11 May 2009

Sharing my fitness

In November 2004, I ran the New York City Marathon for the second time for various reasons. The first reason was to celebrate my 40th birthday, and the second reason was because I wanted to run a better marathon than I did previously in 1993. 11 years later from my first marathon, I can proudly say I did indeed improve my fitness and I ran a very comfortable marathon. I had no aches, no pains, and I even returned to the gym to do my regular 2 hr workouts for 10 days straight after November 7, 2004. That showed how efficiently I had trained!

My mindset
Some people get the wrong idea about the mindset of a person like me. They think I am obsessed or they think that I have a predisposition to being a dedicated fitness person. I will say, I am a dedicated fitness person who understands that staying committed to my program benefits me completely. It's the foundation for balance in all aspects of living. Not just for me, but for anyone.

I would say that I got serious about maintaining my fitness life about 25 years ago. I did not understand the need to balance nutrition with fitness until later on. I am pleased with the journey I have been on because it enabled me to truly understand how the two compliment one another, and how important it is to balance physical fitness with nutrition.

25 years ago
25 years ago, and still today people say to me, "oh what kind of exercise do you do?" They ask because they can tell I work out. They see my very muscular legs (particularly calves), or they overhear me say, "I work out almost every day." People always are curious. Some are curious because they are still trying to figure out what to do themselves. Some do exercise, and just want to compare their program to mine. Some are also trying to figure out if the exercise I do --- shows on my body. This I find very interesting.

Misleading infomercials
There are so many infomercials and exercises that claim to do this and that. People run out and buy certain things, or sign up with certain gym and trainers, because they want to look like the pictures they see. This is so misleading. First consider, magazines and tv ads are often airbrushed. We all have different body types and metabolisms, and so certain exercises may not duplicate results the same on everybody who does them. It's so important to realize that you should truly understand exactly what type of body you have, how your diet affects your body, and how different exercises will help your body. It's also good to realize that unless you will do drastic things, you do indeed have a specific body type, and you should embrace it.

I can say that I have tried so many different things, and at this stage of my life, I believe it was all meant to be because I am able to share my experiences and my knowledge with others to the extent that it helps them to know what works, and what does not work.

The health and nutrition industry is a multi-billion dollar business and it can be truly intimidating to most people. Every day there is a new trend, or a new supplement, or new findings about foods and the human body. Somethings that were true 25 years ago have been revised and abolished. There are new claims constantly surfacing. Consider that some of the stuff we believe to be true today, may be thrown out in the next 5 or 10 years.

First we were told that 20 minutes of aerobics would benefit you considerably, now we are told a minimum of 30 mins, and even 1 hour. 10,000 steps of walking is sufficient. No wait...strength training is the only thing that truly burns calories and reshapes the body. People transform their physiques by doing 30 sessions of pilates. Yoga is the ultimate exercise. Runners have the best bodies! Boxing is the best high intensity exercise. Gosh, so which one is best? What to do? What can you believe in?? Believe in yourself and your efforts, but understand it's a daily requirement!

I have tried dozens and dozens of workouts and machines, and mostly because I love exercise, and I love to experiment. Two years ago, I was watching TV, and I saw an infomercial for Beachbody/P90X, and they showed all these "regular" people who did the program as suggested for 90 days. These "regular" people transitioned from being ordinary people, some already fit, some totally unfit, to becoming amazingly extremely fit people. So I jumped on the computer and I ordered "my" P90X. From the very beginning I thought, "this is fantastic stuff!" I love it. I love the concept of "muscle confusion" and I loved Tony Horton's wonderful way of being the most essential personal trainer on a DVD. Somehow they were able to anticipate every question you would have while doing the routine, and also all the tips and encouragement necessary to enable you to complete each of the different 12 routines.

However, due to my constant need to try new things, I only did the program for about 10 weeks, and I can honestly admit, I was mixing it up "my way" and not necessary doing the workouts as they were scheduled. I truly loved some of the routines more than others (for example, KenpoX) so I would do those workouts a few times a week. The Beachbody entourage consists of regular people who transformed their level of fitness to new heights and that is truly inspirational and real.

Running was my ultimate form of exercise, but over the years, and due to children, I was not always able to get outside and run, and yes, it can be quite a challenge to run 6 or 7 miles indoors on a treadmill. I also came to realize that running on it's own, is not the way to be in ideal shape or even be an efficient runner. I trained for the NYC marathon in 2004 with a fantastic and intelligent athlete and through him I learned that my running strength and ability would be hugely enhanced by including strength training, pilates, yoga, and bikram yoga into my routine.

At one point, while I was training for the 2004 marathon and even after, I had belonged to 3 gyms. One was a small gym where I trained with some other people who were running the marathon. Another was a gym close to my house, and they had cool classes: speed rope, kickboxing, boot camp, circuit training, spinning. I loved them all! The third gym was wonderful for strength training because they had just about every single piece of weight training machinery possible. Depending on the day, the time, I would just choose where I wanted to go. I loved the flexibility of knowing I could pick and choose what I wanted and needed to do.

During that period of my life, I was in amazing shape. No, I was not in competitive shape, but I can say the medley of routines made me happy. And, I kept up with this lifestyle with 2 small children and a fulltime job, working from 7 a.m. to 4:30 with a 1 hour commute back and forth. It can be done by anyone with any lifestyle.

Reinvention and creativity
I am not suggesting that everyone should want to do everything, and belong to various gyms because about 3 years ago, I had to give that all up. When I was going through my divorce, I had to make drastic changes with my daily lifestyle, but I had NO intentions of giving up my health needs. I cancelled all my gym memberships, and I resorted to building up my gym at home. I had already owned a treadmill, an elliptical machine, free weights, DVDs and a few others items. From there, I started to assess what I was spending on gym memberships, and I realized that my yearly expenses were over $1,200. I did some research and decided to invest in another treadmill (Nordic Track Incline treadmill -- has a 50% incline) and a strength training machine. Both of these items I got on sale, and together they cost me less than $2,000. That is still a lot of money, but 3 1/2 years later, I have now saved at least $1600.00 and I have the convenience of easily working out in my home.

Again, I am not trying to say that everyone should have a gym in their house, but I am saying that "where there is a will, there is a way." It's important to always figure out a solution that will enable you to continue with your Wellness program no matter how your life is making changes.

Lifetime commitment
People need to realize that being on a fitness and nutrition program is not to be embarked upon as a short term initiative. I hear people say, "oh, I just signed up with a personal trainer for the next 3 months"... because of some temporary allowance that has taken place in their lives. What's the plan thereafter?? It has to be a lifestyle PERMANENT change with balance. It may involve trial and error. It may involve creativity and a mix of ideas. It surely will involve dedication and consistency. It's all about prioritizing YOU.

The newest question I am being asked it, "hey how is that P90X working for you?" Well, so far it's working very well. I am not jumping on the scale because my motivation is not to just lose weight (which I want to do since I did put on some extra "winter" pounds like a normal person). My motivation, however, is to minimally maintain my level of being fit, AND ultimately become more fit, physically and visually. So far, at day 3 of week 3, I can already see improvements and I feel more fit. I am doing the "Doubles" variation of P90X because it includes extra cardio which is supposed to increase performance and weightloss. I plan to run about 3 days a week while doing the program. Why? Because (1) I love to run, (2) it's spring! (3) Running outside improves my mood in so many ways!

Change your belief
I often hear people say, "oh I could never run 5 miles, " or, "I am not flexible, I can't even touch my toes," or "I would never be able to do something like that." Well, I can say that anyone who says that perhaps did not even step up to the challenge. Your first mountain to climb is "changing your belief" system. The mind is the barrier to the success you could have and would have. It's not about looking at that seasoned runner who runs 5 miles a day with ease and thinking, "oh no," but more so about saying, "ok, I am going to start with ME and make small goals for myself." Perhaps you start out walking, and then slowly adding in a short jog for a minute or two here and there. At the end of each session, you say to yourself, "good job self! let's see what we can do tomorrow." Smile and believe in yourself.

Along with any program or exercise that you embark on, you have to train properly and eat more effectively. Ideal fitness is not about just killing yourself with a 30 or 60 minute session of working out, but it's more about being in tuned to your body and knowing how to proceed day to day in order to make improvements and see results. You can exercise effectively, without hurting yourself, and you can eat well, without thinking it's torturous. It's all about educating yourself and learning... HOW.

Mindset will determine success
Before you jump to buy the next product you see on an infomercial, consider that your MINDSET has to be right in order to have success. Almost any program could work for most people if you know what you are doing. It's not about seeing the people in the commercial who are telling you, "I lost 20 lbs in 3 weeks," just because I bought this product and did it. It surely could work for any person. The successful person bought it because they were adamant about being successful, so they went on a strict diet, worked out hard, and they stuck with a belief that they were going to get results.

But where are those people today? Did they maintain it? Were they eating a sensible amount of calories everyday? Did they maintain a healthy nutritional balance on a daily basis? Is their mind in the right place after the 3 or 6 weeks? Could they survive and maintain their new wellness if their lives were suddenly altered in drastic ways????

Don't look for the quick fix because you will be disappointed in the end. Look for the "MIND FIX," and realize that you have to want to balance your wellness life ... FOR LIFE!

Today, I certainly could not run another marathon, but I know that when and if I decide to run another marathon, I will train properly. For now, my mission is to see P90X to completion (I have about 9 1/2 weeks to go) and I know the results will be amazing. My mind is so positive and I am mostly just excited that I can do these things for ME. I start my day feeling empowered both physically and mentally.

I am very grateful for the fact that I have this "trial and error" personality because it has enabled me with the ability to share with others and help them determine what they should consider doing for their own wellbeing. I am able to understand "why" people do what they do, why they succeed, and why they fail when it comes to maintain a Wellness program. My knowing comes from DOING!

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