Thursday, August 20, 2015

Don't Forget to Love the 'Before'

As I approach my 1 year mark at FXB, I’ve been thinking back over not only my FXB journey but also the months before I signed up for the 10-Week Challenge. In addition, I’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts recently from people showing the progress they’ve made on their own health and fitness journeys.

I love seeing how people have been able to transform their lives. I love hearing their confidence and seeing how proud they are of what they’ve accomplished. I love that they can inspire others to want to do the same. For these reasons, I hope to keep seeing these types of posts from others. I also hope to share my own some day.

However, there is one thing that I wish could change. I wish that all of these wonderful people could look at that before picture with as much respect and love for the person it in as they do for the person in the after picture.

Don’t get me wrongI get it. Anyone who loses weight does so because they felt the weight they were at before wasn’t healthy. Maybe they didn’t like the way they looked. Maybe they didn’t like the way their clothes fit. They lost weight, got healthy, and it feels great! They worked hard and were dedicated to a difficult journey. They have a reason to be proud.

But it seems as though sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in being proud of the person we’ve become that we forget to acknowledge the person we were—or we believe that we have to find fault with the person in the before photo. Because if there was no fault, then why would we have made the change?

I wrote a post a while back about Shooting the Curl. In that post I mentioned that I’ve learned it’s important to remember that we can’t separate out the past from the future. One builds off the other, and they have to be able to coexist to shape the turbulence of the present. If it wasn’t for that person in the before photo, there would be no after photo—the future needs the past to exist.

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote something for myself. I wrote these words in an effort to help myself achieve an emotionally healthy mindset.

Who I Love the Most

I realized recently that I have one more step to make before my journey can be successful. And it’s huge.

I have to love all the versions of me that have existed.

1) The pre-college me.

This girl was innocent. She was caring and didn’t pass judgment on others. She hung out with various groups of people and respected them even if she didn’t agree with their choices. In return, they never pushed her to do anything she wasn’t comfortable doing. She learned how it felt to fall in love. How it felt to have her heart broken. How it felt to hurt someone who loved her more than she could love in return. She learned how to make decisions that would impact the rest of her life. She learned the value of a true friend.

She was young, beautiful, carefree, smart, funny, athletic, and hard-working.

She’s easy to love. And even though my image of her fades more and more over time, my love for her remains strong.

2) The college me.

This girl. Yeah, this girl had it. She had something about her that made me fall in love with her instantly. She navigated the unknown territory with a hunger in her eyes. She was ready to learn—inside the classroom and out. She made friends quickly. She fell in love with the wrong boy. Then she learned it wasn’t really love. Then she fell in love with the right boy. She worked hard and played hard. She jumped out of planes. She sat in a sea of men and held her own. She challenged herself and others around her. She made people listen and want to talk to her. She made people like her who didn’t really want to. She danced and sang and smiled and laughed.

She was bold, confident, strong, adventurous, and in love with life.

She’s fun to love. My love for her often carries me through the difficult times.

3) The new adult me.

Although I want to call her a girl, she’s really a woman. She was challenged almost from day one of her existence. She had to learn how to not only float in a sea of men, but how to stand out among them. She was told she couldn’t do or know things simply because she was a woman. She started her life without many friends. There were tears. There were questions. But she learned to lean on love. To find her voice and make it strong. She learned how it felt to lose someone so dear. She learned that true friendship didn’t come with strings attached. She learned that life didn’t always go as planned. She started to let insecurities take hold. She internalized comments and let them fester. To survive, she split herself off into two different people—the confident woman inside the office and the insecure woman outside of it.

She was ever changing, unsure of her future, and was often lost. She started to feel she wasn’t good enough.

It’s not that she’s harder to love, but my love for her stems more from sympathy than admiration. I look back on her and want to hold her hand and support her along the way. To be that friend she so desperately needed in the beginning.

4) The adult me.

This woman had to fight. Life was good to her, but it also threw challenges her way. Certain things didn’t go as planned. While her career was successful, her personal life suffered. She felt the effects of depression. She learned what it meant to make difficult decisions. She didn’t always take responsibility for her circumstances. She was let down by some of the people she cared about most in the world. She had to find a way to make herself a priority and deal with the criticisms that came with that choice. She learned that unconditional love did exist, but she still had to fight for it. She learned that there’s a reason for everything, but she may never get the answers she wants. She had to learn anew how to have faith. She lost a lot, but gained just as much. She often looked for the negative. She blamed herself when things didn’t go the way she expected. She felt alone. She felt out of place.

She was a disappointment. She was confused. She was conflicted. She didn’t believe in herself. She believed she lived under a constant shadow of judgment.

She’s been hard to love, and so I haven’t. I won’t go so far as to say that I hate her, but I don’t respect her. I blame her for all my failures and disappointments. For letting go of the person she used to be.

But now I see her for who she truly is.

She’s strong. She’s beautiful. She’s an inspiration. She’s caring. She’s daring. She makes difficult choices and sacrifices for others. She wears her flaws and failures on the outside for everyone to see, and still she walks with her head held high.

I realize now that I love her the most. She was the final phase before I could become the person God wants me to be.

I may be working toward a new life, but I’m no longer working toward a new me.

I love the me that I am.

I’ve decided to share this because I hope that it will help others look at the person in their before photo a bit differently. Don’t be ashamed of who that person was. Love them for having the strength to endure the challenges that formed the person in the after photo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Meet my FXB Instructors: Olive

Olive: a.k.a. Teresa

OK, so I’m a bit behind on this one. I wanted to get this one posted before the summer since Teresa and The Intimidator opened FXB Bloomington in July, but I was on ‘mom duty’ and didn’t get it done. But that’s neither here nor there . . .

So why is Teresa now Olive in my mind?

I can assure you it’s not a reference to this Olive.

For one, Olive Oyl is much too wimpy to represent Teresa. Olive Oyl could benefit from an FXB 10 Week session, that’s for sure. Second, based on the personality description for Olive Oyl on Wikipedia there is no way she’d be a good fit for Teresa. Ive pulled part of that description (with arguments against) to share here:

  • Olive Oyl is a typical “damsel-in-distress” character

If Teresa would ever find herself in a damsel-in-distress” situation, she wouldnt wait for Popeye to come and save her. Shed kick the crap out of the villain herself!

  • Olive Oyl has an Oh, dear!expression, and tone of voice, which resembles film actress ZaSu Pitts.

Ill admit that I had to look up ZaSu Pitts to get the reference. Personally, Id say that rather than an Oh, dear!” expression, Teresas is more like Now isnt that special. (which would often be directed at her fellow FXB instructors . . .)

  • Olive Oyl is also absent-minded, short-tempered, cowardly, foolish, shallow, inattentive and rarely seems to be brave.

Um . . . just no.

Now I bet you’re really curious as to why I would call Teresa Olive. Well, it’s because of this Olive.

I didn’t come to think of Teresa as Olive because she rocks a similar style—although I think she could totally pull this off for a Freaky Friday!

Its because Teresa is like a constant ray of sunshine, and the Olive depicted above is who comes to mind when I think of the phrase Little Miss Sunshine. (Because, you know, that’s the name of the movie.)

For those who know Teresa, I’m sure you can agree. Her energy electrifies the room and her smile can brighten the darkest of corners. Its infectious. I’ve never smiled more during a workout than I have when she was at the front of the mat. Heck, she doesn’t even have to be at the front of the mat to make the workouts brighter! Sunshine is the only accurate description.

I’ve become fond of using to validate many of my nicknames, and I had to do a little research again. There are several definitions of sunshine listed (some appropriate and some. . . not), but this one is particularly funny (typos left in for effect):

“A name given to a good friend who enlightens your day. Usually a girl who doesn't look themself up on urban dictionary unless someone mentions it. She also has a mom who hasn't met you yet and is dieing too. Point is, sunshine is a great person who likes smiling :]

Since (based on this definition) it’s unlikely that Olive will look herself up on Urban Dictionary, I did it for her. Pretty accurate!

“A bodacious beauty with full lips, luscious locks and dark mysterious eyes.
Most Teresas are sensitive, caring listeners, but they also have their mischievous, fun-loving sides.
A great girl that any one would be lucky to have as a friend or special someone.”

Back to that original definition of sunshineI haven’t met Olive’s mom, but I’m sure she’s dying to meet me and the other people in Olive’s life. I say this because based on the pictures I’ve seen on Olive’s social media site, the sunshine doesn’t seem to fall too far from the sun ;-)

So why not just give Olive the nickname ‘Little Miss Sunshine’? Because that would be too obvious. Olive is much too cool for that.

I do believe B-town just got a little bit brighter. Olive, please visit Columbus FXB (preferably 8:45) from time to time and chase away the clouds!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Behind every obstacle is . . . another obstacle!

Since I’m a writer, I’m going to tell you a story. (it’s a true story, by the way)

Back in middle school I ran track and was mostly a sprinter, competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m relay. Since it was middle school and we were all just starting out in the sport, the coaches had us attempt many different events for both track and field. I won’t talk about my failed attempts at the high jump (I think my coach’s words were something to the effect of, “We can’t let you compete in high jump. You’ll break your back.”), or my less than stellar attempts at long jump.

But I will tell you about my (short) stint with running hurdles.

When I started, I was actually pretty decent at it—enough that the coach let me compete in a meet for hurdles. However, during the meet I tripped over one of the first few hurdles and went down in a hard fall.

For every attempt after that meet, when I would run up to the first hurdle I would skid to a stop. I never could clear another one. My mind shut down and to this day the thought of jumping over anything sends a shiver up my spine (I even cringe when my daughter insists on going over the fence between the soccer fields and the parking lot rather than around it).

I mention this time in my life because I feel as though that’s how I approach most obstacles in my life. I start out pushing as hard as I can, jump as many hurdles as possible, but if I stumble on one then thats it. Game over.

I know that many of you reading this can relate to the difficulty of overcoming obstacles. Some of you are likely pro-hurdlers at this point, while others of you practically face plant with each new hurdle. Regardless of how graceful you are as you leap over your hurdles, each jump still provides you with the same risk of tripping and falling down.

Obstacles are nothing new in my health and fitness journey. With every attempt I’ve ever made, the obstacles were in abundance. And unfortunately, each time in the past I’ve let one of them take me down and I’d leave the race.

Since I joined FXB—almost a year ago now—I’ve seen my expected share of obstacles. But this time was different, because I knew that mentally I was in a different place than I have been for any of my past attempts. For the past 11 months I’ve stayed focused, refusing to get discouraged. It’s not been easy, but I’ve endured and I’ve felt a surge of victory after each hurdle I cleared.

But these past few months have been one thing after another. They’ve all been pretty minor obstacles, but oddly those are the ones I have the most difficulty enduring. Maybe it’s because there are so many more mole hills than mountains in my life. It’s kind of like pennies—one alone isn’t really that big of a deal, but they suddenly become worth something if you had a hundred of them.

I find that it’s the same with life challenges. The little ones add up. I become tired. In addition, even small challenges slow down progress. So when I hit challenge after challenge with not much progress to counter them, I start to lose the will to fight.

These last few months I’ve had a string of small challenges. They weren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but they are things that I normally would have let derail me.

Summer Break
One of the primary reasons I stopped working at Cummins was because I wanted to spend more time with my daughter. That meant that summer break was a time for the two of us to have some mommy-daughter fun. Since I started FXB after summer break last year, this was the first time I had to find a way to balance the time with my daughter and my time at the gym. I figured out a plan, but it required my daughter to come with me 2 days out of the week. She wasn’t happy about that (as much as she loves FXB, she loves her couch in the mornings a bit better). Also, this new schedule left me with pretty much no time to myself. I didn’t have that ‘alone’ time to write, check emails, or even go grocery shopping. It would have been so easy for me to let my workouts take a backseat while I put all those other things first.

Yep, my allergies hit me again toward the end of summer. I had been popping allergy meds every morning and it was working great, but either they stopped working or a new allergy popped up that was stronger than the meds I was taking. I felt like crap. I couldn’t breathe. I was tired because I wasn’t sleeping well. Naps sounded so much better than workouts.

Okay, I’m sorry to my male readers out there as this is something you likely won’t understand. At the end of summer I got a bad sunburn on my back and shoulders. Anyone who has ever suffered from sunburn will understand that even a shirt touching the skin is like torture. But only my female readers will understand the magnitude of that torture when it’s your bra straps cutting into the sunburned skin. I couldn’t lift my arms. Pain. Just . . . pain.

Thyroid Meds
I have thyroid issues and have been on two different meds for several years. Long story short, I’m in process of switching specialists and it’s been a nightmare. During this transition, one of my prescriptions expired. Well, old doctor wouldn’t renew since I hadn’t been in. New doctor can’t renew because I’ve not been in to see him yet. So now I’ve been off a med that I was on for years and it will be that way for at least another month until I can see the new doctor. If you know anything about the thyroid, then you know it can really mess up a weight loss journey. It would be so easy for me to dismiss the hope of any progress until I’m back on my meds, and if I’m going to do that then why workout so hard?

None of these are the end of the world. Alone, none would set me off course. But adding them all up together, one right after the other, and I was starting to get fatigued. Throw in the fact that because it was summer my nutrition wasn’t 100% to plan, I knew I couldn’t afford to skimp on the workouts. So I pushed past each hurdle.

  • I blocked out my daughter’s complaints about having to go to the gym.
  • I dragged my daughter to the grocery store with me.
  • I suspended my writing.
  • I found a new allergy medicine.
  • I suffered through the sunburn (although I didn’t do the burpees or anything else that required me to lift my arms above my head).
  • I’m still trying to ignore the thyroid med problem and pretend as if it has no impact whatsoever on my weight/mood/energy . . .

And then I hurt my foot.

I had been up and down a ladder (barefoot) for three days while painting my home office. I had spent the majority of one Monday painting—up and down the ladder and on my feet. The next day my foot was sore, but I thought it was normal. It was expected after all that work. On the following Wednesday it was still sore, but not enough to make me think I shouldn’t workout. I was actually feeling really good for the first time in a long time (sunburn was gone and new allergy meds were doing the trick) so I was pushing it hard. I wanted to make up for those other days I couldn’t hit it quite as hard as I had wanted.

It was the last few seconds of class. I was doing my left roundhouse burnouts. After a couple kicks, I dropped my left foot back before bringing it back up for a kick and I felt something pull.

Dang it.

Basically I’ve discovered that I’ve had Plantar Fasciitis for several years, and with all the ladder work I aggravated it and then the kicking just pushed it over the edge. I cried. It was a big, ugly cry. But not because of the pain in my foot.

I cried because I feared that this would be that one hurdle that took me down. After a string of challenges I was tired. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get back up if I had to take time off for an injury.

It was that point for me. That point where I felt that every time I started to make real progress something stepped up and stopped me. It was that point where I reached that invisible expiration date. The one that said my journey would end right about the one year mark—because that’s where so many have failed for me before.

I’m so tired of running up to that one hurdle that trips me up and skidding to a halt before turning to walk away.

So I told myself that I wasn’t going to take time off. I was still going to go to the gym and just do what I could without hurting my foot further. Was that the right thing to do? I don’t know. Ask a doctor and they will probably tell me no. But I know me, and I know my body and my mind. A huge part of my journey is a mental game. I need to believe that I can still jump over every hurdle that is thrust into my path.

I’m not saying that I’ll never take a day off, or go on vacation, or rest an injury if I feel that not doing so would cause permanent damage. That’s all part of life and I’ve said more than once that it’s important for me to find a program that allows me to live my life.

But  it’s also just as important to be part of a program that supports me when I feel there is a hurdle I need to clear.

So I limped my way into class the day after I hurt my foot. It was upper body day and I knew I could get through okay. I had to switch a few things up—such as putting my left foot forward and stepping back with my right so I didn’t flex my injured foot—but I made it work. Then I limped my way back in the next day for kickboxing. I got my own bag and stayed in the far corner. I figured I could go at my own pace and still be burning some calories even if I couldn’t go full steam. And being by myself meant I wouldn’t slow down the rest of the class.

But you know what? My amazing FXB family still made sure I was included in the workout. They held their squats/planks/etc. until I was done with my combos. There was no resentment. There was no guilt thrown my way for delaying them a few times (especially on the kick combos). There were no sneers from anyone wanting me to get off the mat.

There was only encouragement. And an impromptu foot massage after class (thank you Kari!!).

So thank you to all of my FXB family. Not only for supporting and encouraging me, but for reminding me once again that I’m not alone in this journey. And for making me believe that I will get up from any fall simply because you will be there to lift me if I can’t do it myself.

Have I told you lately how much I love my FXB family??