It all started here

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March 31, 2014 – when the journey began.

This picture taken just one week ago with my friends, Nancy and L.A. Nik really hit me hard. I’m always smiling in my photographs and that’s because I am sincerely happy to be around the people in my life. However, looking at the photos on my computer alone, in a quiet space,  has me deeply troubled. I’ve become round, really round. Actually, round like a Cortland Apple and in a bad way.

At age 52, I’ve become more anxious about my weight and health than ever. My father would be 74 years old this year but he died of a heart attack at age 52.  He was one of the lucky ones in his family of 7 boys. Uncle Jack died in his late-30’s and Uncle Bob died in his mid-40’s.   My doctor has been on my case about my cholesterol though my sugar numbers are down, my weight is up. I’ve been in denial.  Then the pictures pop up.  And, because of the work I do, they pop up everywhere.

Being fat and funny is not the person I want to be. I like the funny part because FUN is good and being skinny isn’t in my set of important desires but not cringing at photographs certainly is. Fat is not where it is at – at least for me. And, being a mighty 5’2″ doesn’t help. It’s an emotional roller coaster that smacks at insecurities, confidence, and worry and self worth. I’ll tackle that much later. My relationship with food is layered. I simply love to eat, love to feed people, and savor the ritual of sharing food with ones I love. Growing up out east with Italian (Sicilian, to be exact) and Polish family meant food was and is a more than mere sustenance. It’s about family, and it’s about love. And, that can be quite dysfunctional.

It also meant I often heard “IF ONLY you lost some weight, you’d be so pretty.”  Or, “you have such a pretty smile, now just lose a little weight” followed with another heaping plate of spaghetti with a few meatballs tossed in for luck pushed in front of me. Mangia! Lose weight!  Eat more!

I’ve done a number of fad diets over the years; Slim Fast, cabbage soup, Atkins, and each time I lost an average of 30 lbs and then gained it all back and more. Hitting 50 yrs of age and those hormonal changes also meant gaining more. Working in front of a computer every day meant gaining more. I’m done with more. I want less!

So, here we are. I’m ready to move forward and unlike my dad, age 74 will be a reality. Wish me luck. I will certainly need it!

My plan:  work with personal trainer, Adam at Anytime Fitness Minneapolis (Lyndale) and give it a good go.

Off to the gym for our FIRST meeting!

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It only hurts when I don’t move so let’s keep moving!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I finally was able to wear that coral dress at the dream wedding of a dear friend at the Maidstone in East Hampton! I, along with many attendees, felt like we were in romantic film.  Where was Julia Roberts when you need her? It was simply a breathtaking affair.

My pal, Mark, who got married.

My pal, Mark, who got married.

After a couple of months diligently working out with my personal trainer, Adam Washburn –  3X a week with added cardio – I felt confident and even a bit sassy wearing that nicely fitted bright dress with silver open-toed shoes with dress-matching nail polish (listen, I am the one who made FUN of women like this). It was a big deal for me! So, here’s the full look. I’m the short one in orange!

In East Hampton

In East Hampton

The truth is, I’ve had a couple long stretches between workouts – five days here, five days there – and it has put me in a tailspin. The idea of missing a week of exercise wouldn’t register with the old me –  but now I get it. My whole system started to feel sluggish, as if I needed an oil change.

And, it’s not easy to always want to show up.

 

Just not feeling it

Just not feeling it

It wasn’t just the wedding that threw me off schedule. I also started a new job! This means that instead of simply walking down my stairs to my computer each day, I need to get up earlier and chug along with other morning commuters, sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day (though I’m around the most intelligent, passionate, thoughtful people I know). Quite a change. So, instead of a morning workout, Adam stayed around so I could come in for my first night round. I’d use some salty language here but I’m trying to refrain. I’m not really sure why.

 

It hurt. I  hated it. I feel better. I love that.

It hurt. I hated it. I feel better. I love that.

Every day is a new day and sometimes the hardest part is simply making that a commitment and keeping.  I did it today, and I’m better for it.

Thanks for continued support! It means the world to me!!

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Cant’ breathe, can’t talk back and crying looks like sweat

It’s been a couple of months since I started this journey to fitness and with the exception of one time (due to bad road construction mind you), I have seen my personal trainer regularly (3x a week) with added days of cardio work.  Am I a skinny ripped gal in yoga pants and sleeveless tanks to show off new muscles?

NOPE.

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Last day of working out before heading to the Hampton’s

Continue reading

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Manic Monday’s, Buckled Knees and Accidents on the Highway are Punishing for All So Work it Out

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Showing Up is the Most Important Thing

Monday’s are hard. They just are. Maybe because we decide they should be or perhaps we simply can’t shake the Sunday and embrace the new week. Whatever it is, whatever you call it, you can’t deny they can be difficult.  Case in point.  I slapped  two cups of coffee, banana and computer work out of the way and to sped  off early to the gym. If there wasn’t rain, Adam, my personal trainer at Anytime Fitness said be prepared to head outside for a new course of workout.  I left 15 minutes early in hopes of getting a few minutes on the bike to loosen my legs.  Instead, I hit traffic – an accident – then construction – then miles of not moving which meant I ended up late to the gym rather than early.  The first words I heard “you are late, you are punished.”  Sure.  That’s life. S#%& happens and we have to deal with things that don’t seem fair.   It meant for a difficult work out. I showed up. It happened.

It was  BAM right to strenuous leg workouts. Twenty leg presses, twenty squats, repetition, more……we worked until my legs buckled. I wobbled. I gasped. I bit my tongue and wanted to yell. Maybe I did just a little. Adam demanded a brisk pace and I gave it my all and it meant I moved as hard as I could until I couldn’t. My glasses steamed. My head was drenched. My heart pounded. And, then we were done.

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Giving it up on the treadmill – I’m drenched!

Sandwiched between my Adam workouts, I had an early morning cardio crunch with Tim at the gym at 7:30AM on Saturday and I worked up a sweat like no other.  Jump Rope. What kid can’t jump rope? It’s fun, right?  Have you tried it lately?  Think it’s kids play? Over 50, it’s a whole different game.

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Kids make it look so easy!

My legs became sore – you know, where the rubber meets the shin. I hit myself more with the rubber rope than I actually jumped. At one point, I simply did the “JUMP” without the rope.   Over at the treadmill, I hit another milestone – running at 6.2 for a short burst. I find that I can run in short bursts (oh, I may have gone :30 seconds fast).  I’m grateful I’m only doing this on the treadmill because if I ran outside, I think someone would have to come pick me up and return me home. Or I’d run five feet, turn around run back and do it over and over.

Fun? Naw, this isn’t.  Rewarding? It’s getting there.  I bought a dress and shoes for a wedding. 🙂

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The leg workouts are paying off! My new dress and shoes.

Back to the gym on Wednesday and I’ll leave early again and perhaps this time, the road will be clear. I know one thing for certain and that is, it won’t be Monday!

Have a great day and no matter what happens, no matter how unfair it seems, give it your all anyway. 

Thanks for sticking with me. I so appreciate all of your encouragement and your stories of change!

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On Maya Angelou, working out, failure and cardio as contrition

The whole world mourns the loss of Maya Angelou today, at least, my entire world, heart and soul is heavy knowing she has left this earth.  Her 1969 coming of age autobiography,  “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is perhaps the most influential book of my entire life. I was a young girl when I first picked up a copy, unaware of what I would discover on those pages and how her story would impact me as a reader and lover of words for decades to come. How does the death of this treasure of a woman have to do with my fitness journey?  Today, a lot.

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I felt pretty good though retrospective when I arrived at the gym. Adam was in his usual good mood and we got right to upper body strength work which I secretly (ok, no secret now) love/d. (I may have changed my mind). I like seeing the progress of my workouts and making my biceps dance! (TMI – sorry).   Bench presses – bam. But, then something happened.  I tried to do  pushups off the bench and failed so we went over to the bars. Okay. As I playfully cursed this difficult step, Adam said “You are going to hate what’s next. Let me get my clip board.”   Huh? I incorrectly assumed he was going to take notes about my amazing progress.
NOPE.

See this?  I cannot do that. That’s Adam, my personal trainer over at Anytime Fitness Lyndale. He makes everything look easy.

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Adam demonstrates an exercise

I thought I was going to actually cry from the lack of being able to even START this exercise. Down right fail.  Goal:  toes on clipboard, pull self across the floor by the palms of the hands.  I could barely hold myself up let alone make movements. I absolutely did not move and my body failed to listen.  I did not do it incorrectly. I could not do it at all.  Adam extended his hand, helped me up and we went to another exercise.

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Exhausted from the hard work

But he did improvise for me and came up with another version. No clipboard but walk across the floor and back on my hands and toes. I screamed in my head. My hands could hardly hold up my torso, and my legs wanted to push my arms out of the way.  There was no scolding, no yelling, no cursing, swearing or laughing but there was Adam encouraging me.  I don’t recall feeling as low as I did today, failing as hard I as did today. But I did find comfort in knowing a young man did not shame me but gave me his hand and told me I tried and he was proud of me.  Adam also reminded me that I was uncomfortable, unsure of myself and that my body wasn’t cooperating because my mind wasn’t trusting I could do it.   That was a life lesson.  When we are unsure of ourselves, we fumble. And, if we are lucky, we have someone near who roots for us no matter how well do we fumble. I fumbled well today. Still, in my success in fumbling, I wallowed in my failure.

Then I stood up, took a drink at the water fountain and rode the recumbent bike for 30:01 minutes. I hadn’t planned on that.

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Cardio as contrition

Dr. Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” was in my thoughts as I drove home from the gym.

 

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If it feels right, it’s wrong and other quotes from my personal trainer

First, I need to reset my thinking. Coming back from seeing my family (which if I’m lucky I get to do once a year) put me in a little funk (I miss them), work just slowed down (projects ending) and I’m tired. I’ve had GOOD workouts and I am so grateful because right now, it’s the one area in my life that gives me a sense of well-being or at least lets me feel everything will be okay.  I want to up my goals on all levels and I can do this fitness one. I’m doing it, one bench press, one squat, one darn lunge at a time (I hate lunges but not as much as running up and down stairs).

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Resetting goals – attitude plays a big role

Adam worked me so hard this week that my glasses steamed.  See the proof!  He also gave me a few great lines when I gave him a little lip.  One crazy exercise he had me do is kneel on a contraption that looked like Monkey Bars.  I had to pull my weight up, basically pulls ups. Right. I tried to find an easy way – or something that felt “right” to which Adam replied “If it feels right, it’s wrong.”  I had to laugh. He also reminded me this doesn’t get any easier, it just gets harder.

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Working up a steam

I hit new milestone doing cardio – which I confess, blows me away. I think running is for preservation, you know, running from monsters and zombies. Running on a treadmill never entered my mind until it has become a reality. By running I mean one minute at a time – and I finally let go and ran HANDS FREE for a moment. Crazy as it sounds to me, I think it scared me to let go – so I did and I ran just like a runner.  I think it’s pretty cool – still crazy – but cool.

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Hands Free Running

My weigh-in after a week with family was a success: down two more pounds for a total of 5.4 down. Okay, that is so not impressive and I’m a bit bummed but I do feel stronger so that counts. And, I know these little milestones will pile up to make a mile mountain or at least, keep my heart pounding for a while.

**Before I forget, I have to share that I did a full minute PLANK!  Adam planked right next to me – I went for :57 my first attempt but dropped. I was at the end of our session and tired. My second one, he cheered me on as we approached the one minute mark. As he yelled for me to keep going, I guess my grunts became even louder.  One of the regular gym members yelled “Is is a boy or a girl” to which I heard a roar of laughter and cracked up as well. I hit a minute and sounded like I was giving birth in the process!

Thanks so much for keeping with me on my journey. Like Adam said, it doesn’t get easier – and there are mornings I’d rather pull the cover over my head but I get up and I get dressed and I get out the door.  Once I show up, I’m in %100.

 

 

 

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Week Off: Weak One

One darn week of vacation and I’m huffing and puffing like a day one!  I spent a week in North Carolina celebrating my little sister’s milestone birthday (yeah!) which happened to be on Mother’s Day so it was an extra special visit. Lots of family time and lots of food. (Did I mention my Mother is one East Coast Sicilian who can cook) – yeah, she looks terrific. Here is my Mom mixing the salad at my sister’s Birthday party (and Mother’s Day).

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My Mom mixing the salad. She is in terrific shape!

And then I did some of this while away:

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Lounging Poolside

My brother-in-law lost 75 lbs since I’ve last seen him and he looks younger and happier than ever. When pushed on his secret, he laughed and said “sleep.”  He goes to bed at 8:30 pm every night and gets up really early for work – and I did notice he eats lots of watermelon.  Do men simply lose weight easier than women?

Back at the gym this week with my fellow, personal trainer Adam, who helped me get back on track.  It felt great being back at Anytime Fitness and seeing some of the hardworking regulars. I like how it feels to be a part of this intimate space. It’s a small club and it feels really safe, if that makes sense.

 

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Deb and Adam

I am so determined to feel better I actually did an extra 25 minutes on the bicycle today AFTER a full workout with Adam who pushed me pretty darn hard with upper body strength today. I will stay with this but please, can I lose a little too?  (Lasagna, sausage and Calabash Style seafood did NOT help over vacation but I’m back to brown rice and skinless chicken).

If the weather is decent here in Minneapolis this weekend, I’ll be painting the deck and mowing the lawn. That has to count for something too? Right?

 

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Running Mad: Taking it out on the Treadmill

I’m limping. It’s my own fault. But I ran myself into my first injury working out though I’m certain it’s just a muscle out of whack (it’s my left hip action if you want to know).  After a tremendously difficult workout with Adam this week where he had me RUN up and down three sets of stairs multiple times for multiple reps, I came back 24 hours later for a cardio blast.  Adam, thanks for letting me CURSE so much because -WHAT THE HECK!

 

Treadmill Madness

Treadmill Madness

 

My intention was to walk with a new pal I met at Anytime Fitness – a woman whose story moved me and we found that we had professional commonalities as well as a desire to be better physically.  Ten minutes turn into thirty turned into forty and then fifty minutes – and I knew if I was going to go the distance I needed to make this count so I mentally prepared to GO hard the last few with a flurry and asked for the photo.

BAM – Sixty minutes on the treadmill! AND, I got it up to 5.6 at the last minute.

treadmill new high

New HIGH on the treadmill both in TIME and SPEED! I did a total of 60 minutes plus a few to cool down

My weigh-in was a bust which I cannot believe. Okay, I lost nearly a pound but really?  I’m at the gym 4x a week and eating healthfully (not perfect but lots of skinless, boneless chicken, veggies, salads and water).  It’s been a week of hard work and disappointments on a few levels (professional and personal) which makes me just want to fight harder (okay, there have been moments I wanted to curl up and cry but I decided to curse and push instead).

Now, I limp. Literally. Limp. I am heading out to North Carolina to celebrate my sister’s 50th Birthday which falls on Mother’s Day this year. Plus, I get to celebrate Mother’s Day WITH my Mom as well. It will be great.

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Wilmington, NC – where I’ll be really SOON!

Thanks, as always, for sticking with me! I won’t be at the gym for a week but I’ll do what I can to keep MOVING and make good food choices.

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