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I was going through a bunch of old photos on my phone this weekend, and I found a ton of pictures I couldn’t believe were me! What a difference a year makes. It’s January 2018 and it’s officially been one year since I committed to making fitness a consistent part of my life. Even though I have only lost about 3 lbs in 2017, the changes are still huge. It’s proof that not all results can be found on the scale alone, so I attribute a majority of my transformation to exercise.

Let’s recap a bit. In 2016 my new year’s resolution was to get healthy, and I spent the whole year focusing on my diet alone. (no exercise). I really wanted to make a genuine change, so I figured I would start by mastering one thing at a time. I wound up losing 25 lbs. By December 2016, I was ready to introduce exercise to my routine. Before I made the commitment to be “an active person, who like, works out all the time,” I never went to the gym and my only real form of activity was walking my dog for 10 minutes a day. I was lazy and awkward and had no idea where to start of how to use any machines in the gym or move my body. Plus, the gym was just for meatheads and people obsessed with themselves right? (wrong!)

So in December 2016, after getting a hold on my nutrition, I was ready to introduce exercise to my lifestyle transformation and enlisted a personal trainer to help me figure it out. My first workout was doing 5 minutes on a stair master and 10 lunges down a hallway – after 2 minutes on the stair master I could hardly breathe and I stopped after 3 minutes. I also could barely complete 5 lunges without crying out in agony, and I struggled to walk for about a week afterwards from being so sore. Fitness is terrible and this will never get easier OR fun, I thought. It was a nightmare, but you have to start somewhere right? I’m glad I did…

Tired, but sweating feels so good!

Fast forward a year and I can now do 40 minutes on the stair master nonstop, and I typically do about 60 lunges with weights during a normal training session, on top of a bunch of different workouts. I usually spend about 1-2 hours at the gym at a time, and go 4-6x a week. My endurance has increased dramatically, I can lift heavier weights, and I rarely get super sore after a training session.

So how did I go from being clueless in the gym and a couch potato to working out 4-6x/week and getting strong? It’s something I always wondered back in the day. I’d see super fit people walking around and think, “how the hell do people learn to like exercise? How do you learn what to do in the gym to get a good workout? How do you stay consistent?” I would look up workout videos on YouTube, but be too chicken to try them out at the gym.  It was all foreign territory to me. I’m hoping that by sharing my story I can help other people who might feel that way or have no idea where to start with their own journey.

Here is the big secret: I made a decision, and I started doing it. That’s it. I showed up at the gym that first time, knowing very well I was clueless and just did what the trainer told me, even though I sucked and it was so hard. And then I came back a couple days later and did it again. And then I came back a couple days later, and did it AGAIN. And again. And again. And it was always hard, but I did it anyway and most importantly I didn’t give up on myself. I would plan my schedule (and meals) around the gym so I had no excuses. I started off small – I would shoot to go to the gym 2-3 days a week minimum, and over time I slowly increased that. And each hard day turned into weeks, and each of those weeks turned into months, and every month I slowly started to suck less at the gym and get a better idea of what I was doing in there.

Dec. 2016 (left) and Dec. 2017 (right). What a difference a year of fitness makes!

And yes, I started out with a trainer. I happened to be dating one at the time (thanks boo), but I recommend anyone feeling clueless about fitness to get some help from a professional who knows what the heck they are doing. They will lead you through the workouts, check your form and make sure you’re not going to hurt yourself doing that thing you saw on YouTube. They will give you workouts personalized for your fitness level, push you when necessary, and help you reach your goals. It’s the best investment you can make, especially in the beginning. I learned so much from working with a trainer that I eventually knew my way around the gym enough to do it solo.

I would also take group fitness classes at the gym – usually I was the slowest person in the room, the last to finish, the one using the least amount of weight or struggling most to get through the workout. I probably looked stupid, I thought, but I didn’t even care. That’s the whole reason of showing up right? To get better. So I kept coming. And I kept trying different classes: kickboxing, spin, yoga, HIIT, and more. I made a commitment to fitness, and part of that was to get to know the limitations of my body and build that relationship with myself. So trying different things, pushing myself in different way, and exploring my body was a really important part of the process.

I love feeling strong!

Before I started my fitness journey, I never thought I could get where I am now. But I realize that like with anything you want to “get good at,” you need to keep practicing and dedicate time to make it there, and be kind to yourself in the process. I am still by no means an expert, and many times I still struggle to get through a class and I’m still working on getting stronger (still can’t do a push-up!) but I love the way my body feels when I exercise. If I go a couple days without working out something feels off.

I definitely enjoy the physical benefits of working out (buying smaller pants! whoo hoo!), but the best result of exercise is the way it makes me feel inside. I sleep better than I ever have since I started working out. It doesn’t take me 3 hours and 2 cups of coffee to wake up every morning. I get up feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to take on the day. My mood has improved and I have 5x more energy.

I still feel like I’m at only the beginning of my journey. As I enter year two, I am looking forward to getting stronger, leaner, and more athletic. I have awhile to go and there’s a lot left to learn, but with my first year under my belt, I am ready to take my fitness to the next level! Overall, working out makes me feel ALIVE, and for that reason alone I have learned to love exercise. I guess am “one of those people” now after all.

 

 

 

January 27, 2018
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Life update: I am a married woman! A courthouse wedding followed by a photo shoot in a Japanese garden and a delicious, steakhouse dinner fit for food lovers, joined by 18 of our closest family members = the most perfect, intimate, low-stress, and happiest day of my life.

July 29, 2017
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This is my dog Charlie. I got him six years ago during my last week of radiation as a “congrats you are finished with cancer treatment” gift to myself. I brought him home stuffed inside of my jacket to shield him from the cold brought on by a snowstorm that had just passed though New York City, where I lived at the time. He weighed only 2.5 pounds and my heart melted instantly. His cuteness was irresistible, but I soon realized that raising a puppy was a lot harder than I anticipated. The potty training, the teething, the barking, teaching him to sit and not chew every pair of shoes all drove me pretty crazy in the beginning. He chewed through my Macbook charger twice and peed on my bed. He also chewed the side of my wall, which my property manager loved. Needless to say, we got off to a challenging start together, but over time Charlie would give me an entirely new perspective on life all together.

As time went on, Charlie and I learned more and more about each other. We went from just cohabitating in my studio apartment to constantly snuggling with each other every chance we got. I would sing to him and he would bark along, he would roll over for treats and let me put him in ridiculous outfits for the hell of it. I dressed him in a taco costume for Halloween (and was almost brought to tears with pride when he won a doggie costume contest!). We learned to “get” each other. And not only did Charlie become a friend and companion, but also a great teacher about what matters most in life.

I’ve learned a lot about love and partnership through Charlie, and also my overall outlook on how I choose to live. Having Charlie around has taught me to be a better person, friend, and partner. And it made me think, maybe we could stand to take a couple notes about life from our canine companions. Here are some of the life lessons Charlie has taught me:

1. Live with love at the core of your existence

Sure, he barks at squirrels in the trees like any dog, but Charlie is more likely to lick something to death than hurt it. He’s eager to meet anything that moves, and his first action is to lick and love you, whether he knows you or not. All Charlie wants is to be your friend and probably cuddle until you can’t cuddle anymore.

Imagine if we entered into foreign territory with simply the intention to show kindness and compassion, to not expect the worst, to welcome others with hugs and kisses? What a world we would live in. People find comfort in labels, and through labels we tend to define people as a group without really getting to know them. But imagine if we were simply open to people, no preconceived judgments, when we met them? Being accepting of people and living with love in your heart is a gateway for peace, and who doesn’t like that?

2. Show gratitude to the people in your life, old and new

I feed him, give him snuggles, take him on walks, and buy him toys. Charlie gives me love for it every day – well, maybe that’s just my human perception, but it’s still a good reminder to be grateful for the people who show up for you and add value to your life.

It doesn’t always need to be a grand act of gratitude either; telling someone how much you appreciate them, sending them a note, or just a hug and a “thank you for being you” are bound to make someone’s day. If someone means something to you, tell them. Another day is never guaranteed.

3. Practice forgiveness and let go of grudges

Sometimes I get angry at Charlie for barking or scold him for having an accident in the house. And some of those times my outburst turn out being a little over-the-top with him, which I wind up feeling guilty about later. But despite any reprimanding I may do, Charlie never holds a grudge. He always comes back ready to love me.

By forgiving and letting go of grudges, we are able to carry on living a life with love in our hearts. It also creates a pathway for positive experiences to enter our lives. By staying stuck on the past we concentrate a lot of our energy on negative feelings, and in the long term, that only holds us back from our own growth and moving forward. Letting go of grudges and forgiving the people who hurt or disappointed us not only frees us from being held back by our past, but it also reaffirms your strength as an individual with the choice to be happy. Most importantly, eliminating negative energy makes space in your spirit for new, positive experiences to find you.

4. Enjoy the simple things

Charlie sits on my retired grandmother’s lap all day – sometimes for hours at a time. The rest of his day is spent napping, chewing on his toys (sometimes playing fetch with himself by throwing his own ball then catching it), licking my nose, barking at random noises, begging my grandpa to feed him table scraps, pooping, and napping some more. What a life. And he is perfectly happy doing every bit of those things.

How many times have you sat back and felt like you didn’t have enough in life? I think for my generation especially, we are constantly unsatisfied with what we already have. But if you have a roof over your head, food in your belly, family, your health, and some money in your pocket, what is there left to want? Sometimes we can stand to focus more on the simple things and the immense value those bring to our lives. Sure, a Lamborghini is nice and shiny and fancy, but do you really need one to be happy in your soul? (If you answered yes, this post is not for you!) If you look back at the history of mankind, we don’t really need a lot of things to survive and be happy. My point is, find gratitude for the little things, and maybe you’ll find true fulfillment from them.

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Sometimes I dress Charlie up in costumes because it’s hilarious, plus he is small and can’t escape it anyway. One of my personal favorites is a a wooly mammoth costume I got him, with tusks and everything. It’s absolutely ridiculous. But you know what? Charlie doesn’t care. Despite any humiliation I may put him through, he never seems to mind. He’s not afraid to be silly. Sometimes he runs around in circles for no reason, and accidentally runs into walls and knocks things over. But he’s not ashamed, ever. He just gets up and keeps running with his tongue hanging out, happy as can be.

Charlie doesn’t take himself too seriously and neither should we. So what if we mess up or do something silly or have an accident? Life is all about making mistakes and learning from them. We are all our own worst critics, and sometimes that can hold us back from truly enjoying life. Who cares what other people might think about your hairstyle or job choice or wardrobe? If you don’t take yourself too seriously, then you are more able to go with the flow of life and let any potential criticism breeze past you. So we should all wear the silly costumes, embrace the mess ups, and do the bold things without taking everything so damn seriously. That’s what Charlie would do….

April 3, 2017
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