My Body

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“Why do you out your body through so much?”
“Be careful. You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“You must be really pissed off at your body.”
“Working out so much does not mean that you’re going to not have to deal with the Cerebral Palsy.”

Yes, all of those statements have been said to me at least once-sone hundreds of times. Yes, each of them has been true at some point in my life. However, they are not my top reasons for being so passionate and invested in my personal fitness journey. In fact, they are not even in my top 100.

Why do I work out and work so hard every day? Because I love my body.

I’ll admit that this wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, I was guilty of taking out my physical frustrations on my body. I was trying to perfect something that didn’t necessarily need perfecting. I was trying to fix something that wasn’t broken, at least not it the way I was thinking.

As time evolved though, so to did my mindset. Fitness became less about perfection and more about growth. Growth on both physical and emotional levels. I wanted to see how far I could get, where I could take my body and my mind, the goals I could accomplish and the boundaries I could healthily push. Even within the past week, that growth has expanded even more.

Fitness, for me, has become about loving myself, loving my body, and being confident in both. Because it is then that my physical strength has the opportunity to shine through and truly push the limits. I know this is my heart and I will not let anyone try to tell me otherwise. I have learned that when my motives are pure, and strong, and for the love of my body and myself, that’s when I feel most physically strong and able. And there is nothing that can beat that feeling.

An Open Letter to New Year’s Resolutioners

It’s January 2nd, which pretty much only means one thing in the fitness world: time to start making sure to use the sign-up system that is pretty non-existent for the rest of the year to sign up for classes because things are about to get crazy. And crowded. I knew what I was walking into tonight when I decided to head to the gym after work. Kickboxing was going to have a few more not-yet-familiar faces, be a bit more crowded. Or at least that’s what I though…what I really witnessed was a packed floor of 36 people!! 36!! And probably only 8 or so of us were Wednesday night regulars.  Statistics tell us that many of these fitness “newbies” were New Years Resolutioners–those resolving to lose weight, get fit/healthy, do something active, etc. in 2013. I got fired up and I got to thinking…

Dear Resolutioners,

I applaud you. Whether you call it a resolution, a goal, or a plan; whether it begins on the first of the new year, your birthday, or the third tuesday after the first friday; we have all been there. We know what it’s like to come into a gym, let alone a group exercise class for the first time. To have no idea what the heck you’re doing. To get stuck next to the girl who thinks she’s seriously in a combat situation right now the way she’s throwing those punches. But you’re here. And that ‘s everything.

Now, please do me one favor. Just one I swear. Stick with it. Come back next week. Better yet, come back the next few weeks. Research shows that it takes three weeks, yes 21 days, to make or break a habit.  That doesn’t mean you have to work at some unrealistic level for the next 21 days, pretending you’re a seasoned group ex’r. That means you work at your pace, at your 100%, for three weeks. Some days will be better than others, as they are everyone.  But at the end of those three weeks, I can promise you that you’ll start to see results.  They might not be the results you expect. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee they won’t be, because life is funny that way. But I can tell you that they will be worthwhile. Happiness, less stress, physical strength, emotional strength, increased energy levels, the  list could go on for days.

If you need a little bigger push to convince you, you should know that in the first group exercise class I ever took (spinning), I barely lasted the entire class, never got out of the saddle, and both of my legs were bleeding when I got off the bike. Had I never gone back, I literally wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be writing this blog, I wouldn’t be strong enough to do anything I do on a daily basis, I wouldn’t have learned to love myself and my body, and a certified instructor? Ha! That wouldn’t even be on my radar.

So stick with it. You just never know where it will take you. 

Molly

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You Are Stronger Than You Think

It seems that many of my posts have focused on the gym and fitness as of late.  I would apologize for this, except I really can’t because it would not be remotely close to sincere. The truth is, this is me. I live fitness. I live health. I live trials and triumphs, moments of weakness and feats of strength, and everything in between. This is my new found love and life force, and I would not trade it for anything.

That said, please come with me on another journey.

Late last night, I finished reading an amazing memoir Waking by Matthew Sanford.  Matthew is a man who, at age 13, was in a car accident that left him with a T4 spinal cord injury.  Matthew writes of learning to navigate life in his now “silent” body, and how his discovery of mind-body relationship led him to physical and emotional healing and his eventual practice as an adaptive yoga instructor in Minnesota.  Fitness friends, family, and all other readers: do yourself a favor, whatever your beliefs and practices, and pick up a copy of this book.

I went to bed feeling deeply touched and satisfied, but more than anything else I felt hopeful.

My alarm went off at 7:15 this morning for Saturday morning gym session. I could have rolled over and gotten a few more hours of sleep. I could have said I’d be going Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday next week because I’m off work. I could have said it was the holidays. I had 1, 000 excuses to choose from. I chose hope.

Today’s class was a challenge from go since I have been dragging it after being sick and making a slow comeback. Interval training followed by TRX training.  For those unfamiliar with TRX, it is a Suspension Training, full body workout system that uses gravity and your bodyweight to perform a variety of exercises.  You are in complete control of the difficulty of your workout simply by changing your body position. This is a confusing explanation, so check out this quick video. 

The class was instructed to do one specific move, that started out holding on to the ropes to do a low row (think pulling your chest up to an imaginary bar from a slightly slanted standing position…or don’t imagine it, I’m doing a horrible job explaining things in this post….just take my word for it!), then drop down into a squat, and pull themselves back up.  I did not have the balance to be able to drop myself into a squat without falling and potentially cracking my head open, so it was time to modify! Yay!

I started the exercise by sitting on the floor slightly leaned back and performed my row. From there I was to lift my body off the ground as dead weight with only my heels as the anchor point. Failed attempt after failed attempt began to leave me more than a little bit frustrated.  At this point, Janice came over and foot blocked me so I wouldn’t completely go sliding and I tried again.

Note: Everything from this point on might sound utterly ridiculous to some, but this is what I believe can happen and this was my experience. I closed my eyes and tried to connect my mind and my body in a way that I had read about only hours before. I needed to feel the energy of my heart, of my will, and somehow transfer that energy into my legs, into my core–to come together and achieve this small goal for the day. I inhaled deeply and I could feel the connection. With what seemed like unimaginable strength, I felt my arms start to strengthen and slowly lift by body. I felt my core muscles engage and noticed that the only physical point of connection I had was at my heels.  This was it. I trusted my mind and it got me through step one. Now it was time to trust my body. A 10 second hold of this position was what was being asked of all of me. Closing my eyes again, I hoped. I pleaded with my body to outlast the time. I know I beg a lot of my body on a daily basis, but I needed this one, because I knew I could.  Janice, standing above me, said “trust your body, you are stronger than you think”. And I believed before those 10 seconds disappeared.

Then I collapsed on the ground and started hysterically laughing because all I wanted to do was cry.  The tears came later on in the day, when my soul processed what occurred in the gym. Today, for the first time, even if for maybe only a total of 30 seconds, I fully trusted my mind and my body. The results were awesome.

Until next time…inhale hope, exhale strength…

The Power of the Mind

I’ve always believed in the power of the mind. It’s power to get you through tough times, to unlock potential, to be strong when the body is weak.  Anyone who knows me knows this.  One of my favorite quotes is even “change your mind and your body will follow”. However, this is something I’ve always had a bit of a hard time seeing for myself, within myself. You know, one of those age old can’t take my own advice kinda things–I can tell people how important the mind is to achieving your goals, but casually seem to forget that when it comes to my own life. Whoops!!

Until this morning.  Saturday mornings have become my sanctuary since the semester started.  With my interning and class schedules, I’m lucky if I make it in for a class during the week, so I’ve started doing doubles on Saturdays. Drums Alive for the fun cardio and then Full Body Blast/Core Fit for the strength, cardio, and ass-kicking.  The format of FBB changes week to week, but we almost always start out with some variation of interval training: 3 rounds of 7 different exercises performed for one minute each with a one minute breaks between rounds.  The idea is to ramp up your intensity each round, giving all you have left for that last round.

Take a journey with me: it’s the last exercise of the last round. Jumping jacks. Side note: I do regular jacks in terms of the lower bosy, just holding on to my walker for balance. We’re 21 minutes in at this point and everyone is just ready for it to be over. Timer goes and we’re all moving through our final for 60 seconds.  I have a tendency (in everything I do) to come out of the gate insanely strong, too strong for my own good, and then end up having to take a break or two within the minute.  Today started out no differently.  I was beasting through those first few seconds in both speed and accuracy.  Janice, our amazing instructor, was going around the room keeping everyone on track and all the sudden she stopped right in front of me, mirror image.  Janice has been an amazing asset to my life in the past few months since joining the gym and going for certification and has truly supported my goals from the get-go.  She started talking to me telling me things like “I know you want to go faster than me so do it” and that if I stopped and took a break at all in the next minute we’d all be starting over.  It wasn’t the fact that  I was slightly terrified of her in the moment that sparked my motivation, but what she was actually saying.  It was like she tapped into my own mind and knew what I was thinking. I did want to go faster than her. I am a competitor at heart. But my mind was stopping me from getting there.  And then something crazy happened. Janice looked at me and said “I know it’s hard, but do it anyway.” Those words not only unlocked my emotions and almost made me start crying, but unlocked my mind and body together to give me what I needed to push through until the end and do those jumping jacks for a minute without stopping. I have acknowledged that things are hard before, but hearing that acknowledgement from someone else is not something that happens often.  In that moment it was as if our minds synced.

It’s hard. Do it anyway. Do it because you want to better yourself. Do it because your dreams don’t take breaks or days off. Do it because your body does not define you. Do it because you can.

Quote It

I know I said I’d post after my AFAA certification workshop, and I intended to, until WordPress didn’t save my post! So now I’ve decided that since it’s already heading toward 3 weeks post, I’m going to wait until I get the official letter in the mail before I say anything. Don’t want to jinx it!! 🙂

For now, I came across this awesome quote on a friend’s Facebook page and couldn’t help but share it here. It is so true, and makes me hopeful that more people will start to see things from this perspective.

“Beautiful women are strong and powerful. They are athletes, capable of every feat under the sun. They have muscles born of hard work and sweat. They gauge their self-worth through accomplishments, not by the numbers on the bathroom scale. They understand that muscle weighs more than fat and they love the fact that designer jeans don’t fit over their well developed quads.  Beautiful women don’t care if they’re soaked in sweat and covered in dirt, if their nails are chipped or their hair out of place.  They care only about quality of life.  Beautiful women are happy, healthy, and strong, and they’re right there beside me, tossing conventional beauty on the ever-growing flames of what used to be. Be beautiful.” -John Gilson