Fear as the Great Motivator

15 Sep


When talking to people over the years about how I began my weight-loss journey, I often describe my laziness. I’m a self-confessed, couch-potato bum. I wasn’t an active child. I come from a house full of readers. We may not know how to play sports, but we can navigate a library with ease.

But I got older, my ass got wider and every flight of steps began to look like Mount Everest. I knew I needed to make a change, but I’d never done anything like this before. Of course I hadn’t. That’s how I got into my situation in the first place. Besides dancing for a few years, physical activity was a foreign concept to me. And things that are foreign can be scary.

Fear is one of the biggest obstacles you will have to overcome as you embark on your weight-loss journey. It can be so powerful that it’s debilitating. You know how to walk, obviously, but you haven’t run since recess in elementary school. The last time you rode a bike it was a Huffy 10-speed. You haven’t taken a class since college almost 15 years ago. Doing these things will muck up your routine, and they’re all unfamiliar to you and the body you’ve developed.

Have you ever been so scared to something that you did it anyway just to relieve the anxiety of fear?

That was how I decided to just go for it. You’ll hear lots of disclaimers about not participating in any strenuous physical activity without your doctor’s consent. I’m a big believer in that, too. But after you’ve gotten the doc’s OK, the only thing holding you back is you and your fears.

So what are you really afraid of? That you’ll run out of breath? That you’ll hurt yourself? That you’ll make a fool of yourself? Let me help you out: you will do all those things and more.

If you’re brand new to the whole exercise thing, you will definitely get short of breath a lot faster than some of the other people around you. And you will deal with it. Never, ever push yourself to the point where you absolutely cannot breathe. But don’t shortchange yourself to the point where you’re not really working yourself. Always remember: oxygen is good.

A little pain got you scared? Again, you will deal. Your body is going to fight you so hard on the “damage” you’re about to do to it. You will ache in places you didn’t know could ache. I knew my hamstrings would get tight, but I never thought my butt muscles would betray me. That’s when I became good pals with my friend Epsom Salt. A quarter-to-half cup of that in a hot bath will ease a lot of your aches and pains. Or, if you’ve worked your legs overtime, an ice bath is the trick for you. Just think bath.

Humiliation is a fear we can all relate to. Who hasn’t tripped and fallen in front of others? Who among us hasn’t seen that one guy at the club looking like he’s having a seizure when he’s supposed to be doing the Dougie? It’s embarrassing to be the new person. But you won’t always be new. You will get the hang of things, you just have to keep trying. The person killing it in front of your Boot Camp class wasn’t always the star pupil. They tripped over their aerobics stepper just like you did. The fastest swimmer at your pool once had to doggy paddle to do laps. And then they got better, as will you.

Don’t let your fears keep you from doing what’s important to you. Use them as motivators to keep you moving on the right track.

What scares you most about working out? What steps can you take to overcome them and even use them to your advantage?

photo courtesy of Tumblr

Where There’s a Will…

10 Sep

medium_10911602524Misty Copeland is amazing. Have you seen her? Have you heard of her? She is a soloist for the American Ballet Theater.

I’m not sure how much you know about ballet. My own knowledge is slim. My history as a dancer is limited to one year in preschool, three years in high school and one year in college. But what I do know: ballet is a very difficult art form. As a dancer, you have to be highly attuned to every muscle in your body. You must have immense strength of both body and mind in order to precisely execute sublimely graceful movements. This takes years of training. Some of the best ballet dancers have been working at it since they were toddlers. Misty didn’t start receiving formal ballet training until she was 13.

Lots of naysayers gave her plenty of reasons why she shouldn’t pursue this dream: her age, her feet, her lack of training, her body. But she had the desire to keep moving and is now one of the most famous ballerina’s in the country.

Under Armour took note of this and decided to feature her in its new ad campaign: “I Will What I Want.”

I’m not big on brand loyalty. You find what you like, whether it’s a a well-known name or something in a bargain bin. But Under Armour may get a new customer out of me. Unlike some other fitness apparel brands, Under Armour is celebrating women who are passionate in their drive to achieve a goal. You have skiers, soccer players, tennis players and the like in these ads telling us how they kept after their goals, what it took for them to achieve them and why it was so important.

One of the campaign’s newest ads features Gisele Bundchen. Yes, Gisele of the idyllic life with a superstar-athlete husband, Victoria’s Secret contracts and amazing legs. But Gisele’s also had two children. Whatever you may think about celebrities, know that they are still human and pregnancy does…stuff to the body. Gisele’s showcases her strength in a place you wouldn’t think would naturally assume is her element: a boxing gym.

We’ve all heard white noise about the things we can and can’t do. The second you tell a few friends you’re going to start monitoring your diet, one of them will find a way to tell you all the ways you’ll fail. The day you step into the gym or the pool for the first time, someone will look at you like an alien. God forbid we don’t all start off with the perfect shape or the perfect dietary plan. Your weight-loss journey takes work. But more than that, it takes will.

Under Armour was brilliant in executing this campaign. They are showing how to, for lack of a better phrase, make your haters your motivators. You can do whatever you set your mind to, health-wise, career-wise, love-wise, whatever. It’s all about what you plan to do to achieve your goals. So muffle the white noise and get cracking.

What do you think of the ads? How do you get past the white noise of naysayers?

photo credit: notmydayjobphotography via photopin cc

A Song for You

8 Sep

For as long as I can remember, there have been songs praising the ample bottom. From “Da Butt” to “Rumpshaker” to “Back Dat Ass Up,” men have not been shy about their appreciation for a large posterior.

But somewhere along the way, women began to appreciate it as well. There’s been a sea change over the summer. Songs dedicated to well-sized rumps have, for the past couple of months, been sung by women. Jennifer Lopez, queen of big-butt kingdom, released a song with Pitbull called “Booty;” Nicki Minaj set YouTube on fire when she dropped “Anaconda;” and new artist Meghan Trainor is “All About That Bass.” Three women, differing in shape, age and career level, have taken it up themselves to reclaim the big-booty song.

And why shouldn’t they? Why shouldn’t any woman appreciate what she has?

I’m Skinny, Now What? isn’t about changing you. It’s about helping you along on your weight-loss journey. Part of that journey is accepting certain things about you. Either you can accept the things that can’t change, or you can struggle a lifetime trying to fix them.

For me, I’ve always had a large butt. Pre-puberty, I was elbows and knees—just ridiculously skinny—but still had a little something, something. Eventually hormones kicked in, growth spurts happened in weird places and I was graced with the cushion upon which I’m sitting now. The thing is that I’ve never had a problem with it. I’ve always been a little awkward, so there was no added anxiety with my new shape. When it came to weight loss, by boobs and my butt were the two things I didn’t want to lose. Both got smaller, but I haven’t flattened out yet.

I think that’s why I get a boost from the girl power that comes from these women appreciating themselves and telling others to either celebrate their shapes with them or don’t. If I don’t have a problem with certain—um—assets, then no one else should either. I’ve embraced by backside. But that’s me. You may not like what you’re sitting on. Then work to change it.

Like their male brethren, these songs come with a downside. Many people have taken issue with how the songs portray skinny women. Nicki and Meghan, specifically, call less-round women “skinny b—–s.” I can see both sides. There are some women who cannot gain weight no matter how hard they try. Maybe they’re envious of the curves your’re trying to lose. I can appreciate the songs as I feel they are talking about someone my size. But I feel my smaller sisters’ frustration with being blamed for society’s damnation of larger women.

American society as a whole values a smaller size. That’s just facts. The constant barrage of images of the ideal from in the media, and even not-so-subtle hints from family and friends, can be a real drag. Occasionally, we big-booty girls could stand a little pick me up. Having three ladies out there happily singing love songs to a round bum works in that capacity.

Jennifer, Nicki and Meghan are here to remind those of us big-booty girls to drop it like its hot if we feel it. And skinny women, you can do it to. These songs are supposed to be in fun. So let’s not tear each other down; let’s just twerk to “Anaconda.”

Do you have a song that you use as a pick me up? What do you think of women reclaiming big-booty music?


4 Sep

fod_snackEverybody snacks. It’s actually encouraged to keep your metabolism up. But while some people see a handful of almonds or some apple slices as ideal, others take to a back of Goldfish crackers and wash it down with a Cherry Coke.

Look, we’ve all slipped. But schools can sometimes be the worst. When I was in high school, my lunches consisted of cheese fries and a soda, chips and a soda, a soda or nothing at all. We had open lunch, so occasionally we’d go out and order Chinese food, McDonald’s, Taco Bell or Subway. Our menu options were…inadequate. We had a salad bar, but not a lot of veggie options (plus, I’ve never been a big fan of buffet lines). We had Domino’s delivered every day, but a daily slice of pizza was not always appetizing.

That was more than 15 years ago. Not much has changed. Some schools have done good work, and started their own snack bars. Others have banned soda machines. But not everyone has caught on. Many teens, faced with the opportunity to make their own decisions, will opt for a Snickers and an orange soda instead of some cucumber slices and some water for a snack. Honestly, a Snickers bar sounds more appetizing. Still it’s not always the right thing to do.

What kids need is someone to save them from themselves. They need a hero like Katniss or Tris. Or even Hit-Girl.

This video is hilarious, and not just because Michelle Obama wants to get back to watching “Frozen.” Chloe recognizing she’s not different from everyone else, she just likes apples? I died!

If you’ve got a teen, maybe they’ll get a kick out of this video, too. And maybe they’ll think twice about how that two-liter soda could turn them into a sugar zombie.

What did you think of the video? Have you ever turned into a sugar zombie?

photo courtesy of Funny or Die

End of Summer Vacation

2 Sep
This summer, I could have been doing more of this...

This summer, I could have been doing more of this…

The worst season of all is upon us, but don’t let that get you down. If you’re in New York, you’re experiencing the long-awaited heatwave that was promised at the end of May. Let’s use it to our advantage.

Yes, Labor Day is over. Though the wretched fall season won’t begin until Sept. 23, its’ Back to School and Back to Work for the rest of us. We took the summer off to lay about on the beach, in the grass, by the grill, etc. It was too nice outside to stay in the gym. Working out seemed like a good idea, but there were sooooo many concerts to go attend. Sure, we all ate lots of fresh fruits and veggies this summer, but those bottomless mimosas couldn’t be left alone on the table, could they?

We just have to come to grips with the work that’s ahead of us. So how do you turn off summer brain to prepare the grunt work of fall?

1. Deal. If the first step toward recovery is acceptance, the first step toward getting back on track is admitting you got off track. It happens to all of us. And you. Will. Deal! Don’t beat yourself up about it, just accept you’re at a new starting point.

But this seemed like more fun.

But this seemed like more fun.

2. How’d you get here? Summer days almost require laziness. From brunch to the day party to the concert in the park later that night, you’ve found yourself doing things you wouldn’t make time for in the fall or winter. For me, it wasn’t so much the lack of activity (though I didn’t grind as hard as I usually do during the year) as it was the alcohol. Between the vacations and brunches, I emptied a few cups. Alcohol causes your body to burn its calories faster, leaving the food you eat stored as fat. So, a lot of those omelettes went to my waist line.

3. Remember the fun times. Working out and monitoring your diet can be a drag. It’s no fun being the responsible one. But there had to have been a point in the journey where you not only enjoyed the fruits of your labor, you also enjoyed some of the laborious acts. Is there a dish you really enjoy making? Is there a class you haven’t been to in a while? When was the last time you saw your friends at the gym? One of the easy ways to stay off track is focusing on the negative. This is your journey, and having a negative attitude about it will keep you from doing good work.

4. The never-ending journey. The weight-loss process and healthy lifestyle aren’t just things you’re doing for a little while. Full commitment means understanding this is a life change. And in life you will stumble while trying to make yourself better. You didn’t fall off your diet. You didn’t stop your workout program. You didn’t pay much attention to what you were doing. We’re in the season now of getting it back together. Do that with the knowledge that your focus shifted for a short while on your lifetime journey.

I don’t know about you, but this summer was a fun one, even if it felt a little short. I got to see friends and family I hadn’t seen in a while. I took some awesome trips and met some really great people. I can incorporate this summer’s lessons into my lifetime journey, just as you can. Let’s do it, people!

How was your summer? Did you enjoy it so much you feel you may have gotten off the fitness track? What are your plans for fall?


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