Tag Archives: journey

Small Steps, Big Mountains

12 Feb
mountain climb

While climbing, stop every once in a while to appreciate how far you’ve come.

I think everyone has a bucket list. My list contains travel destinations. Most of my travel has been right here in these United States. But I got my passport for a reason, and it has only one stamp in it. Right now my top five destinations are Venice, Capetown, Fiji, Paris and Rio.

In a couple of weeks, I’m going to cross out Rio because I’m going…for Carnival! I’m super excited. Rio and Carnival have been on my bucket list for years, and now I’m finally reaching my goal.

Sometimes I wish I had been more focused on achieving some of my goals, other times I think complacency has worked for me. Complacency allowed me to appreciate what I have and the work I’d done so far. No, I hadn’t gone to Rio yet, but I had some awesome trips to Cancun and Puerto Rico. The same thing can happen on your weight-loss journey. You may not have lost all 50 of those pounds, but 30 is an amazing achievement. What I’ve found is that you can’t have blinders on as you go on this adventure; you’ll miss out on a lot.

At first, my goal was to lose an undetermined amount of weight before Puerto Rico. I lost about 20 before I got on the plane and my travel buddy saw me. She was more excited by appearance than I was. While I hadn’t set a firm goal for myself, the progress I was making showed me that I could do more than what I had so far. I couldn’t appreciate the little victory because it was, in my mind, a small step up a big mountain.  What I didn’t realize then was that it was still a step.

I’ve written before on this blog about perception vs. reality in terms of how others see you. One of the obstacles you’re going to have to overcome on your journey is facing your own perception. You may not be able to see all of the progress you’ve made, but you can feel it. You can feel how easily you breathe when climbing a flight of steps. You can feel your muscles working to curl the 8-pound weights when you started with the 3-pounders.

Along your journey you’ll have to learn to appreciate the small victories. One of the first for me came from a Facebook photo.  A couple of summers ago, I’d made some friends who were commenting on old photos on my page. When I replied that I didn’t look the same, I was asked to post some new pics. Jump to that weekend while out celebrating a friend’s birthday, I posted a club photo. It was posted in the middle of the night, the photo was slightly grainy and I was posed a little awkward (my days of “Top Model” viewing did not come in handy at two in the morning). The next day I awoke to dozens of likes and comments, all praising my “new” look. I didn’t know what to make of it, because I had grown used to the slimmed-down frame that was still 10 pounds away from goal weight.

What happened to me happens to a lot of people trying to lose weight. It’s the whole “a watched pot doesn’t boil” thing. You’re too wrapped up in the big goal, that you can’t appreciate the little victories you’ve achieved along the way.

Hard work is key to achieving your goal, and I don’t knock anyone who accepts that. My advice is to occasionally take a break, sit back and think about how far you’ve come. With determination, you’ll get to the top of your mountain and still appreciate the minor victories along the way.

photo credit: TroyMason via photopin cc

No Shame in the Game

20 Jan

photo courtesy of Annie Leibovitz/Vogue

I remember when I was a teenager, and my mom and I were shopping at the mall. I was wearing an oversized gray sweater and gray leggings with tennis shoes (trust me, I have elephant brain). As we were browsing the juniors section I hear a guy talking to his friends about the “big girl” looking at clothes too small for her. I tried not to pay too much attention to it, thinking he’s talking about someone else. But as I picked up a dress, he spoke a little louder about how I was so big I looked like a cloud (the gray) and how I needed to just put the dress down. My mom was out of earshot and on the other side of the section, so I just left and went to her.

I’ve lived most of my life well above 150 pounds on my 5-foot-2 frame. My skin has hardened to such comments, but my tolerance for bullying behavior like that has become vapor thin.

In the past few months, body-shaming has become more popular. Cloaked under the guise of drawing awareness, businesses like Lululemon, organizations like PETA and even feminist blog Jezebel have made it their business to point out their perceived flaws with a larger body type.

Last week “Girls” multi-hyphenate Lena Dunham appeared on the cover and in a nice spread for Vogue magazine. Vogue, like most fashion magazines, is known for extensive photo retouching of photos. A longer arm here, a slimmer neck there, lower lighting right there, it’s a thing that happens. But Jezabel, which has been an ardent supporter of Dunham’s for some time, offered $10,000 for unretouched photos.

Our desire to see these images pre-Photoshop is not about seeing what Dunham herself “really” looks like. …This is about Vogue, and what Vogue decides to do with a specific woman who has very publicly stated that she’s fine just the way she is.
Jezebel’s editor-in-chief Jessica Coen

Within a couple hours, the site got the images and Clawd’ve mercy, the images were retouched! Coen herself admitted that there wasn’t a big difference between the originals and the retouched ones. But she stood by her argument that this was about Vogue painting an unrealistic image. You what else is unrealistic? Makeup, pushup bras, high heels, spanx, hairspray, the lighting on “The View.” Everyone does something to make themselves look or feel better. Instagram feeds are full of filtered images to put people in the best light, but Jezabel has no qualms about that. Vogue has been doing this type of thing for years.

I see no problem with retouching as long as it’s not ridiculous. There’s one shot of Dunham where her arm is missing. There are some shots Vogue uses that make people look like bobbleheads. But there’s no need to shame Dunham’s body type, which isn’t totally uncommon to see, to make a point about a misperceived wrong.

Recently animal-rights group PETA was accused of fat-shaming by several media outlets for its “Plan V” campaign, PETA’s attempt to enter the reproduction debate with it’s own agenda. PETA wrote a letter to “population-stabilization” group Population Connection after a report came out that Plan B contraception may not work effectively on women over 176 pounds.

Fat shaming is not now, nor has it ever been, an effective way to get women’s weight under control. Weight is a very personal thing. It is probably the only outward aspect of a person that is still considered open for debate. It is also something that can be very hard to control.

One person’s beliefs shouldn’t dictate how you live your life. Further more, PETA should have done more research before suggesting that women over 176 pounds need to just go vegan so they can use Plan B. The animal-rights organization issued a statement after being called out for fat-shaming, saying that it only wanted to offer another option. The people behind the original statement didn’t take into account how sensitive an issue weight is.

If you ever feel yourself on the receiving end of this type of bullying, understand that whoever’s throwing it at you doesn’t really know you. Someone who loves you wouldn’t make you feel ashamed of being who you are. Whether you’re a work in progress or at the end of your weight-loss journey, it’s no one’s right to tell you how to look or live your life. Do you, boo!

I’ma Be Your Motivation

16 Jan
someecards.com - I exercise just to make you feel bad about not exercising.

Hey, it’s a reason.

I talk a lot on this blog about the necessity of keeping up with your workout. I’ve also talked a lot about how I’m not perfect and my love of Goldfish crackers and comfy sofas make this hard, but I still persevere.

I do this to show that I did not wake up like dih. I am a flawed human being. I go through phases, like most people, where I’d rather sit and clear out my DVR or binge-watch “Breaking Bad” than go to the gym. Hell, it took me five hours from the time I got up this morning to start writing this post. You know what I did in the meantime: nada. I read a couple chapters of a book; I walked my dog; I watched “Dexter” on Netflix; I took a nap. None of those things, besides walking the dog, was something that needed to be done. I just didn’t feel like it.

And that’s a problem that you’ll face on your journey toward your goal. Some days, no matter what, you just won’t feel like it. Everything under the sun sounds more appealing than exercising. You know what’s more fun than spin class? Puppy cuddling. What’s more appealing than Zumba? Cookies and a “Game of Thrones” marathon.

So how do you get past the allure of being sedentary?

1. Just Go. Really, that’s the first step. It’s always the hardest, but it’s the most important. Not many people ever really want to go to the gym unless they’re being paid for it. If it’s not your job, then you have to find some other motivation. Even though I may have stayed up too late the night before or the dog was hacking all night, I’ll force myself out of bed and go to the gym. I tell myself that the 20 minutes I’m going to do on the elliptical are more than most people will do all day. Those 20 minutes can turn into 25. Then I hop on the stationary bike for 15 minutes, which turns into another 20. By then I’ve done 45 minutes. And since I can be a little OCD, I’ll do 15 minutes on the treadmill to make it a full hour. All that by just getting out of bed and going.

2. Plan Ahead. If you’ve already made your meals for the week, got your clothes set out and scheduled time, there’s little in your way to keep you from doing your workout. Sometimes we need a little structure in our lives. So if you can’t function without time limits, this is the step for you. Preparation is necessary in any weight-loss plan, anyway. You don’t go scuba diving without instructions. You don’t start a weight-loss plan without knowing what you’re getting into. Just prepare yourself, and you’re ready to stay on track.

3. Make It Quick. You don’t have to go hard to get in a good workout. I have some exercise DVDs at home that are only 30 minutes. That’s it: 30 minutes! What else are you doing today that you can’t take 30 minutes out of your day? Really, I’m asking. Some of you have kids and spouses and mortgages. I have none of that. I have a 12-year-old dog who sleeps all day in my apartment. It’s easy for me to take time out for a quick workout. Out of the 24 hours in the day, is every minute of them accounted for? If not, try to consolidate about 30 to do something good for yourself.

4. Reward Yourself. I think this comes from childhood, but I sometimes feel I don’t deserve treats until my chores are done. For example: I can’t leave to meet friends until my home is straightened up. I don’t get dessert until the dishes are in the dishwasher. I haven’t earned that new dress until spin class is over. For me, it’s about earning points for a treat. So what do you do to treat yourself? Maybe you want the 10-minute massage after your mani-pedi. Well, you’ve got to earn it.

5. Take Pride in Doing Something Others Aren’t. I know this is bad, but it helps keep me motivated. When I leave the gym and have to go to the grocery store, there’s a little bit of pride that comes with my sweat stains. That pride comes from knowing I look awful, but I look awful for a reason. There are people at the store who look bad because it’s Tuesday. You’ve earned your worn-out look. Wear that badge with pride.

6. Vision/Pinterest Board It. What’s the light at the end of your tunnel? A good way to stick with any plan is to have a set of goals to achieve. If you plan on being beach-ready by summer, the best time to start is now. If you have a wedding in the fall, remember that fittings start in the summer. Put up pictures of what you want, be it a vacation in Nice or a destination wedding in St. Barths. Keep a reminder to yourself that you have a goal you need to achieve.

Women’s Health magazine compiled a list last year of a few things people need to do to stay on track. What do you do to keep yourself motivated?

Don’t Be Scurrd

6 Jan
someecards.com - My workout consists of walking around the office lying to people about going to the gym.

Don’t be this person.

Like I said last week, going to the gym for a newbie can be like being the new kid at school. You don’t know anyone, you don’t know the social structure and what the hell is that machine by the door?

There’s a lot of trepidation about joining a new gym, but that can be overcome. The thing about being the newbie is that you’re free to mess up and blame it on ignorance. Trip over your shoelace? Eh, no biggie. Get behind in the steps at Zumba. You’re in the back, no one’s paying attention.

Newbies, like the rest of us, have freedom to define their workouts according to their needs. A story in the Daily Mail siting a story in Cosmopolitan Body gives the usual reasons people don’t want to go: too lazy or the gym is too busy. The responses that bothered me most were “think the regulars dominate it” ( 12% women, 10% men) and “think they’re not fit enough to join” (15% women, 4% men). Women are struggling with a the great #FOWO (fear of working out)

Women who feel embarrassed when exercising outnumber men by two to one, with other people noticing them and feeling unfit deemed the main reasons for feeling uncomfortable.
Daily Mail article

I understand it. I was there in the beginning. The gym can be a daunting place and new things can be scary. But fear is a flimsy excuse for not doing the things you want, especially if those things are good for you. Who cares if some jacked-up shmoe looks at you sideways because you went for the 20-pound dumbbells when you should be picking of the 3-pounders? Screw that dink. You live and you learn. No one should be paying that much attention to you in the first place unless you know them.

Also, no one is ever “fit enough” for gym. That’s why we’re all there. Everyone is working on improvement. People are at the gym to get some type of result, be it to maintain, lose or even gain. As I’ve said before on this blog, we’re all works in progress. Think of it this way: the weight loss journey is a crowded highway full of single drivers. We’re all going to the same place, but you’re doing it as an individual. Because of that, most people at the gym are too focused on what they have to do to let your little slip ups get them down.

While on this individual journey, don’t forget to stop and ask for directions. Talk to the trainers. At commercial gyms like an Equinox or Bally’s, trainers can be like Tuesday afternoon salespeople at Macy’s. He’s bored or he’s talking to his co-workers because he has nothing to do. The next paid client doesn’t come in for another hour. That’s plenty of time to ask him about proper form for a lunge or three exercises to do to work on your upper back. Now look at you. You’ve made a new friend!

If all of the trainers are busy, you can ask one of the veteran gym rats. When you’re working out, you’re building endorphins and therefore super excited to help. You can also glance (don’t leer) around the gym at what others are doing. People watch.

The weight-loss process is trial and error. You will hit a couple bumps in the road on your way to your goal, but you’ll get there with dedication and effort. Do what works for you and you’ll be happier.

Beware the Resolution Crowd

30 Dec

new_yearsThe new year is only two days away, and we all know what happens at midnight: champagne, kisses and promises likely to be broken.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. It’s just a vow to do something that you should have been doing in the first place. I stopped making them a long time ago. The few resolutions I’ve made in years past haven’t stuck (like to stop swearing, dammit).

Everyone has a list of goals that they want to achieve, and the new year brings about a fresh start. I get it. What better time than at midnight on the first day of new year than to wipe the slate clean?

The problem I have is with a certain sect of revelers who need a new beginning. I’m talking about the resolution fitness crowd. As a person who is supposed to support those going through their fitness journeys, I recognize my own hypocrisy in saying how much I dread the resolution crowd. They can be just…the worst.

Maybe it’s because every day until January 1, many washed down their slices of cake with bottles of beer. Maybe it’s because the first week of the new year offers all kinds of neat gym promotions. Or maybe it’s because they vowed to get out of the house more and why not let the gym be the new meeting ground.

If you’re part of the resolution crowd, let me first say congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward achieving a goal you’ve set out for yourself. However, don’t become the person we gym rats love to hate.

Gym rats cannot stand the first few weeks of the year. Many in the resolution crowd have gotten gym memberships in their stockings. Many of them haven’t set foot in a gym since this thing was popular.

We’re all working toward the same goal, but there has got to be a way for the rookies and the pros to co-exist. I mean, they do it in the NBA every year, right?

My suggestion is for the vets to help the newbies out. If you see these people at your gym, kindly point out not what they’re doing wrong, but how they can maximize the amount of effort their putting forth (see what I did there?):

The Machine Newbie: This person hasn’t set foot in any type of gym since high school and definitely hasn’t taken two steps on a treadmill before. You will often see him poking at the buttons and wondering why it hasn’t started yet. Instead of giving your go-to exasperated sigh, help him out by hitting Quick Start and reminding him that there’s a 30-minute time limit for machines.

The Fashion Star: This person hasn’t been to the gym since she got right for her trip to Ibiza. The joys of fall food and Christmas cookies have taken their toll, but the real impetus to get back at it is the new workout gear hubby bought her for Christmas. She’s really there to catch up with the trainers and let them ooh and ahh about her new sports bra before hitting the shower. You’re not going to see her until her next beach trip, so you can just bypass her until you need a new vacation buddy.

The Training Groups: Gyms have this little habit of offering discounts for group sessions. That’s fab; I’m all about saving a buck. The problem starts when four or five friends—after three bottles each of New Year’s bubbly—decide it’s time to get back in shape. Never hold people to the promises they made while drunk. The person who thought of this grand idea will only show up to the first class. Two more will drop out and soon there’s there’s just one lonely person left. To my vets, I say go make friends with that person. They’re really trying to help themselves and could use a little extra encouragement. And maybe you can get in on that group discount.

Resolutions can be a good way to keep yourself in check. It’s always good give yourself an annual review (your job does it). For that reason, I can’t hate the resolution crowd too much. Just don’t hog my machine!

Anyway, what are some of the promises you’d like to keep to yourself? And Happy New Year!

photo credit: ViaMoi via photopin cc