Exercising Like It’s 2009 All Over Again

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Today, I can barely walk down stairs.

This is problematic given that we live in an apartment down two flights of stairs in a building with no elevator.

Yesterday I saw my cousin post on Instagram about doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. Do you remember the phenomenon that was Biggest Loser and the The Shred? I remember reading about it on BooMama’s blog in 2009. I bought a copy of the DVD and attempted it a few times, most notably during the Losing It competition I had with my friends Mary and Ashleigh.

Then I got pregnant with David (who is yes, now 6 1/2) and I don’t know that I ever touched that workout again. All I can remember is at one time doing another workout DVD just to warm up my muscles for trying to Shred, because they were in THAT MUCH PAIN.

Back to yesterday, I was inspired by my cousin’s post to dust off my copy of the Shred DVD. It’s been lingering in a pile of workout DVDs that I never use and have considered donating; I belong to the Y and have documented how well group exercise works as a motivation for me. I wasn’t able to hit up a class yesterday because we had a two-hour school delay, so I thought I’d give Shredding a try once more.

I quit 8 minutes into the DVD.

And then I gave myself the worst shaming I could.

I’ve been going to the Y regularly for about two and a half years. Mostly I do water aerobics, although before I got pregnant with Hannah, I was also doing some weight training and other classes. Despite this, I haven’t been able to get my weight to budge (except the lovely increase during pregnancy). I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can make it really hard to lose weight. But I can’t blame my weight all on that. I have a lot of unhealthy habits, including an immense love for sweets and the urge to clean my plate without registering if I am full or not.

I’m about 25 pounds more than I was when I got pregnant with Libbie in 2008. I was not at all small to begin with, but four kids has changed my body. All of this flew through my head as I sat on the couch, nearly in tears, destroyed by Jillian Michaels after 8 minutes.

And then I thought of all the things I’ve been scared to do but did anyway: exercise classes, weight training, running a 5k. My body has carried and birthed four children, it has fed them all for at least six months, it has carried me around for nearly 35 years.

I got back up. I turned the DVD back on. And I did the rest of it. Because I am capable, darn it. And, with the encouragement and accountability of my cousin and a friend, I am going to make it through those whole 30 days, only taking off Sundays. I may have to mute Jillian, because she’s kind of aggravating. But I will do the work.

That is, assuming I can get out of bed tomorrow morning.

(I’ll keep you updated on Instagram if you want to follow along.)

… but fear itself.

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I was in fourth grade when my (amazing) teacher, Mrs. Titus, first mentioned the quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” She told us, her wee 9-year-olds, about how scared she had been to get her wisdom teeth out. But then she quoted FDR, and explained how really, there was nothing to be scared about, other than being embarrassed of how she’d sang Christmas carols while under the anesthesia.


A few weeks ago, I joined the Y. After weeks of having back pain that wouldn’t relent, I was fed up. It’s time to at least attempt to lose the baby-baby-baby-marriage weight I’ve gained in the past 10 years. I didn’t start out thin before babies, but since 2004 I’ve wandered into plus-size territory and feel like my health has definitely gotten worse.

I’ve always avoided group exercise classes. Because I’m afraid of being a fool. I am not coordinated, and thinking back on my freshman year of college crash-course on modern dance (where all the other dancers had years of ballet training versus my NOTHING) can still make me shudder. I don’t want others looking at me and laughing at my ineptitude. Period.

But I’m in my 30s now, and the waves of self-consciousness have begun to dissipate. The less I worry about others’ opinions, the better I feel in general.

Still, one morning, I mentioned on Facebook I wanted to go to a water aerobics class but I was worried about being the fool. I had so many supportive comments (I can’t find the thread!), and one stood out from my friend Tiffany. She told me to consider how often I thought about the other people when I was exercising. Probably NOT AT ALL. And yeah. Totally true.

I found that I adore water aerobics. I am usually the youngest person by 30 years, but who cares? It’s great exercise, it’s easy to adapt, and I’ve found everyone to be very friendly and helpful. I’ve been to classes with at least four different instructors, and they’re all challenging in different ways.

Just like Mrs. Titus told me, there wasn’t anything to fear. Fear is uncomfortable, but the place past fear generally isn’t nearly as scary as it seems. The cycle of fear is where more fear dwells. And we can choose to live there. Or choose to move on.


In his (wonderful) book Quitter, Jon Acuff writes, “90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.”

For a long time, I’ve been working on this devotional-thingy. And it’s pretty much done. It’s been pretty much done since May or so. And with all the excuses I’d like to lay on you, the truth is that I am simply afraid to publish it. I’m afraid no one will buy it, it won’t make any sense, I will have put a lot of effort into something that helps no one.

But dwelling in the Land of Fear is doing nothing for anyone, myself included. If the devotional helps one person, it will be well worth it. Any proceeds will be donated, so I’m not worried about making money. And I believe it is God’s. So whatever He does with it, it’s in His hands. Not mine.

So look for it in the next couple weeks. I’m ready to release words into the wild and leave the fear behind.

Top Ten Tuesday: Questions and Tips for Couch to 5K

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I’ve been very inspired by the other Losing It contest participants! While I’ve done, well, dreadful, I am so proud of those who have taken the challenge and run with it. Inspired by Dedra, I’ve been trying to do the Couch to 5K program (#c25k).

So I’ve done it … twice. Once about a week and a half ago and once tonight.  So I feel totally qualified in offering advice about it. 🙂 But more importantly, I have lots of questions for those of you who’ve done/are doing the program.

2009-08-10 Rollins Savanna 3

source: dharma_for_one

5 Tips on Starting Couch to 5K

1. Really do start slow. The first time I did the first week run/walk, I thought I was going to die. I thought it was just because I am SOOOO out of shape (does that imply being in shape once? Cause I’ve never been in shape). The founder of the program suggests,

You should ease into your running program gradually. In fact, the beginners’ program we outline here is less of a running regimen than a walking and jogging program.

I think I just tried to do the jogging pieces too fast. The guy on the podcast kept telling me I should be able to talk while jogging, and I was gasping for air. So tonight, I proceeded to run the slowest jog in the world. And for me, that worked.

2. Use music you like. I did download all the podcasts, and those are convenient because they tell you when to start running, stop running and start walking, cool down, etc. But the music was just not my style. I had a much easier type rocking it out to the Glee soundtrack tonight and just counting down the 60 and 90-second intervals myself by the iPod timer.

3. Don’t worry about what your neighbors think. I am SO self-conscious, especially when I am exercising. I am working on convincing myself I am not the same chubby fifth-grader who couldn’t run a mile. I may be chubby, but I am awesome!! God made me how I am, and who I am to question it? I don’t care if my neighbors are laughing at how slowly I am jogging. Who cares? It’s better than sitting still.

4. Really do warm-up and cool-down. That’s just common exercise sense! Some stretching at the end of the circuit will help you not to feel so sore, too.

5. If you need to, set rewards. I like exercise once I do it–usually–but sometimes in order to make myself do it I have to say, “OK, if I go do this, I can talk on Skype for 30 minutes, or watch a certain TV show, or take a bubble bath.”

5 Questions I Have about Couch to 5K

1. Did you buy better running shoes before you started the program? My shoes are old and iffy, and I know they don’t have enough support for my weird feet. I am, however, scared to make any investment.

2. Am I the slowest jogger in the universe? I think I only covered about 1.5 miles tonight in 30 minutes.

3. What kind of stretching should you do at the end of each program day?

4. Is it possible to buy a sports bra when, um, you have this problem? (I’m not longer nursing and not quite as…problematic…but still an issue.) Right now I am wearing two bras for support. Should I confess that on the Internet? Too late.

5. How long did it REALLY take you to be able to run the 5k?

Seriously, I want answers! Help me out in the comments!

For more Top Ten Tuesday, visit OhAmanda.com.

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Losing It: Week 1

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I don’t like to do things that are hard.

I don’t suppose anyone does, right? Or is it just me? I feel like I have an especially hard time fighting cravings, pushing myself when it comes to exercise, and dealing with my emotional turmoil.

One of my epiphanies from The Biggest Loser was that I always refused to actually do hard exercise, the kind that might hurt a little the next day or cause me to feel like I can’t do it. Just maybe (shocker, I know) pushing myself a little was what it would take to actually lose weight. Doing more than one mile on Walk Away the Pounds or strolling the neighborhood.

Nearly a year ago, the phenomenon of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred was sweeping the blogosphere. It seemed that all my favorite mommy bloggers were getting into that torturous DVD.

 Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred

It took me 11 months, but I finally got the courage to jump on that bandwagon this week. Sunday afternoon I banished Mr. V to the bedroom so he couldn’t make fun of me, donned some maternity yoga pants, and revved up the DVD. By the end of the first strength segment, I couldn’t feel my legs.


I wobbled through the rest of the DVD and Sunday evening.

Can I ask you a question? Have you ever been scared to sit down for fear of not being able to get up? Have you ever been sure you were going to “have an accident” because you literally could not get down to the toilet?

Yeah, me neither. Cough.

Monday morning I did Walk Away the Pounds to try to loosen up my legs so I could, you know, SIT DOWN. By Monday night I was SURE there was no way I could Shred. But Mr. V urged me to try, and so I did.

Tuesday night I started it by myself and five minutes in started yelling, “I can’t do it!!!” Mr. V brought Libbie in the room and they cheered me on and did some of the moves with me. (Libbie marching in place? SO CUTE!!!) And we made it through.

Mr. V wasn’t home Wednesday night. I didn’t do it. And now it’s Thursday afternoon, and my muscles finally seem to be somewhat normal again, and I am working on mustering the courage and energy to don the yoga pants and stick that evil circle into the DVD player.

Body weight percentage lost: .95% (I’m a little disappointed, but it’s something and I honestly already see a small difference in my waist and feel stronger from all the Shredding!)

Sodas drank: 2 (goal is 1)
Water: drank a decent amount most days
Exercise: 5/7 (check!)
Whole foods: mostly. I did eat some Chick-Fil-A, some frozen ice cream bars, and a Sonic wrap. I am tracking my foods and exercise on SparkPeople, and that does help me keep accountable!

How did you do this week? Link up your post at Giving Up on Perfect, and don’t forget to visit Ashleigh at Heart and Home, too! If you have no clue what I’m talking about, read about the Losing It competition here.

P.S. On Twitter, we’re using the hashtag #LosingIt10 to find each other and root one another on!

I don’t mean to knock Walk Away the Pounds. I do think it’s good aerobic exercise. I just don’t tend to push myself when I do it.

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Gym Types

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Like every good American, I am at the Y in January doing my thing on the treadmill (truth be told, I was there in December as soon as I found out about my PCOS). The downtown Y is about two blocks from my office and thus tons of people from work go there. That’s unfortunate. I don’t really love seeing my co-workers in biker shorts. But then again, they probably don’t love seeing me in my too-tight little workout pants I’ve had since 1999 (and 35 lbs ago…).

I love to people-watch, probably because I have an insanely overactive imagination and I like to make up stories about them or use them as characters in stories I write. There is a girl I see in the elevator at work whom I’ve never met but she is a main character in the novel I’m writing. At least, I mean, I picture her when I write that character.

There are so many fun types of people at the gym:

–Old guy, who has one of those weight belts around his waist and carries about a 60-lb weight effortlessly;
–Old guy who moans between weight sets and you worry he might up and die right there in the YMCA;
–Guy who is pretending to ride a cycle, but only pedals between talking with his friends and laughing loudly;
–Tiny, model-type girls who do the elliptical trainer until they are going to pass out and then squeeze in a few reps on the inner and outer thigh machine;
–People who run funny;
–People who give me nasty looks when I giggle at them running funny;
–And then the rest of us, just trying to fit in a 30-minute workout so we can go home and eat pizza and not feel so bad about it. (OK–yes I did have pizza tonight, but it was homemade Oat Bran Pizza Crust with Asian chicken topping…not so bad for me!)

I love the post-New Year’s rush at the Y when there are other people who don’t know what they are doing populating the place as well. It makes me feel better. The parking lot was so full on Saturday afternoon someone waited for my space. So they didn’t have to walk any further to the front door. Wouldn’t want to overexert themselves, you know?