Water Jogging is a Real Thing

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Yesterday was Bradley’s unofficial birthday. He doesn’t like his actual birthday which falls smack between Christmas and New Years Day, when no one wants to celebrate anything or anybody, so we celebrate around-ish his half birthday and his grandmothers birthday, which happened to fall on 7/29. Because we were celebrating a birthday, I didn’t feel right dictating a fitness aspiration, but I found that I was getting pretty crabby because I was anxious about not burning enough calories to incorporate the carrot cake that Gigi made to celebrate his 42 years. My solution was to do jogging laps in my pool. The resistance makes for a pretty good thigh/booty workout and I was able to go for 90 minutes before my legs got too tired. Can you believe that I burn 747 calories per hour doing that?! I found that out by entering the data into MyPlate! It’s actually listed! Water jogging is a real thing! Who knew ?! I was pretty pleased. The thigh burn and pool time was an excellent way to burn 1100 calories while also making an epic whirlpool for my kids to play in!

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Jump for yesterday’s diet:
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Steady

I love how things can flip on a dime. I love how all it took for me to get things back into gear was a step on the scale and a moment of honesty with myself. I just had to see for myself the result of going off plan. I have a goal in front of me again, I know where I am and I’m totally trucking. I’ve settled at a solid 206 for the time being, which is a few degrees better than the 208 of several days ago and light years better than the brief, yet terrifying, return to 212!!!

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{Rocking the hats at Zumba}
I’ve been rock solid on exercise and nutrition since last Wednesday or Thursday at this point. I’ve worked out every day and I’m glad to say that I’m back to pushing myself a lot harder. The first few Zumba classes I ever took in the spring were exhausting, but then, over time, they started seeming easier somehow. I thought it was because I had adjusted athletically- which is definitely part of it- but I also stopped putting the same level of effort into many of the moves after I gained fluency with some of the routines. I wasn’t raising my arms as high or hopping and skipping as much or with vigor. I was doing that thing that I do where I simplify exercise until it’s easy for me and doesn’t build or burn like it should (to be fair, it’s ok to dial it back when I’m authentically exhausted, I just shouldn’t sustain that). I turned it up last Friday and haven’t backed off of exercise at all since then. I’m feeling just amazing. I love how life feels when the good fuel I put into my body aligns with the solid work I’m having my body do. I seriously feel like Wonder Woman or something.

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After running such mileage this weekend, I thought my legs would be dead for Zumba on Monday, but I was all excited for hat day and didn’t want to miss it so I rallied and went. It’s funny how the smallest things can motivate me…. I had the option of a cool or funny hat, I chose my girl, LSP (Lumpy Space Princess) from Adventuretime for my hat. I say, given the choice, always choose funny when working out is involved.
I was super glad I went, though, for a few reasons:
*First, it was hat day. It is funny how wondering what hats people are going to wear can motivate a whole new feeling for Zumba. If you were wondering, there was a variety there, but sadly, not sombrero or cowboy hat. Next time I’ll wear my big, white Stetson… And yes, hats make you sweat a lot. Now I’m looking forward to what else my clever cat teachers come up with to make it even more fun for us!
* In the middle of Zumba, our teacher, Camille, had us all face the center of the room and walk toward it. When we were about six inches from one another and we just stood there waiting for the next step, she looked at us like we were two year olds and reminded us to introduce ourselves! Like, that was the entire purpose of having us face one another! It took us all by surprise, but I took advantage of the situation and tried to introduce myself to as many people as possible. While I’ll likely only remember one or two names, if that, at the very least I made actual human contact with these people I work out with on a regular basis. Wanna know something? The last few dances after that were even more fun now that I was friendlier with the peeps around me. I know. More fun?! How can that even be possible? (Have I mentioned how much FUN Zumba is and how much I like it??? Yes? Again and again?!?!?! Over and over?!?!?! Sorrynotsorry that I’m a broken record. 😉 )
* The last thing that I’m going to say about Monday Zumba is that I got to go to the front of the room and be a leaders the song Worth It by Fifth Harmony. It was a song that I’ve done every flipping time I’ve been at Zumba, but it’s one of the last songs we do; the one when my body and brain are at their end, running on fumes and have I have little to no memory of. It’s the one song that, when I’m running and it comes on through my earbuds, I’m not breaking into moves as I run down the sidewalk. (Side note- imagine the moves I’m breaking into, on the sidewalk, mid-run when the song Booty by J.Lo comes on!). Anyhow, I decided to just go with it and headed up to the front of the room. I’m sure I smiled the whole time, because, well, Zumba makes me wear a perma-grin, but I will once again, state for the record that I am really only qualified to lead ‘running in place while using jazz hands’- my signature move. But I was awesome at leading that and had a fantastic time. I realized how important the cues that Camille and Emily, my primary Zumba teachers, give actually are. Some songs I’ve got down and maybe, just maybe, by the end of the summer, I’ll be an authentic Zumba Badass who can just go with it without needing so much leadership.
A girl can dream.

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The next morning I woke up at 5:30 AM because I was at stooooopid level of excitement over trying out the spin class that was at 9:30 that morning. The guy at the counter told us that it can be competitive to get a bike and advised that we arrive at 9:00 to insure a seat. I think it caused a little anxiety in me and I was worried about oversleeping which caused the excitement… Anyhow, the spin class was bomb. Drea, a new friend and colleague from my newer school, is an experienced spinner and she agreed to walk me through my first class. I was really glad she was there because there was a lot to manage as we twisted the resistance down to stand up and sit down over and over while we pedaled for almost an hour. Sweat was dripping down my face like crazy and my thighs and butt were burning then and are still aching now in that ‘I got a killer workout’ kind of way.
I think it’s nice to try out new ways to keep fit. It’s fun to discover that, contrary to what I used to think, it’s fun to have a variety of abilities and ways to exercise. I kind of thought that once I found running that I would just forever run for my exercise. Like, I’m a runner. A hiker. Those are the boxes I sit in. That’s what defines me. Then I found Zumba and from there a whole world opened up! Boot camp entered my life, then weight lifting, we started yoga at home and now spinning! The world just keeps getting bigger and wider, friends! Isn’t it marvelous?!
Follow the jump for yesterday’s menu
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Kid-Free Weekend!

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We had an unexpected kid-free weekend happen, so Bradley and I decided to make the best of it. We adore our kids; letting them go often ends up putting us in a funk, but this time we were determined not to pine for them so we planned a packed schedule. First, I’m super proud of our running this weekend. I don’t even care that I’m slow as dirt. I ran five miles yesterday, Saturday, and six miles today! That’s a personal record for distance in two consecutive days for us! Woot!
Bradley and I headed out to Burke-Gilman Trail both days. The first day, we started out at Wayne Golf Course and ran until Bradley’s knee made some noise at 2.5 miles, so we turned around and headed back. Today we started out in Woodinville at Wilmot Gateway Park and ran out past Red Hook, the wineries and had a lovely run along the slough through the farmland for three miles before we turned around and headed back. I was impressed with our distance and just in love with the view. It was a terrific run! I was proud that we ran faster than I think we do. I don’t usually push for speed, so when I see a nine minute mile happening organically, I like that. Lastly, the calorie burn is the bomb. 1200+ calories burned for an hour of work?! Yes, please! Mostly, though, I’m just really proud that I can go out and run six miles and not feel like I’m done moving for the next week. That’s a pretty good feeling.

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We ended up going out to see a few bands in Ballard last night after we ate a delicious meal I made at home. I recently had a request for what my menu looks like from a fellow vegetarian, so I’ll be show and telling a bit more about my food for a bit. You can read about it after the jump, if you are so inclined. 😉
I’ve been doing a great job journaling my food and have been really pleased with the result. Because I’m holding myself accountable, I’m making great choices and I’m relearning skills and picking up habits that I had dropped. It feels SO GOOD to be this much back on track.
After my initial weigh in a few days ago, the scale continued to rise and fall. I saw 212 the day after I weighed in at 208, so clearly my body was in some kind of crisis! Today I weighed in at 206. I’m making changes and seeing positive shifts. Finally, the scale is no longer going up and I’m reaching some kind of equilibrium.
Tomorrow I’m going to Zumba but I hope to get a short run in, as well, in the morning. It’s great to be back!
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The Power of Food Journaling!

Isn’t it funny how you think you’ve got it all under control, but something just nags at you? Apparently that is how my food intake has been going. I’ve been acting like everything is all chill, but the weight gain, even in the face of all my working out, was definitely a sign of something wrong! I’m eating way too much!
First, I have to say that when I started working out and adjusting my nutrition with the intention of losing fat, that I was a very big girl who was hauling around an additional 140-150 pounds (depending on the week) so I would burn a lot more calories on a workout than I do now. I remember going for a run, and while I burned through 1000 calories with moderate effort, Bradley would only get a credit of 400 calories*. I was pretty smug back then, but now I’ve realized how tricky that balance is. As a bigger person, working out definitely forgives you a few more caloric allowances. Consuming an extra 200-400 calories has a cost, but not nearly the cost that it has now! Those runs that used to burn up 1000 calories now only forgive me 400-600 depending on altitude, distance and effort. It used to be that I didn’t even have to push that hard to burn calories. Now that is definitely not true. All that really means is that I need to adjust my thinking. I’m not as big as I was therefore I can’t eat as much as I used to while exercising as much as I used to and expect to continue to lose weight like I used to. This is where it gets hard. I’ve heard about it. I just need to dial back the calories, start eating fresher and start doing more strength training. (Yeah, that’s all. 😉 )
Yesterday I tracked my diet for the first time in so long that I can’t remember the last time! I liked the independence of being able to trust myself, but I promised myself that the next time I got off track that I would start journaling to set myself straight. There’s nothing as revealing as typing in every last thing you ate and having the total presented.

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What I learned was that I am working out really hard and really well. I’ve been counting on that deficit every day to balance things out to the point this I’ll lose weight, magically, but the reality is that I’ve been eating my allowed 1612 calories in addition to the surplus provided by the workout deficit! And on many days I totally know I even ate more than that because yesterday I held back. I wanted to eat more than I allowed myself to eat and still ate more than I needed to.
I’m journaling my food again today. Journaling is so helpful for accountability to me. Before I eat whatever it is, I often reflect that I will have to include it in my journal and sometimes that’s motive enough to put it aside. Here’s to a solid day two as I bumble back into a fat loss cycle!
Tonight is booty camp!!!!
(It was awesome sauce with Janice & Jessica!)
*when you enter data into a food journal app it adds up the calories based on how much you ate. When you exercise, the app will delete those calories from what you already ate. For example, if you ate 1100 worth of calories one day and did a 300 calorie workout, the app will credit your calories for the day by settling it at 800 calories consumed for the day, does that make sense??? It gives me great motivation to move when I see the calories consumed change so drastically. :)

Weighing In

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Yep. I faced my demon this morning.
It’s been a bit of an experiment, the whole not weighing in thing. It was founded in fear, first. I knew that the scale number had jacked up a little bit and I just didn’t want to deal with it, so I looked the other direction every time I walked by the scale. Then I felt free from the scale. I felt like I had this, like I was going to be fine. I rationalized that I don’t need to live and die by the scale. Most people do not weigh themselves once a day, much less two or three times a day… I considered doing an experiment for the summer to see how I would do without the scale. But a sense of uneasiness started to settle in and I started remembering and seeing stuff. Things like my belly suddenly looking like It was spreading out across my lap. My bra suddenly didn’t feel so big and roomy. My shirts that were feeling huge started feeling like they fit again. The heat seemed hotter. But mostly, I started remembering one of my rules: weigh in often or you gain weight like a mother trucker.
When I don’t weigh in, I’m blissfully ignorant. One does not gain weight up to 340 without turning a blind eye to the scale. When I weigh myself I keep track of my day to day weight and instantly can correlate a choice to the result on the scale, most often. It seems like an obvious cause:effect relationship, but it’s a relationship I conveniently ignore when I’m off target and not wanting to care about things so much. When I’m bored with the body project and just want off the merry go round for a little while, hopping off the scale and ignoring my weight is an instant means to that end. But that ignorance leads to gains, and the gains lead to a lot of work. In this case, I have 15 pounds of work, now. I weigh 208. I had visions of the scale reading 225 or something, so I’m pleased I’m not that high, but it is definitely discouraging to be over 200 again. Grrr.

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Here I am, again, committing to doing ‘it’ again. Again. Here I am promising myself to get back under 200, again. Here I am, again, promising to drink water like a camel and to move like a hummingbird.
The biggest thing I need to do, that I’m fighting the hardest, is that I need to start journaling my food again. I think I’m way off in my calorie intake since my exercise is pretty stellar. I’m hitting 30-60 minutes of moderate to intense cardio every day and I’m trying to work in more strength training. My gain has got to be because of my eating. So here I am, again, promising myself to start journaling and getting this under control before I go silent and gain 100 pounds again. I’ve done that before- I know I can’t let this get out of control. I’ve worked to hard and am too in love with my life and who I am now to let it all go now. I don’t get to let it go until I’m on my deathbed!

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I got these workout pants from Old Navy last week. I have a friend who wears them to Zumba, and she pointed out that they are high rise. I thought that just maybe they might alleviate my need to wear the extra layer of the compression tank, and guess what?? I was right! I was able to run today wearing only my pants and tank top- no compression tank! They do the trick of holding my tummy skin down firmly enough that it doesn’t swing around and throw out my back or tug on my rib cage. It wasn’t nearly as hot, either, to run without the tank. I think I’m going to buy 4 more pairs when they have their next sale because I’m in love. I think I’m fully switching over! :)
(Mine are the high-waisted compression capris, embossed, black in a size large, if you were wondering.)

Hydration

I don’t know what to drink anymore. How should I hydrate?! I know that sounds silly, but I have all of these rules about what I drink. I try not to drink calories. I like something flavored. I’m not a huge fan of fizzy water. I don’t like to drink artificial sweeteners. I can’t drink caffeine after 5:30… On and on with the rules. The result is that I’m sneaking in little drinks here and there that are just packed with calories. Treat drinks like beers, creamy, sweet coffee, sangria or Long Island iced teas that you’re supposed to drink rarely, but I think to myself that I’ve worked out so it’s ok. But it’s definitely NOT ok! I don’t want the calories or the status as a lush!
I think that shifting away from beverages aside from diet soda and diet iced tea is making me pick up calories in drinks, and I know I’m eating when I want to be drinking sometimes. It’s funny how giving up something like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup in one, fowl swoop has thrown me for such a loop. You would think that drinking water would be the natural default, but I often find something to eat instead of pouring a glass of refreshing, zero-calorie water. It looks like this needs to be a very intentional goal and it looks like I really need to focus on it.
I was allowing one can of Coke Life per day- you know, the green can of Coke that is sweetened with stevia and cane sugar. Then Bradley and I started getting these headaches and neck aches. He thought something was seriously wrong with him and was doing massive research for this ‘problem’ that was persisting for months and found a correlation between stevia and spinal cord pain. We both dropped the stevia and felt almost instantly better. We both tried reintroducing it and each were rewarded with almost instantaneous head and neck aches so stevia is out for us. Water, water and more water is what my choice is!

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Gigi and I decided to beat the heat and headed out for a run at 10:00 earlier this week. It seemed exceptionally hot and exhausting for that early in the morning. When we got home, I checked the temp and found out why we were so darn sweaty- 84 degrees before 11:00! We hopped into the pool as soon as we got home and felt much better. 😉

Catching up

Ok. It’s time to admit it: while I run on my treadmill lately I’m watching Keeping up with the Kardashians. I kind of feel like if I am running or working out, which is the opposite of a guilty pleasure- I mean, I love it, but it’s hard work- then I get to partake of a calorie free guilty pleasure while I’m doing it, if I want to. That’s why I allow myself to listen to mysogynistic hip hop music about bouncing booties while I Zumba and run outdoors, and when I’m running inside it’s all about Khloe, Kim, Kourtney, Kris and the rest of them these days. Or Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium. That’s what you’ll find me doing on the treadmill- partaking in some high quality television viewing. Seriously though. The Kardashians. Thank you, Caitlin Jenner, for piquing my curiosity and sending me down this rabbit whole for nine seasons. Oi vey. But who am I kidding? I’m loving it. Especially that Khloe is 5’9″, just like me, she wears a size 12, while I’m a 14, and she is considered a hottie and fashion icon. Those are some numbers and ideas that I can get behind! :)

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Other than watching the Kardashians be, well, over the top and nutty, we had a pretty busy week. We went to the Indigo Girls concert on Sunday night at the zoo. I loved their music so much in the late nineties. If there were ever a band I would want to be a part of, it is theirs. Their poetry is so beautiful, they are one of the few Joan Baez kinds of folk singers out there today making a solid living, and their music just soothes me. It was a fantastic night. The next day we took two of our nieces and nephews to the EMP and then played in the fountain afterwards for a while. One would think that I would have had a busy enough day, but I still made it to Zumba that night. :)

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I was a good kid this week. I ran every day for 40 minutes on the treadmill or I went to Zumba. Our replacement pedometers/Wii Fit Meters came in the mail this week, I started tracking my steps again so I got way more intentional about moving and taking steps. I also managed to get my diet somewhat back under control as well, thanks to stellar cantaloupe, perfect blueberries and the best strawberries of the year. I let myself eat as much as I wanted and it really helped. I also hit my water intake pretty hard this week and am starting to feel strong again in my diet control. It’s really nice. I still haven’t gotten on the scale, but I’ll climb that mountain when I’m ready. A non-scale victory, however, was being able to try on a super cute dress while I was shopping with my mom. I’ve never been able to just try on a dress that’s right in the front of Macy’s- like the showcase dresses they put in the very front as you walk into the store. It was 129.00, so there’s no way in ever, but I loved it. I still love it. It fit perfectly. :)

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Someone took me up on my offer to go to Hip Hop Boot Camp/Zumba with me! My friend Rhiann met me on Friday to shake it with Camille and the rest of us! It was super fun to have a new friend to dance with, and afterward we went to Starbucks to chat and hang out for a little while. On a side note, it was kind of funny because I didn’t feel like the workout was as intense as I wanted, but then I woke up today and can totally feel it. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t think you’re working as hard as you actually are! Love it when that happens.

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Doubt Creeps In

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A friend of mine recently posted this meme to Facebook. Along with it she posted how self conscious she feels when she does work out. She stated that she feels like everyone is looking at her and judging how fat she is, how out of shape she is, how bad she is at it and how she just doesn’t belong there- wherever ‘there’ is. She’s not an athlete and everyone knows it. Or at least that what she/we think. But when you start out, you have to remember a few things.
Exercising is competitive, but the competition is what we make it.
It is so scary to join the world of fitness. It’s competitive by nature. We run races, we win games, we beat records- it seems like so much of being an athlete is determined by winning. When you’re overweight and out of shape, you’re so far from the finish line that winning looks very different for beginners than it does for more accomplished athletes. For me, I had to let all of that go. I had to realize that I was way behind the curve and I had to want it more than be worried about winning or beating someone. I realized that running for two minutes was a tremendous deal for me. A reason to celebrate. For me, that was a win. When I ran for a mile for the first time, that was a win, too. My wins looked different from the guy who ran an ultra marathon and got his best time or the guy who came in first at the 5K. My win is just being able to do it. Realizing that the competition was all internal was pretty important.

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{A deer in our neighborhood!}
Fitness is for everyone.
For some reason, in my head, it was an unofficial rule that fitness and participation in athletic activities was reserved for people who have been walking the walk for their whole lives. That there wasn’t room for late comers- I would be seen as a failure in the making or and interloper- worse yet- a poser! But fitness is for everyone.
Last week at boot camp there was a new couple. They were both really, really heavy and I would bet that this was their effort at a fresh start for a new life together, a new focus on getting fit. She was dressed to the nines with spanking fresh workout gear and cute shoes while he was wearing cargo shorts and those strappy athletic sandals. Throughout the whole workout I could see them struggling- burpees were a joke, push-ups were out of the question, and by the time we got to the cool down song, neither of them got on the floor to stretch. They just stood there, breathing, and as soon as the song ended, they high-tailed it out of there. I wanted to run after them and tell them that it gets better. That the third or fourth time they come that they would have much more confidence, much more know how, the accommodations would be more clear, but it just wasn’t my place to do it. I would look like I pitied them or was an annoying know-it-all and it might point out that they stood, which they didn’t, but it would seem like it. I just identified with them. But I wanted to tell them that this was their place, too. That over time they would see and feel that. I hope they come back… Because fitness is for everyone and we all start somewhere.

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Most people aren’t judging you in the way you think they are judging you.
When I first started running, I refused to go to the track. If I did go to the track, I ran on the outermost ring, far away from anybody else. I didn’t want to be seen as in the way or like I was really a part of this. I thought they would be looking at how slow I went, how my body jiggled, they would hear how hard I was breathing and see how much I was sweating. All things that pointed out my inefficiencies and toward the absolute truth that I was a joke running around the track. What I failed to realize is true athletes are looking for everybody to be in the same boat with them. True athletes do judge, but they are not judging in the way non-athletic people think they are. Athletes want everyone on the track, they want everyone to get active. Athletes don’t understand why people choose lives where their bodies are still and quiet, unused, so they aren’t judging the people on the track, they are proud of them! Sure, they do want us to follow the rules (slow people, stay to the right!) but they want everyone on the field.
I don’t necessarily consider myself an athlete in the sense that I’m referring to here, but I do consider myself to be moderately fit and in shape. Whenever I see someone who is clearly struggling, I feel so proud of them for bringing it. There’s nothing harder than getting going on an exercise plan when you’ve been fairly stagnate up to that point. It hurts physically and the mental games that we play with ourselves, the awful things we say to ourselves, can totally take us out of the game. As athletes, we compete, but we hold one another up and we always want more people on the team.
I have to be honest and say that I have been on the receiving end of catcalls of “Run, fat girl, run!” On two different occasions as I ran through my hood, but otherwise my big, jiggly butt hauling my hard breathing lungs around my neighborhood has done more good than anything. People who I’ve never spoken to before have stopped me on the street to tell me they have noticed what I’ve been doing. They see my changes and compliment my obvious health shift. They see my consistency and marvel aloud about it to me. They ask me what prompted it, how do I do it? They tell me I’ve inspired them to start losing weight/working out. So, even though I have been at the receiving end of some unkindness, I’ve gotten so much positive feedback and the negative feedback is terribly minimal. I belong.

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Fit people don’t always look like you expect them to.
I never wanted to go to the gym because that’s where fit people worked out with their tiny shorts and cropped tops showing their toned midriffs. Going to the track would yield these topless Adonis type men with abs trickling down their bellies and rigid, strong, runner’s legs. You’ve seen them. It’s intimidating. The truth is very different than that. Fitness and having fit bodies looks incredibly diverse. I’m a fit person. I’m still technically overweight, but I can really bring it and you can’t deny that I’m still chunky. Some fit runners have skinny legs and a big torso. Some Zumba dancers are chubby, soft and still wearing revealing clothes. Some people at the gym are easily 450 pounds. Yes, there are the perfects, with perfect butts and abs and legs and nothing jiggles anywhere, but they’re not as omnipresent as you would think. Everyone fits in and athlete bodies are diverse, just like everything else.

Dress the part.
Because I never wanted to look like I was assuming too much about myself, I didn’t want to put the cart before the horse. When I first started working out I would wear old, ratty sweatpants that I had used for painting paired with a huge, ratty shirt. I felt gross, looked gross and performed to match. Just like any other situation, I needed to look good while I worked out. Especially when I was doing something so scary- imagine starting at a new school in your paint clothes! Why would we start any important project without making sure we are as successful as possible? When we look good, we feel good. When we feel good, we perform better. When we dress the part, we act the part. So when I looked gross and dressed like I didn’t matter, I was way less successful because I set the standard and told people that I was gross and didn’t matter. Plus, I told myself that, too. When I bought the uniform of running capris and a running shirt, it helped me to feel like I fit in and I felt good. I pushed myself harder. I acted the part. I’m not above putting on mascara to go to Zumba, either. I just feel cuter! And when I feel cuter, I dance way better! Silly, huh? But it works. Do what works!
(And I can’t stress this enough- get a good sports bra, ladies!! I like these moving comfort ones for my cans!)

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If I’m perfectly honest, most of the things we worry that others are thinking about us are usually because we thought them first. We judge people. We joke in our heads about how fat someone is, how they look like they’re pulling a lot of air, that it looks like it their first time at the the track, that they are so fat it’s a lost cause- that’s us. Not them. Really we are just seeing ourselves as we think others see us. But 99% of the people who see us are proud of us. They realize what we are doing and they are impressed. They know how hard it is to get fit and maintain it. They know that the beginning is so difficult and they know where we are. And if you ever get down or discouraged, remember that no matter what you’re doing, you’re lapping your yesterday self who was sitting on the couch. Whatever you do today helps you tomorrow. You’re making a difference in your life, so just do it. Turn off the voices in your head, ignore the few voices who are actually big enough jerks to externalize it, and do what you can today. Go be amazing!

And here is a favorite article that I read when I was doubting this whole issue at the beginning. It’s important to hear someone else say this when doubt can be so crippling.

A Look Inside Zumba Class

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{My sweaty mug in Tuesday’s Zumba class with Emily }
I’ve had a few people write to me asking about exercise classes and admitting they’re a bit intimidated to go into one. First, if you are local to me, contact me. I know how to hook you up with a free, week-long pass to my gym and you can come try a few classes with my posse and me. Knowing people who are supportive around you can make all the difference. It’s only scary before it starts. Once you get going, it’s just pure awesome and you will see my perma-grin that I can’t wipe until about 40 minutes in. 😀
If you don’t go with me, though, here is what I have observed:
*There are all body types there. There are people who look tinier and tighter than my 11 year old daughter and there are people who look as though they exceed 400 pounds.
*Men and women both come, but I would say the ratio is around 1:10. If I were a guy, I would totally do Zumba. 😉
*The instructors don’t yell at you to do better, try harder, nothing. They show you the moves and let you know accommodations. Never once in my entire time of Zumba-ing have my teachers yelled at anyone. That said, I have heard that the insanity classes and some of the more intense, non-dance classes do have teachers who might get in your face a bit. But I suppose that’s why they call it ‘insanity’! I just stick with the dance classes.
*If you can’t do an exercise, do what you can do. We have pregnant ladies who do all kinds of squats and lunges, people who just stand there for some of the activities, and some people just kind of stand in the back and do the 80’s side to side dance step the whole time. They idea is to just keep moving.
*There are people who are really into it. Like, REALLY into it. They dress the part, stand in the front row and add extra details like spins and arm flourishes to the moves. You will be tempted to follow what these people do when you can’t see the instructor, but if you’re fairly uncoordinated like me, they will make you get lost.
*Some people come to every class and know every move and kind of simplify it. I watch this one girl when I’m lost because she does everything so straightforward, reliably, without flourish that when I get lost I’m grateful she’s there.
*There are the regulars who like to think they own the place. It’s true. So while I see the gym as a mostly friendly place, there are always people who need to be hierarchical. Yesterday my entire posse was absent and I tried to make conversation with one of the regulars. It immediately got awkward when she made it clear that she didn’t know who I was and tried to school me on what this class was about. Then she turned on her heel and started laying down mats and barbells all around me, yelling across the room at another woman about who’s mat was whom’s, to effectively move me out the zone she was making for her friends. I was fine with it- I usually have people too- but it irritated me in that way that always irritates me in social situations as to why people have to be exclusive. Include people! Let everybody fit in! So I started talking to other people. They were nicer, but I do have to own that sometimes that high school BS shows up at the gym just like any other place.
*Even though you’re sharing a relatively small space with 20-40 people, many people won’t look you in the eye. Fitness is private like money and sex, so don’t be surprised if you come and go without speaking to a soul. It’s kind of weird but also nice in that you don’t have to worry a whole bunch about looking like an idiot. You get the free pass of ‘I’ll never see these people outside of this context’ which is kind of nice.
*Most people come alone.
*The instructors are really nice and, while they give you space, they also let you know when they see you and see your improvements. Today, Camille gave me several shout outs and invited me to lead a dance. I declined, as I’ve said before, I am not the one to lead anyone in anything aside from jazz hands and running in place, but it flattered me to no end to know that she sees me and knows my name. I was proud of her as an instructor for giving me a sense of belonging in her class. It meant a lot. Afterwards, if there’s not another class coming immediately, they will hang out and chat if you wish to do so. Lovely.
*It is surprising how sore you get. It feels like you’re just jumping around and having fun, but it is a comprehensive, whole-body workout! I’m sore EVERYWHERE in that wonderful I-just-worked-out kind of way.
*You will have to shake your a$$ like a stripper. Pelvic thrusts and booty shimmies abound. You also have to do that move where you shake your shoulders and make your boobs jiggle a bunch. I was super self conscious about it until I realized that shaking your hooters is amazing for your back and shoulders and shaking your butt around is really a good workout for your abs. So now I shake it, unashamed, like J-Lo. Of course I am wearing more than a thong, but you get the idea.
*I rarely get to look around the room at anyone. I’m trying so hard to keep up that I don’t really see a lot around my unless it is a break. You will be invisible, too. People won’t be looking and laughing at you unless they are off task and big jerkies.
*The music is loud. I like it that way.
*I leave feeling high and happy, full of endorphins. I simply love going to the Zumba and Hip Hop Boot Camp classes!
So come! Have fun with us! Feel free to contact me through my Facebook page if you want a friend to try the gym with, or email me at tamarashazam at gmail dot com! It’s always fun to have new people come along!

Amazonian

I won’t say my website gets a ton of traffic, but I will say it gets a ton of the right traffic. My site reaches across borders, but most of my readers are nestled right here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and they know me personally. Or they know of me enough to be curious and look at my website while never letting me know they read my site… Anyhow, I get a little nervous sometimes about being too revealing on Tamara Shazam, I’m a teacher, a mom… What would my students think of me if they saw my belly skin?!?!? While I was wearing a bikini?!?!? Gasp!
And the I realize what I’m thinking. I realize I’m buying into that whole idea that the only body that should be seen at the beach is the body that looks like a 14 year old gymnast’s body. A body that is not a mother’s, a body that does not sag or have stretch marks, a body that is smooth and tight. But like I’ve said before and what everybody knows, most people’s bodies are not like that. I recently read an article by a masseuse who said that everyone has cellulite. Somewhere. We all have creases and rolls, too. And as I go to the beach and I see more and more women who are chubby or curvy wearing two piece suits at the beach, I ask myself what the heck is wrong with me? It’s not about being sexy, it’s about having fun in the sun! It’s about letting my skin breathe! It’s about the way your body feels when you expose the whole thing (slathered in sunscreen) to the sun! It’s feeling the heat beating down on belly skin, arm skin, leg skin and face skin, all at once! Its about feeling the cool water hit my actual skin- not my bathing suit and then my skin- and believe me, it’s different. It’s about being a pioneer and changing the rules about what is acceptable. As for my students? It’s ok for them to see a less than ‘perfect’ body, in fact, it’s good for them to see an alternative to the ‘reality’ presented in the media.

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Greater than that is simply that I love my body. It is capable and strong. It does things, now, that I never thought it would do. I can run, dance, do push-ups, work out for hours at a time. My body takes me to the mountains and to tag games. My body is amazing! While I worry over all of my extra skin, I’m also proud that it’s deflated around me. It’s a reminder of what I used to be and is evidence of my accomplishment.
And do you see my belly flap? In the shape of a W?
Yup.
That’s my Wonder Woman symbol.
Amazon blood in my genes, evidenced right there.
When Bradley pointed that out to me, I wiggled with glee like a puppy. I worked hard for that W!
And just for giggles:

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January, 2007 and July of 2015
Pretty awesome! Yeah me!
Now, to keep it going!