Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “work it

I Looked In The Mirror. Damn.

It’s confession time. I looked in the mirror, even though I said I wouldn’t. I didn’t mean to, well not exactly. Let me tell you what happened.

I had just finished working out. I was running to the bedroom to grab a hair elastic so that I could put my hair up before getting into the bathtub. I just happened to glance in the mirror in our front hall accidentally. The next thing I know, I’m standing in the mirror, admiring the beginning of those lines on my stomach. You know what I’m talking about. Those lines that hint at the outline of a future six pack.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so far from having clearly identifiable ab muscles. But I will admit that I like to see those lines. They make me feel strong and sexy. All I know is, 2 to 3 minutes had passed and I was still admiring my body in the mirror. And do you know what happened after that?

A whole bunch of nothing happened after that.

Once I decided that I was going to work out only 5 days a week, I figured I didn’t have to pick specific days. I figured I would just work out as my schedule allows.

For this week that meant working out every day except for maybe Wednesday and Thursday, which were the only 2 days I have to go into work. Oh, but no, that’s not what happened. The mirror is my enemy. I knew looking at it would make me feel like I was making real progress.

I don’t know why, but any sort of progress sucks away my motivation. And as usual, I’m hoping that telling on myself will make me get back into working out. There are still enough days left for me to get my 5 workout days in this week. Cross your fingers for me because I really want to stick with it this time.

I know I say my main goal is to fit into the dress I wore the day I met my husband. And in some ways, it is my main goal. Or at least, it’s a way to visually recognize that I’ve got the body I want. But also, I just really want to be happy all the time with what I see when I look in the mirror.

Some of you know what its like to have mixed feelings about what you see in the mirror. I love my body and I think that I’m attractive and pretty and all of that. I know I could be better though. Having excess body fat on certain parts of your body is just unhealthy, and it makes certain items of clothing look unflattering. I’d like to be more healthy and not to leave certain items of clothing in my closet because they don’t fit well. It would remove a point of stress in my life, just that simple.

I care about my long-term health, more than I usually talk about in this blog. Working out as consistently as I can makes that possible. You may wonder why I care so much. Well, when I was a little kid, there were so many old people in my family, and I loved it. They were the siblings of my great grandmother. She passed when I was in college, making it past the age of 80 . So basically, I come from a family where people live until they are 70 and 80 years old. I want to be able to know my great grandchildren before I die. And to do that, I’ve got to grow old. And to do that, I’ve got to stay healthy.

I’m almost 30 years old, and I don’t have any children yet. The husband and I intend to have children in the next few years but we aren’t in any rush. That means I have to live really long time if I want to get to know some grandchildren and great grandchildren. Ideally, I’d like to be in good health when I’m spending time with him. I just can’t see myself in a wheelchair, on an oxygen tank, or needing a walker. I want to play with my grandchildren and great grandchildren. So I have to do everything I can now so that I can have a life I want later. I think that if I focus on the deep reasons instead of just the superficial ones, it will stay important to me day after day to get my lazy ass up and exercise.

I talk a lot about exercising but not so much about diet. I just wanted to explain why. I’m not exactly a health food nut. But I do believe in eating as many unprocessed foods as possible, and trying not to overindulge. It helps that I don’t have any food allergies, and I have a pretty strong stomach.

Normally, I don’t have problems with moderating my diet–except for when it comes potatoes. If it wasn’t for the fact that I would eventually weigh 300 pounds, I would eat potatoes every day. But usually, I don’t have a problem regulating my diet. So if you’re going through this same struggle trying to get in shape and stay healthy, I’d like to apologize for having no words of encouragement on the diet front. But I’m with you on your struggle to exercise.

It’s hard to get up everyday and expend that energy. Even when I think about the extra energy I’ll have after a few days of working out, it’s always… later. And for some reason ‘later’ isn’t a strong enough motivator. Or at least it wasn’t, until I started thinking about play time with my future great grandchildren. Needless to say, I’m feeling more motivated.

I just had to dig deeper. So if you’re lacking motivation, dig deeper. Figure you why you care about being healthy. Does it affect your future? Affect your clothes? Does it affect your happiness?

If you run out of motivation by thinking of whatever size jeans you aspire to fit, dig deeper.

If you can dig deeper, maybe next time  you’re working out, but don’t feel like pushing yourself, you can dig deeper then too.

Good luck.

Avoiding The Mirror

A week in and I’m still exercising. I feel very lucky that Tracy Anderson’s workout plan includes a day off. My work schedule has been bananas this week and I simply don’t have the energy to workout.

I’m not talking in a, “I’ve been working 12 hours and just don’t feel like it” kind of way. I mean, “I’ve been working 12 hours after only having 2 hours of sleep because I wasn’t supposed to work today, but I’m on fo resource, even though no other resource people ever bring their ass to work when people are short-staffed, but what the hell ever” kind of way. There was no way I was working out yesterday, so thank God it was my workout off day.

I think my best bet for maintaining my motivation is avoiding the mirror. The way this workout plan works is that you see results almost immediately. The second I see firmer thighs, a slightly flatter tummy, and less jiggly arms, I get too excited. That feeling that I can slack off because I’m almost there creeps in.

That feeling is complete insanity because I am in no way “almost there.” The goal is to fit into the dress I was wearing the day I met the husband. And I don’t just want to get it on, I want to look as good or better than I did that day. Just because my thighs aren’t as jiggly doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near that sexy little black dress.

Putting that in writing somehow helps me believe it more. Because I’m so far from fitting a size 0 it’s not even funny. Well, it’s little funny because for some reason I kept all my size zero dresses assuming I’d one day have the motivation to work out enough to get back into them. That’s pretty funny in an ironic kind of way.

But I still have hope. My optimism has not yet waned and I think my waist can again be less than 30″ without me sucking in. It will happen! Just not right away. It will take me a while, and if I’m being realistic, it’s going to take longer than the 90 days Tracy Anderson alludes to.

There’s honestly no way I can work out consistently 6 days a week. I think it would be better for me to aim for five days a week. That way, when crazy shit happens with my work schedule, as it always seems to these days, I’ll still be on track. And it will be easier to keep track of which set of workouts I’m on if I’m doing five days a week. She has it in 10 days intervals, so it will take me 14 days for each set of ten instead of 11-13 days.

I should reach day 90 in 18 weeks. That would be May 4th-ish, depending on which day of the week I would actually complete the 90th workout. That seems so far from now, but it makes me feel better somehow.

I’m not crazy, I swear. It’s just that the idea of boot camps and 30-day workouts mess with my head. It seems like a quick burst of hard work that’s impossible to maintain in the long run. But a nice mid-length goal of 4.5 months sounds good to me. It’s something I can maintain when I’m done, and the 5 day a week workout is doable as well.

I hope my optimism turns into proactive behavior. I guess we’ll see.

Oh, the other reason for avoiding the mirror is how I laser in on the burn on my lip every time I glance toward a reflective surface. I just hate the way it looks. I’ve been applying lots of neosporin, cocoa butter, and medicated lip balm. It’s healing quicker than expected thanks to the quick turn over of the skin cells of the lip. I hope it doesn’t leave a permanent mark.

For now, avoiding the mirror is the plan. I can’t see my burned lip or my lack of jiggles. I’ll just keep it up with the leg lifts and the neosporin. Before you know it, I’ll be wearing a size 0 (which is the size of my frame, not some unhealthy weight I shouldn’t aspire to) and having no signs that I ever foolishly threw freshly sliced potatoes into hot oil.

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Thirty Days Down, The Rest Of My Life To Go

Now that I’m past Day 30, I feel even better in terms of energy, mood, and self-image. When I look at my pictures from Day 1, Day 10, Day 20, and now Day 30, it’s really just amazing. In fact, I’ll post the old pictures

Aside from feeling amazing, the biggest notice is how my clothes fit. My largest clothes are becoming quite roomy. I figure by Day 60, I’ll have to get rid of some of my clothes because they will be too large. There are several items of clothing I haven’t been able to fit into for months that are starting to fit. I have a great pair of wide leg pants that button on the side. I can button them again, and I’m hoping to wear them in public in just 10 short days. They are perfect-for-fall pants after all.

The husband and I are going to a wedding in a couple weeks in Virginia for one of his cousins. God willing, I’ll be wearing this great dress I haven’t worn (or really fit well) since the day I met the husband. And I’m considering Halloween outfits that aren’t swamping my body. Halloween seems to be the time to run naked through the streets and claim you’re dressed as a “Sexy Bunny” or “Sexy Puppy” or “Slut #3.” Maybe I will just go as Slut #3. It will be hard to get me not to if I have any kind of lines on my tummy representing the start of a six pack.

Even when I feel like doing nothing and next to nothing, I still have energy. In that moment of doing nothing, I still know I could get up and do something, I’m not so pooped out that I have no choice but to lie down. The husband just started doing P90X (because he’s a crazy person). It’s been such a change in our house with both of us working out and making a more concerted effort to be healthy. When we’re working this hard, it makes everything else seem worth it somehow. Putting in work on the apartment, planning our schedules around work so we still have fun, and just hanging out and doing nothing is better. When you’ve worked up a sweat and can feel the burn, you feel like you’ve accomplished something that day. So just chilling and playing video games that night is nothing but fun and you feel no regret about it.

Taking care of my skin and my body has always been a priority, but when I’m working up a sweat 6 days a week, it’s even more important. I use lots of Mary Kay products on my face that include a toner, exfoliates, and has sunscreen. I use the Proactiv body wash. And Dove and Oil of Olay round out the pack for soaps, deodorant, and lotions. My hair isn’t an issue because I have locs. I can’t imagine how African-American women with hard to manage hair work out all the time. I guess those are the ponytail women. I honestly am glad my hair is locked so it’s not ever an issue.

I finished my Tracy Anderson food program after 30 calendar days. This was well before the 30th Metamorphosis Day. Since that time, I’ve just been trying to eat healthy (except for the evil ass cake week) and not overdoing it. The weight loss has continued, so I imagine I’m doing something right. I no longer eat anything canned or over-processed, and that has helped a lot. I eat a lot of lean meat, fresh fruits, fresh vegetable, and home-made baked goods. And now I’m basically following one of the P90X diet plans with the husband. The meal plan reads exactly like what we’ve been eating recently anyway. Each lunch includes lots of veggies either in soup or salad form with lean meat. Each dinner includes meat, some starch/health carb, one grain, and veggies. I think that even once we’re not taking their meal suggestions, it should be no problem to stick with this meal format, which isn’t too far from what I was eating on Tracy Anderson’s plan.

I’ve come up with some amazing recipes too. I made a citrus cilantro vinaigrette that doubled as a marinade for a chicken mixed greens salad we had for lunch the other day. More people would eat healthy everyday if I was cooking for them, trust me. Since I’ve had the baking bug recently, the house always has fresh cookies, or cake, or brownies to be found. They are definitely not low-fat, so we have to make sure we don’t overdo it. So far, except for the chocolate cake, it hasn’t been a problem. That chocolate cake is the first recipe I didn’t cut in half or into 1/3, so I can only blame the large volume of cake. The fact that it was still around after 5 days was trouble enough. When I cut a cookie recipe down and only make 8-10, it’s gone before we even get set to overdo it.

The last thing I want to say is that my calves feel and look amazing. I’ve always had thinner legs from the knee down, but now they look pretty shapely and strong. My skinny jeans are actually tight all the way down my leg now instead of just around the thighs and hips. Tracy Anderson wasn’t kidding when she said she’d give me an all-around more feminine shape.