Back when I started my fitness journey in 2004, I had a big crush on Joaquin Phoenix. I technically still do, actually. 🙂 And despite the negative reviews and cheesy premise, I really enjoyed the movie The Village and watched it pretty much weekly on DVD. I especially liked Bryce Dallas Howard in the film – she was spunky and fun and… well, she got to kiss Joaquin Phoenix and that was cause enough to be jealous if you asked me!
She stood out for another reason though, too: she wasn’t stick thin. In publicity photos she looked like a normal sized woman, with some hips and curves and freckles and all. And at 270+ lbs, that gave me hope. With hard work, maybe I’d get to “normal woman” status myself. I’d watch the DVD and read every interview she did, and found even more inspiration.
You see, in one interview, Bryce was asked something like “How do you get in character, how do you get the job done?” And she simply replied, “Get out of your own way. Forget about yourself.”
That really struck a chord with me. Even though she didn’t mean it in terms of fitness or working out, those simple words really boiled down to the perfect mantra. So I wrote it down on a post-it note and Bryce became my spirit animal. Every time I wanted to quit – when I was too tired from exams or work to drag myself to the gym at 9pm, when I told myself I could skip that day’s workout, I realized that I was the only one standing in my own way. I had to forget about myself and just do it.
So every day I’d get up and see this quote on my mirror and I’d move out of my own way. I moved every day and kept moving. And no matter where I go, that post-it has been on every mirror I’ve owned for the past 11 years.
Today, I challenge you to get out of your own way and get something done – forget about yourself and just do it! Who knows: you might surprise yourself.
When I signed on to be a Skirt Sports Ambassador, I was thrilled – they’re all about encouraging women to move and embrace their bodies, no matter their size, age, or ability. Their message of fearlessness and acceptance is one that I wholeheartedly stand behind. Too often the snark and body-shaming in the periphery of the fitness community will and spread those negative vibes. And as an Ambassador for their brand, I’m so lucky to be another voice for positive change. Given my own journey through the past 10+ years, I’m especially honored to help spread the message of being yourself and going after your fitness goals without fear.
When I first started running, I took it up as I started losing weight back in 2004, and had to start slowly – I weighed more than 270+ lbs and I couldn’t go more than a quarter mile before quitting.
I was uncomfortable in my own skin and frankly, felt trapped. I was just about to turn 21, I was in college and building an awesome new path in life for myself, but I didn’t feel “skinny enough” to do the things that other people around me were doing. Dating, going out to clubs and bars – I didn’t want to put myself out there because I was afraid of what others would think of me. I took every whisper, every look, every dating rejection as a result of my weight and my appearance, so I put up a wall.
Every day I would put on a show of over-confidence to mask the self-loathing going on under the surface, and each night I would retreat back into my own world, lock the door, and dream of the real me. I saw myself a hundred pounds lighter, living my dream life: successfully managing a full professional and personal schedule all with the confidence I knew I had inside.
Finally, a few days before my 21st birthday in July, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a crushing blow; my mother is my whole world. After breaking down in the hallway of our house when she said the words, my immediate reaction (later that day) was to go down to the park to run myself into oblivion. I had never run more than a mile before that day, but I needed to numb the pain and couldn’t think of anything else to do. So I ran. And I didn’t care about what anyone thought of me that day.
When I look back on it, I realize it was a desperate need to do something – anything – to take care of myself. The C-word has a way of putting all of your life choices into perspective, even if it’s not you but your immediate family. I now technically had “a family history” of cancer. And the only weapon I had against that was taking better care of myself. So after burning myself out in the park that day doing I don’t even remember how many miles (I lost count after 5), I started to pay closer attention to my choices: what I ate, how I moved, how I spent my free time. And wouldn’t you know it: by eating sensibly and moving more, I lost between 30-40 lbs in that first 6 months.
There’s a lot more to my fitness story after that – I went on to lose a total of more than 100 lbs in the next 5 years, AND my mother beat cancer and has been officially cancer-free since 2005! – but the point of it is this: you can’t live your life in fear. Fear of becoming sick, fear of losing your loved ones, fear of what others will think of you – none of it helps you, unless it motivates you to do something.
I spent most of my teen and adult life hiding from what I could become, and once I conquered that fear and did something about it, I finally found the courage I needed to change. I became an athlete; a runner; I became the me I always knew I was!
How about you: what’s holding you back from your dream? What do you plan to do to conquer it? Share in the comments and let’s lift each other up!
While I’m sure we all try to be positive people, sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged and down on yourself.
I don’t know about you, but all it takes for me is one “bad” meal to get sidetracked and fall into the labyrinth of self-doubt and regret: You’re such a freakin’ pig. You can’t even stay on the wagon for one day. Did you really need that slice of cake? And you wonder why it’s so hard to break a 10-minute mile. It’s because you can’t keep your trap shut after a normal amount of food.
And so on.
Sometimes I get so into beating myself up over my failures; but how often do I actually congratulate myself on my accomplishments? Think about it – when was the last time you truly patted yourself on the back for a job well done, whether it was at work, or in running, or even just for checking everything off your to-do list over the weekend? Go ahead, think about it. I’ll wait.
You’re having a hard time thinking of something, aren’t you?
I say no more. Our society praises success against all odds and achievement above all else, but who’s actually holding the measuring stick?
Screw it. I’m going to be proud of my accomplishments. Every day, I’m going to try to find one thing to be proud of – to show myself that I can finish what I start and be successful, even if “success” that day is putting on pants not murdering anyone in traffic on the way to work.
…the power to not kill people!
Today, I’ll kick off this new positive outlook by looking back at how far I’ve come on my weight loss journey, with the only non-Jim-Carrey picture in this whole post:
In 2003, I weighed over 267 lbs, I was miserably uncomfortable in my own skin and I had a severe anxiety disorder. The following summer of 2004, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (and later beat that cancer’s ass, hooray!!). That’s when I realized that I had to turn my damn life around. So I started running. And doing yoga, and kickboxing, and the elliptical, and the bike, and weight lifting, and I stopped eating every damn thing in sight. And after 5 years, I lost over 100lbs. And I’m not planning on going back to that size anytime soon.
I do have days (weeks even) where I feel like that girl on the left again. When I eat too much for a few days in a row and slack off on my workouts and call myself a failure. But that’s when I look at that picture up there, then glance in a mirror. I’ve come a long way. A really long way. I worked hard to get here. But dammit, I did it, and I can keep kicking ass because I’m a winner and that’s what winners do.
We wear bad wigs and plot revenge against Bruce Wayne.
So today I encourage you to do the same thing. Think about something you’re really proud of. Something that it took effort to achieve. Have you run a full marathon? Cleaned your whole house lately? Raised a family? Are you wearing a bra today even though you don’t want to be wearing one?
Or are you flexing your freedom muscles and going bra-less?
Tell me about it. I want to feel the love like Chip Douglas up there. Shout out how proud you are of your accomplishments and let’s share the happies!
Here in New Jersey, we are in the throes of a bitch of a winter. There is no nice way to put it – that crotchety old man winter has us over his bony knee and he is spanking the hell out of us, over and over and over again. Now that I’ve put *that* horrible image in your head, please accept this photo of a kitten reading a bedtime story to make up for it.
I can’t promise I won’t do it again though.
As runners, we know that these polar vortexes and deep freezes just make us more resilient. Mentally and physically, we grow stronger with each slippery step. But at a certain point, even the toughest runner has to throw their hands up in the air and cry uncle.
so much ugh.
I’m sure there are more seasoned, harder runners that may look at this path and think “HA! You can still see blacktop, that’s nothing! -15 degrees with 20mph wind gusts? Child’s play! 2 inches of fresh fallen snow? Nothing like it. Bring it on!” If that’s you, I tip my hat to you. You’re a tough cookie! I, on the other hand, am more like a wad of unbaked dough with a brand new ACL. My ass is not taking a risk on unstable ground, especially not after a year of rehab and physical therapy to get that new knee back in working order.
I managed to slip and wipe out 3 times in a half a mile on that icy path you see in the picture above before getting so frustrated that I screamed at the top of my lungs, punched a snowdrift, and trudged through another half mile of 8 inch-deep snow back to my car. To say that I hate the winter is an understatement.
But, as a runner, I have to find a way to get those miles in. Much like many of you probably did, I signed up for a spring race to keep me active through these frigid months. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is finding the motivation to do just that.
I’ve explored lots of different motivational tactics. Some are really effective, and others… well, let’s just say sleeping in your workout clothes to get out the door easily for an early morning run just makes it harder to get *out* of bed because the blankets are that much warmer when you’re wearing running shorts.
Here are some of my favorite motivational things to get pumped up for a workout when I’ve got about three pounds of Valentine’s Day chocolate in the cabinet 10 feet away from me, and about 5 inches of perma-frost outside just waiting to slip me up:
1. New gear – sometimes you just have to embrace your inner mallrat and shop for inspiration! Admit it. A run just feels easier when you’re wearing a badass new tank with parrots on it.
2. Switching it up at the gym – or even joining a gym in the first place! After 4 years of embracing the streets and the living room as my workout spaces, I finally bit the bullet and re-joined a traditional gym this winter, and I couldn’t be happier. Knowing that I can disappear in a warm room filled with every kind of workout equipment known to man for as long as I want – there’s nothing like it.
3. New music – When those long runs are breathing down my neck (these days, mostly on the treadmill too), I take to Facebook or Google to find a batch of 5-10 new songs to mix up my running playlist. This recent find turned out to be an awesome middle-of-the-run “get it done” song that I find myself replaying over and over again:
4. Involving a friend – This one is my favorite! A month or two ago, I started going to our local Lululemon for free yoga classes on weekend mornings, and now I’m going with two other friends and having a blast! Knowing that one friend has been up since 4am taking care of her sick 4-year old and doing an Insanity workout before yoga? Yeah, I’ll do my damnedest to drag my hungover ass out of bed and meet her there. That’s motivation.
These are just a few of my favorite motivational tactics through these cold winter months. Do you have any other go-to’s? Instagram feeds, inspirational quotes, etc? Share the love in the comments!