Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beyond the Fitness Bubble

In high school, I weighed 45 pounds more than I do now. I could go an entire day without saying a word, sometimes wondering what my own voice sounded like. Years later, among red solo cups at a college house party, a former classmate commented "you went to my high school?!" And although a graduating class of 250 is neither large nor extremely small, I shifted my gaze downward at that moment, embracing the introvert I've always been. While in high school, I was inactive, ate too much, was discouraged by the amount of weight I gained and the fact that I was not "athletic." The tennis coach ordered a double X t-shirt for me in the Fall of 1997. I weighed approximately 210 pounds at the age of 16 and felt invisible--not just to others, but to myself. My happiness and health were not a priority.

When deciding what to study in college, I pursued my new found passion for fitness. My mom had given me a membership to Women's Workout World as a birthday gift and I was hooked on the rush of adrenaline and the drop in my weight. Ever since then, I have been intrigued by the body's ability to heal itself and even to excel--with proper nutrition, activity, and REST. This was definitely a life changing breakthrough. Had I continued in the direction I was heading, I can only imagine where I would have wound up. Currently, I am a full time fitness instructor and personal trainer.

Growth is key! If we are not moving forward, we will become mediocre. To grow as a person or company, we must surround ourselves with people and circumstances that challenge us--physically and mentally. I like to think of it as "cross training" for the mind. I've recently kayaked the Illinois River, attended a martial arts class, traveled to Salt Lake City, visited Dallas and went stand up paddle boarding, and (most surprisingly to me) shot a 45 and M1 Garand at a shooting range in Indiana! If you repeatedly do the same exercises, in the same order, lifting the same amount of weight, you will plateau! Such is life. If you go to the same job, go out with the same friends, attend the same social gatherings, you will plateau! Be gentle on yourself--there's no need to go from jogging along the Lake Front to signing up for the Iron Man. Add 30 seconds of jumping jacks between your strength sets. Find a random group on and participate in an activity you've never done, with people you've never met--I did!

You may be wondering if I plan to earn a black belt in karate, kayak the Rio Grande, or start a gun collection. The answer is no (unless we're referring to a pair of biceps!). I've tried that and having multiple hobbies/pastimes results in overcommitment. How can you truly enjoy yourself (and bring joy to others) when you're constantly stretching time, bending over backwards, and dropping down sets of dollar bills? My intention is to experience new things daily. Perhaps this will lead to another breakthrough in my life--finding opportunity and experience in uncharted territory, on a tennis court while staying at a resort in Jamaica! Maybe not. Take each moment for what it is. After all, there really is no "bubble" except the one we create in our own mind. And if you're having trouble breaking through...figure out where you are, where you want to be, what it takes to get there, AIM...and then TAKE A SHOT.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Have Less, Do More

Have less, do more. This recent revelation has directed me down a new path, one full of opportunities and experiences, rather than lululemon tanks, magazines, and beauty products. Every day, we're exposed to advertisements and implications that make false promises of love, happiness, and beauty. In recent years, as a victim to those beliefs, I realized that the more I was buying, the more I wanted to have. The more money I made, the more I wanted to spend. It was like a sugar addiction. The sweet stuff causing a temporary high, later dulled by the crash and burn of the realization that you're left feeling more spent--financially, emotionally, and physically.

While I consider myself a very active person in the first place, the "do more" aspect does not imply overloading your schedule with appointments, classes, workouts, and get-togethers. Rather, it means taking the time to prioritize what is important to you and making sure that what you do on a daily basis is in alignment with those things.

So what is the purpose of "doing more"? It is important to avoid seeing these activities as items on a checklist, but rather take them for what they are and enjoy the experience, the process. This past week, I took my first martial arts class and went kayaking for the first time. There was something to learn from each of these experiences and, ironically, the "takeaway" was the same idea. Be fluid. Do not resist. When defending yourself in martial arts, the more uptight and rigid you become, the less effective you are. While paddling, the more you fight the water, the less control you have. Additionally, I have reached a point in my life where I've asked myself "what next"? And while I cringe at the sight of cliches and overused quotes, one I have recently embraced is:

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."

What's next? Taking the time to travel, pursue new hobbies, experience things I have not done before. Here's to doing more, having less, and building the confidence to head in a new direction. What will YOU do more of?