Friday, April 27, 2018

Meet my FXB Instructors: Austin

Austin: a.k.a. Steven

I’ve been crafting this one for a while now. My buddy Steven and I went through our ten weeks at FXB together, and I wanted to do him justice. So why Austin? A few reasons, actually.

First, there’s this guy.

What could be more fitting for Steven than a British spy? Let’s look at the facts (aside from the obvious British part).

Those who have been following these instructor posts know that I like to use as my source for all things facts. I’ve gone there again, and here’s what it tells me about a spy:

n. a person or thing designed or trained to infiltrate or extract information from a normally impenetrable source, usually while disguising themselves to evade capture. 
1) A Person or Thing - yep, he’s a person.
2) Trained - FXB certified, yo!
3) Extract Information - here ‘information’ is a code word for ‘pain’. If you’ve been in one of his workouts, then you know that’s covered.
4) Disguising Themselves - the proof is in the pictures!

I’d say that’s a pretty solid argument. Oh, and I have to throw in his ability to spy all my errors. I’ve tried really hard to keep this post error-free, but I know Austin will let me know if I’ve missed one!

But we won’t stop there, because Austin Powers is only half of Steven’s personality. The British half. So what’s missing?

The American half.

This leads us all the way down to Austin, Texas. I knew I was on the right track when I was trolling Steven’s Facebook page for pictures and stumbled upon this gem.

Texas is the state of ‘go big or go home’. From his Texas-sized laugh to his epically crafted workouts, Steven brings this attitude into everything. Those who have been working out at FXB the past couple months have had the pleasure/pain of partaking in a Steven created resistance training workout, even if he wasn’t in the building. Here’s just one tail of pain from his epic-sized workouts:

They say the best things come in threes, so let’s give one more Austin reference. And that would be this guy:

Is I said at the start of this post, I’ve been thinking through Steven’s nickname for some time. The last few months I’d been settled into Austin, but as with all my nicknames I had to let it marinate to make sure it was truly fitting. And then just yesterday Steven sent me a message saying I should consider wrestling for a future challenge theme. Could this be a sign? Yeah, I thought so too.

So why Stone Cold Steve Austin? Well, in this case it’s actually Stone Hold Steve Austin—because that man dishes out holds in a bands class in an impressive stone-faced way!

Keep giving us those epic Texas-sized workouts, holds and all, Austin! And I’m sure you’re actually spying from somewhere in the gym during all the classes just to make sure we’re all giving our Level 10 best!

~ Carrie

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sometimes It’s About What You Gain

I recently finished up my third year at my gym, Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB). Probably the most common question I get is, “Is it still working for you?”

It’s an understandable question, but it’s one I’m not really sure how to answer. Not because I don’t know, but because my answer most likely doesn’t match up with what the person asking had in mind. It’s a gym that advertises in extreme body makeovers. I’m clearly overweight. Logically, people want to know if the program is helping me shed my many unwanted pounds.

Here’s the thing—my answer has nothing to do with pounds.

Don’t get me wrong. I signed up for this program with visions of being ten sizes smaller dancing in my head. I knew I wouldn’t get there in the first 10-week session, but maybe by the end of a full year. Certainly by the end of three years.  But something happened along the way.

I learned I had no clue what I really needed.

I thought I had to lose weight, but what I needed was to get healthy.
I thought I had to eat better, but what I needed was to establish a healthy relationship with food.
I thought I had to be smaller to be an athlete, but what I needed to learn was that I’m already an athlete.
I thought I needed to stop failing, but what I needed was to stop looking for failure.

In nutrition terms, I no longer look at food as my enemy. I don’t analyze every piece of food I put in my mouth. I don’t beat myself up if I eat something that isn’t on the ‘healthy’ side of the food logs. I do still have a tendency to hide some of the things I eat, but I’m working on it. I realized I started hiding what I ate back in my teens, and 30 years of a bad habit is really hard to break.

In physical terms, I now make working out a high priority in my daily schedule. Even above sleep most days (but that’s a topic for a different post). In 2017, I logged the 6th highest number of classes at my gym. Six days a week I’m on that mat, giving my Level 10 best. Another gain for me has been my mindset on how I look at my workouts. My Level 10 may not be the same as others. At the start of this journey, I felt like I was too slow. That my weight was holding me back from giving a higher Level 10. But now I see it differently. I might not get up off the mat as fast as others, but I’m pounding out the same grueling workout as some people who are literally half my size. Think about that. Imagine doing your workout with someone holding on to your back. That’s me. And I’m doing it like a boss.

Do I still want to lose some weight? Absolutely. But I no longer want to lose that weight because I think it’s what I need to be healthy or happy. A while back I posted some reasons I wanted to lose weight. Those are still valid. And it would also be nice because I’m sure my knee would be much happier if it had less weight to support.

So if you want to ask me how the program is working, be prepared to hear an unconventional answer. Because yes, this program continues to not only work for me but surpass my expectations. Not in terms of pounds lost, but in how much I’ve gained—both physically and emotionally. Oh, and in terms of family. I’ve gained so much family.

It’s the start of the year and many people make resolutions to ‘get healthy’ when what they really mean is ‘lose weight’. I challenge you to open your mind to a more broad definition. Get healthy, but don’t just focus on what you want to lose. Look at what you can gain as well because, unfortunately, despite our best efforts there are times when that scale won’t budge. Or it goes in the opposite direction. And then you’re left feeling like it failed, or you failed. But if you look at a bigger picture, you might find you were aiming at the wrong target from the start and you succeeded just fine.

~ Carrie

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Meet my FXB Instructors: The Beast

The Beast: a.k.a. Dawn

Those of you who know Dawn will not be surprised that I’ve dubbed her The Beast. Basically, Dawn only knows how to operate in one mode:

It doesn’t matter what it is—instructing, working out, completing an extreme obstacle race, or participating in a FIT challenge—Dawn is in full on Beast Mode all the time.

But that’s not what earned her this nickname. You should know by now that I try not to be obvious with my nicknames. So what’s the driving factor? Well, it’s not this guy:

Sure she could give him a run for his money on a Spartan course, but he’s all beast and no beauty where Dawn is both.

That leaves this Beast as the primary driver for Dawn’s nickname:

Yep, that’s right, I’m talking about The Beast roller coaster at Kings Island. Why? I’ll give you 3 good reasons.

1. The Drop: If you ride roller coasters then you know that the drop is critical. There’s the initial drop, with the slow climb to build up the anticipation. Then there are all the subsequent drops which come quickly and often by surprise. Dawn guides you through those critical drops in a bands class in much the same way: build-up and anticipation of that first band drop and then you’re quickly hit with drop after drop after drop.

2. The Whiplash: The twists, the turns, the loops—a good roller coaster is going to whip you up and down and all around. Well, a Dawn-led kickboxing session will do the same. All you can do is throw your hands up and enjoy the ride!

3. The Voice: Dawn’s instructor voice makes her the perfect roller coaster operator. Her cadence is so spot on I’ve come to the conclusion that she once had a summer job at a theme park. I don’t have a recording to share with you, but listen for it the next time she leads your class. I dare you not to imagine her also saying, “Please keep your hands and legs inside the car at all times.”

If you’ve never had the opportunity to have The Beast as your instructor, then here’s a video of The Beast at Kings Island. It’s basically the same thing. Except the dude’s voice for the safety instructions. Dawn really needs to go and record a new one for them.

~ Carrie

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let Go and Improve Your Health

Some of you may have been wondering where I’ve been and if my little corner of the blogging world was still active. While I do apologize for that, at the same time I don’t. My whole focus is on getting healthy and remaining in control of my Binge Eating Disorder. I learned a while ago that stress knocks me off my course quickly, so I’ve been putting a lot of effort into reducing the stress in my life. And as a result, my blog posts have suffered recently.

That’s not to say this blog is bad for my health. In many ways it has been the largest catalyst to my success. But there are stresses that come with it. I’ve blogged before about the negative impact of feeling overexposed from sharing my deepest secrets. While I’m doing better in that area, it’s still difficult sometimes. Lately the stress of keeping up this blog has been due to my lack of time. There’s a pressure in trying to remember when to post and what to blog about. Then there’s the time it takes to actually write it up. I’d like to say that these posts write themselves as if they were flowing out of Rita Skeeter’s Quick Quotes Quill (sorry, I’ve been in a Harry Potter frame of mind lately), but the reality is it takes time to get my words out of my head and into a coherent post that’s not too long.

I also hate to say that I’ve been tired for almost a full year now. I’m averaging less than six hours of sleep a night, and my mind wants more than that to function efficiently. I had to change my workout time to an early morning class which meant I had to either sacrifice sleep or time with my family in the evening (since both my husband and daughter are night owls). So far, my family has trumped sleep. I don’t drink caffeine, so that means I’m running on fumes most days. Stress and tired don’t mix well for me and it increases my urges to binge. In addition, creativity doesn’t flourish in a foggy brain. I’m deep in a novel that I really want to get done this year, so I wanted to channel whatever creative mojo I could conjure into the novel. All this meant I had to let a few things go.

But do not fear—I don’t intend to ignore my little blog forever. Right now I’m just choosing to not stress over having to post at specific or regular times. And I figure you might get tired of me just posting sweaty pictures to my Facebook page, so that’s gone a bit dark as well.

In the past I’ve taken big steps to reducing the stress in my life, like cutting off toxic relationships. It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but I know it was the right thing to do for me in the long run. I’ve also eliminated certain tasks that seem irrelevant, like mailing birthday cards, but the result was a lot less stress in my life. In the birthday card example, I still find a way to say happy birthday, I just don’t have the stress of remembering to buy and mail a card in time so it arrives on the proper date.

Recently I’ve been looking for more little things I can do to reduce my stress and free up some of my time, like unsubscribing to newsletters I don’t read. You might be wondering why it was stressful/time-consuming if I didn’t read them in the first place. Well, they cluttered up my inbox, making it appear I had more items to respond to than I really did. Another thing I’ve started to embrace is bailing on books I’m not enjoying. Reading is not only a favorite pastime—it’s essential for my life as an author. Before this year, I had only ever abandoned 2 books. I’ve had some books where I’d skip parts to get to the end, but I’d almost always finish. For one, I don’t like to quit anything. For two, I always want to give the book a chance to redeem itself in the end. Well, this year I’ve already doubled my ‘did not finish’ count. It can still be a struggle, but I keep telling myself that having a smaller ‘to be read’ pile is more important to me than finishing a book I’m not enjoying.

I encourage you to think through areas of your life where you can let go. It could be big or small—in the end it all adds up to a healthy improvement.

~ Carrie

Friday, February 24, 2017

Breaking Binge: Phase 2

One year ago tomorrow I took a leap on my Operation Breaking Binge journey—and I haven’t binged since!

[moment of pause to jump around and do my happy dance]

I’ll admit the last 12 months haven’t been a walk in the park. I still have cravings, and I have still eaten things outside of my Fun Day that I’d put in my ‘bad’ category. Every time I start to get down on myself for these slight stumbles, I force myself to remember what I was eating prior to February 25, 2016. Those binges were epic and had me in tears. The guilt and shame following were astronomical. I force myself to think back to all the hard work I’ve done this past year, and I remind myself that progress does not mean perfection.

My biggest struggle now is moving on with my nutrition. While I maintain that my journey is not about losing weight, the reality is that I really should lose weight. I’m carrying around a lot of pounds and my body is getting older (i.e. tired). And I think my knee would be happier if I gave it a bit of a break. I had found a no-binging eating pattern that allowed me to maintain my weight for most of the past 12 months. The downside is I became afraid to change anything. I was afraid I might start binging again if I did. The things I’ve been eating have kept me satisfied. Don’t fix what’s not broke, right? And my biggest broken part was the binging, not my weight.

I was sick pretty much November thru January, and I gained a bit of weight due to missing workouts and the medication I was put on. My eating still hasn’t changed, so here I sit at a weight I thought I had told to kiss-off for the last time.

I’ve decided that since I seem to be embedded in superstition on this journey, I’m going to work it to my advantage. On February 25, 2016 I took steps that have led me to a full-year of amazing success. So, tomorrow, February 25, 2017, is the day I embark on Phase 2 of Operation Breaking Binge.

What’s Phase 2, you ask? Well, it looks a bit like this:

Pretty clear, right?

I do know my Phase 2 will focus on nutrition, which has never been my strength. I have excuses out the wazzoo (I don’t like to cook, I have BIG issues with chicken, I don’t like a lot of meat, I don’t—I don’t—I don’t . . .) I know what I ‘should’ eat, but the issue is sticking to it. I haven’t mentioned it much, but a big part of getting this far in Breaking Binge were my sessions with Health Coach Lynn Killips on a process called Immunity to Change. I learned so much about myself and why I eat the way I do thorough this process. But I have to say the most profound thing I learned was when Lynn asked me one very basic question. We were discussing my tendency to place all food into two categories: good or bad. She asked who said these foods were good or bad. I told her it was based on my knowledge of nutrition, which I’ve learned over all my years of trying to get healthy and the various programs Ive tried.

Then came Lynn’s ground-shaking question:

“How long have you been following these plans?”

As I added up the years, I realized I had been trying to follow one plan or another for about 20 years. And then the true magic of the question hit me—that’s 20 years with no sustainable success (key word being sustainable).

That’s a Long. Damn. Time.

I should point out I’m not condemning nutrition plans/programs. In fact, I have learned so much about not only nutrition, but also about my eating struggles through these various plans. But there’s a reason why some find success through Weight Watchers, and some find it in Jenny Craig. Others only see progress with Paleo, and then there are those who only find happiness with the Beachbody program. And, of course, there are those like me who have fallen in love with the way Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB) has transformed their lives along with their bodies.

The point is that no one person is the same. Plans and programs are great, and often times essential. However, my downfall was that somewhere along the way I started looking at it as being told what I had to do, and if I didn’t do it then I failed. And I think you all know how I feel about failure. I’ve been looking at this as though I have been the one failing for the last 20 years. I wasn’t sticking to plan. I must not have been trying hard enough. Look at all those who did have success—it must be me!

It took Lynn to open my eyes for me to wonder if maybe my lack of sustainable success was due to the fact that I’ve been trying to follow someone else’s plan that doesn’t fit my specific needs. She then pointed out that for months I had been following my own nutrition plan, and while I wasn’t losing weight, I wasn’t gaining it and I wasn’t binging.

I (reluctantly) admit I’m a stubborn person. I think deep down I don’t like people telling me what to do. And I really don’t like failing to meet expectations. It seems pretty clear to me now what I have to change.

The plan is for me to use my nutrition knowledge to build a custom plan that fits my specific needs. One that I can adjust when necessary if I feel an urge to binge sneak up on me. Out of all the programs I’ve been through, I still believe the FXB program is the most right for me.

So wish me luck as I jump in and try to define that elusive Phase 2 within Operation Breaking Binge!

~ Carrie