Expectation, Ego and the Quest to be Less Wrong

Mindfulness, Self Improvement
18716459_10209162108235304_724775465_n
This meme and its cousin, the, “I’m just going to sit over here and watch Karma do its thing” meme say a lot about the person posting and little about the person it’s aimed ever so passive-aggressively at.
I’ve posted it before. It’s possible (read highly probable) that it has been posted about me before.
The truth is we’ve all been turds to someone. Some we may have felt deserved it, some not so much.
In the transition time after I learned to set boundaries, I experienced my fair share of bad behavior.
For some folks, I was like their drug dealer, doling out advice and fitness plans and a huge share of my time that lifted them up and made them feel good as long as I was doing the work. When I cut them off, they went into withdrawals, threw fits and ultimately left, blaming me and accusing me of not being at all what I tried to make everyone believe I was.
For others, I had set expectations for myself, or them, that were not realistic. I expected people to act like real friends when they had never really signed up for that position, and I got angry when they didn’t act like a friend should. I put friend responsibility on people who were only passers-by in my life. When they got tired of carrying the anchor I had handed them, and they had politely taken, they dumped it and ran.
And there are some folks who really are just crappy people, but even those people, the energy vampires, the moochers, the boundary stompers, the bamboozlers, the time thieves, the flimflammers, the double-cro…. oh, sorry there, got carried away. Even the not-so-nice folks have mamas who love them. And that’s all I’ll say about them….in this post, lol
A guy who loves his mom
But for the large majority of folks, we really just ended up trying to make something work that didn’t want to. We set expectations, rallied our egos around them, and then sent out a search party looking for Blame when it all came crumbling down.
The reality is, when the search party came back with this meme, it was looking for validation that you were less wrong, that the only real crime was that you allowed such a terrible, terrible person to fool you. I mean, that has to be the only reason things fell apart, right??
When we post this meme, or sic Karma (not how Karma works. It isn’t an attack dog) on someone all whilst swearing we “would never wish anything bad on anyone, but…”, we are ignoring the fact that the world does not revolve around our feet. That outside of our realm of possibility exists a whole big world, where someone who told you off, or hurt your feelings, also goes and very genuinely volunteers at a soup kitchen, or who happily and willingly helps friends and neighbors move or paint. This person might have a big circle of real friends who would drop everything for them.
This also applies to myself. I’ve learned to accept (and occasionally, depending on circumstance, revel in the thought) that some folks think I’m an arse. A big one. In a very few cases, I’ve earned it. In other cases, I finally jumped off a pedestal I didn’t belong on, but was clinging to because my ego enjoyed the attention. And in some cases, I stopped allowing folks to break rules that I had never made clear in the first place.
I know people to whom I wouldn’t hand extra toilet paper under a stall partition after a Number Two, who I still can imagine are really good people outside of my world. And, despite the fact I could leave someone paperless, I am too.
When we point one finger at someone else we would be well served to focus on the three pointing back at us. We have the power to change the person they are pointing at, IF we’ll admit that we are wrong. Not just less wrong,

You’re Afraid of Success

Fear, first steps, motivation, Success

You’re Afraid to Succeed…

 

Today, I’m going to argue that the reason you keep buying the quick fix diet plans and the body demolishing home workout routines is not because of your “deeply ingrained will to win”, it is actually because you are AFRAID to succeed.

 

I’m going to argue that it is actually your COMFORT in failure that keeps driving you back to body wraps, diet shakes, and tiny pills that promise to make you tinier too…

 

I’m going to tell you that because you’ve been living in the mire for so long, and since you gussied it up with a few shelves and a couple nice Pinteresty-spruce-it-up projects, you’ve gotten comfortable there…

 

You just haven’t gotten comfortable with the idea of being comfortable there.

 

And by “there”, I mean in your mind and in your body.

 

So you jump into the things that promise they are the quickest way to succeed, but they are also “super tough” so you can be proud that you are working hard enough while taking the short cut.

 

But, there are a few rules.

 

And, you must play by the rules.

 

Restriction.  Work harder. HARDER. Nope. If you were working hard enough it would be working. You would be tiny by now. KEEP GOING!

 

There should be plenty of blood, sweat and tears. Preferably in that exact order.

 

If there is not blood, sweat and tears, in dire enough proportions, you’ll need to detox. It’s imperative.

 

Forget about your liver. It’s lazy. It doesn’t know what it’s doing.

 

Now, you’re really going to dig in. Then you can relax a little. But not too much. There is always work to be done. Things that need fixing.

 

Relapse.

 

Binge.

 

Shame.

 

*SIGH*

 

Aaaaa, back to your comfort zone.

 

Whew! And this time you thought you were almost there, too.

 

Man, you were ALMOST successful.

 

Thank God, you jumped at the last minute.

 

I mean….

 

Who knows what could have happened had you actually been successful this time.

 

I mean, what if we got there and it wasn’t as good as we hoped?

 

What if we still didn’t feel good enough?

 

“What if it was too much work and I don’t know how to do it and what if it’s lonely there and what if I can never have fun again and what if no one likes me after all the work and what if…..

 

I still don’t like ME after all the work?”

 

What if…..

 

What if….

 

This is where I must stop you.

 

I must interject.

 

I need you to know something.

 

Will you hear me?

 

I need you to know that you are perfectly good enough.

 

Right where you are.

 

And you HAVE been all along.

 

And knowing this will be your GREATEST success of all time.

 

Don’t fear it.

 

Don’t be afraid of YOU.

 

Take a deep breath.

 

Put one hand over your heart.

 

Now, with your hand on your chest still, talk. Out loud.

 

Hear that vibration and between it the beats of your heart.

 

That heart  and the vibration of that voice into the world is what makes you the most wonderfully exceptional, tremendously superb, lively living version of YOU.

 

Now place a hand on your belly.

 

That belly, that soft, squishy belly that causes you to wince at its sight. The belly that makes you feel never good enough.

 

Look at it.

 

Tell yourself, it was NEVER meant to be used as a ruler to indicate your measure as a human.

 

That belly and everything connected to it house that heart, and that voice of yours.

 

That belly does not determine how loud you may speak, or how much food you may eat, or your worthiness to be photographed.

Or loved.

If success actually means loving yourself right now, right where you are sitting, just as you are…

 

You MUST stop being afraid of success.

 

It’s time to grow.

 

happyblackwoman

 

The magazines and televisions shows, the shakes and the wraps, and the people who push them:

 

They will NEVER accept you as you are.

 

If you succeed, how will they profit?

 

For your monthly fees and charges, you have been given a lifetime pass on the Ferris Wheel of Perpetual Dieting.

And just as it approaches the point you think you’ve made it, it WHIRS on by and you pay for another turn.

Meanwhile, everyone is laughing and smiling and waving and telling you to keep going, and isn’t this fun, and won’t it be a grand day when success finally comes.

But then you whir on by again.

It isn’t your fault. You’re not actually at the helm of that ride.

 

Is your hand still on your chest? Do you still feel that vibration and that heart beat?

It’s time to put them to use.

It’s time to YELL and SCREAM that you want off the ride!

Tell them you are done riding the Ferris Wheel of Perpetual Dieting.

 

They’ll try to convince you that you still NEED the ride.

You aren’t fixed yet. You aren’t healthy enough. You aren’t fit enough.

You aren’t tough enough.

You aren’t worthy enough.

YOU aren’t enough.

 

But you are already walking away.

You aren’t afraid of success anymore.

Or you are.

But you are ready to try it anyway.

 

And there are MANY MANY MANY of us here for you.

WITH YOU.

 

27528-nelson-mandela-quote-your-playing-small-does-not-serve-the-world

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sports Bras, Menstrual Frustration and Stretchy Pants: A Fit Woman’s Survival Guide

first steps, motivation, Self confidence, strength training

My memories of track and cross country practice in high school include visions of pony tails whipping back and forth in time with the rhythm of my footsteps. Laughter of team mates. Cool shoes. Mountain air.

Life was good.

And it was carefree.

Mostly.

My body was young and resilient. My boobs weren’t big enough to need much more than a bandaid to control them, and when Aunt Flow came calling each month, I’d terrorize my family with my moodiness and move along.

So, what happened in the 17 years since high school?

When did my boobs decide to start sightseeing and visiting the neighbors if they aren’t tethered tightly to my body?

When did I begin feeling like Smokey the Bear was talking to my thighs when he pointed so accusingly and said, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!”.

And when, DEAR LORD, did I feel the need to switch from tracking my menses in the calendar with cute little red hearts to marking giant red angry X’s and then just ripping out the entire calendar page and shredding it into itsy bitsy pieces?

When did that start??

Who knows. What I do know is that for several years I resigned myself to believing that this is just how life is now. I felt like a 30-something-year-old in a teenager’s world where the only time I have a thigh gap is when I slip in the melted ice cream I dropped while eating it from the carton in front of the freezer and do a split.

When, seven years ago, I decided it was time to rediscover my new 30 year-old version of healthy, I experienced many setbacks, encountered plenty of roadblocks and discovered a few things that were just plain old annoying and uncomfortable. Let’s talk about those.

Taming ”The Ladies”

Chaffing, bouncing, swaying, flopping, wardrobe malfunctions, the “uni-boob”.

Sports bras weren’t commercially sold until the mid 1970’s, and were barely better than their not so sporty counterparts. You’d think in the amount of time since then, we wouldn’t still be forced to suffer such busty injustice (too much??)

Fret not! There are some FANTASTIC options out there!

First, know that sports bras come in basically two types: encapsulating and compression. Some bras can be both types in one. But not all bras are created equal, no matter which type you prefer.

My recommendations:

For those of us who could probably still wear a trainer if it weren’t for downhill runs and Spartan Burpees, I highly recommend Moving Comfort (I actually recommend this bra for everyone). I have no specific preference for which Moving Comfort bra, they have all been lovely. They offer both types of bras and come in tons of awesome colors and patterns. The sizes range from A to E cup.

http://www.titlenine.com/product/320183.do?sortby=ourPicks&refType=4

For large breasted women, Enell is a MUST. These bras can be pricey and may require work to get into, but there is NO better bra for cinching the ladies up before you do work. I have a friend who cut SEVERAL minutes off her mile time simply by switching from a double bra set up to an Enell. These are available online and are worth every single penny you will pay. The sizes cover up to a 60 inch bust and 53 inches at the ribs or can be custom made.

http://enell.com/enell-sport.html

Another highly recommended sports bra brand is Victoria’s Secret. I only recently discovered these within the past few months, but they are a game changer for those of us who still like to be fashionable while we sweat. My favorite is the Knockout Front Close Sports Bra. It is a stylish maximum support bra within a bra that doesn’t play!

https://www.victoriassecret.com/victorias-secret-sport/sports-bras/knockout-by-victorias-secret-front-close-sport-bra-victorias-secret-sport?cm_sp=&ProductID=270930&CatalogueType=OLS

I cannot stress enough how important a good bra is for your performance. DO NOT sacrifice comfort  for style. No matter which bra you choose find one that has the right amount of support for the specific tasks you are performing. The more comfortable you are, the better you feel, and the better you’ll perform. INVEST in a GREAT quality bra.

YOU. ARE. WORTH. IT

If you are starting your collection from scratch, go for a versatile, black bra. Who cares if it shows through your workout wear. Madonna made it work. 😉

Menstrual Frustration: Learning to Go With the Flow

Let me start by saying that this section is most certainly going to be TMI for some readers. I am going to provide some personal insight into my experiences dealing with my period while trying to not only stay fit myself, but while staying busy training others. We are going to talk about blood and the places it comes from. If you are unable to handle this, please skip to section three where we talk about how we can prevent forest fires. 🙂

Now, for the rest of us…

Let’s dive right in.

Trying to work out while menstruating is EFFING hard.

Pads are NOT an option. The bunching, chaffing and pure unbearableness of the YUCK factor is definitely a NO GO while at the gym or on the trails.

Without seeking surgical options, for many of us this only leaves tampons as our best option for dealing with our menses.

As a 21 year tampon user, I had given in to dealing with occasional infections from that damned string traveling about, suffering from irritation from goodness knows what chemicals those things are made of, the constant fear and occasional reality of an escaped string hanging out of the leg of my shorts while demonstrating ass-to-grass squats to a class full of people, and, of course, the inevitable and all too frequent “Spot of Death” on the back of my gray pants during a workout or while training.

For all these years, I’ve carried extra clothes everywhere I went and dealt with the discomfort of wearing tampons. But this year, when I discovered obstacle course racing, I realized things HAD to change. That tampon string is a wick for all the grossness that a muddy Spartan course had to offer, and I had had it. While researching surgical options, I came across Brittany Gibbons’ blog post on reusable menstrual cups. I went straight to Amazon and ordered a Diva Cup 2 for women over 30 who have had children.

It. Changed. My. Life.

Please read her blog post for all the info, I’ll leave that to her, but know that basically it is a soft, silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina to catch menstrual blood. There are some tricks and tips, but basically it is a very safe, effective, inexpensive, convenient and environmentally friendly option for dealing with menstruation.

I don’t even know I have a period these days except for once every 12 hours when I have to check the cup. Then I forget about it again and get back to my very active lifestyle.

It took me 2 cycles to become one with my cup. We had to have a few heart to hearts. There may have been what looked like a Texas chainsaw massacre in my bathroom once, and I did have to deal with the incessant feeling like I needed to check it every 1.2 minutes for that first week.

Now, I have a system. I have a preferred folding method. I have freedom during those 6 days each month that I am tasked with shedding the lining of my uterus. I can deadlift and run and squat without hesitation or worry. And isn’t that all we ladies really want anyway?? Isn’t it??

Stretchy Pants Because No One Likes Thigh Burns

I’m going to keep this section super short.

Go buy stretchy pants.

Find some that are breathable, comfy when you squat (yes, you should DEFINITELY be squatting in the fitting room when you try them on), and you may care whether or not they make noise when you run or walk (some raised designs and fabrics can make swishy noises that drive me nuts, lol). Test drive those suckers to be sure they are comfortable and functional for what you’ll be using them for.

If they are comfortable and functional…. BUY THEM.

If you are worried what someone will think about how you look in stretchy pants instead of shorts and sweatpants that are 3 sizes too big  that are rubbing you raw, for the love of your thighs…..STOP!

Think about YOU and about what you need to move the way you want to move.

Do YOU like the color??

Do they feel good when YOU move??

Will they be warm or cool enough for the season?

Do they cover all your lady bits when you bend and twist? (If possible, have a friend–a good one– check to make sure they aren’t see through when you bend over and squat.)

If so, BUY THEM. NOW.

Do what it takes to reach your goals, and let the folks who want to talk stand around talking. You’re going to be too busy running things in your new comfy pants to notice!

Ladies, there are so many topics to discuss when it comes to women’s fitness! I will cover more in the future. Until then, remember that others are struggling the same way you are. You are not alone. Reach out. Talk to each other. Laugh TOGETHER about your stories of escaped boobs, menstrual blunders, and thigh fires. Help each other. We are all in this together!

 

Why Ronda Rousey shouldn’t smile more…unless she wants to

motivation, Self confidence

ronda

I recently saw a post on Facebook that claimed that Ronda Rousey should smile more and stop trying to “look so tough” all the time.

Many people chimed in in the comments confirming that yes, indeed, Ronda Rousey did need to smile more and stop “acting like she’s all big and bad”.

I became so irritated by this post that I almost grew a set of Facebook balls and told those people what I thought.

But instead, I opted for a slightly more well thought out blog post addressing why we need to stop judging women based solely on their appearance.

This time it wasn’t clothing or hair. It wasn’t weight or make up. It wasn’t skin or the possibility of a new plastic surgery.

It was the lack of a smile on a female UFC fighter.

A woman who bloodies people’s faces and mangles their limbs, who delivers mind boggling blows directly to internal organs, and swings and kicks with the sole intent of cracking bones. And who also takes all of this in return, and keeps standing and keeps fighting.

(Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

I once listened to a TED talk by Rich Franklin, another UFC fighter, about what goes through his mind during a fight. He describes a scene in which he was getting beaten very badly during a fight. While he was down and being pummeled, he was replaying the opponent’s match films in his mind trying to figure a way out.

He was thinking critically and strategizing about how to stay alive in the fight.

He was not concerned about what folks thought about his shiny shorts. Not about how the last blow messed up the part in his hair. And certainly not about how he better smile so people won’t think he’s mean.

And yet some are expecting this of Ronda Rousey. She isn’t trying to “look tough”. She IS tough.

She isn’t “acting all big and bad”. She IS the biggest and the baddest.

It is hard to say she’s acting tough, when she went on to win this and every other fight she has been in.

I wont’ say much more except that she is an athlete in a male dominated sport. A sport defined by aggression and violence and skill.

She is at the height of her game in all three, and for others to not comprehend what type of dedication and focus that takes is an insult to her and to themselves.

I would ask those women who are concerned with Ronda’s lack of a smile, if they were ever judged unfairly in a professional setting based on their appearance or behavior.

Have they ever been told to smile more so they won’t look so uptight after leading an important meeting?

Been asked to dress differently so that they would be taken more seriously?

Been told to stop acting so stern because it made them seem like a bitch?

Women who give in and spend their time trying to please others, will never be leaders.

So, ladies, if you are a business owner or manager, or a serious fitness enthusiast, or one hell of a stay at home mom, be you.

Smile if you want to…or don’t, and remember that the women who are spending their time thinking about and developing their skills are the women getting shit done while others are busy worrying if you smile enough.

True story.

By the way, did you see that smile AFTER she won? Did you?

Ronda Rousey, Cat Zingano

**Disclaimer: I know little about actual UFC fighting, and I don’t drive the Ronda Rousey fan bus. I am just a gal who lifts heavy and runs fast, and I dream of a world where I am not judged by the outfit I wear while doing it.

That Dog Won’t Hunt

Healthy Holidays, motivation, The little things

A quick thought…

Over the past several weeks, I have been told by at least 10 people (I’m sure it was more, but that sounds like a good, safe number to guess) that they were going to start dieting, being more fit, running, lifting weights, etc “right after the holidays” because “there is just too much going on right now”.

That dog won’t hunt.

Your prediction that you will start at some other time in the future is most likely a prediction of failure.

Today matters. And those calories and pounds of fat aren’t waiting for the holidays to be over to start tagging along for the ride.

The holidays definitely come with their fair share of challenges, but there are plenty of options besides throwing up the white flag and hopping aboard the USS Indulgence.

You are going to have to make plans, accept that you aren’t going to be perfect, and do your best. But don’t give up trying just because it’s hard.

Start today.

Right now.

Decide what you are having for breakfast tomorrow, or think of a healthy lunch idea. Then come up with a plan to make it happen. If that is your victory this week, then you’ll have already won your first battle! Consider Christmas Day your free day and make as many other wise decisions as you can this week!

One piece of cake left behind, one extra serving of vegetables, one early bedtime. Each one puts you one more step ahead of where you would have started.

Each tough decision that you make successfully TODAY ensures that the next one will be easier.

 “Strength through adversity. The strongest steel is forged by the fires of hell. It is pounded and struck repeatedly before it’s plunged back into the molten fire. The fire gives it power and flexibility, and the blows give it strength. Those two things make the metal pliable and able to withstand every battle it’s called upon to fight. “

Thanksgiving Calories… the final goodbye

circuit training, conditioning, kettlebells, strength training, workouts

 

Kettlebell Swing

 

Today was it. I wasn’t going to think about one single food item consumed over this holiday after today.

I made wise choices and also indulged in foods I adore. I had a wonderful time with family and friends, and I felt the holiday spirit.

Then I kicked my own ass…twice. Now, I’m moving on.

Here is one of the workouts. Give it a try!

A1. Kettlebell (KB) Swing x 10

A2. KB Overhead Press x 12

A3. KB Swing x 15

A4. Push up x 20

A5. KB Swing x 25

A6. Heavy Farmer Carry x 80 feet

A7. KB Swing x 50

A8. Fast hand over hand rope pull (think tug of war position) dragging 220 pounds followed by backward sled pull (quick steps) x 40 feet each direction

Repeat circuit for 5 total rounds. Tell that pumpkin pie to kiss your ass because THIS YEAR it won’t be sticking around! 😉

Even Messing Up Burns Calories

first steps, motivation, Weight loss

I tried losing weight for years. When I say I tried, I should define that more clearly for you. I mostly just thought really hard about what I should/could do to get where I wanted. I thought really hard about it, but nothing actually changed.

So, I thought about a different way to do it. And I put A LOT of thought into it. And nothing changed.

“Okay”, I thought, “I must just be thinking about the wrong things. Let me try something else.” And I did. And it didn’t work either.

I tried reading everything I could about fitness and nutrition. I tried reading blogs of successful people. I asked people who were fit a TON of questions about what they did. I watched videos. I took notes. I read books. I even watched 4 whole seasons of The Biggest Loser.

And still, nothing changed. I wasn’t losing weight or feeling better. In fact, the whole ten years I tried getting fitter, I got fatter. First I gained 20 pounds, then 40, then 60.

“What the heck, man? What am I doing wrong?”

Here is where Yoda entered my life (yes, the little green guy from Star Wars). I read a quote of his that suddenly meant a lot more to me than it had when I was younger.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

107218-Yoda-do-or-do-not-there-is-no-Uv4D

I realized I wasn’t doing anything! I was thinking about doing some stuff. I was waiting to be “ready” to start. I was afraid to start. I was afraid to fail.

But what do I do? Where do I start? How?

Enter my second epiphany: Anything. Do anything, but just get to doing.

As you can imagine, I wanted to stop and think this over. I like to analyze things…analyze them right to death. But this time had to be different. Yoda said so.

So I loaded up a jogging stroller for my youngest child, and bikes for my older two children. “How far should I go?” “How fast do I need to go?” “What shoes do I need for this?” “What should I eat before I start?”

I went against every part of me that was saying, “Go back inside and sit down at the computer and research it”, and I got my ass in the car and I hit the trail.

I went too fast and too far with the wrong shoes; I got blisters and my blood sugar got low. I did it all wrong, but I did it.

I went back the next time, and I only did half the distance at half the speed and decided that I’d take it easy so I could come back every day instead of killing myself and having to rest for half the week. I ate the wrong thing before I went, but after a few more outings, I found what worked for me. And I kept going back week after week.

I spent a few more years figuring me out. What worked and what didn’t. I messed up at least twice as often as I got it right, but I discovered that even messing up burns calories, and any step taken was a step in the right direction.

         overweight after2

Thankfulness

The little things

It is Thanksgiving, so I am not sure that one is even allowed to post on any subject other than being thankful. I am okay with it though; I have a lot to be thankful for.

Almost 5 months ago, I had my left ACL repaired using hamstring grafts. I was told I would not run for 3 months. Although, I stayed positive and reminded myself of all the things in life I had had to wait three months for and how quickly this time would pass, I still knew that in that 3 months I would have to do a lot of work because without it I wasn’t guaranteed a full recovery.

I immediately set a goal of running our town’s annual Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning. And on this thought, I began my “training”. I put all my energy into preparing for this race. Every PT exercise became more than just a movement to get me back to my baseline, it was going to get me to the finish line of the Turkey Trot…and in first place.

Twelve weeks after surgery, I was given the go ahead for light running. I had spent the previous 12 weeks working hard in physical therapy, being competitive even with that. If I was supposed to be able to do 4 minutes on the recumbent bike, I wanted to be able to do 20. If I was supposed to be able to flex my knee to 90 degrees, I wanted to be able to get to 110 degrees. I was careful, listened to my body and my surgeon and therapist, but was always pushing. So, when I was told I could run, but “take it easy”, I said “yes sir” with images of the 5 minute mile I was planning to run as soon as I left my surgeon’s office flying through my mind.

It didn’t go quite like that. I felt more like a newborn horse as I awkwardly galloped and loped and limped a tenth of a mile on my first attempt. I was laughing and crying as I “ran”, embarrassed and scared and amused all at the same time.

“Oh well”, I told myself, “I’ll just try it again tomorrow.” And I did. This time it went a little better. And the next day, even better.

Flash forward a few weeks and now I’m toeing the line at the start. The questions and self-doubt had been drowned over the past few days.

Today, I was just thankful. I thought of all I went through. All the work I put in just to be able to stand where I was standing. I could run.

I thought back to waking from surgery unable to lift my leg. Days of being unable to bend or fully straighten my knee. Pain in my hamstring where the graft had been taken.

It wasn’t the “big” things that got me here. It was the little steps. One tiny step after another leading me right to the start line. Telling myself I could when I really believed I couldn’t. Doing the tedious tasks in physical therapy not because they were fun, but because they had to be done.

When the horn blew, I was ready.

winner