What’s Up?

Sorry for the lame title-sometimes the creative juices are flowing, other times they aren’t. I’ll give you three guesses to which scenario is currently true…

Just wanted to send a quick update out there, I’m on rest day of Week SIX doing Hammer and Chisel. Six weeks, y’all! I’ve been doing this faithfully for six weeks! I’m finding I really like some of the workouts and really hate some of the others-but that’s true of any exercise program I’ve ever done, so no surprise there. What I didn’t expect was how much I truly enjoy weight lifting. I’ve always been an “all you need is your body” type exerciser-less hassle, more fun (gymnastics, yoga, martial arts, running…) but Brian and I did have one summer where we lifted consistently at the local Y several times a week. I always felt a bit like an interloper in the gym rat world, and although I learned how to use some equipment really well and I enjoyed the actual physical lifting part-I never learned to like the gym environment. Too many people around making me self conscious. So since weights are at gyms, no more weights. But this Hammer and Chisel stuff has let me do weights in my living room where the only hecklers are young enough that I can send them to their room in time out if I need to. And I really like weights.

weights

Form is crucial, so it is less slinging heavy objects around like a bulky behemoth (my previous weightlifting premise) and more carefully and precisely manipulating an object in conjunction with your body. Think more rhythmic gymnastics than tire lifts. I’m more aware of how I’m holding my back and abs, where my weight is in a squat, what muscles I’m isolating and “holding under tension” in every move-I’m learning and growing a lot in my simple understanding of how to exercise effectively. And it shows, literally. I’ve seen the most difference in my legs and my shoulders/upper back. My legs have slimmed down, revealing the muscle beneath the skin, and my shoulders and back have added shapes and lines marking out muscles that were previously almost non existent. My weight dropped the first four weeks, and has remained constant for the past two, but even though the scale doesn’t reflect anything in numbers, my physique continues to change. I love it!

I feel so strong, too! I’ve been tandem carrying both boys for awhile, despite them getting so big, and it used to make my arms and shoulder ache almost instantly. Now I can double carry them for a quarter mile while singing with no problem. It’s true I’m almost constantly sore, but I just feel powerful. I’ve got some fabulous thighs, y’all, those things are powerhouses, it is such an awesome feeling. I’m still struggling with pull ups and chin ups, but my push ups have improved without a doubt.

When starting this program I figured I’d stick it out for the 8 weeks and then immediately find something else-like PiYo, Cize, or p90x again. But now I think I’m going to hybridize my next workout schedule so that I keep Hammer and Chisel as part of it. Yeah, the routines are generally longer (35-45 minutes) but I like weight lifting that much.

It isn’t too late to join our 7 weeks ’til Spring Challenge group (even though it’s less than 7 weeks now, haha) and we’re getting ready to start new challenge groups in March and onward. It is never too late to get started, but it’s also never too early-you won’t see change unless you change. 😉  Email me if you have any questions, find  me on Facebook , and follow me on my recently added Instagram account @slowisapace .

Toodles!

A Tale of Good Cheer

It’s just that, y’all. A tale. A fairy tale. Right now it’s a moment by moment struggle to engage with my boys and do the necessary things that need to be done. And all those well meaning people who say to relax and let the chores go-both boys had been wearing dirty clothes for two days before I got the laundry done. Yeah. I let things go, but there is a point where you HAVE to do the laundry (and thankfully my husband is pretty good about getting it started when he’s home. Bless him). And unless we don’t eat, dishes have to be washed. And unless I want Zane to break out in horrendous diaper rash as he leaks soggy who knows what all over the house-diapers have to be changed.

And that’s the challenge. It sounds great to just “relax” but the truth is most people can’t. Yeah, I absolutely think an all inclusive free vacation to the beach would do wonders to get my emotions back on track, but that just isn’t going to happen. Life still happens when you’re depressed and you are still expected to be an active participant.

SO, I wake up every morning, I pray, I get out of bed and get oatmeal started for the boys, pray, do some dishes, pray, fix my own breakfast, pray, you get the idea. And I make it through the day. Some days are great, most days are just typical, and a few days are downright bad. Last week was mostly bad.

But I don’t intend to make this depression post depressing, because the truth is- I AM making it. I’m getting my workouts in, I’m not nearly as fatigued or brain fogged as is normal for me, and even though deliberately figuring out ways to engage with the boys is at times frustrating-it’s working. Brian is a constant source of help and support, the balanced nutrition seems to have really helped with diminishing the physical symptoms (like headache and lethargy). Bible study on Thursday with PWOC has been awesome. The boys are no longer sick and are back to their silly, sweet, rambunctious selves.

It’s a struggle, sure, but I don’t focus on it too much. I take one day at a time. I don’t look ahead, and a I don’t look back, I just keep moving (this is not how I approach life ALL the time, just in this season). I smile even when it feels strange on my face, I laugh even if it’s a little forced, I focus on the little pleasures and happy moments when they happen-storing them up like a squirrel hording nuts. Truthfully-I have a lot of those nuts.

That’s all I really wanted to post. I guess I could’ve posted a cheerful update about my workout progress (because I’m still making progress through Hammer and Chisel) but this is a more accurate representation of my life right now. Head down, gritting teeth, one step at a time…

Progress!

“BOOM Baby!”

Sorry, the boys have been sick so a few days ago I let them watch “The Emperor’s New Groove” before bedtime. I’m no Kronk-but I’m no Yzma either. I’ve got MUSCLES! Whoop whoop!

We (the Hammer and Chisel Challenge Group) completed the first month on Sunday and everyone posted the progress they had made since starting and OH MY GOODNESS. So cool. I love this community! I love being surrounded by people who are making living healthy a priority! Not “THE” priority in their life,  but “A” priority-so they can enjoy all the rest of their priorities, duh! Health is such a blessing, and a healthy foundation in your life opens up so many more opportunities and can enrich everything you undertake. It was awesome to see the toning up, the strength, the change in body shapes-muscles were popping up on everybody!

Personally, I have slimmed in some areas (thighs, hams, glutes, abs) and added in others (shoulders, triceps, back, calves). My measurements balanced to a net loss of 4.75 inches-I am beyond pleased. And the POWER! I am chaffing at the bit for some higher weight on some exercises-itty bitty arms that I have, I’m gunning for some guns! My squats are in total beast mode, no fudging, I get those hamstrings parallel to the ground. Par-all-flippin-el! I can do 4 chinups, so many more push ups, THREE consecutive pull ups (what what!) it feels so good! I’m still sore a lot, especially as I keep pushing the weight, and I love to see the crazy changes in my body shape.

You guys, I thought I was stuck. Despite running and exercise, I’ve been pretty much the same shape-just incrementally fluffier-for three years. And I was honestly not that bothered by it-sure I wished I could be a little fitter, but I assumed it would take hours at the gym or some extreme calorie restriction and I just ain’t about that. I started this beachbody thing with PiYo and I dropped a pound or two and started seeing some changes in my upper body, then I rolled into p90x3 and continued to see small, but steady improvements -but life happened and interrupted for about two months. When Hammer and Chisel started in January I actually started paying attention to the nutrition side of things and BAM now in a single month the changes are startling!

It is fantastic. I am so motivated to push through this next month. STICK TO THE PLAN. I’m loving this!

A Post on Seasonal Affective Disorder in Which I Throw Kale Under the Proverbial Bus.

I stand huddled in my jacket on the carport, one eye on Zane happily slamming chalk into the concrete, the other at Cade digging rocks out with his plastic pliers. Both keep up a running commentary-Cade articulating how hard he is working and the difficulty of his task, Zane babbling nonsense and playing with his tongue. And I stand, both restless and lethargic. I could check my phone-no, I am not going to keep my phone in front of my face around the boys, I could draw with Zane-but then I’d have to sit down and then Cade would come over and they’d most likely fight and…no…maybe I could bring my book out to read while they played-but if I open the door they’ll come swarming over to see what’s going on and I’m not sure I really feel like reading. I’m not sure I really feel like doing anything. But I’m bored. How much time has passed? I check my phone for just the time-three minutes. I have been standing here for just three minutes.

Cade comes galloping up in his funny knees-together-wiggle run, dirt smeared across his face, hair sticking out all over. “Do you want to play with me, mommy? Come play with me? Dig rocks with me mommy?” With effort I put a smile on my face, feeling distant and detached, “I’ve got to keep an eye on Zane, bud.” Cade’s face falls, “Oh.” the disappointment in his voice is heart breaking, or at least some part of me thinks so. “You want to play, too, Zane bug?” Cade asks his chalk pounding sibling. Zane looks up, forever appearing bemused that the world exists around him, but agreeably gets to his feet and toddles off after his older brother. “Ok, bud, I’ll come play, too.” I muster up a smile and using what feels like all the effort I have pick up a plastic cup and go help my sons collect rocks.

At nap time I look around at the absolute disaster the house has become-toys and clothing scattered everywhere, floors heaped with crumbs and friffles, piles on every available surface, laundry in the dirty hamper, laundry in the dryer, laundry in the clean hamper still waiting to be folded, dishes in the sink, dirty pots left on the stove. The book I am currently reading sits on the  table waiting to be read-and it is only mildly more appealing then the ever increasing list of cleaning I should do. As I sigh and sit at the table-continuing to ignore the serious state of crumbling neglect around me-it hits me. Dang it. I thought I could avoid it this year.

Every year. Every gosh darn year I struggle with this seasonal depression. Some years are worse then others, sometimes the depression manifests in different ways, but it always happens. Every fall I am determined to avoid it, every winter it happens, every spring I gleefully shrug it off. I managed farther into the season than usual this year, but still it has wormed it’s way in. It used to be just annoying, but now it alarms me. I’m a mom. I can’t afford for my depression to effect my kids, they don’t understand like my husband can that it’s temporary and typical. This year it has been the sense of disinterested detachment that is tearing me apart. These are my boys. My beautiful, vibrant, fun loving boys. I used to love to engage and play-now I can’t figure out how. I told my husband last night that I realized how little I had picked them up recently and it bothered me. They need to be held and loved on frequently. I love them-why has this suddenly become such an onerous burden?!

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I can’t believe it took me a full week to pick up on the signs. The increased morbid anxiety over Brian coming home from work. The inability to get excited about things. My frustration with reading-which is usually such a pleasure. And the feeling like I have to try harder and harder every day to engage with my own children. Whoa. Red flags everywhere.

It is the end of January, so thankfully I only have a few more weeks of winter left, but it’s time, again, to confront my seasonal demons. Once I know why I am reacting a certain way, it is much easier for me to replace the negative with the positive. My game plan is simple.

  1. I will continue to workout-endorphins are such a blessing and would explain why I feel more “kid friendly” after I exercise-but I may also add in some running when I have the time. Running specifically relaxes my brain in sort of a numbing, mindless, rambling way that counting reps and following a routine just can’t do-plus it is outside, which is a MUST for me when fighting off depression.
  2. Conscious prioritizing-now that I know what’s going on, it’s time to prioritize. Lowest on the list is the house. I’ll clean when I can, but I’m letting the stress go. Just as predictable as this depression is the weird burst of frenetic cleaning energy I get come spring. The house will survive. Highest on the list is Brian and the boys. Me time is up there, too, but with depression, the best way to get myself out of it is to focus on others. Depression traps me in my own head, the last thing I need is more time to focus on it.
  3. Reading to the boys individually is back on my to do list-it is one of the best ways for me to connect and interact, although it takes some creativity to get each one by himself.
  4. Once I’m done with my current book-no more books. It seems counter intuitive, but when I’m depressed often reading makes me MORE depressed because I struggle to engage with the book and it makes me angry to struggle with something that usually brings me so much joy. So I abstain from reading until I’m in a better mood and can enjoy it.
  5. Double check my meal plans and make some swaps to make sure I’m getting quite a bit of Vitamin D, B6 and B12, and folate (hello mushrooms, red meat, and spinach/kale). Maybe it’s because of my current nutrition plan which has me eating truly balanced for the first time in my life-but I’m not experiencing the extreme fatigue that usually accompanies depression for me. Mindlessness, boredom, anxiety, detachment-got those in spades-but fatigue and headache (my typical depression wingmen) are strangely absent.
  6. Lastly, but actually first, is prayer. I am so glad I’m doing a prayer study group through PWOC, because I’ve always struggled in this area (I’m good with theory but lousy with application). Depression is always where I rely on prayer more and conversely desire more consistency in my prayer life when I’m NOT depressed. I want a deeper, richer connection with my Savior all the time-not just when I’m unhappy.

For me, acknowledging the depression is always half the battle. Once I realize what is going on, it’s like its hold on me is weakened. The negative thoughts creep in and I shake my head, banishing them because I know they stem from untruth. It’s easier to push through the apathy, it’s easier to be stern with the groundless irritation, by giving depression its name I take away the mystery and its power over me.

But it is still a struggle. I have good days, not so good days, and really, really bad days. That’s the way it goes. I’m posting this here because I know sometimes “healthy living” people can seem relentlessly cheerful. “OMG endorphins are the best! And I look fab, too! *all the heart emojis*” “Don’t you just LOVE kale?!” “Killer workout, totally worth it #healthiswealth” etc., etc., etc.. Couple that with the motivational memes, “You can do anything!” “Pick your hard” “Be your best self” blabbity blah, and us health advocates can come across pretty maniacally.

This is a lifestyle choice. It isn’t the only lifestyle out there. It does have a host of positive benefits that I believe are well worth it (and yes, better than other lifestyles) -but it is a lifeSTYLE, not a “life”. Life happens to all of us, regardless of our style, it’s how we choose to deal with life that shapes our experiences.

So yes, I’m a health nut, yes, I struggle with depression, yes I use exercise and nutrition to combat said struggles. No, I am not maniacally cheerful all the time (just don’t ask anyone who heard me make radio calls while I worked as a medic, they have a biased opinion. 😉 ). No, kale does not cure mental illness (it’s ok, kale, I still like you). I have used fitness to help beat the winter blues before and that’s my goal again this year. Just because you can’t prevent depression with salad doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still eat salad.

I guess what I kind of want to say with this post is, wherever you are in your life, whatever imbalances you are struggling to right-be they mental, emotional, physical-, whatever personal demons you continue to fight, however healthy or unhealthy your choices may be-you are not a failure because you have room for improvement, you’re simply a work in progress dealing with life.

This is my current struggle. It, too, shall pass. 🙂

Go Big or Go…Home?

Um, I AM home.

Let me tell you something-I never dreamed I’d be a stay at home workout video kind of girl. I did competitive gymnastics starting at 6, then swim team (briefly, I kept getting kicked out of the water for turning blue, sigh #skinnygirlproblems), then track and field (high jump and hurdles), marching band (colorguard), and simultaneously martial arts. I kept up with the martial arts through college as well as adding trail running to the list. And I added weights, too. My then-friend-now-husband spent one semester doing weights three-four times a week with me and running almost daily. I was probably close to the best shape I have ever been in my life. I was lean, toned, and strong. My last year of college I did competitive ballroom dance (hands down my favorite form of exercise). The common theme though? None of those things were done at home. One of the strong appeals of exercise for me was that it got me OUT of my living space. I’m not naturally inclined to be social (woohoo for introverts!) but I get fusty stuck at home all day. Exercise is great because it invites little small talk (seriously, you gym chatterboxes need to go bug someone else, I have ten more reps) and yet I am around people so I don’t turn into a complete hermit. The various martial arts I did (American Freestyle, Kenpo, Aikido, Judo…) had more interaction, but even then it was hard to do more than cheerfully insult each other. And you are generally concentrating too hard on looking like you aren’t concentrating during ballroom to chat at all.

The exception to the “social but not really” rule is running with my “then-friend-now-husband”. But he is an exception that proves the rule, so we’ll leave it at that.

In any case, I scoffed at home workouts. Then I started working as a medic. Dude, that was ENOUGH out of the house. When I wasn’t working, I didn’t want to go ANYWHERE. But the fluff started creeping on ounce by ounce, and the mental/emotional benefits that exercise brings was sorely needed- so I ran with my dog at the local State Park, and Brian bought me a treadmill, and, at last, I bought a home workout DVD.

If any of you have been in a similar boat you KNOW how hard it is to stay consistent with that crap. Long story short-I wasn’t. The DVD quickly collected dust on the TV stand because I was bored to pieces with the same routine and ready to throttle the woman for her stupid cheerful cliche encouragements. Don’t even talk to me about the treadmill. I doggedly kept trying to run, and even managed to run several races while pregnant with my first son. 4 months after his birth I did a half marathon, 2 months later I did a Tough Mudder. 2 months later I found out I was pregnant again and all thoughts of training for an ultra marathon flew out the window. Now I’ve got two small boys under three years old, neither of whom will sit in a stroller for longer then ten minutes-and then ONLY if I ply them continuously with food, toys, and conversation.

So here I am. I’ve done a month long PiYo regime, 6 weeks of p90x3, and now almost 4 weeks of Hammer and Chisel. I own weights from 3-25lbs. I have a stability ball. Brian just bought me a sweet yoga mat. We’ve got a home gym. I regularly do workouts on my TV. The difference for me has been 1)necessity-none of my other workout methods were available and/or working, 2) community-I enjoy the online community I’m a part of, it helps keep me encouraged and motivated and not feeling like I’m all alone in this process, and 3) accountability-that same community holds me accountable. We’re all in it together. They keep me from skipping workouts because I’m bored/annoyed/tired/slept weird/socks don’t match/etc.

I’m a home gym TV workout girl now-and I surprisingly love it. That isn’t to say I’ll be a workout from home mom forever. I will run an ultra again-which means back to the running shoes-and I will one day drag my husband to a ballroom dance class. But a gym? Eh. Maybe when the boys are grown and gone and I need an outing? Seems like a waste of time. For this season of my life, this is where I am. And I have changed the fitness level of my body so much quicker than all those miles and pounds I pushed through in my early 20’s. I am rapidly approaching my “fit as I’ve ever been” after three years of insidious, creeping, health lethargy. Home gym for the win!

Although, to be honest, the cheerfully encouraging “you can do it-push harder!” cliches DO eventually make me want to throttle the instructors. That’s what the “mute” button is for. 😉

Sunday Dinner

I had hotdogs for my “protein” dinner allotment. I had hotdogs and cheesy orzo (a pasta) for my carb and healthy fat containers as well. Dinner tonight took me back to when I was five and liked my hotdogs “naked” and I lived off of macaroni and cheese. I was SUPPOSED to have made a chicken, asparagus, sweet potato dish that I love-but it was not to be.

An hour before dinner I was holding my 1 year old on the glider in the living room while he squirmed and hollered and tears rolled down his cheeks. I had banished my husband and eldest son outside while there was still light, and I sat in that chair and sang, “How Great Thou Art” over the wailing. Sometimes I was able to massage his belly. He farted quite a bit. And I finally gave up on the idea that I’d be able to get the sweet potatoes in the oven in time for dinner. But I remembered we had hotdogs.

An hour before that I had to wake up my still sleeping sick boy (after thoroughly checking his crib for vomit) because if I let him sleep any later he wouldn’t go down for bedtime-I was already pushing that line. He was sprawled out with his butt in the air, face plastered into his stuffed brontosaurus, one leg sticking out beneath the blanket burrito rolled around his midsection.

Rewind to last night, putting the boys down, Zane having thrown up a total of 6 times since the afternoon. He was exhausted and limp and I was paranoid (as all mothers are paranoid) and slept with one eye open.

You guys, I still have one purple container to eat (grapes-which I’ll eat before bed) and a red and a green (protein and veggie) and it just isn’t going to happen. Tonight I’m not going to make my nutrition plan. It has been a stinky 24+ hours with poop explosions, projectile vomit, and a very fussy little guy. I got my workout in. I didn’t have any “extra” containers. But I’m not going to make that perfect meal plan tonight. You know what? That is perfectly fine.

Life happens. And I could spend time beating myself up about not magically producing dinner even though I was battling a sick munchkin, or I could’ve tried harder to make dinner despite the sick munchkin-and most likely made us all even more upset. But that is foolishness. There is no point to this fitness crap if it takes away from my life. Yes, it hurts to workout. Yes, some days I reeeeeeallly want that extra slice of cheese. Yes, living a healthy lifestyle requires some sacrifice and a lot of struggle-but it isn’t healthy if it is making me and my family miserable. My family is my motivation to be healthy, but that health goes deeper than food and exercise. There is a balance, and tonight that balance was struck on the other side of my meal plan-and that is where it should be.

But conversely, how many suffer from physical ailments that sap you from living your life? Being healthy is more than “weight loss”, it’s also about figuring out and eating the foods that work best for your body. It’s about building strength in your muscles, boosting your metabolism, righting hormone imbalances, maintaining bone density. It’s about setting a strong foundation for your immune system. I am not suggesting that diet and exercise can cure all the physical ills in the world but it is almost guaranteed to help at least a tiny bit-and usually so much more. We look to pills to solve a lot of our illnesses-and boy am I not adverse to modern medicine, I find it fascinating and incredible the advancements made in this field!-but the thing is, a lot of those pills are tasked to solve problems that a balanced diet and exercise WOULD help solve (like high blood pressure, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis). In fact, most doctors recommend diet and exercise to their patients-most patients just ignore them. Again, I am not saying you just need to walk enough miles and you can cure cancer, I am saying, however, that you are partially responsible for your health. You cannot change the genes you have been given, but it is silly to just stop holding up your end of the bargain and expect a miracle pill to do all the work. If you are not taking care of your body, do not be surprised when it starts to fail you. And if you are plagued with fatigue and headaches and chronically sick-your body is not in a healthy place.

You need to find your balance for you. If you are just fine with where you are health wise then great! Keep it up! But if you aren’t-you might need to consider your health a priority, because if you don’t invest in it now statistically speaking it will fail you sooner rather than later. Do you want to be able to push yourself up the corporate ladder to the very top? Do you want to be active with your kids as they grow? Do you want to be able to play with your grand kids? Do you want to travel the world? Build your own business? Start your own charity/campaign/service? Whatever your dreams are, you need to be ALIVE to do them, and to do them well you need to be in a place of physical strength.

I know this all sounds so cliche-but it is true regardless. So I challenge you to take a hard look at where you are health wise, and if you just want to talk to someone about your options (Beachbody related or not) and where to start feel free to send me an email or connect with me on Facebook.

Seven Weeks Until Spring!

SPRING

Ok guys, February is my least favorite time of year. Last year I dyed my hair purple, this year I’m beginning a challenge! Seven weeks until springtime, let’s focus on our health so that we can power through the gloomy months instead of staying cocooned under our blankets wishing for the sunshine.

-If you want to get in better shape
-If you want to learn about nutrition and eating “clean”
-If you want to increase your endurance, your strength, your speed
-If you want to improve your health so you can do activities with the ones you love.
-If you’re just curious about the “Beachbody” thing

Come join me! This is a challenge for everyone, from ANY starting point on your fitness journey. Bring me your old knee injuries, your tired of cyclical dieting, your frustrated with gym creepers, your fatigue, your pain, your “just plain sick of it all” and lets see if we can get you started on something that works for YOU. (Beachbody offers money back guarantees on almost everything, too, so do it for a lark and return it if it doesn’t work). OR bring me your wanting “a bit more”, your “need to be faster”, your “stuck in a plateau” and let’s see if we can’t push your limits.

The rule is you have to commit to either drinking Shakeology for seven weeks, or commit to one of the workout programs (some of them are only 30 minutes a day. 30 minutes! With modified exercises! You can do that!). How much you want to do is up to you, but I’ll be right there with you head down, barreling through, praying for warmer, sunshine filled days. Follow the link to pick your poison! I mean, uh, find a healthier you!

**You can choose how you want to do your thing-through the accountability groups on facebook or through me just harassing-um-supporting you through emails, texts, what have you-or any combination! Start small, go big, just do SOMETHING. One step at a time, folks, slow is a completely acceptable pace (and faster then the guy sitting on the couch).

***Shakeology came out with a new Cafe Latte flavor, too, for all you coffee drinkers! OR you can add cold coffee DIRECTLY TO YOUR SHAKE. You can still have coffee, is what I’m saying. 😉

 

Just Keep Lifting…

Right around the middle of any program I usually experience a slump. I know it is coming, so I usually prepare myself for it, and when it happens there is a lot of stubborn, grit your teeth, just get it done mentality. Well, it hit me hard a few days ago with Hammer and Chisel. It just seemed impossible to be bothered with it all, I mean, really, what’s the harm of skipping a week of working out and adding three extra carb containers to my meal plan? Couple this with a few funky meals where I had to get creative with getting all my containers in and I started in with the, “I’m probably not doing it right, anyway.” “What’s the point when I can’t even do two weeks of this.” “I’ll never get to where I want to be, this isn’t working.”

Now, all evidence points to the contrary. I had been stuck on a fitness plateau despite  running, working out, and eating clean. I had gained strength-but seen no real physical changes. The fluff I had gained since college remained fluffy, just with stronger muscles beneath it. I started this program and my body is reshaping. I’ve lost 5 pounds, my upper abs are becoming visible, my shoulders and back are gaining definition, my legs are growing in places and shrinking in others-all the evidence points to this program very much working and yet I hit the mental/emotional slump anyway.

I’m saying this as encouragement, y’all. Because wherever you are in your fitness journey-you’re going to hit slumps, too. No matter WHAT is going on, no matter how healthy you feel, how much more energy you have, how much muscle you’ve gained-you’re going to wake up one day and question the point of doing all this annoying healthy crap.

It’d be so much easier just to order pizza every night for dinner. It’d be so much nicer to take a break during the kids nap and just read for a bit. It’d be so much more relaxing to skip workout and binge watch a tv show instead. And all of that is true. What ISN’T true, is that just because it is easier, nicer, or more relaxing it is necessarily better.

This flies in the face of cultural norms and the human predisposition, but the fact remains that discipline is better for us. And discipline is often harder, tougher, and more exhausting than other options. Now, my perfectionistic friends, slow your self righteous roll, because discipline applies to you, too. If you are beating yourself up for forgetting to bring your boiled eggs for your work snack, if you are ready to just stop the whole thing and try and start over fresh next month just because you missed a workout or two, if a few things not going as planned makes you quit because it just isn’t perfect- that mentality is actually undisciplined.

Discipline means understanding you are going to make mistakes-and trying again. Discipline means rejoicing at what you get right-and working on what you get wrong. Discipline means accepting and pushing through the inevitable failures. 

You are never going to get any healthier until you make an effort. You are never going to be perfect at living healthily, so relax. There is never a “right” time. There is very rarely a “better” time. There is almost always a “something” that you can do a little bit better. Accept that. Accept that you’re going to fail. Accept that failure is a part of success. And when you hit a slump, sing the Dory song from “Finding Nemo” with whichever verb you need.

“Just keep lifting…just keep lifting…what do we do? We lift, lift, liiiiift!”

Day 3

Tonight wraps up Day 3 of Hammer and Chisel so I’m going to give a brief “first impression” of the program. The workouts are killer. They are weight workouts, so some moves I am not used to doing although I can-and have-successfully navigated the machines of the traditional gym in the past. Most of it is just really hard. Which is awesome. It is pushing limits for me, and I am relishing that top to bottom achy soreness that comes with changing up an exercise routine.

The guy, Sagi, is everything I have ever wanted from a traditional gym trainer. He even has an accent. So between the crazy body builder physique, the sometimes mixed up metaphors, the angry partially frightening encouragement in the form of yelling-it’s great. He gives me the impression that he really knows his stuff, but leading a class is not entirely inside his comfort zone. I loved it. If that isn’t for you, the workout more than makes up for whatever issue you have with his teaching style. It’s really tough, but not “if you attempt this you will be injured” tough. I’ve had to modify a bunch in both his and Autumn’s workouts, and I am still toast by the end of them.

Autumn’s workouts leave me equally sore, but they are slightly different from Sagi’s. They’ve broken up the workout so that she is “The Chisel” and Sagi is “The Hammer” and its as good a description as I can come up with on how their workouts differ. Her’s seem to focus on that extended stamina build up in muscles and the toning, whereas Sagi’s is more power/strength oriented. Her teaching style isn’t bad, and she doesn’t sling around TOO many cliches and platitudes so I don’t end up wanting to throttle her by the end of the workout.

The nutrition is basically 21 Day Fix (Autumn’s nutritional program) complete with the color coded containers. I have been intrigued by this program for almost a year now and was SO excited when I found out it was part of H&C. The other programs I’ve done (p90x3, CIZE, PiYo) have nutrition guides, too, but nothing as easy for me to follow as Autumn’s. It is somewhat reinventing the wheel, because she essentially takes the recommended calories for your gender and size (taking into account whether you are looking at losing weight, maintaining, or building muscle) and then providing a simple guide to how many portions of which food group you should be eating. What makes it so cool, though, is those containers. They’re color coded and different sizes and show you what a “serving size” looks like. To make sure I’m getting enough veggies in my afternoon salad, I just stuff the kale and spinach into my green container until it is full and then dump it into my bowl. Voila! A serving of vegetables. It’s easy to say, “You should get x amount of servings of fruit a day” but it is really hard to know what that actually LOOKS like in real life. How big is a serving of carbs compared to a serving of protein? How much does a serving of “healthy fats” really mean? I have been amazed that the seemingly minuscule “seeds and salad dressings” container easily holds enough to provide flavor to every leaf of my 2 veggie servings of salad. It also makes it really easy to track, which means for the first time in my adult life I am probably actually getting enough protein in my diet.

This meal planning has completely taken away the stress of mealtime. I decided the boys were just going to live off of their favorites for the next 60 days so I make food I know they’ll eat with every meal. They are always welcome to try what I am eating, but I don’t stress about finding a dinner that “everyone will like”. I’m cooking for me. Zane will try almost anything, Cade has tried more then I thought he would, but everyone ends up with a full belly by the end of the meal.

Getting healthy doesn’t happen by accident, there has to be intention behind it. It can be little changes, it can be a complete lifestyle overhaul, but it won’t happen by itself. ….so yeah, you should try it sometime. 😉

Second Christmas

So this week gearing up for Hammer and Chisel has been busy and nervewracking. You know, that antsy, fidgety, anticipatory energy like right before giving a speech on something you’re passionate about or running a race or anything you are kindof dreading and excited about all at the same time? That’s how I feel. It’s almost like being a kid at Christmas and being so excited your stomach starts hurting and you begin to imagine all sorts of disasters that might happen to ruin Christmas and by the time Christmas morning arrives- screw presents, you’re utterly exhausted with relief that the cat didn’t become demon possesed and eat Santa Claus.

Tomorrow is my second Christmas morning.

In preparation this week I have created an instagram account to track my progress on here. Come follow me! I have pinterest recipe scoured, meal planned, grocery shopped, food prepped, ToDo list checked, and weekly scheduled in anticipation of the next 60 days.

One thing I thought was important was having some way of tracking progress. Before and After photos are typical- and I took them.

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Personally, I’m looking for a little more toe gap. How ever will I fit into sandals come summer?!

On top of that, I did a mini “strength test” because for me, honestly, the joy of exercise is not in my appearance but in my capability. So I did a plank, and just barely managed to hold it for 2 minutes. And a wall sit-also struggled to hit that 2 minute mark. And then I attempted pullups (you can see the video on my instagram account… *hint hint* FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM). I managed two and a quarter pull ups. All together, guys, that’s pretty lame. I mean, much better than a few months ago where I couldn’t even do ONE pull up, but still a far cry from where I want to be.

I’m gonna be a beast at the end of this, able to “fly” my 2.5 year old like an airplane for hours, muscle my squirming 15mo old down for a diaper change (a complete body workout) without fail, and double carry the boys 60lbs combined wiggly weight the quarter mile to and from the park without breaking a sweat. I’ll be able to pry them off of the playground one handed, play “ribbet frog” down the hallway until THEY call it quits, and still have enough energy to run and catch them when I say it’s nap time.

It’s going to be epic.

It isn’t to late (it is never too late) to join in the fun! Whether it’s a weight program like H&C, a nutrition plan, yoga, just trying to quit soda-everybody has to start somewhere with living healthier. And now is a GREAT time to start-New Year and all that. Don’t struggle by yourself, come over to the health nut dark side! We have communities of likeminded weirdos in various stages of learning to live healthy, it’s totally cool! Seriously though, let me know what I can do to help you meet your goals, I can’t emphasize enough how important support is for success. 🙂

I’VE GOT TO GO TO BED IT’S H&C EVE! 😀