Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutions? You know it!

You may have noticed that I didn't update my blog on Monday like I usually do. Or maybe you didn't. Maybe you have other things going on in your life besides reading this blog and whether or not I went to the gym or if my foot hurts or if I am happy or sad is of no consequence to you and you were glad for a break from my constant self-absorbed babble.

Oh come on. We know that's not true!

Actually, I almost did write my blog on Monday and I stopped. I didn't have anything great to say, and I wanted to try something new - something called "not being an obsessive psycho." I decided to take a break. So I folded my arms behind my head, stretched my legs, leaned back in my chair, and took a week off.

And then I realized that I have written in this blog every week for a whole year and to stop on the last one would just be the kind of irony that I could not tolerate. So I started thinking of something to write. I went for the obvious. Duh: resolutions.

Everyone makes resolutions but who really keeps them? I really try to. Last year I resolved to not eat any more fast food, even the "healthy" stuff. That was pretty easy. I also made my annual resolution to stop talking so much but that didn't go as well.

So this year I have a few fitness-related resolutions:

1. Get certified. I've got the books for my Personal Trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant certifications and my goal is to achieve both of these in 2009. Break out the flash cards, we're gonna study.

2. Speak into the megaphone. I talk a lot, that is not news. But this year, I want to make sure that what I say is actually meaningful and heard by people who want to live healthier lives with me. So I am trying to build an audience for my daily Twitter feed and developing a website to link to good resources and avoid having to repeat myself so often.

3. Compete. That's what started this whole thing, and I still haven't done it. Needless to say, it needs to happen. I would also like to finish with my dignity intact. And by "dignity" I don't mean internet stardom from being known as the girl who landed on her face in a pile of mud while trying to cross the monkey bars in a timed event that is later turned into a Japanese game show.

4. Get stronger. I know someone who likes to say, "it's not how much you can lift, it's how much you look like you can lift." I don't agree. Asthetics are nice, but I want to actually be strong. So while I still have my foundation goal of reaching my MGP in body composition, muscle development, and tone, I want to focus 2009 on developing the skills and strength to put my money where my mouth is. I want to jump on that *&%$ing box 50 times in row. And do one-armed push-ups. Not at the same time.

I think that's enough. How about you? Leave a comment and share your goals and resolutions for 2009.

Thanks to you all for being so supportive of me in sharing this part of my life. It's sometimes been hard to face the reality of my habits and consequences of my choices, but knowing that I have to share it here has made me more aware of them. I feel like I am healthier in a lot of ways for having "put myself out there," and have been overwhelmed by the response from people who have been inspired to start their own journey to a healthier version of themselves. Take care of yourself and make 2009 a healthy year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the Final Countdown

Okay so last week I said I was giving up self-pity in 2009, but since there are technically a couple of weeks left in 2008, I have still been moping around a little bit, albeit more sheepishly and without expecting any sympathy. I update my Facebook status with some passive-aggressive complaint about mushy triceps and everyone just ignores me. I get it. You're tired of my bitching. And I'm tired of having to do it! Trust me, this hurts me more than it hurts you.

So, since I have begrudgingly taken everyone's advice and "taken it easy" at the gym for the past CENTURY, I'll spare you another helping of Heather's Hot and Cheesy Sob Story Casserole. Instead, I'll engage in what is all the rage at the end of the year - a countdown!

This week, the top five things I learned this year, in no particular order.

5. I've learned that I seriously need to chill. I think that goes without saying. But, the multitude of people who have told me in the past few months that I need to relax and not take things so seriously has grown to the point of creating a fan club and staging interventions. I'm pretty sure they have a newsletter. So, yeah. I'm probably not going to do this, as I have been unsuccessful for the past 32 years and don't expect to suddenly find my zen hidden under my pillow. The lesson has been learned, just ignored.

4. I've learned that setbacks are not the end of the world. It seems like the world is against me when I hurt my knee or get sick or have to travel and miss workouts, but so far, every single time there has been a setback, I've recovered from it and lived to tell the story. I'm goal-oriented, and most of my goals have time frames attached. So, it's really hard to deal when I get off schedule and fall behind. But, I just have to suck it up because it will happen again. And rest assured, I'll get all dramatic about it and act like I'm the only person who has ever had a bad day so you should probably practice your eye-rolling skills over the holidays.

3. I've learned that Zumba is better off without me. I went, I Zumbaed, and I lost a little bit of my soul in the process. I think the world is a better place if I reserve my dancing skills for the living room on Saturday night when the Powder Milk Biscuit song is on.

2. I've learned that even I need to rest. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have a tendency to beat myself up over minor things like needing to eat, sleep, breathe, and otherwise function like a normal human being. It still annoys me that I don't yet have super-human strength (or a trust fund), but I'm not giving up hope. I've learned the hard way this year that I need to slow down and rest once in a while, and that was the hardest lesson of all. In the future, I am going to request that I be sedated during those times so I am not aware of the atrophy my body and life are undergoing while I am "resting".

1. I am finally doing what I love. For a really long time, I kept this goal a secret. I worked out and liked healthy stuff, but I never really embraced my passion for it and "came out" as a card-carrying health nut until recently. Over the past few years, the positive energy I have created and received have been so rewarding that I've been inspired to find more ways to use my time on earth to motivate people to live healthier lives. Thanks for being part of that.

That being said, I'm going to the gym. You're coming, right?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's My Pity Party and I'll Get All Dramatic and Act Like My Problems Are More Important Than Yours if I Want To

For some people, a doctor-mandated week-long break from the gym would be a welcome luxury. For me, it is the equivalent of being asked to wait patiently while your child is being tortured. Over the past week I have sullenly set my alarm for two hours later than usual and tried to ignore the sobs of my muscles as they shriveled up and cried, "we thought you loved us..." Each morning my energy dropped and I moaned to my husband about how mushy I was getting and how all of my hard work was going down the drain. And from the expression on his face, I think he was trying to find a nice way to both sympathize with me and tell me to get a grip.

Okay, so maybe I was being a little dramatic. I mean, let's get some perspective. It's not like I have this goddess body that will go down in time as the eighth wonder of the world (that would be Beyonce). And, I'm just moaning because I can't go to the gym. There are people in this world who don't have clean water to drink and I am complaining because I haven't worked my core. I do see the difference.

The frustration comes from the gym being my haven, my escape, and my THING. Not being able to go there feels like punishment, even though I know I need the rest. Also, I mourn the feeling of my muscles going into atrophy. I've done so much work and was seeing such great results, and now I feel like I am going to have to start over. My arms used to have a nice horseshoe indent, and now they hang like sausages. I used to be able to feel my thigh muscles and see a nice hamstring definition. Now I just have legs. Two legs good for nothing but walking around looking for sympathy. Which, by the way, is becoming harder to find.

"You'll bounce back. Your first workouts are going to be really hard and you'll be sore and love it," my dear husband said in response to my not-so-subtle heavy sigh, which is women-speak for "ask me what is wrong so I can tell you it's nothing and then later accuse you of not even caring about how I feel." (Luckily, he's smart enough to not fall for that trick and just cuts straight to the chase.)

I hadn't considered this, and immediately perked up. He was right! I did have some grueling workouts to look forward to. And then he threw back one of my personal mantras: "Remember, it's a journey, not a destination." Although, that's a lot easier to say when you haven't already checked into your luxury suite and opened the mini-bar.

He knows I love the process of creating success, and that thanks to this set-back, I now have the oppportunity to do it all over again. I have the chance to start with a clean slate, fresh and renewed.

I thought about his perspective and decided to change my attitude. On Sunday night, I set my alarm for 4:09 am and went to bed with butterflies in my stomach from anticipation of getting back to work. And on Monday morning, I plugged in my headphones and cranked up a song that, to me, symbolizes what today is all about: letting go. I let go of the past two weeks that have held me back, I let go of my crankiness and complaining and pity party, and I finally let go of (some of) my all-or-nothing attitude. I'm sure I'll revisit it someday, but for now I am just thankful to be healthy enough for a morning run and a jaunt through the weight room. I'll get back to work on these sausage arms tomorrow.

Take a listen, but under one circumstance: you have to stop what you're doing, turn up the speakers, and listen to this song really loud. Otherwise it won't work.

We all have something to let go. In my case, it was self-pity. There are three weeks left in 2008. What are you going to leave behind?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Okay, I get it. Mostly.

Okay, so last week when I bitched and moaned about not liking "getting well," and having to slow down and take it easy, little did I know I was priming the pump for a full-on meltdown. And this past weekend, when I collapsed and landed in the ER for the full gauntlet of tests, meds, and a stern lecture from the doctor on call, I started to clue in. And then, when he ordered me to stay in bed for three days and rest, I thought he must be joking. But I knew he wasn't, and I knew he was right.

Then my husband and I had one of those married-people conversations that take place using only eye signals:

Him: you're going to do this.
Me: sure, a little. maybe.
Him: heather..... seriously.
Me: *hmph*

So this week's blog update doesn't have anything to do with my workouts or training because I'm not doing any of that. I'm in bed watching an "Elf" marathon and moisturizing my cuticles. I'm looking up the exact definition of "resting" in the dictionary to see if making construction paper chains for the Christmas tree is too strenuous. I'm sneaking out of bed to get oranges and hastily put decorations on the mantle before I am given the evil eye. I'm feeling like the worst mommy in the world for laying in bed like a lump when he wants to play.

But I am not working out.

I've been barred from the gym for five days, and then I have to take it easy. Take it easy??? Today marks three weeks of ho-hum workouts due to traveling, Thanksgiving, and being sick. I feel like my muscles, which I have worked so hard on and take such pride in, turning to mush with every special bonus feature in my movie marathon. I really pains me to be away from the gym and away from a project that I care so much about, because I can't just hit "pause" and come back to it later. Physical fitness is something that requires daily attention. Not necessarily daily exhausting workouts, but attention. And right now, the only attention I can give it is a longing look across a crowded dance floor. I know that every day away from the gym is a half-step back. It's hard to swallow that lump and pretend that I'm okay with it. Being at the gym is more than just being healthy for me, more than just "staying in shape." It's a calling. Roll your eyes if you want to but that's how I really feel. I'm not just having a pity party, I'm having a moment of reflection!

But I know there is another side, too. I'm in this situation because I haven't gotten enough rest and had enough balance in my life. Maybe two workouts a day is a bit extreme. But is it really when I love it so much?

I know I need to change, but I don't know how. I'm afraid to find out what happens when I don't cover all the bases and go above and beyond. But, it's clear that "a little rest" isn't going to cut it anymore. I just wish I had a better idea of how to take it down a notch without missing out on the fun.

*sigh* Didn't God get the memo that I'm not like the others? Can you order super-human strength on Amazon?

I'll need expedited shipping.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Suck it Up and Deal

As much as I hate being sick, I hate getting well more. Getting well requires sitting around doing nothing, which I pretty much suck at. I got sick over Thanksgiving and now, almost a week later, I am still sitting here feeling myself turn into mush. I went to the gym yesterday, which was a mistake. I spent the rest of the day in bed, stressing about all of the stuff I needed to do when I was lying there "getting well."

I know I get sick because I won't slow down long enough to let myself get well. And I know that the world won't come to a screeching halt because I miss a few days. But it just kills me to sit there and watch my hard work go down the drain.


Anyway, I went home to New Orleans for Thanksgiving, which is not a locale best known for its healthy lifestyles. Needless to say, eating clean and getting exercise is a challenge there. But I did okay, despite being met with silence when asking a friend where we could go for a "healthy dinner". LOL But I am happy to announce that Holiday Food Face-Off: Round One is complete, with minimal casualties.

But while I was there, getting sick and mushy, I picked up this archaic mass-communication tool called a "newspaper" and tried to distract myself from my atrophy by reading. I stumbled upon an article about an inner-city New Orleans kid who had been given the chance at a fresh start - in exchange for keeping his grades up, he would get boxing coaching from a local legend, and the chance to break out of his crime and drama-riddled family and into a life of...professional boxing. Not sure what the big difference is there, but still, it made for inspirational reading. You can read the whole story here.

I began reading as a bored skeptic. I had missed the first part, but it wasn't hard to figure out that this kid was facing a dead-end life if he didn't get some help. When I picked up the story, he had been making great progress and was preparing for his first real fight. But then, Hurricane Gustav forced his family to evacuate, and he was unable to train with his coach. Instead, he ate junk food, didn't exercise, and gained 25 lbs. When he arrived back at his home gym, just days away from his event, he was back at square one. I was annoyed. If this was so important to him, why didn't he find a way to work out? Why did he eat that crap? Why did he let himself decay like that? I didn't feel that bad for him, until he got a call from his dad in prison telling him how proud he was. Then I felt a little bad.

And I kept reading. He and his coach went into psycho-mode to get him ready for his fight, and when the day arrived he was all hopes and dreams - a little high schooler up against a pro. He actually held his own for a while, but in the end his lack of conditioning showed and he lost the match.

He was embarrassed and ashamed at his loss, and felt like he had let everyone down. It would have been really easy for him to throw in the towel and give up, assuming that he would just be swallowed up by a culture that was bigger than him. But you guessed it - he didn't. He got up the next day, put on his shoes, and ran further than he ever had before. Awww.

I put the paper aside and got some perspective. My life isn't exactly hard. I've been feeling sorry for myself because I have a cold. Yeah, I need to take a few days and rest and get better, and then I can pick up where I left off. And yes, I am gritting my teeth and grimacing as I type this, because that is the complete opposite of what I want to do.

Fitness is a slippery slope. One minute you're up, and the next minute you're frantically looking for a tree branch to grab on to. It's hard to watch your hard work shrivel up and fade away, but I guess I just need to suck it up and deal.

And now I am going to bed.