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.

A Tough Decision

I made a deal with myself. If I could run nine miles this past weekend, I would sign up for the Derby Mini. I ran nine miles. I haven’t signed up. I just keep going back and forth and back and forth. I eeked out nine miles without walking, but at a slow pace; I averaged 11-minute miles. Last year – presurgery, pre-physical therapy – Jackie and I ran ten miles at a 9:20 pace while training. That’s super-fast for me. The last half marathon I completed, I ran a 9:09 pace – that’s smokin’ fast for this grandma! Saturday as I ran, I kept telling myself that the pace didn’t matter; I just wanted to see if I could run nine miles. I told myself (obviously, I spend far too much time in conversation with myself) that should I choose to run Derby, time would not matter. It would be awesome just to finish.

It wasn’t long ago that the idea of ever being able to run 13 miles again seemed as impossible as winning the lottery. I don’t play the lottery. Saturday, it seemed within reach. My run was difficult; I still don’t have my endurance built back up. At the four mile mark I said some not-so-nice words because I couldn’t believe I had only run four miles, and still had five to go. And then I got to five, and thought Only four more to go! I thought about the cheering crowds lining the streets of Louisville, and the drunk frat boys who always stand outside their house yelling as we run past. I thought about the little kids holding their sweaty hands out for high-fives as we trot by. I thought about my husband waiting for me at the finish line, and the pride that would be in his eyes as I cross the line (he truly is an amazing source of support for me). I LOVE the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon! There are 18,000 runners, tons of crowd support, and a beautiful course. I want to be there, and I don’t want to be on the sidelines. But (here I go) what will happen when I run through Churchill Downs? Will I have heart palpitations as I remember that point last year when my knee finally gave up? Will I cry? Would it be really cool to run that particular race because I haven’t run a race since last year’s Derby mini, and I returned to that same race? Is my knee really ready or will I just reinjure it by pushing too far too soon?

Derbymini

I have an appointment with my gyno this week (TMI?), and I will ask for his opinion. While that might sound odd, the reason I go to this particular doctor is that he is a marathoner and triathlete. No, he isn’t an orthopedic doctor, but I trust his opinion. He helped me through the half I ran after my hysterectomy. Funny story…last year at my appointment, I was sitting on that lovely table in my stylish paper towel gown, and we started talking about the IronMan that Gary and I had gone to watch. Doc whips out his Iphone and shows me pictures of him in that IronMan! Awkward. After talking with him, and attempting a 10-miler this weekend, I will decide. I will have to because they have a cap on the race, and if I wait too long, I won’t get in. And then I’ll be pissed.

In other news, Tabata Bootcamp is becoming quite the popular class! Breanne is starting her next session, and had to add another group because there wasn’t enough room in one class. My crazy-early-morning class also filled up, so I will also be adding another group. I will be teaching two classes before school on Mondays and Thursdays, and one class on Wednesdays. I see some early bedtimes in my near future. I am really enjoying having my evenings free to be a mom. After school today I was able to get groceries and fix dinner before the girls came home from tennis practice. While that might be typical in your home, it isn’t in mine. And I don’t have to feel guilty about not working out because I did Tabata and ran two miles before school today. Who knows? Perhaps I can do a better job at keeping up with this blog.

These will make me faster!

These will make me faster!

By next week, I will post my decision. Just in case I register, I ordered some super-cool new Asics! Although I had planned to get the Cumulus, the Asics 2000 come in a neon yellow that I just love, so that’s what I bought. I bet they make me really fast! When my daughters will little, any time they got new shoes, they would take off running and swear that the shoes made them fast. Now, who wants to run ten miles with me Saturday? And feel free to comment if you have an opinion on the Derby.

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!

Just What I Was Afraid Of

About four and a half years ago, Gary and I began running and our journey toward fitness and a healthier lifestyle.  For the first several months, I worried that I would quit because that’s what I had always done.  I would get excited about exercise, and then after a few weeks, I would skip a workout, and then another, and soon I just gave it up altogether.  Only four years ago, I didn’t stop.  I kept running until soon I could run 13.1 miles.  I kept running, and friends joined me.  I kept running, and began having others ask for my advice.  We also biked and did some other at-home workouts, and after a couple years, I added Zumba to my workout routine.  Fast forward to Summer 2013, and Gary and I are both instructors at Everbody’s Fitness.  Heck, we two used-to-be-out-of-shape-middle-aged-non-athletes even attended – and survived – a fitness conference.  And now it’s stopped.

Four and a half years later and I am totally struggling with motivation.  We are still coaching a Biggest Loser team, but I need it as much as our team members.  I am back to teaching Zumba, but there are five other days in the week I am not exercising.  Oh, I have excuses.  We have been crazy busy with Addison’s golf and band, and I have a new teaching position this year that is keeping me incredibly busy.  But realistically, I feel worthless.  After my surgery, I was unable to exercise for a few weeks, and that quickly got me out of the habit of making time to workout.  I still can’t do what I really want to do, which is run, so I just don’t do anything.  Every day I tell myself that tomorrow I will do a DVD I bought at the conference, and every day I find some lame reason to avoid it.  Each day I say that the following day I will eat better.  I usually have those little discussions with myself after I’ve seen the number increase on the scale or when I put on a skirt or pants that are too tight.  That seems to be happening a lot.

As I was teaching Zumba last Tuesday night, reality stared me in the face; I was in a mirrored studio for 45 minutes.  All I could see was my once-toned-now-flabby belly and the love handles that are making a repeat appearance.  I worked my ass off that night, and have done nothing since.  Next week I begin teaching Tabata Bootcamp.  I have my group of 15 participants, but I don’t know if they all realize that they will be helping me as much as I help them.  I am going to be working that bootcamp just the same as all of them, and I hope it’s just what I need to get my head back in the game.

I still question whether or not I will be able to run again.  I guess only time will tell.  The thought of starting over from the beginning is something I find nauseating.  It took years to gain the endurance and speed (I use that term lightly) I was finally proud of, and only a few months to lose it completely.  I haven’t had a good run since early April.  I so envy all those who are training for the Evansville Half Marathon, a race I PR’d at last fall.  My husband will be running, and several of our friends will be running their first half marathons that day, so I plan to be at the finish line cheering them on.  I have to admit, though (and my husband can attest to this), the last time I did this it didn’t go so well.  I was so depressed that I wasn’t running that I couldn’t enjoy the race at all.  I was actually a big baby.  I can’t say that I won’t be a little (or extremely) sad, but I will be equally proud of those who thought they’d never run a 13.1, and will cross that line.  I remember my first time…it was incredible!

I don’t share this blog for sympathy or accolades.  I share it because I want everyone who is struggling to know that we all struggle at some point.  Even those of us who have been working at this whole fitness thing for a long time have days when we want to eat every sweet and every chip we see.  We have days we go through Walmart and shop in the middle (supposedly the healthy foods are all on the perimeter of the store).  We have days we eat pancakes, sausage, eggs, and fried potatoes for supper (well, it was really good).  And then we suck it up and get back to business.  It’s time for me to suck it up.  It’s time for me stop sucking it in.  Tomorrow.  I’ll start tomorrow.

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!

Super Crazy Fitness

This is it…the week we have planned for all summer…the week will will find out what we’re made of.  On Wednesday, Gary and I will leave for Atlanta, and will participate in Atlanta Mania, a fitness conference.  I have been to conferences for the beauty industry, the Atlanta Gift Market, and education conferences.  They required nothing of me except my attendance and eagerness to absorb new knowledge.  The days might have been tiring because we sat in classes all day, but we could rest up at night, and hit it again the next day.

This will be quite different.  This will push us to our physical limits, which are likely beyond where I really want to go.  On Thursday, Gary and I will both become certified to teach new classes – Gary will be certified to teach spinning, and I will teach Tabata Bootcamp.  The bootcamp classes at the gym will be thirty minutes long, and will include several different exercises that we will do at an intense level for a short period of time.  This is HIIT (high intensity interval workout), which works all body parts in short bursts, and increases caloric burn.  There is no one in this area who offers Tabata Bootcamps, so I am really excited about the potential.  (For those interested, the classes will begin in September, and will be early morning – 5:30 – classes.  Stayed tuned for more info in the coming weeks.)

Wednesday evening, the rest of the crew from Everbody’s will arrive in Atlanta.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we are all taking a variety of classes.  Most classes require working out.  Despite my attempts to be physically fit – okay, buff – I am really a wimp.  I have very little upper body strength.  My hope is that I will develop some by doing Tabata on a regular basis.  I have a Tabata Bootcamp feed on Facebook, and they always post pictures of new groups of trainers.  I always check them out, and it appears every single one of them is young and ultra-fit.  None appear to be grandmothers; I am a grandmother.  I hope they have mercy on me!

I signed up for classes such as kettlebell (those suckers are heavy), Zumba Sentao (even though I am an instructor, those classes are super hard when the badass instructors teach), and more bootcamp classes.  I also signed up for a Flirty Girl Workout.  Really.  Somehow I think I will be the oldest person in that class!  I signed up thinking I could learn some new choreography to incorporate into my Zumba classes.  Or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all.   I cannot begin to imagine how much Aleve we will go through.  I did sign up for a couple lecture as well; they will be a welcome break from the sweatfests.  I am even taking a nutrition class.  Those of you who know me know that I desperately need to improve my nutrition.  Perhaps I will come home and revamp my eating.  Or not.

So, this weekend when you’re cleaning house, boating, or camping, think of me.  I will be whining and struggling to fit in with all the buff instructors.  Most will probably be young enough to be my children.  When you see me Monday, and I am unable to move, you’ll know why.  I will have challenged myself.  I will have set my age aside and worked my tail off.

About running…I am still attempting to run a little while I await surgery.  My friend Jackie and I ran and walked a total of six miles Saturday, and then I ran three miles last night with some walking added in between.  This morning I met my friend Caroline, and she and I walked and ran two miles.  My knee hurts, but I want to keep moving.  I am going to walk with Jennifer before Zumba, and walk again with some of my Zumba group after class.  I will certainly get the miles in today.  I still miss running.  Even on these hot, sticky days, I want to run.  I know (well, I think) I will run again in time, but my patience is gone.  It’s frustrating when I am trying to do something healthy, and can’t.  As much as I have pushed others to persevere, even when it’s so stinkin’ hard, I know I cannot just quit.  I have to do everything in my power – including surgery – to run again.

If I can move my fingers, I plan to blog each evening we are at the conference.  And you know me, you’ll get an honest picture of how it’s going.  Now get off the computer or phone, and go do something active.  Don’t know what to do?  There’s a pretty awesome Zumba class at 6:30 at the Schergens Center.  Try it out!