Here’s the thing…

Whenever we want to change up our lives we always have the best intentions.  We get excited.  We buy stuff.  We throw ourselves in to it.  Eventually the newness wears off and it gets to be business as usual, if we are lucky.  Most of us end up not doing so well and quitting.  Then, we tell ourselves that it’s our fault.  We didn’t have enough willpower, we didn’t want it enough.  We didn’t deserve it after all.

I think that’s crap.

We are constantly evolving.  There are going to be phases in your life where something is interesting, and then it maybe isn’t as interesting.  Maybe a workout gives you results then you plateau.  Same thing with changing up your diet.  If there was ONE solid answer to being healthy, don’t you think we’d have found it by now and stick to doing it?

There are always going to be new things coming, and you’re doing yourself a favor if you try stuff.  Embrace change.  Take some chances.  Some stuff comes and goes, but habits last a lifetime.  As long as you’re in the game to make yourself as healthy as possible you’re working on building those lifelong habits.

Forgive yourself.  You didn’t fail your diet.  You didn’t cheat on your exercise.  You’re just finding out what works for you right now.

I'm not saying that Shakeology is going to be my breakfast until I'm 65.  Maybe, but who knows.  For right now, it's my game changer.

I’m not saying that Shakeology is going to be my breakfast until I’m 65. Maybe, but who knows. For right now, it’s my game changer.

Tales of my Fitness Past – Part 4

I’m continuing to layout the story of my life, as it pertains to fitness, body issues and happiness.  It’s really helping me process what went on.  You guys out there are actually reading this, which is awesome!  If you know me, I hope you get a kick out of all the old photos.

In my early 20’s, I had graduated college, gotten fit, acquired and left my first big job, and then, shortly after Y2K (remember that whole mess?) moved with my good friend to my state’s largest city to pursue my dreams of becoming a professional floozy.  No, not really.  We moved to the Big City because we wanted more than what our Small City had to offer.

Looking back on this time, I was actually doing pretty okay.  I got a membership at a local gym and had a couple of gym buddies.  We’d hold each other accountable.  As for training, I was pretty much going on my own.  The free personal training they offered was a JOKE, but I knew enough to be dangerous by this point.  Working out was a big part of my social life.  I made casual friends there, spent time talking out the day’s problems with my girlfriends on the elliptical.  I even dated a guy who went to the same gym, we’d have dates there, trying to beat each other on the treadmill.  The evening on September 11 when the world was going to hell?  I was on the cardio deck, watching the closed captioned news.

Yes, these photos are from house parties. But, they really show how happy I was. On one side was a former mortal enemy, on the other, a dear friend from when I was a teen.

My love of Step Aerobics was hit hard though when I took classes there.  I could keep up with classes at the other gyms I had been to, multiple instructors, but at this place, the choreography was too much.  I ended up finding a new group fitness passion.  Yoga!  I took a class at a school that tended toward the Hatha/Iyengar style and it fit me perfectly.  When I practiced yoga I felt amazing.  I was happier, more peaceful, and I called a truce with the war on my body without realizing it.  Plus, one day I went to shave my legs in the shower and felt my calves.  OMG.  Ripped!  Yoga taught me how to breathe my way out of anxiety, which came in handy for my 45 min commute on a neglected stretch of highway in a snow storm.

Professionally, I went from SUPER temp, to landing pretty much my dream job as a scientist, to being a graduate student.  I had a great group of friends.  A core part of my college group was in the Big City with me, I could count on many others to pass through a couple times a year to catch up, and I made a lot of new friends.  We walked the 3 and a half mile loop near where I lived, hiked, and we DANCED.  I was out dancing nearly every weekend.  Drinking was usually included, but everything was more controlled than it had been.  One of my favorite memories was getting ready at my place with my pack of girlfriends, parking the car in the garage across from the bar district, taking off our coats and mittens, running as fast as possible into the bars wearing little thin shirts, and boots with insane heels.

My diet was fairly decent.  When we started out, my roommate and I were the original 2 Broke Girls.  We’d frequent restaurants with “college night” specials, even if when we were out of school.  Good thing our IDs didn’t expire.  We cooked a lot at home.  I don’t think I ever drank soda, and if I ate dessert, it was usually an insanely special occasion.  We just couldn’t afford it.  I got used to cooking for 1 more often, and I learned to like eating lots of fish.  I frequented the public market for produce and even if I wasn’t “by the book” I was still more or less on “The Zone.”  I even stopped drinking entirely from Jan 1 2000-May 5 2000.  Cinco de Mayo broke my will.

OMG, this is proof I used to have a waist. We wore leis because every February I’d throw a tropical themed party to distract us from how freaking cold and miserable we were.

As for my mood?  There were ups and downs.  The breakup from my treadmill opponent boyfriend hit me pretty hard, but I threw myself in to my social life to make up for it, and started seeing a professional to work through it the right way.

Looking back, maybe I wasn’t in as ass kicking shape as I was after college, but I was in a smaller size.  Fitness and friends were the biggest part of my life.  I was professionally happy and didn’t really care about adding anything else to the equation.  And do you know what happened then?

I met my future husband.

(This isn’t the end by a long-shot.  I have a lot more to say!)

Tales of my Fitness Past – Part 1

Today was a fabulous day at the gym.  I had my weekly training session with my personal trainer, who is just about the best coach, EVER.  Seriously, I can’t even tell you how motivating this man is.  He gave me the heads up that this week we’d be going heavy on the weights, so I came prepared.  Monster Smoothie AND a breakfast sandwich.  I was ready.

I lifted to total failure on every set and did things I never thought I’d be able to do.  Dumbbell rows with 35 lb weights?  That was me.  Bench presses on the Smith Machine, watching over 100 lbs get racked on a machine and then killing it.  It’s empowering.  I love it.  I feel so kick ass.

My trainer was pretty giddy, too.  Maybe he’s being complimentary to motivate me, but it’s working.  He kept remarking how surprised he was by how I take to these workouts.  We don’t do them every time for sure, but when we do, it’s awesome.

We talked about my fitness past quite a bit during cool down on the crank cycle.  Yes, my nemesis is now my cool down.  He told me that I was about to start seriously shedding weight and I’d be left a skinny, tough, strong, chick.  I told him that strong and tough would not be a problem, but I’d never be skinny.  As we talked it became obvious that he thought I had been a lot fitter in my past than I have been.  And that I’d been a lot smaller.

My truth is, I really haven’t!  I was a short skinny kid until I finally got my tonsils out at age 8.  Then, I started to grow.  Everywhere.  Even when I was active, trying to play sports, I was still a sturdy, thick girl with more than a little baby fat.  Since I’m a big believer that you have to understand your past to make sure you’re on track for your future, I’m going to revisit that kid, and bring any readers who are interested along for the ride.  There will be photos and embarrassing hair, I promise.

Here are me and my parents. My dad had a lot more hair! My mom had a lot less chin. I had fewer teeth. It’s a little scary how much I look like both of them.

Let’s talk about my parents briefly.  My mom is very petite.  And before she got in to her late 30’s, she was also extremely naturally thin.  It didn’t last once her metabolism shifted, but she definitely was a twig!  Look at that photo, she’s totally a babe.  My dad has always been a solid guy with some extra pounds, but strong as hell.  From his side of the family, I am descended from farmers and sailors.  We definitely have the body for manual labor, and the asses and guts from being sedentary from not having to do that kind of work.

My parents had a meat and potatoes diet.  (We *are* Irish after all.)  Vegetables came from a can.  Soda was the beverage of choice.  I went from a bottle for milk to a Pepsi bottle as a kid.  Still, I was skinny.  I took after my mom.  I was short, not the shortest kid in the class, but short, and very tiny.  I was also really, really sick.  I acquired a Strep A infection that did not go away.  I was a carrier.  I missed a ton of school and was always, always sick.  The doctors didn’t want to take my tonsils.  It’s a pretty invasive surgery for a kid and they wanted to make sure they exhausted all of their options.  By 2nd grade, the options ran out.  I saw a specialist and was scheduled as soon as school got out.

Also at this time, my mom noticed that I’d fall down a lot.  I was always taking a dive in the dirt when running around, twisting my ankles constantly.  Come to find out, my hips rotated ever so slightly inward.  Also, my knees were normally hyper-extended when totally straight.  I share the trait with a couple of cousins.  There was nothing to do for it, since I was still growing.  But I definitely heard the message – you’re fragile, you’re broken, and you have to take extra care.

I was a typical little kid.  I liked to run around, swing, play kickball.  I learned to swim as soon as I could.  Mom made sure of it.  One thing I didn’t have was much upper body strength.  I could climb a rope or a tree.  I do think the tree thing was scary because I thought about falling.   I had a pretty crappy diet, and carte blanche to eat ice cream after surgery.  I probably wasn’t getting enough exercise because of being sick, and I have some genetics working against me.

Then, 3rd grade.  It was the worst school year of my life.  I drew the teacher that seemed to like to pick on a couple of kids in her class every year.  And I got to be that kid.  My body was recovering from being sick for so long, and I was starting to really stand out in school.  My teacher made a point to constantly criticize me.  How I looked, how I performed in school, everything about me was fair game.  I was miserable, and despite their very best efforts, my parents couldn’t get me out of her class or her job dismissed.  I had to suffer through it for the school year.  At the end, I was left damaged.  And I turned to things to make myself feel better.  That included food.  Lots of food.  Especially sweet things.

So genetics, behavior, diet… You can probably guess what happened next.

(Stay tuned for Part 2)

Monster Smoothie… RAAARRR

Last post I mentioned I’ve started making monster smoothies for my pre-training breakfast. I can’t take credit at all for the recipe. I got the basics of it from family friends when I was first out of college. I was investigating the Zone diet and weight training for 3 hours a day. Oh, to be 22 again and be able to handle that!

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups orange juice
1 cup soymilk
1/4 block of extra firm tofu
1 scoop of protein powder
5-6 frozen strawberries
1 banana

In the past I’ve added extra supplements, like flaxmeal, etc. I have mixed up the fruit by using frozen berries of other types. It is a lot of calories, and that’s why I had stopped making it for a number of years. A local cafe makes a very similar smoothie and my husband recently had jaw surgery, and I’m hoping it can help his recovery while he is on a liquid diet. He’s also diabetic, so I’m using 50% sugar reduced orange juice to help reduce the overall sugar.

What I do know is the last 2 workouts with this smoothie 1 and a half hours before training, I have totally rocked it.