Yet Another Fitness Adventure!

Guess what I tried? Stand Up Paddleboarding!

If you are wondering what we are all looking at, the instructor is in the middle giving a safety lesson. Yay paddleboards!

If you are wondering what we are all looking at, the instructor is in the middle giving a safety lesson. Yay paddleboards!

Yep, it was another adventure! My boxing/fitness studio offered the class. The owner said that in summer fewer people go to the gym, so the studio offers some speciality programs to keep people motivated. Sometimes it’s high intensity classes in the studio and sometimes it’s one-off classes like this.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. The studio emailed us about the class back in June. At that time I assumed that by late July it would be hot. You know, the way late summer usually is. However, this has been a particularly cool summer here in the Midwest. How cool? Well, that morning when I got up, it was 58 degrees. We also had a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms that night. On top of weather concerns, I had “first class” jitters. You know what I mean – those silly butterflies that say things like:

  • You are going to fall in the lake many, many times, and unlike when you fail at other things, everyone will be staring at you.
  • You do not have balance. You do not know what you are doing. Why are you taking this class?
  • You do not know how to dress for this. The email said to bring layers… but you are on a board on a lake, what does that even mean???
  • It is going to storm.
  • The lake will be cold.
  • You will fall in, then lightening will strike your head.

(Okay, maybe I wasn’t really worried about that last one.)

But you know… I had said I would go. Plus there was a nonrefundable equipment rental fee. And the thunderstorm warnings were moved until later that night. So, I packed a bag with everything I could think of (two towels, water bottle, sweatshirt, spare shoes, etc.) and after work, headed to the lake.

I didn’t need worry. Standup Paddleboards are a lot more stable than they look. In fact, the only time I got wet was carrying my board out of the water to the shore. I never fell in, and even if I had, everyone was super supportive of the folks that took a swim. As one gal said, “Once you fall in, it stops being scary. What’s going to happen? I’ll get more wet?”

This class was awesome on a number of levels. First of all, one of my goals with fitness is to try everything. I am so, so new at all this. I hated sports as a kid and for most of my life, I was not athletic. I’m still learning what I like, and what I don’t. I figure that the best way to learn that is just to try everything. That’s also why I took Pilates the other day – it’s all about new experiences.

I’m trying to be anti-fragile. Nerd Fitness has a great article about that here: Becoming Antifragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos. If I am going to make fitness a way of life, I don’t want to be locked into anything. I know myself, I can become obsessed. Then, if something goes wrong, I have a tendency to drop it like a hot potato. I don’t want that to derail me. Having a huge list of things that help me keep active that I love is much better than being obsessed with just one thing.

Another great thing? I got out on a new lake! This particular lake is really close to my house, but I have never had the opportunity to get out on it. We didn’t go all that far around, but even still I got to see the lake in a whole new way. I love that.

To my surprise, I was fairly decent at it. For most of my life I’ve been the slow one, the uncoordinated one, the one who didn’t understand the rules, the one who sat on the sidelines. Being picked last for kickball – after the kid with the leg braces – can be really hard on your kiddo self esteem. As an adult, I don’t mind it as much. I’m much better at accepting that I have a higher learning curve when it comes to physical fitness than others. I spent most of my life in my head, wrapped up in books and art, this fitness thing is all new to me. I can accept that and be comfortable with the notion that I can get better with practice. However, in this SUP class, I felt like I held my own. I wasn’t in the front of the pack, but I also wasn’t in the back. I’d say, front of the middle. At the end when we held a relay race, I did my part and felt great about it (there were some who were too scared to try.)

Which brings up another thing – I did it! Like I said, I was nervous about it, but I did it. (And I would go again in a heartbeat.) All this fitness stuff has given me a confidence in myself that I’ve never had before. I always knew I could trust my brain to get me through most situations, but I have never had that kind of faith in my body. SUP requires your whole body – from toes to head – and I felt good about it.

When I called Julian after the class he answered the phone with, “Hello Adventurer!” It was the best thing he could have said.

Feeling Grateful

album-gratitudeI have two journals. This one, and a physical blank book I write in at home over breakfast. The home journal is for stream of consciousness writing, mostly centered around weight loss, diet, exercise and so forth. It’s my little space to get all the thoughts in my head out and onto the page. Honestly, it is pretty repetitive and occasionally seriously whiney, and having it helps me not bore you all with it!

However, there is one aspect of that journal that I really love. In addition to all the stuff about fitness and whatnot, I also try to include things I am grateful for and the good things I am doing for myself; things like spending time with people I love, reading good books, trying something new, and connecting with old friends.

Today I thought I would share a few things that I am deeply grateful for. In no particular order: 

  • My amazing sister. She has been such a cheerleader through my journey. We don’t always talk or see each other as much as I would like, but we’re working on it. And I love the friendship that keeps growing between us.
  • The lovely lady over at Owls and Orchids who nominated me recently for an award. Those of you that read this little blog and take a moment to comment or say hello make my day. I am grateful for your support.
  • Your blogs. I have learned from you all, laughed with you, and have been inspired so much by all of you. I honestly think that I’ve felt more confident in getting out there and trying new things because I see all that you are doing. You guys awe, inspire and motivate me!
  • My friends. They are rock stars! Some times we see each other a lot, other times hardly at all, but I know they are always there for me and always want the best for me. I know not everyone has a network of supportive friends and that I am lucky, lucky gal.
  • Technology. I keep saying this phrase: I love living in the future! Sure, I know that there are a lot of negatives to all the screen time we have nowadays, but when used well, technology is amazing. It has helped me to lose weight, start running, connect with friends (old and new), meditate, make healthy meals, find running and biking trails… the list goes on and on.
  • My health. I know I talk about it a lot, but I feel so different from I did. I have more energy and more zest for the everyday. …of course, I also have a lot more aches and pains. (Thanks, strength training!!) Still, now that I have been focusing on it, I am all the more grateful for what I have. So many folks struggle with health issues – my heart goes out to them. I may not be exactly where I want to be fitness-wise, but I am healthy and feeling good. It is something to be thankful for.
  • My guy. Julian and I have been together a little over 3 years now and things just keep getting better and better. How great is that?

What can I say? Though sometimes I get overwhelmed and frustrated, I have to say, life is good. I am very, very fortunate. It’s good to look back and remember all that.

Learning to Hoop!

Hula Hooping Girl by Steven Depolo

Bikes and Hoops!

My birthday last weekend was a celebration of fitness goals. Boxing! Biking! and… HOOPS!

I’ve said before that one of my goals is to learn to hoop. Why? During a garage sale about a year ago or so, Julian brought over two giant hoops that belonged to his kids. The weather was beautiful and practically everyone jumped in on the fun. These were BIG hoops (one is over 5′) and the bigger the hoop, the easier it is. My friends, people shopping our garage sale, tons of folks grabbed a hoop and gave it a whirl.

I didn’t, however. I didn’t know how, and honestly, I was scared of making a fool out of myself. A lot of it had to do with my size. I felt uncomfortable doing something like that in front of people at my weight.

"only the fools end up being cool" by we wander & wonder

“only the fools end up being cool” by we wander & wonder

Julian also happens to have a friend who teaches hooping classes and workshops. We’ve seen her perform several times and each time there is a little girl inside of me squealing, “I want to try that!!” But I never thought I would have the guts. Then I started losing weight, and as I have written about before, getting involved in fitness has helped me get over my fear of looking like a fool. When we were kids learning something new, we didn’t care about being perfect, but somehow, when we get older we develop this weird belief that we should be perfect at anything we try. The fear that we won’t be perfect, that we will look foolish, is what holds us back.

I am feeling better about taking risks, so I decided to find out more about hooping. I had been meaning to ask Julian’s friend if she would maybe do a private lesson, when what should pop up on my Facebook feed? An announcement that she was teaching a Hooping Workshop the day after my birthday! It seemed like kismet. I signed up.

It was fantastic. And you know what? I’m not very good. I doubt anyone after just one workshop is great, but I don’t have a very good sense of my body. I don’t have much rhythm and I am not very flexible. These things that help with learning how to hoop. But who cares? I got a great workout, had fun and learned something new. The class was awesome, the instructor kind, and every one of us dropped, flung and tripped on our hoops. I am covered with tiny, tiny bruises from hip to ankle from when the hoop fell. I’ll probably never perform my hooping in front of people, but would I go to another class? You bet!

Photo credit: Hula Hooping Girl by Steven Depolo

Magical Wishes

Genie Lamp by DavidD on flickrI ran across this article on Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty on the fallacy of weight loss miracle cures. (They have so many great articles over there, check them out if you get a chance.) Anyway, it reminded me of something that’s been happening in my own life in regards to my weight loss: dealing with the question: So, what are you doing?

It comes up almost every time I bump into someone who hasn’t seen me for awhile. I have a small frame, so my weight loss is fairly obvious. Inevitably the So, what are you doing?question comes up. The frustrating thing is that they don’t really want to know. No one wants to hear the real answer. If I start to tell the truth, “I used the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track calories.” their eyes glaze over and they look away. I have actually had someone, a friend, turn her head and start a new conversation with someone else while I was in the middle of that sentence, at about “on my phone to track…” The truth is what everyone already knows – there is only one way to lose weight: burn more calories than you are taking in. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Different methods work for different people, but what it comes down to is, you have to work out a little more and eat foods that are (mostly) good for you. But, of course, that isn’t what people want to hear. What they want is a miracle cure. They want to take a pill or an extract and have the “pounds melt away.”

The other thing that happens is that people hear I am running and think that is how I lost weight. It isn’t, and frankly, it really irritates me when people leap to that assumption. I know what they’re doing. They are finding a reason they can’t lose weight themselves. It goes something like this: Oh, she’s a runner now and lost a bunch of weight, but I can’t do that because (insert reason for not running) so therefor, I can’t lose weight like her. What I try to explain is that I lost the weight first. I was not running at my heaviest. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the heck out of people that are out there running while overweight. Talk about being brave and strong! I see those folks out on the trails and I always want to run up and shake their hand and tell them how awesome I think they are. (I don’t because that would be weird, but I think about it.) But that wasn’t me. Instead, I waited until I was at a size where I felt more comfortable, and that’s when I started running. I don’t run to lose weight. I run to keep the weight off. I also run to increase my stamina, my endurance and my confidence in myself. I run because I am finding I can do a lot more than I ever thought possible – but that all came after the weight.

I was venting to Julian about all this and he came up with the absolutely perfect solution. He gave me a phrase to use:

Well, I have two wishes left… and you know what?  I am taking offers…

I’ve used it a bunch. It never fails to get a laugh – usually accompanied by an eye roll. It directly confronts the magical cure mentality in a harmless way. If they press, I typically following it up with “I eat a little less, I work out a little more,” and leave it at that. Weight loss is a really personal journey. I have a few dear friends I can talk about it with, but otherwise I try not to talk about it too much, except here on my blog with you, dear reader!

Photo credit: davidd

This is Your Brain on Love

hearts on a nail from flickrJulian, my brilliant boyfriend, is going back to school right now. One of the things I love about people I know going back to school is that I frequently get to reap the benefits of their education. I love learning new things and I love when people share things they have learned with me. Speaking of love – check out what Julian learned recently:

When you are in love your brain releases two types of chemicals: dopamine and norepinephrine. It turns out, there is another time when your brain releases these types of chemicals… when you are involved in task based goals. When Julian said that, I immediately shouted out “I am in love with losing weight!”

Obviously, everyone has their own idea of what works for them, but we cannot underestimate the power of being able to check off boxes or cross things off lists. For me, the apps I use (My Fitness Pal and Run Keeper) have been the biggest keys to my success. I’ve thought before that using them feels like a video game to me – they make me happy. Of course, what are my favorite kinds of video games? The kind based around task based goals. I love Find the Hidden Object games and Time Management and Strategy games. Likewise when I get to the end of the day and click the “Complete This Entry” for my daily dairy on My Fitness Pal, I feel like I just won a round of the game.

There is a dark side to this, however. Just like in love, that euphoric feeling of completing the same goals over and over can wear off in time. That doesn’t mean that love dies, instead, hopefully, it goes from the giddy first rush of passion to a stable, loving, long term relationship. That is what I have to do when I move from loving the rush of losing weight to trying to maintain my weight loss: find stable and healthy routines and habits to keep it going through the years.

 

If you find this kind of thing as interesting as I do, here’s a couple of links to check out:

What Your Heart and Brain are Doing When You’re In Love (cnn.com)

Happiness, Hope and Optimism by Patricia A. Dunavold

This is Your Brain on Love (A great podcast from Radiolab)

Photo credit: PV KS