Posted in exercise, Health

Steps Back, Leaps Forward

When it comes to diet and exercise, we often expect our progress to look like this:

progress

Stay dedicated, try hard, and every workout will be a crescendo of ever-increasing gains, right?

We are having a really good day, and do something awesome at the gym. Maybe a new lifting PR, maybe hitting a certain amount of volume or speed on an exercise. And then, we “expect” to be able to hit or exceed that same level at each subsequent outing.

But the truth is, those great days are rare. Most days we don’t feel our best. What then? Continue reading “Steps Back, Leaps Forward”

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Posted in Health, Wellness

Painful Assets (Part 2): Food for Thought

To recap where we left off last week in our stroll down memory lane… As a child, I had already fallen into a vicious cycle that only worsened as I grew older:

I had natural biomechanical mobility issues exacerbated by weight gain (and probably severe inflammation from a high sugar diet). Physical activity was uncomfortable and associated with ever-elusive weight loss. Trying to do something I wasn’t good at made me feel even worse about myself. So I avoided most physical activity, which further contributed to weak muscles, stiff joints, and continued weight gain. I ate to comfort myself but felt intense shame for doing so (and was often shamed by the adults in my life when caught with the foods I loved), leading to secretive binge eating.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how I wound up a morbidly obese, yo-yo dieting, exercise-hating adult so stiff and inflamed that I could not do one proper squat when I walked through the doors of Ludus Magnus.

20170924_162051 (1)
Me holding my best friend’s son in 2008. I weighed almost 300 pounds. I was thirty years old and felt like I was eighty.

I promise, I do have a point in sharing all this beyond self-obsessed navel gazing. I don’t think my experience is that unique; sadly, I think it is all-too common.

I felt like a prisoner to these early established patterns for decades. I couldn’t simply wish them away or extract myself from them overnight. It has been a long, slow process of action: changing one thing at a time, making it a habit and enjoying some success with it, and then changing the next thing.

Having found a way out that works for me, I want to share my experience so that hopefully I can help other adults struggling with these issues, as well as parents who have children exhibiting some of the same problems that I had. Continue reading “Painful Assets (Part 2): Food for Thought”

Posted in Health, Wellness

Painful Assets (Part 1)

My trainer, Matt Wenning, has a new book coming out soon, and he recently gave me a copy of the manuscript to proofread. Sorry, no spoilers today! I will say that in addition to a treasure trove of technical information, he includes a detailed biography that goes all the way back to his childhood and discusses his challenges, talents, habits, etc., and how it laid the groundwork for who he is today.

I’ve been pretty open in this blog about my life-long struggle with food, weight, and body image, and that it has roots deep in my childhood. But Matt’s writing got me thinking about other aspects of my early life in addition to food, and how those issues that started when I was so young all contributed to the situation I found myself in as an adult.

For the sake of brevity I want to tackle this subject in two posts (I originally wrote it as one, but it was entirely too long!). Today’s post is mostly background about what my physical and emotional life was like as a kid, and how several factors came together to mold a body and mind that regarded physical activity as uncomfortable and punitive.

My next post will be about how I use the pain of the past to help others today. I will offer some observations and suggestions based on my experience that I hope can help adults struggling with these issues, as well as parents who have children exhibiting some of the same problems that I had.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

The year was 1987. I’m nine years old, in my third year of dance classes with the annual recital coming up. In addition to my usual tap and jazz routines, my teacher put me in a big group number set to Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

The routine opens with the girls coming on stage one at a time doing a move where they clap their hands above their head, and then drop down into a deep squat and clap their hands again. Over and over several times until all the girls are on stage.

There’s just one problem. Continue reading “Painful Assets (Part 1)”

Posted in exercise, Health, Weight Loss

Walking on the Moon

Great Dane. Baby hippo. Hellfire missile. Small person. Large child. 55-pound squat bar with two 25-lb plates.

What do these random items have in common? They all weigh over 100 pounds.

The same amount of weight I have lost over the past three years. 104 pounds, to be exact.

Hitting this astounding milestone coincides with my three-year anniversary of walking into Ludus Magnus and training with Matt Wenning.

Was losing 100 pounds my goal when I walked through that door?

Hell. No.

Continue reading “Walking on the Moon”

Posted in Health, Lifestyle change, Travel

A 20 Minute Hike that Took 3 Years

I’m not great at selfies.

For my “featured” photo on a blog post, I try to use a reasonably polished-looking picture. And I usually have someone else take that picture for me. As my friend Suzanne will tell you, it’s not just selfies. Photography in general is not my strong suit.

But today, I am proudly broadcasting this selfie over the interwebs for the world to see (okay, maybe just the awesome cluster of people who read this blog, but still…). Behind this selfie is a three-year journey of sweat, strength, and self-discovery.

Continue reading “A 20 Minute Hike that Took 3 Years”

Posted in Health, Lifestyle change

Bricks Over Spoons

It’s been a month since my last blog post. My goal is to publish at least twice per month, but in the past few weeks I’ve had some unexpected (and upsetting) change come my way. I sat down to write a few times, but I just didn’t have it in me.

But today I’m grateful to be back doing what I love, and I’m returning with a message of hope for anyone who has ever struggled with emotional eating.

What happened? Continue reading “Bricks Over Spoons”

Posted in exercise, Health, Wellness

Spice Up Your Rack

Practice makes perfect, right?

Well, sort of. Turns out, it’s slightly more complicated than that.

There’s something called the Law of Specificity. When I first heard that term, I had no idea what it meant. It sounds fancy, but it’s quite simple.

If I want to be a better basketball player, I have to practice shooting, dribbling, and quick footwork. If I want to swim like Michael Phelps, I have to spend hours upon hours in the pool. If I want to get stronger, I have to lift weights. Practice makes perfect on the specific thing I want to do better.

“Well, duh,” you may be thinking. “Why do we even need a ‘Law’ for something so obvious?”

That’s what I thought, too. Stay with me… Continue reading “Spice Up Your Rack”