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!