Saturday, January 31, 2015

We Suck At Blogging

"Beginners are many; enders but a few..."

I'm so sorry. I've done it again. I've committed to writing a blog and have totally failed at keeping it up to date. I could give many, many excuses for this but really... would you believe me even if I told you? January has been a weird month. It's not been a bad month but it sure as hell hasn't been a good month either. And on this last day of the first month of the year I find myself seemingly lost at where or how to proceed. But since this is a fitness blog, let's focus on that for a bit.

It's no secret that my weight has been an issue post graduate school. Up and down, up and down... with heavy emphasis on the up, and very few periods of down. I can make a million excuses for this too. Work was stressful, with long hours and too much travel for the better part of the first seven years of my career. Frequent relocations. Heavy family stress. Medical issues. Laziness. And on and on and on. It took me getting pneumonia in 2013 for the 3rd time in as many years that I finally slowed down on the crazy work schedule (our bodies - MY body - isn't meant to work 90+ hours a week, y'all). I literally had to tell my boss "No, I can't travel for a meeting while I have pneumonia" before I realized how bad it had evolved. I had to learn how (and when) to say no at work, and start saying yes to life. It was the only way to finally regulate my sleep and eating patterns. While this mostly helped with the fatigue, it did nothing to help with my overall health and fitness.

In the spring of 2014, I experienced something that forced me to ask myself what I really want out of life. Resoundingly, I answered myself that I wanted to take charge of my health and my appearance. I didn't want to hide under baggy clothes and oversized shades. I didn't want to continue to witness friends like Natasha accomplish amazing fitness feats while I watched from the couch. I didn't want to miss out on adventures and friendships because I didn't feel worthy of such experiences. I realized that life is far too short to sit back and accept mediocrity... and these revelations helped me experience the best year I have had in a long, long time!

The end of 2014 marked the end of a few things, but I didn't want to end my 2014 the way I had begun it. With Natasha's encouragement, I committed to rejoining the gym and doing a 30 in 30 fitness challenge. It felt good - and I felt so alive! I used the year's excitements, frustrations, and challenges to motivate me to work harder, train smarter, and go further than I had in a very long time. I was doing so well! And I was proud of myself for keeping up with it!

At the end of the month, I fell ill with the flu and strep throat. I was so mad. I always get sick at this time of year, but this was probably the worst I had it in a while. It completely destroyed me mentally to realize that my hard work in the gym was going to fall apart because my body had failed me. At first, I refused to believe I was actually sick. I worked the first two days despite being sick... and returned far too soon (while still coughing) during recovery. I was angry, frustrated... and incredibly sad. Why can't I win?

I've spent the last two weeks (feels longer) regaining my fitness mojo. I have worked out nearly every day, with my running time and strength training improving on a near daily basis. Despite how much I have accomplished in such a short time, however, I find it hard for me to consider these wins. I have SO far to go, and it's near impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That said - I've discovered a fantastic fitness community thanks to Instagram, and they've really helped encourage me along the way. One of my new friends started exactly where I did (albeit in September as compared to my December), and watching her improve is certainly helping motivate me along. My baby sister's fitness wins are also encouraging - I can't believe that she's the same kid! I'm oh-so-proud of her! 

And so... I'll keep chugging along. And I will keep this up. I don't want to be a beginner... I want to be an ender... and by ending, I mean I want to make this a change I keep up with for the rest of my life! So tell me... what motivates you? How do you keep going? And do you struggle like I do? I hope to hear from you!



Saturday, January 24, 2015

RIPPED IN 30 (OR 60)

I was sitting on the sofa last weekend flipping through the current issue of Oxygen magazine.  In case you don't know, Oxygen is a women's fitness/bodybuilding magazine.  It's full of weight lifting exercises, recipes, and the other 3/4 of the magazine seems to be advertisements for body building supplements (lame).  I've been a subscriber for almost 10 years.  I usually flip the pages, read the success stories and then toss it aside for the latest edition of US Weekly/In Touch/People/etc.  So this weekend I started thinking.  "Hey! Maybe I should do some of the exercises in the magazine!!!"

I am the cardio queen.  I love to run or ride the elliptical all day long.  It occurred to me that, based on results, this approach does not work.  I dusted off my Jillian Michaels DVDs and my hand weights.  I'm on day 6 of Ripped in 30.  Thirty days is not long, but for an impatient person like me it feels like forever.  I'm really hoping that it works.  I'm still running as I have some races coming up.  So it'll probably be more like Ripped in 60, but if it works out, I stand to gain a lot of time back in my life.  Thirty minutes at home is a lot better than spending 75 commuting to and using the gym.  Thirty minutes might actually be sustainable.  I will still have to do cardio because I'm not going to give up my daily ice cream or stop drinking beer/wine/mojitos. However, if you are willing to stick to the included diet plan, I can see how you would get some good results.

Stay tuned for before and afters.  One of my running partners has also suggested the following HIIT website. Twelve minute workout? Yes, please!  There's no reason to ever buy a workout DVD again!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Zero to Thirteen (Here We Go Again)

Victory's within the mile...
Almost there, don't give up now
Only thing that's on my mind
Is who's gonna run this town tonight....

I met Natasha because one of my best friends at the time was trying to date her friend. We clicked almost immediately, and our friendship has outlasted the friendships with the people that introduced us to begin with. While there are a lot of reasons that we are friends, we bonded early on over a love for green chile, trashy tv, football players, and... running/working out. 

My love for running was not something I inherited at birth. I loathed running for the bulk of my childhood. Who the heck thought to call our one-mile runs in school "fun runs?" I hated them! By the time I was twelve, I decided running just wasn't for me and I had all but given up on it. Run in gym class? Oh, I can't do that... I have to walk, I'd say. Excuses, excuses!

One night after dinner, I confessed to Dad how much I hated running. Dad wasn't a runner either, and said he struggled with the same when he was my age. He invited me to go for a walk a few minutes later, and then challenged me to run to the end of the street with him. He gave me a high-five when we made it, and walked with me back to the house. This became a new routine for us for several months. We would eat dinner, we would do the dishes together, and then we would go for our walks/runs... each time, Dad challenging me to go a little further. One random night, however, I decided I didn't like this anymore and abruptly stopped joining him. Dad continued inviting me on a nightly run, but I wouldn't go. I have zero idea why I did this - stupid teenager, I guess. Dad became a long-distance runner for years after we started this routine, only retiring after he was disabled in a work accident. Every single time he returned from a long distance run, it would make me sad that I had stopped running with him. (And yet... I never joined him or tried to get into it with him. I kick myself for not doing that.)

In late high school and in college, I built up a very steady and heavy workout routine. Sadly, I stopped running with any regularity in 2001 after seriously injuring my knee for the second time. It was my own fault - my body didn't fail me; I did. At the time of my injury, I was running between 6-8 miles a day, going to the gym once or twice a day, and working full time on my feet in cheap pumps. I wasn't eating right nor was I sleeping as much as I should. My body needed a break, and it simply gave out. I took a recommended break (per doctor's orders), and spent the summer of 2001 swimming and chillaxing at the pool. 

Natasha carried on with her fitness efforts. I'd join her at the gym occasionally, but our work and school schedules made working out together difficult (if not impossible). By the time I graduated in 2002, I was barely working out at all. Throughout the rest of my years in Albuquerque (2002-05), I made several attempts at reinvigorating my fitness routine. I'd work out with Natasha or other friends, or I'd work out on my own at work or at my favorite local gym. I yo-yo'd for years with this, never actually committing to any sort of routine. Natasha, meanwhile, continued working out and running. Pictured above is her most recent half marathon last September, and in October she finished a 10K! She's a beast, and I love it!

And how about my marathon efforts? Ha! Well... Other than a 10K in New Orleans and several 5K runs/walks in California, I haven't been doing much running lately. Why not? Oh, there are so many reasons excuses I could use here. Two knee injuries. Heavy work loads. Relocations. Weather. Yada-yada-yada. Honestly... there are only two reasons: Fear and laziness. Since my last knee injury, I learned that I suffer from tachycardia and asthma. I'm scared of overtraining, overexerting, and possibly re-injuring my knees and being forced to have surgery. I'm also really friggin' lazy. I work long, stressful days... I just want to have a casual walk with my dog, eat dinner, and go to bed at night. Who really has time for the gym anyway?

Over the last few months, I have been doing some soul-searching, looking at things I used to love and have given up, and wondering why I ever gave them up in the first place. While I won't discuss many of those things on this blog, one thing I will discuss that is relevant is how much I miss my fitness. I've always loved the gym. I've also always missed running. I miss the feeling of a heavy steel weight in my hands. I miss the feeling of the ground pounding beneath my feet when I run. I miss the feeling of happiness and lightness that you have after you complete an invigorating workout. And mostly... I miss the freedom that fitness gives you. I don't know why it's so hard for me to get as dedicated to fitness as I was in my early 20s. I'm not married; I don't have kids. I seemingly have no excuse to be this way, so what gives?

At the gym tonight, I decided to try a 10 minute run based on a couch-to-marathon program I read about while I was sick. It was only 10 minutes, but the gym was empty so I thought I'd give it a go. And you know what? I completed it. If I would have gone to 15 minutes, I would have hit a mile and that felt pretty great. I had a sort of epiphany in those 10 minutes... if I can do this, what is stopping me from training for a 10K? Or a half marathon? Natasha has been prodding me to train for a half marathon with her for years... can I maybe do it? I'm going to give it considerable thought over the next few days, that's for sure. What do you guys think? Well, I'm off to bed, but I'll see you again soon! 



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Woke Up Like This (Goddamn! Goddamn! Goddamn!)

I wake up lookin' this good
And I wouldn't change it if I could
And you can say what you want I'm the shit
I wish everyone could feel like this

So, this post is more about body image than fitness I suppose.  For most of my teenage years and through my 20s I struggled with self-esteem issues, insecurity, and my own body image.  I was never large until I got pregnant, but I just felt like I wasn't quite good enough. 

I'm not sure if it was having the kids, turning 30, or something else.  It could be the fact that I almost died (long story).  Also, when I was pregnant, I topped out at 210 so anything smaller than that felt very sexy.  They say that when one grows accustomed to being overweight they feel that way even when they lose the weight.  Perhaps I am suffering for the opposite syndrome.  One day I just woke up feeling very strong and extra sexy and not giving a f%@$!  Why did I care about other people and what they thought?  Do they pay my bills? They sure don't!  Will my husband still hit this?  Absolutely!  I know the kids sure don't care what I look like as long as they're taken care of. If you don't like it, don't look at it.  So simple.

I'm up about 10 pounds from my pre-baby weight (extra soft and curvy, lol).  With the exception of that week before my monthly visitor, I feel like Beyonce 90% of the time.  You should too!  How do you preserve your sexy?  How do you love your body?



Note from Becky:

This body image thing is rough. I grew up sorta average sized and normal looking. I wasn't picked on but I wasn't complimented either. My younger sister (just a grade younger) was the beautiful one, and I was used to it. I floated through high school largely invisible, and I thought that it was ok - better to be invisible to be picked on, I guess. 

College was better - I didn't wake up thinking I was J-Lo, but I didn't feel totally unfortunate looking either. That said, I hung out with insanely pretty girls and that's bound to have an impact on your self esteem. By the time I got through grad school, my self-esteem had hit an all time low and (like Natasha says above), I felt like I just wasn't enough... again.

The end of my 20s was a roller coaster of self-esteem issues. I had more low points than high, with only my time in New Orleans being a time when I felt "enough" - fit enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and fun enough for people to want to be around. Not sure what dropped it down again, but down it went... not recovering until I was in my 30s.

My 30s have been mostly great, especially since moving to California! I don't know when I woke up with the "I woke up like this" attitude Natasha describes above, but somewhere in there I definitely woke up like this - feeling great and embracing my own version of sexy. I mentioned in my selfie post that I've avoided the camera like the plague for years, and I have... it took a new friend and a new attitude to say screw it. I am enough. I may not be Beyonce, but I'm not the troll under the bridge either! Getting fit has nothing to do with vanity at this point... it's more about me doing me, and returning to a lifestyle I once loved and left behind. And if I end up looking like Jennifer Lopez by the end of this? Well, that's just a bonus I guess I'll have to live with :) 

I encourage each of you to find your "sexy." Find what it is about you that makes you YOU, and embrace it. Sure, maybe I could lose a few pounds. Yeah, I wish I could afford to go to a hair stylist in Beverly Hills too. And yes... I wish I wasn't getting those wrinkles in my face I'm seeing more and more of when I look in the mirror. But you know what? We only get one life. This is it. Embrace it, dammit. Life is too short to wish to be more when you're already enough!



Monday, January 12, 2015

Back to the Gym Blues

As many of my friends, coworkers, family members, and anyone within my social media circles are aware (soooo sorry for being a whiny baby, by the way), I have been sick - really sick - since just before the beginning of the year. And this is no surprise to anyone, especially me. I get sick every year this time of year, although the last 5 years have been particularly bad. I take that back - last year was ok, but I had pneumonia three years in a row the years before that and caught the flu (despite having a flu shot) this year. Frustratingly, doctors haven't been able to explain this phenomenon and so I just do what I can to manage it when I get sick, and make concentrated efforts to prevent it (with varying results) for the rest of the year.

Along with the negative side effects I endure with the medicines prescribed to me when I get sick, I also typically suffer from idontwanna-itis. I don't wanna diet after subsisting on a diet of soup and juice while I was sick. I don't wanna fix myself up after feeling bloated and grey from medicine. I don't wanna workout after spending days of having difficulty breathing. Basically, I throw myself a pity party and decide that I just "wanna" exist, feel better, and try to stay healthy and injury-free for a few days (weeks... months...). It's a very flawed philosophy, and I decided long before the new year that I would fight the idontwanna-itis should it rear its ugly head in 2015 and beyond.

So.... as soon as I could start breathing again, I took the first baby step and started walking my dog again. We didn't go far, mind you. In fact, I probably only walked a total of two miles (split up in two separate walks) that first day. And I felt terrible. The air quality where I live has been horrible (I love you California, but this sucks), and I realize now that those short walks were probably too much considering that I was mostly bedridden for the five days prior. Ugh! So, the next day I walked a little less (about a mile split in two walks), and ever-so-slowly built up to that two mile mark. 

Today I woke up feeling MUCH better finally, a full 14 days after I originally got sick. I'm breathing better, my energy has returned, and my voice is almost back to normal. I decided that today was the day to get back to the gym. Hurray! I was so excited. I couldn't wait to throw on my new compression pants, lace up my Asics, and hit the company gym. I knew I had to take it slower than what I was doing before the holidays, but I was ready.... right?

See that frown on my face up there? Yeah... This wasn't how I thought I'd kick off my fitness efforts in 2015. It wasn't a total loss, mind you, but it wasn't exactly an ideal workout experience.
  • Wins
    • It felt so good to be back in the gym. I like the routine, and I was happy to be there. 
    • I lost weight! I always kickoff my Mondays with a weigh in (usually in the morning, but made an exception today), and I discovered today that I've lost 16 pounds since the end of December. 
    • New year, new stock. Everything was in stock again, which was a nice change from December when I had to bring my own towel. (It's the little things...)
  • Frustrations
    • I work out at the company gym. It's tiny, but it's usually not crowded - especially when I go after 7:30pm. Tonight, I had to wait for my favorite cardio machine. Not a huge deal - I'm just a creature of habit and I'm being honest :)
    • The weight loss is good, but it's mostly attributed to a loss of appetite while I was sick. I'm a little concerned that I will gain this all back now that I'm feeling better (although I am going to try to maintain it and keep losing... healthily).
    • My body couldn't keep up. While I have been the queen of "occasional fitness" for the last ten years or so, I spent the bulk of my early and mid twenties having a regular gym routine. As such, I knew that I had to reduce my workout intensity and gradually work my way up to my regular fitness level when I returned to the gym. I thought I could do 20% less intensity... I was wrong, and my body quickly told me to cut back.
Returning to the gym after illness or injury is frustrating. It can make you feel as if your previous fitness accomplishments have gone to waste, and that you're starting from ground zero. THIS IS WRONG. While you may need to work your way back up to your previous fitness level, your fitness habits give you a leg up in being successful in same. You know how to train and how to get back to where you need to be. Don't be too hard on yourself. You didn't plan on getting hurt or getting sick, so cut yourself some slack. I'm going to try and remind myself to do the same!

There are a ton of articles on the internet that will offer you tips and tricks for how to return to your fitness regime after illness or injury. I'm not going to link those for you (there are internet search engines for that), but I will share with you my personal "back to healthy" plan:
  1. Ease into my workout. I cannot return to the gym with full intensity. This will only prolong any remaining congestion issues, and will likely lead to injury. I'm not a professional or competitive athlete... I don't need to compete with anyone but me. I'll get back to where I want to be, and will improve, with time. 
  2. Water, water, water. I will do my best to consume more water throughout the day. This has and will continue to be a challenge for me, but I know it's the best way to hydrate my body. DRINK MORE WATER, BECKY!
  3. Vita Health. I began a vitamin regimen last year that worked for me, but I sort of slacked on it at the end of the year. Related or not, I also got sick. I don't want to get sick, so I will start taking my vitamins with more regularity.
  4. Feed my face. I like food. (Duh - I wouldn't be a certified chubster if I didn't). And I like healthy food. My goal is to eat at home more, and out less often. I already ate fairly healthy, but it doesn't hurt to try to incorporate more healthy options. It's a lifestyle, not a diet. I want to make sure that the lifestyle I have is healthy and tasty!
  5. Listen to my body. Pushing my body beyond its limits, especially if I'm sick, overly tired, injured, or in pain, only hurts me. I need to respect what my body is telling me, and not push it as I have a tendency to do. We only get one body - I need to respect mine more.
I'm going to sleep feeling much better after writing this than I did when I first got home from the gym. I'm sure my thighs will be burning, but I'm glad I went to the gym tonight. And I look forward to returning to it again tomorrow. My motto for 2015? Onward and upward! Hope you're having a healthy week!



Sunday, January 11, 2015

Selfie Sunday (and why gym selfies aren't necessarily a bad thing)

Our generation (and especially the millennial generation) is obsessed with taking pictures. And why not? It's so much easier to take pictures of our every day lives now than it ever has been, and now we don't have to wait an hour at the photo shop to get our pictures developed. I, for one, love this modern development! I take pictures all the time... and receive an expected frequent eye rolling from friends and colleagues. It's ok. I don't mind... pictures are just fun to me!

If you've been following my Facebook, Twitter, or blog for a while, you've probably noticed a marked increase in the number of pictures on there that have included yours truly. I used to hate pictures of myself. Heck, I still do. And for years I did whatever I could to avoid having my picture taken. It's not a vanity thing either way... I just would rather look at pictures of my friends and family or pictures of places I've been then see the same face that I see in the mirror every day. But I met someone last year who encouraged me to take pictures that included pictures of myself, so I started posting them occasionally. And when I committed to a fitness challenge in December, I decided to memorialize the progress with a daily gym selfie. 

Now, I've been lucky that my friends have applauded this effort. They haven't judged me for being vain, or teased me for being one of "those girls" that takes pictures of herself to prove to others that she works out. (Editors Note: I'm totally taking pictures to prove I'm working out... but mostly to prove it to myself, not others). A lot of people have jumped on the gym selfie bandwagon. There are literally thousands of accounts on Instagram dedicated to those pictures alone! Sadly, a lot of those people don't get the same respect I have. Some people accuse them of being vain, and others think that it's just silly. I don't think it's silly... I think it's inspiring! Sure, I'm annoying the 10 friends I have that actually pay attention to my silly posts on social media... but for me, it's motivating. And, as odd as this sounds, it's kind of fun! wrote a great article about why gym selfies can be helpful, and gave a few etiquette tips - you totally should jump over and read it here. Sadly, the above gym selfie is the last one I got to take. I've been fighting a stupid bug (first strep and flu, now congestion and a cold... ugh!) and haven't worked out since the day before New Year's Eve. But when I return? You bet I'll be taking these silly gym selfies. Even if it's just for me. It's a great way for me to keep myself accountable, and I like that I can review them to note subtle differences in my face and body as I make progress (this is way better than a stupid number on a scale). 

So tell me... what are your gym habits? How do you keep yourself accountable? And how do you track your progress? I'd love to hear from you! 



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fit or Fat (AKA It's January Already)?!?!

So, everyone knows that there is no shortage of fitness blogs.  I could use that information to avoid contributing to the excess of information available on the worldwide web, but what fun would that be.  Besides, if you've actually located this blog, then you're bored at work, home, or wherever you FB from.  When I initially wanted to do this blog, I thought that it would be a great way to motivate others (read: myself), stay accountable, and lose some weight in the new year.  New year, new you right?  At the stroke of midnight I would wake up, stop drinking, leave diet soda and the white stuff (read: sugar) behind, and start hourly workouts at the gym.  Well, it turns out that the sleepy, hungover, January 1st Natasha has little to no interest in doing anything other than lying down with a large pizza and a little hair of the dog (I digress).  

My gym looks like the mall on Black Friday.  There's no parking.  Many hopefuls are braving the elements in order to go hard for a week or two before they return to the couch for the winter. We owe ourselves better than that don't we?  Sometimes I wonder why I'm there with them.  The bottom line is, I love to exercise (most of the time).  I love to run.  I love to sweat.  I love the way it feels afterwards.  I love athletic wear and ear buds and trying to go faster than the person on the machine next to me.  Most of all, I love leaving a house full of unfolded laundry, unwashed dishes, and loud and expectant children and husbands behind.  I am a bit of a Nervous Nellie and there's nothing like a good run to quiet down the anxiety monster. 

I've heard that in order to reach any goal, you must figure out what your why is.  Why do  you want to be healthy? lose weight? eat better?  I MUST exercise for stress relief.  When the gym is empty and and it's cold and dark outside, what is it that will still make you get your butt out there and sweat?  I can't wait to hear it!

(In the interest of full disclosure, I had a cupcake about 5 minutes ago and it was great!)

From Puff to Buff... and Why We're Blogging!

"I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren't in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets." -- Dolly Parton

There are soooooo many fitness blogs on the internet. Some are inspirational... some are instructive... and some are downright depressing. This blog will likely be a bit of each, although we really hope that it won't get depressing much (this is why you blog with a friend... the accountability, people!). So, who are we? We're just two best friends that are motivating each other from opposite sides of the United States (DC and California). We are both NewMexpats (New Mexican expats... haha!), who discovered a mutual love (and sometimes loathing) of fitness. While one has been much more successful at maintaining her fitness through the years (hi Natasha!), the other has had a number of ups and downs that has led to the development of this blog (yeah, we're looking at you Becky). 

This blog will follow our journey to rediscovering fitness (ok... Becky will mostly be rediscovering fitness... Natasha will be the motivator), sharing exercise tips, recipes, and other fitness/health related topics that the two of us have grown to love. When we're lucky enough to visit each other, you might even see a blog post featuring both of us! Only time will tell! In the meantime, welcome to our blog! We hope you'll enjoy sharing in this with us as we both commit to being healthier... and occasionally fit.


Natasha and Becky