I’m A Failure

Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to die! 11 miles today and each every single damn one made me want to scream. It’s pretty slushy out in the park, my usual training ground, so instead I went to the Y to run on a treadmill like a hamster. Whenever I look at a packed gym, with people running to nowhere, I always get the image that they’re just powering the air conditioning. Not a bad idea actually…

From the moment I started running my knee hurt and it didn’t go away the entire time. I tried watching TV, which worked until I checked how many miles I’d run so far. I thought I was 6 miles in, but I was only 2.5! That seriously messed with my mind. I had to quiet it down again by trying to focus on my breathing. I had read in one of my personal training magazines that the lungs are just like any other muscle, and if we don’t fully use them they will atrophy, just like your biceps or any other muscle in your body will with inactivity. Plus, it helps put you “in the zone”. I tried breathing in for 2, holding for 2, and then out for 2, which helped for a bit, but soon after my mind began wandering again and I wanted to kill someone.

I had to keep thinking that I could technically stop at any time, but I knew that if I did I would be mad at myself for not just sticking it out. I knew it was all in my head. Last week I had an amazing run and it was only 1 mile less than this week, so I could psych myself up to finish this week too. Eventually it has to end, right?

Then I tried the TV again, and that worked for about 10 minutes until I couldn’t handle even having headphones in my ears. Everything was irritating me. Someone got on the treadmill next to me and they smelled like those old apartment buildings that smell like 4 different types of bad cooking. Great, now I have knee pain, I’m irritated, I’m sweating like it’s going out of style, and this woman who smells like old meatballs and fish is running next to me.

Ok, only 2 more miles to go. The longest 2 miles ever and I so wanted to quit. My running partner had already finished by this time and I sped the treadmill up even faster to finish too. I couldn’t tell if it was my mind or my muscles that were failing me, but I wasn’t going to let either of them get me. It took everything out of me to finish. I ran and I ran and I ran and I ran and I ran for what seemed like forever, but finally the treadmill slowed down, signaling to me that I finished.

Sweat soaked my entire shirt and I couldn’t tell you what my name was at that moment. I could barely even step off the treadmill my hips were so tight. And my head was swimming, drunk on endorphins. At that moment, If I found out I won the lottery I don’t think I would have made the effort to do anything about it. I hobbled home, looking like a wounded animal. All wanted to do was just lie down and curl into a ball.

Now I’m home and I don’t think I’m going to move from this chair the entire night if I can help it. I’m completely spent, but I feel like a rock star.

There’s good failure and bad failure. Bad failure is when you hope to succeed and don’t because you didn’t try, good failure is when you don’t stop until you fail. I can honestly say that today I feel like the best failure.

I'm A Failure

Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to die! 11 miles today and each every single damn one made me want to scream. It’s pretty slushy out in the park, my usual training ground, so instead I went to the Y to run on a treadmill like a hamster. Whenever I look at a packed gym, with people running to nowhere, I always get the image that they’re just powering the air conditioning. Not a bad idea actually…

From the moment I started running my knee hurt and it didn’t go away the entire time. I tried watching TV, which worked until I checked how many miles I’d run so far. I thought I was 6 miles in, but I was only 2.5! That seriously messed with my mind. I had to quiet it down again by trying to focus on my breathing. I had read in one of my personal training magazines that the lungs are just like any other muscle, and if we don’t fully use them they will atrophy, just like your biceps or any other muscle in your body will with inactivity. Plus, it helps put you “in the zone”. I tried breathing in for 2, holding for 2, and then out for 2, which helped for a bit, but soon after my mind began wandering again and I wanted to kill someone.

I had to keep thinking that I could technically stop at any time, but I knew that if I did I would be mad at myself for not just sticking it out. I knew it was all in my head. Last week I had an amazing run and it was only 1 mile less than this week, so I could psych myself up to finish this week too. Eventually it has to end, right?

Then I tried the TV again, and that worked for about 10 minutes until I couldn’t handle even having headphones in my ears. Everything was irritating me. Someone got on the treadmill next to me and they smelled like those old apartment buildings that smell like 4 different types of bad cooking. Great, now I have knee pain, I’m irritated, I’m sweating like it’s going out of style, and this woman who smells like old meatballs and fish is running next to me.

Ok, only 2 more miles to go. The longest 2 miles ever and I so wanted to quit. My running partner had already finished by this time and I sped the treadmill up even faster to finish too. I couldn’t tell if it was my mind or my muscles that were failing me, but I wasn’t going to let either of them get me. It took everything out of me to finish. I ran and I ran and I ran and I ran and I ran for what seemed like forever, but finally the treadmill slowed down, signaling to me that I finished.

Sweat soaked my entire shirt and I couldn’t tell you what my name was at that moment. I could barely even step off the treadmill my hips were so tight. And my head was swimming, drunk on endorphins. At that moment, If I found out I won the lottery I don’t think I would have made the effort to do anything about it. I hobbled home, looking like a wounded animal. All wanted to do was just lie down and curl into a ball.

Now I’m home and I don’t think I’m going to move from this chair the entire night if I can help it. I’m completely spent, but I feel like a rock star.

There’s good failure and bad failure. Bad failure is when you hope to succeed and don’t because you didn’t try, good failure is when you don’t stop until you fail. I can honestly say that today I feel like the best failure.

Perfectionism

It’s fantastically magical here in New York City, with 16” of snow! For people upstate and in New England I’m sure this is nothing, but for a city girl like me it’s so exciting. I don’t know what it is about waking up to a snowy morning, and I think most adults want to just stay in, but I want to plow through it like a kid. I just want to put on my warmest clothes and dive right in. I’m not even in school, but I’m watching the news to see all the school closings. And my dogs, Billiam and Ozzie are prancing around in my backyard, with their legs buried deep, having the times of their lives. I’m going to go make me some snow angels later!

Ok, I want to talk about perfection. If you’re a yo-yo dieter or have body image issues, chances are you re a perfectionist. You have a need to be flawless. You take personally any mistake you make as a strike against you. Your self-worth is wrapped up in it and you think, I m not good enough, I need to be better, I should be better . What s even worse is that somewhere down below you think you ll NEVER be good enough.

When I was 4, I remember being in school and being so nervous to talk to my teacher. I didn t say a word to her all year, because I didn t want to make a mistake and be embarrassed. You re probably thinking, what mistake could I possibly have made, and the crazy thing is that I knew that! I knew that speaking to her wasn t a big deal, but I had a tremendous fear nonetheless, because I didn t even want to take the chance of possibly messing up. I eventually grew out of that in 6th grade, by deciding that I just wasn t going to care anymore. At first I was afraid to take the leap to be more outgoing, but the more and more I did it the more friends I had and the more I realized it was really no big deal.

In high school, even though I got over a few of the things that were holding me back, the perfectionism manifested itself in different ways. I became obsessed with dieting and looking a certain way. I compared myself to other girls and always thought I didn t match up. I though that if I just exercised, if I just dieted, if I just changed the way I dressed, or if I just wore my make-up a specific way I d be better.

I didn t realize how my needing to be a certain way was keeping me from really living life. How checking myself in the mirror 15 times wasn t going to make anything better, how still comparing myself to other girls wasn t going to make me stronger, and how doing and redoing something over and over again wasn t going to make it or me perfect. I would obsess about 1 single strand of hair being out of place. If I made something and it didn t come out how I planned I would just throw it in the garbage. I once made a pie crust 5 times, because it wasn t how I expected it to be. What if someone saw it and thought it wasn t good enough? And the dieting actually got so bad that I couldn t even eat an extra carrot without feeling guilty about it. I had so many destructive thoughts, which eventually landed me in the hospital with an eating disorder (which just shows you how potentially devastating thoughts like that can be).

The problem with trying to be perfect is that it s impossible. Failure and mistakes are inevitable, but we don t rationalize that. Instead we feed the cycle by beating ourselves up and constantly striving harder and crazier towards an ideal that is never going to happen. Have you ever finally reached a goal and thought, “I ran 3 miles, but it wasn’t a good run” or, “I lost 15 pounds, but I should have lost 20″, or even “I threw a great party, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been”? Take the word “but” out of your vocabulary! Even if on some magical planet you did achieve perfection you d be miserable trying to sustain it. It would suck the life out of you and any pleasure you had would be gone, because you re always living to please an ideal that doesn t exist. We should be trying to please ourselves!

I ve realized over the years that not being perfect is important. It keeps us sane. If you re trying to eat healthier, part of that is allowing yourself to indulge in a cookie once in a while. That doesn t mean you messed up or that you re weak. It means that you love yourself enough to give yourself that present. Even if you find yourself eating too many cookies, it s not the end of the world. Brush the crumbs off and begin again.

I talk a lot about being healthy for our own sakes. I m not going to deny that looks aren t important, but we can t be so black and white about it. We could all wear the same outfit, dye our hair blond, be a size 6, be the best mother that never loses her cool and can hold down a job and household with ease, and be the best wife that knows exactly what her husband wants all the time, but that would make for a boring world and a boring us. Laugh at your mistakes and others will laugh along with you.

My husband told me recently that the first thing he noticed about me was my crooked front tooth. He loves it! All my life I ve toyed with the idea of fixing it, because now I don t have Chicklet-like teeth like so many beautiful people out there, but I ve come to like it too. It s what makes me different. What s even more though, it s taught me that imperfections are amazing

We have to agree to let go of some of our hang-ups, because it s those imperfections that make us who we are. And to deny that would be to hate ourselves. And if you hate yourself how could you possibly ever live a happy life, free of obsessions? How could you ever like your body?

Right now, I want you to go over to a mirror and point out something that isn t perfect. Something that you re critical of. Resolve to look at it a different way. Find the thing that makes you unique and flaunt it!

For this week s challenge give yourself permission to mess up. Challenge yourself to not fix it and see what happens. Stop feeling guilty and stop holding yourself back from enjoying life! You ll see that the world didn t end. People are going to judge you no matter what, but sometimes we re our harshest critics and you have to just let go of that.

Now, I’m off to make some snow angels…

Crack In A Glass

I’ve been using something to help power me through days when I feel like I just can’t possibly make it through my workout. It’s called Mochatonix , but I like to call it crack in a glass.

I swear to you, by the time I’m half way done drinking it I feel perkier and have a pin pointed focus with a sensation that I can do anything. I seriously believe that I can lift cars and possibly even challenge Hulk Hogan to a wrestling match, positive that I’d win. And I can work better, because I have a razor-sharp focus that I don’t usually have without it, which makes me more creative and free-flowing with ideas. I even feel more personable and engaging when speaking to people too.

It makes working out feel effortless and allows me to push harder, stronger, faster, and longer. I’ve had workouts where I’ve realized a noticeable difference in my energy level and was able to lift heavier than last time without the fatigue I felt with lighter weights. I’ve been able to run longer with much more ease too. Plus, it’s all natural and packed with vitamins, without any harsh additives, preservatives, or dangerous chemicals (like many products sold in drug stores or in the back of magazines) and it won’t give you the crashing feeling that sugar does. I like the Mocha flavor, because it indulges my chocolate craving at only 60 calories per serving! It also comes in vanilla and cappuccino.

Here are 2 recipes that I like:

Hot Chocolate:
Pour 1 scoop of Mochatonix powder into a mug, fill with boiling water, and top with a bit of skim milk, for a hot chocolate that will help you lose weight! Voila!

Choco/Banana Smoothie:
In a blender mix 1 scoop of Mochatonix powder, 1 frozen banana, 2-3 ice cubes, and a bit of skim milk. Blend and pour into a glass. Yum!

My best advice though is to start with only half a scoop and see how you react to it. For me, the full scoop is too much, because I’m not a huge caffeine drinker, but for someone who drinks coffee every day the full scoop might be better. Also, you want to make sure not to take it every day, because you don’t want to become to used to it. I reserve it for the days when I feel I REALLY need the extra boost.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Reroute Your Life

Recently I went to Miami for 3 days and found that I didn’t eat as much as I do at home. I didn’t feel the urge to eat at night after dinner like I usually do. I’ve had this happen to me before and I think I’m the only person in the world who loses weight on vacation. I used to think that it was simply because I was more relaxed, so I didn’t fall into the negative behaviors that often show up when I’m stressed, but since Miami I realize that it’s more than that and I can recreate this at home. So can you.

So here’s my secret: Change up your patterns. We often eat at a certain time, because it’s ritual. I like to eat at night, not because I’m physically hungry, but because it signals that I can finally relax for the day. After dinner, I settle into the couch, in front of the TV, and not before long I want something. For some people this happens when they’re bored, but for me it happens because it’s a nesting ritual. I feel calm and cozy and relaxed and it’s just what I do at night. It has nothing to do with actual physical hunger, but more of an emotional hunger, because for some reason this is the pattern I’ve established. It probably felt good the first few times, but now I’m not in control of it. It’s almost like a Pavlovian response.

I’ve learned to gain control of this over the years, but every now and again it sneaks up on me. Especially when I’ve had a long day and I “need to reward myself” (many of you I’m sure have thought that one).

I’ve realized that it’s not just that I’m relaxed on vacation, but that everything is different. My entire day is different, from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. And because my entire day is different, my thought patterns and behaviors are different. I set up new routines. Beginning today I’m going to move things around in the kitchen. I’m going to move all the snacks to a different cabinet and rearrange all the plates, bowls, and glasses, so that the next time I’m acting like a lab rat pushing a button I’ll have to pause and think twice.

You with me?

P.S. I’d like to wish a very Happy Birthday to my amazing client and friend Shilpa. She has come a long way and deserves every bit of happiness and success headed her way. It’s going to be a fabulous year!

Plus Sized? I think Not

If you’ve ever seen the show Mad Men you know Joan (Christina Hendricks). Even I’m attracted to her. She’s feisty, complicated, a little bit icy, but a little bit delicate too, and she makes heads turn wherever she goes. Her character is complex and fascinating, yet the thing most people notice are her curves. With good reason too. She has a fabulously gorgeous and real body, but I think the real reason we notice it is because it’s so rare that we see this version of the female body in entertainment.

I just read an article on this in New York Magazine http://nymag.com/fashion/10/spring/63808/ and wanted to know your thoughts on it.

The media keeps telling us that “curves are back”, but I wonder what their definition of curves are. Christina Hendricks definitely has a fabulous figure, but most of the time when you read articles about this they go to the other extreme and profile a very overweight celebrity. Now, I’m not saying that being overweight isn’t ok, but why do they have to be so drastic? It’s almost like they’re trying to apologize for profiling so many skinny celebrities and models by going to the opposite extreme. There’s something to be said about being healthy and looking healthy, and not being too skinny or too overweight.

A few months ago Glamour magazine profiled a “plus size model”. Here she is: http://www.glamour.com
/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2009/08/on-the-cl-the-picture-you-cant.html

If this is plus size than most women in America are in trouble. I find it almost offensive that they call this plus size. It just seems so insincere. So many women applauded Glamour for this photo, because it’s not the norm, but I think women are doing themselves a disservice by accepting that this is plus size. We’ve become accustomed to twig like arms that we think any body that isn’t see-through is plus sized.

You know what, now that I think about it, why does the media have to profile only one body type? Why can’t it be a plethora of figures? That way we won’t hold any specific one to a standard.

Christina Hendricks says that she’s bored by talk of her body and I think we have to follow her on this one. We can’t deny that looks matter, they do, but so does confidence. I don’t think we notice Christina Hendricks on Mad Men solely for her body, it’s her assertiveness and poise that really makes her and her body stand out.

The Color Of Pain

The next time you have a cramp or a slight pain when you re working out, instead of stopping, think about what color the pain is.

For example: I once had a pain in my knee while running and instead of stopping, I took a few sips of water and thought about what color the pain would be if I could picture it. I chose green. Green to me for some reason is a little bit stronger than blue, but not as bad as red or purple (that s just my strange way of thinking about it, you might have a different strange way of thinking about it). The trick was to picture the inside of me knee right where the pain was, and see it as the color green. I kept holding on to that image for a little while, and when I could control the pain so that it didn t become red, I could then picture it becoming lighter shades of green, until it was blue, and then gone. Poof! Just like that I willed my pain away.

Like I always like to say, working out is 80% mental. You can will your way through almost anything, so don’t let yourself off the hook so easily.

Now, as a disclaimer, I m going to say that if your pain feels wrong then stop what you re doing. There s a difference between good pain and bad pain. Good pain is when you re sore from working out or your muscles are burning. Bad is when you feel a stabbing or shooting pain. Do not work through that kind of pain. But, as long as it s not a bad pain you can use this little mental exercise to power you through.

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

That’s exactly my thought as I rounded the corner, finishing my 10 mile run today. After last week’s legs-feel-like-lead-in-molasses 9 mile run I thought getting through today would be impossible, but this incredibly turned out to be my best run yet. From the moment I woke up I could feel a difference. I just felt so relaxed. There was no anxious anticipation of what was to come, but I felt an excitement about the idea of completing this challenge. It was one of those “I can do anything” days. My shins were nagging me a bit, but it didn’t matter.

10 miles equals exactly 3 loops around Prospect Park. Normally after the first loop I’d have the dread of 2 more to go, but not today. The first loop only revved me up more and I couldn’t wait to round the next one and then the next. Every song that came on gave me a different beat to run to and I couldn’t help but almost sing along. Then a little pebble came flying out of nowhere and hit me in the face. Who cares though, right? It didn’t matter. Then I felt a stitch in my side, but I massaged it away. And then I felt a twinge in my knee, but I just imagined it to be the color blue until I willed it away. It felt so great being out there with all the serious cyclists and runners. Mile after mile after mile after mile we’d bump into each other and give a little nod of acknowledgment, or maybe encouragement. Some people were out just strolling along with their dogs and each time I ran around the loop I’d bump into them again, only they were just a 1/2 mile further than before and I was 3 miles closer to finishing.

Oh, and I ran into one of my clients that I hadn’t seen in a while and I actually heard the words “I’m on mile 9, one more to go” come out of my mouth. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this would be me. I ran on with a little smile on my face, just so proud of myself.

Ok, so here’s my epiphany for today – You absolutely must think positively if you are going to succeed in anything. This run encompassed everything I was talking about in my blog this week. I practically willed myself into having an amazing run today. Even when I felt sore I kept on going, because I wasn’t going to let myself down. I realized something else too. This is the first time in my life that I’m exercising without obsessing about how many calories I burned, how many calories I have to eat, what I’m going to do tomorrow, etc., etc. Through this training it’s never occurred to me not to go on a run one day. Sure I’ve felt dread, but I always know that I’m going to go and feel great after. And guess what, my body composition is changing and I’ve lost a few inches! I always say that once you stop obsessing about your weight that’s exactly when it starts to come off. Now I’m proof of that. Plus, I just cleaned the entire house. I think I earned that ice cream sundae now, right?

No Shortcuts

To go along with this week’s theme of being positive and doing all that you can do to lose the weight once and for all, check out this quote by Michael Jordan:

“I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things halfheartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect halfhearted results. But that’s how a lot of people approach things. And that is why a lot of people fail. They sound like they are committed to being the best they can be. They say all the right things, make all the proper appearances. But when it comes right down to it, they are looking for reasons instead of answers. Part of commitment is taking responsibility. That’s not to say there aren’t obstacles or distractions. If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them, everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

For this week’s challenge, take inventory of yourself and think about all the excuses you’re making. Look for your weaknesses and see what you need to improve on. Instead of having so many “reasons” for why you can’t lose weight, can’t exercise, can’t eat properly, can’t take care of your body and mind, find all the ways that you can.

It’s not enough to just show up to the gym or to have a healthy lunch, you have to really internalize your goal, really believe that you want to lose weight once and for all and feel confident, and then don’t let anything stop you. I live in New York and I know how there’s never enough time in a day, but still, even that’s no excuse for not following through. I get it that you might have kids who suck the life out of you sometimes, but still, if you want to win then you have to fight! Stop whining about how you can’t. You can, you’re just looking for reasons to quit.

We’ve been taught since we were children that you “get an A for effort”, but that’s a bunch of crap. When was the last time you put in just an effort and dropped 20 pounds? The truth is you get an A for effort after effort after effort after effort, and so on. You won’t win this battle otherwise and you certainly won’t see results. There are no shortcuts, so accept it and fight!

Mind Your ABC’s

Or maybe just your A’s…

When struggling between that piece of yummy gooey chocolate cake and some fruit, or your having negative thoughts about yourself again that just won’t seem to go away, try to use this tool to help you:

Alert, Avert, Affirm

Alert yourself to what’s going on.
Avert yourself by turning around and walking away or in the case of thoughts, close your eyes.
Affirm by telling yourself something positive.

For example: I look in the mirror to see how my outfit looks, but all I can seem to see is how big my thighs are, and I think to myself that everything in my life would be so much better if they were just smaller. Obviously this is a very destructive thought… So, I ALERT myself to what’s going on. I know I always do this to myself. I AVERT by closing my eyes and decide not to think that way anymore. Then, I AFFIRM by telling myself that I have strong thighs – thunder thighs if you will – and you know what, I have nice eyes too. There is no use in having negative thoughts, they only serve to break me, but I will not be broken.

The more and more you utilize this tool, the less and less you will need it.