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!

‘Tis [Almost] The Season!

At this time of year, people often complain that we begin with Christmas festivities too early, and skip right over Thanksgiving. I am one of those who begins preparations in November, and that includes getting my Christmas decorations up. This is the third year that I’ve decorated opening weekend of deer season. Gary’s busy hunting, and I have the house to myself, so why not? I discussed this with a friend who says we are at opposite ends of the holiday spectrum. He’s just not into Christmas. As I decorated yesterday, I thought about why I enjoy getting into the holiday spirit, and why I start so darned early.

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First of all, the holidays are a lot of work, particularly for women. We decorate, bake, shop, wrap, plan, clean, address, and on and on. And this is on top of our regular schedule of work, kids, laundry, errands, and various sporting events and meetings. There have been years that I have dreaded Christmas because there is just so much to do. My husband helps, but ultimately, most of the work falls on me. Getting started early takes away some of that stress. The more I can check off my list in November, the more I can enjoy December. I spend hours decorating, and since I have the bulk of that done, it’s one less thing to worry about. I also have eight different types of cookies baked and in the freezer, and will bake several more over the coming weeks. Since I started baking early, I have time to try out new recipes and enjoy the process. There is nothing better than spending a Sunday afternoon listening to Christmas music and baking cookies. I have some gifts bought, which is actually necessary because we will have Christmas with our daughter Morgan and her family early in December, and many of our gifts need to be shipped.

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But more than the practicality of getting ready early, I just love my decorations. Addison told her friend that I clear off every shelf and table and replace everything with Christmas. I’ve put up two trees, and we will put up our real tree Thanksgiving weekend. We are going to add a fourth next year (Hubby’s idea). My girls love our house during the holidays, and I love that they enjoy it. My holiday decor is meaningful, and as I take each item out, it brings back memories. I have decorations that were gifts from customers I had when I did hair, from friends, from my sister, and from my kids. I have Possible Dreams Santas I’ve collected over the years. I have two gorgeous nativity sets. One of our trees has all antique and old-fashioned ornaments, some of which were from Gary’s family. The tree that’s upstairs has all glass ornaments that Gary and I have been buying since we got married. Our traditional tree will have ornaments the kids have made, and our family favorites. Some of my most treasured decorations are Santas made by Ethel Mae Kleeman. For years Ethel Mae spent her time turning any piece of wood available into an old-fashioned Santa; they are beautiful. Because she no longer makes them to sell, I wish I had bought more when I had the chance. I have ornaments that were made by a local lady, and those are also irreplaceable.

So, while some might think it’s too early to get out the Santas or lights, I want to enjoy them as long as I can; I want to have time to cherish the memories. Since Christmas music really is my favorite kind of music, why would I only listen to it one month out of the year? We’ve been singing Christmas songs for a few weeks, and it makes us happy. Our love of Christmas in no way takes away from Thanksgiving. We have our own Thanksgiving traditions, such as going for an early morning run, watching the Macy’s parade, and eating too much. We are thankful for so much, the most important of which is the birth of Jesus, so why not have our nativity sets up on Thanksgiving? It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Fitness (that is what this blog is supposed to be about)…The 40 Days of Fitness Holiday Challenge begins this coming Sunday. It’s a good thing since I have skipped exercise the past four days! I haven’t skipped that many days in a row in months and months! And since I have been baking, skipping workouts is not advisable. The challenge will run Sunday through January 1. Anyone can join no matter where you live since it is run through our Facebook page. If you are interested, search 40 Days of Fitness on FB. Ask to join our page, and sign up. We can hold each other accountable for burning up those holiday calories.

Peace, Love, and Happy Thanksgiving!