Revisiting the 21 Day Fix

I’ve done a few rounds of the 21 Day Fix.  I’ve always loved the length of the program because I can totally schedule 21 days of workouts in the life.  3 weeks is a really achievable time frame.  When you finish, you feel accomplished.  Some time last year I decided that I was beyond 21 Day Fix.  I could go Extreme.  So I did!  I finished a few rounds of 21 Day Fix Extreme and THEN Autumn’s program – The Master’s Hammer & Chisel (twice).  I felt like I was a pro or something.

Haha.

Isn’t that always what happens?  You get cocky.

 

21

I’m doing a new challenge with Autumn – Your Fit Journey.  It started earlier this month and in it you do ALL 4 of her programs, back to back.  I have done all the programs so I thought, no problem.  And we started with 21 Day Fix.  I definitely  thought I’d be golden.

Coming off another program, I was ready.  I even had to overlap the two for a couple days.  No problem.  This was just 21 Day Fix.  I was ALL. OVER. THIS.

And then, the first move on the first day.  Surrenders.  Ugh.  The worst exercise for someone with hip flexor weakness.  Let me tell you something true.  This is not an easy program.  Sure it is approachable for beginners and I usually recommend it for beginners, but it is as tough as you want to make it.  And even though I think I’m badass, I’m modifying.  I’m pausing for a drink because it is GO time for 30 min.

It was totally hubris to think I outgrew this program. I was familiar with the program and probably ready for a change and a challenge.  But it was never EASY.  I was never BEYOND it.  So to everyone I’ve recommended the program to: it’s really great isn’t it? I’m right there with you and I have so much respect for ALL of us that finish each round.

Advertisements

10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Work Out at Home.

You can only get a good workout at a gym.

Home is supposed to be relaxing.

Unless you have a team of professionals monitoring you, you’ll never get fit.

Paying a club fee keeps you accountable.

No one ever got a good workout on their own.

You don’t have a DVD player anymore anyway.

There’s no way you can actually stop watching Netflix long enough to throw in a workout.

You have no equipment to do any of those fancy moves.

There’s no way you can sweat without someone yelling at you.

Your pet/spouse/child won’t leave you alone long enough to have time to yourself to work out.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should.  We are continually sabotaging ourselves from any of the healthy choices we need to make by the voices we listen to.  Sometimes they are in our head, from experiences we’ve had.  And sometimes they are from people in our lives.  They can even be from society and culture in general!  It can get pretty overwhelming and I have to admit that I’ve listened to them, too.

I have done lots of things in my fitness life.  I’ve been a member of gyms.  I’ve been gone regularly!  I’ve taken classes in a devotional fashion.  I’ve run on the streets, in traffic, where everyone can see me.  I’ve worked with personal trainers.  I’ve been in small group circuit training classes.  I’ve met up with friends to do fit stuff out in the world.  I’ve even run a fitness class outside of my house!

But I ALSO workout at home.

handc-face

Getting PUMPED up at home.

 

I used to think that the act of getting dressed and getting in the car was what I needed to make sure I didn’t drop out of my workout routine.  I admit, I’ve never turned around on my way to a gym. I also get dressed and head downstairs, fire up my Apple TV and drink my pre workout Energize.  That’s my NEW ritual to get going.  I’ve bagged gym workouts when I pushed too hard.  I’ve surrendered during home workouts when I haven’t had it in me.

The thing I had to change was my mindset.  I had to question the truth of all of those 10 statements.  The funny thing is, there’s a little truth in them, but there’s also a whole lot of excuses and fear.

The gym isn’t the answer, running isn’t the answer, and working out along to a program at home isn’t the answer.  You are the answer.  You have to find what’s going to work FOR YOU.  And what that is will change.  You will change.  Tomorrow’s solutions aren’t the same as yesterday’s – otherwise we would just be doing the same thing over and over again  until things were perfect.  Shit happens. Conditions will change.  Your metabolism will change.  What you like will change.  What challenges you, will change.  You may have a physical set back, which will change what you need.  You will get stronger, better, faster, more awesome.  You’ll have to seek out new mountains to conquer.  That’s the greatest part about being a human!

The at-home thing works for me now.  I get to pick from a bunch of programs.  I’m close to my own shower, which I know doesn’t have plantar warts growing in it.  I can even access them when I’m traveling. (Like the time I did the line dancing workout in a tiny hotel room.)  But I can ALSO go swim some laps, go for a run, go the the gym and lift some weights.

I can do anything I want, and that’s totally okay.  But I DO stuff.  It’s often easier to START at home.  The gym is scary.  People driving by you when you are trying to run on the street, that’s intimidating.  If I need the people portion, I can workout with a friend at home or find the friends on Facebook who are also doing the same thing as I am.  That way, I have a gym buddy, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

So forget what you think about working out at home.  It’s as awesome as you want to make it.  And it’s pretty great when you let it.

Tempering My Steel

Navigating people’s questions about some of my personal issues has always been difficult for me. It’s not that I’m hiding anything, and I’m not embarrassed, but properly communicating something that has brutally defined me as an adult is daunting. A few words in conversation are never enough. I have written this to help me better explain my experience to other people. I’m not looking for advice and I’m not in the market for pity. All I want is some is to explain myself and have it be heard.

I can't even tell you how much this motto has gotten me through each day.

I can’t even tell you how much this motto has gotten me through each day.

I’m now of the age where most of my friends have their families completed or well underway.  I’m 40.  I’m at the bookend of my fertility.  My door is closing.  But it was never really open for me and I don’t think anyone really understands that.  I have always felt fundamentally broken.  My wide hips have never been childbearing.  My C cups, which they say are meant to feed my child, were only ever used to get attention from others.  Some call me selfish; some pity my husband, my parents and me. For all my wonderful qualities, I am still a genetic dead end.

In a lot of ways I haven’t felt right since the Fall of 1993. I was 17 and my mom had taken me to see a gynecologist because I hadn’t had a period in a year. Even before that, I was a “late bloomer” when I got it at 14 and managed, at best, to have a quarterly period.

I didn’t really mind since my periods were rather debilitating. Leg cramps, back cramps, abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea. It was not fun and I usually had it bad that I’d stay home from school with Pamprin and a heating pad. Once in awhile, I’d get a shot of whiskey because my people were very old school that way.

I was a very innocent 17 year old, and having a pelvic exam, even done by a woman, even when my mom was in the room, was rather horrifying. She had a mobile with butterflies above the exam table and that’s what I focused on. When my blood work came back, that’s when everything in my life changed.

My doctor was kind but told me I had a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. Simply put, but body produced too much estrogen and testosterone and not enough progesterone. I didn’t ovulate. Instead I formed scar tissue around what should have been erupting eggs. And she told me there was no cure and I likely wouldn’t be able to have children. I could treat the symptoms. I could take birth control pills to have a monthly cycle and I could take a medication that would slow additional hair growth.

At 17 I was looking forward to college, not kids, but still knowing that the option of motherhood might never be there for me was tough to take. I always dreamed about meeting my daughter. I felt a responsibility as the only child of the only boy in the family. I was always the kind of little girl that had played with dolls and thought about having a real life one of my own eventually. Suddenly, that wasn’t likely.

I was already very concerned with my appearance. I hadn’t been able to successfully lose weight since I was around age 9. This, also, was a symptom of PCOS. Go to Weight Watchers was the advice of the doctor. I had already been a veteran of Weight Watchers, Richard Simmons plans, hospital nutrition programs, crash diets in magazines, and an ulcer causing time with Slim Fast.

I realized that as well as having a mustache that I needed to bleach once a month; I had hair on my chin!  Like a mini beard! It came out of nowhere.  Now I really kept my head down in school.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me or see what I felt like I was becoming – disgusting.  When I’d ask my family about the things that bothered me about my appearance I seldom got reassurance that helped.  Either my mom said I’d grow out of it like she did (how did that help me now?) or someone would say they didn’t notice.  I didn’t believe any of it.  I hated what I saw in the mirror every day.

The knowledge of my condition made my mental state worse.  I just felt wrong and broken.  I had serious moments of rage where I’d attempt self-harm.  This could have been exacerbated by birth control pills we tried, and the fact that PCOS itself lends to depression biochemistry.  But I’d sit up at night, pulling my hair and slapping my face because I was angry and frustrated and I didn’t know who else to blame for feeling shitty.  My body betrayed me.  My body didn’t keep its contract with me.  I didn’t trust my body.  I didn’t love my body.  I didn’t love myself.  I was defective.

And speaking of birth control – there was nothing more embarrassing for me than going to Wal-Mart once a month with my mom to get a prescription.  At 17 I hadn’t even really held hands with a boy and was mostly scared to death of them.  And to think that I was on birth control like a slut?  Well, what did people think about me?   Every time I went with my mom to fill that prescription I felt judged.  And the irony of it all was funny at the time.  Birth control for someone who couldn’t give birth.  Birth control for a girl who felt absolutely undesirable.

The next couple years were a struggle with depression as I sorted out the issues in my head and my body.  I eventually found a birth control medication that gave me a monthly cycle without horrific side effects.  I took a medication that regulated my hair growth so it didn’t get significantly worse.  I managed the growth I had.  I still felt alienated from my sexuality.

Once I was out of college and on my own, I kept going with the same management of the condition.  Birth control and spironolactone to deal with the effects.  Try to lose some weight.  Antidepressants when necessary.  I never felt much like there was anything else to try until I met a doctor who had some additional ideas.  I went on an additional medication, Metformin, to deal with insulin sensitivity and to help with the weight loss.

This is about the time I learned something really interesting about PCOS and medicine.  Every practitioner had her own idea of how to treat it and what it was.  Some managed the symptoms and some wanted to do more underlying cause.  Some tried to give me a little hope and others didn’t really want to work with me at all.  I tried requesting an endocrinology referral at one point and was told that unless I was trying to get pregnant it wasn’t something the office was willing to do.  When my test results came back with some doctors they’d deny me medication that had previously worked because my ranges were still in “normal” for a woman, without the consideration of my age and my history.

It is incredibly frustrating to argue with a doctor about your life.

By far the kindest medical professional I met with in my 20s was a nurse at Planned Parenthood.  Without insurance, I turned to Planned Parenthood for the birth control.  I did not get dismissal. I did not get judgment.  I received compassion, understanding, and every script I asked for.

When I finally did become sexually active, I managed to tell my partners enough about this condition that they understood.  Most of the time they just cared that they didn’t have to worry about getting me pregnant.  The nagging reminder that I couldn’t have a child didn’t really bother me consciously again until I met someone that I did want to build a life with.  Suddenly I started to think about my daughter again and how she would look like a mixture of the two of us.  That she’s better get my nose!  But I hoped she would get his analytical mind. And then I’d remember that the little girl in my mind wouldn’t be in my arms.

By my mid 30s my friends were having their families.  My friends with infertility were dealing with it in proactive ways.  And I remained treading water.  Still on the Pill, we decided to not use other forms of birth control and if it happened, it happened.  My periods became ridiculously light, but my PMS was often crushing.  I have taken many pregnancy tests, alone, first thing in the morning, and I am always slightly disappointed by the result.  Even when it’s been the worst possible time in my life, any time I get a negative result it is never a relief that it is for some people.  It’s a reminder that I am still not a whole woman.

By my late 30s a few interesting things happened in my life.  I got off the Pill cycle accidentally because I couldn’t get things filled in time and found my weight loss really benefitted.  I started to do more with my nutrition to work with my IBS and I found that my absorption issues were likely hindering some of the medical things I was trying.  So I changed some things around and I decided to seek the care of a Naturopathic Doctor.

This decision was not something that was well received in my household!  I decided to go off the Pill and to try hitting PCOS closer to the source.  I’ve always thought of it more as a receptor binding problem.  Chemical messages being sent are not received.

The biggest game changer from my natural medicine experience was finding I was deficient in inositol – an important component of cellular transportation.  And by supplementing it intramuscularly, I have gone off the Pill and have a normal cycle.  It seems silly to some, but getting a period every month, every 28 days, with no placebo pills to tell me it’s around the corner seems like a freaking miracle.  I chart my cycle in an app on my phone with a smile.

I feel like Pinocchio.  I feel like a real girl.  I feel functional.  I feel like a woman.  I feel like I’m not broken.

As ecstatic as this makes me feel, it’s bittersweet.  I’m 40.  I’m married and we made peace to not have children a long time ago.  It’s not part of our plan.  It’s not equally and enthusiastically wanted by the two of us.  At the same time, my mother is helpfully reminding me that since she doesn’t have grandchildren, she feels like she has no one to pass things along to.  My thoughts are “I still failed because it’s too late.”

So I will take each day as it comes.  I will hold my friends’ children and I’ll focus on my own health.  I really don’t know what the future will bring.  Despite feeling like the sun is setting on my time to meet my daughter, I could be wrong.  And if I’m not, maybe someone younger and in a different situation will be sparked to stop treating PCOS like a sentence and a list of outcomes to manage.  Maybe she will try something crazy like seeing a Naturopathic Doctor for another way to deal with it.  And maybe she’ll meet her daughter.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound.

You don't really want to see it uncovered.

You don’t really want to see it uncovered.

Thursday I, once again, cut my thumb on the mandolin. Dumb move. This is the third time. It still hurts. No carrot slice is worth flesh.

The cut is on the side of my thumb and it’s very inconvenient. I feel happy that I don’t have contacts to take out anymore because that would be very difficult. I managed to still put my soup together slowly with the cut but it made it hard.

Once upon a time I also broke my right arm and got it cast in a very awkward position (think C3PO). I couldn’t drive, put my hair in a ponytail, take off my bra. And just like now with this thumb thing? It made wiping my ass annoying. 

I’m right handed. I do things with both hands together but I rely on that right hand for most everything. Things can be done with my left hand. It just takes longer and feels strange, for awhile anyway.

I recall getting better at eating with my left hand (except chopsticks), having legible penmanship left handed after awhile, even figuring out contacts during my 8 weeks in a cast. I know that all the little movements my thumb helps with are going to get compensated for and in a couple weeks this will be scarred over and filled in.

This is a good lesson for me that shit happens to make things inconvenient. And getting a cut on the thumb may seem like a big annoyance but in the grand scheme of things? This is a drop in the bucket. Since I’ve done this 3 times now maybe I’ll hold on to what I can learn.

⚙There’s always other ways to do stuff.
⚙It might take longer but it will get done.
⚙Muscle memory is constantly created.
⚙Porcelain is sharp.
⚙Keep it clean, keep it covered is a decent mantra.
⚙Be grateful for every part of your body and how it works together.
⚙If it doesn’t work together so well, you’ll figure it out.
⚙You can’t rush healing.
⚙Normal is always changing, you are always adjusting to your current state.

Mistakes, I’ve Made a Few…

Do you ever find that your strengths can also be your weakness?

I’m still playing with the concept in my brain but I’ve made a realization. I’ve always been a little too obsessed with mistakes. My mistakes – figuring out where I went wrong and course correcting. Other people’s mistakes. Wow, am I good at pointing out mistakes other people make. (Sorry!)

I’m a great editor. You want any written piece checked for grammar, fonts, spacing, spelling, relative color of ink? I‘m your girl. Those “find the differences” puzzles – they are toast around me. I’ll tell you all the goofs in the movie. I could recognize when my Walkman battery was low and my cassette tapes were playing a little slow.

This is a skill that has served me SO well, but it’s also been a huge energy drain. Honestly, unless it’s your resume, or something really important – who freaking cares? It’s not as important as CREATING. And that’s really what I love to do. So why tear down when I can be building?

Maybe I’m always looking for mistakes because I always feel like I am wrong. If I can find a mistake in something else – maybe it isn’t me.

Okay, that’s a pretty big thought for a Monday night! Well, don’t worry, it actually was the result of spending from Friday night at 6 PM until last night at 8 PM in an intense personal development course. Being a Beachbody Coach pushes me out of my comfort zone. Well, I followed in the footsteps of a lot of the coaches on my team by doing this work and I’m turning a corner.

The Universe is always creating and destroying. Catabolism and Anabolism go together. Pointing out and searching for mistakes – it can be super important in the right situation, but it’s a form of destruction. It’s necessary sometimes but it’s also the easy way out of a lot of problems.

I’m choosing to be on the other end of the balance for awhile. I’m going to CONSTRUCT.

Let's build something awesome.

Let’s build something awesome.

Progress Photos are Scary!

**This post actually came from my Facebook page.  I can’t freaking believe I put this photo on there, on here, heck, I even sent it to an ex-boyfriend.  Why?  Because I’m not hiding.  I’m DOING this.  I’m a normal person and I’ve got normal person feelings.  So someone else who is a normal person with normal person feelings needs to know he is not alone.**

The first time I joined a challenge group here on Facebook, my coach Jamie wanted me to send her before photos. I immediately got a lump in my throat. I didn’t want to take photos and I certainly didn’t want to share them with someone I’ve never met.

I mean, let’s get real, we only post the best of the best photos of ourselves when it means other people can see it. We know the angles, we know the lighting, we know the filters. And when you’re struggling with your weight and you finally decide to take a risk and try something new, there’s just so much “new” you can take.

But I took my before photos and I sent them to her. And I’ve sent her photos since then. And I’ve taken some for myself and kept them on folders in my computer I never visit.

I revisited them today at her suggestion. She provided me with a 2014 photo – not even the start of my Beachbody story. The other photo is last week. I still have a long way to go but I’m so grateful for the road it has taken to get here so far.

January 2014 - September 2015

January 2014 – September 2015

So take your before photos. Get your significant other or best friend to take photos of you in workout clothes. You don’t have to obsess over them, tuck them away in a folder, send them to your coach. (I’d love to be your coach!) And when you’re ready to see how far you’ve come, bring them back out into the light.

Oh yeah – and if you turn in your before and after photos, along with a Beachbody program completion, you get a t-shirt and can win $1000.