Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bod Squad

I untangle my earbud cords as I make my way up the stairs. Hope the Lifetime wi-fi isn't shitty today, I've got some Xfinity On Demand to enjoy during my 45 minutes on the elliptical. As I make my way across the gym floor, I pass one of the group fitness studios where the bass is pumping and I can hear the microphoned instructor yelling from the mini-stage:

"COME ON! DON'T GIVE UP NOW! PUSH! YOU CAN AND YOU WILL!!"

I glance over to the darkened studio (why is it so damn dark?) and see a bunch of bodies jumping with knees up high and then some fast push-ups on a bench after which some hand weights are launched overhead followed by squats and other horrid movements. People are breathing hard, dripping with sweat, cringing from what I can only assume is "feeling the burn." They. Look. Miserable.

"F*ck all that," I say to myself. No, my tepid leg ellipses at one speed and elevation is allllll I need. So what if I'm not seeing any results... or breaking a sweat... or I'm bored beyond belief 5 minutes into my workout? It's fine... better than nothing, right?

Yup... I'm totally okay with being mediocre in yet ANOTHER area of my life...

Ah, crap.

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I'm not what you would call an "athlete." As a very young girl, there were a few years of gymnastics thanks to the popularity of Mary Lou Retton. Later, the closest I got was running track in 7th grade and I could barely make it through the light 10-minute jogging warmup. For most of my childhood, my physical activity was in the form of Indian dance, which is a workout, but not quite on par with playing soccer or perfecting basketball drills. Plus, I wasn't into the competitive team sports thing. Dancing on stage in a pretty outfit was more my jam.

I had many friends on different sports teams in high school and while I supported them, it all seemed like a big hassle to me. Practice before and after school? Games multiple evenings a week? Weekend trips for tournaments? Ew. Little did I know how much I probably missed out on that camaraderie and rush of physical accomplishment. I suppose you don't miss something you never got to experience.

Today, I'm a tad obsessed with getting to the gym and feeling that endorphin rush that comes with a tough workout. Sometimes I cannot believe it, especially when I look back at my lifelong aversion to anything that increased my heart rate. While I struggle with loving a lot of things about myself... I'm damn proud that I've become an active person.

WHY I SHRED THIS BOD 5 DAYS A WEEK:

  • I Got Time
    • I remember the days of being at an office 5 days a week for at least 10 hours a day. A workout was the absolute last thing on my mind as I drove home excited to unwind on my couch with a bowl of pasta. Getting motivated was hard enough when I wasn't a mother, but add a couple kids to the equation? Sorry gym! Exercise was knocked further and further down the list. I had had spurts of fitness in the years prior, but with the sole purpose of looking good for beach vacays or my wedding. An ongoing exercise routine while maintaining a job, husband, house and kids? Shya right. 
    • Cut to leaving my job in the spring of 2015. Since I knew this new venture into full-time motherhood was going to be designed completely by me, I pledged to get in shape. The years of sitting at a desk had certainly taken it's toll and more than wanting to fit into my size 8s with ease again, I wanted to have more energy. I mean, I was going to be with a baby and toddler all the live long day, energy was a higher priority than a six-pack tum tum. Oh, and Lifetime had a childcare center. Yup, no excuses bitch.
    • These days with both kids in school full time, I have the luxury to invest some time in myself, so why wouldn't I? Even with taking on more projects with my comedy, writing, acting, volunteering... I always try and work around my beloved classes at the gym. I treat it as a part of my regular routine, and gym time is non-negotiable.
  • Group Fitness Friends
    • Once I got over my fear of those group fitness classes that intimidated me so, I never looked back. Back when I was a fresh stay-at-home-mom, my neighbor Michelle, was an instructor at Lifetime, where we had been absentee members for years. I started going to the classes she taught and, turns out, it wasn't so scary after all. Also, she kept an eye on my attendance, so I felt sort of obligated to be there... but not in a "ugh, I guess I'll go" kind of way. She made the classes so fun and comfortable for me, so it was no chore. I quickly learned she was one of many incredible instructors, so I added more and more classes to my schedule.
    • Sweating together is very bonding. Some of the closest friends I have today are from the gym and I know it's because we are in the cardio/strength/yoga/cycle trenches together. It's probably the closest I can relate to that team sport feeling I skipped back in school. Except instead of competing against another team, we all compete with ourselves while being cheerleaders for each other. When we moved from Michigan to Colorado, I was so sad to leave my Lifetime Novi family. In fact, stepping foot into my new Lifetime location was almost like being the new kid at school. I remember sitting in a yoga class with a lump in my throat as I watched a group of ladies chatting before the practice started. It's almost two years later, and I have found my new Lifetime family... and these ladies are just as fabulous as the ones I left behind. We text each other to save spots, check on each other if we don't show up... and support the hell out of each other in and out of the gym.
  • Results Oriented
    • After having two kids and being smack-dab mid-30s, my body took that natural, annoying route of slowing metabolism and overall softness in the famed "problem" areas. I dove into all that fun in another post. Since I also knew I was shutting down my womb for good, I had this urge to get in the best shape I could. The only changes I wanted to inflict on my body were in the form of toning, strengthening and glowing from all the fitness resplendence.
    • I know this is a shock, but my underactive elliptical workout I had been doing on and off for years wasn't doing a damn thing to keep me in shape. My stamina sucked, I could barely do 5 squats without feeling like my quads were liquid fire and I had the energy of a sloth. I knew I needed to step it up if I wanted to see any sort of results, but as described in my opening story, I was intimidated to try those MUSCLE SHRED ALPHA CARDIO INTERVAL HOT VINYASA FLOW RESISTANCE HIGH INTENSITY X-TREEEEEEEME classes... or whatever. 
    • Michelle, my fitness instructor neighbor, assured me that the classes would be just what I needed to see the results that had eluded me. The results I had my sights on were the usual things... weight loss, inches lost, energy found. I wasn't interested in measuring the results, but more feeling them. If my jeans fit better, great. If my face didn't resemble 3rd trimester puffiness in pictures, awesome. If I could sit on a couch and read a book without passing out 4 words in, sweet. What I'm saying is, I went into my group fitness journey with realistic expectations. 
    • Michelle was 100% correct, once I started combining different formats like cardio and strength training, I saw results like I had never seen before. That, in itself, was enough to get me hooked and keep me coming back. Another bonus from being at the gym on the reg, was learning so much about nutrition. The diet side of my fitness could still use work, but even the changes I've made since learning that one workout doesn't allow me to mouth-pound a Coldstone Gotta Have It treat have made a difference. Just being at the gym and making small-talk with nutritionists, trainers, instructors and other members has educated me about nutritional options to keep my bod in tip top shape. Intermittent fasting here I come!
  • Genetics
    • You know those medical forms you have to fill out when you see a new doctor, where you have to list all your family history? Yeah, I tend to run out of room on those forms. I love and miss my Dad terribly, but dammit if he didn't leave behind some scary shit to worry about with my health. One of the things he was adamant about later in his life was to encourage me and my brother to take care of ourselves. He admitted that as he aged, he didn't really take care of himself, especially physically, and that was probably a big reason he suffered with so many health problems. I was his stubborn daughter, but that advice I have actually followed. When I'd see the amount of pills my father had to ingest on a daily basis, I told myself I'd try to avoid that at all costs. Sure, some of the afflictions may occur no matter what due to simple genetics, but if I can help prevent a few of them, why wouldn't I try? Now, I could take after my mother, who at the age of 70+ (that's the only way she allows me to say her age), only takes one pill, looks amazing and still works out, but given that a lot of my tendencies are reminiscent of dear old Daddy... I'm not taking any chances. 
  • Lead by Example
    • My kids are NOT a fan of the Lifetime Child Center anymore. At ages 8 and 6, they complain about the dumpy diaper smells emanating from the infant area, the toddlers having accidents in the bathrooms and the overall mayhem of a thousand kids trying to play with 4 items. This is only an issue in the summer since they are in school full-time, but they know that many hours of their vacation will be spent at the gym with me. As I said earlier, it's non-negotiable. And seriously, I'm asking for 2 hours at the most. While I will hear some whining in the morning, they know it's futile. "Mama will be very grumpy if I don't go to the gym... do you want Mama to be grumpy?!" Beyond threatening them with bitchiness, I have explained why I go and that staying healthy is really important. Both Paul and I work out multiple times a week and it's a normal part of our family life. The great thing is I've seen them apply this to their own lives as well... they will ask if what they are eating is healthy, they don't hesitate to be active and they make the connections about health and happiness. In a world where electronics are dominating the lives of, well, all of us, I'm hopeful that laying this foundation will establish some good habits for the rest of their lives. 
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I'm lucky to be healthy and able, it's as simple as that. As long as this body can move, I'm going to keep moving it, dammit. Every day in the locker room, I see women who are at least 30 years older than me putting in the time to be active and it inspires me more than the hottie with the perfect waist-to-ass ratio. I mean, my eyes may linger a bit longer on the hottie, but those old broads with their roller bags... they give me hope. With any luck, one day I'll be the that old lady who has a full conversation with my gray bush out... #goals. 

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