Thursday, June 21, 2012

Let's be honest....

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've been struggling this week with my own motivation to work out.  I've been eating ok, but I have been feeling rather uncomfortable in my own skin and frustrated with myself for getting in my own way and, in some twisted way, intentionally sabotaging my own happiness.

Just having a sad panda kind of day.
Everything in my life is going pretty great at the moment: I just started a new job & I really enjoy it, I just made it "official" with my boyfriend, it's is good.  But with all of this good comes a lot of change and change causes me anxiety.  As I've talked about before , this kind of anxiety manifests itself to me a via food and exercise obsession.  I am having trouble letting myself simply sit with that anxiety and instead I am taking it on myself by not exercising and focusing my energy on how "lazy" and "fat" I am.

I was thinking about all of this tonight when I came across this article in my favorite British tabloid: The Daily Mail.  In short, a judge ruled that a hospital must force feed an anorexic woman, aged 30, who was in danger of dying, despite both the girl AND her parents saying it is the girl's choice whether she lives or dies.  I really don't know where I stand on this issue.

When I was in the worst of my disorder I knew that if I did not do something to pull myself out of the misery that was my day to day existence that there was a good chance I'd end up another statistic of the disease.  (Eating disorders are the most fatal of all psychological diseases with the most common cause of death being from suicide.)  I was fortunate enough to be able to cling to some sliver of hope and decided on my own to get the help that I needed.  But that was the key: *I* decided.  No one forced me.

Can help be effective when it is forced and not willingly entered into by the sufferer?  I tend to not think so.  When my best friend confronted me about my issues and told me I needed to get help, I got a lot worse.  It wasn't until *I* made the decision to get help that I actually got better.  So what does forced treatment for this girl do?  Keeps her physically alive, yes.  But what good is being physically alive if you hate every second of it?  So what's the alternative?  Let her kill herself?  That doesn't seem like a good option either.  What's the happy medium?

Living in recovery from an eating disorder is like asking an alcoholic to move into a bar.  You still have to deal with you triggering substance every day of your life.  I'm not saying I have the answer to this problem. But when I see articles like these and I know most readers are probably thinking how obvious a solution seems to them, I feel like I must speak up, as someone who can see the situation from both perspectives.

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rut busting.

I may be blogging about fitness, a spin teacher, and getting certified as a pilates trainer, BUT that doesn't mean that I am immune to the occasional bout of the fitness rut.  You know the feeling.  You've been on a long streak of working out, feeling great, bouncing to the gym in the morning, and then one week you decide to take it easy and the next, you CANNOT get yourself out of bed, no matter how many alarms you set.  This is fine, and needed, on occasion.  But what happens when it drags on?  When two weeks drags into three and suddenly your jeans are feeling a bit more snug.  How do you bust out of it?

That's part of the reason I issued the Monday Morning Motivation 10 minute challenge.  As much for you as for me.  Maybe even (seflishly) more for me.  I am having a hell of a time meeting my weekly goal of 3 cardio workouts a week.  So I went back to basics by focusing on just 10 minutes a day.  Here are some other tricks I use to pull myself out of a fitness rut:

- Eat better:  If I'm skipping the workouts I at least try to rein in my snacking a little bit so that I don't get SO panicky and so, "eff it, I've screwed up, now I'm going to screw up in a BIG way" and start ordering stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut.  Less Cheez-Itz, more carrots.  If I'm doing something healthy for myself, I am much more likely to get out of my own way and back on the fitness wagon faster.
Does your treadmill look like this?
You might be in a rut.

- Take the stairs: OK so walking up 5 flights may not be equivalent to a full spin class but it's better than nothing.  And sneaking in activity reminds my body that it actually does like to move.  When you're in one of these ruts I think it's important to not become lazier than a sloth or you'll never get back on track.

- Change it up: I've been working out in the morning forEVER.  So during this period of rut-ness, I've switched my workouts to the evening.  I don't want to stay on this schedule forever, but for now, it's the difference between not working out at all and doing something.  I've also been running by the beach instead of on the treadmill.  Little breaks from your routine can make a big difference.

- Commit to a new fitness endeavor & tell people about it: I am a loudmouth.  I like to brag about my fitness achievements.  So if I sign up for a 5k and start telling people about it, I would rather gargle with ground glass then not do it.  I am too proud.  This doesn't work for everyone but is a GREAT motivator for me.

The most important thing I think you can do when you're stuck in a fitness rut is to not beat yourself up about it.  That doesn't give you license to sit on the couch and eat bon bons and tell yourself it's ok, but you don't need to berate yourself 8 hours a day either.  We ALL go through this at one time or another.  It's ok to have short "off" periods.  Just be sure to keep an eye on yourself and keep trying to do little things throughout the rut and trying out new activities, workout schedules, or trainers until you bust out of it.

I'd love to hear your rut busting techniques so leave a comment or tweet me!

Monday, June 18, 2012

You get what you give: not just a one hit wonder.

Sadly, since I'm a pop culture addict, the phrase "You get what you give," brings to memories a one hit wonder band from the 90's called The New Radicals.  My boyfriend when I was 16 (hi, Tim!) was one of four people in America to buy the full album, so I heard the song often.  Thus, whenever this cliche is uttered I immediately start singing, "Wake! Up! Kids!  We've got the dreamers disease, age, 14, they got you down on your knees, da da da *mumble mumble* you only GET WHAT YOU GIIIIIVE!"  ((Check out this cute little video to hear it in all its train wreck glory. Oooh, penguins! )

Remember these guys? either.
What does this have to do anything?  Well, for one, the story amuses me, BUT the real reason I started on this tangent is because no where does the phrase "You get what you give" ring more true than in the gym.  This is what got me hooked on spin.  Sure, when you run a mile, you're only running as fast as you can push yourself,  but since I don't give a crap about running fast this was never a motivating factor for me.  BUT, put me in a dark room with Britney Spears blasting and some muscley sweaty man yelling at me to move my ass and I channel my hatred towards him into a killer workout that leaves me wanting to make sweet, sweet love to him by the end of class. (Damn you endorphins.)

I remind my students of this when I'm teaching my own classes: why did you drag your ass out of bed at 6am this morning?  To watch me work out?  I don't think so.  The ONLY person you are cheating when you don't give as much as you can during a workout is....yourself.  Sucks, doesn't it?  You think I don't see you pretending to twist the resistance knob to the right as we climb a hill in class?  I do, but even if I didn't, it doesn't mean you burned more calories because you were able to "trick" me.

Whether you want bigger muscles or a smaller size of Sevens, the ONLY person who can make that happen is YOU.  If you're not willing to put in the blood, sweat, and hours it takes to train and to shop for healthy food, then your dream will remain that: a dream.  

Whining doesn't burn calories.

Drop and gimme 10! - Monday Morning Motivation

Happy Monday Morning, ya'll!

Challenge of the Week

Get off your lazy butt and do 10 minutes of some kind of physical activity.

No GPS needed for this road map, just grab your MMM!
Like I said, I don't care if this is daily or just once this week, I want you to get out there and do just 10 minutes of exercise.  Try to pay attention to how your body and mind are feeling during the 10 minutes, but if the only thing you can is, "God, I hate this, how long til these 10 minutes are up?" then I give you full permission to zone out and think about something else completely.  We can work on visualization during another challenge.  This week, your sole focus is 10 minutes of activity.

Let me know how it goes!

Monday Morning Motivation - How it Works

Hello and welcome to a new blog feature!

A few MMM challenges & you'll have
sweet lats like him in no time!
Since I A) love alliteration, B) am lacking creativity while thinking of this blog post and C) love to achieve mini goals, I am starting up this motivational section.  Here's how it works:

Each Monday morning I'll post a new challenge, based on some things that I talked about in the previous week's postings.  What you do with this challenge is up to you: maybe you choose to complete it on Monday and that's it.  Maybe you want to do it 3 days a week, maybe 5.  It's your challenge, do what you want with it.

All I ask is that you commit to completing this task ONE time during the week.  And tell me about it.

Comment, send me an email, tweet me, whatever.  I am your one woman fitness cheerleader but I need to have things to be cheering about.

Now let's do this damn thing.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Affirmations: not just a bunch of touchy feely BS.

The Holstee Manifesto.  My guidelines for life.
When I was in the beginning of my struggles with my eating disorder, one of my biggest reasons for resisting help was because I hated what I perceived therapy to be.  I thought of it as a bunch of relaxation exercises with hippie dippie instructions like, "Feel the river filling up your body and washing away your worries."   I figured my eyeballs would get stuck staring at the ceiling because I'd be rolling them so much.  This is also why yoga has never resonated with me.  (I have since learned that there are many different styles of yoga so please, yoginis, don't freak out on me.)

I was very surprised when I went to therapy for the first time and found that there are a lot of therapists who understand my want and need to be able to explain my feelings in a logical way.  It doesn't have to be new age-y music and waving bundles of sage around.

But there is one thing that even the most practical of therapists continued to suggest to me and I continued to resist: affirmations.

I hated the idea of looking at myself in the mirror and a la Stuart Smalley saying cheesy stuff like, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me."  I still hate it.  But one day my roommate/life coach changed my whole perception of these nifty mind tricks.

She had heard a story on NPR that talked about affirmations that presented them simply as affirmative statements to yourself.  I guess that's kind of what Stuart Smalley does, but this seemed way less hokey.  For instance, one of hers was, "I will floss my teeth today."  Not, "I will floss my teeth in order to feel my healthy beautiful gums flourishing in all their grandeur," simply, "I'll floss."  Well, now that I could do!

I've been doing it for the past few weeks and color me shocked, it actually helps!  Starting the day off with a practical discussion with myself keeps my brain on the straight and narrow without making it a gag inducing "affirmation" that I'd never take seriously.  I've even found "affirmation art" like the Holstee manifesto at the top of this post that resonates with me in a positive way without laying it on too thick.  (You can purchase it here.)

So if, like me, you find affirmations too hokey, try to think of it as simply giving yourself a pep talk.  To use a sports metaphor that even your boyfriend could be into: you are the coach of your life.  A good coach never lets the players on the field without firing them up first, why be a player in your life without the same thing?

Ten, hut!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Give me 10 minutes.

Listen up, folks!  I'm about to let you in on the only 10 minute exercise plan that will actually work.  Guarantee it!  No Jersey Shore meat head endorsements, no clearly photo shopped before and after photos, no overpriced horrible tasting supplements to buy.  This will get you on the path to fitness, change your body, and send feel good signals to your brain and the best part is: it's free.

"Lies!" you say.  "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is!"  Well yes, my wise fitness-y grasshopper, usually that is the case.  But this time, it's as easy as it sounds.

OK Homer, but give me 10 minutes on the treadmill first!
Tomorrow when you wake up, (or head out of the office, depending on your exercise schedule) dreading your workout, I want you to tell yourself, "All I have to do is run/bike/hike/swim/spin/boot camp for 10 minutes."  10 minutes.  That's it.  And after 10 minutes if you would rather stick forks in your eyes then do another minute of physical activity, you can stop.  For real.  Go sit down on the couch and open a beer for all I care.  What I do care about is those 10 minutes.

You see, one of my favorite things about exercise, in addition to making us fit into our clothes, is that once you start doing it, your body releases these nifty little hormones called endorphins.  Know when else your brain lets these fun little chemicals out to play?  During an orgasm.  So it's true, exercise really IS as good as sex!

My point is: once you start doing a physical activity, even if you try to make excuses to yourself that would put a 7th grader who forgot to do his homework to shame, chances are you'll keep going for longer than your initial 10 minutes.  You'll be hitting your running stride, checking out that cute girl/guy on the treadmill next to you, and next thing you know 10 minutes are up.  And since you've already driven to the gym/hiking path/pool, found parking, and dealt with that annoying guy at the front desk who always calls you "bruh", you might as well continue kicking ass and taking names for another 20 minutes or more.

Everyone can find 10 minutes. And heck, if you need another reason to give it a shot think about this: every 10 minutes you exercise, somewhere a Kardashian loses it (and it's crappy weight loss product endorsement) wings.

Don't let the terrorists win.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Change sucks, and that's ok.

If you're a thinking, feeling human being reading this post, and not just some spambot, (or the Canadian porn star serial killer) then you probably already know this, but I'll say it anyway: Change is HARD.   It wreaks havoc on your emotions, your lifestyle, and if you're an emotional eater like me, your body.  I have tried reading countless inspirational quotes to chase the negativity away, have recited numerous affirmations to myself on a daily basis and yet I still have days where I want to crawl into bed with Twitter and a pile of chocolate and not face any of the daily struggles that surround big changes.

Change is hard.  Have a meltdown, but don't give up.

Deciding to lose weight or get fit means there are going to be changes in your lifestyle.  And what many people don't realize when declaring, "I'm going to lose 20 pounds!" is how uncomfortable those changes can be.  They go to their first summer BBQ, feeling sanctimonious about their new lease on life, and they shun the hot dogs and beer, no problem.  But then they have a bad week and next thing you know they're saying, "To hell with it!" and piling their plate with potato salad.

In order for a muscle to become stronger it has to be broken down.  This is what happens when you lift weights.  When you challenge your muscles with resistance you make micro-tears in them.  When these tears repair themselves, your muscle builds back stronger and larger.  (This is a very simple explanation of a complex process, so if you want to understand this further, don't listen to me, read more here .)  Lifting weights doesn't feel like skipping among the tulips.  It's WORK!  And life, like your muscles, works the same way.

We are inundated with so many positive messages about how fun and easy change is, (thanks, Oprah!) that I think we often are surprised when we go to make our own changes and experience a lot of discomfort.  What the Dr. Phil's of the world don't talk about is how much of a struggle change can be on a daily basis.

Well, no more.  I'll be the first to tell you, "CHANGE SUCKS!"

It forces you out of your comfort zone, it makes you break habits that are familiar and comfortable, and it requires you to take a risk.  It's going to make you mad, anxious, and frustrated.  AND THAT'S OK.   I give you my blessing to have an epic meltdown at least once during your process of change.  I promise you one day even Heidi Klum collapsed at the end of her treadmill in tears while she was trying to lose her baby weight.

So stop beating yourself up for being human, but whatever you do, DON'T stop pursuing your goal.   The end always justifies the means.