A for Effort…

Cade: “Mommy, pick up your weights!”

Me: “No, Mommy can’t use the weights for this one.”

Cade: “But they all have weights, Mommy.”

Me: “Mommy’s not quite strong enough yet, buddy.”

Little man loves to “help” me workout by pointing out whenever I’m not doing something exactly like “them”, but I don’t mind, it’s a fun way to engage while I get my workout completed. The above conversation, though, spurred a mini revelation about exercise in general.

So many times in life we are told we will be graded or evaluated on merit. Pretty much as soon as you enter the school system the idea of work for credit is ingrained into your brain. And I am all about fair evaluations and challenges to help us all grow and learn! But. I do remember a particular moment in middle school that changed my perspective on grades-and all subsequent evaluations-forever. In true ADHD fashion, I had painstakingly rendered by hand a picture of the Michigan flag for my state project. But since I was running out of time to complete the project when I finished the flag-and because pine trees are boring-I used pastels to hastily sketch the state tree. I accomplished everything else in the project to the letter, to the best of my little 6th grader brain ability.

I got a C on the project and a parent teacher conference. My teacher flat out said I cheated, since no-one who drew that flag would also draw that tree. I clearly had had blatant outside help. I was so confused. And devastated. I felt sick to my stomach. I had worked so hard to get that flag perfect. I internalized it as my own fault-not that I was a cheater, I was very hurt and upset by that accusation-but because clearly I had tried too hard. I should’ve halfway done both the tree and the flag, and then none of this would’ve happened.

“Work Smarter, Not Harder” is a slogan I’ve seen everywhere, and the hallmark of EMS. The job is hard enough, no need to make it any tougher. In our true culture of “easier, faster, better” skating through by doing things well but not appearing to put much effort into them is lauded as ideal.

Exercise is the opposite. If you skimp through your workout, you get no A for completion, you burn no extra calories, you win nothing. If you work your tail off and hit muscle failure halfway through-you reap far more. Exercise truly evaluates your EFFORT. I can skate through a lot of workout programs, I’m familiar with the moves, know ways to ease off certain muscle groups, can complete the bare minimum and still say I did it-but the only person that effects, is me. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love to exercise. You get what you put in. You halfway do the workout you get half the results. You are sloppy and inattentive, you drastically increase your chance of injury. You remain focused and pour in your effort-you reap the rewards!

And there are always ways to improve. Recently I’ve really been paying attention to how I hold my abs in all of the exercises, how I draw them into my spine, remembering to engage them and not let them hang loose-this form protects my back AND works my muscles. When you do squats, you should give your backside a little extra squeeze at the top-not because you have to, but because that works the glutes just a little bit more. There are all kinds of ways to increase your effort in exercise, and I am never penalized for trying my hardest for the first half of the workout and then being barely able to complete the last ten minutes due to muscle fatigue. My effort is always duly rewarded and I take pleasure and satisfaction in that tiny little aspect.

SO go you, wherever you may be on your exercise adventure. Whether you are modifying everything or upping your weights every workout, your effort is paying off. There is no comparison here. One person does a pushup on her toes, another on her knees, both hit muscle failure by the end-BOTH earn an A for effort.

Out Like A…I Don’t Care, Just OUT.

This month has been a mess. I’m just gonna lay it out there. I still wholeheartedly believe in total wellness and the importance of eating well and exercising regularly…but this month I haven’t been living up to my ideals. It started out wonderfully-hyped up off of all the success from Hammer and Chisel, breaking running PRs left and right, a FABULOUS visit from my sister and my adorable nephew. Talk about “in like a lion” March started with a ROAR!

And then I sprained my ankle.

And then my youngest got either a stomach bug or developed an egg allergy (doctor’s appointment scheduled).

And then, and then…

The biggest thing, the far biggest mess of March, has been an accumulation of cyclical hope and frustration that started last January. Last January when Brian put giving the boys another sibling on the table. Last February when I agreed to start weaning Zane earlier then I had planned to hopefully have the third child close in age to the boys. Last March when I had my first cycle. Last April when I had another. Then last May…June…July…August…September…You get the gist.

Then THIS February being unpleasantly caught a day early by surprise while at the playground.

Then this month. March. The day arrived, and passed, and I tested negative. Then the next day. Negative. Then the next, and the next, and the next… I stopped testing, but I remained hopeful. I have never been late a day in my life, my ovaries are like clockwork, there was only one good reason for being late…Out talking to the neighbors while the boys played and OH MY GOODNESS time to beat a hasty retreat to the house.

8 days late. Over a week late. Over a year of trying.

I feel like the appropriate progression of this story is some dramatic meltdown on my part while sobbing in the bathroom, but honestly I just sighed, and shrugged. It’ll happen, or not, in God’s timing, not mine. Am I frustrated? Yes. And the week of hope definitely threw my emotional equilibrium. A week of wondering where we’d put the extra crib, if we’d move Brian’s desk into the bedroom, how the boys would respond to a sibling, whether or not I’d get morning sickness this time… So instead of focusing on exercise and eating balanced, I’ve been focusing on me and Christ. Introspection, prayer, study, seeking time to be alone and listen. And it has been good, y’all. Painful at times, peace-filled at times, always real, and really good.

I didn’t throw fitness all out the window, I still eat pretty darn clean because I’m just used to it now, and it was more like “an extra carb serving here, forgetting to get a protein in there, an extra dollop of peanut butter with my apple”…nothing crazy, just nothing really planned or focused either. And these last two weeks have been hit or miss with the workouts. I’ve managed two early morning workouts before the kids-and then Zane caught a hacking cough and he’s thwarted the “early uppers club” once again. Today I managed to get a PiYo in during their breakfast, and tomorrow if Zane ends up in our bed again I may resort to that again.

My point is-March was messy and imperfect, but that’s how life is. It isn’t always riding success highs or fighting to persevere with gritted teeth. Sometimes it’s just tripping and stumbling a bit and trying again with a shrug. I’m tackling the month of April with renewed vigor and focus-I’m restarting the Hammer and Chisel workouts because I LOVE them and I’m super excited for our Clean Eating Workshop coming up on the 4th. I’ll be meal planning once again with an eye on more budget friendly recipes, and I even signed up for a vendor fair to spread the fitness love.

I won’t miss you, March. Onwards!

Why?

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Blue skies and sunny weather. Perfect for a stroller jog. But instead I stand here with Zane strapped into the Ergo snuggled on my chest and smelling faintly of vomit while I keep an eye on Cade systematically hosing down the entire backyard. Black wrap encases my ankle and allows me to rock Zane back and forth without too much pain.

God is good.

Having Zane get the stomach bug the morning after I wrenched my ankle may not sound convenient, but basically I only have one energetic boy to worry about- the other stays somnolent. Earlier, as I pondered how to look on the bright side while mopping up the explosion in Zane’s crib, I mused over last night’s deep felt chagrin after spraining my ankle doing nothing more strenuous than walking. I was even wearing athletic shoes.

Every time I get injured (which has thankfully happened less frequently over the past few years) I view it as a personal affront and betrayal. How dare my body succumb to such a thing! Triple the embarrassment now as I tout the benefits of balanced eating and consistent exercise and here I am falling over in my backyard. Last time I sprained my ankle-the left one I think- it had been going down ONE STEP onto a sidewalk while I was pregnant with Cade. One step. I could, and did, blame that heavily on the pregnancy hormone relaxin that make everything stretchy and loose in preparation for childbirth-but the truth is I’m a clumsy person with weak ankles.

It is easy, for me at least, to fall into the trap that leading an intentionally healthy lifestyle makes you immune to injury and disease. That eating clean will prevent me from getting the flu, that lifting weights will keep all back injuries at bay, that cardio will ward off a heart attack, that enough fruits and veggies will prevent cancer. But the truth is-the world is fallen.

All good things come from God. The design of my body is perfect, the reality in this world is not. Adam and Eve brought death, disease, and sprained ankles into the world, and no amount of clean eating is going to change that.

But.

BUT that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. As I chafe at being housebound with a limp, as the dishes pile up while I wipe up more diarrhea, as I ungraciously cope with the physical reality of sin I am strengthened in my resolve to combat it.

In the midst of the mess, my “why” solidified. I do this-the exercise, the nutrition, the coaching-I do this because our bodies are gifts that we have been blessed with, and taking good care of them is a form of fighting the world. I love a fight with clearly defined lines of good and evil-but those battles just don’t exist much outside of fiction. THIS, however, is a fight I can throw myself into wholeheartedly, with no worry for my combatants. I am fighting disease and injury, the consequences of sin. I am maintaining and loving the body God gave me, and fighting the long lasting effects of Adam and Eve’s decision. One day He will make my body perfect in His presence, until then I’ll invest in the reflection I have.

Melodramatic, I know, haha, but it’s the truth. No matter what words I choose it still sounds fanciful or cheesy, but all the other “whys” I could give (like “to be an example for my children”) are just small motivators in a much larger perspective. So, I apologize for the grandiose “why”, I can’t help it, it’s how my mind works.

Now excuse me, I’ve got to go strip one more diaper of runny poo and take a hot epsom salt bath for my ankle. Fight the good fight!

End of an Era…

Ok, ok, that’s a little melodramatic, I mean, it wasn’t an entire era before Leo won an Oscar-but for him I bet it sure felt like one at times!

ANYway, moving on. That’s exactly what I did yesterday-moved on. Hammer and Chisel officially ended on Sunday for me. I completed the 8 weeks of exercise, I put my weights in my closet today, and pulled out my yoga mat. I really loved Hammer and Chisel, I’ll be revisiting it again I’m sure, but for now I need a break from weights. I get bored easily (hey, ADHD) and the battle becomes not necessarily to push play on a workout, but to push play on ANOTHER ONE OF THESE WORKOUTS I HAVE ALREADY DONE AT LEAST TWICE, AHHHHHHH!!! I was going a bit crazy at the end, I felt like I mentally drug myself kicking and screaming through this last week. It was such a relief to fold up the calander, and so satisfying to have completed it from start to finish!

I’ve lost quite a bit of fluff, added a nice amount of muscle (especially my legs. Man, I love them, they are totally “beast-y” as Sagi would say) and feel substantially stronger. My body shape has changed, not so much pant size as how the pants fit, lol. I’m quite a bit looser around the waist and hips, but my newly strengthened quads and calves make skinny jeans a bit problematic, haha. I love it! Maybe I should finally look into leggings. 😉 My favorite part about this strength training is the added strength to my joints. You guys, my joints suck. The number of times I’ve sprained an ankle is easily in the 20s. My hips are a mess (pregnancy and childbirth didn’t help). My wrists are weak, my one elbow is wonky from being fractured and dislocated (it still randomly “goes to sleep” on me when I’m laying down at night), my back is pretty much genetically disposed to fall apart vertebrae by vertebrae until a surgeon adds enough hardware to tack it upright again-the only joint I’ve never really struggled with are, oddly enough, my knees. I mean, sure, they’ve hurt a bunch from running, but I’ve never badly injured them.

Weightlifting requires good form to do safely. And for the past two months I have worked hard on perfecting that form. Maybe I could’ve upped the weights sooner for some exercises, but I knew how crappy my joints were and I didn’t want to screw up and get injured for the sake of my ego. Two weekends ago I took a false step while double carrying both boys in wedge shoes. I rolled my ankle. I caught my stumble with a beautiful side lunge and instantly righted myself with neither a boy dropped or barely even jostled. My thought was, “Crap. I just sprained an ankle.” Reality? It was a bit sore to walk on for a day. End story. I have sprained my ankle in combat boots tripping over my own feet, but rolling an ankle while awkwardly carrying an extra 60lbs of weight wearing 4inch high wedges and I barely get a strain? I was (am!) dumbfounded. My back no longer hurts picking up, putting back down, and carrying the boys. In fact, I haven’t had any back pain (lower or upper) for the past month!

The crowning achievement? I can sleep on my side without my hips screaming bloody murder. Even with a support pillow I’ve had to shift position frequently and often wake up sore since being pregnant with Cade (who will be three in a few months). I had resigned myself to this uncomfortableness as just a symptom of “getting older”. But now it’s gone! Now if only I could get the boys to sleep past 6am…

I am so proud of myself for sticking with this program. I struggle with finishing projects I start (just take a look at my “craft closet”….no, on second thought, don’t.) and two months seems like an eternity for me-but I did it! Not just the workouts (which get boring enough with repetition) but the meal plan!

What now? I’m doing a hybrid of some of my favorite workouts-mostly PiYo and p90x3, though after a week or two I’ll pull out some of my favorite Hammer workouts- while really focusing on adding some miles. I’m keeping one rest day on Thursday, but on Sunday I’m going to take it-not easier exactly, but calmer, and do some p90x3 yoga or isometric balance poses. Yesterday was PiYo, today was a 2 mile run pushing the stroller-maybe I’ll do some yoga tonight, too. We’ll see.

Onwards!

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!

“Fit”ness

One of the things I really like about the accountability teams I am a member of is the emphasis on “Finding YOUR Fit.” I think some people read that and automatically shy away from it because to them that means getting into the best physical shape possible and they KNOW that that implies a lot of work. But that’s exactly what it doesn’t mean. Let me explain…

To find your fit, you need to take a good hard look at your life and figure out areas that need improvement because you WANT them to improve-not because the FDA says so, or your doctor scolds you, or because you feel pressured by current social standards of beauty. No. Guilt driven change doesn’t usually get you very far.

Are you able to do the things that you like to do? Are there things that you secretly would love to do but feel are out of your reach? Are there physical things that hinder your work or your play or your engagement with your family? Those are the things you need to take a look at and evaluate honestly. If you want to lose ten pounds because you think that’ll make you feel better-then the truth is it isn’t the number of pounds you’ve assigned to lose that you want, it’s the  “feeling better”. And what does that mean? Does that mean not getting out of breath climbing the stairs? Does that mean not feeling like the bottom of your energy drops out when you’re only halfway through the day and you miserably have to drag yourself through until bedtime? Does that mean feeling comfortable getting down on the floor with your kids? Or playing tag with them outside? Does that mean wanting the strength to try things like skiing, hiking, white water rafting, etc., without fear of being unable to keep up with your peers? Does it mean managing thyroid issues? Or chronic migraines? Insomnia? Gluten sensitivity? Anemia? Does it mean more energy? A stronger immune system? A happier disposition? What is it that YOU want out of your body? THAT is where you start finding your fit.

Your fit does not necessarily mean six pack abs and swimsuit flaunting. Your fit is not tied to the scale or to your pants size. It isn’t even tied to the weight you can bench. It is tied to the WHOLEY fittest version of you-whatever that looks like.

Being comfortable in your own skin is different from willfully ignoring health issues that interfere with your daily life. I am comfortable in my own skin for the most part. I know I am loved, inside and out, and I’m comfortable with my appearance. I’m not striving to be a fitness competitor, I don’t weigh myself daily, I like where I am physically. But I wasn’t always healthy, even when I was “working out”. I was still fighting fatigue, anemia, chronic sinus issues, frequent headaches… It wasn’t until I started getting my nutrition in line with my exercise that those things started disappearing and I really started feeling “fit”.

I still have goals that push where I am a little farther. I’d like to run an ultra marathon again-this is going to take some serious mileage buildup, I’m going to have to push myself physically. I love how much I’m learning about nutrition and I love what that is doing for my immune system and my energy levels and my feeling of healthiness-so I’m going to keep pushing myself to find new recipes and expand my cooking skills. I love seeing the improvements weight lifting has added to my physique-I’m especially thrilled to see definition in my abs-but it doesn’t define who I am. Abs come and go, but my relationships have a lasting impact.

So, essentially, if what I am doing in the kitchen and in the living room when I push play is interfering with the health of my marriage, my relationships with my children, my connection with my family and the people I love best in this world-then it isn’t MY fit. It’s true, I could insanely restrict my diet (and become a horrible, irritable, cranky mess) and be working out three or four times a day to be super lean, strong, and what a lot of the world views as “sexy”-but that is NOT worth it to me, not even close, not even a little bit tempting. I’ve got goals, room for improvement, ways to push myself-but for the most part, I fit my “fit”.

Do you?

11.10.13 Keefer Family FOR WEB (89)

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. 😉

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!”

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! 😀