From the Archives- No Shame in the Struggle

After one of the hardest runs EVER. There were real moments of doubt. Never been so happy to see this sign. Heat, hills, extra miles, we persevered and made it.
Some days are dry, some days are leaky
Some days come clean, other days are sneaky
Some days take less, but most days take more
Some slip through your fingers and onto the floor
Some days you’re quick, but most days you’re speedy
Some days you use more force than is necessary
Some days just drop in on us
Some days are better than others
Some days it all adds up
And what you got is not enough
Some days are better than others
“Some Days Are Better Than Others” U2
True words, those are.  Some days are just hard.  As my kids say, “The struggle is real.”  That’s not necessarily bad.  Strength comes from struggle, at least that’s what I tell my group X members.  How can you get stronger if the weights we pick up are light and easy?  It’s when we allow ourselves to go to that dark place, slog through the mud, and come out the other end that we gain strength.  There’s no other way.  Trust me, if I could get stronger by sitting on the couch watching “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” I’d be Superwoman by now.  I never, ever wake up raring to go.  It takes me a minute to get my engine warmed up.  Some days it ends in a sputter.  Other days my engine purrs with power.  But I never quit.  This article from a 2015 Des News column is about that.  Taking breaks is fine.  But letting our doubts and fears and excuses break us is not.  Just keep on keeping on.
Read more here.

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For the longest time, I opted for the orange light handweights. The itty-bitty weights that offered little in the way of resistance, and almost nothing in the way of a challenge. It wasn’t because I couldn’t lift anything heavier- I just didn’t want anyone to see me struggle.

Back then, struggle was synonymous with weakness. The strained look on my face was an indication of how unfit I was. I my mind, my arms screamed Olive Oil while I longed to be Popeye, but I was scared to tackle the weights that would get me there. I didn’t want other gym goers to worry, or worse, judge me by the pained look in my face. So I opted for what was easy.

I can hear Dr. Phil in my head right now. “How’s that been workin’ for ya?” Um, not very well, thank you. Sick of letting my concern over what others thought of me dictate my own choices and progress, one day I picked up the heavy yellow weights. Then the green.  Sometimes the big, bad blue ones.  And I kept picking them up. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. You get the idea. And wouldn’t you know it, those Olive Oil arms didn’t quite turn all Popeye on me, but they sure did look good. Strong. Defined. Muscular.

 

Taking on a challenge can be daunting, especially when others are watching. Whether we’re taking a new job, position, hobby, or sport so many of us are afraid to look weak. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of that comfort zone. It’s comfortable. Like rainy Saturday afternoon movie-fest comfortable. Like home-from-a-long-vacation-first-day-in-my-own-bed comfortable. It’s a good place to be- until it’s not.

Every year I have a mantra. A creed I try to live by for at least 365 days. I phrase that helps shape my daily decisions, big or small. This year’s mantra is “Go Get It.” I doubt there will be t-shirts made with my mantra or people rushing tattoo parlors to have this emblazoned on their biceps, but as simple as it is, it really has changed the choices I make.

Rather than stewing over how hard a task is or the potential embarrassment I may suffer if I struggle, or worse, fail, I take a deep breath, a big step forward and just “Go Get It.” It’s tough to push out concern over what others think. It’s hard not to stress over the massiveness of a project, but I can honestly say that I’ve succeeded more often than I’ve failed this year. I’ve put myself out in the ring for people to throw tomatoes or roses. But I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines gripped with the fear of failure. I don’t want to be held hostage by my perception of what others think of me. Getting hit with tomatoes hurts, but it’s sure better than regretting never having stepped into the ring at all and wondering what could have been.

Paula Radcliffe, one of the greatest female distance runners of all time, has achieved tremendous success. Winning multiple NYC Marathons and holding the world record marathon time of 2:17:18, she is the best of the best. The one goal she never achieved, however, is winning an Olympic medal. In 2004, not only did she not win, she didn’t even finish. Sidelined with stomach issues, she quit at mile 18. Determined not to end her Olympic career on a low note, she came back in 2008 only to finish 23rd. Devastated, angry and embarrassed, sure. But a fear of failing never held her back from trying. Even after the Olympics she continued running and winning multiple marathons.

“Fail” is a 4-letter word. But so is “quit”. “Struggle” is not. When I see someone struggle in a weight class or in spin class, I don’t think, “weak”. I think that person is pushing their bodies as hard and far as they can, and that earns my respect.

We’re all good at something, but none of us is good at everything. And we’ll never get good at that one thing until we tackle it. Just like muscle need resistance to work against to build strength, we need to stretch ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally to grow. Whether we’ve dreamed of running a half-marathon, wanted to go back to college to finish up that degree, open a new business, or write a book, we have to aim high to climb high. We have to drop those little orange weights and grab the big yellow weights if we want to see a change.

Continue reading “From the Archives- No Shame in the Struggle”

From the Archives- “Dear New Girl in Class”

Most people assume that January is the busiest month at the gym.  It’s true there’s a surge in new memberships, but it’s actually springtime that my group fitness class numbers see a significant increase.  I have a few theories about why, but I think the main reason there’s a gap is it can be intimidating to take a new fitness class, especially if you perceive yourself to be out of shape or uncoordinated.  I get it.  In fact, my first strength training class happened when I was training to be the instructor.  This column from 2012 is addressed to others like me who are afraid they can’t keep up, will look foolish, or fail in a group class setting.  I do my best to make everyone feel comfortable and capable, but getting people through the door the first time is the biggest challenge of all.  Maybe, just maybe, I can assuage some of those fear in this piece.  Read on.

 

Dear new girl in the back row in class today,

I noticed you. I know you were hoping to blend into the background. I know you picked today to try my strength training class because it was so crowded you figured I wouldn’t see you, but I did. Actually, I’ve been watching you for the last week as you passed by the window, checking out what was going on in the group exercise room from the corner of your eye. I could tell you were curious. I could also tell you were unsure.

You’re unsure if you belong at the gym. A stranger in a strange land. The equipment is unfamiliar. The trainer lingo a foreign language. You had no idea there were so many ways to squat. On your right there’s a guy in the corner doing pull-ups with an oversized chain draped around his neck. Yes, a chain. On your left is Jillian Michaels flicking ropes like they were licorice. (Actually, this woman makes Jillian look out of shape.)

You’re unsure if you are physically capable of what everyone else is making look so effortless. Why are you the only one breathing heavy? Why are you the only one whose face is beat red and slick with sweat? How is it possible to run with full makeup looking beautiful in Lululemon tops worthy of wearing out in everyday public life? You’re feeling self conscious about your shape and your state of physical well-being. You feel as if every eye in the gym is on you wondering the same thing. You imagine you hear the whisperings. “What is she doing here?” “What does she think she can actually do?” “Thank goodness that’s not me.”

Continue reading “From the Archives- “Dear New Girl in Class””

Moving with Intention

Despite the title my editors gave this article, it’s not about fighting boredom while exercising.  This is about moving with a purpose.  It’s about NOT going through the motions.  It’s about setting specific long and short-term goals.  It’s about identifying what you want out of your workout and lifting, running, cycling in a way to make that happen.  We all fall into a rut, but if we really want the most out of ourselves, we must move with intention.

Click the link below to read on.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865678437/How-to-fight-workout-boredom.html

Pennies in the Bucket

Life is made of a series of small decisions.  There’s a lot to celebrate in that statement.  Change can be difficult and overwhelming when we focus on the big picture.  But when we break up our goals into smaller steps, suddenly that giant elephant on your plate is devoured (or chips, or cookies- insert preferred snack food here).  The point is if we want change to happen, we have to make it happen.  It doesn’t have to happen in a day.  In fact, slower change is typically more permanent change.  Our family has a “Fun Bucket”.  In this bucket is where we collect our loose coins.  Before a big vacation we typically take it to the bank to cash it in for bills.  It’s amazing to me how much we accumulate throughout the year.  It’s not unusual to save in the hundreds.  The best part it we don’t even notice the impact.  Tell me to put $100 aside, I feel that.  Tell me to put $1 a day aside for 100 days, I barely notice that dollar missing from my wallet.

Click on the link below to read about some of the pennies I’m putting in my bucket now.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865674327/Small-changes-make-a-big-difference.html?clear_cache=1

There’s No Such Thing as Perfection

 

This is a hard one to post.  I don’t like focusing on my physical appearance.  When I exercise, I do it for the feeling.  I’ve said it so often I should have shirts made, but honestly, if you feel good you look good.  Not the other way around.

That said, I am human.  I have days when I’m not thrilled with what I see.  More often I see someone who, in my eyes, is the epitome of strength and beauty and I don’t measure up.  We all do it.  I had one of these days last Wednesday.  The critic in me usually makes an appearance when I’m exhausted and struggling to keep up with the daily grind.  My husband had just left for a week-long trip to Chicago that coincided with Parent-Teacher conferences, history presentations at school, Valentine’s day, birthday parties…  you get the idea.

I’d just finished teaching a Total Body Conditioning class when a new member approached me to tell me how much she enjoyed the class.  She then apologized for not being as strong as others and hoped she could look like me one day.  Whoa!  Wait a second!  First off,  everyone is new at one point.  I needed her to know she showed strength simply by showing up to do the work. If she kept that up, she’d be stronger than she could imagine.  Second, while I was flattered, didn’t she realize my body wasn’t perfect?  Of course she did, but she didn’t dwell on the imperfections I was dwelling on.  She just saw a fit girl.  She was admiring the very body I was feeling down about in the moment.  Her words snapped me out of my funk and back to reality.

I’m not fishing for compliments and I certainly don’t want to be a whiner.  My point for writing this is to remind us (okay, mostly me) that perfection doesn’t exist.  While I was wishing to have someone else’s strength, someone was wishing to have mine.  Frankly, it’s a waste of time to pine for what someone else has.  That time is better spent improving what I have.  Accepting who we are doesn’t mean settling.  It simply means we stop wasting energy chasing someone else’s dream.  We focus on our own growth.

Too often I find myself looking at others feeling like they have it all pulled together.  Everything looks so easy to them.  They don’t have the struggles I have.  They don’t have to work hard to stay fit. But of course they do!  And of course they struggle.  Of course they don’t have it all pulled together!  But what struck me most that Wednesday is that others may be looking at me thinking I have it all together!

I’m here to tell you that, yes, some days I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  Overall I’m pleased with how I feel and how I look.  I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in running and I own the work I put into my classes.  If I expect members to show up and give me their best, I have to be willing to give my best, too.  I’m not going to shrug that off.  But there are occasions when it’s just a victory to roll out of bed and show up.

I’m posting these pics of my stomach just as an example.  It is what it is.  They’re not bad.  They’re not ideal.  They just are.  One pic is of my stomach in a normal standing state.  The other is what I see every time I’m in downward dog or tabletop position when I practice yoga.  This is a vast improvement from a few years ago when my core was much weaker, but this is where I’ve landed.  I’m putting it out there to show you that none of us is perfect.  Okay, maybe someone is, but that someone isn’t me.

When I tell people to be open to change and not to expect the changes to be the same as their neighbors’, I mean it.  And I’m usually talking to me.  My fitness journey is mine, and mine alone.  If we can learn to stop measuring our progress  by someone else’s measuring stick, we will find true freedom.  If we can see ourselves the way others see us, we will find peace.  If we can accept who we are and revel in our strengths, we will find joy.  And joy lasts longer than a six-pack.  It’s about progress, not perfection.

From the Archives- Gimme A Break

Funny how little things change.  Six years ago I wrote about needing a break from the thing I loved most- running.  What started out as a forced recovery from injury has become a yearly tradition.  Each year during the holidays I take a break from running.  Sometimes it’s physically necessary.  Sometimes it’s mentally necessary.  It’s always a good decision.  This year I took over a month off to recover from a hysterectomy.  For the first time in almost 8 years, I have nothing planned.  No races.  No training cycles to jump into.  I’ll admit it feels freeing to do what I want.  I’ve been showing my spin bike a lot of love.  The road will be there when I’m ready, just like it was after I wrote this post.

Teaching Ali the importance of recovery. She wasn’t even two years old, but she caught on quick!

Taking a Break

Too much of a good thing can be, well, too much.

Take chocolate, for example. Most definitely a good thing, but in high doses can cause even the biggest Willy Wonka fan a stomach ache. Ask my brother.

One Easter, when we were younger and ignorant of food pyramids and nutrition labels, my brother decided that if one bite of chocolate was good, the whole basket much be sensational. Halfway home from Grandma’s house, he was singing a different tune as we made an emergency roadside pitstop. I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say that he rarely overindulged on candy after that.

I may not have a problem abstaining from baskets full of chocolate- although it is still a fantasy of mind to live in a house made of donuts- I can, and often do, overdo my running.

Continue reading “From the Archives- Gimme A Break”

Christmas Wish List

If you’re like me, your holiday shopping was done a month ago.  If you’re like my husband, you’ve only just begun.  Let me add to the gaggle of Christmas wish lists and give you a few of my wanted items for the season.  (No, this is not a way to sneakily give my family gift hints… or maybe it is.

 

Asics Kayanos-

I’ve run in these shoes since 2008.  The one time I switched, I got a nasty stress fracture.  Lesson learned.  You can find great deals previous seasons’ models right now, too.  If you live close to an Asics Factory Outlet, you can find them as cheap as $60.  Normally they run $150-180.  Worth every penny.  http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Feetures Socks

You need something to wear with these shoes and I’ve worn Feetures! almost as long as I’ve worn Asics.  With so many styles and options and with their perfect fit, you don’t need to worry about your sock slipping down or causing blisters.  https://feeturesrunning.com

 

Coast LED Headlamp 2-pack

I just bought these at Costco a few weeks ago after an old headlamp burned out.  These are super bright.  But what I love most is that they don’t have a middle strap, so if I don’t want to wear it on my head, I can wear it around my waist.  Still great visibility.  Perfect for your runner during these darker months.

 

Asics Softshell Jacket

I am an admitted jacket hoarder.  I have somewhere around 30, but this one has stolen my heart.  I hate the cold, but with this jacket, I really don’t mind it as much.  Fleece lining.  The sleeves are tight around the wrists to keep out the cold.  Three layers for added warmth.  Thumb holes and a longer sleeve to keep your hands extra toasty.  Tons of pockets, too.  I’m only 5’2″, so this jackets hits me below my hips, but I love that.  Keeps my bum warm!  It’s pricey at $145, but I found it at the outlet store in July and only paid $30!   http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Sweaty Bands

I love headbands.  Sweaty Bands are among the best.  My head is smaller, so headbands usually slip right off.  Not these.  And bonus for you, you can find a link on this page for a discount code.  http://www.sweatybands.com

 

Run Fast.  Eat Slow- by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

I don’t have this, but I want it.  Hint, hint.  Written by marathoner and 4-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky, this cookbook is chalk full of delicious recipes designed to help you feel and perform at your best.  Indulgent nourishment is how they describe the recipes.  I’m dying to make the bison meatballs.  The superhero muffins already have a large fan base.  I’m not a cook, but this book makes me want to be one.  Find it at any major book retailer.

 

Audible.com

The only thing I love more than running is reading.  Why not combine these passions with a subscription to Audible.com.  Subscribers can download audiobooks and listen while they run.  It’s great motivation for those days when running becomes a chore.  If I’m in the middle of a juicy novel I only allow myself to listen to while running, I’m more likely to lace up my shoes and go.  You can try Audible.com for free and get one free audiobook.  After that it’s $14.95 a month. http://www.audible.com

 

Trigger Point Foam Roller

Roll your aches and pains away with Trigger Point foam rollers.  It’s pain you enjoy.  Actually, start using these foam rollers and that pain will disappear.  Since I’ve started using mine daily, my hamstring aches have almost disappeared. https://www.tptherapy.com/product/GRID_FoamRoller

 

Epsom Salts

I used to be an ice bath believer.  But I’ve found that Epsom Salt baths feel just as invigorating.  During long, cold runs I find myself fantasizing about sinking into a warm bath with epsom salt and a good book.  The bath is often as long as the run.  Find them at any major retailer.

 

Nutzzo Seven Nut and Seed Butter

This ain’t your mama’s peanut butter.  And it’s not cheap.  It can run upwards of $12, but it’s so, so good!  And it’s the holidays, so splurge a little.  And this is a splurge you can feel good about.  Made with cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds it’s delicious and healthy.  There are a number of varieties and versions, but I have yet to find one I don’t like.  Just don’t let the family find yours.  Put it in a safe hiding spot and hoard it for yourself.  https://www.nuttzo.com

 

There you have it.  My 10 Favorite Things to give to the runner/health nut in your life.  Oh, who are we kidding.  Get these for yourself and don’t feel bad about it one bit.  Happy Holidays!

From the Archives- What Fitness Instructors Wish You Knew

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Published last January as fitness classes, predictably, filled up with unsure but eager members.  These words still apply and are a good reminder to all of us, instructors and members alike, how we all have a part in a class’s success.  Enjoy!

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I love my job as a fitness instructor. When I was younger I would get up early to watch Denise Austin “pump it up” on ESPN. Occasionally I would even do the workouts along with her. But mostly I would watch and wish my life to be like hers. She got paid to workout and once in awhile she got to work out on a Hawaiian beach. She got paid! After 25 years of envious viewing, I’m now living that dream (minus the Hawaiian beach- but I’m not dead yet).

That said, I love this time of year. It’s an opportunity for me, as resolution time rolls around once again, to show others how motivating group fitness classes can be. I realize it can be a bit intimidating for some to dive into that sea of change. Results happen best when instructors and members are on the same page. So, I wanted to share a few things fitness instructors wished their members knew, as well as a few things members wished their instructors knew to make 2016 the year good change happens.

Continue reading “From the Archives- What Fitness Instructors Wish You Knew”

Why You Should Try a Group Fitness Class

why you should try a group fitness class
Just a few friends from the gym.

I’m no longer a teacher or a student, but I still love classes.  Group fitness classes, that is.  It started with cycle and snowballed from there.  I’ve done everything from Zumba to pilates and I love them all.  It’s not just that I get a great workout.  I’ve made some incredible friendships and found confidence in areas I never expected.  No matter how tired or low I feel, I always leave a fitness class feeling better than when I walked in the door.  Still not convinced fitness classes are right for you?  Click on the link below to read more about the reasons everyone should give classes a try.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865661727/Why-you-should-try-a-group-fitness-class.html?pg=all