Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Beauty is the Beast

Some will argue that a woman with a visible muscular structure is masculine looking, ugly or bulky. A muscular woman is a beast rather than a beauty.  Women should be soft, curvy, and supple.  Men should be hard, firm and muscular. Who says? Do you have to believe?  Must you agree?

Most will follow the masses and agree with whatever is the most popular ideal at any given time.  It's human nature. It's easier.  Less conflict. Run with the crowd because you will be accepted rather than exiled. Go with the flow.

"Strong is the new skinny." This phrase seems be tossed around quite frequently these days. But stop and think about it.  One can be quite strong without having 'visible muscle'. When I refer to 'visible muscle', I am referencing a female with a very low body fat which causes her muscles to 'pop' more or less to the observer.  I interpret "strong as the new skinny" to refer to women who are ultra fit and thin yet muscular.  Not anorexics. Not steroid using body builders. Not cardio bunnies. But athletes.

Strong is the new skinny is an athlete.  A female who takes their sport seriously whatever it may be. They are concerned with more than just their outward appearance.  They have developed a lifestyle which incorporates fitness and health as part of a daily regime.  It's as common to them as maintaining employment. It's part of who they are.  It is not an obsession it is a way of life.

Athletes have goals.  Their goals are unique and help develop a plan of what they want to accomplish and how they will tackle the process.  Society may not always agree with the goal or even the method used to get there.  That is why it is unique.  It is not society's goal, it is the individuals goal. Again, going against the grain. This is not the easiest route or the most traveled but can be the most rewarding.

Athletes have muscles.  Muscles help propel them into motion.  Muscles aid in their speed, strength and stamina. Muscles have mass.  Mass carries weight.  Weight on a fit body is called muscle. Therefore, a female athlete who takes her sport seriously is going to have muscles.

If you don't like it, keep it to yourself. It's not okay to ridicule someone for being obese, anorexic or skinny fat.  So why is it acceptable to criticize females who are muscular?  It's not.  It's called envy. Step up or shut up.  I have chosen my own journey and never looked back.  I'm  a fit, healthy female who can protect herself with those big ugly muscles.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

At War with Will Power

Have you ever waged a war against your Will Power?  Think about it carefully.  This is actually a war you want to lose. Sometimes. I want to eat that brownie.  I want to sleep in and skip my workout.  I want to skip those last few reps because they hurt. I don't want to do chin-ups because I suck at them.

Sound familiar? Who is the victor? You or your Will Power? Wait, aren't you really the winner if your Will Power wins? It's all very confusing.  You feel like you lost because you didn't get what you wanted - the brownie, extra sleep or an easy way out.  Yet, you won because you reap the benefits.

Confusing, right? No. These are only battles.  Battles that build up to the war.  The war which awaits you somewhere off in the future.  It's lingering out there.  It's lurking. It's stalking you. It even taunts you from afar.  You can't see it or even feel it, but you sense it. It mocks you every day.

It is the unknown. It's a powerful force and one that has the ability to knock you on your ass.  So you keep fighting.  You fight every day. Some are easy days and some are harder.  You lose focus once in awhile and have to readjust. It's second nature to you. The course is filled with obstacles yet you continue your journey. You have goals, ambitions and dreams.

Why do you fight so hard? Why not throw in the towel? It would be much easier.  Because you are a soldier.  You are fighting to survive.  You are fighting to be a better version of you. You are fighting because your Will Power  has ordered you to fight until the end.  Because if you give up, Will Power dies.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mind Your P's and Q's.

Planning, Persistence and Patience are key components in achieving many things in life.  It's how you apply the components that determine the outcome.  Seems simple enough yet we make it more complicated than necessary.

Planning takes time.  It takes effort.  It's not always fun. Nobody plans to fail but it is part of the process.  When failure rears it's ugly head, a decision needs to be made to push forward to reach your goals or give in and give up. This is where persistence takes charge.  If your not persistent, failure wins. Persistence sucks.  It can take a long time.  It can take a lot of energy.  It can be annoying.  But along comes your friend patience. Patience can be calm.  Patience can be short-lived. Patience can yield rewards.  Patience can run out. Now what?

Back to the plan.  Back to persistence.  Back to being patient. It's a vicious circle.  A circle of life if you will.  You must begin the cycle again and again to get closer to your goals.  If you decide the cycle isn't worth making the rounds, then you don't deserve the rewards.  It's really that simple.  If it's worth doing once, its worth doing again and again.  You may never reach perfection but you will learn a great deal in the process and each time you will improve the quality of the outcome.

So watch your P's and your Q's will follow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jewels vs. Tools

What's the best way to a fitness girl's heart? Shiny expensive jewels or tools of the trade?

I've never owned a diamond except for my wedding ring.  Seems a bit unusual for a gal my age. However, it's just never been something that's been important to me.  I don't trust myself to not lose it! I also don't see how baubles improve my life.  They are nice to look at but yield no real benefits. Tools on the other hand aid in the sculpting of my physique and keep me on the road to a long healthy life.

Living a healthy lifestyle is not always cheap.  It costs more than time and energy.  Our bodies adapt and our minds grow bored with the same routines day in and day out.  Creativity becomes essential to keeping us engaged and our bodies making progress. Without change, we remain the same. This is where the tools come in.

Training occurs in many environments and uses a variety of tools.  The tools can be cheap and simple like a jump rope, a bench or a bungee cord.  They can also be more complex like equipment found at a gym - step mill, elliptical, nautilus machines, free weights, etc. There are also 'in-between' tools such as kettle bells, TRX straps, ab wheel, weight vest, training sled, val slides, bosu ball or a balance disk.  It's the manner in which you put these tools to work that determines how useful and productive they will be for you.

Training doesn't have to be complex, it just needs to be done smart.  Don't spin your wheels unless you are on a bike.  Don't run in circles unless you're doing wind sprints.  Don't weigh yourself down unless you can pick yourself up. You can muscle up by training smarter, not longer. If you feel the need to chew the fat, make sure you are talking to the right person about the big picture. There is a great deal of information about training but very few actually understand the science behind it. It matters.  Be a shiny gym jewel rather than a diamond in the rough.

My boyfriend has given me many, if not all, of my gym jewels!  I love them!  To me, it is a sign of love, affection and support. He is my biggest cheerleader in the lifestyle that I have chosen to live.  He knows the value of the gym jewels.  He is my coach, trainer, nutritionist and partner in life.  The long term value of my gym jewels outweigh the biggest diamond money can buy.  My health is more valuable than any diamond.

My gym jewels are baubles that will get polished with my sweat and chiseled with my grip and ground with my muscle. These baubles are worth their weight and I'm more than happy to show them off.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fit and Fabulous over 40

You're old, broken, and tired. You're too old to look good. Too old to build muscle.  Too old to be in better shape than in your 20's. You're right. Just sit there. Let someone else do it. Keep buying bigger sizes, stock up on the medication, have one more drink. It's not worth it anyways.  I mean who wants to feel great, look great and be the healthiest they have ever been?

That is so ridiculous.  I mean I lived my 20's, I'm not looking to relive those years.  Exactly!  But there is nothing wrong with feeling like you're 20 rather than 40 so when you're 80, you feel like you're 40 and when you are 97, like my grandmother, you feel like you're 80! Keeping your mind and body active is the key to a long healthy life.

I have living proof in my own family.  Kathleen Peterson (Kae), born November 23, 1915.  She lives on her own in a condo (not assisted living either). She exercises everyday at the YMCA because the Sister Kinney Institute exercises were "too wimpy" or she walks the skyway. She has a busier social life than me and my daughter combined. She has worn out three Apple Mac computers. She is writer. She knits. She uses email. She plays Words with Friends on her Kindle.  She is a well-known Scrabble player amongst her inner circle. She goes out on the town with her 98 years old friend, Carol. Kae is busy. She doesn't sit around. She is healthy, mobile, alive and enjoying life because she has kept her mind and body active.

Well, news flash, you're not too old, you're just too lazy. It is possible, it can be fun, and you can do it. Quit thinking about it so much. Believe it or not, there is a great deal of truth in Nike's saying "Just Do It!" But YOU are the one who has to actually do it.

Exercise is a natural drug which provides a great high.  Once you've experienced it, you realize you can live without it, but why would you want to? It's a great addiction and yields so many benefits.  Something is better than nothing. A 20-minute walk is better than a bag of chips while sitting on the couch watching a reality show.  Go out and LIVE your life and quit watching others live their life.

Just because you get older doesn't mean you have to fall into the 'molded' stereotypes of what a 40 something old mom should look like. You need set your own standards of what and how you want to look and feel about yourself.  Don't let society define who you are. Define yourself.  I've never met anyone who is happy to be over weight or on medication to manage health ailments and chronic pain. You need to start somewhere. A little something healthy is better than nothing.

Our numerical age is a number that tells our chronological age.  The physical well being of your mind and body reveals how old you really are. It's never too late to start.  Because if you never begin, how will you ever know what could have been?

I'm 42 years old.  My age has never bothered me.  I'm proud to say I'm 42. I like that people think I am my daughter's sister.  I like that I am healthier than I was in my 30's.  I like the choices I have made.  I'm enjoying my healthy lifestyle.  It's really not that difficult but it's a commitment I have made for myself. So are you ready to commit or have you already quit?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Do you know GYM? What can GYM do for you?

Age is only a number. You are only as old as you feel.  Act your age. Wisdom comes with age.  We are a society obsessed with age.  When we are young, we want to be older.  Once we are older, we wish we were younger.

I'm happy with my age.  I am proud to say I am 42 years old.  I don't think I look 42, nor do I generally act like I am 42 years old, but I am.  I don't hide it or run from it.  I have accomplished many things in my life thus far.  I am not finished by any means but I don't feel as though I have wasted my youth so to speak.  I was a rather serious child and teenager. I've lightened up in my middle age.  I am more relaxed.  I have a better sense of humor.  I have grown into my sarcasm.  I eliminate the bullshit from my life.  I do what I want to do rather than what others want me to do.  I am not selfish but I am self worthy.

 I am not a fake or artificial person. I believe I make a good friend. I am honest, sometimes to a fault.  I can be a bit too blunt, not because I'm trying to hurt feelings, but I expect someone to treat me the same way.  Don't lie to me.  It doesn't benefit anyone.  I guess this is some of the wisdom that comes with age.  Maybe, maybe not.  However, it has for me.

I am a busy person like most.  I work full time, have children, a boyfriend, household duties and family responsibilities.  But I still make time for me.  "If mom's not happy, then no one is happy."  I never understood that phrase as a child.  As a 42 year old working single mom, I have never had a better understanding of this phrase at this point in my life. However,  I have learned that I need and deserve some 'me' time.  My me time is spent with GYM.

The gym is my sanctuary.  I love to train. I love to lift.  I sorta kinda like cardio.  I like to push my body to it's limits. Sometimes those limits make me want to puke.  I have fitness friends who understand my obsession with the iron. We can chat but they also know when it's time to get down to business with the workout. No harm, no foul. We speak the same language.

The gym releases my stress.  The gym helps me solve problems. The gym makes me feel sexy.  The gym makes me healthy.  The gym is where I compete against my mind and my body. The gym is where I fit in - fit in with me.

I am young.  I feel young.  I look young. These may not all be true but it is how I FEEL about me.  This is what gym does for me. I love GYM.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fit doesn't happen, Shit happens.

Is fitness a fad for you? How does it fit into your life? How fit do you want to be? What are you willing to sacrifice to be fit?

Fitness has a different meaning for everyone.  It's definition may vary to those participating in the same sport.  We participate at various levels of fitness.  Some people chose to push outside their comfort zone over and over again to achieve an elite level of fitness.  Others chose a linear level of fitness to maintain.  We are individuals. We have different goals, varying lifestyles, unique abilities.  There are a nauseating amounts of information about weight training, nutrition plans, cardio training and supplements.

It can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. How do you start? Should you get a personal trainer? What type of gym should you join? Do you need to join a gym? Do you need a nutritionist? These are all very important details and should be addressed in order to be successful. However, don't get so caught up with all of this and allow it to interfere with you getting started or stepping up to the next level.

Step back and take a breath.  You need a goal.  You need a plan to map out your route to reach your goal.  You may need a few tools to help you make the map. Once you determine your goal, it will help the other pieces fall into place. What do I mean?  If you goal is to lose weight, you will need to accurately assess where you are at now and where you want to end up. Once that is determined, what tools do you need to get there? Do you know how to eat properly? Do you need to join Weight Watchers or seek out a professional for nutrition advice?  What is your exercise regime? Weights, cardio, combination of both? Or is your goal to compete in a road race, bodybuilding competition, or a marathon? Or do you just want to put in a swimsuit this summer and actually wear it out of the fitting room? Make a GOAL!

Phew... quit freaking out.  You are fine.  You can do this.  Make it a priority.  Commit to getting fit and healthy. No excuses. If you fail, you have failed yourself and have only you to blame.   Harsh but sometimes the truth hurts.  So figure out your goal before you start and be realistic so you don't develop a plan for failure.

Fit doesn't just happen. Shit happens. It's hard work. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes drive. It takes determination.  It takes desire.  In the end, you reap the rewards.  You get to savor the benefits of superior health. You will develop a taste for the lifestyle. It's not a diet. So move those thoughts aside and challenge yourself. You will be the winner in the end!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Step Up to The Bar

I am a workout clothes addict.  The other day I was working out and realized I spend more money on my workout clothes, shoes, and gym equipment than my professional clothes. Why?

Because I spend a lot of time in the gym and I love to be comfortable when I'm sweating.  I've learned something as simple as a seam in the wrong place can distract me from my task at hand.  An itchy fabric, thick underarm seam, stiff tag on my neck, non-breathable fabric, tanks that ride up, pants that slide down, fabric that chafes or the dreaded camel toe can all wreck a great workout.

I know this sounds ridiculous to most but to those that train hard and often know exactly what I am talking about.  I am there to workout so the less irritation I have with my workout clothes, the more I can concentrate on my workout. Same goes for iPod, headphones, hair out of my face via baseball hat or headband. Wisps of hair in my mouth or eyes drive me insane!

Color is a completely different story.  I generally look like a rainbow threw up on me with a hint of camouflage thrown in for good measure just to make sure people know I'm serious and not just a Richard Simmons.  I am tired of black.  It's boring. It's drab.  Yes, black does hide a lot of 'flaws'  and 'embarrasing' sweat spots but I'm there to reduce those flaws. So if they are staring me in the face workout after workout then I have no choice but t work harder and fix them! Sometimes my bright clothes motivate me and even cheer me up.  After all, who doesn't like a rainbow? I wear my funky Vibram's (or glove shoes) which are becoming more popular but still are not very stylish but they serve a purpose.  They force me to use my core and legs for balance and strength.

I also have a system for what clothes I wear for particular workouts.  Again why? For example, leg day requires pants that are tight down to my ankle (or shorts) so I can get my knee braces over them.  I'm old and have brittle parts so I need to brace them properly. Certain tank tops are used for shoulder day and others for arm day depending on exercises performed and how the straps sit on my shoulder.  To me, it is no different than wearing a nude bra under a white blouse rather than a white bra under a white blouse.  It serves a purpose.

I also have a lot of my own equipment that I lug back and forth to the gym.  I have my own hanging ab straps, a manta ray squat brace, front squat harness, foam roller, yoga block, weight belt, weight sled, and weight plates, etc.  I don't like to wait to use these items when I need them.  But generally the gym doesn't have these items or they have been stolen or are just plain disgusting.  So I have invested in my own or even requested them as gifts.  Again strange to you but normal to me.  

Working out is one of my hobbies so why not buy the things that make it even more enjoyable? Plus the fabric is specially made to avoid absorbing the 'stinkiness' unlike cotton.  Additionally, if you have to look at your bulges, imperfections in the mirror while lifting, sometimes it pushes you a bit harder!  There are far more harmful addictions in my opinion so I will continue to invest in my health whether it be supplements, healthy food, gym equipment, clothing, shoes or even just one more baseball hat.

When I go clubbing, I go in my own style and when I belly up to the bar, it is very different than your bar. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pop off that Muffin Top

I've had many people ask me in the last few weeks how to slim down, build muscle and get good looking abs. The answer is not well -received. Because it is the answer they already know but were hoping I had some magic pill or secret to share with them. Guess what? I don't.

It's really quite simple.  Either you do it or you don't. It is a choice, your choice.  How badly do you want it?  Is it worth the sacrifice? You can't have it all.  Pure and simple.  So take the plunge or sit there and be quiet and quit complaining.

This applies to many things in life but I'm only talking about one thing this time.  Your stomach. You want a flat stomach, six-pack abs, no muffin top and no love handles.  Well guess what. It takes work.  Hard work but even more so it takes discipline - a great deal of discipline and self-control.  You can't have it with 50% effort or even 75% effort.  It must be at least 95% of not 100%.  Take control of what you put into your mouth.

You can't have a two glasses of wine every single night, eat garbage every weekend because you were so good during the week and expect to get or even maintain a six-pack.  I agree, not everyone wants a six pack but most would like a 'flatter' stomach or less of a muffin top.  Yet, when you realize what it takes to achieve these results, it seems less important until you want to wear that bikini,  the little black dress,  or feel sexy for a significant event.

Maybe a very select few can eat like crap and maintain an awesome muscular body complete with a six-pack. They are genetic freaks and are few and far between. Kudos to them. I am envious.  I am not one of these 'lucky' individuals and most likely, neither are you.

No one likes to believe it, but abs are made in the kitchen.  Of course, exercise is an essential component of this but if you reign in your diet and cut back the simple carbs and sugars, add veggies, lean meats, good CLA fats and drink water, you will be amazed at what will pop out in your mid section over time. If done properly, it will be muscle and not fat.

So quit complaining and decide what you want and why you want it.  If you are going to try it, go all in and make it a lifestyle rather than another quickie weight loss plan or fad diet.  Do it right. Be Healthy. Be happy and I promise you won't regret it.  It will get easier over time and once you reach your maintenance level, you can indulge on occasion, not every day or even every week.

Either you want it or you don't but don't deceive yourself in thinking it happens quickly and doesn't require work to maintain. You didn't make your muffin top over night so don't think it will disappear overnight. Patience and self control. Plus there are many more health benefits to eating a clean diet than just your physical appearance.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Competitive Nature or Nurture?

I spend many hours at the gym - training.  My training involves many components such as weight lifting, cardio exercises, stretching, posing, yoga and even socializing.  It is a choice I have made in my life.  As a result, many things take a back seat or are not as important to me.  I have many hobbies but have learned that working out benefits me mentally, physically and emotionally. Don't be fooled, there are days when I'd rather sit on the couch and zone out.  And on occasion that is exactly what I do.  Because I need this state of non-doing once in awhile. I am not a machine. 

I don't expect others to understand nor do I feel the need to justify my life choices to others.  This  includes my time spent in the gym, foods that I eat, clothes that I wear or how much workout equipment and gear that I have purchased.  It is a significant part of my life.  It's what I like to do.  So why not spend my hard earned money on the hobby that I enjoy? I generally don't go out to eat.  I don't drink alcohol except occasionally while on vacation. I don't spend a great deal of money on make-up or 'girly' stuff.  If only I could get paid to train! Yes, I know there are many options for that career but I also have many life responsibilities and other mouths to feed, cloth and shelter besides myself.  So for now, I train and I train for me. I am in competition with myself.

I am dedicated, determined and disciplined. It is a challenge at times but I'm always up for a challenge.  Is it the competitive nature in me or is it the competitive nurture in me? I am my father's daughter. He passed away over a decade ago but many things I do in my life remind me of my father.  I am not the smartest, the best, the fastest, or the strongest.  But I push myself because it is what my Dad taught me. Don't quit. You will only be disappointed with yourself if you don't give it your all each and every time.  There are downsides to having a competitive nature but I believe the pros outweigh the cons.  

I was raised in a large family so naturally, we competed for attention without realizing it.  We vied to be just a bit different or a little better than our siblings because the desire of capturing our parent's attention, even if only for a moment, made it all worth it.  We were the shooting star that passes so quickly! 

Competition isn't always against someone else or something, but against yourself.  We compete with ourselves everyday.  We just fail to realize we are doing exactly that.  Your pit your body against your mind.  Your pit your mind against your body.  Your emotions compete against your common sense.  Your heart competes with emotions. We fight these battles everyday. The only difference is you are both the winner and the loser on some level.  So step up to the plate, the starting line or the racing block and begin your competition because you will be the winner in the end. 

Life is hard. Life is harder if your are stupid, weak and a quitter. Sounds harsh but that is reality.