Friday, April 6, 2012

Dear Frustrated: Part 3

*In case you are just now joining us, follow these links to read Dear Frustrated: Part 1 and Dear Frustrated: Part 2 (you will find that I added a few more nuggets of information to Part 2, because, of course, I forgot a few things until I was lying awake in bed in the middle of the night).*

Dear Frustrated: Part 3,
I cannot stress enough to you the importance of exercise.  I get really frustrated when I hear my friends and family members talk about going on diets to lose pounds.  I do a mental eye roll when someone focuses solely on his/her Body Mass Index (BMI).  If I focused only on my BMI, I would be convinced that I was overweight.  In fact, even my Wii Fit tells me that I'm overweight and my "Mii" character gets chubby when I step on the board (this is the reason I don't use my Wii Fit anymore and instead get a real workout at the gym).  What is more important, is actually Body Composition (ie: what your body is made of).  Find out what your body fat percentage, and pay attention to how it changes as you exercise.  Mine, for example, has gone from 33% to somewhere around 21% in the last 5 months (depending on which caliper test is being administered).

Which would you rather have?
I want to bang my head against a brick wall when people only want to go on a diet, or only want to perform cardio and expect to get a great figure.  I understand that much of this mindset has been bread into our generation and the generation before us.  We are a product of the fad-diet, quick-fix, diet pill era.  You cannot out-diet a sedentary lifestyle.  You have to exercise your body (and not just slowly pedaling a stationary bike while reading a romance novel -- I mean really working hard) to make your body healthy.

I tend to get a little grouchy when people tell me that they don't have enough time to get to the gym.  My opinion is this, if you have time to sit on the computer and check Facebook, you have time to go to the gym.  If you have time to watch every episode of The Kardashians on TV, you have time to go to the gym.  If you really want to make a change in your life, you have to make sacrifices.  Cut out a few minutes of another activity that isn't doing you any good, and substitute it with the gym (you don't have to spend a ridiculous amount of time at the gym -- plan on 45-60 minutes, four or five (ideally five) days a week, and use your time wisely).  Believe me, you won't miss Khloe and Kim as much as you might think.

I mentioned before about a gym friend who decided to quit CrossFit due to weight gain.  It still saddens me that she wasn't able to understand, even after my lecture, the importance of gaining muscle in order to burn fat.  It saddens me that she was so upset by the number on the scale, that she stepped away from a program that could have changed her life.  But hasn't this idea of "fit" been bread into us?  This "Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days" bull s**t?  We, as women, have had starving models shoved down our throats and into our magazines for so long, that we have forgotten what fit and healthy actually is.  You have got to stop worrying about what the scale says, stop trying to be skinny, and start getting healthy.

Look at the difference from before to after!
And her weight didn't change at all!
Skinny is sick.  Skinny is scrawny.  Skinny is unhealthy.  Skinny makes you look like a 13 year old boy.  Strong gives you beautiful curves.  Strong is sexy.  Strong is beautiful.  Strong is healthy.  And exercise is vitally important to good health.  It isn't enough to be thin, because, as we all know, you can look thin on the outside and be very unhealthy on the inside.  This phenomenon is called "Skinny Fat" (I highly recommend clicking on that link, it has fantastic fitness information for women, as well as more information about being skinny fat).

I just don't get it.
I know that many of you are runners (and many of you, like me, are not), and you may not like what I am about to say... but, running isn't really going to do much for your physique.  I think that cardio is great for your heart, lungs, and endurance; but if you focus too heavily on cardio, you will begin burning muscle, when what you really want to burn is fat.  In the words of my dear friend, Sarah"Get off the couch, get off the scale, and throw some weight around. Lifting weights builds muscle and burns calories all day long. If you must run, do it after lifting, not before."

I am a huge proponent of weight lifting (heavy weights -- not three-pound hand weights).  Weight training is the key to making changes in your body.  I have achieved the best, quickest, and longest lasting results from weight lifting.  Don't be afraid to walk into the weight area.  The muscly men may seem intimidating at first, but I have found that they tend to be quite nice (although I am generally so involved in my workouts that I tend not to pay attention to anyone aside from my CrossFit group).  Prove to them that you can grunt just as loud as they can.  If it's not the men, but the weights that intimidate you.  Schedule an appointment with a trainer at your gym so you can learn proper lifting, form, and technique.  You will be glad you did.

Many women avoid weights because they are afraid of "bulking up" -- insert eye roll here.  Hear me now, lifting weights will not make you look bulky.  Most generally, if you see a woman who looks like The Incredible Hulk, she is taking steroids.  We, as women, are not wired to get bulky.  God did not design our bodies that way.  What actually happens when you lift weights is that you, obviously, gain muscle, but you burn fat at a much faster rate.  Building muscle turns your body into a calorie burning machine, even at rest.  And guess what?  When the fat begins to melt away, you will look toned, not bulky.  Look at the pictures below, I most definitely haven't bulked up.  I began quickly dropping inches as soon as I lowered my cardio and upped my weights.
July 2011 -- 215 lbs
October 2011 -- 184 lbs
One week before Beginning CrossFit

April 2012 -- 164 lbs
Five months after beginning CrossFit
I was asked recently, what I did to kick start my workout routine.  What I did was this:  I began.  I stopped sitting at home making myself sick with my sedentary lifestyle.  I walked through the doors of the gym and worked hard.  And then, the next day, I went back.  Then I started treating my workouts as if they were vitally important appointments that I could not miss.  And now, I feel in my heart that my workouts are vitally important appointments that I cannot miss.  It really is that simple.  Find a time that works for your schedule, and go.

" begin, begin."
I, obviously, love CrossFit, and would love for everyone I have ever met in my whole entire life to try it so they can love it too; but I understand that it's not for everybody.  If group training isn't your thing, set a schedule for yourself.  Maybe plan on working your upper body on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and your lower body on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Try following up your weight session with calisthenics appropriate to whichever part of your body you are working that day (focusing especially on form and technique).  Make sure, when you are lifting weights, that you are using enough weight that you are challenging yourself, but no so much that you aren't able to handle it.  I would start with 4 sets of 12 reps on each machine or lift.  Gradually up your weights as your body gets stronger.

I would also suggest you add in a Yoga class a few times a week.  This will help you tremendously in areas of strength, flexibility, and breathing.  You must understand, that unless your muscles are properly stretched, they will not reach their full strength potential.  Lack of stretching also leads to injury.

Click here to read the hilarious, and oh-so-true article entitled:
The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym, by Jason Gay

I have had a few people confess to me that they aren't sure what to do because they hate exercising, and have no desire to start a workout plan.  My suggestion (just like with vegetables), is to suck it up.  Try a variety of different exercises and classes until you find something you like, then expand upon it.  Take friends with you; friends that will become accountability partners for you; friends that won't let you slack off and eat cookies instead of working out; friends that will encourage and support you.

I understand that cost is an issue for some of you.  Not everyone can afford a gym membership, or a CrossFit fee.  But, almost everyone has access to heavy objects that can be lifted.  Take a couple of empty milk cartons and fill them with sand.  Bench press your toddler (they will love it).  When I was a kid, my mom would use soup cans for weights, and in the summer, we would go to the pool every day so that she could "water-walk."  Be creative, use your imagination -- just do something.  Also remember that many organizations, such as the YMCA (an amazing not-for-profit organization that I am proud to be a part of), will scholarship your membership costs, based on your income.

I feel that it is important to set small goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them.  Had I started out with the daunting goal of losing 107 lbs, I would have quit long ago.  But, each time I achieved a small goal, I felt encouraged to keep going (currently I am down 94 lbs, with only 13 to go before I reach my end goal).  Remember that you won't hit your goals over night, but be proud of yourself each time you do something to help yourself achieve your goals.  After each workout, pat yourself on the back.  Say, "Self, you did a great job and I'm proud of you!" -- if you feel it necessary to actually pat yourself on the back and talk to yourself out lout, maybe wait until you get home -- just so no one calls your therapist.

Most importantly, keep a positive attitude.  Your attitude in this journey will either make you or break you.  For a long time, I had convinced myself that I would never be able to be healthy, that I would always be fat, that I was trapped as a prisoner to PCOS.  But I finally decided to quit feeling sorry for myself, and start fighting.  You are not going to get your dream body overnight.  You are not going to lose 50 pounds this month.  But, if you keep a smile on your face, and make yourself keep going, then you will see positive changes in your body, your mood, your attitude, your ability to sleep restfully, your energy levels, etc.  You are going to have people try to entice you with the promise of a quick fix with magic pills and wraps and fad diets (oh my!), but keep your eye on the prize, sister.  I know that you want to look great, but don't you also want to be able to say that you are healthy and that you feel great?

In the book 'Made to Crave' by Lisa Tyrkeurst, she says that getting healthy is like a flower garden. You can want it to be beautiful and you can try to will the weeds away all you want, but you are not going to get a beautiful flower garden unless you plant the seeds, pull the weeds, and do the work.

You cannot have something this beautiful
without putting in time and effort.

I have been skinny before.  And when I was skinny, I was terribly unhealthy.  I have taken diet pills, I have starved myself, I have abused my body.  And you know what?  Even though I was skinny, I felt like crap -- all the time.  But now, I have worked hard, and I am strong.  I honestly feel better than I have ever felt in my entire life.  And that, my friend, is worth all of this hard work.

So, my dear frustrated friend, know that you can get healthy.  You can have the body you want; you can feel fantastic; you can be a much better, more vibrant version of you.  You are already amazing, don't you want to feel that way?

Get off the couch.  Love yourself.  And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

1 comment:

  1. Kelsey you are an amazing woman! You are correct! I'm not dieting, I'm watching what I put in my mouth, I'm off the couch, working out with weights, bands, down 30 pounds, but instead of sloppy flappy skin, I'm seeing toned muscle! Thanks for your words of wisdom :) having the courage to tell your story and let everyone share in your journey! Here is to healthy, stronger bodies!


Please leave your comment below!