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I feel like I’ve spent the past couple of months lacking focus and motivation (to put it politely) when it comes to nutrition and working and out and, well, pretty much everything.  I have no problem blaming part of this on the weather – when even walking to the bus starts to look like a scene from the Iditarod, it is hard not to take comfort in the arms of pizza, red wine, my couch and a good book.  Add to this the fact that I’ve found myself working a fair amount on the weekends and my fitness goals were starting to take a back seat (which is so not where they belong).  So I jumped at the chance to participate in Healthwork’s Drop 10 Challenge. The promise of accountability and some friendly competition seems like just the kick in the (maybe fitting just a little too snug) pants I need.  I had my initial assessment on Saturday with Lauren and we got to sit down and talk as well.  It was great to be able to set some new goals and also to articulate some of the struggles I’ve had recently, as well as some of the things I’m really enjoying (TRX!).

I highly recommend sitting down every few months (no matter good or bad things are going) and taking stock – I left the gym feeling better (and more focused) than I have in months.  I realized (or maybe just admitted) that my biggest problem lately is that I’m not taking the time I need on the weekends to do proper meal planning and preparation, which means I end up eating crap throughout the week, which makes me feel like crap, etc., etc. (As an aside, my favorite part of Saturday’s conversation went like this:  Me:  “I’ve just been eating so much crap lately” / Lauren:  “I’d rather hear that you have been eating too much, but still eating healthy food” / Me:  “Well, I’d rather be able to tell you that – but I would be lying”).

I know that I do really well when I spend time on Sundays doing all my meal planning and preparation – but I’ve been letting other things (work, helping friends, bad TV) get in the way.  So this weekend found me with my recipe collection and my calculator planning out all of my meals for the week.  I then spent a few hours Sunday afternoon doing all the cooking.  And oh my, I made a new recipe from Eating Well for a healthy version of tuna noodle casserole – after the first bite (also, in the interest of full disclosure, after I made a second batch due to ruining the first one with my broiler), I remembered why it is worth it for me to take the time on the weekends to do this.

So tomorrow is the first Drop 10 workout.  I’m looking forward to it.  My team is totally going to win.  (Hence the title of this post).  That is, assuming the results of my Drop 10 are more successful than my first attempt at that tuna noodle casserole…

I’m feeling in need of pithy, clichéd sayings because I’m battling the impulse to throw in the sweaty gym towel.  Not when it comes to the gym in general mind you – just when it comes to my dismal performance in TRX TEAM training.  From a rational point of view, I know that it is perfectly fine that I’m struggling with TRX TEAM.  It means I have plenty of room for growth and I know that the challenge is good for me.  I know that if I stick with it, I will get better (and stronger!) and I will once again be in love with TRX TEAM.  However, if my rational point of view was always in charge, then I would be able to say that I have never once spent an entire day eating pizza and watching bad TV – and I can’t truthfully make that claim.

So I find myself battling the evil voices in my head telling me that I should just give up (side note:  why do the evil voices *always* manage to yell louder than the nice ones).  It has been so long since I’ve fought this impulse (that is, to just give up an exercise that is too hard) that I’d thought I’d totally conquered it.  When I first started seriously working out, I dealt with it a lot.  There was a six-month gap between my first and second BURN classes because I just decided I couldn’t handle BURN classes after the first one (and it took me six months to get back up on the horse – well in this case the treadmill).  And now, even when a BURN class leaves me wondering where the nearest AED is, I still love it.

So I know that I can work through this.  It is just really hard to focus on that fact when I’m struggling to get the TRX straps around my feet and then I’m barely able to do even one atomic pushup or when I fall out of the TRX while trying to do a one-legged squat (oh yeah, did I mention I fell flat on my butt in the middle of the gym?  That was awesome).  And it is especially hard to keep the proverbial “can do” attitude when I start comparing myself to the awesome ladies that are rocking the TRX on either side of me.  That kind of comparison I something that I firmly believe should be avoided in pretty much *any* circumstance – but this time I just can’t help myself.

Luckily, the TRX instructors at Healthworks are amazing and Tracy manages to keep me in the game even when I feel like my only option is flee the gym and never look back.  And I was so excited about starting TRX TEAM that I know all of the amazing things about it. And I know, to bastardize Eleanor Roosevelt, that no workout can make me feel inferior without my consent.  So, I’m going to keep at it.

My plan for this to not pay attention to how well anyone else is doing (unless I’m doing it to be inspired by their awesomeness) – I’m just going to focus on my own progress (no matter how incremental it is).  And I know that in a few weeks, I’ll be writing a post about how I can’t believe I ever thought I wanted to give up on TRX.

Twice in the past week, I have heard from women at the gym that coming to group exercise class has kept them going, not just physically but emotionally or spiritually.  These admissions absolutely floor me every time and I think, “Oh yeah, it’s not just about the muscles and the calorie-burning.”

It is always a DUH moment for me.   “Hello, Sarah, there is a bigger picture!”  But I am still always amazed and truly humbled to hear from my class members that exercising with other women helps them heal a broken heart, or that looking forward to a class each week keeps them afloat through illness and recovery.  First of all, I never know what to say.  When I taught ninth graders,  I always knew what to say to my young students in such moments.   But with the awe-inspiring women in my classes, I am dumbfounded.  It’s like “5-6-7-8″ or “squeeze your glutes” are suddenly the only words in my vocabulary.  I feel safe behind the microphone or, strangely,  standing in front of the class.  But I’m speechless, powerless,  when faced with someone who feels pain that is not from too many reps or too much weight.

Second, I feel overwhelmed by the sense that I might actually be an important part of someone’s experience.  Sure, I know that providing exercise opportunities for fellow women is really important.  But I have trouble thinking about what other significance a step class might have because I become weighed down with the feeling that I must be more than just the leader of a set of push-ups.  I’m not trying to have illusions of grandeur here — just absorbing the fact that when we step into a studio to sweat and strive together, we become connected.  Sure, you may put your equipment in the corner and try to hide in the back of the room, but you are part of the class.  You are part of something someone else in that room needs — a team, a support group, a network.

So I take a deep breath and overcome my fear because I realize the big picture is just that–that we women are there for each other, as a group fitness class getting our cardio on, as a web of gym members cheering each other on, not just through weight-loss and strength-training but through life, love and loss in general.  Instead of fretting over the burden, I should embrace the ability to be there for someone, knowing that looking out at each of the women in each of my classes every time I teach most certainly heartens me more than I can express.

When we workout in a group, we get more than just the workout, we get each other, too.

- Sarah

While the weather is still a bit fickle, spring excitement is going strong. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more outdoor activities as it warms up – including taking my runs off of the treadmill and onto the pavement. I recently signed up for the Somerville Reggae Ramble run in June with a friend, which will be my first race in years! This 4.2 mile walk/run along the Charles River includes reggae music and a Jamaican feast at the end, so it seemed like the right type of fun event to get me motivated. I also decided to do one of the Healthworks outdoor bootcamps that will meet May through June (and right in my neighborhood!). I participated in an outdoor bootcamp last summer and loved it – I always felt great afterwards, which I attribute to the sunshine and social atmosphere. As the seasons change it’s a great chance to change up your routine. What are you planning on doing to prep for spring and summer?

- Jean

Busy, busy, busy! Between work, social engagements, teaching yoga, and doing some freelance work, I’ve definitely been stretched for time lately. Plus the gorgeous weather of last week had me longing to ditch all of my responsibilities and just enjoy the sun. Sometimes I feel like it’s easier to be responsible when the weather is more dismal, at least in these early months of Spring, when the longer daylight hours and warmer temps feel so new and exciting…These distractions and duties have unfortunately kept me away from Healthworks and away from blog writing for about a week! I’m excited to start off this new week feeling re-set – looking forward to doing some running, Zumba, and maybe checking out a Body Pump class, which I have yet to try. I’m also determined to get back on track with healthy eating, which took a bit of a detour over the past week. Tonight I’m making one of my favorite Spring/Summer salads – Jicama citrus – to go along with some homemade black bean burgers.

Jicama looks like a giant turnip, and underneath its brown skin is a white, juicy, crunchy flesh that is slightly sweet. I experimented with it a few weeks ago and came up with a super-simple salad recipe that makes a great side dish for any Southwestern-inspired menu. Add some avocado for a more filling salad to eat on its own.

 

Jicama Citrus Salad

1 small jicama, peeled and julienned

2 peeled and sectioned oranges – I used the Cara Cara which is especially bright and flavorful

½ red onion, diced

2 tbps olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp juice reserved from the oranges

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cumin

Combine the jicama, sectioned oranges, and onion in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, juice, and spices. Pour dressing into the larger bowl and mix well.

This salad tastes good right away, and even better after it has marinated in the juices for a day or two. Enjoy in the sunshine!

- Jean

Are you up for it?

Are you up for it?

The Blogs:

Carrots n’ Cake

For the Boston folks: This week Healthworks launched Fiona’s Challenge– women form teams with their friends and apply online. Healthworks members and non-members are welcome to compete!

Healthworks chooses 2 teams per HW location to compete in a four week bootcamp (teams get full access to the clubs plus one bootcamp and one FOCUS session per week). The team with the greatest percentage of change wins a $1500 shopping spree to City Sports.

If anyone is looking for a team member, please let me know! :-D

All Eyes On Jenny

Does anyone want to form a team with me for this challenge? I need at least 3 non-members of Healthworks (my gym), but if chosen, you’ll have access to any of the 5 Boston area Healthworks!

Once my road race is over (August 9th) I need something else to keep me going … this looks like a perfect opportunity. Anyone? Anyone? Leave a comment or email me at jenny [at] this domain dot com.

The Tweets:

D_Jacobson: Check out Fiona’s Challenge, Healthworks’ latest bootcamp & form your teams! Apply by 8/24: http://fionaschallenge.wordpress.com/
D_Jacobson: @xtremelyperfect Awesome! Do you know about Fiona’s Challenge? We’re running a bootcamp. Wanna form a team w/ me? http://fionaschallenge.wordpress.com/
Find Out more for yourself and apply at http://fionaschallenge.com
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