Here we go again…

Well, it’s January. Once again, we have a chance to start all over. We can make resolutions, start a new fitness plan, set goals. The year is ours; we can make it the best year ever. “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Blah, blah, blah. Why is we start the new year off with great expectations, work towards those goals, and then our enthusiasm fizzles out as the year progresses.

Working in a gym, I see this trend every year. In January when resolutions are made, there’s not an empty treadmill or elliptical in sight, and classes are jam-packed with enthusiastic newbies. We are excited! We are going to lose weight and get buff by summer. We’re going to finally get that washboard stomach, get rid of our jiggly arms, and hell, we’ll just run a marathon while we’re at it. And then we discover it’s hard work. And it isn’t quite as fun as we thought. And the Bachelor is on, and it’s so much easier to sit on the sofa and watch these already buff young women drool over some egotistical man with finely tuned abs and great hair. We’ll go to the gym tomorrow. But then Idol is on, and the kids have homework, and…well…maybe the gym just isn’t for me. Who really wants to sweat on purpose? By February classes are full, but not packed, and by March it’s back to normal. We might have a few newbies who found they enjoy the results of their hard work. They realized that those rock-hard abs and Michelle Obama arms take time, and they’re willing to work for it.

Those who stick it out make it through most of the year maintaining our routines; we run races, go to classes, watch our diets, and encourage our friends to join us in the new healthy lifestyle. Then the holiday season hits. And it hits hard. Personally, I held it together really well until November 2; November 1 I ran a half marathon – I was in optimal (middle-aged-nana optimal) shape. After that I cut back on my running, but continued to teach Tabata and HIIT. Along comes December: parties, baking, and dinners…oh, my! I was still teaching and running a little (very, very little), but I was eating everything in sight. I begin baking Christmas cookies in mid-November, and I eat them as they come out of the oven. Somebody has to make sure they’re fit for human consumption. The cookies bring pounds. The pounds bring chub. The chub brings tight clothes.

This year was particularly rough. My father-in-law was very ill over Christmas, so we spent our time either sitting in the ICU waiting room or making the 2 1/2 hour trek to the hospital. My plans of running every day of our break went out the window. Cafeteria food, fast food, and cookies went in my mouth. One day I was feeling especially frisky, so I managed to walk a mile worth of laps at the hospital. I got some strange looks from the staff, but I needed to move. It still amazes me that it takes so long to get in shape and feel comfortable doing squats, burpees, and push-ups, but take one week off and I have to start all over.

It’s now 2015, and like many Americans, I have vowed to get back in shape. I run the Biggest Loser competition at our school, and the first weigh-in is tomorrow morning. I ate chicken bacon ranch pizza for dinner. Four pieces. That was totally unnecessary (but gosh, it was GOOD!). I’ve gone to the gym every morning before school, even a morning that I didn’t teach, so I could’ve slept in. (On a side note, I find it completely depressing that I now consider sleeping until 6:00 am sleeping in.) I am not going to be on a Biggest Loser team, but I am going to do the weekly weigh-ins and try to get to where I need to be. I am going to try to eat healthier (I say that every year). But really, 2015 is going to be the BEST YEAR EVER. Until December, and then 2016 is going to be the best year EVER!

Fitness Friday

I don’t really know why I chose that title, other than I do like alliteration.  It is Friday, but it’s doubtful any fitness will take place since we, once again, have a snow day.  I also did seven pretty intense workouts the past four days, so a little rest might be in order.  However, as I am dusting and mopping, my mind wanders to exercise, eating, and my goals (and other random thoughts).

As I have written about for the past few months, I have been struggling to shed the weight I gained when I was out of exercise commission because of knee surgery.  Deep down, I knew what the problem was.  I expected that since I was back in an exercise routine, the pounds should just melt away.  I didn’t eat that much.  They didn’t melt; they multiplied.  I realize eight or nine pounds might not seem like a lot, but I am five feet short.  My eight pounds is an average person’s fifteen pounds.  I have a couple of dresses that I cannot wear until I lose those nasty pounds.  I don’t like how I look and feel.

Around Thanksgiving, I decided I might as well wait to really work on my routine until after the holidays.  I knew that I could not bypass the temptations of cookies, cakes, and all the foods that scream Christmas.  Part of my personal holiday tradition is baking, and it’s one of my most cherished parts of December.  So, I added a couple more pounds as I ate whatever came out of the oven.  And then I ate what was stored in the freezer.  And I ate the cookies my daughters baked.  Then January 1 hit.  Time was up.  Cookies were trashed.

The last two weeks I have really been trying to watch my food intake.  I am not a fan of vegetables.  I prefer sweets, meat, and potatoes.  I love pastas and breads.  I will not give those things up, so portions are key to my diet.  I am also trying to limit evening snacks and before I begin grazing in the kitchen, I ask myself if I am actually hungry.  If I am, I try to make better choices, of if I really want something bad for me, I just eat a little.  I really haven’t sacrificed a lot, and as of this morning, I am down three pounds since last week.  Have I been perfect?  Heck, no.  Tuesday after school, I was starving.  For some reason, I wanted McDonalds (don’t judge me).  It started with Gosh, a Diet Coke from McDonalds sounds amazing.  That evolved into a double cheeseburger and small fries to go along with my Diet Coke.  When I added up the calories, it wasn’t that bad.  I just didn’t eat the rest of the night, and I did Zumba and Spartacus.  It was worth it.

That little fast food indulgence also reminded me why so many people are overweight, especially those with lower incomes.  My McD’s purchase was just over $3, a cheap meal.  Had I gone to Subway (which I do at least once a week), I would have spent over $7 for a healthier meal.  Many people don’t have a choice.  Healthy food is expensive, and a lot of people, at least here in our small town, just can’t afford it.  Heck, it’s hard for us to afford.  I have heard many people judge poor people for being overweight.  Our society makes it nearly impossible for them to be anything but overweight.  Healthy food is expensive; they can’t afford a gym, and probably don’t know how to begin a fitness routine.  Though we say there are free exercises, one needs good shoes or his or her feet will hurt or become injured, and proper attire.  Gary and I thought running would be a cheap sport – it’s anything but.

I saw evidence of this on our trip to Lake Tahoe.  One of my girls said, “Mom, there are no overweight people here.”  I hadn’t really paid attention, but when she mentioned it, I realized that we had maybe seen three or four people who were overweight that weekend  .  But think about it – it’s a pretty affluent area.  Fitness is a way of life there.  It was obvious just by the way they dressed – it was a North Face catalog in the making.  They could afford healthy food, fitness equipment, and gym memberships.  They could pay a sitter while they got their runs in or went skiing.

How can we change this?  I think it starts with our kids.  We started a Biggest Loser for our high school students this week.  We made the fee reasonable (those fees will be used for prizes at the end), and if a student couldn’t afford the fee, we made arrangements to cover that cost.  We will offer advice and suggestions to these 17 students who have a desire to lose weight and improve their health.  I am so excited that we can do this.  What if every school offered this type of program?  If we could instill in students the importance of taking care of their health, gradually our society might change.  We adults have to take the initiative to teach them.  We have to show them we care, we don’t judge, and we want to help.

What can you do to make a difference?  Who can you help?  Where can you volunteer?  How can we get other schools involved?  I will keep you posted on our progress.  I am sure that we will tweak the program along the way, but if we can help a couple of kids learn to love themselves, it will be time well spent.

 

 

Schweizer Fest Road Run…Day 5 Post Op

No, I didn’t run.  However, I have been asked about my knee so much, that I made up a great story to try out tonight!

Person:  UGH!  What happened to your knee?

Me:  Well, you won’t believe it, but I was running the 6 miler this morning, and I was in front.  I was so excited to run up Mozart in the 100% humidity, and I was just flying!  Suddenly, when I got right in front of the Nobles’ house, a gigantic buck ran out in front of me!  I know!  It was crazy!  So, since I am an athlete, I did what any respectable athlete would do, and I hurdled the deer.  Just as I was crossing over, he turned his head, and his enormous antler caught my foot.  I landed right on my knee!  That was it for me.  I had to drop out, and now I have several stitches, and I have to wear this wrap for a week!  How embarrassing!

What do you think?  It sounds a helluva lot better than having an arthroscope for arthritis and IT band surgery.

I have to be honest, though.  Many people have said they were sorry I couldn’t run the race this year.  I just nodded and smiled, and acted like I certainly would have been running had it not been for having surgery this week.  Confession:  I would probably not have been running.  Really.  I haven’t run the Fest run in three years.  Last year I worked the finish line, and if I would have been confident that my knee would hold up, I probably would have worked it again this year.  As it was, I dubbed myself official race photographer, and worked to get pictures of as many of my friends as possible.

So, why wouldn’t I have run?  The reason is that I have crazy anxiety.  It makes me so stinkin’ nervous to run a race in Tell City because I know most everyone there.  I literally get heart palpitations and belly upset just thinking about running in front of my home town.  In my head, I know it is ridiculous, but the last time I ran it, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even enjoy the race.  I have run half marathons with thousands of people, and I don’t get that anxious, but stick me in front of people who know and love me (and some who don’t like me one bit), and I totally freak out.  Don’t judge me.  We all have oddities – I just admit mine online!  Today, I thought maybe I should try it again next year, assuming my body will be healed and I am running in a year.  Next summer, I’ll get all nervous just reading about the race in the News.  And I am such a great photographer that I should probably stick to that.

As for this morning,  I had an absolute blast!  I completely enjoyed watching everyone finish!  I got some pretty great pictures, and was so glad to capture those moments for my friends.  I wasn’t stressed at all!  I am so proud of so many people, but I am going to mention just a few.

Melinda Jacob….She is incredible!  She has lost 117 pounds by eating right and working her butt off.  I have literally watched her shrink over the last year.  I remember last fall when I asked her to come to Zumba.  She told me she would when she lost some more weight.  Of course, I told her that made no sense because doing Zumba would help her lose that weight.  She caved, and she loved it!  She came to lots of Zumba classes, and many times did three workouts a day.  She is a shining example of perseverance to her children.  She ran the six-mile race this morning, and I was so very proud of her!

Ginger Alvey….In January, when we began the third season of the Biggest Loser at Everbody’s, Ginger joined.  I will never forget her first night on the elliptical.  She could hardly eek out 4 minutes.  Ginger never gave up, and she kept coming back.  She now rocks that stupid elliptical, goes to Zumba, and has begun to run.  Today Ginger ran the two mile race!   How far she has come in such a short time!

Caroline Johnson….sometimes hates working out.  I have seen her laugh during workouts, but I’ve also heard her cuss, and seen her leave because she’s ticked she can’t do something.  But, she always came back.  She has pushed herself beyond what she thought she was capable of, and continues to push (even when it sometimes takes a kick in the butt).  Caroline and her husband Scott have completely changed their lives in the past seven months, and are living a healthier lifestyle with their daughter.  When Caroline and I have been out walking/running, we get honked at constantly.  While I would like to think some of those honks are for me, they are all for Caroline.  Don’t think that girl isn’t inspiring others to get out there and move.  Caroline walked/ran the two mile this morning, as did her daughter, Bailee.  Her husband Scott ran the six-mile.  This family rocks!

My husband…Gary has been running for over four years now.  Because he has an artificial knee, it takes more effort for him to run than most anyone else.  He ran the six mile today, and I have never seen him run stronger!  He inspires me every single day by his dedication.  I kinda like him!

Debbie Elder…I know I’ll get this number wrong, but Debbie has lost 50+ pounds.  She is at the gym working hard all the time.  She is also a runner now!  She has the best attitude, and makes me happy when I am in a class with her.  She ran the two mile today, and I suspect she’ll run the six mile next year.  How ’bout it, Debbie?

Emily Miller….I can’t possibly write this and not include Emily.  She has also lost 50+ pounds, and has shared her journey with anyone who would read (she’s a lot like me!).  This year, she set a goal to run the six mile, stuck to a plan, and she ran it in under an hour!  But is she stopping there?  Heck no!  In October, Emily will run her first half marathon!  I am so hoping to be there to witness this great feat, and if band allows, I’ll be screaming ’til my lungs blow as she crosses the finish line.  She has inspired so many people in our community to get healthy.  She is a ball of energy and positive vibes.

TCJSHS and PCHS Cross Country Teams….You make all of us proud!  Two TC junior high students won the two mile race today – Katie Goffinet and Nate Kaiser!  How incredible is that?  All of the kids are so dedicated and so supportive of one another.  They are terrific representatives of Perry County.

The Biggest Loser and Corporate Challenge Participants…All of you!  It is so great to see how our community has become so focused on getting in shape.  Seeing you all out there, either walking or running, made me so proud!  You all are doing a great service to yourselves and your families.  You deserve to be very proud, and you are worth the effort you’re putting in!  Keep it up!  I want to see all of you – and more – out there next year!

To all of the 694 people who joined the action today, thank you!  It was a memorable morning, and I was so happy to be there, basking in your glory!  I had so many friends who ran that I would not dare try to name them for fear of forgetting someone.   Just know that you all are the reason I was willing to go through surgery.  I want to be like you!  I want to run…………..just not in Tell City :-/.  You made my morning:  I envied your smiles, your pride, and your sweat (yea, really – I wanted to be sweating from a hard run).  I envy the sore muscles you’ll have tomorrow, too.  Afterall, it’s a good sore!

Lessons Learned

It seems my blogs get fewer and fewer as we get busier.  I figured I might as well take advantage of being home sick today.  I have been plannning to write about the next chapter in our fitness journey, and the lessons we have learned along the way.

The past four years, Gary and I have been working on creating a healthier lifestyle for our family.  We have been eating healthier, and though we are not always successful, gone are the Little Debbies (except the occasional Nutty Bar after a long run), the bags of chips, and desserts baked for no reason.  We also added exercise to our days.  First, we began to run and bike, and then the running pushed everything else aside.  We began to enter races, and have since run countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and I am preparing for my fifth half marathon.  Gary is training for his second marathon.  I became a Zumba instructor, and now teach four classes a week.  We, along with our daughters, have become active at the gym.  When we began we also wanted to set a positive example for our children.  It took a couple of years, but the girls are now exercising regularly, and have actually found joy in working out.

This winter, we began a new chapter in our lives.  Gary and I are now coaching a team in our gym’s Biggest Loser competition.  Gary won the first season of Biggest Loser last summer, so he was an obvious choice as a coach.  We decided we would coach together, and it has been an incredible experience.  We coach the orange team, and are so blessed to have so many dedicated members.  They have made working out fun.  While they have thanked us for helping them, I don’t think they have any idea what they have done for us.  Some of our members had never exercised in their lives, yet they have taken on every challenge we have given them.  They have mastered the treadmill and elliptical, suffered through their first spinning classes, danced the calories away in Zumba, built muscle in pilates, and consequently, lost weight and inches.  Stepping into a gym can be intimidating, even for those who are in shape.  Trying new classes isn’t easy.  One doesn’t really know what to expect when the music starts.  The orange team, along with all of the other Biggest Loser contestants – 180 of them! – have stepped up and met the challenge.  Their dedication and bravery has inspired me to keep going.  I am trying to learn as much as I can about living a healthy lifestyle so that I can share that information with our team.

While I will always be proud of the accomplishments I have seen through running and working out, the pride I have in our team members cannot be surpassed.  Getting their texts on weigh-in day, seeing their pride when they’ve gone just a little further or faster, and watching them laugh together as they sweat their butts off is so very fulfilling.  We have told them over and over that this is not a 12 week program; this has to be a lifestyle change.  We want them to make choices they can maintain.  They need to make food choices that they can keep long after the final weigh-in.  They need to find exercises that make them happy so they will stick with it even after they complete their Biggest Loser journeys.

I have to say, Everbody’s Fitness is an amazing place.  The staff and clients are so supportive of everyone.  We all, no matter our size or fitness level, are working for similar goals.  We want to be healthy and more fit.  We want to live active lives so we can keep up with our children and grandchildren.  We want to see just what our bodies can do when we step out of our comfort zones.  While one might be uncomfortable during that first trip to the gym, once he or she experiences the support, that discomfort will quickly dissolve.  We are all cheering for others at the gym.

The friendships I have made over the past year are invaluable.  I have made friends with fellow staff members, people who attend my Zumba classes, clients, and now our Orange Team.  These friendships will last because we have sweated together, opened up to one another, and because they bring me joy.  Orange Team, I am so stinkin’ proud of each of you!  I know that there have been times you’ve wanted to quit, but you haven’t.  I promise that you won’t regret sticking it out.  You would regret quitting.  Remember that first workout?  I told you that if it were easy, everyone would be thin and fit.  It isn’t easy.  It will likely be the hardest thing you ever do.  But it will also be the most worthwhile thing you ever do.  Promise.  And Gary and I will be here through it all, whether you want us to or not!

Now get off the computer and do something active!