When I was overweight and out of shape, I thought humanity was divided into two groups: People who are hard-wired for fitness & People who simply aren’t.
I didn’t give my fit friends much credit. ‘They’re jocks. I’m just not that. I’m different.’
Failure to give credit where credit was due was just another way of letting myself off the hook. I assumed that for them it was somehow easier. It was natural. It wasn’t the struggle that it was for me.
I didn’t realize that the gym rats look strong because they choose their physical fitness every day.
Barring illness or injury we are all physical manifestations of our *consistent* lifestyle choices.
Will you keep your food clean? Or are you fine with the drive-through?
Is hitting the gym or going for a run a mandatory part of your daily rhythm? Or will you shuffle from bed to desk to couch to bed again?
I’m a big fan of Jim Gaffigan, but the quote above makes me a little twitchy, because it’s just wrong. It perpetuates dangerous Diet Culture Mentality – The mythical existence of a finish line.
Your hard work is doomed to fail if your day-by-day relationship with wellness is ever ‘done’.
My fitness begins to slip away as soon as I give up on my choices and opt for comfort over wellness. When I phone it in, sip my wine, lounge around, and eat that slice of cake, my hard-won form begins to weaken.
But when I choose well, when I eat clean and train mean, I can slay dragons.
You can be whoever you want to be, but you have to choose well. You have to be consistent. You have to earn it.
Yes, it’s work. But it’s so worth it 🙂
Happy Exhaustion has been in the spin-cycle. I got restless around the time schools let out. My lifestyle was feeling stale, and it scared me on *all* the levels. I was afraid boredom would breed contempt and derail everything I’ve earned through … Continue reading
Every 2 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day I will be jumping into a new diet and/or exercise plan *with both feet*.
I’m game for ANYTHING. What would you like to see me beta test for you? You name it – raw, vegan, paleo, juice cleanse, barre, yoga, running, boxing, swimming, rock climbing, I’ll give it everything I’ve got! After each 2-week adventure, I’ll blog about any and all changes I experience – the good, the bad & the ugly!
In the name of well-informed health coaching, I am prepared to guinea pig myself – even with approaches that sound about as fun as a root canal. (Let’s not even pretend a juice cleanse doesn’t sound like pure torture. I’ll be calling on my inner She-Ra for that one.)
THE RULES OF THE GAME:
I will commit to complete any workout challenge 6 days a week (one day of recovery is a healthy & strong choice no matter what the adventure!) for two weeks.
Any diet challenge will be all-day-every-day for two full weeks.
I will share changes in weight, energy levels, mood, overall quality of life, and any unexpected side-effects.
Hit me with your challenge – either in the comments section here, or on this Facebook thread! I can take it 🙂
It is upon us. The season all dieters/fitness enthusiasts dread most: The Holidays.
Oh, God give me strength. No use pretending the holidays aren’t challenging.
On this day 2 years ago, I was not The Girl Who Lost 100 lbs. I was the girl who lost 96 lbs. My 100 lbs goal was so close I could taste it. There was no WAY I was letting Thanksgiving put any extra distance between me and my declaration of success with my very first Before & After picture.
That year I began developing Holiday Survival Strategies.
If you’re closing in on your own goal – or just don’t want some holiday event to send you completely off the rails – then this one’s for you.
All Eyes-On-On-The-Prize, Goal Chasing, I-WILL-Fit-Into-That-Dress-On-New-Years-Eve fitness friends quaking at the thought of a table loaded with trigger foods, never fear! Happy Exhaustion is here to help.
(Note: If your goal is further in the distance and a few lbs don’t matter much in the Here & Now, then dig in! By no means do I believe Healthy & Strong means NEVER INDULGING AGAIN. If a day of “sometimes foods” is just what the doctor ordered, then enjoy the pie! Just don’t forget to get back on track the next day…)
For my friends who need an assist – I feel your struggle. The struggle is real.
Ready to fight?
Here we go!
1: Start The Day With a Workout
Your gym will probably be closed, and you might not have any equipment at home. NO EXCUSES! Get that metabolism up & running before your brain has a chance to catch up.
Start the day with a sweat – feel thankful for a body capable of a working out!
Here is a freebie, courtesy of the trainer I’m married to:
In descending reps 15-1 (15 of each, then 14 of each, etc. until the last set is only 1 of each)
15-1: Mountain Climbers
15-1: High Knees
15-1: Abs of your choice.
(I’ll be doing oblique twists, but if you prefer sit-ups, go with it!)
2: Mentally Prepare For Your Trigger Foods.
We all have foods that light up the pleasure centers of our brains and make us act like junkies chasing a fix. For me, it’s sugar. One taste and I lose all control.
What’s yours? Sugar? Buttery carbs? Fried saltiness?
Psych yourself up to avoid your triggers. I mean COMPLETELY. Best way to avoid falling off a cliff? Don’t dance on the ledge.
I will not be having any pie tomorrow. It won’t be fun, but I’ll go to bed proud.
3: If You Didn’t Make It, You Don’t Know What’s In It.
This tip is for my fellow calorie-trackers. If you think you can guess-timate how many calories are in Aunt Mae’s famously delicious green bean casserole, round up! Chances are good that her casserole is so delicious because it’s prepared with a cubic ton of butter.
To survive this hurdle, be the one who brings the low-cal options. If you made it, you know *exactly* how many calories to track when you eat it. This is why I’ll be the one bringing steamed asparagus and a dark green salad. That way I know there will be foods that will satisfy me without hitting my tracking with a giant question mark.
4: Beware of Hidden Sugars
Holiday foods can sneak sugar into unexpected places. Keep an eye out for cranberries, pumpkin, squash, and other naturally high-sugar bites. For the holidays they’ll probably be roasted, boiled & reduced with extra sugar and butter just for good measure.
Can’t imagine Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? “That’s not even Thanksgiving!” Ok. Go ahead. But instead of slathering it all over everything, take a tablespoon-worth and enjoy the bites with a touch of sauce. Let them feel like indulgences.
5: Don’t Drink Your Calories.
Just a sampling of why this one’s important: The average cup of eggnog (ONE CUP!) has 225 calories. Mulled wine: 210. Cider: 175. Know what your body will love you for? Water.
(Don’t hate me.)
6: Eyes On the Prize
Whatever your fitness goal may be, keep it in the front of your brain. Think how far you’ve already come, how hard you’ve worked. Remember how much you want what your goal looks like. You’ve overcome difficult moments on this road. You know you can do it. You’ve done it before. Now do it again.
7: Is It Worth It?
Do a little math. How many minutes will you spend enjoying those calorie-bombs? Now, how many minutes do you imagine you’ll spend kicking yourself for unhealthy choices?
Know how many calories you burn running a mile? About 100. Is that single cup of eggnog really worth an extra 2.5 mile run?
8: Rise Above Peer Pressure
This one’s hard. Especially because it means I’m saying mean things about your loved ones. But the girl at the holiday table who isn’t cheating on her diet is rarely the most popular girl in the room. She might be doing what those around her wish they had the willpower to pull off. This can make her the target of saboteurs.
“Surely you’re going to take today off! It’s Thanksgiving!”
“Seriously, one day won’t make a difference.”
“You have GOT to taste this! I made it just because I know it’s your favorite!”
Diet Derailment: Dead Ahead! RED FLASHING LIGHTS!
No matter what the motivation of your loved ones, they’re not the ones who have to walk in your shoes. They don’t have to burn off your calories. Don’t let them drive your choices.
9: Say No to Left-Overs!
If you’re not hosting, politely decline to take any left-overs home with you (unless it’s those healthy, yummy steamed veggies you came with!). Leave with nothing more than an epic sense of pride.
If you’re hosting, encourage everyone who brought food to take home their own left-overs (as well as anything else less-than-wholesome that you can unload! Unless your guests are on paths like yours… give them props and let them leave with their pride alone.)
Deliver the rest to the nearest soup kitchen without delay.
10: It’s Just One Day
Even if you have to white-knuckle it through the perilous waters of the holiday, you’ve survived hard days before. Regular old Tuesdays when your co-worker had a giant bowl of pasta and eating your baked chicken made you full-on ‘hangry’. Stupid Fridays when your buddies were out pounding beers while you stayed in.
You killed it then, you’ll kill it now. Your pride at the end of the day is worth so much more than buttery gravy with a side of pie.
Enjoy the beautiful parts of the holidays. Enjoy your family, your friends, your health.
You don’t need to sabotage yourself to enjoy a special day.
Good luck! I’m with you!
A few months ago, I saw one of those ‘health’ articles with an attention-grabbing headline – something like ’10 Gym Laws You’re Probably Breaking!’
I’m always interested in articles like these, so I clicked straight through.
There were one or two good points on the list – things like ‘Always wipe down your equipment after you’ve drenched it in sweat’ and ‘2 earbuds in means Do Not Disturb’.
But most of the ‘Laws’ were silly and cosmetic, and left me feeling frustrated.
The author was heavy-handed as he asserted Gym Bossiness. “No makeup or jewelry at the gym! Where do you think you are, princess? A nightclub? Leave that ish at home – this is where we SWEAT!”
Fear of such Unwritten Gym Laws handed me an unpleasant dose of mortification last week, when I noticed the glint of a swinging sparkle reflected in the screen of my cardio machine. I had forgotten to remove my earrings when I changed into my gym clothes.
My face instantly flushed hot. I snatched out the offending accessories so fast my earbuds came out, too. I was mortified, scanning the gym to see if anyone was looking at me – judging my faux pas.
I was doing it wrong! I broke the “Gym Rules”!
Were people laughing at me??
Of course, no one was looking. No one was laughing. In 0.2 seconds I went from cross-eyed mortification to laughing at my own absurdity.
“Gym rules” are so stupid. Like we need a few more silly inhibitions getting between us and our goals!
Before I conquered my fear of the gym (and the bossy gym rats occasionally found there), I was afraid that the operative word in ‘Health Club’ was not ‘Health’ but ‘Club’. Gyms seemed like places with secret handshakes, codes I couldn’t crack, and rules I didn’t know how to follow.
As if the machines aren’t intimidating enough, there’s the scary gym-culture.
I didn’t grow up in a gym. I didn’t know the rites & rituals. Fear of doing the gym ‘wrong’ felt so potentially embarrassing, I let it hold me back.
Now I’m taking a stand for anyone who is intimidated by gym culture: JUST. DO. YOU. If you’re sweating, you’re doing it right.
My husband thinks it’s hilarious that I wear makeup when I work out.
One day not long ago, as I pulled the super-sexy minivan into the gym parking lot, I reached for the center console where I keep my lip gloss. I didn’t give it a second thought as I dabbed on just a hint of color. As I was replacing the cap, my better half burst out laughing.
“Did you just put on lip gloss to go do cardio?!” He couldn’t contain his amusement.
As I parked the car, I looked at the man I married a decade ago and asked “Um… have we met?”
Of course I was wearing lip gloss to do cardio. I was out of the house, wasn’t I?
I’m a very girly girl, and I don’t care to pretend otherwise. I have worn a small amount of makeup every day since I was 14. You think a change of venue is going to change that pattern?
I don’t wear *a lot* of makeup, but my ultra-femme side enjoys a little bit every day. Lip gloss, mascara & a dab of powder are in place whenever I leave the house. It doesn’t matter if I’m going to a formal function or making a run to the grocery store, I’m going to default to cosmetics.
Why should I make an exception for the gym? My waterproof mascara and lip gloss aren’t hurting anybody, and I’m happier with them. If I have to be panting and dripping with sweat, I can at least have pretty lashes!
Sure, you probably don’t want to cake on heavy foundation before a workout, because your pores will clog like nobody’s business. But – if your skin makes you self-conscious, don’t allow silly ‘rules’ about your cosmetics keep you from sweating yourself healthy.
There are gym rules that are in place for your safety, and those rules should always be followed. But the gym rules that are superficial? Take them if you like them, leave them if you don’t.
If you want to do Pretty Fitness, do Pretty Fitness! Mister Bossy Gym Rat is not the boss of you.
Have you noticed? Happy Exhaustion has been in hiding.
I’m sure you have been tearing your hair and gnashing your teeth, cursing the heavens and calling out “WHY?!?”
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to abandon you. I’m back now. Dry your tears.
Why now? Well, it dawned on me last night that my rockstar readers might think I stopped blogging about fitness because I threw in the sweaty towel, fell off of the wagon, and landed mouth-first in an enormous vat of ice cream.
I can’t have that! I’d rather make my embarrassing confession than give the impression that I’ve bailed on the journey.
My current fitness adventure is a whole ‘nother thing. I’m brimming with enthusiasm about it and DYING to share – but the desperately undignified lack of nobility in what I’m up to has me holding back.
I’m chasing a goal that is all about (*cringe*) vanity.
When I began Happy Exhaustion, I had one guiding principle: This Is Not A Blog About Skinny. This blog is not designed to contribute to the horrifying, *LOUD*, “Thinspo”, Get-Skinny-Or-Develop-An-Eating-Disorder-Trying NOISE.
So, when I found a new motivator (at a time when – I gotta be honest – I was hurting for a fresh motivator) and it wasn’t strictly about health and strength, but vanity-driven self-confidence, I didn’t know how to admit it.
But, it’s time to come clean. I am – for the first time in my life – engaging in the act of Preparing For Bathing Suit Season.
I have long avoided public displays of skin. Swimwear is so rude. It does precisely NOTHING to conceal the jiggly bits!
Fear of Swimsuit Judgment holds me back from activities that look like a lot of fun.
Are there any activities that have always looked like fun to you, but something holds you back from participating? You’d totally love to sky-dive if it wasn’t for that pesky fear of heights?
That’s how I am about water. I love to swim and grew up spending my summers on sailboats. But ever since my body issues kicked in (at a frightfully early age) I’ve let my body image hang-ups stand in my way.
I can’t get past my insecurities.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate this superficial side of myself – but there it is.
Hello, my name is Katey, and my post-childbearing torso and soft thighs have kept me out of the swimwear department.
This summer I want something different. I don’t want the nagging demons of vanity to get between me and a summer spent splashing in the pool with my kids. I don’t want to dive for a towel whenever a camera appears. My sights are set on eliminating the things that make me feel self-conscious.
I wish I was here to say “I banished my personal psychology and decided to change!” But I’m not – I don’t know how. What I DO know how to do is to achieve my goals through hard work.
Once again, I am gearing up to get what I want the way I know how: With rivers of sweat.
Heads up “Problem Areas” – I’m coming for ya!
I am sweating in the direction of ‘toning’. (Sidebar: WTF is ‘toning’ anyway? I think we all have an image in our heads of what we mean when we say we want to ‘tone up’ but what does it really mean? The best way I can define it is developing muscles with a small enough amount of fat on top to make the muscles visible… right?)
I am trying to make my muscles *look* a certain way. Yes – they naturally are becoming stronger as I build them, but this time I’m building them to change their appearance. It’s a whole new thing.
I’m dropping some body fat as I burn extra calories with all the added abs & hamstrings workouts, but that’s not the goal nearly as much as changing my body composition from soft spots to something firmer.
And guys – with the guidance of the resident trainer – it’s working!! Operation Abs & Hamstrings is in full effect and (if you have any interest in my little vanity project) I can’t wait to tell you about it!
If I can pull off a beach body, I’ll let you know – and maybe even see! That is… if the resident trainer doesn’t mind 🙂
Here it is! The March Challenge!
This month we’ll start every day with 5 minutes of cardio to get our hearts pumping, then progressions on arms, core, legs & glutes.
Enjoy! And don’t forget to join us on the Happy Exhaustion Facebook page, where I will be posting the daily workouts every day. Let us cheer you on!