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Sore is Good

If you’re out of shape and you first start working out, almost anything you do is going to make you really sore.

As you get into a workout routine, your body adapts. If you do exercises regularly, it’s harder to make your body sore unless you push it. It’s still very doable (up the reps, increase the weight, do a combination of both).

I make a little next-day soreness a goal of every workout. I want to be able to feel the difference in my body. It’s easy to be complacent and be ok with just getting to the gym. And at a certain point in your fitness goals, that can be a major accomplishment.

But soreness means you’ve pushed past a previous barrier. Your body is recovering from something you did that shocked it. It’s replacing the old stuff with something stronger.

Like anything else, a little pain means a lot of gain.

So know that the dumb walk you have to do because your legs are still killing you from yesterday’s squats should be a stride of pride, not a walk of shame.

And now, here’s the poster from the movie “Pain and Gain” for your inspirational viewing.

pain and gain

Body Image

It’s no secret that women are hard on themselves. It’s becoming more and more prevalent daily with the ability young kids have to access information and see popular culture images.

But I’m not here to write a dissertation on body image issues. I’m just here to give my two cents.

I’ve had them. Everyone has them. There are still parts of my body I’d like to improve. But as I’ve grown through the years, I’ve had a significant perspective shift in how I view my body.

First of all… I work out. Often. I change it up. I push myself. Sometimes I’m running. Sometimes I’m lifting. Sometimes I’m hiking. Sometimes I’m swimming. Sometimes I’m just frolicking. Frolicking is my favorite.

But in working out my body regularly, I have naturally developed an understanding and appreciation for it. It’s responsive and healthy. And I’m grateful for that. By pushing myself a little bit every day, I’m slowly improving. I’m not going to have an amazing p-90x style change in a short period of time, but I am going to slowly but surely slim down and strengthen myself.

As I work out regularly, I want to give my body the things it likes. I don’t like eating bad foods mostly because it makes my body feel badly.

I don’t drink excessively because I don’t like how it makes my body feel. I do comedy. Of course I drink. Often. But very rarely is it excessive in any way.

I don’t eat tons of sugar because my body doesn’t respond well to it. I have a sweet tooth- that’s no secret. But I’m reasonable about and aware of my intake amount. Not because I’m a crazy health nut, but because I’m a reasonable healthy person who pays attention.

And instead of obsessing over the the things I don’t like, I recognize something that could use improvement and I work on it. For example, I’m not a huge fan of my stomach. I’ve talked about that before. It’s the most obvious place I gain and lose from. But instead of obsessing and trying to hide it, I’ve been trying to turn it into my strength. I do ab work every day. And I push myself a little farther every time. I engage my abs during every exercise. I am always aware of them. And you guess what? They’re improving. They’re not yet at Pink’s level but they’re a lot better than they were a year ago. And a year from now, they’re going to get even better.

I’m an athletic woman. I have bigger arms than your average petite lady. I will never have tiny arms. So what do I do? I work on them. I get them strong and cut. Why? Because they look awesome. I even got a compliment on them from a friend the other day! She asked me if I work out because my arms looks so strong! Can you believe it? It was so exciting!

There are times when I’m in better shape than others. But overall, I’ve found that simple exercise and body awareness have made me love it and stop obsessing over every little supposed “imperfection.”

There’s not a lot I can do to protect other young women from having body issues. I can’t hide images from the media. I can’t ask our culture to totally change our values overnight. All I can do is work on myself and my internal confidence and happiness with my healthy body. Then I can  hope to make a small difference to my circle of friends, who can in turn make a difference to their circle of friends, who make a difference to their circle of friends, who can… you get where this is going.

As long as I’m always incrementally improving, that’s ok by me. Because if we’re not actively working on improving ourselves and learning from our past… we’re stuck.  And who wants to live their life being stuck?

Except maybe a honey-obsessed person in a field of beehives. I bet they wouldn’t mind that. As long as there were no bees.

Alright. Be proactive about having positive thoughts and images about your body. That’s all. I’m done.

Fitspiration

Mixed feelings on this one.

My friend showed me an awesome blogpost about a guy who takes down some of the most ridiculous fitspiration quotes. I couldn’t find it when I did my standard three seconds of research for this post, but I did find another pretty good one.

Here’s the thing… the critics of fitspiration are right. They can be unrealistic, dumb, and sometimes even dangerous.

But here’s the other thing… I don’t take them all that seriously. There are times when my body wants to stop because it’s used to just being lazy. There are times when I think I’ve hit the limit on something only to push through the plateau and reach a new strength or fitness peak. There are times when I do have to use my mind to talk my body into trying something difficult that it turns out is possible. So, to that end, these posters are absolutely right.

If you go into every workout with a mindset of pushing yourself further than yesterday and doing something you think impossible, you’re going to sail past your fitness goals in no time. Having a little healthy fitspiration picture with a great quote can help you visualize that goal and feel it even stronger. And there is nothing wrong with that.

If, however, you think you’re going to look like the girl in the picture if you go into the weightroom and push really hard without doing any research or listening to your body’s cues at all, you’re going to both hurt yourself and hate yourself for not looking like the picture after a week of working out.

Have realistic expectations for yourself. And if the fitspiration helps your lazy butt get to the gym, put that shit up all over. If it makes you feel bad about yourself because you don’t look like the perfectly photoshopped model who hasn’t had carbs since the 90s, get rid of that shit. But find something else that does inspire you to go.

Like anything else, see it for what it’s worth. If it adds value to your life, keep it. If it makes you feel bad, lose it.

I’m a bit of a sucker for cheesy inspiration, so I tend to love fitspiration pictures. Then again, I also love my chocolate so I accepted long ago I won’t look like the models. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try to get in my best shape by pushing my boundaries on the daily.

Speaking of, I gotta stop typing now and get to the gym. The weights are waiting wondering why the woman isn’t  working out…whoops.

Love Your Body

Yeah, yeah, yeah that title is totally hippy dippy, I know. But it’s very true.

Last weekend, I was in Las Vegas and was lucky enough to spend a major chunk of my afternoon lounging at a ladies spa located in my hotel.

It was awesome. For a very cheap price, I spent the whole afternoon (post-workout, of course) rotating between a crystal steam room, sauna, whirlpool, herbal room, rain temperature station, wave room, igloo, and even a salt grotto. It was so freaking cool.

Part of the spa was “clothing optional.” My friend and I decided we’d take them up on that. Rather than wearing our swimsuits, we were going to just let ourselves be free. We figured, “This is Vegas. Anything goes.”

When we finally got to our time in the spa, we dropped down to our birthday suits, wrapped ourselves up in the provided towels and went to experience the amenities.

It was so interesting because rather than most of the women being like us… *ahem* FREE… most of the women were wearing bathing suits in all the spa things.

Now I understand you could make an argument for hygiene. Sure. Whatever.

But let’s be real for a second. A spa like that is going to maintain its cleanliness really well. And, most of the time you could sit on your towel or be standing while enjoying the environment.

Besides, I don’t think most people were in their bathing suits because of hygiene. I think they were in it out of embarrassment.

Which is where this hippy dippy title comes from. When I looked around and realized I’d be the only naked person in the whirlpool, I got self conscious at first. Then my friend I was with (who was also naked) was like “Screw it. Clothing is optional. I don’t wanna wear my suit. I don’t know why everyone is being so weird about it. It’s just bodies.”

And I agreed. And we were the naked people amongst the suited. And after a while, I decided I was going to make the people in suits feel like the weird ones. I don’t care about your body. I assume you don’t care about mine. So let’s leave it at that.

I wasn’t looking at them. I don’t care. Not only do I prefer to gaze at muscly, manly men, but spas aren’t meant for judgment. They’re meant for relaxation and personal enjoyment. It’s quiet time with you and your body just to take care of it and say “Thank you” for everything it does for you. I don’t care about anyone else’s body. For once, I’m concentrating on mine. Yours means nothing to me. Get over it.

Plus, I think there’s this idea that permeates especially American society that we need to always be modest. It’s embarrassing to put yourself out there too much. People might judge you.

Whatever. I’m officially done with caring what people think of me in any capacity. You don’t like my creative work? Cool. I don’t care. You don’t like my opinion on a certain subject? Cool. I don’t care. You notice my body isn’t perfect because I’m nakedly walking around in a spa taking in all the wonderful amenities sans a swimsuit? Cool. I. Don’t. Care.

I love my body. I work it hard. I try to take good care of it, but to be honest, it is much more forgiving of me than I deserve. I feed it pretty well, but sometimes Guinness is dinner. I workout regularly, but sometimes I feel like watching Portlandia on Netflix instead of going to the gym. I put on sunscreen daily, but sometimes I just don’t want to feel like I’m a snake with second skin and I risk 10 minutes of direct sunlight to feel how the other side lives.

I bruise myself regularly for no reason and it heals quickly. I get anxious and can pick at my face and it heals the scars. I don’t sleep regularly and it stays healthy and energetic. I sometimes feed it poison in the form of a Coke Zero and it forgives me by not dying. I eat too much sugar- especially for someone who has a higher than normal risk for diabetes- and it metabolizes it normally.

My body is good to me. And I love it.

And you should love yours, too.

Sometimes, that means letting it be free when clothing is optional.

But only when clothing is optional. I’m not saying we should all be nudists…

…yet.

Ab Challenge

In my alternative non-fitness life, I maintain a few weirdo personalities. Including this chick I’ve just revived from the dead named “B-Eazy” (@BEazyHipHop)

As you can see in her Twitter background, she loves rappers with ab tattoos. Specifically, she loves the pictures of Lil Wayne and Tupac showing off their ab tattoos.

B Eazy Abilicious

So I’m using this as an excuse. Lil Wayne’s birthday is September 27. Not far from now.

I’m gonna work my butt off at the gym and focus on abs every single workout. I’m gonna really watch what I eat and try to get cut.

Then, in honor of Lil Wayne’s Birthday, I’m gonna post my own B-Eazy ab tattoo picture. (It will be a fake tattoo, of course, but still…)

My stomach is the part of my body I’m least proud of. I’ve worked hard over the past several months to tone it and tame it. Posting an ab picture will be a big deal for me, even if it’s just for a silly alternative personality.

Wish me luck.

I miss carbs already.

Vegas, baby. Vegas.

This weekend I’m going to Vegas with a few girlfriends to do… well, Vegas.

One of the big things everyone gets excited about in Vegas is lounging and drinking by a pool. People want to look “good” while they’re lounging because everyone is there to be seen. Gotta be picture ready for the pictures you’ll take to post on social media so you can show all your friends how much fun your life is and how perfect your body is.

I’ve been using this trip as an excuse to go harder at the gym knowing that I’ll be walking around in a bikini in Vegas.

But the truth is… I’m pale and last about 20 minutes in direct sunlight even with all my sunscreen on. If all we’re doing is lounging, I’d rather lounge in the shade under a blanket to protect my skin. If I’m gonna get burned, it damn well better be because I’m doing something awesome in the sunlight for so long I forget to reapply my sunscreen.

Plus… I don’t really care what the people who like lounging by pools in Vegas think of me. Like… at all.

So I’m packing sunscreen, a bikini, and a whole lot of IDON’TGIVEAF*** for this trip.

Vegas, baby. Vegas.

Zumba!

Yesterday, I went with my mother to her favorite form of exercise…Zumba

Now, I don’t know if you guys know this…but Zumba is an experience.

First of all, for whatever reason, old people love it. It’s as confusing as why old people love Florida. Anybody can live in Florida. Lots of non-old people do. But it’s known for having a bunch of crotchity old ladies around. Zumba is the same way.

It was me, my mom, another “Red Hat Society” lady and the instructor (who was much closer to my age than the other ladies). And- to be fair- it was actually a pretty good cardio session. The instructor approaches it as a workout meant to burn calories and improve your fitness, which was cool. Plus, she was one of the good instructors who has a great time and inspires you to just let go and let loose. She does the moves whole-heartedly but doesn’t stare at you to make sure you get them right. She figures you’ll watch her and catch on. Which you do. Eventually. Sort of.

I always get self conscious in those classes. Even when I’m the youngest and/or fittest in the room, I’m convinced that I have to over-achieve. It’s dumb but it’s my mind set. This instructor was really good about not making me feel silly when I was clearly off beat and spinning when nobody else was.

And that happened often. Especially during the Cumbias and Reggaeton songs. I couldn’t find those beats for the life of me. But during the Indian/Irish remix…I tore it UP. And the best part about the music? All the songs are specifically created for Zumba classes. So if for a second you forget you’re doing Zumba, the song will likely remind you at some point.

My mom and I both got a great workout. She’s 65 years old and still active. I love it. And I’m glad she’s found a woman in the area who’s really nice and gives her such a fantastic opportunity for a good class. There’s nothing quite as inspiring as seeing your 65-year-old mom shake her hips to a Pitbull remix while smiling.

Zuuuuuuuuumba!