Archive for the ‘working out’ Category

Smoothies

July 23, 2012

I’ve been making smoothies a lot this summer! I kind of got into the habit when I was working out with a trainer who always urged me to eat some protein right away after each killer session. Once it got so hot, I started going to a nearby smoothie place and ordering a fruity drink with protein added.

Well, that gets expensive, and they really weren’t all that healthy for me. I mean, compared to a Snickers Blizzard, they were amazing, but as I’ve been becoming more health conscious, I couldn’t justify the sherbet and yogurt. (I mean, is it frozen yogurt? Is it non-fat or full fat? How do I really know what’s in them to make them so yummy?) I’ve been trying to do less dairy and more organic, especially with berries. So, I decided it was time to buy a blender and start making my own. I got online and started researching blenders.

I really wanted a powerful blender because I’ve thrown away my fair share of junky ones over the years. I read about the VitaMix and decided that was the one I was going to buy. There were testimonials! People’s lives were changed when they bought a VitaMix! How had I lived all these years without one?! I had to get one now! Then I checked out the price! Yikes! I could by my own smoothy franchise for what one of those costs! (okay, a slight exaggeration!)

So, back to the smoothy place I went. But I launched out and started getting the yummy chocolate and peanut butter drink. OHMYGOODNESS was it ever delicious! How could I ever go back to plain old fruit now?! Besides, peanut butter had lots of protein, and I was even adding extra protein. This had to be waaaay better than a fruit smoothy anyway!

It doesn’t take long to start chubbing out when you get a giant choco-peanut smoothy after every workout! This was an expensive habit in more ways than one!

I decided it was time to give up the VitaMix dream and just go get a blender already! I bought a gorgeous charcoal colored KitchenAid blender at Target, took it home and made my first smoothy – of course with yogurt, peanut butter powder and Hershey’s chocolate syrup! Thankfully it tasted awful and I vowed to never do that again!

My first few attempts at smoothies were pretty dismal. I was relieved to not have spent the big bucks on a VitaMix. I didn’t know how I’d justify owning the Bentley of blenders as I watched it collect dust on the counter!

I looked up smoothy recipes on Pinterest and found one that sounded good. The “Superfood Smoothy” by Heather Kneisler. I’ve made some adjustments to it, and I’m satisfied that I’ve made the switch from expensive fast-food smoothies to homemade, delicious, nutritious ones! Now I’m getting more fruits and vegetables and cutting back on the sugar and extra calories I really don’t need! I mean, I never ate veggies in the morning! I feel healthier each sip I take!   smoothy recipe

Oh, and I found some protein powder that I really like. I don’t do soy protein powder (which is in nearly everything!) because I’m a breast-cancer survivor (estrogen-driven type) and soy mimics estrogen in the body. Whey is supposed to be a good alternative, but it’s a by-product of cheese production and I’m trying to do less dairy . . . so when I came across this at Whole Foods the other day, I had to read the label and make sure it wasn’t too good to be true! It’s incredible! This protein powder is made from sprouts – and they are all organic! Brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, garbanzo bean, lentil, flax, and so on.

Protein Powder

protein powder

It wasn’t cheap, but no protein powder I’ve seen is. It also has live probiotics and enzymes, no fillers or synthetic nutrients and the best part is that it doesn’t make my smoothy taste funky. And, let’s be real here, if it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t matter how nutritious it is, I’m not going to eat it more than once!

Here’s the recipe:

Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 1/2-3/4 c. orange juice
  • 10-12 baby carrots
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1/2 c. plain non-fat greek yogurt (I use goat’s milk greek yogurt from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 c. frozen blueberries or mixed berries
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 T. raw honey
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Method:

  1. In a reliable blender, puree spinach and orange juice until only small flecks of green remain.
  2. Add carrots and chop, then puree until tiny flecks of orange remain.
  3. Add all other ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Drink and enjoy feeding your body the nutrients it craves!

exercise for now and later

October 20, 2011

I came across this verse today as I was reading my Bible. It arrested my attention and reminded me to keep my focus and my priority.

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.  (Good News Translation)

I’ve been working out at Fitness Together for about 22 months. I’ve seen some very encouraging changes in my body and my attitude! I feel stronger, healthier, enjoy better balance and stamina and am so very glad to be able to work out there twice a week!

Monday I went in to my workout appointment with Ashley armed with my eating/exercise journal and a new resolve. I told her I’ve got to get out of this slump and that I wanted to face the ‘Big 50’ next month with 10 fewer pounds! She said it’s possible but that I’ve gotta be willing to pay the price. (translation – I’ve gotta get my fat butt in there more often to do my cardio – more cardio – longer, more strenuous cardio!)

Even as I do pay that price, I’m still an almost 50 year-old middle-aged woman fighting the calendar and gravity! Working out won’t make me look like a 29 year-old fashionista model! (Dang!)  It will help me be a healthy, fit 50-year-old!  Ha!

It’s so typical to work hard at trying to get/stay fit but let’s face it, each day gravity gains more ground! We continue to fight fat, eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, drink enough water and yet natural law has the upper hand at least for now!

That’s where this verse comes in. Physical exercise is helping me live physically. But one day this body will give up/check out/sign off.  But my spirit is eternal. It will get a new, way better spiritual body to live in one day. I need to continue doing my spiritual exercises daily because it not only will strengthen me for living day-to-day right now, but it is also preparing me for my future forever-life! My spirit doesn’t have to fight gravity or age! It becomes stronger, more agile and beautiful and more alive the more I nurture and train it!

So, how do I exercise my spirit?

For starters, I spend a little time every morning reading my Bible. God’s Word. The words of God. Spoken to people and written down. Wow. I can know some of the thoughts of God! They’re here for me to read! I just have to open the book and read them and let them sink into my mind and heart. As I do that every day, it impacts my life – my thoughts, my actions, my relationships, etc.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message Bible)

Another way I exercise my spirit is to pray. This, I have to admit is harder for me than reading. So, this is why I persevere, because I know it’s important. It is my lifeline to God. Talking to Him is vital. I mean, how can you grow a friendship with someone you never talk to? So, I mostly write my conversations with him. (At least my end of them, ha!) Although sometimes I just talk out loud. In my kitchen or in the car. I tell him what grabs my attention from what I’ve read in the Bible and how I want it to change me. I tell him about the concerns I have for my family and friends and myself. I ask him for help, for wisdom. I tell him how amazing I think he is. I marvel at the creation he designed. I tell him or I gasp or gawk! Like the time a huge hawk flew just above me. Or when there’s a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. I don’t use religious language – Thees and Thous. I just talk and write and marvel.

Another way I exercise my spirit is to go to church. It’s way too easy to sleep in! Waaaaaaaaaaaay too easy! Excuses abound – I don’t even have to go looking for them. They are ready and waiting! (Kinda like all those excuses to keep me from working out!)

Going to church isn’t some way of making myself feel better about myself. I don’t go to ease my conscience. Going there puts me in contact with other people who are in the same boat as me so to speak. We’re all on a spiritual journey. We’re all wanting to know God and grow spiritually. None of us are perfect, nor are we pretending to be. We are learning to leave our pretenses at the door.

Being at church encourages me. It lightens my load. I leave refreshed, and challenged and armed with knowledge to help me make changes in my life and trust God more.

So, there’s my beginning description of what it means to exercise my spirit. I hope it encourages you to exercise yours.

Here’s a bonus tip, no charge! Sometimes I “multi-task” and listen to worship music as I run/walk. I talk to God as I pant my way along the treadmill or trail. I could even start memorizing scripture as I run! But I always find something to shake my head at and tell God how astoundingly amazing he is!

Happy exercising to you – physically and spiritually!

i’ve lost a friend

August 4, 2011

When I started this blog 19 months ago, I didn’t know Nick Ryan. But as I began my quest for fitness and health, he became my trainer and eventually my friend.

Two and a half weeks ago he and some friends were hiking up in Montana. As their yearly trips went, this was not even dangerous, yet his amazing life was cut short from a fall.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this. It’s one of those inexplicable tragedies in life that seem so absolutely wrong.

Over the last few days, my husband and I have been watching Shark Week on Discovery Channel. The people in these shows are risking life and limb, literally, to film, and yet aren’t killed by their serious risk-taking choices. Nick, on the other hand, was just out with his friends hiking one minute and gone the next.

I’ve wrestled with God and asked questions about the seeming lack of fairness of it all, yet have to quiet my heart, and say, “You are God and hold our lives and times in your hands.” My heart aches, not only for my loss, but for Nick’s wife and two little girls who have lost a terrific man, husband and father.

I wasn’t able to attend Nick’s funeral, so wrote a brief tribute to honor him and his impact on my life. Here it is:

A Tribute to Nick

I first met Nick in January of 2010.

A friend of mine had begun working out at Fitness Together in October 2009, and I saw such changes in her that it gave me my first glimmer of hope in nearly six years.

I’m a two time breast cancer survivor. The second cancer experience left me physically very weak with a serious lack of balance, in addition to 50 extra pounds due to many drugs and lack of activity. I didn’t look like myself to me and I didn’t feel like myself either. I had become so discouraged with my situation, I thought, “I fought off cancer twice to live in a body that was hi-jacked by cancer and now doesn’t even look like the me I remember before cancer?!”

Dieting and exercise didn’t effect much change for me and I lost hope that my body could ever become strong and active. My heart was damaged by the chemotherapy and my lungs were damaged from the pneumonia. My balance was off for 7 long months from some unexplained inner ear malady that left me unable to drive or look at any movement without feeling severe nausea.

My upper body lacked physical strength from lack of use, but also from my chest muscles being “messed with” due to my radical bilateral mastectomy. I was in terrible shape and I felt old and worn out and weary.

That’s the Kris Beauchamp that walked into Fitness Together seeking help in January 2010. Although looking back, I was hoping for a miracle but Nick wasn’t going to promise me one! I was hoping I could get in and outta there in 2 or 3 months. He was gracious not to laugh or roll his eyes, but he told me realistically that it was going to be a longer commitment than that.

I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed of my fat body and horrified that he had to weigh and measure me. If it hadn’t been for my friend’s success I might never have gone back after those numbers were written down!

I’d go in, very quietly and do whatever was asked, thinking I was going to pass out from oxygen deprivation or hyperventilation, but he always pressed me just to the point I thought I couldn’t achieve and right before I’d pass out he’d let me stop! Nick got me to do more than I thought I could; more than I would have ever done on my own.

Nick was positive and encouraging. Always ready with a bright, friendly smile.

He took me where I was – didn’t make me feel ashamed for letting my body get in the situation it was in and looked at the facts and asked me where I wanted to be in 6 months or 12 or 24!

Initially I wanted to be able to enjoy life with my family. I wanted to lose some weight to feel comfortable again. I wanted to be alive for my future grandkids and be able to get down on the floor to play with them and be able to get back up again afterward too! Seriously. Once down on the floor, I couldn’t get up again by myself! That’s how weak I was!

I progressed ever so gradually, but Nick was always ready with praise for even the smallest increase of strength. I’d downplay it because of embarrassment and he’d remind me how far I’d actually come. No progress was too small to celebrate.

I’ve gone back and reread several of my blog posts about working out at Fitness Together and was reminded of just how monumental my progress actually was.

I remember telling Nick that I was out walking with my husband up a hill and I could feel a shift. All of a sudden I could breathe deeply, all the way in. I could fill my lungs and it was the best feeling ever! It was the first time in 3 or 4 years that I could completely fill my lungs with air!

I’m not sure, but I think I may be the only person who would ever leave a workout with Nick by thanking him. But I did. Yes, I paid him to work with me and it wasn’t cheap, but I still thanked him for making me a better, stronger, healthier, happier me. He’d tell me I was the one doing the work, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.

At my last workout with Nick, I told him that I’d lost three pounds since my last weigh in (which amounted to a measly half pound a week in my mind). He turned sideways and looking over his left shoulder at me from across the room he grinned, saying with exuberant conviction, “Kris! You are doing it! If you keep doing what you’re doing now, you will reach your goals!”

Nick and I would discuss things I’d blog about relating to weight loss, fitness or nutrition. He’d challenge my thinking and press me to see a different perspective.

One day I wrote about a quote by Horace Mann:

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

I know I’m just me, not a great person in the whole scheme of things, but I’m sure if you asked others, they’d feel the same way: Nick was a person who won a victory for me. He helped me conquer the ravaging effects of cancer in my body to become stronger, healthier and happier. His death is untimely for sure, but there is no shame in it. Nick won a huge victory for me by helping me find my way back to myself, back to even a better place of health and wellness than I ever thought I could.

Nick, I’ll do my best to carry on your legacy of winning some victory for humanity in my world. I’ll miss you, but I’ll do you proud.

Kris

5K

April 30, 2011

Well, I did it! I ran the Lifegate Women’s Run/Walk today!
I don’t think I would have kept running or finished as soon if my friend Deanna hadn’t run with me! (I’m positive, in fact!) Running is mostly mind over matter . . . Deanna’s got a very strong mind, and I’ve got the matter! We made a great duo!

I haven’t run an event since this same 5K a year ago! I shortened my time probably by 10 minutes which for a 5K is significant! So my advice to you is to run with a motivated friend who is also an encourager! (My other advice is, lay off the chocolate covered caramels! lol)

Laughable Reasons Why I’m Glad I Work Out

April 29, 2011

I was talking with my husband the other day after reading my Barbie post to him. We got to laughing and came up with a list of silly reasons why I can be glad I work out, even if I never get the Barbie-results I long for. So here, my friends, is a partial list of reasons I’m glad I workout.

I don’t have to fear the chalkboard waddle, one of those things teachers all over the United States of America fear. They don’t want their underarms waving like our noble national flag, flapping and swaying on a breezy day. (Too bad I’m not a teacher anymore!)

Les said I don’t have to fear breaking my hip (as he’s keenly aware of hip issues these days!) I thought that was a nice thing to say, so I asked him why, thinking it had to be because I’ve increased my bone density from working out. The truth is, he said, those areas I’m so frustrated with that haven’t budged much are the padding that will protect my hips when I fall! He said, “Barbies break!” (Well then, I’ve got nothing to fear!)

I won’t need to rely on a “Help Rescue Necklace” when I fall. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of time! It’s a fact anyone in my family will tell you. I’ve got quite a bit of experience falling! I won’t have to howl into the carpet, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Oh, I’ll fall down for sure, but I’ll be strong enough to at least get back up on my own, thankyouverymuch!

Three times this winter alone, I’ve fallen, hard. Once on my rear, once on my hip, and once sprawled in several directions all at once – I practically did the splits! Somehow in that fall, my left big toe and right thumb hurt so bad I thought I’d broken them! I wasn’t particularly worried about my hip, (and now I know why! Padding, my friends, padding!)

Les told me he’s surprised he hasn’t had to go on heart meds as I’ve scared him so many times by falling! He should’ve known before we married. I fell on our second date, taking him with me! (And really, I’m the one who needs heart meds as he’s scared me so many times on purpose for fun – his fun, but that’s another story for another time!)

Then there’s the now infamous “Fall to Beat All Falls.” It happened the day after I came home from having double mastectomy surgery. I saw a vase of flowers that needed more water, so I walked over to pick up the vase and carry it to the kitchen. (I’m not really sure why I did that, since I was told not to lift anything over 5 pounds and besides, I couldn’t raise my hands above my navel because of the pain. I could have just taken a glass of water to dump into the vase but my mind obviously wasn’t working too well . . . must have been the oxycontin, darvoset and/or whatever else I was on!) Les was in the kitchen, about 25 feet away from me. He saw me lift the vase and begin shuffling toward the kitchen. He watched, helpless to prevent me from shuffling right into the foot stool (which I never saw) dropping me in an instant onto my chest (what was left of it) with my arms angled back straight behind me. I don’t remember what happened to the vase of flowers, but I couldn’t move my arms quickly enough, (and even if I could have, I couldn’t have caught myself! I weigh slightly more than 5 pounds!)

The angle at which I was falling, forced forward by momentum, looked like a scene from “What About Bob” as he leaned forward from the mast, hands tied behind him hollering, “I sail! I sail!” Of course in my case it would be “I fall! I fall!”

I didn’t need a ‘help necklace’ that day as Les involuntarily shouted as he sailed across the kitchen and family room in nearly a single bound, unable to prevent the fall and in a panic to know how to pick me up. Where could he put his arms around me to get me up? Not under my arms and not around my chest that was for sure! I don’t remember that part either – probably a good thing! He claims to have lost 10 years of cardiac life that day! (A little pay-back for all the scares, I say!)

I’m telling you, he should not have been surprised. I gave him fair warning by falling on our second date! We hadn’t held hands or kissed or touched in any manner – I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true! We were walking outside in the evening, talking, and somehow I unknowingly missed a shallow step and began to fall – swiftly – I always fall swiftly! I tumbled down – with him trying to rescue me – only to find him straddling me like a difficult spin in a Twister game! (He should’ve known then. And I think he should be really glad that I’ve been working out, because at least now I can pick myself up!)

My final point on this partial list of reasons I’m glad I work out is that I can have my cake and eat it too, at least some of it! You see, one of the reasons I work out is to eat. BTW, have you tried those dark chocolate-covered caramels with the coarse-ground sea salt on the top?! Ohmygosh! If eating them was the only reason I worked out, it would be worth it!

I’ve watched skinny girls all my life. The saying was and may still be, if you want to be skinny, watch a skinny woman eat [and imitate her.] Um, helloooooooo, is anyone paying attention? Skinny women don’t eat! I mean, hardly at all!

I remember when I taught Title I Reading, the teacher across the hall from me was a speech therapist. She was a bit taller than me and probably 3 sizes smaller (and I was quite thin then, but never believed it – youth and young bodies are wasted on the young! We older, wiser people would enjoy and appreciate them so much more!) Anyway, I noticed that every day she brought her lunch with her in a little paper sack. I’d see her sit at her little table with a little paper napkin and nibble her little half a sandwich. Half a sandwich! Nothing else! I’d starve! I couldn’t last a whole day on that!)

It seems to me that skinny people can’t really enjoy eating. They have to pretend they’re eating by putting a minuscule portion of something on their plate and swishing it around making it look like they are eating! They are afraid that if they eat a bite of something their body will instantly pile on the pounds. So they have to take just a little teensy tiny eensy weensy bite and exclaim, “Oh, dear me, I’m stuffed!” (Stuffed my eye!)

I’m so sure. That, my friends, is the reason I’m not skinny. Life is too short not to enjoy eating.

So, when I get discouraged that I’m not seeing the kind of progress I desire, I will return to this, my list of laughable reasons why I’m glad I work out. I’ll smile that I don’t have an arm waddle; I’ll be happy knowing that I shall never break my hip, and that when I fall, I’ll be able to get myself back up again without a medical team. Then I will go find one of those yummy dark caramels with the chunky sea salt bits on the top and chew and savor it as my mouth waters in delight from the creamy, sweet-saltiness that those skinny girls have only ever dreamed about!

Bridal-shower-Barbie-doll

April 20, 2011

Saturday I had the privilege of hosting a bridal shower for my namesake niece. She’s absolutely precious and beautiful inside and out. I had a great time and it appeared that she did as well!

That afternoon, I was looking through the pictures and was taken aback in dismay. The reason being, the way I looked in them! (Quite selfish and narcissistic I know, but I’m being honest.) My thought process was something like this . . . ‘Ohmygosh, I look awful! You mean to tell me that I’ve been working out for 16 months and I still look this big?!’ Then, ‘I definitely shouldn’t have worn that sweater…makes my arms look like a sumo wrestler! Wear dark colors, Kris, dark colors!’

I have to say that I hit the wall of discouragement. I’ve been ‘bustin it’ and really trying hard and I still look like I need to go hire a personal trainer! Oh, wait, I already did, 16 months ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then my thoughts went this direction . . . ‘So if I look like this now, after all this work, how awful must have I looked all those years prior? Les, you let me out of the house looking like a train wreck?!

Then I remembered (because my kind, loving, wise husband has reminded me of this hundreds of times) that I’ve been through several years of hell-on-earth and I reminded myself that I barely survived and whatdidIexpectanyway?! I’m alive. I’m happily married, to my very best friend. I’ve got two amazing-fantastic-incredible kids! What does it matter anyway that I don’t have a Barbie-doll body? And who set that up as the [insert expletive here] standard in the first place?! And why do I feel like I have to continue to explain to my imaginary audience (all skinny women of course) why I don’t measure up?!

You see, if you’re anything like me, you’re busy living life, going and doing and loving, and don’t really take the time to worry about such ‘petty matters.’ Then you get in a room full of women and the temptation to play the comparison game presses in. Well, I chose not to even think about any of that, after all, I’ve been working out and am feeling better than ever!

But, there were three women there, in particular, who looked like a million bucks. (They also had bodies, like Barbie, that I’ve been longing to look like and working at becoming on and off for basically my entire life.) I noticed them. Who wouldn’t have? They were not only lovely to behold, they were loads of fun to be around! They enjoyed a friendship with one another that was special to observe and fun to be included in for the moments we were together.

Then I got home and looked at the pics. Down, down, down my spirits went. After all, it is women like these I have striven all my life to look like. And now, it’s a proven fact (the pictures show it) that I am not that, and most likely shall never be. And should this desire to be like Barbie continue to be a lifelong goal of mine? I’m not thinking so. It is not a worthwhile or noble goal (for me) to spend the amount of time and energy it would take to get to that place. Not that I should give up working out, but working out to look like a certain body type that isn’t mine, therefore it isn’t even realistic for me. Unless I worked out hours a day, daily for years to get down to almost zero body fat, I’d still need surgery on my rounder parts! I don’t think it could ever be a practical reality. And then there’s the problem, how would I maintain that?  Is it worth giving up much of the living of life in order to look a certain way? (I don’t even see myself most of the time, it’s for others that I’m trying to look that way, if I’m really being honest. Although I do have this imaginary idea of how glorious it must be to pull up a pair of jeans and not have them tight at the hips and bagged out at the waist. Ahhhhhhhh, it must feel fabulous!)

So, as I furiously picked up around the house (my therapy for dealing with difficult emotions) I worked out my solution. I went downstairs and sat near my husband and verbalized it as such:

“I’m not going to deny myself for the rest of my life to be something I can never be.”

He repeated it back to me with an addendum: “I’m not going to deny myself for the rest of my life to be something I can never be (…nor was I ever meant to be.) Hmmmm. He’s right. [insert another expletive!]

Now, I don’t want any of you to think that my trainers have failed me. I could never have gotten where I am without them. Nor am I giving up and throwing in the towel. Although, if you’d have watched me eat these last few days, you might have thought so! I’ve been eating cookies and Easter candy and chicken pot pie and all sorts of things in quantities that don’t match my fitness plan! It’s not very wise therapy, but it is yummy! But now that I’ve comforted my hurting emotions in an unhealthy way, it’s time to get back on the wagon and pump some iron and burn those calories! It’s time to get back to work, not to continue to chase after an illusive pipe dream, but to maintain my health and facilitate the accomplishment of my goals. What are they, anyway?

I need to take a good look at my reasons for working out and trying to lose weight as well as the motives behind them.

1. I want to look good for my husband. He loves the way I look. He’s not pressuring me to be Barbie.

2. I want to be strong and healthy. I’m there and am growing in strength week by week!

3. I want to be around to enjoy my grandkids someday, to be able to play with them, not just look at them.

4. I want to look like Barbie so that I can feel good about myself, look fabulous in my clothes and be happier! (ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ [alarm sound] Warning! Warning! That is a motive I need to ditch! It isn’t even true!)

I’m in this marathon (darn it, it is a marathon, not a sprint) to attain good health and to become my very best (not someone else’s) for my family and for myself. I need to train myself to enjoy the body God gave me, not to strive for achieving (or coveting) the one He’s given my neighbor.

(These are my personal and intimate thoughts from my own bumpy, rambling process. Please don’t feel badly for me or have the impression that I’m needing you to write and tell me how fabulous you think I look. You may be tempted to judge me or condemn me for my lack of spiritual maturity, and that’s ok. I’m just sharing with you, vulnerably, the inside workings of my mind and heart as they relate to the never-ending struggle with/fight against comparison, body-image, cultural values and longing.)

It would be so much simpler and far more enjoyable if I would just revel in who God made me to be. As I think about it, this is so like the issue in the Garden of Eden. I want that instead of what God said I could have. I don’t want to act that way! I want to choose contentment as I strive for good stewardship of my one and only body.

God, here I go again, comparing, longing for something that I don’t have and totally getting myself off track. Thank you for keeping me alive through a horrendous double-wide ride through cancer-hell. Thank you for keeping my marriage and family strong through trying times. Thank you for health and friends and strength to enjoy each day you’ve given me. Please help my blog-reader friends to learn and grow in this area as well, to delight in your creativity as you’ve made us all, differently, in Your image. Amen.

expand your limits

March 8, 2011

Today I had my third “test” at Fitness Together. Pretty painless if you don’t count stepping on the scale and getting calipered to see my fat percentage!

The first time I had these things done was at the very beginning to get a ‘base line’ so it would be easy to track my improvement. I was mortified! The second time I wasn’t horrified because I knew I’d made significant strides. Well, this time I wasn’t mortified or horrified, but I wasn’t exactly ecstatic. I felt disappointment when I stepped on the scale and when he pulled out those calipers, felt fear of finding out the fat facts!

But before all that, Nick and I discussed how things have been going and I shared with him I feel like I’ve kind of stalled. I fessed up about how I’ve been buying my favorite (one of many) Easter treats, the candy coated malted milk eggs! I ‘only eat a serving’ but then maybe another one later in the day! It’s fine and dandy to eat candy, if you aren’t trying to lose weight! Duh! My calories need to count for nutrition and satiety. If my stomach doesn’t fill up, I’ll eat more, and that’s what’s been happening! I’ve been hungry hungry! Did I mention I’ve been hungry?!

So, Nick helped me decide on a few goals. It’s easy to flounder around aimlessly if you don’t keep goals in front of your face constantly. (When Nick pulled out my goals from before Thanksgiving, I’d forgotten I had made any! Shoot!) Goals are vital to success, I’m learning! If I don’t have any, (or forget I do) I show up, do the work, but don’t make time for a cardio session. I eat on the run and forget to keep track. I fudge a little here and there. Life is full, time slips by and whatdya know, oops, another week has gone by and very little progress was made. (This is too expensive a commitment to behave in such a nonchalant way!)

I told Nick it’s time to get tough with me. He’s such a good sport! That’s why I pay him the big bucks! He helps me show up, do the work, and keeps me accountable! He reminds me to write the times on the calendar in advance so that I’ve planned it in my day and it has a better chance of actually happening! (Another duh!)

Here’s where we landed. I will continue to do my two training sessions a week. But I will schedule them before 9 am. Then, I will come in to do my cardio three times a week and will come in by 7 am. (The early time is to help me not wishy-wash my way out of making it happen. I don’t like to get sweaty! Once I’m cleaned up for the day, I certainly don’t want to sweat because I’ll have to get all cleaned up again! So I’ll go in early so I won’t have an excuse to escape a workout!)

I also made a commitment to do a complete job of filling in my food chart every day instead of petering out after lunch and winging it the rest of the day/night.

And, here’s my reward! Every week that I do the work, (taking my baby steps toward grown up athletic discipline!) I get to eat 4 of those amazing chocolate eggs! 4! I told Nick a serving is 5 eggs. He said, “I know, you told me.” I was like, well then, why not 5? He asked me if I always eat an entire serving of everything, for instance, a meal at a restaurant. I said of course I didn’t. Well then, point made! Why do I need to eat 5 when 4 will do?

I want to lose another 20 pounds by the end of July. It’s possible, if I follow the plan and stick to it! So there are my goals: showing up early to do 2 training sessions, 3 additional cardio sessions, keeping a complete and accurate food chart, and then I’ll see the changes I long for.

I read recently in a book, “Don’t let anything you can change limit your life.” This is powerful. As I look back over the years of feeling inferior because of many things, but mostly my appearance due to weight issues, I realize that I allowed something that I could change limit my activities and relationships! No more! I’m on the road to health and that includes emotional and spiritual health as well as physical well-being. They are all interwoven. There’s no separating them.

Please allow me to encourage you to take those words to heart and make some decisions to change what you can change so that you don’t limit your living!

It just so happens that this weekend, March 12th, there is a Wellness Seminar at Lifegate Church from 9-4:30. There will be some excellent speakers, and topics that should interest you. Also, there will be professionals there to screen your blood pressure, spine and vision, all for free! Check out the link and try to come. The sessions I’m particularly interested in are: Creating a Personalized Fitness Plan (taught by real trainers), Overcoming Obstacles to Exercise (taught by Sara Garcia, a Wellness Advocate and motivational speaker), and The ABC’s of Managing Stress (taught by a Dr. of Psychology)! There are many more topics, all taught by professionals with plenty of experience. So, come check it out! It’s free!

Come and take your first step at making a change to expand your limits! See you there!

innate or not

February 25, 2011

I was at Fitness Together again yesterday. =) I go twice a week. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be able to go! I feel so healthy and strong and after years of being sick, I feel like a brand new person! I no longer feel old and decrepit! Now that is worth shouting about!

I was telling Nick (my trainer) about my sad revelation that after a year of working out, I still don’t have this workout thing ‘under my belt.’ How I thought that by now I would have become an avid workout junkie. That I’d wake up bouncing with excitement to go run or lift or whatever. That I’d just happily forgo whatever fattening food was in front of me knowing it was poison, certain death to my goals. Likewise, I’ve just assumed that people who workout always love working out, that it is innately a part of them, and that they never struggle with it. I always assumed there was a special workout grace for those lucky people who naturally gravitate toward athleticism. He smiled and said that to even those people it is still work. What? That’s not very encouraging to someone like me! But then again, it is. They still have to motivate themselves, as do I. It may not get easier, but at least it’s not easy for the naturals either. lol

Personally, I gravitate to sitting and reading, sitting and writing, sitting and working on my computer, sitting in the backyard enjoying the beauty or standing to cook! I consider pushing a grocery cart up and down the isles and carrying the bags in the house to be a workout!

Yesterday I was chatting with Deb at the dry cleaners about these things. She’s seen me change over the last year as I carry in dirty laundry and carry out freshly pressed shirts. She knows I’ve been a regular at Fitness Together just down the street, so she asked me how it’s been going. I shared my newest revelation of how it hasn’t gotten easy yet . . . and that it never will be easy, sigh.

She’s a runner. She’s been running for years! She told me that there were times she was unmotivated or wasn’t feeling all that well, but that she would keep at it because she was afraid if she stopped, she might not start up again! That’s what kept her running! We have something in common! That’s part of why I keep going! I’m not afraid if I stop I’ll never start up again, I’m fairly certain that will happen!

As I finished up my workout yesterday, Nick, as always, found the golden nugget of encouragement. He’s always so good at sifting through everything and seeing the improvement, the success, and pointing it out. He reminded me that even though I’d been extremely tired that morning (after flying in the night before – having taken 4 trips in 8 weeks!) that I showed up! That’s huge! He mentioned that I got out my food diary and started it up again, telling him about it so that I could be accountable. He said that is a great sign of change in my life. Monitoring my schedule, activity and eating and adjusting shows just how much I’ve learned over the last year.

He’s always so good at reminding me of the monumental steps I’ve taken, baby steps for me, yet life-changing significant steps all the same. (One small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind?) My friend Deanna reminds me regularly from whence I’ve come. It’s easy for me to forget the pneumonia, the dizziness, the weak heart, weak lungs, the multiple surgeries and weak muscles from all of that. Easy, because I want to forget. She reminds me and gets choked up just thinking about where I was and where I am now.

I may not be where I’d like to be. (But really, who ever is completely?) But, I’m not where I was, and I’m moving forward. That in itself is worth celebrating. Working out may never become easy, but Nick told me it shouldn’t. He said if it’s easy, then I’m not working myself hard enough. Why bother going through the motions but not gaining any benefit? Too many people settle for that. Workouts should be hard.

So, as I keep at it, I need to celebrate the little things, like the progression I’ve taken. Hate working out – dislike working out – seeing the benefits of working out – not hating working out – looking forward to working out because I will enjoy the benefits. I still wouldn’t get there without having to make and keep an appointment. The accountability is what gets me there! But at least I show up, and that’s progress!

Here’s to another year!

still at it

February 17, 2011

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day! I’m about to go out and enjoy it, but first I wanted to say that even though I haven’t kept you up to date on my Fitness Together progress, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up! To the contrary, I’ve been plugging away at this fitness thing for 13 months! It’s hard to believe, but I’m still at it (applause please, lol)!

What’s harder to believe, and I’m not proud to say this, is that even though I’ve been at it for over a year, it’s really no easier than it was (ok, maybe it is, a little!) Sticking with something that just doesn’t come naturally is just plain hard. I’ve never been an outdoorsy or athletic person. I think I could’ve been if I’d been brought up that way, but alas, I wasn’t.

We tend toward those things we are most comfortable with, whether or not they are good for us.

So, what I’m saying is, I’d like to tell you that if you stick with an exercise and eating plan, it’ll just become part of your life. Yes and no. If you stay intentional about it, it will. But if you drift back to your old ways, it won’t. Maybe after another year? I’ll let you know! I think the embarrassing truth may be that I’m always a batch of cookies or a bag of chocolate kisses away from blowing it. Hershey’s Kisses aren’t bad, but a whole bag of them is!

I love baking. My family likes it when I bake. I love being appreciated by my family for my baking/cooking. I love eating what I bake! Why would I give all that up!? Giving them up isn’t necessarily the answer – I’ve tried it and it just makes certain people (me) grumpy! A good compromise is doing less baking. I can still bake, just not as often. I can cook all I like, healthy dinners are a good substitute. Exercising to compensate for my goody-love is a wise plan also. I knew a police officer who told me once that the reason he worked out was so that he could eat what he wanted!

It’s sobering to own up to a reality in my life that I’m not proud of. Fitness will always have to be a deliberate choice for me. If I don’t stay focused and intentional, I’ll drift back to finding excuses for not getting to the gym or outside walking or running. I’ll drift back to being out of shape, out of energy, heavy, self-conscious and miserable. Wow, this is a good reminder of how I used to feel. Is it really worth feeling awful to laze back to my old bad habits? Hmmm, this puts everything in perspective. I’d rather have a little discipline daily than live a life of daily regret.

Recently my husband and I were on a week-long vacation where it was warm and sunny. Perfect weather for walking and running! Did I run or walk daily?  No. Did I go to the beautiful fitness room even once? No! The reason is this: for me, working out is still work! When I’m on vacation, I want to forget all work! I want to take a vacation from my problems, like my friend in my favorite movie, “What About Bob?”

The happy vacationing couple!

So, I gave myself permission to not work out. I walked up 275 stairs every morning and down that same number after being at the pool for a while. Sometimes I walked up those stairs two or three times a day. Les and I went for a beach walk one time because it was beautiful, not because I wanted exercise. I did nothing I didn’t want to do. (Isn’t that what makes a vacation so enjoyable anyway?) But I’m bummed that I didn’t want to.

Subconsciously it must have been bothering me. When I got home, I started having disturbing dreams – in them I was gaining weight, growing  bigger and bigger and stressing and stressing, my clothes wouldn’t fit – things like that. (I know I’m in trouble when I go to bed at night with the last thought on my mind being, “If I don’t make some changes tomorrow, I’m going to be in trouble. . . .”  Makes for a fitful night and a stressed out life!)

So, while I vacationed, I had a perfectly lovely time, but now I am home and am “back to work.”

I have to admit, it feels good to work out! Afterwards I’m always glad I went and put out the work. It just doesn’t come easily. I never get up in the morning with my first thought being, “Today, I can’t wait to workout. I think I’ll go right now!”

I guess what I’m trying to say is this, I would’ve thought that after a year of patterning my behavior and eating habits, it’d become natural. Although disappointing, at least I know where I stand and will just have to keep doing what I’m doing because it works, and because I feel terrific!

By the way, I ran more yesterday than I have in 6 years! I felt invigorated and happy! (I also could barely walk last night, but that’s beside the point!)

I’m still at it!

week 30

September 7, 2010

Recently Les and I were able to have lunch with a couple of friends from out-of-town. They are a couple of my all time favorite people! When I saw them and we hugged necks all around, Jan said it looked like I was still working out and asked if I still was. I said yes and asked why she thought I had stopped. She said that I hadn’t blogged about it in a while and figured I’d quit.

Oh, contraire! I quit blogging about it because I figured people were probably tired of hearing me go on and on about it!

I’m in week 30 (not counting the 3 weeks we were away, but I still worked out and ate right – mostly!)

There’s good news and bad news. The good is that I still love working out! I love knowing it’s scheduled and on my calendar and will happen. I love going and working really hard and feeling like I’m going to keel over or throw up because I’m working so hard. I love it because I know myself, and I would never ever EVER work myself that hard! I don’t like feeling that way at the time, but I know I’m working hard and that, I love! I love the way I feel when I’m done! Energized yet exhausted. Not sure how that happens, but it’s one of the best feelings on earth. I love the peace that working out brings to my heart – the fear of growing fatter over time is diminished because I’m burning calories while increasing muscle which increases my metabolism.

I still appreciate that Fitness Together is private. I don’t have to deal with a crowded room full of voluptuous, sexy bodies and feel old and worn and unattractive and out of shape and out of date and basically a ‘has been’ who oughta just go home and be fat and make room for the pretty bodies. Does anyone else ever feel that way when going to a big gym? Isn’t that pathetic?! LOL Okay, maybe not to that extreme, but I still feel uncomfortable at a gym.

I still appreciate the fact that my trainers are tuned in, to me, not the television and not staring off into space in utter boredom. It’s a very physical job they have keeping me working out and stretching and pressing me to go further than the time before. I’m grateful every time I go that they do such an excellent job helping me become stronger and healthier.

So, I know, you’re wondering, what’s the bad news then? How can there be any bad news?

The bad news is that I’m still me! Let me explain.

I’ve hit a wee slump where I’m tired of writing things down, tired of watching and calculating. It’s really not even hard, it’s just that I prefer to eat what I want when I want to, without restraint. So, the bad news is this: I still have to fight my natural (carnal) desires to have it my way. I want to be slim and strong but still be able to eat whatever I want in any portion I want it. It gets tiring to always have to tell myself ‘no.’ (read this with a whine:  waaaaaa, poor meeeeeeeee!)

So, it’s time to shake this off and remind myself that I feel better than I’ve felt in a decade, actually ever in my whole life, and the reason: working hard and making wise choices. It’s time to get back to the basics and plan ahead. Stock up on healthy groceries, check out the menu on-line and make my choice before going to a restaurant, knowing I’ll need to split the entree with someone or put half in a to-go box before I start eating. I need to remind myself to drink enough water during the day and to keep healthy snacks in my purse so I don’t make poor choices when I’m super hungry. (Actually, I should never get to the point of being that hungry, that’s why I have snacks with me. I’ve gotta keep that metabolism burning!)

Back to the basics. It isn’t rocket science, it’s just common every day wisdom. It’s the little things that can make a big difference. Little choices every day. Little steps get us where we are going. No magic pill. No magic exercise machine. Just good old common sense, consistency and persistence.

So, week 30 finds me strong, healthy, not infatuated, and renewing my resolve to keep at it and do my best because my life is a good thing to invest in. My husband, my children and future grandchildren will be so thankful that I did!

Here’s to week 30! Hoorah!