Recently I met someone who had just started running. I swiftly suggested the "Couch to 5k", which she had already said that she was doing. My next suggestion was to get a good running playlist. Lots of people overlook this step, but for me it's crucial. Before I share it with you, I need to provide a little bit of backstory. A few weeks ago while I was on vacation and jonesing for a run, I realized I had forgotten my ipod charger. Yes, I know I could have just used my phone, but I like what I like, and I like my little old 2007 ipod nano. I took to facebook to poll my friends as to where the best place for a cheap charger would be, and I got lots of comments from people who run without music. Um, I'm sorry what? Yes, I said WITHOUT music. They suggested that running without music will allow me to be alone with nature, feel more peace, and help me to be more grateful. I totally get it. I do. And looking at those making the suggestion, I am not surprised at all. They were all really wonderful, lovely human beings. Of course they would feel that way! But while peace and love may motivate some (and I'm sure that this divulges more about my character than I'd like to admit)...this girl runs ANGRY. I think about people who've called me fat over the years. I think about men who wouldn't date me because I was "too big" for them (and yes, that really happened). I think about people who have done me wrong professionally. I even think about the people who may be driving by me thinking "she doesn't need to be out here in a sports bra." These things motivate me. They help me to keep going. And maybe this is wrong...Maybe I need a therapist...But for me, running has become my therapy, so that when I get home, sweaty and exhausted, those feelings are behind me and I can go through the REST of my day in peace.
There I was, up at 7am, doing my 21 Day Fix Pilates workout. I couldn't believe I had actually rolled out of bed when the alarm went off, but I had made a commitment to get up early and work out with my husband before he went to work. So were on the floor, at 7:22am, doing our scissor lifts, when suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder blade. I finished the move and sat up. It felt like I had woken up with a severely stiff neck, only minutes before I was just fine! I must have pulled something. I finished my workout and got into a hot shower. It helped, for sure. "Ok", I said to myself while getting out of the shower "that was the worst of it." I rotated my head all around and felt very little soreness. I got dressed and plopped in front of the computer screen to do some work. I heard something outside after a few minutes and turned my head to look out the window...OUCH! The pain was back. I spent the rest of the day trying to stay in motion, because everything felt better until I stopped moving. I went to sleep that night hoping that I would wake up in the morning and feel better. No such luck. Another hot shower and I was feeling good again. I consulted facebook (obviously) as to what to do and whether I should exercise. I got exactly what you would think I got in response...Lots of differing opinions. Some saying use ice, some saying heat. Some encouraging exercise, and others cautioning to stay away. I sat back and decided to really think about my situation. When I got out of the shower, I had full range of mobility in my neck and shoulders. Only when I sat stationary did I tense up and start feeling pain. So, instead of opting for a workout where I would be using lots of shoulder and back strength, I decided a run might warm me up and get some blood flowing to the area. I got dressed, laced up, and headed out, thinking I'd just go a mile or so. I got about a quarter mile from my house, and looked to my left...no pain. Right? None there either! Up at the sky? Nada. Down at my feet? You guessed it! No pain anywhere! Here's what I'm getting at folks. I could have used this "injury" as an excuse to lay around all day wrapped up in a blanket watching E!. But I knew that I WASN'T injured. I knew that it was a sore muscle. Inconvenient place for it..sure...but still just a sore muscle. While enjoying the rest of my triumphant 4 mile run that day, I was reminded of the excuses that people give themselves. I say that because when you give an excuse about your fitness, it's not anyone else that you're bullshitting. Just you. The person that you are spouting your excuses to, about why you can't do what they do could not care one bit, so you're better off just saving your breath or commiserating with other bullshitters.
"But MY excuse is different..."
No. It's not. Before you call the gratitude police here, I realize that my sore muscle affliction was not a serious disease or life threatening injury. I am not, by any means, attempting to call out people who have legitimate medical problems that truly prevent them from incorporating some form of exercise into their life. I realize that my sore muscle doesn't compare to some of the ailments that I am fortunate enough not to have, so please don't get it twisted. Who I'm talking to, are the bullshitters. The people that say they "wish" they could exercise, but they have "a bad back" and use that as their reasoning for being out of shape, instead of calling it like it is, and saying "I don't have the motivation to find a workout that I CAN do with my issues." Why am I saying this? Because I WAS a bullshitter. I had "bad knees"...I still do! But nowadays, instead of using it as an excuse, when I power through a Turbo Fire workout, I do everything I am capable of, and when we get to that certain move where something just doesn't feel right for me, I MODIFY. What I don't do, is quit. I just keep moving, changing up the move however I need to, in order to make it less painful for me. Trust me, we ALL have issues. We ALL have aches and pains. When I first started running, using the"Couch to 5K" plan, I was 210 pounds with severe sciatica pain. I would literally not be able to walk upright after a run. I did all of my runs in the evening, ate dinner, and got right into bed, because I knew I would be out of commission until the next day. My DESIRE to run and get my weight down, was greater than my excuses. These issues, compounded with a lot of knee pain began to effect me less and less as I got fitter and lighter. My sciatic pain went from every night, to once in a blue moon. Again, I'm not trying to make light of anyone's reasons for not exercising, as long as they are legitimate reasons. However, if you tell me you have "bad knees", I'll tell you about one of my challengers who has the same problem, yet got a membership at her local "Y" so that she could swim (swimming is a great workout for people with injuries). If you tell me you're "too old", I'll tell you about one of my friend's fathers, who took up running at age 68 and trained for and ran his first half marathon while he was undergoing chemotherapy (Check out his amazing story,here.). If you tell me that you have kids and are too busy, I'll tell you about countless women I work with DAILY that make the time for themselves to exercise, even if it's just 25 minutes a day after the kids go to sleep. I have challengers with thyroid issues, and fellow coaches with MS and fibromyalgia. They exercise on their good days, and rest when things flare up. EVERYONE has an excuse. EVERYONE has an ailment. And if you don't want to exercise or eat healthy, that's just fine...Honestly! It's your health, and your life. What drives me, and I think a lot of other people who strive to be in good shape crazy, is the excuse spouters. Please just stop offering up excuses, because not only do we mentally "check out" of the conversation once we realize what you're doing, but you just may be giving a lame excuse like "bad knees" to someone who has recently lost 150lbs, or continues to work through a potentially debilitating illness to get into the best shape of their life. Instead, please just say that your WILL to get in shape is not strong enough to OVERCOME your excuses, because that's all it is. If you have a MODERATELY healthy body, you have every ability in the world to get out there and do SOMETHING, even if it's just walking. If you are ready to quit giving in to those excuses, and you feel that WILL inside of you saying that you need to make a CHANGE, now is the time to strike. Put an end to your excuses and focus on that DESIRE! There is no reason why YOU can't be a success story. You CAN be someone who overcomes their situation. All it takes is belief in yourself and the desire to get out there and get started. If you choose to believe in yourself and need some support or help modifying your exercise routine to INCORPORATE whatever your excuse is (age, injury, or time), reach out to me. I'm here, and happy to help you, because I've been there too.
I've been on my fitness journey for 2 years this month. I started with INSANITY, then moved on to Turbo Fire, Les Mills Pump, T25, and the 21 Day Fix. Prior to starting these programs, believe it or not, I was an AVID gym goer, yet I was still over 200 pounds. I've lost 60 pounds to date. I get questions all the time about my "secrets." Well, if you're lucky enough to land on this page, you're in for a treat...Here it is!
The Compound Effect.
The what, you say? The Compound Effect is an amazing book written by Darren Hardy. Essentially, it discusses the little things that we do everyday, that may seem completely insignificant, and how they affect our lives. I literally recommend this book to EVERYONE WITH A FUNCTIONING BRAIN. That's how good it is. Until I read it, it never occured to me that I was using the compound effect to my advantage. You see, when I started my fitness journey, my goal was just to get back to being comfortable in my own skin. I didn't give a damn about getting healthy and I certainly wasn't going to be giving up my favorite foods. I didn't want "6-pack" abs (still don't!), and I wasn't going to train for a marathon (still not!). I JUST wanted to feel comfortable around other people without having to cover my fat rolls. A funny thing happened, though. As I started to lose the weight, immersed myself in my challenge groups and surrounded myself with healthy people, I really started to THINK about the food that I was putting into my body. I had noticed that the little substitutions that I was making (almond milk for dairy milk, oatmeal and berries instead of a breakfast sandwich), had all started to add up. I started pushing harder in my workouts. Running a little further each time or getting just one more push up in. What had happened, was that while I wasn't looking, I had become fit! I had also become healthy! It's no secret that I now drink Shakeology daily. Over the course of a few months when I first started, I not only had gotten trimmer, but when I went to get my cholesterol retested, my BAD cholesterol had dropped 42 points! THINGS WERE HAPPENING!!! Here's what else I noticed. I started to understand that there was a reason why the people who teased me about my "diet" foods (Shakeology, fruits and veggies) were always complaining about being tired, had to call in sick to work, or just plain looked like crap. Not trying to hate on anyone here, honestly. I totally respect a person's right to do what they want with their own body. But once I had stepped away from that lifestyle (I like to think I was never THAT bad, but still), I realized that those little decisions to stop at the Sonic Drive Thru every morning were the compound effect working AGAINST them. You see, to get in shape, you don't need to make some huge lifestyle change. You really just need to make simple changes and KEEP DOING THEM. That's where the "diet" people get it wrong. A diet ALWAYS has an end date. And that's why they don't see the long term progress. If you just continue to make those positive changes, you will get there. Which is why now, TWO YEARS after I my journey, I'm STILL a work in progress. I don't want to do some drastic juice cleanse or cut out my favorite foods. I just want to continuously work to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That's it. No abs for this girl. That goal may change, but for now I like my nachos too much ;) My point here is that it's really NOT THAT HARD. I promise, and I'll prove it...
Here's my step by step guide to getting healthier and maybe losing a few pounds:
1. Exercise. Get off your ass and get your blood pumping a few times a week.
2. Stop eating like an asshole. Eat healthy, whole, non-processed foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and complex carbs MOST of the time.
That's it. There's no secret trick and those steps really aren't that hard. But they WILL get you results...IF you stick with them. For me, I follow the 80/20 rule. 80% good food, 20% not so good, which means that I do not need to give up my beloved nacho cheese in order to have a body that I LOVE. It's all about TRUE moderation. Oh, moderation...that means eating so-so most of the day and then demolishing a pint of Ben and Jerry's at night, right? No. Not even close. True moderation is eating healthy ALL WEEK, and having ONE or TWO not so great meals during the weekend.
That's it. Honestly. No counting calories. No fad diets. Just eat wholesome foods without a bunch of artificial ingredients and I promise, the weight will gradually come off. Now, for my people who have a significant amount of weight to lose in order to avoid serious health complications, or someone with tons of motivation to get super fit, steps 1 and 2 do not apply to you. You will need a little bit more effort...You will need to follow a serious exercise regimen, focus hard on your nutrition, eating more like 95/5, and have lots of support. For the vast majority though, following a simple nutrition plan and incorporating a workout regimen into our lives is enough to get you to where you want to be. I promise...You just have to do it.
If you've been following my journey, you know that I've been doing the 21 Day Fix program for the past 17 days. As of tomorrow I will have 3 days left, so at this point, I feel like it's an acceptable time to write a review. This program made me nervous at first. I wasn't sure how "restrictive" it would be, but quite honestly, I didn't find it restrictive AT ALL. Yes, you are measuring your portions and eating according to your goals, but that's what you would do when trying to lose weight anyway, and this is FAR from a diet. This program has taught me A LOT about how many of what foods I should be eating per day. What I figured out was that I don't eat NEARLY enough protein, which is extremely important when trying to lose weight, and it was no suprise at all that I was not eating enough veggies either. The other important thing that I realized, is that I spend a lot of time eating just to eat. The first week I had to have an honest talk with myself and realize that I had eaten more than enough to satisfy my body's needs, and that while I wanted to eat, I was not TRULY hungry.
Oh, and did I mention that it comes with seven 30 minute workouts? At first I really didn't think these workouts would challenge me. OH BOY was I wrong! I am on the final week and doing the "doubles" options, and I have not yet been able to get through an entire workout without at least switching to the "modified" moves for a few seconds. These workouts are ones that you can continue to push yourself in even when you get into the best shape of your life.
There really is no way to explain how much this program has impacted me, and although I DO plan to have nice meal during date night with my husband once I'm finished, I think that I will probably continue to use this program for a long time to come. If you're trying to lose weight and get healthy, and if you are even THINKING that you might not be eating the right portions, you HAVE to try this program. I promise you that if you give it your all, it will change your life. I have done TONS of beachbody programs, and I of course have my favorites, but this program is something that EVERYONE can (and should) do. It's just that good. I hope you've enjoyed my review. Final results will be up Saturday morning!
First of all, I need to say upfront that this is not at all a fitness post (well, not really, but you'll see how being in shape could tie in), but it is something that I encourage you to read just the same. A few weeks ago I attended a conference. There was one particular break-out session that appealed to me regarding self defense. The session was conducted by a female police officer who also taught self defense courses. I walked away from it thinking how great the information was, but truthfully, had forgotten about it until I saw the article about the woman who had to pull over on the highway to perform CPR on her unresponsive nephew. She stated that she tried to call 911 but her hands were shaking so badly that she could not dial the phone. I immediately remembered the training and decided I should share my knowledge! What I want to share with you is a PARAPHRASING of what I learned during that session. This is by no means an expert opinion or complete "how to" guide and I'm not going to come at you with a bunch of scientific facts. Just passing along the info that I retained. If you are interested in learning about self defense, I'm sure that your local police station could point you in the right direction. Ok, now that I got all the liability mumbo jumbo out of the way...
The officer's talk was basically geared towards understanding what happens to your body in a moment of fear. One of her clearest messages was to trust your instincts. I have found this to be true many a time in my life. If something just doesn't FEEL right, it probably isn't. If you're walking to your car and there's someone that seems out of place or just not right in some way, do not dismiss that feeling. You don't have to mount a full scale preemptive strike, but you should remain alert. The other thing that she mentioned is that if there IS someone that doesn't feel right, you should look DIRECTLY at them. Even say "hi" or "howdy". Her reasoning for this is that most attackers are looking for an EASY target. Not a confident, aware woman who looks him dead in the eye. He's looking for the girl who has her head buried in her cell phone, not paying attention to the world around her. How many times have you walked through a parking lot while checking your instagram feed? Never again for me!!! Another point she stressed was that if you do feel something isn't right, you should have TWO plans. A plan and a back up plan. Why? Because if your first plan doesn't work, you are more likely to resort to the backup plan if you have thought it out in advance. If you don't, and your plan "A" doesn't work, you are likely to panic.
Probably the most interesting thing that she talked about (and here's where fitness ties in) was that the "adrenaline rush" myth is REAL. We've all heard about mothers miraculously lifting cars off of their children, or ripping a door off of it's hinges in a fire. This is something that can actually happen. HOWEVER, it happens for a VERY short period of time. It's called an adrenaline "dump". From the second that your adrenaline spikes (you are scared/shocked/etc.), you have 10-15 seconds of this "superhuman" strength. That's not a very long time, but if you know it's happening, you may be able to use it to your advantage. she also mentioned that the fitter you are, the longer your adrenaline dump can last. It could be extended to up to 25 seconds if you are in great shape. Where she was going with this was that you would potentially be able to fight off an attacker or push a large object down to obstruct their path, etc. After that, though, your only mobility will be to run and swing your arms. Our body shuts down blood flow so that if we have defensive wounds, they may not bleed as quickly. This is great for possibly saving our lives, but it also limits our dexterity. You WILL NOT be able to dial a phone, get your key into a door, or anything that requires precise movements (now don't you feel bad for screaming at the girl in the scary movie who kept fumbling to get the keys in the door?). Essentially your arms will club and your feet will run. That's all you got after the adrenaline wears off.
Anyways, like I said, this is just a summary of what she went over. To me, it was absolutely fascinating. I'm obsessed with shows like Criminal Minds and am constantly as alert as possible because unfortunately we all know too well that there are bad people out there. I just wanted to share this with all of you in the hopes that you NEVER have to use this knowledge, but that it may help you feel a little bit safer.
I'm a beachbody coach. It's obviously my job to be excited about Beachbody's products. There has been talk for MONTHS about The 21 Day Fix, a new "portion control" geared workout program with a SUPER HOT new trainer, Autumn Calabrese. Since talk began, I gotta admit, I kinda disregarded this program. I have always liked pushing myself, doing intense workouts. I DO NOT like counting calories, or really focusing on my diet at all. In fact, I completed Insanity a few years ago with virtually NO change in my diet, and still saw AMAZING results, so I told myself for a while that exercise mattered more than diet. When I started drinking Shakeology during Turbo Fire is when I saw my BEST results and really started to understand how much nutrition did matter. I started swapping out healthy foods for unhealthy ones without even thinking about it, and can honestly say that I now follow a pretty healthy diet, with the occasional indulgence. But THIS program is almost ALL about nutrition. Why do I need to focus on my diet? I'll tell ya why...Because after losing 50 pounds, FOR MONTHS, I've been stuck just 20 pounds from my goal weight. So why wasn't this program a no brainer? What I think turned me off about this program at first was the name. I am NOT into fad or crash diets and I really thought that the fix was a crash type diet. Then I listened to Autumn speak on the National Beachbody Coach call a few weeks ago. I knew after listening and chatting with my amazing coach, that the reason I wasn't into this program was no just because of the name, it was because it was outside of MY comfort zone. I tell my team all the time that "outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens", so I started to think, maybe if I get outside my OWN comfort zone, I could "magically" get rid of this last 20 pounds that I've been hanging onto. I bought the program and started 3 days ago. So far...I LOVE IT!!! I can tell you, this is NOT a crash diet. I am eating TONS of whole, non processed foods. There are times where I feel like there is NO WAY that I'm going to be able to eat all of my containers in one day, and so far, I have not been truly hungry at all. I will detail my foods in a future blog post and talk more about the few challenges that I've encountered, but I wanted to tell anyone who is THINKING about the fix, that it is ABSOLUTELY worth it. It's only on sale for another 10 days, so now is the time to do it! Did I mention that I've lost 3 pounds in 3 days???? More to come!
We've all heard of "fat shaming." It's all over the media nowadays. Don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone should be ridiculed for their weight, but what equally grinds my gears is skinny shaming. I'm not a small girl. Not by any means. At one point in my life, I was fat and unhealthy, for sure. Now, I exercise at least 5 days a week and eat mostly healthy foods (I follow the 80/20 rule!). I have what I would call a thick, athletic frame/ BUT I'd still like to lose another 20 pounds. At my heaviest, I garnered sympathy from people around me, who coddled me by saying that it was hard to lose weight and told me that it was ok because I "carried it well". Looking back, most of the people who sympathized with me were woefully unhealthy and I listened to them because it was what I wanted to hear. Fast forward a few years, and I have changed my eating habits and taken off over 50 pounds. Nowadays, when I tell people that I'd like to lose 20 more pounds, I'm glared at and told "Oh please, you don't have 20 pounds to spare!". I can assure you, that is NOT the case. Unless you are one of my closest friends, you have no idea what I see when I step on the scale. It's true that I have always carried my weight well, and I guess I still do now. I don't let the scale define my progress, but I also know that the less I physically weigh, the less aches and pains I will have as I get older, and the easier my life will be. As someone who has back and knee issues, getting off excess weight is important to me, regardless of the fact that everyday society (not talking about the fashion magazines here) deems me an acceptable size. Honestly, I could lose another 40 pounds and still be told by the BMI chart and many doctors who still follow it that I am within a normal weight range. Sadly though, I take more crap now than I did when I was border lining on morbidly obese. People roll their eyes at me when I opt for a breakfast taco without bacon and say "oh please you can have a few extra calories" (I don't eat pork because I don't believe in eating pigs, not because of the health benefits), or unnecessarily comment "There she goes with her Shakeology every morning". I'd venture a guess that if I said "There she goes with her Burger King bag every morning" to a coworker that it may not go over as well. Listen, I'm not saying it's ok to gang up on overweight people for their food choices, but it's also not ok to comment on thin people's choices either (Obviously I will add a disclaimer here and say that none of this argument can or should be applied to people who are medically underweight or struggling with eating disorders...if that's your case, you should try to get them legitimate medical help). What I'm saying is that we should be sensitive to people's body issues no matter what their size, and more importantly, we should make sure that we look at OURSELVES when we're judging someone for their outward appearance. Often times, people base their opinion of other's weight on where THEY are on the spectrum, and let's face it, much of our country falls on the unhealthy end of things. I'm not saying that fat shaming doesn't exist. It does. There are lots of A-holes out there who ridicule others for any weakness that they can identify, weight being one of them. I think most of us would agree that those people have no right to judge someone based on their size, correct? Perfect! Then let's ALSO agree that the skinny person shouldn't be ridiculed for their choice of "rabbit food" or be called "obsessed" for hitting the gym 4 days a week, shall we? Here's my point. ANY type of body shaming is more about the person doing the shaming than the person being shamed. Our goals for the people around us should be that they are HEALTHY, that is all.
Ever notice how when you are feeling anxious or stressed out, the last thing that you want to do is exercise? I have a lot on my plate right now, and over the past week I have been extremely anxious. At times it's been almost paralyzing. I love to run, but I have been doing T25 and am on week 8 (I like T25 a lot more now that I'm in Beta Phase, btw). I was telling myself that I didn't want to "taint" my results with doing another kind of exercise. Stupid, I know. There was a little tiny voice inside me that was saying, "you really should go for a run, you'll feel better." But my anxiety just held on and said "No, all that you can handle is this T25 workout right now. Running will take too long, besides, you haven't run in weeks and it will suck". Again, stupid. Finally this past Saturday morning I had nothing to do. I vowed to get up and hit the pavement first thing. Luckily, the sun was shining when I woke up, so that made things easier, but I put on my sneakers, programmed my playlist and I was off. Before I knew it I had gone 3 miles. I was working things out in my mind and starting to talk myself down from all of the anxiety I was feeling. My head began to feel clearer and my heart was lighter. At mile 4 I was close to home and ready to stop, but I pushed through just a little bit longer (It didn't hurt that Jay-Z's "Encore" came on my playlist...that one always makes me want to keep going), and just over 4 miles I hit my runner's high. I felt incredible. When I got home and walked in the door to stretch, I could not believe the sense of calm that I had. I've felt better ever since. My point is here, ladies and gentleman, that no matter what is going on in your life, you most likely do have time and energy to get your workout in, but your little voice of doubt, fear, depression, anxiety, whatever it is, is telling you that you don't. That you can't POSSIBLY do it. But you can. You can make time to take care of yourself, even if it's just a half hour, and when you do, your soul will thank you. It's not about being skinny, losing weight, or anything else involving your physical appearance. It's about taking care of yourself mind and your soul too. So if you've been feeling paralyzed by fear, doubt, or depression, and know that exercising will help you, get those shoes on and take a few steps, even if it's just to breath the fresh air. You will be glad that you did...Promise.
Hi! I'm Andrea Cummings. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle that I can MAINTAIN and that still lets me feel like I'm not being deprived. I like to exercise, but I also love to eat (nachos!). My main focus is to be healthy, not skinny, and to help others do the same! I love Jesus, but I also say fuck a lot, so if you're offended, I may not be the gal for you.