The fit truth.

Two years ago (yes, TWO years ago), I wrote a blog that covered my ‘fit truths’ at the time – many of those things I talked about still ring true today, of course – but my idea today of what a ‘fit truth’ is has changed pretty markedly.

To me, the concept of a ‘fit truth’ is akin to the age-old running question: Why I run?’ A question I’ve answered a few different times on this blog, and with different answers (I’m mysterious that way, apparently haha).

My definition of a fit truth is simple – a ‘fit truth’ is your fit mantra, your answer to ‘Why fit?’ – what drives you to focus on fitness, what the underlying reason is.

For some – fitness is pretty black and white. It’s to lose weight. To look better on the beach. To fight back against genetics that may have dealt you a difficult hand. It could also be a much more serious reason like training for a major fitness event (marathon, triathalon, fitness competition, crossfit games, and the list goes on).

All very good, valid fit truths.

For me, my ‘fit truth’ is a little bit less black and white than that. And it’s a whole heckuva lot less black and white than it used to be.

It’s not about losing weight. (it used to be)

It’s not about training for a race. (it used to be…up until verrrrrry recently)

It’s not about running faster or farther.

My fit truth – it’s about Health. Wellness. Vibrancy.
…and feeding my passion for movement, ability.

Ever since crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon last October, my fit truth has evolved significantly. Evolved towards simple vs. more complex, more rigid or structured.

Sure – I have a loose goal of 3-4 runs per week and fitting in just one class at the studio that I can take vs. teach. Some weeks it’s 2 runs. Some weeks it’s 4. Some weeks it’s no classes, other weeks it’s 1. Or very rarely, 2. The rest of my ‘fit time’ is spent teaching. I adore it.

I reach for running as my ‘me’ time (and ‘rundate’ time!) and my ‘sweat’ time. I reach for barre n9ne for my ‘strength’ and ‘shake’ time. (and let’s be honest, my ‘me’ and ‘sweat’ time fit in here, too).

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Truth be told, I have never felt more healthy, active or strong as I do today. And I firmly believe that has a lot to do with shifting my focus, to simplifying. I also think that has a lot to do with finding comfort in my own skin and not railing against ‘me’ but learning to love myself, learning to be my own best friend. Granted, this last part has taken a good couple of years to discover, mind you, but recently its sort of all come together for me. Something that  bubbled to the surface for me the other day on a rare – but much-needed – solo run.

My fit truth, today.

<<Editor’s Note – For some reason, I’ve been having a really hard time finding the right words on this blog. So I apologize in advance if this post is as rambly as it feels like it is to me!>>

A need to move

Something I’ve been mulling over lately is this need to move.
…a need to be active. 
…to fit in moments of fitness where I can.
…and to embrace ability. 

I know I’ve talked about how being able to lead a fit and active lifestyle is something I try not to take for granted. And that fitness isn’t something that’s a chore for me but a total privilege.

…but what I haven’t really touched on is how this need to move has sort of evolved for me of late. 

Into its  most simple form: fueling the innate need to move that lives in all of us. As humans, we were built to live an active life. To walk, skip, jump, run, move.

And I think that’s why I’ve found myself restless during the week when I’m not able to move as much as I’d like. While sitting in traffic during my morning commute. Or sitting at work behind a computer screen or in a conference room. My body is railing against the sedentary nature of the 40+ hours a week I do the opposite of what my body wants me to be doing: to move and be active.

So rather than harp on the fact that I *do* have a job (which I actually love) that requires lots of sitting, I’m shifting my focus to ways that I am able to move, be active and fit. 

For one — I am able. When surrounded by continued tragic stories of Boston marathon bombing victims with severe, life altering injuries — many of whom lived very active lifestyles beforehand — and those stories just make my heart so heavy for them. I put myself in their shoes and wonder if I’d be able to shift my focus in a situation like that.

Also — I do have the ability to fit in moments of fitness and activity during my days, and in ways that not everyone has access to. Like a treadmill in the loft to hop on if I can’t get outside for a run (like I did this morning — just 30 minutes of motion made my soul so happy as the sun rose). Or access to a studio that I adore — where I have the opportunity to teach as often as I like and have been fitting in some classes too which again, makes my soul so, so happy.

And finally — the little moments of motion. Like a quick Sunday afternoon walk with Scott after I taught at the studio. Just a quick spin around the neighborhood to take in the gorgeous spring evening, listening to the birds chirp, seeing squirrels scamper past us, and breathing in the fresh air. And yes, being active. 

You see — this need to move isn’t about being fit, or about going balls to the wall with a running schedule or training program. Nope. My fit focus has shifted quite a lot lately. I just want to move, to be active, to embrace motion. And yeah…the joy of the sweat? I love that, too.

Let’s mark this in the category of Reason #679 why fitness is such a beautiful thing: it evolves over time, it involves fun fitdates and fit moments like this where I remember, at the very basic and simple, what fuels my love of wellness: a need to move, and sheer gratitude for the ability to do so. 

 

Working smart (despite the crazies)

I’m sitting here in bed, laptop propped on my lap and I’m facing one of those frustrating inner battles (or ‘mind crazies’ as my sis and I like to call them) — the battle where your head is trying to tell you one thing but your body is telling you something entirely different.

So: who do you listen to?

Your brain that’s telling you to go for it, stop being so cautious and just get that run in that you planned on?

Or…

Your body that’s telling you that a run is probably not the best of ideas. Your right knee is a little cranky. A run will do it no good.

But a run *would* do my brain good. My brain that keeps telling me to get moving, work for that sweat that I love so much and quit making excuses.

…but is a cranky knee an excuse?

Um, no.

This, my friends, is the one drawback to being so passionate about fitness — I sometimes want to push it too hard. Not because I think I need to or else I’ll gain 45 pounds in 24 hours. That’s not why I workout the way that I do. I workout because I love it, because it makes me happy and I feel so alive and energized because of it. Sure, the physical benefits aren’t too shabby either (let’s be real), but ultimately — I workout for wellness, and yes – for how it nourishes my soul, too.

Note to self: please work smart. Please ignore the mind crazies.

~~~~~

I’ve been reading a lot lately in bloggy land about this desire to push, push, push, no matter what. It’s called the #noexcuses mantra. It’s something I hadn’t really been paying all that much attention to until I read Carly’s post (thanks to Christine’s hat tip to her on Friday!) on the topic. I totally agree with Carly on this one — #noexcuses has become a crutch to allow bloggers to work too hard, push too much and workout when they should be resting. I mean, I’m all for getting out of your comfort zone, working hard for results and motivating others by leading by example. All about that.

What I’m NOT about? Working harder, not smarter. It’s just not worth it.

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Another post that got me thinking — a LOT — is one from Heidi: If fitness is about health, why hurt yourself? I mean, the title of her post pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? WHY push to the point of injury? None of us are out there professionally competing or aiming for Olympic gold, so working *that* hard, to the point of injury or excessive fatigue is just doing more harm than good. I mean really, why are takes ourselves so seriously? Fitness should be fun, at least I think it should be. And fitness is most certainly *not* fun if it results in injury.

Thank you a million times over Heidi, I needed that reminder. So much.

~~~~~

Can you tell I just wrote this post essentially to 1) quiet my mind and 2) remember both why I workout and what my workout mantra is? (I’m so transparent, I know…ha)

So yes, this is me — reminding myself and all of you that working smart is so much more important than working harder. Always.

Everyone needs a little me (workout) time

I hear this a lot — both from clients at the studio, from family and from friends who just don’t think they deserve, need or are ‘allowed’ to have ‘me’ time. Particularly when that ‘me’ time is of the workout variety. It’s seen by some as a frivolous activity, a nice-to-have versus a need-to-have or it’s a selfish thing to want or need that ‘me workout’ time.

But truly? Everyone needs a little me (workout) time. 
Everyone.

Yes, even I need it. 

You see, I’ve been working on a little experiment these past few weeks. Instead of looking at my me-workouts as nice-to-have activity in between all the teaching that I do each week, I’ve been looking at it as need-to-have time. Obviously within reason, balancing it out with the working out that invariably happens while I’m teaching class. But yes, I’ve been making my me workout time more of a priority. Even if it means shifting my focus a little bit — instead of wishing for or yearning for x amount of miles, I get excited about running a quick 30 mins after class or slotting in a fitdate with a bestie mid-week when schedules allow.  And yes, I #makeitcount.

So I have been committing to my ‘me time’ of the workout variety more these past few weeks and I’ve noticed something. Yup, you guessed it — I’m happier.

It’s not rocket science people, putting yourself first and chasing those endorphins produces, yup — happy, joyful energy. 

Sure, I still love, love, love all the hours I spend teaching, watching clients transform right before my eyes. LOVE. But I also love that me time either at the barre or on the mat where I have time to focus on my own muscle strength and endurance. Or the time I spend in my favorite sneakers, running 3 miles or 7, or somewhere in between, those miles don’t matter distance-wise — all that matters is that they are my miles. Miles I fought for particularly hard for on Sunday in the chilly, windy air. But it was worth it. SO, SO, worth it. Especially because it meant a #teamsutera reunion. <3

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So here’s my thinking — I will continue to make my ‘me workouts’ a priority. Within reason, of course, and while still respecting the rest time my body needs. But clearly, based on just the past two or three weeks alone, my mood is just happier, less stressy, more centered. I KNOW part of that has to do with the #presence2013 project. But I also believe it has something to do with the me-workout thing. It’s just needed. 

And please, I hope you all will take that time to remember that you are just important to make a priority as everyone and everything else in your life that is important and that you love. You also love yourself, right? So watch that (self) love blossom, and respect the me (workout) time as much as you can. It’ll only make you a happier, healthier, more content wife, sister, friend, mother, auntie, and daughter (ditto this for the boys who may be reading this post!). It’s important, truly.

The simplicity of a workout.

I have to say — I’m really digging the simplicity of a workout.
…particularly when that workout is a ‘me workout.’

You see, my ‘me workout’ time has been so much less structured than it’s ever been. Which is particularly interesting given just a few months ago, I was tied to a pretty regimented marathon training plan intermingled with sessions at the barre.

And not that I didn’t LOVE training or being tied to a schedule of sorts, I actually did. It felt damn good to cross those workouts off the list in my handy-dandy little spreadsheet each day. There were days, however, where I wanted to throw that spreadsheet out the window entirely, too.

And it’s days like that that remind me of how beautiful the simplicity of a workout can be.

Source: habituallychic.blogspot.com via Jess on Pinterest

For example — so far this week, I’ve run twice (yes, on the good ‘ol dreadmill) and both times I was utterly shocked at how great the run felt. Even though in both cases I woke up thinking: “there is NO way I’m getting more than a couple of miles in.” Only to step off that ‘mill after 50 minutes, drenched in sweat, with a serious case of runner’s high (yes, runner’s high on the dreadmill!) and clocking in 6 miles in each case.

And even though I’m sitting here sore as all hell from both of these workouts (plus countless sessions at barre n9ne kicking cute bums this week!), I’m so, so content. Content with this simple approach to my ‘me workouts.’ Content with no structure. And particularly content with how my fitness has evolved over time.

I guess I really nailed it when I said I wanted to embrace simplicity for awhile. Just like the Longfellow quote above, supreme excellence really is simplicity. And right now, I’m digging the simplicity of a workout. No frills. No schedules. No goals to crush. No pace or speed or numbers of any sort to speak of. Just simple — yet killer and effective workouts —  preferably with ample sweat and lots of post-workout aches (the good kind of ‘worked’ ache).

And, this time of simplicity has given me a chance to remember why I love working out, why I surround myself with all things fitness as much as I can and why I am who I am: at it’s very basic – I truly am a fit-geek at heart. No doubt about it.

 

Community: (re)defined

The concept of community has been all around me the last couple of days in particular, but really — community has been on my mind for weeks now. I started to think about how I defined community the last time I wrote about it here:

So now when I think about “community” — my definition is quite different.  It’s about finding common ground. Above all else. Kind of like this amazing fitness and healthy living community that I am damn proud to be a part of. A beautiful phenomenon…another community where I’ve made friendships that I cherish, with awesome women (and even a few guys!) who I’d never ever have met if not for this blogging thang.

As I read and re-read my words from that post, it dawned on me: I was writing about it from a very different perspective — the perspective of the student surrounded by a loving, warm and supportive set of mini communities. But today, I sit here thinking about community from the perspective of instructor or teacher.And while I still define community in a similar way to how I wrote about it over a year ago, I’m coming at the concept of community from a (re)defined perspective today.

…as a barre n9ne instructor.
…as a forever student of this fit lifestyle I’ve grown to love.
…and as a quasi-‘teacher’ of what fit can mean if you apply it to all areas of your life.

Community means…support without strings attached, just lifting up your fellow friends, clients, family, etc., because you want to. Period.

Community means...learning from eachother. Whether it be at the studio and figuring out how to connect with your core better, or through fit friends who show you how to run with heart and soul (yep, that’s you Meaghan).

Community means…putting yourself out there and knowing that those in your personal community will be there to catch you if needed. This happens all the time with fit besties Steph and my sis Jo. Anytime I’m having a moment of personal struggle, no matter how big or small it is, they are there to remind me to think bigger, to pull back and look at the situation with a new perspective, and usually it’s a fit perspective at that.

Community means…leading by example as an instructor, in the hopes that at least one client will be inspired to reach for a higher goal, push a little harder in class, or simply smile at themselves in the mirror when I tell them to focus on the work they’re putting into that plie or bicep curl.

Community means…beautiful friendships, connections and memories built on that common ground, and with a foundation of trust and support above all else.

Community is beautiful.

And, as we near the end of 2012, I am damn thankful for the various communities that make up such a big part of my life today.

Source: toms.com via Jess on Pinterest

Fit thoughts.

Fit Thoughts…

The first bite of what I consider more of a ‘winter’ fruit – a pear – and thinking: “man, I need to buy these more often, so yummy.” <– love how good ‘healthy’ tastes…

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Glancing in the mirror while washing my hands in the bathroom at work the other day and doing a double-take, thinking: “is that really ME staring back at me in the mirror?” <–fit ‘self-love’ moments like these are rare, but when they happen, embrace them: note to self but also note to all of YOU to celebrate you and your unique beauty and strengths more often…

Shamelessly shooting ‘selfies’ and sharing them on instagram after particularly fun sweat-fests and resisting the urge to think: ‘man, I must look so vain by posting this,’ and instead thinking: ‘Sweat just feels good. Maybe someone will see this and get motivated to get their workout in today…’ <–this actually happened after I posted this pic the other day on instagram, and seriously it made my day.

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Excitedly discussing ‘fitdate’ plans with my sis over IM – both in advance of last night’s fitdate at the barre (where my sis royally kicked my ass at barre n9ne thankyouverymuch) – but also in advance of next week where schedules will finally allow us more fitdates together, and thinking: “how geeky do we sound right now chit-chatting about when we’d like to run together and what classes we can take together…but I wouldn’t have it any other way….” <3

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Taking the extra time this week to throw a few fun curveballs into my barre n9ne classes – which took the form of killer core and glute work, two of my favorite areas to work (if I *had* to choose…hee) – and thinking: “I hope clients don’t throw the silver balls at me after class is over…” ;-) #Ilovethisjob #livingthedream

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Fit makes me happy, what can I say? What also makes me happy? Spending the next few days with the ones I love most on this earth, cherishing every memory made, every moment big or small. And I hope you’ll all be doing the same. <3

Hills + Speed (er, sprints) = FUN

So I’m titling this post: Hills + Speed (er, sprints) = FUN. 

But really, the title *should* be: The workout where my ass fell off. 

Seriously — if you EVER need to get your ass literally handed to you, just talk to my fit and fab friend Meaghan who happens to be my running idol and one of my dearest friends (reason #3,478 why I love blogging: ‘finding’ friends like Meaghan who I’d NEVER have met if I never started blogging to begin with…)

This was our text exchange midway through my workout this morning:

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And this was what I looked like when all was said and done:

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What you can’t quite see in that pic is just how sweaty I am — particularly my hair: I. Was. Drenched.
…and exhausted

But deliriously high from the rush of the endorphins this workout gave me. For real, it was KILLER. But I managed to keep my promise to Meaghan – I had FUN with the workout even though it was quickly kicking my ass. And you know what? That, to me, is what working out *should* be about, bottom line: having fun.

Sure, we all have goals for ourselves when it comes to our own physical fitness and those goals come in many shapes, forms and sizes. But honestly? Setting hard and fast goals aside can be such a liberating thing and can be just the reminder you may need to get your ‘mojo’ back. At least that’s what I’ve been LOVING lately — having fun with my workouts, not focusing on any real goals other than staying as fit as I can while having as much FUN as I can. And making as many fitdates as I can fit into my schedule (something I’ve been failing at miserably lately, but I’m determined to fix this in the new year!). 

While I’m not going to share every last detail of what this workout looked like (since it was Meaghan’s creation, I think it’s only fitting that she share it if she so chooses…maybe if you ask nicely, she’ll post about it soon, hehe #peerpressure), I will share what it felt like:

The warm-up was fun, nice easy pace and it shook the cobwebs out (fighting off some weird sniffly thing over here, bah #notsicknotsick)
The first set was all about hills mixed with speed. There were SIX (very intense) rounds with tonnnnns of incline work.
The second set was all about speed, speed, speed. Sprinting FAST, but not so fast that form suffered. My core is now killing me from focusing on my form so much during this set (it also didn’t help that I taught arms & abs last night at the studio, heh)
The final set was a mix of moderate speed mixed with a small hill. I needed this set, like whoa.

In all? I managed to kick out 6 miles of INTENSITY all before 6:30am this morning. If THAT doesn’t make you feel badass, nothing will I’ve decided. 

And on that note — I’m off to find my ass, it fell off somewhere around mile 3 or 4 during that first set… ;-)

Accountability.

Guess what? 
…even I need a kick in the ass sometimes to get my workout in. 

Shocking, I know. ;-)

But seriously, this brings up a very valid point — accountability can be a huge motivator. HUGE. So today, I’m here to tell you how to find that accountability, harness it, and get that workout in. In three very easy steps. 

Step 1: b*tch and moan vent to your fit friend and sis about how much you really don’t want to get your run in after work. (while sitting in traffic on the way home, NOT texting while driving, I swear). Call your husband and do the very same thing. Only to hear: “I’ll motivate you, and you’ll motivate me, we’ll get it done.” (remember this, you’ll need to reference it in a sec). 

Step 2: Read the following text from the same fit friend and sis while filling up your gas tank (it’s really quite awesome to see your gas light come on while in traffic after a long day…am I the only one who hates filling their gas tank and always waits until the most inopportune time to fill it??)

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Step 3: Call your husband back. Tell him you’re almost home and to get ready to work. His response: “I’m tired, maybe we should skip it.” <–what happened to motivating eachother?? My response: “Nope, we’re doing it. My run won’t take as long as your weight workout so get upstairs and get moving, I’ll be home soon.”

The result: 

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Four sweaty miles, done. That’s all I really wanted — I didn’t care about how far I went, I just wanted to get a good sweat, feel that rush of endorphins and get my heart rate up. Something I desperately needed after WAY too much sitting at work all day.

And that my friends, is all it takes to stay accountable to your fitness goals. Three easy steps* is all it takes.
#makeitcount

*Note: it also works well to post your workout intentions on Facebook or Twitter, then it’s out there for the world to see, and do you really want the ‘world’ to know you skipped out on that workout? ;-)

Just #makeitcount.

I think I’ve mentioned that my schedule has taken some time to adjust to now that I’m in a new job (which I LOVE) that has me in the office most days of the week.  A very big shift from my last job where I was only in the office once per week (trade-off: I traveled pretty often). The other shift happening right now? Teaching a *lot* more at barre n9ne. Which I LOVE to death. Adore so, so, so much.

But combine a ‘day job’ that has me commuting daily, pair that with teaching at barre n9ne anywhere from 5-7 classes per week (with more to come when the new room in the studio nearest my house opens in a week or two! woo!) and my “me time” workouts are fewer and farther between. Right now, I can *only* take 1-2 classes per week realistically (I used to take 5+ a week before I really started teaching a lot more). I just can’t fit much more than that into my week, plus teaching does takes it’s toll…even if I’m not actively ‘doing’ the entire class…I’m doing enough of it that it adds up over time (plus being ‘on’ for the whole hour is exhausting too…in a *good* way though, suuuuch a rush!).

And then there’s running. Which has most definitely taken a backseat of late. Mainly because I only have two mornings during the work week for ‘me workouts’ and it’s SO dark out now that running on the treadmill has become the norm mid-week (sad face). And then weekends are my  only real time to get outside (unless I feel like running in the dark at night during the week…again: sad face).

So where does that leave me? Why am I telling you suuuuch a long tale leading into the whole point of this post?
(there’s a reason, promise)

It’s forcing me to truly make my ‘me workouts’ count. #makeitcount.
…every. single. time.

As in — never regret a workout for one; but also never take for granted the sheer ability TO workout (physical ability plus literal ability to fit it into the schedule, as it were). #makeitcount

So last night when I got home from work and knew that workout I’d blown off that morning (extra snuggles with the hubs took precadence…priorities!) was looming: I had two choices. Blow it off. orrrr #makeitcount.

I did exactly what I’d tell any one of you to do: I made it count. Every sweatastic mile. Even though it was on the dreadmill. Even though I was tired. Even though I was hungry. Even though, even though, even though (I could come up with a million excuses).

After 45 minutes of sweatastic intervals (I did a variation of this version — third one down), I was riding SUCH a high. So sweaty. So fun. So badass.

Yup, it was awesome. Just what I needed. I enjoyed the sh*t out of those speedy intervals. And for one reason: it was MY turn to workout. I have never appreciated that fact more than I do right now. With time a lot more precious than before. I embrace that #makeitcount mantra.

So again I urge you: anytime you consider blowing off that workout for a million reasons, think twice. #makeitcount.
…embrace the ‘me time.’
…remember that not everyone is able.
…not everyone has the opportunity.
…not everyone can #makeitcount.

(((#makeitcount)))

Source: wanelo.com via Jess on Pinterest