Staying Motivated

In my previous post, if made the analogy that running a big race, such as a half marathon, is much like Christmas. Runners spend months planning, purchasing gear, and anticipating their big day. The day comes, and with any luck, lives up to the hype, and then in a couple hours, it’s all over. It can be somewhat of a letdown. The anticipation is half the fun. I am now ten days post-race, and wondering what’s next. I might do a couple of shorter races in the coming months, but my next big goal is the Women Rock Chicago Half Marathon in September. I still need lots of work on my endurance and speed, so this summer I have my work cut out. Hills. Lots of hills. Knowing my next big race is along Lake Michigan will be an awesome motivator. That, my friends, is one of my very favorite places.

I am part of a women’s running group on Facebook; there are about 12,000 members, so there are always posts. Some are motivational; some are questions; and some are from women who need to vent and can’t do it on their personal pages. I have been surprised by the number of women who have begun running or just trying to get in shape, and feel no support from their friends. Many have had friends post negative comments about their running or fitness endeavors. While I am sure there are those who get tired of running and fitness posts, I have never had anyone post negative comments, and have actually had the opposite: I feel very motivated by the encouragement I have received. It has made me so grateful for my family and friends. I feel that we should all be supportive of one another, no matter what our pursuits. I really don’t understand why anyone would be critical of a friend – Facebook friend or otherwise – who wants to get healthier. Shouldn’t we celebrate that?

Which leads me to my job as a fitness instructor. I started as a Zumba instructor, but now teach Tabata Bootcamp and HIIT. If anyone had told me a few years ago that I’d get my lazy butt out of bed at 4:30 AM and drive to the gym to teach classes, I would have busted a gut laughing. I am not a morning person. But here I am, teaching five early-morning classes a week. So, why do I do it? Several reasons come to mind. I get a great workout in to start my day. Every person who is there wants to be in my class (unlike the 8th grade language arts students I teach all day! Believe it or not, some teens don’t like language arts). But the most important reasons is the joy – and I mean pure joy- I get seeing people struggle and drip with sweat. Just kidding! I love seeing people do things they never thought they’d be able to do. I love seeing the pride on their faces when they’ve held a plank for just a little longer, or when they’ve done one more push-up. I hate when they are discouraged, but love how they still come back. I love having a small part in their getting healthier and stronger. I love challenging participants, and having them tackle that challenge. Being a fitness instructor, in my opinion, doesn’t mean I am perfectly fit and strong (far from it), or that the workouts are easy for me. I often struggle right along with my classes, and I let them know I think it’s difficult, too. I am no better than they are; some are much stronger than I. But I will do my very best to keep class challenging, interesting, and fun. Yes, fun. We might have to adjust our connotation of fun, but working out can be fun!

What do you want to do to improve your life? Do you need to work on fitness? Do you need to spend more time with family? Do you want to learn a new craft? Write a blog? Meditate? Pray? Study the Bible? Do it. Don’t let life pass you by; live it now. And support your friends and family in their dreams. If you know someone is trying something new or working to lose weight, encourage him or her. Your words are powerful. Choose them wisely.

Gotta Tabata!

I have a hundred things I need to do this evening, and writing isn’t really a necessity, but sometimes I just have something to say.  Combine that with time by myself, and I am going to write.  Surprisingly, I don’t plan to whine in this blog – not one bit.

This week I embarked on yet another fitness quest:  Tabata Bootcamp.  When the Everbody’s crew went to Atlanta this past summer, Gary and I went down a day early so that he could be certified to teach Spinning, and I could become a certified Tabata Bootcamp Trainer.  It seems odd to even write that as I am basically a wimp.  Putting the word ‘bootcamp’ in the same sentence as my name is somewhat of a contradiction of terms (kind of like putting the word ‘badass’ with my name, Missy!).  I have very little upper body strength; my abs are buried somewhere; and I am wimpy.  Something about the HIIT training (high intensity interval training) appealed to me, and I decided to step out of my comfort zone, which I seem to be doing a lot lately.

Tabata Bootcamp is not like a regular class that gym members can go to when the mood strikes.  It is an eight-week program to which participants must commit.  They have to register for a website, and will have assigned home workouts on days we don’t have class.  Despite the fact that I am not a morning person, I am meeting with my group on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 am.  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t mind getting up this week.  I wasn’t thrilled when the alarm went off, but once I got to the gym, I was glad to be there.  Because of the format of the bootcamp, we have to limit the number of participants, so we have 16 bootcampers.  We have a really fun group, which also makes getting up before the crack of dawn bearable.  I have even run a mile (yes, that’s right, RUN) afterward.  I still have time to shower at the gym, and am at school at 7:00.  I am thrilled with the program, and anxious to see the results in eight weeks.  You know what I like?  I like pushing people to the point that they don’t think they have anything left, and they hate the sound of my voice, and then they do it!  Then, well then they usually thank me.   They still think bad thoughts about me, but they also accomplished a huge goal.  Pretty badass, huh?

I am also stepping out of my comfort zone (pretty soon there will be no zone!) and swimming.  I stink at swimming.  I don’t breathe correctly, so I wear myself out before I get to the end of the pool, but I am learning.  Our school’s wellness program is hosting lap swimming for staff members every Thursday.  I hope if I keep it up, I will become a stronger swimmer.  Senior Olympics, maybe?  I really enjoy it, and when I get tired, I just grab a kickboard and work my legs.

Saturday is the Evansville Half Marathon.   While I am sad that I won’t be running this year (I am not whining; I am stating a fact.), I can’t wait to watch some newbies finish their first half marathon!  I know what an amazing feeling that is, and I look forward to being there to cheer them across the finish line.  A couple of ladies from our Biggest Loser team, Danielle and Michelle, will be running their first.  I think Mary might also be running, but I am not certain.  My friend Emily Miller will be running her first half marathon, and I am so excited for her!  She has lost a bunch of weight in the past year, and has become a great runner in a very short time.  I know how thrilled she is, and am blessed to be able to share her moment with her.  Our friend Scott just started running in the spring, and he is now ready for 13.1.  He started losing weight in January, and after being pretty sedentary, has become an athlete.  Wow.   I know there are several other Tell City runners who will be pounding the pavement, and we will be there to support them as they run toward that almighty finish line.

And, of course, there’s my husband.  He has run several half marathons, but I am anxious to see how he does because he has really cross-trained, and I just know he’ll have a great race.  Last time he ran a race without me, I was a baby.  We were in Norfolk on a gorgeous summer morning, and I wanted to be running so badly that I just couldn’t enjoy his race.  I wasn’t very nice.  Saturday, I am going to be nice.  Promise.  And since I am going with Caroline, it’d be hard to be in a bad mood!   Good Luck to all of the Tell City/Perry County Runners this weekend!  I know there is a bunch of you, so I won’t even attempt to name everyone.

Shout Out Time!  Kim Oliva ran a mile without stopping for the first time ever before dawn, after Bootcamp, this morning!!  She will be hooked now.  If not, I hope she knows how persuasive I can be.  I will drag her butt out after our morning kickass workout, and we will run.   Me?  I ran a mile very slowly twice this week.  It’s a start.  My IT band hurt afterward, but I can walk, so it’s all good!  It is going to take time, lots of time, to work back up to some decent mileage, but I won’t give up.

What have you done lately that you never thought you’d try?  Do something new.  Step outside that stupid box.  What’s the worst that could happen?  You’d actually like it?  Or you wouldn’t like it?  At least you’d know.   Your body can do some pretty amazing things – test it out!  Need help?  There are a whole bunch of us willing to help!

We Survived Atlanta Mania!

This past weekend, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend Atlanta Mania, a conference for the fitness industry held in Atlanta.  Gary and I arrived a day early so we could each be certified to teach new classes.  Gary was certified in Schwinn Indoor Cycling, and I was certified in Tabata Bootcamp.

Tabata

My Tabata course was tough!  Over the course of the day, we didn’t spend an extreme amount of time working out, but the workouts we did were intense.  When I went in, I thought I was in decent shape; by the end of the day, I’d changed my mind.  Every inch of my body ached; I was exhausted and overwhelmed.  It was much like an education training in that we received so much information, and then we had to figure out how to implement the program upon our return to the real world.  I was frustrated because there were some exercises I couldn’t do, or I couldn’t do the entire time, so I wondered how I was supposed to teach it.  I never expect people with whom I am working out to do anything I can’t or wouldn’t do.  I had a lot to work on!  Then I began to wonder if I was in over my head.  I had three more days of classes – workouts – and feared I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

bosu

Friday morning my first class was Bosu.  We used the Bosu balance trainers (left).  I wasn’t in a very good mood when the class began, but the instructor, who was a buff lady, was incredible.  She made the workout fun, and worked us hard.  By the end of the class, my mood had improved tremendously, and I was ready to take on the day (more often than not, a good workout will do that!).

Later in the day, I spoke with one of the other instructors from the gym, and she told me she took a Tabata class, and she couldn’t do everything either.  That made me feel much better because she is in terrific shape, and she is young!  Speaking of age, there were people of all ages at this conference.  It was so motivating to see men and women older than I who were in fabulous shape.  I have this weird obsession with arms and shoulders.  I just love beautifully sculpted arms, not body-builder-steroid-ingesting muscles, but toned and shapely arms.  I saw plenty of them in Atlanta.  I want arms like that, but have never gotten into a routine that would bring about those results.

arms

On Friday, I also went to a Flirty Girl Fitness class.  I chose this class because it is dance fitness, and I thought I could get some choreography to use in Zumba.  While the instructor was great, and I did like some of the moves, overall it just wasn’t for me.  It was just what the title implies – flirty.  That isn’t me.  Some of the moves were just too cutesy.  On Sunday I tried a 2-Fly Fitness class, which is also dance fitness.  I lasted through two songs.  It was a hip-hop style dance.  As soon as I walked in and saw the girls with the crotches of their pants to their knees, I began to question my choice.  I knew not to judge on appearance, so I gave it a chance.  Once the music started, I didn’t like it either, so I stayed for two songs, and decided my knee had had enough, and I didn’t really want to work up yet another sweat doing something I didn’t like at all.  I took two different Zumba classes, and if I can remember any of the choreography, I will work it into our songs.

kettlebell

The class I most feared was HIIT Kettlebell.  I know the limits of my upper-body strength, and thought I would struggle to even lift the kettlebell, let alone swing that sucker around.  The instructor was the same woman who taught the Bosu, so when I walked in, I immediately relaxed.  I learned that the strength needed in kettlebell comes mostly from one’s legs, not the arms.   It ended up being one of my favorite classes.  I got a DVD and bought a new kettlebell so I can practice at home.  I will likely use this as a station in boot camp (after I improve at it!).

Mindy Mylrea is the developer of Tabata Bootcamp, and was my instructor on Thursday.  This woman has been in fitness over 30 years, and is a dynamo.  She is knowledgeable, entertaining, and energetic.  I took a few more of her classes over the weekend.  One of my favorites was a kids’ fitness class on Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m.  It was a blast!  She had so many incredible ideas to get all kids involved in fitness.  I think that the 100 adults had as much fun playing the games as any kids would.  We pretended to be animals, closed our eyes and wandered around trying to locate our partners, and dragged each other around on the floor.  I learned several games and activities that I will use with my eighth graders.

I also took four lecture classes (I signed up for five, but skipped one due to exhaustion).  Three were on nutrition, which we all know, I NEED! The first one was very scientific, and being an English teacher, much of it was over my head.  He talked about the specific molecular process of breaking down certain foods.  He was very knowledgeable, and I did take away some important information, but I was just too tired to process biology.  Gary and I took a class called Meals and Musings.  The man who was the keynote speaker taught that class.  We learned about healthy foods, but he also cooked throughout the class.  Those of you who know me well, know I am not one to try new foods.  I don’t like many veggies, and I like my food pretty bland.  Gary leaned over and asked if I was going to try the lentil soup.  Yup.  I was puttin’ on my big-girl panties and actin’ all adult.  And, Surprise, I liked it.  He gave us the recipe, so I might even try to make it someday.

On Sunday, I took a class on successful weight-loss.  It was interesting, and not as scientific as the other nutrition class.  I need to go back through my notes, but I think that what I learned will aid in helping our Biggest Loser teams.  Our last class of the conference was about addiction.  The instructor taught about exercise, tobacco, alcohol,  drug, and sugar addictions.  It was a good course; she offered information on what goes on chemically in our brains that cause additions.  I determined I am addicted to caffeine.  As I write this, I sip Diet Mt. Dew.

That was our experience in a nutshell.  We returned home with loads of information, new ideas, and sore muscles.  But we also returned with renewed excitement to help others discover the joy and benefits of fitness.  Poor Addison has bore the brunt of our newfound knowledge.  I am constantly saying, “Hey, try this!  It’s really hard, but an awesome exercise!  No, really!  Get down on the ground and let me do push-ups and tricep dips on your back, and then you can do them on mine!”

If you get a chance, get on YouTube and look up Beyonce’s ‘I Was Here’.  The keynote speaker, Lawrence Biscontini, used this in his presentation.  It is about leaving your mark on the world; I will be sharing it with my eighth graders this year.  It’s an amazing reminder that we need to do for others so that when we leave this world, those left behind know we were here!