sad that the couch is winning.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why today I’m asking for your help.

 

Help me change it. Help me turn it around.

 

It’s possible if you understand that willpower doesn’t really exist. It’s not just about discipline and sacrifice. It’s about habit change. It’s about resetting norms. It’s about education. It’s about setting up your environment to make fitness easy. It’s about social accountability and helping your friends. It’s taking one simple step at a time, not setting yourself up to fail with drastic change all at once. It’s about setting goals and tracking your progress. It’s about long-term behavior change, not outcomes.

 

Don’t accept the things that make you angry in society. Don’t sit back and watch. Do something. Say something. Help someone.

 

Can you personally commit to health and fitness in 2013? Can you do it publicly to let others know that you are going to be part of the revolution? Sign our Facebook Commitment Wall Tab with me. Ask a friend to sign it. One person at a time, we can make a change.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ryan Deluca, CEO Bodybuilding.com

Although you don’t need to sign the Commitment Wall on Facebook, you can make a public commitment by using social media to declare that you are BACK AT IT.  Or even if you never stopped, just reinforcing your commitment to your loved ones and friends that you are STILL IN THIS is a great way to be held accountable.

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The Anti-New Years Resolution

I’m officially sick and tired of the “New Year New You!” mantra plastered over Fitness and Health Magazines every January.   Gyms and health clubs are guilty of these slogans and promotions too.  You walk into any gym for that matter in the month of December and January and there are specials and deals going on usually meant to entice that vulnerable gym newbie who wants to accomplish the usual for the new  year:  lose weight.

This time I’m going to do it.  This time I won’t give up and I won’t give in and I’ll diet and I’ll workout everyday and I won’t stop.

But every year, usually in mid February, they do stop.  They slack off .  They don’t have support at home.  They get caught up at work.  They stop coming to the gym. They fall off the wagon.  They give up and they feel like they failed.

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This vicious cycle creates a sort of animosity I have noticed among the frequent gym freaks patrons.  Comments are made, looks are exchanged and gestures are made.  Granted of course, not everyone does this.  I am generalizing here.  But speaking from the standpoint of a trainer, I can assure you there are people out there who really look down on those people coming to the gym for the first time and treat them like the plague.  I have witnessed this juvenile behavior from adults more times than I care to remember.

This time around, how about we make a resolution to leave the NYE’ers (New Years Resolutioners, yeah I just made up that word) alone and let them be.  No approach.  No pouncing.  Just letting people do their own thing with no judgement.

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For those looking to lose weight, you can start January 1st but why set yourself up for failure?  I had repeatedly told my consultations “I highly recommend you start out really slow with this long term goal” in the beginning of January.  They wanted no part of that.  They wanted results and they wanted them quickly.  I’ve heard from many people “Oh no, I’m going to come here everyday for this entire month.  Otherwise I won’t come at all!” 

Pretty sure you can guess what happened.  They came in for about a week straight and then POOF! they were gone.  What a waste of time, money and effort.

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If you have tried to lose weight every January unsuccessfully, then perhaps a new approach is needed.  My best advice is baby steps.  Break it out into phases.  And don’t call it a resolution.  That word itself carries with it such a stigma of “Ugh, not THIS time of year again!”   Just call it what it is:  a goal.

Ask yourself:  Have you ever MET anyone who actually stuck to their Resolution? I mean really stuck with it?  Maybe I’m in the minority but I have found people stick with their goals when they start them when the TIME is right, and usually, it’s not January 1st.  Start when the time is right for you.  Don’t let any of these magazines, tv shows, (ahem Biggest Loser), co-workers, family, friends, social media..tell you that “The Time to start is January 1st!! ”

No, the time to do it is when YOU decide.  When YOU are in a good place mentally and financially (yes its going to be an investment) to do it YOUR way.

Oh and in case you were wondering, the best month to make your new years resolution? August.  According BusinessWeek.com here http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-25/how-to-keep-new-years-resolutions-make-them-in-august

Mini Update on Me, because, lets just admit this is all about me:  Currently awaiting my new meal plan since it’s been almost a month since hiring my Coach.

The “Lose 5bls between Thanksgiving and January 3rd” bet I have going with my friend Craig is in the bag.  That’s $20 is as good as mine since I’ve actually lost 7lbs.

Aiming to lose 1 more by the 3rd since I hate odd numbers.

Probably one more post coming before the end of 2012.

-Michelle

Breaking through the plateau

Of course this was going to happen…Of course.  It was inevitable after losing so much weight that I would hit a standstill.  The weight loss plateau has reared it’s ugly head in my direction.

Stuck at 127 with absolutely not a budge in two weeks.

Now I know it’s the holidays.  And most people who are trying to lose weight would be happy to see themselves maintaining during such a difficult time of the year.  I shouldn’t complain.   But it’s still a disappointing.

I am becoming one of my own clients.  I’m doing all the wrong things like weighing myself after dinner (WHAT!? Duh!), stressing out about a measly little pound, freaking out and envisioning the scale frozen on 127 forever.

This won’t happen.  I will start to lose again but the first step is to figure out what the hell I’m doing wrong.

A few possibilities:

1.  I’m doing too much:  I have only allowed myself 1 day off since starting this journey.  That’s more then 3 months of non-stop exercising.  Not good.  That could lead to overtraining which can lead to all sorts of metabolic issues if I don’t address it.

2. I’m not doing enough:  Even with all this working out, it’s possible I’m not doing enough of the QUALITY workouts.  Possibly  too much steady state and not enough High Intensity?  Too many full body workouts and not enough splits?

3.  I’m doing the same thing over and over:  Don’t we all know the definition of insanity?  Although my strength training program has been different each week, it has always been full body.  So it might be time to change it to split routines.  Also the diet has been the same for 3 weeks so it’s quite possibly my coach will change that up next week.

Those are the three main reasons why I we all hit a weight loss rut.   In keeping with my previous post about looking at the positives and staying optimistic, I’m going to attempt to have some fun while trying to figure out exactly what is holding me back.

In the meantime, I’m still planning my regular meal plan for this week despite celebrating Christmas (tomorrow actually), traveling on a plane Wednesday and Thursday and working a nice long day on Christmas Eve starting at 6am and ending after I get finished with Christmas Eve dinner.  I have my work cut out for me this week.

But in the end, now is not the time to worry or care about staying perfect; it’s time to enjoy spending time with loved ones and friends.  I will be enjoying the hell out of my food and hanging with my family.  And I will not give this plateau a second thought! I might even eat a piece of (gasp!) bread.  Yes real life starch! (what’s starch? It’s been so long since I’ve had any I forgot what the hell it is.)

Merry Christmas Happy Holidays and all that jazz everyone!

-Michelle

Random song on iTunes: The Killer by The Twilight Singers (quite possibly the best song ever…ever!)

Random Tweet courtesy of some random person: When someone walks into a school w/a rope w/a spear attached throwing it & screaming “Get over here!” then let’s discuss video games.