Begin (Confessions)

I saw this post in my Facebook feed this today and knew I had to write something about it.

Beginner

…Because this is truth.

We all have to start somewhere.  We are all beginners.  We will not know our full abilities until we try.

When I first began my fitness journey I could not do a full three minutes on my elliptical.  In fact, I found it so hard that I gave up.  I was winded and sweaty (I still sweat like I’m burning in Hell) and, frankly, I was embarrassed that a mere three minutes of cardio nearly killed me and I gave up!

I had bought that elliptical on a whim of trying wanting to be healthy (read: skinny) and I failed.  And, apparently, at that time I was okay with failure.  But then one day, that one particular day, I made a decision and my life changed – forever and for the best.  I swear to God, that elliptical saved my life.  I saw this with all seriousness and certainty.  I was on a path that was destroying me.  My self-esteem was shot, my mental health was in the toilet, and I was overweight to a degree that I should never have let happen.

And I jumped on my elliptical and had my first real workout.

And, although I swore I would never publicly show this photo – I realized, “well shoot!  This was me!  This is what I looked like!”  So, here goes:

Side by side

Left: Before / Right: After 

Yep!  The pic on the left with the scratched out face and the really, really badly blonde hair is me.

And you know what’s sad?  I I don’t even recognize that person on the left and I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to treat my body that way. After A Lot of hard work, dedication, and discipline, the pic on the right reflects closer to where I am today. But each day I grow in my fitness. I’m so much stronger and adventurous in my exercising. And I look forward to challenging myself daily.

Once I started exercising regularly and eating healthier, I started feeling better on the inside too.  I know not everyone gets this or agrees. But this is 100% true for me. Exercise helped bring me out of a 10 year depression. It helped with my self-esteem and confidence.  There are days when I still struggle with these but overall, I’ve become a different person.  (Give it a chance….you might be shocked to find that exercise can help you too.)

Mood changer

When I look back to those years ago and hopping on my elliptical and failing miserably at my first attempt of working out, I almost feel glad,  Because I was doing it for the wrong reason.  As I said above, I wanted to start exercising to get thin, not to have a better life.  And it wasn’t until I decided to change my life that my life changed.  That’s when I really began.

So, don’t be afraid to begin.  Even if it means you’re starting over or beginning again.  It’s when you’re really ready that you will make the effort.  As you know, my mantra for years has been “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Thank you Shaun T!)  Again, #Truth!

So, don’t be afraid.  Go ahead and begin.  And if you have to, begin again.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Morning Workout

Don’t think you have the time to workout?  Give this morning (or any time of day) workout a try:

Morning Workout

You can do a run through of it once to get a little energized, or, you can go full throttle and do several reps to get a complete workout.

I used to love getting up early to exercise.  I felt so accomplished beginning my day with a fitness routine.  When I first started I was going to the gym.  It was a different gym than I belong to now and I wanted to go first thing in the morning because, like many, I was intimidated and embarrassed.  I wanted no part of anyone seeing me working out.  When the gym burned down I gave up for a bit but eventually picked up my morning workouts again when I began a relationship with my elliptical.

From there I moved on to other morning fitness rituals, like Insanity and Jillian Michaels, and even attending boot camp classes.  But over the last few years I’ve decided that I really like sleep.  In fact, I like sleep much more than getting up at the buttcrack of dawn and sweating it up.  And since I started teaching classes I prefer to run my sessions after the work hours.

But, spring is here and summer is coming and I’m seriously contemplating running early morning classes.  (But again, I also reallllly like my sleep!)

Now, all that being said, I challenge you to morning workouts three times a week for two weeks.  See if you can do it and see if it changes your day.  I (almost) guarantee it will.

Fall in love with the solitude of the mornings and the privacy of your living room workouts – or grab a buddy and make the above-workout part of a system routine to start your days.

Cheers.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Push Through It

Reason 645

Sometimes we give up long before we need to.

I’ve realized that I can keep running well after the voice in my head tells me to stop for a breather.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a break is warranted – I often need to bring my heart rate down to a normal rate, or catch my breath (especially now that it’s colder weather outside) – but there are times when I’ve stopped to break, or altogether given up, when I could have – and should have – pushed through it and kept on going.

I hear Shaun T’s voice in my head yelling “Dig Deeper!”, and I do.  I dig a little deeper and push a little harder and I get a little (or a lot) further into my work out.  And the next time I get even further.

Let’s not be too eager to give in.

~Fit Bitch

Confessions

I don’t ever remember being comfortable in my body.  Not even as a little girl. I remember being 3 years old and having an uncle call me “fatty”, and my entire life my brother has tormented me about my weight. 

via Yahoo

via Yahoo

When I was in high school I started skipping meals and eventually developed full-fledged eating disorders. I initially thought I had the control but in reality, the disorders were controlling me.  And so the struggle continued.  My weight has almost always fluctuated – up and down, up and down – until I discovered fitness those years ago.  I changed my lifestyle completely – exercising regularly and eating differently, and I saw the payoff quickly – losing close to 60 lbs in just about 3 months.  I’d gained around 30 lbs after college and the extra weight that came off was bonus.  I was quite thin for my frame and certain bones poked out here and there.  I loved it.  But I still wasn’t comfortable in my body.

Starting off my exercise routine was pretty basic – a few times a week.  Then, about 4 years ago I started doing Shaun T’s Insanity routine again.  It’s a 60 days program where you work out 6 days a week.  I did this program twice, back-to-back, rarely taking that scheduled day off, therefore working out nearly 120 days straight.  I did another 30 day program, twice, back-to-back, not taking a single day off.  Somewhere in and around these times is when I developed my exercise addiction.

via Yahoo

via Yahoo

I didn’t realize at the time that I was actually doing a disservice to my body (and mind and soul).  I was proud of my commitment to physical activity.  I was excited that I had fallen so deeply in love with exercise and I craved it.  I planned my days, no, my life around my workouts as they were the most important thing.  I missed out on social events because they conflicted with my exercise time, If I had to travel I ensured the hotel had a fitness center and was certain to pack my gym clothes, and sometimes, many times, I’d double up on workouts the few days before just to ensure I had met my own personal quota.  For a little while, it got to the point where I was working out two and three times a day just for the hell of it.  I still didn’t see any issue with my exercise addiction.  

I worked through injuries – a torn rotator cuff, a sprained ankle, and a stress fracture in my foot – refusing to give up on my exercising.  Two years ago when my eye surgery was confirmed and the surgeon told me no exercise for 6-8 weeks my initial reaction was a full blown panic attack with sobbing and tears and partial hyperventilating because the mere thought of not exercising (especially for that amount of time) stressed me out, gave me guilt and, literally scared the crap out of me.  I considered not having the surgery so that I could continue my workouts. I still did not see a problem with my exercise addiction.  I often said that “it’s a healthy addiction.”

Then my weight started creeping back up. I didn’t understand it because I was exercising every day.  So I increased my workouts and my exercise time.  And my weight continued to climb, not a lot but enough to really piss me off – and confuse me.  How was it possible that I was working out every single day; sometimes spending 3-4 hours at the gym, taking tons of fitness classes, running, strength training, you name it, yet my weight was still climbing.  I was beyond frustrated.  Every time I went to my doctor about anything, the subject of my weight came up and I’d end up in tears.

One day this past winter I was having a conversation with a cousin and the subject of my fitness addiction came up and I got really emotional – choked up, teary eyed, cracking voice.  It was the first time I realized that my love of fitness had gone beyond that and once again, something I thought I controlled was, in fact, controlling me.  Unfortunately, I tried to ignore it.  For me, the guilt of not exercising was so overwhelming that I just couldn’t fathom the idea of taking days off. So I didn’t.  And I continued to struggle with my weight climb over the winter and spring.

Then at the very start of summer I went to see a nutritionist.  Although the offer for dietitians and nutritionists have always been there, it was the first time since my eating disorder days that I decided to speak to someone.  And to be honest, the only reason I sought to speak to someone this time around is because it was my fitness instructor who’d just completed her nutrition course and, although somewhat intimidated, I also felt (semi) comfortable with her.  She knew about my whacked out exercise habits – at least to some extent – and I told her that my weight was ever-increasing and I wanted to bring it down, especially since I was working toward my certification as a trainer.  I wanted to get back to looking the part.

She and I discussed my routines and I disclosed to her that, over the last four years I’d logged every single workout I’d done – I accounted for every exercise, every class, and the amount of time I’d put into the workout.  She said to me “So, you can tell me, for the last four years, how many days you’ve worked out and how many days you’ve taken off??”  Of course I can.  (And I’m certain the number of days I’ve taken off from working out can be counted on maybe 3 or 4 hands.)

After a little more discussion (and soul-baring) she determined that I have adrenal fatigue syndrome and over-training syndrome.  That, because my body has been under constant stress for the last 4 years – with little or no rest – my cortisol levels have been elevated for so long and it’s the reason for my weight gain.  She told me I had to start resting and with rest, eventually my weight should start to decrease.  Coincidentally I had an appointment with my doctor the next day, discussed this all with her and she concurred. 

So I started taking rest days.  And I felt no guilt.  I feel no guilt.  What’s really sad – really sad – is that, deep down I knew what the problem was.  Hell, I’d JUST taken the PTS course and read over and over that one only need exercise 3-5 times a week.  Yet, I did not allow myself off the hook that easy.  I think maybe I needed someone to actually tell me that my over-exercising was the root cause of my weight gain but until that happened I wasn’t ready to let go of my addiction.

When it comes right down to it, addiction is addiction.  If I were hooked on heroin or an alcoholic I wouldn’t be able to just quit in the instant because I knew it was bad for me.  And even though exercise is wonderful and so good for your health, I couldn’t – no, I wouldn’t – allow myself to grasp that my over-training was detrimental to my health.  I was so proud of my lifestyle change over the years and my successes that I was determined to keep going, to keep striving for this stupid idea of perfection, to finally feel comfortable in my body.  I still haven’t reached that point yet.  I have a feeling that this will be a lifelong journey and struggle, and although fitness and healthy living has become such a huge and important part of my life, that one little meeting back at the start of summer helped me realize that it doesn’t have to be my whole life.

~Fit Bitch

At Home Workout Videos – Review Part 1

exericising-at-home
I love the gym and I love my fitness classes. But I also really enjoy home workout videos. I like them for many reason: I get to save gas (and travel time!) on going to the gym, I can switch things up and not get bored, I can work different muscle groups, I can learn from different instructors, etc.

Over the years I’ve done tons of different videos, Tae Bo, Insanity, P90X, Jillian Michaels, Extreme 90, as well as different Yoga, Zumba and other dance videos, etc. My absolute favorite workout videos are the Insanity program. I love it because it’s tough and effective. And it’s real. Shaun T and his cast are panting and sweating and dying on the floor along with the rest of us at home. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done in my life but I felt like a million bucks when I completed it…twice.

On the days that I don’t have class or don’t actually go all the way into the gym but still work out, I have a huge selection of exercises to choose from. A lot of the time, when I’m really craving cardio, I will do one of the Insanity videos (Pure Cardio is my favorite). But, selection is key. Relying on the same exercises too much will hinder me more than it will do me any good so I like to have a lot of options.

A few months ago I found an oldie but a goodie – Cindy Crawford’s The Next Challenge.
Cindy
This is a video I’d wanted to do when I was younger and had a complete girl crush on Cindy. Sadly, I was never able to get it. But, now that I have it I am absolutely in love with the workout. I use it on days when I want to get a decent workout but not about to go crazy like I do on other days (like my Monday and Thursday 3 hour sessions), or just don’t have a huge amount of time but still need to do something.

The Next Challenge has a warm up, some cardio, abs, strength, a little more abs, and a cool down. The warm up is a little lame and the strength is great for beginners (I use more weight than what she uses), but the rest of the routine is great. I really enjoy doing this workout. I always finish feeling like I’ve worked hard, even though it’s not as intense as what I’m normally used to. And my abs always get worked really well.

I don’t do this video all the time – I’m maybe throwing it in there once a week, or sometimes I will do it in conjunction with another workout – like Pure Cardio or Plyometric Cardio (both from the Insanity series) or sometimes even with a yoga vid. I honestly really like the way my body feels after I do this work out with Cindy.
Radu

It’s great for someone who, maybe isn’t just starting out with fitness as I’ve had a few friends tell me it was too intense for them, but for someone who is, just as Cindy says, looking for the next challenge.

~Fit Bitch

Avoidance

woman-neck-pain

Mondays and Thursday nights are usually my 3 hour gym sessions in the week.  Although I work out at least 6 days a week, Mondays and Thursdays I head straight to the gym after work.  I spend two hours in the actual gym and then do an hour-long intense Zumba class.  While in the gym I rotate between sets of cardio, weights and abs (and now, of course, incorporating squats from the 30 Day Squat Challenge).  Mondays and Thursdays I usually feel pretty accomplished.

But the last few days I’d been flip-flopping on whether to go last night (Thursday).  I have a pulled or strained muscle in my neck and it’s been giving me grief since the weekend so I thought maybe I should take some time to rest and recover…at the very least not spend 3 hours at the gym just irritating it.  So, after much debate with myself I ended up heading home last evening and working out there.  I was only going to do my squats and some yoga but I figured I could still incorporate some cardio into my session so I popped in the Pure Cardio DVD from Shaun T’s Insanity collection, avoiding 2 or 3 of the exercises to prevent further injury or irritation to my neck.  I also did 155 squats and finished my regime with a yoga video that worked my body but relaxed me as well.  When I had finished my workout I was sweating nicely.  And I felt good.

It would have been so easy for me to take advantage of a little bit of a sore neck and just plop down on my couch for the evening but I never want to get to the point where I’m making excuses not to exercise.   (Again, I don’t condone exercising with severe injury or illness and I’m not an expert.)  And to be honest, my neck feels a lot better today.

Happy Friday.

~Fit Bitch

Squat Challenge

Squats

In addition to my workout sessions I’ve been participating, this month, in the 30 Day Squat Challenge.

My boyfriend and I had seen it on Facebook and decided to go for it.  The first day wasn’t so bad.  50 squats is no biggie.  And, although I could feel a little soreness the next day, I felt good. It wasn’t until that night and the following day that I felt like I got hit by a truck.

Hey, I’m used to vigorous workouts and doing squats – I’ve completed Insanity twice – but I still felt quite a biit of stiffness and soreness after the first couple of days.  But it’s good.  It means that I worked it.  I made the effort and I continued.  Today is a rest day but last night I completed 140 squats while at the gym and even tho I’m feeling the burn and getting a work out with this challenge, I haven’t had that initial soreness again.

After last night’s 140 squats and 3 hour gym session, I woke up this morning with cramped calves so I am being smart and doing yoga tonight.  I am definitely looking forward to to stretching and bending and relaxing all the muscles I terrorized worked yesterday.

~Fit Bitch

 

It is a Lifestyle Change

No Excuses

I often have friends ask me what they can do to lose weight.  Obviously I always state the obvious: Eat healthy and exercise.

These are pretty much the two major changes one must make in order to get healthier.  There’s no magic pill or potion that will do it for you.  If there were, I’d be walking around looking like Jennifer Aniston.

But so often I hear “I don’t have time to exercise” and/or “I don’t have time to eat healthy” (I’ve also heard “I don’t like vegetables/fruit” and “eating healthy is too expensive”).  The best response I’ve ever heard to those excuses comes from my man, fitness God Shaun T “If you’re not willing to make the change then you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Okay, it may not be verbatim but it’s the gist.)

IF YOU’RE NOT WILLING TO MAKE THE CHANGE THEN YOU’RE NOT READY TO LOSE THE WEIGHT

I believe this wholeheartedly.  If you are wanting to lose weight or get healthy then nothing will stop you.  Nothing stopped me.  Nothing has stopped me, not even doctor’s orders** (I am NOT condoning this!!  I mentioned in my About page that I have an exercise addiction and I wasn’t kidding.).  About 6 years ago I was working three jobs (1 full time of almost 50 hrs a week and 2 part time jobs that took up my evenings and weekends) and I always made time for exercise and eating right.  If that meant I’d have to fit a work out in at 10 o’clock at night then that’s what I did.  If It meant I’d have to get up extra early to make a healthy lunch then that’s what I did.  If I were travelling I would research the hotel and see if they had a fitness room and healthy menu options.   There really is no excuse why one can’t make healthy choices.

**To clarify what I mentioned above, I had surgery this past fall and I was told not to exercise for 6 weeks.  When the surgeon told me this in consult I had a panic attack.  I was not happy.  Exercise is my life.  What was I going to do not being able to exercise for a month and a half??????  What I did was compromise.  My surgery was on a Thursday.  I returned home from the hospital late Friday and recovered until Saturday.  By Sunday I was out walking.  I walked everyday from there on, regardless of the weather.  Regardless of how I felt.  And after a few weeks I added the eliptical back into my routine in addition to my walks.  NOW, that being said, since my surgery wasn’t a major one I had the ability to stay active.  If someone has a serious surgery or medical issue and have doctor’s orders not to exercise then be smart and heed his/her advice.  Talk to your doctor about what you can do to maintain some form of regimen if you’re a nutjob like me.

As for healthy food being more expensive, sometimes that is the case.  It’s unfortunate but it’s true.  However, isn’t it worth paying a little bit extra?  Because, y’know, that Big Mac ain’t free.  And I’d rather go spend money on fresh fruit and veggies and healthy grains then go to McDonald’s any day.  Isn’t it more satisfying knowing you’ve made a healthy decision than not knowing what you’ve put in your body?  I know people who spend up to $9 on their morning coffee but then bitch because a salad cost $4.50.  Uh, hellooo??   The end justifies the means.

We all have busy lives.  Some people have kids.  Most people work or are in school.  Some people volunteer.  But you know what?  There are millions of people whose lives are exactly like ours (busy busy busy) yet, they makes the time to exercise.  They make the time to make healthy meals.  They find a way to make the most of their money to make healthy choices.  It can be done.  I’m proof.

THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS.