Comfortable is Boring

This morning I was seconds away from texting my trainer to cancel our session. I’ve had a cold bug toying with my body over the past few days and I felt drained. I know, I know, this is the part where you tell me: Listen to your body, don’t push it too hard.

And you’re right. You shouldn’t ever push your body so far that you do more harm than good. But this morning my body told me I wasn’t sick enough to quit today. I didn’t have a fever, just a sore throat and some congestion. My brain had better get on board. There was a faint pounding in my head as I downed a bunch of water on my way to my trainer’s studio. My body was waking up and I was feeling better than I was a half hour earlier.

“How you feeling today?” asked my trainer, wanting to know what my muscle soreness level was.

“Great!” I lied as I tied my shoes. He threw me on the treadmill and with pure determination I started my run. As we headed into circuit training, I channeled my focus into the tasks at hand and powered my way through. Take THAT you f-ing cold, I thought to myself.

Mind over matter. Proven.

We’ve been ending my workouts with boxing and I’ve found that I love throwing punches, it’s such a phenomenal release. This morning, he told me to add in some kicks.

“This is going to be hilarious.” I told him, trying to hide my nervousness. I felt extremely awkward and unqualified to be full on fighting him.

“Good,” he assured me as I gained my balance – and more importantly – my confidence.

keep-going

As with anything new and scary, I had to fight my way through the uncomfortable feeling of inadequacy to reach a point of confidence. What’s that old saying? Fake it til ya make it? That’s been my mode of operation for most of my life. From things big – like overcoming extreme shyness and becoming an on-air radio personality in a large market to things small – like overcoming self-consciousness and changing in a gym locker room. Eventually, the confidence is no longer faked and grows into a powerful catalyst for personal growth.

After all, putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations is the only way to evolve into a stronger, better human. ‘Comfortable’ is boring.

The Relationship Between Focus and Motivation

There was an extra spring in my step following my first session with my trainer on Sunday. I stood taller and was perhaps a little cocky as I drove from his studio to my regular gym to add a twelve mile bike ride on top of the workout I had just completed. My energy level was out of control and I liked it.

The next morning, I groaned as I rolled out of bed while every muscle in my body seemed to scream. Going into my program, I was expecting it to be painful. I was ready for the grueling road that stood between me and the tone I was after. Yet the actual, real-life soreness still caught me a little off guard. I moved slowly throughout the day, struggling to lift a bottle of water close enough to my face for a drink as I debated in the back of my mind if I would hit the gym that night to keep on my cardio routine. I had worked hard and a night off wouldn’t be a bad thing, right? But it was Monday, the other part of me yelled into my psyche, I always do cardio on Mondays. After all, going into this next chapter I had it in my head that my training sessions wouldn’t replace any of my regular workouts, only add to them. If I skipped the gym, in my mind, I was already failing.

So off to the gym I went and logged my miles, even though a minute into the ride I thought I was going to die from the burning in my legs. But as each mile passed, it got better and soon enough I was in my usual stride. Next step taken, roadblock averted.

In my last post, we talked about keeping your eye on your goal; envisioning yourself getting there, imagining how that moment is going to feel and making that your motivation.

Your motivation is that “thing” you want to achieve; whatever it is. Keep that in your sight line, but not in your focus. It’s easy to obsess over that end goal and that leads to frustration when you don’t get there right away. Right now, it needs to be that blurry thing in the distance that gets clearer with each day… each step… that you take towards it. Your focus is the step-by-step you have to take to get there.

This morning, I was still insanely sore. I didn’t know how on Earth I was going to possibly get through another session of circuit training and wanted more than anything to stay curled up in my bed under a pile of blankets. Put it off another day. But if I started skipping sessions now, the pain I’d endured the past two days would be for nothing. I’d have to start all over again. So I focused on what was immediately ahead of me and told myself that I just had to get through it. You got this, I thought as I looked in the mirror.

Often times it’s thought that the first step is the toughest, but I’d kindly disagree. Anyone can change up their mindset for a day or two. The hardest part is keeping focused beyond that, pushing yourself when things get hard towards that thing that motivates you and keeping yourself from sliding back down into your old way of thinking.

One step at a time, as they say. Keep focused on that next step, with the vision of your goal in the distance. One step turns into five. Five turns into ten. Ten into thirty and so on. Pretty soon, you’ll be so many steps in, you won’t let anything send you backwards. Your motivation simply won’t let you quit.

Keep focused.  You’ll get there.

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As an aside, I tend to lean on music to get me through the times when my brain and body argue, as they’ve done the past few days. While this song has likely been played to death on the radio (and rightfully so, it’s great), I personally hadn’t heard it in a long time and rediscovered it this weekend. It’s taken on a whole new meaning for me and has reignited my own focus. I wanted to share it with you, in the hope it can perhaps do the same. (lyrics below the video)

If anything, the vid itself is freaking incredible… so there’s that.

TRY by P!nk
Ever wonder about what he’s doing
How it all turned to lies
Sometimes I think that it’s better to never ask why
Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Funny how the heart can be deceiving
More than just a couple times
Why do we fall in love so easy
Even when it’s not right
Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Ever worried that it might be ruined
And does it make you wanna cry?
When you’re out there doing what you’re doing
Are you just getting by?
Tell me are you just getting by by by
Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try

Walking the Walk

I ripped myself out of bed at five this morning and pushed myself out into the 15F air. I’m not a morning person by any definition of the word, so the fact that I had pants on at that hour was truly a sign of my dedication. It was still dark as I drove to the small gym near my neighborhood where I was meeting with a personal trainer for an initial consultation.

I’ve hit some important milestones over the past year. Last summer, I hit my goal weight and fell into a comfortable spot in my healthy BMI range for the first time in my life. I’ve stuck to a fairly aggressive cardio routine that has me in the gym 5 days a week. This week marks seven months since I fully committed to a vegetarian lifestyle and I’ve made huge strides in learning about proper nutrition.

Still, I want more. While I’m at a healthy weight and “look fine” (so I’m told), I’m not completely where I want to be yet. My middle is soft and my arms are weak. I want to be FIT. I want to wear a bikini for the first time in my life by the time I’m 33. (That’s in July for those keeping score.) I’ve half-assed it on the weights without results for long enough, so I’m making an investment by working with a trainer to get me to that next level. I’m insanely pumped for this next part of my journey.

I follow a lot of health-focused pages on various social media outlets. Recently, one of them posted a quote from Kenneth Blanchard: “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.”

Mr. Blanchard was referring to business when he said that, but it can be applied to any goal you want to achieve.

I’ve been called “obsessed” when it comes to health and fitness because I get down when I miss too many workouts or overindulge too many times in a row. While some people call that an obsession, I call it being focused and accepting nothing less than what I set out to achieve. At the risk of being extremely cliche… you can’t sit there and talk the talk… unless you get up off your butt and walk the walk. Don’t just think about it or wish for it. DO IT. You’re going to be uncomfortable and you’re going to want to quit. But blasting through that is one of the greatest feelings you can possibly experience.

I’ve written a lot about figuring out what’s been keeping you from reaching your goals. Any goal. Personal, professional, whatever. And while that is  indeed key to moving forward… you actually do have to take that first step. I spent a lot of years THINKING about how I wanted to be fit before I ever took the first step for REAL. I remember that day like it just happened. I stood on the edge of the treadmill that  had been collecting dust in my basement and forced myself to just walk for 30 minutes. I was extremely out of shape, so it was hard for me to do and the next day, I didn’t want to do it again. But I did because as hard as it was, I was tired of spinning around the drain into a life of discontent. Before I knew it, I was walking five days a week on my lunch hour. Nothing crazy, just walking and creating a new habit. From there I started upping the pace. Before I knew it, I was running, cycling, playing pick up sports and trying any physical activity I could. My diet started evolving. I was feeling better… more confident. I was changing… and it all started with one thirty-minute walk.

I’ve told you before… it’s going to be hard. Not only do you have to contend with the things going on in your head, you also have to deal with those around you. People in your life… people you love… are going to try and discourage you, even if that’s not their outright intent. They might call you “crazy” or “obsessed” or offer up excuses to deviate from your determination. Don’t let them. In many cases, I’d venture to guess that they’re simply trying to convince themselves that their own missteps are okay by subconsciously inviting you to join them on the path that leads to disappointment. When you feel like you want to quit or that what you’re going after is impossible… envision yourself reaching that goal. How AWESOME is that going to feel?  Then get excited about where you can go once you get there.

No more “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Do it today. Go start NOW. Seriously, right now.

Motivation

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I’m attempting to write a book. I haven’t really shared much beyond that. I’ve been skeptical, you see, of my ability to do it and am not yet completely confident anything substantial will come from doing it. But still, after some serious prodding (see also: encouragement) from people who I respect, I’m sticking with the idea and seeing what happens.

I have thoughts and ideas written all over the place. Bits and pieces of written works with no real direction are living in various word documents on my laptop, yet I have no real “plan” yet.

My motivation and vision is to help others who are going through what I did throughout the majority of my life so far… especially young girls. For the record: I had food, clothes, a roof over my head and a wonderful family while I was growing up, so by all aspects, life was good. But what most people don’t know – not even those closest to me – is how badly I struggled with self-image and severe introversion, in addition to my weight struggles throughout my childhood and young adulthood.

You guys know that I’ve made a transformation over the past few years, but the road to this really good place I’m in now was tough. I want other people going through this to not only know they aren’t alone… but that it’s possible to blast through it. I want to be that living, breathing, walking example that you CAN change yourself and become the person you’ve always wanted to be. That’s what motivates me. YOU’RE stories motivate me. And I want more than anything to return that favor.

When life gets bumpy, one of my favorite things to do is lose myself in music that stirs my soul. Soak myself in lyrics that pack a punch and make me think. One of my all-time favorites is P!nk and last night I got the chance to catch her Truth About Love Tour. What I love about her and her music is that she is a no bull-shit, this is how it is, I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks (yet she DOES care at the same time) type of artist. She pushes people out of their comfort zone in her lyrics, look and demeanor in order to make them THINK. I admire that. (And, I always say if you are offended by P!nk, you’re just not paying attention.)

I left the show last night feeling extremely motivated. Not just to start back in on writing more substantial material for a potential book… but also in my other goals. (My Operation: Abs has been re-ignited, for example.)

Drawing inspiration from those around you is a wonderful thing. Not just in musicians, authors or even random bloggers who are terrible dancers… but also in the people in your every day life. Doing so can spark insights into your own self and open up parts you didn’t know were there. They KEY, though, is to never, ever compare yourself to another person. Ever. You are unique. Your situation is unique. Take what you learn and figure out how to apply it to your life in a positive way. Discover YOUR way… but don’t be afraid to lean on those around you as you find your footing.

I did. And am thankful for each and every one of you who have helped me along the way.

Hi, I’m you.

I caught myself slipping to sleep while curled up on the oversized chair in my living room early yesterday evening. I wanted more than anything to let myself fall into a nap, but I hadn’t gotten my work out in for the day yet. I toyed with the idea of letting it go, but my body had another plan.

It was like I wasn’t even in control as I got up, changed into workout clothes and drove to the gym. My mind wasn’t yet on board, but I had to get it done. I hopped on a bike and started riding. A few minutes in, I was going faster than I’d gone in a long time and found a cadence that somehow danced perfectly with the tunes pumping into my ears.

My legs were throbbing as I walked back to the locker room and I felt awesome. My breath caught up with the rest of me as I passed by the glass-enclosed spinning room where I caught the image of someone walking along the opposite side. Who was that girl, I thought for a minute, before realizing it was my own reflection matching my movements across the mirror that spanned the entire wall.

We all have an image of ourselves in our heads and often times that likeness doesn’t match reality. I run into that often. Many times, that image in my head is still one of that fat and extremely awkward girl I used to be.

She was a girl who struggled for years, not only with her weight, but also with her being. She tried desperately to pour herself into molds others were holding out for her, rather than realizing she had to cast her own. Without realizing she could.

This weekend I hung out with some of my oldest friends. Most of them I’ve known since we were little kids. They’ve stuck with me through ups and downs, embraced my oddities and even though I only see them a few times a year these days, we tend to pick up exactly where we left off. I’m extremely lucky to know them.

They’re all married, most with kids, and I used to leave my meetings with them feeling inadequate and/or out of place. Not because of anything they did, obviously, but because of those “molds” I thought I had to fit in. I used to feel this overwhelming sense of urgency to “catch up” with them.

I didn’t feel like that this time.

Which proved to me that I’ve really evolved into my fully realized self. A person who is happy and content with who she is and is hungry to learn and grow further as a human being. I couldn’t really do that until I was cool with myself, first. That was my roadblock.

It’s all related to finding YOUR truth and what makes YOU happy. How do you identify what’s been holding you back from growing into the person you want to be? How do you bust through that barrier?

Those are not questions I can answer for you. Only you can do that. It’s scary… but worth it. I promise.

Roadblocks

Staying positive and focused when faced with roadblocks is perhaps one of the most difficult things that we as humans have to do.  It is also one of the most essential.  I’ve been struggling with that recently.

Last year I tore the rotator in my left shoulder because I was being an idiot with a kettle bell.  After over a year of being extremely careful, it’s been feeling great lately and my plan was to start weight training this week after I got back on my routine following two weeks of being no where near it due to travel and work functions.  I was PUMPED to get going on stepping up my fitness plan.  Then, in a twist of fate, I pulled a muscle in my other shoulder last week while carrying way more than I should have ever attempted by myself.  All of a sudden I found myself again unable to put on a shirt without screaming.  It wasn’t as bad as my previous injury, but it wasn’t good.

I talked myself off an emotional ledge and convinced myself it was going to be okay if I deferred my weight training plan.  I would just keep going with the cardio routine I’ve been on, which has been serving me very well.  I could see definition starting to form in my torso and I knew if I handled my newest shoulder injury with care, I could get going on my strength training in a few weeks.

So forward I went and I hit the gym like usual this afternoon.

I hobbled to the locker room after a session on the elliptical, pissed off.  My left knee decided today was the day to quit on me with ten minutes left in my workout.  I powered through the pain and completed what I set out to do, which was probably a stupid move physically.  But mentally, I needed to reach the finish line.

Between my shoulder and my knee… I felt broken.  What the hell was going on with my body?  Negativity, as you can see, started creeping in.

After three years of hard work, I am terrified of going backwards.  Long-term deviations from my state-of-normal, like the past couple of weeks, stress me out and make me feel like my formerly fat self is on her way back into my life.   And the truth is, it should stress me out to a certain extent.  A healthy amount of obsession is the ONLY way to make things happen for good.  Half-assing it gets you no where.

It would be very easy for me to throw my hands up in the air and just “take time off.”  To quit.  Blame these roadblocks presented by my injuries.

But I can’t.  I just can’t.  And that’s how I know I’ve changed.

So what do we do when we can’t quit, yet can’t move forward as we had planned?

Adjust.  It’s possible to reach your goals in another way.  For me, I need to find workouts that are easy on my knee and shoulder until they are healed in order to keep the momentum going.  Enter: even more cycling.

Stay positive.  When negativity starts taking over, stop and look at what you’ve accomplished.  Reassess the path you are on and find the highlights to keep you going.  I did this tonight and reminded myself that despite eating at restaurants everyday for nearly two weeks and only getting half my workouts in, I didn’t gain any weight.  Therefore, I haven’t rewound, just paused, and am starting again from the point I was before I went off course.


Focus. 
Not only should you look back at what you’ve already achieved, but keep focused on why you want to reach a particular goal in the first place.  Push yourself to get there and find another way when a roadblock pops up.  With focus and determination, you CAN get there.

What roadblocks are you facing?  Are you letting them stop you?  How can you find your way around them?