Accountability partners

I signed up for a Twitter acount a year or so ago and proceeded to tweet approximately four times before I decided that I was too boring and that keeping up with all the people I was following took too much time. But my friend Melissa recently started tweeting, and she inspired me to dip my toes into it again.

How?

She proposed that we be workout accountability partners via Twitter (I promise I’m not going to give it some gagworthy “tw” term, like tworkout partners). We’ll tweet each other with the exercise we commit to doing that day, and again when we’ve actually done it. Our first attempt at this was today.

I didn’t want to work out at all, but breaking my promise to her when she kept hers to me was not an option. As a result, I can proudly say that I kept up my end of the bargain!

StartThisMinute @StartThisMinute: @GnomeEscapades Workout done. Did 30 Day Shred, Level 2, instead. Whew! Only 20 minutes, but I am wiped!
 

GnomeEscapades@GnomeEscapades: @StartThisMinute awesome! Good for you! Want to keep this up? As acctbly partners?
 
And so did she. We’ve since agreed to do this at least three times per week.
 
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I’m now brainstorming other possible accountability partner types. Maybe one of my MyFitnessPal.com friends and I can send each other our food journals for the day. Or maybe a fellow scrapbooking friend and I can share our progress on getting our pictures into albums.  
 
I am someone who NEEDS accountability. The only time I’ve ever been extremely successful was when I knew my weight was being published in a major metropolitan newspaper each week. During those 12 weeks, I didn’t gain an ounce, ever. There was no way I was going to risk being embarrassed in print. And in this case, there’s no way I’m going to let Melissa do all the work while I sit on my butt.
 
If you’ve been struggling, I highly recommend trying out this system–and I’m happy to be an accountability partner to you, too!
 
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Fear begets fear; power begets power

One of my favorite things is when I lose myself in a beautiful book and am struck over and over by passages that resonate with me. Happily, this happened today.

I was reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, and came across this:

Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me…Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.

Yes.

I am a very anxious person and my internal voice relentlessly reinforces my anxiety, always telling me to be careful or playing out the worst case scenario in vicious, excruciating detail, until I’m convinced that staying in one place is better than moving forward, because of the risk that I’ll trip and fall.

But what if I don’t? What if I take one step, and then another, and eventually wind up in a place so beautiful it takes my breath away?

I’m tired of worrying. When I ask, “What if?”, I want  my thoughts to instantly land on the best, most wonderful possibilities, and not the terrible ones. When I pick one word that best describes me, I want it to be strong.

This doesn’t exactly relate to health and fitness, but in a way it does. Because when I was taking my literal first steps forward–that incredible, impossible moment when I ran my very first mile without stopping, and then a second–my spirt was also taking giant leaps forward. Because it finally sank it that I controlled my future, that I could do what I set my mind to if I worked for it, and that I could be really proud of myself.

In Wild, there is another scene where Cheryl, a hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail, senses that a major storm is coming. Cheryl felt “too vulnerable outside, though [she] knew [her] tent offered little protection.” She writes, “I sat in expectant wonder and fear, bracing for a mighty storm that never came.”

Almost always, the thing I fear never happens. And yet, because I focused on it so intensely, I lived through it anyway, for no reason.

Fear begets fear. Power begets power.

It’s time to leave the fear behind and take that first step, run that first mile, and feel that rush of joy and power I’ve been missing.

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Tell me

I came across a line in a poem today that stopped me in my tracks:

The full poem, titled “The Summer Day,” is available here. The photo source is here.

So, tell me, what are your plans for your life? Your only life–your precious life?

My plans are to be fit and happy. And with that, it’s time to stop the downward spiral I’ve been stuck in for about a year–ever since the Fittest Loser contest ended this month in 2011. The finale for the new contestants took place this week, and I saw them looking so happy and so proud, and I remembered exactly how that felt.

And now it’s time to get it back. I have one wild and precious life, and I am going to cherish it.

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A day at a time

I have a problem. I tend to swing to extremes on the weight loss front, from eating pizza, pasta and ice cream for a week straight, to declaring I’m going to go paleo for life and run a half marathon in six months.

It’s silly and, worse, it sets me up for failure.

Last night, for example, I went to dinner with friends and used it as an excuse to go hog wild. Jon and I split chips and queso, I had a burger and fries, AND I had a strawberry margarita. It was all really fun for 20 minutes. But then it turned to shame (not to mention physical discomfort) for hours–not worth it.

So what did I do? My first inclination was to make a sweeping declaration that I was going to go on a carbless diet for the rest of my life. Ridiculous. The second I said that, I found myself wanting French toast for breakfast.

So instead, I decided to take it one day at a time. TODAY, I am following the Fittest Loser eating program. It is clean eating, with two whole-grain starches allowed before 3 p.m. and no starches afterward. It’s a really healthy, whole foods-focused program, and when I followed it, I was in the best shape of my life.

But if I declare that I’m going to follow that plan for life, I’m going to go grab the ice cream in the freezer and rebel. When I take it one day at a time, I can tell myself that I just need to do it for 24 hours. The idea is that I’ll do the same thing tomorrow and it WILL become a long-term goal. And when I DO make the choice to have a slice of pizza, it will affect only that one day, and I won’t be devastated because a giant lifelong goal was just derailed.

If I decided to run a half marathon today, I’d get outside and fail within 15 minutes. But if I decide that I’m going to run a mile today, and I do that each day for a long period, one day I WILL run that half marathon.

Like The Tortoise and the Hare reminds us, slow and steady often wins the race.

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On running

I both hate and completely adore running.

It’s painful. It’s HARD. And I’m really bad at it.

But it’s also time to be totally alone with no phone calls, no emails and no to-do lists, and it allows me to just BE and appreciate the beautiful nature around me. And when I’m done, the pride and feeling of accomplishment I have cannot be matched.

When I showed up at CrossFit on Thursday, I saw the following workout of the day (WOD) on the board:

Run 1,600 meters (that’s one mile) and rest 1:1 (meaning it takes 11 minutes, rest for 11 minutes)

Run 800 meters and rest 1:1

Run 600 meters and rest 1:1

Run 400 meters and rest

A million potential excuses as to why I must absolutely leave RIGHT NOW ran through my head, but I did my very best to shut them out. I saw that rowing was an alternative workout, and I considered doing that instead. And then I decided that I’d stop letting my mind get the best of me. I ran two 5Ks last year. I may have only run twice since September, but there’s no reason not to at least try.

What I DID do was scale it back because I wouldn’t have finished in the time allotted for class if I did the full workout. I ran 800 meters, 400 meters, 200 meters, 200 meters–a total of one mile. I finished in 13:25, which is on my pace for my typical miles. It should have been faster, given that it was broken into chunks, but I got a huge stitch in my side from gulping water (dumb idea) and that slowed me down quite a bit.

Regardless of my time, I was really proud. I hadn’t left, I hadn’t rowed, and I’d run a full mile without walking. Small things, to be sure, but small things add up to big things.

 

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Why I Suck(ed?) at Being Healthy

My friend just shared a great blog post by Nerd Fitness, titled “Why People Suck at Getting Healthy.” Essentially, the reasons are saying you “should” do something rather than actually doing it, giving yourself too much wiggle room in what you eat (one piece of candy quickly becomes a dozen) and failing to build in systems to keep yourself accountable.

I identified with all of these.

Seriously, how many times have I said I “should” do something in these blog posts? A zillion, give or take one or two? And almost as bad, how about I “will” do this. Forget that. Time to start now and change that verb tense to show that I AM doing this.

I also totally identify with the “give me an inch, and I’ll take a mile” mindset when it comes to food. The biggest weight loss I ever had, by far, was when I was on the Fittest Loser program and there were clear lists of can have and can’t have foods. It wasn’t FUN, but man was it effective. So why am I not doing that now?

One thing I AM doing is building in systems so I can’t give up. At CrossFit, we can pre-sign up for classes (we don’t have to). If we DO sign up and then don’t show twice, we owe $30. I’m paying enough already that there is no way in tarnation I am handing over another $30. Signing up has proven to be 100% effective for me so far.

Speaking of CrossFit, it’s been an interesting experience. I swing between feeling super ashamed (like when I can’t even remotely do a wall climb, when everyone else in the class can) and SUPER proud that this big girl is working out alongside the super fit. I’m trying really hard to focus on the latter.

In summary, I continue to suck at getting healthy. But I’m sucking less each and every day.

 

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A little reunion

Today is Saturday, the day on which I usually sleep until about 8:30 or 9–three glorious hours later than my weekday wake-up time. But today, my alarm blared brutally at 5 a.m. and, despite my exhaustion, I bounced out of bed. I had something big to look forward to–a reunion boot camp class with former and current Fittest Loser contestants! I’ve missed everyone so much, and REALLY missed the luxury of working with the amazing Push trainers. Here’s my trainer and me on the finale day almost a year ago:

(Source:  Push Fitness Schaumburg Facebook page)

Let’s be honest, though. Despite my excitement, I was also terrified to go. I haven’t seen any of last year’s contestants or trainers in months, and I was afraid my weight gain would be very noticeable and very shameful. I shouldn’t have worried–everyone was so supportive and it felt 100% amazing to be back.

The focus of today’s class was boxing–my absolute favorite. My partner was the trainer, meaning I never got to switch from gloves to pads–I was punching and kicking and knee-up-ing the whole entire time. My body aches everywhere–and I LOVE it!

I’ve talked a blue streak about CrossFit lately, and I really, really like it. But my heart will always be with Push Fitness because they are the ones who saved me when I really needed it. It was so good to see my Push family again and to get some much-needed confidence back through a great workout. I may run at a snail’s pace, but I pack a mean punch!

If you haven’t tried boxing before, I highly recommend giving it a try. You can pick up gloves and pads for about $35 (try Amazon, Dick’s or Sports Authority) and the workout is absolutely worth it! All that pent-up frustration, stress and craziness just flies out the window, leaving behind a major sense of pride and peace. Today we did:

–Jabs for five minutes (then you take the pads and your partner will punch)

–Knee-ups and upper-cuts for five minutes (knee, knee, punch punch–partner holds the pads horizontal for the knees, vertical for the uppercuts)

–Sit-ups with four punches each time you come up (three minutes)

–Front kicks (continuously kick the pads, alternating legs–three minutes)

–Two punches and then squat low as your partner circles the pad above your head (three minutes)

Check YouTube for examples of good form/height/speed/etc.!

I did all of that twice, so I am just a tiny bit achy at the moment. As in, I started washing dishes, but it hurt too much to lift the bowl.

If no pain=no gain, I’m hoping a whole lotta pain=a whole lotta gain. Or, in this case, a really big loss!

 

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