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So today I registered for the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon (MFWHM). To say I’m excited is an understatement of the greatest proportions. I have been thinking about this ALL DAY since I registered! Let me start at the beginning.

I was feeling some type of way today. I just felt really crazy and off-kilter and very anxious. This morning I tried to go somewhere I have been at least three times before, and I couldn’t find my way there. I had to call and get directions. Then the rest of the day from that point on? Meh. I needed a pick me up. Something told me to check on the half-marathon registration. The site said previously that registration would open mid-January and that it’s a capped race. That meant I would have to register as soon as registration opened to guarantee myself a spot, or else it would sell out. I had planned to check on January 15th, but something told me to check today. So on a humble I go to the site and scroll down and I can tell the site looks different. I keep scrolling, and there it is:

Image

The Magic Button. I stared at it for a minute, amazed that it was actually there because it’s not mid-January. I think about waiting. I think about money; should I spend it on this registration? The race is on 4/13/14, and my 40th birthday is on 4/14/14. I decide running a half-marathon for my 40th birthday is worth it and I click the button.

And now I can’t stop thinking about this race! You would think it was my first one. But it is my first one outside of Cincinnati and it’ll be the first all women race I run. I’m not just running in NYC, I’m running through Central Park! I’ve never been to Central Park on any of my trips to NYC. I think I’m so excited because of the element of the unknown. Running the Pig here in Cincinnati, I’m running on streets I drive on (except when it goes in KY, because I don’t go to KY unless absolutely necessary). Now I’ve registered to run a race I know nothing about, I have no idea where the hills start or end, I didn’t even think there would be hills until I read the website. I mean, they tell you what miles the hills cover, but that means diddlysquat to me since I’ve never seen it.

I’m also excited about registration packet/bib pick-up, and the Health & Wellness Expo. Just to compare it to the Expo that they have here before the Pig. I’m pretty sure I don’t get a swag bag at the MFWHM. The website specified t-shirt, and you’re not even guaranteed the size of your choice:  first come, first served. So I think a swag bag is a pipe dream. No biggie, I’ll get my swag on at the Pig. Which is exactly 3 weeks after the MFWHM. Eh, I might be crazy. We’ll find out. 🙂

I’m excited to start training. I haven’t run since September. I mean, maybe a little bit here and there on the treadmill or as a warm-up during bootcamp, but that’s it. I’m not looking forward to it, but I think I’m going to have to actually run in the cold. See, I’m not a cold weather runner. When it’s cold or raining, I run on the treadmill. But I’m not sure what the weather will be like in April in NYC, so something tells me I need to do a few cold weather runs. And not even that jacked up news can take away my excitement about this race! This race is going to be special to me. I don’t know how or why, I just feel like it is. And because of that, I actually WANT to train for it. I look forward to lacing up my running shoes again. I do NOT look forward to running in cold weather, but I DO look forward to what I’ll learn about myself and about running. And I’m excited to try to get a little faster. I’m never trying to win the race; I’m not that type of runner. I do, however, like to challenge myself to get a little better every time. Last year, I finished the Pig in 2:38:45, and that was without really training for it. This year, I would like to finish both races at around 2:15. I think it’s doable, especially if I train the way I know I’m supposed to, and I will.

Oh, I almost forgot. There was an option to have someone contact you if you have an inspirational story to share. I checked the little box that they could contact me. I would love to be an inspiration to other women. I hope they contact me. 🙂

I used to be notorious for saying I would only run if a dog was chasing me. Now I’m running a half-marathon for my 40th birthday. I gotta admit, I amaze myself sometimes. You should give that a try:  AMAZE YOURSELF!

Until next time, as always, CHOOSE LIFE, CHOOSE HEALTH!

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Before & After

Before & After

The pic on the left is a size 14/16 circa 2011 and the pic on the right is size 6 in Dec. 2013.

Believe in the Possibility

December 2013. Size 6 pants, size small shirt. The sweater is OSFA.

I used to wear a size 18/20 pants and 2X shirts. I even had one sundress that was a size 22. You’ve come a long way baby? Yes, indeed!

I remember there being times that I didn’t think I would ever lose the weight. I would see other people I KNEW do it, and still didn’t think it was possible for me. Even still, I never gave up hope. My journey started in 2002 and I met my goal weight in 2012. I started and quit A LOT. But I always started again. Then one day I decided to stick with it. I lost some weight, gained some weight, lost some weight, hit a plateau, lost some more weight, got pregnant, gained lots of weight, lost lots of weight, kept off lots of weight. All over 11 years. There is no quick fix. It won’t take everyone ten years. But even if it does? So what? You don’t think once you lose the weight it’s over, do you? The changes you make to lose the weight are the changes you’ll have to keep to maintain a healthy weight. So since you’re going to changing your lifestyle, and not just going on a diet, it really doesn’t matter how long it takes for the weight to fall off. Enjoy the journey of learning to prepare meals that are delicious, flavorful, clean, and healthy. Enjoy the journey of trying to get a small child to choose real, whole foods over junk food – trust me, it really can be enjoyable. Enjoy the journey of self acceptance: the successes, the failures, the strengths, the weaknesses, and all the little nuances that make you YOU. Enjoy the feeling that comes from taking good care of yourself and your family. Enjoy feeding your family meals made from your hands and filled with love. Enjoy the pain you feel during and after a workout, knowing you are building strong muscles and strong bones to support your strong body. Enjoy the joy you feel as you reach milestone after milestone headed toward your goal. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment you feel after you finish a workout you didn’t feel like doing in the first place. Enjoy the ABSOLUTE SOLITUDE of your workout; a time when you don’t have to be wife, mother, friend, or sister (or husband, father, friends, or brother) to anyone, you can simply BE YOU. Enjoy the lasting positive impact you have on your children and those around you when you embrace your healthy lifestyle. Enjoy your journey to good health and a lifetime free of disease and costly medications. Enjoy having the energy you need to keep up with your life and the people in it. Now that I think about it, the joys of this journey have FAR outweighed the bad. I mean, really, what is the bad? You can’t eat something whenever or as much as you want to? You have to exercise regularly? Is there anything else really bad? After a while, even those things become second nature and you don’t look at them as bad anymore. They are simply a part of your life. Do not ever think that you cannot change your life. You can. Remember that it’s not all or nothing; setbacks do not equate failure. Keep pressing forward, NO MATTER WHAT. You are the only person who can stand in the way of you and your goals. So get out of your way and GET MOVING!!! Your goal awaits you!

(Oh yeah, that white spot? Mirror, not my pants.)

UPDATE!

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you, without a dope blog to motivate you! But I’m BACK! Update:

  • still maintaining a healthy weight (next month will make 2yrs of maintenance – woohoo!)
  • still wearing a size 6 (for the most part. My NY&Co 6’s are too big and I may or may not have a pair of size 4 Ann Taylor Loft jeans)
  • still teaching bootcamp & Zumba® classes at the gym
  • my arms still look better than the rest of my body
  • still cognizant of what I put into my mouth, but I’m not tracking
  • still covered in a thin layer of fat (at least I think it’s thin, lol) over my abs, upper thighs, and my back
  • still committed to looking better naked
  • still trying to build a business
  • still trying to be an Oxygen success story

As you see, not much has changed in the past 8 months since my last post. The biggest difference is that I no longer attend WW meetings. I’ve decided to be a calorie counter. Since I understand the science behind how to build my meals, I no longer need WW to do it for me. Not only that, but my clients won’t all be on WW (if any) and I need to be able to be the example. So I’m going to count calories. Notice I said “going to.” I haven’t been, but you knew that since I told you I’m not tracking my food intake. But I’m going to start.

All in all, I’m happy with my body. I remind myself daily that I may not be where I want to be, but I’m FAR from where I was! There are still improvements I’d like to make, but I’m at peace with where I am physically. There will never be a time when I won’t have to work to either improve or maintain, and I’m OK with that.

This has been a super stressful year, but I’ve handled it without holding onto any weight gains. And I’m proud of that fact. The old me would have tried to eat my stress away. I’m not her anymore. I was discouraged because things weren’t going exactly as I’d hoped. But as I look back over the year, financial stresses and all, I am at peace with my decisions. I believe that everything that happened this year happened for a reason. And I even see the blessings in what I believe to be failed business ventures. I’ve made relationships that have motivated me and will propel me into the success I wish to see. I have learned a lot about myself and how I want to run my business. I’ve made some mistakes and am prepared to learn from them. I have ZERO regrets. I am no longer discouraged. I KNOW I am exactly where I am supposed to be because of the peace I feel. Understand this:  I am still stressed! My mind is still racing a mile a minute daily, forcing me to make lists and budgets. However, I am not depressed or anxious. There is absolute peace in knowing you are doing what you are supposed to do, no matter how hard, no matter the obstacles. A good friend and spiritual warrior told me that Yah is allowing me to go through this because He knows I will FIGHT and WIN. So instead of getting frustrated, depressed, anxious, envious, angry, or giving up, I fight harder. I’m a lot of things, but loser is not one of them. So I press on.

I know I say this all the time, but this time I mean it. Expect regular updates from now on. Eventually, this blog will transition to a blog that is connected to my website (which is in dream mode, but coming soon). Until then, I will update on the regular to hold myself accountable to my goals. Social media really works for me in that sense, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Updates you can expect? Business Bites (everything related to getting my fitness business off the ground), Education & Trainings (everything related to grad school and fitness certifications/licenses), Naturally Nutritious (all about clean eating), and of course MO FITNESS MO FITNESS MO FITNESS! I’d never leave you without workout updates! Especially not with my running season coming up!

So stay tuned! And as always, CHOOSE HEALTH, everything else will fall into place!

So I decided last week to give up sugar for at least 28 days. I was going to start once I got all of my sugar out of my house. I still have about 3 containers of yogurt to eat that have sugar in them. I figured instead I’d just blog about what I eat every day and the number of sugar grams I consume during these 28 days. The first few days will have some sugar, but the rest should have zero. The first day I have 0g of sugar will be Day 1. I already started weaning myself and I have to say I’m proud of that little bit of progress. Aunt Flo is on her way and normally, I binge the week before she gets here. I do it knowingly, yet helplessly. It is a battle I have yet to win. This past Friday, after teaching Zumba®, I head to Kroger to get my normal binge eats: sugar and salt. I am looking for a slice or two of cake or a small container of cookies (my binging has decreased I’m not eating whole cakes anymore, or even half of a cake, go me!) and a bag of Baked Cheetos. As I head toward the Cheetos, I realize that I wouldn’t be getting any cake or cookies. What for? If I’m giving up sugar, why buy sugar laden foods? Didn’t make any sense, so I didn’t buy it. As I left the store with my Cheetos, I couldn’t believe it. I, Monique Little, left cake in the store the week before her period. The Baked Cheetos, however, are already gone. Yeah, smashed those 11 servings in the span of 24 hours. I’ve yet to learn to take responsibility for that behavior; I still blame Aunt Flo and her pending arrival. But I hold on to my No Sugar Victory, a new NSV if you will.

I used to read food labels and ingredients to make sure my food was clean (kosher clean, not Tosca Reno clean). Now I’m reading the label to see if there is any sugar or hidden sugar (high fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, honey, molasses, etc. You started singing Jill Scott when you read Honey Molasses, didn’t you? Yeah, I did, too). It is literally hiding in everything, even bread. I’m not a big bread eater, so that won’t really be an issue. I bought a loaf so that I could get rid of the last of my deli turkey. Not only because the deli meat has sugar in it (honey), but because of the nitrates/nitrites. It was my first time buying deli meat in quite some time and it’s been in the fridge probably a month. I ate the last of it for breakfast this morning, so that’s gone. Yeah, breakfast of champions. Anyway, I’ll probably be giving the bread away so that it doesn’t go bad.

The major challenge of this 28-day detox (cuz that’s what it may as well be called) is going to be my water intake. I get my fluids from not only water but juice, crystal light, and iced tea sweetened with Truvia. Welp, no more of that. I don’t even drink a lot of juice, maybe a glass every other day. But I will drink Crystal Light and use Truvia. That’s all dead now. Last week I started putting frozen berries in my water as ice and flavor. Guess what I noticed when I read the label on those? Yep, sweetened with sucrose. And I usually make sure my frozen fruit (used for my smoothies) is not sweetened. I’m not sure how this even made the cut. I guess I was off my game that day. Anyway, I have been drinking more water and I even made a pitcher of unsweetened iced tea. That is going to take some serious getting used to, but it’s doable.

Breakfast cereal I thought would also be a challenge. I *heart* cereal, but all of the cereal I eat is sweetened. My Kashi Go Lean Crunch Honey Almond Flax, my Smart Start, everything. I do not eat oatmeal (or any other hot cereal). I just don’t like how it feels in my mouth. But I am going to give it a try with some homemade baked apples and a little cinnamon. We’ll see. Just in case it doesn’t work out (which I suspect it won’t), I bought something I haven’t eaten since I was a kid: shredded wheat. Plain, bite-sized shredded wheat. The only ingredient? Whole grain wheat. Nothing else. My grandparents used to eat this all the time. They would crumble those big biscuits up in a bowl, pour on some milk, and go to town. I used to put sugar in mine when I was little, but it would always just end up in the bottom of the bowl anyway. So I think I’ll be able to make do with shredded wheat, unsweetened almond milk, and an egg white omelet for breakfasts. The shredded wheat actually has a decent amount of protein (6g), a whopping 8g of fiber, and the serving size is huge (1 ¼ cups). I may not even need the omelet. We’ll see. I used to be of the belief that only flake cereals (Frosted Flakes, Corn Flakes, Smart Start, etc.) should have bananas in them. I have never put bananas in any other type of cereal or used any other fruit in my cereal. Y’all know I have a rule about fruit in your food? It’s wrong. That’s the rule. My only exceptions to this rule have been bananas in flake cereals, apple pie, and just recently, in yogurt. I think I may try bananas in the shredded wheat to add some flavor and sweetness. I hope that doesn’t turn out to be a culinary disaster.

I haven’t decided what’s going to happen at the end of this 28 day detox. That ultimately depends on what my body looks like. Tosca Reno’s book, Eat Clean Diet Stripped, says I can lose 10lbs in those 28 days, which is 2.5lbs per week. That will be 2.5lbs of fat, because I will still be building muscle as I go. I’ve kinda been slacking on my weight lifting lately, but I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’d gotten down to only once a week, and I only did that because I was afraid of muscle atrophy. I don’t want to lose the definition I’ve worked so hard to get. So I need to lose the fat that is hanging on to my back, my abdomen, my upper arms, and my thighs. When I am finished, I should be a walking billboard for myself. I will look marketable as a trainer. Then I will have a new set of before/after pictures. And I might even put them on my business cards. If that happens, I will begin to reintroduce unrefined sugars to my diet. Right now the only ones on my list are sucanat and pure maple syrup.

When I first decided to do this 28 day sugar detox, I was dreading it. Now I’m looking forward to the results I’ll see because of it. And that will be the motivation to keep the sugar out of my home and out of my mouth. I went to Half Price Books to look for the book Sugar Blues, but they didn’t have it. I still have it on hold at the library, but I’ll check Amazon today to see how much they have it for. They have to have it; Amazon has everything. From what I understand, reading that book will be further motivation to keep the sugar out of my home, mouth, and body.

Reuben is going to HATE this. He had a meltdown just last week because I wouldn’t give him any candy (consequence for throwing a temper tantrum because he couldn’t have candy before dinner). He will have to get used to it and he’ll be better off because of it. Plus, he has a grandma that will give him all the sweets he needs! I still have a bag of candy in the pantry for him, so it will last him quite a while (it’s from Valentine’s day and it’s still there). And I told him that we’ll bake no sugar cookies using dried fruits as sweeteners. I have never done this and I have no idea how they will turn out. But we are going to give them a try. He loves helping out in the kitchen and especially baking cookies, so hopefully the sugar-free cookies won’t be a culinary disaster.

Here’s to a new phase in my journey of health and wellness! 

Long, Profane, Venting Rant

If You Don’t Believe in You, Who Will?

February 20, 2013

I had a bad day today. I let stress get the best of me. I have been burning the candle at both ends lately, and today it all pretty much came to a head. I’m proud to say I didn’t break down into tears nor did I eat myself into oblivion. But I did end up wasting time, and that’s almost just as bad. Time is the one resource we cannot replenish, so the time I wasted I’ll never get back.

I am all over the place. Y’all have no clue what I’m talking about. Why? Because my mind is a jumbled fucking mess. This is how I’ve been operating. As we speak, I am trying to burn a CD for my Zumba® class. I was streaming my music through my laptop, and everything was gravy, or so I thought. Then two weeks ago, this chick that works in the gym told me that I should turn the music up and the class would be more energetic. Well, the music was up as high as it would go given the speakers I’d bought on my budget. So she suggested I burn my music to a CD and use their CD player. I was hesitant to do this because I felt like it would be a waste. Why? Because my Zumba® playlist is ever changing. That means I will be burning hella CDs and not know what is on which CD. It’s going to get ridiculous. So last week, I go in with my laptop again. And what happens? Microsoft fuckin’ happens. Shut down my fuckin’ laptop IN THE MIDDLE OF MY CLASS!!!!! I was horrified. I mean, literally, horrified. I cannot STAND to look incompetent in any way. And this made me look like Boo Boo the Fool as far as I was concerned. I tried to keep the class moving so their heart rates wouldn’t drop, but of course it took longer than I thought would for my computer to come back up. To make things worse, little Miss Susie comes over while I’m talking to the class, interrupts me to ask if I needed a CD. I was already annoyed, but here is where I began to get pissed off. Zumba® is not something you can just do off of any music. First off, our routines are CHOREOGRAPHED! So I can’t just put in any song and keep the class going. All choreography does not go with all songs. So after I tell her no and turn back to the class, you’d think she’d go away. NO! This chick KEPT talking. Advising me AGAIN on burning a CD. Which, OK, I see the value in that now. But to do all of this IN FRONT OF THE CLASS??? Pissed. Me. Off. She meant well, she really did, but she still pissed me off. The old me would have cut her off and whispered some not so nice things in her ear and ushered her the fuck outta my presence. The new me doesn’t do that. The new me smiles and nods. The new me pisses the old me off, but I digress. The point is, I’m currently trying to take the fucking constructive criticism and burn a fucking CD but MY LAPTOP WON’T BURN THE FUCKING CD!!!!!!! I swear, this has been one hell of a fucking day. I am SO glad I didn’t go by cookies, cake, or ice cream, cuz I’d be fuckin’ it up right now! I have no idea why my laptop is so fuckin’ temperamental lately. Sometimes it will burn a CD, no friggin’ problem then other times, like NOW WHEN I FUCKING NEED IT, it won’t burn shit. 2% completed and just stuck there. To say I’m annoyed is an understatement of the greatest proportions. Now it’s telling me to insert a blank CD. But the CD was blank when I put it in there because it told me how much space would be left after I burned the songs I wanted to burn. This bullshit right here. My head hurts. I wish I could have a drink. But I want to see my abs. So here I sit. Fuckin’ frustrated. I was already annoyed when I sat down. But what the fuck else could I expect? When it rains it fucking pours.

Cue Mary J. Blige because I swear, this is my life. I’m about to put another CD in the laptop to try the burn again. But something tells me to go put it in the CD player to make sure it didn’t already burn. Into the living room I go and lo and behold? Burned just fuckin’ fine. What else can I do but shake my head and move the fuck on?

I am all off topic right now. I’m supposed to be writing about my self doubt. Here’s how it all started. I was at the library working on my exam. See, I’ve answered almost all of the questions, but now I need to complete two case studies and six essays. I’m almost done with both case studies, I just need to finish up the nutrition portion and a 12-week workout schedule for each person. I say that like it’s nothing. That’s a fucking lot, but compared to the rest of the shit I need to do? It’s really not much. I’m trying to finish these case studies, but then I get sidetracked on the other stuff I need to do. These essays are always in the back of my mind, so I’m researching online to find stuff to help me with those. And ultimately, this is going to help me in the long run even after I’ve gotten my certification, so this part was no time wasted. It’s just that I’m all over the place with this exam and I’m not used to working this way. I’m used to focusing on one thing until it’s done then moving on to the next thing. But this shit here? I’m all over the place. I end up in a body building forum where they are debating which organization’s certification is the best. And here is where the time wasting and self doubt begins.

I do NOTHING without thinking about it and researching it first. So when I chose the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), it was with confidence. I did not randomly pick a certification and I did not choose blindly. But you would have thought I did the way I reacted to what I read in this forum. Some people had the worst things to say about my future certification and some people had the best things to say. It was pretty much equal. Well, that’s not really true. The good outweighed the bad, but you know when self doubt enters the picture your perspective ends up skewed. Basically people were saying the certification was bogus/easy/junk because the final exam was online, no time limit, open book, and not proctored. But this shit is NO JOKE. They were saying because of this, you could potentially ask someone to take the test for you and the ISSA would not be the wiser. This much is actually true, but I never even thought about this. First off, if you did that, what good would it do you? You STILL have to do the work when it comes to training your clients. And if you don’t get results, ultimately you’ll fail because you won’t keep the clients you have and you’ll never get any new clients with the bad reputation you’d build for yourself. Secondly, who would do that for you? Someone said they knew a young guy who did this who was a terrible trainer. My question is this: what does that say for the person who had a different certification yet took the test for him? I would NEVER do that (nerds are not cheaters, it goes against what we believe in). It’s wholly unethical and as far as I’m concerned, how can you bad talk my certification when you have folks with your certification taking tests for other people? What part of the game is that? Nevertheless, after I read all the comments (and people were getting heated), I started surfing other body building and fitness sites to see what they had to say. This is when all the good started to come out. All the things I’d read when I researched in the first place were on these other boards. After an hour and twenty minutes, you’d think I would have walked away with my head held high that I’d chosen well.

Nope. I walked away thinking I’d chosen well, but all these other people are bubbleheads, some of whom are working in gyms who won’t hire trainers with my certification or will pay ISSA certified trainers less than others. I also felt like I was going to be the only person in this profession who doesn’t have a fitness background. It made me once again start to second guess what made me think I could do something like this in the first place. Ultimately, I left the library feeling discouraged and defeated. Now, it is true that I want another certification, but not because I don’t think mine is good enough. I want another certification because I thought it would make me more well rounded and I wanted to see if other certifying bodies had different materials or taught different concepts. I want to make sure I am as knowledgeable about my craft as possible. But my heart lies with the ISSA. It will always be my first certification and I am as protective of it as I am of my first born. Ok, so maybe that’s a hyperbole, but you get my point. I don’t appreciate people talkin’ shit about my certification. Especially when this exam is kicking my ass! Open book, untimed, or not, this shit is NOT easy.

I left the library today feeling totally and completely unproductive. Sure, I got some good research done, but I didn’t get a lot of writing done on my case studies and my essays. So I still have two case studies to finish and six essays to write. And about 20 multiple choice questions that still need answering regarding exercises, muscles, where they attach to the bones in the body, and why this is practical to know (which is something I wondered my damn self, now I have to prove some shit I’m not even sure of). So this is just what I have to do to finish this exam. This does not even take into account the new songs I need to choreograph for Zumba. And don’t get me started on the many Mommy tasks that have gone undone. There are forms that need to be filled out and turned in to the school that I keep forgetting to do. There is a form that needs to be filled out and turned in to the day care and I keep forgetting to do that, too. I bought paper plates and bowls because I knew I didn’t have time to do dishes. There are still dirty dishes in the sink. At least that means I’ve been cooking more lately. There is so much that needs to be done, but I’m always tired because I get little to no sleep. I’m either up late studying, up late because I can’t still my mind, or I’m up because Reuben is up. We are working on getting his four-year old ass to stay in his own bed all night, and it is more than a notion. He wakes up every two to three hours, comes into my room, I send him back into his room where he proceeds to cry for 5 to 30 minutes and then it starts all over two hours later. Once I’m awake, though, I can’t get back to sleep. So I’m exhausted all the time. I stopped drinking coffee, so I don’t have my regular energy boost during the day. I drink V8 Fusion Energy drinks here and there and I will have the occasional decaf coffee or even caffeinated tea. But nothing compares to coffee. Nothing. Exercise both energizes and exhausts me. If I wasn’t getting awakened every other hour, I’d sleep like a baby because I work out so often. And if If was a fifth, we’d all be drunk, right? Right. 

So today I feel like I totally suck at life. Nothing is going my way, yet I continue to plod through my day hoping that just one thing will turn out right. And as I get ready to go to sleep, I realize one thing did turn out right. At the very end of the day, Reuben has zero idea that my life (which ultimately is OUR life) is in absolute turmoil. He is still his regular happy and disobedient self. He still loves Mommy and could care less that she feels like a supreme fuck up. He thinks she’s the best. And at the end of the day, THAT is what I carry away with me. Because the truth is, that’s my whole purpose here, to be a mom. I’m just trying to be a better mom. Trying to create a better life and better future for us both. And in the process, I’m falling apart. Normally, I’m Ford tough, like a rock. Today? I wish I had my mommy to rock me while I cried in her lap. I’m tired and fucking over it all, I really am. But tomorrow, I’ll wake up and do the same thing all over again. Day after day, again and again, until I am successful. Regardless of my self doubts, I will press on. I mean, really, what other choice do I have? If I don’t believe in me, who will?

Cue Destiny’s Child: I’m a survivor…

 

Why I Run

I was thinking about this real hard yesterday. Especially why do I pay to run. I had no problem coming up with reasons. Initially I started running because it was only so fast I could walk. Once I couldn’t walk as fast as I wanted, I started running. I was walking and running for my life, literally. I am running from heart disease. I am running from obesity. I am running from an early death. Those were the reasons I started running, basically to lose weight. Well, I’ve lost the weight, why am I still running?

I still run because I obviously love it. I don’t dread it like I dread the elliptical or the rowing machine (my two least favorite machines in the gym, HATE THEM). I miss it when I’m not able to do it. I run because it challenges me. It’s not easy, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I’m done. I run because it is a good calorie burner and helps me to stay at a healthy weight. I run because it gives me some well needed alone time. I run because it allows me a chance to think, plan, decide, then clear my mind. I run because it gives me focus. I run because it reduces my stress. I run because I CAN. I run because it helps to tone my muscles in my legs and my butt. I run because it is an activity for which I can continually set goals, work to achieve them, and be successful. I run because it keeps me fit. I run because it helps to offset what I eat. I love to run!

Now, why would I PAY to run? Most people think it’s absurd to pay to do something you can ultimately do for free. Those aren’t people who are motivated by goal setting and accountability. Once I pay for a race, I am accountable to that money. That means I have to train for the race and I have to actually show up and run the race or my money is wasted. I DO NOT WASTE MONEY! Paying makes me committed. When I’m not training for a race I’ve signed up for, I won’t train consistently, let alone watch what I’m eating. Training for a half-marathon demands that I run a certain number of miles per week and it demands that I eat to fuel my runs and recovery afterward. The money I pay is my incentive to complete my training and my race. It is an investment in my success. It forces me to work toward my goal daily. So while I’m frugal, I know what it takes for me to meet my goals. I have to have someone or something to which I need to be accountable. For weight loss, it was weighing in at WW meetings. For fitness, it’s running races and paying for a personal trainer. It’s what works for me.

What works for you?

An Oxygen State of Mind

So my new goal is to become an Oxygen Magazine success story. I get this magazine every month. And every month I read it cover to cover secretly wishing I could have a body like the models in the magazine. I don’t want their bodies, I want my body in their fit shape. It was hard for me to lose weight, but I was determined to do it so I succeeded. But this right here? Man, I swear this is even harder than maintaining the weight! First of all, I can’t seem to get my eating under control. In order for me to get the body I want, I have to eat clean. This means I’m going to have to plan SO much better. It also means I’m going to have to wake up earlier in the morning to make sure my cooler is packed with absolutely everything I need to get me through my day. So in an attempt at accountability, I decided to blog about it.

What I’ve learned studying for my personal training certification is that for a desire to be considered a goal it must be positive, written down, specific, attainable (within reach yet hard enough to be challenging), have a deadline, and it must have sincere emotional appeal. 

Here are my goals:

  1. I want to achieve the following goals by the time I run the Flying Pig Half Marathon on May 5, 2013, which is 14 weeks from tomorrow (1/26/13)

  2. I want to lose 9lbs.

  3. I want to decrease my body fat percentage (I want to get this taken with calipers instead of the hand held thing at the gym so that it’s more accurate. Right now it says I’m about 28% body fat. I want to get a more accurate reading, and I want a body fat percentage of 20%)

  4. I want to gain more muscle definition

  • in my arms (I want the fat/flab from my arms GONE and tone my triceps more.)
  • in my shoulders (I want to sculpt my deltoids more so that my arms look even better.)
  • in my legs (I want to burn fat from my thighs specifically to see my quadriceps and hamstring muscles. I also want more definition in my calves.)
  • In my abs (I want to burn ALL of the fat from my midsection and be able to see my abdominal muscles.)
  • in my back (I want the back fat GONE! I want to be confident wearing backless dresses or tank tops in the summer.)

How do I plan to attain my goals?

  1. I will plan, plan, plan, plan, and plan some more! I will plan my meals at the beginning of the week and cook at least one to last me the whole week. I will plan my workouts for the whole week and will stick to that plan. I will plan my cheat meals so I have something to look forward to each week. I will remember that IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL!

  2. I shall not miss a workout! This is going to be easy peasy when it comes to cardio because I teach one Zumba® class every day except Sunday. There are two days a week that I teach two classes. I still have to practice my routines so that they are tight, not to mention I need to choreograph some new songs. I also have to start training for the Pig. I’m hoping Zumba® counts as cross training because I don’t really have time for any other cardio. Well, that’s not true. I can sneak in some other stuff before I have to start doing long runs later on. Plus I don’t want to get bored so I want to try new things, like spinning. As far as strength training, I only have one more month left of training with my trainer and by the time my sessions with him are up, I’ll be a trainer myself. I already teach at the gym where I train, so I’m thinking about applying to be a personal trainer there, too. Hell, why not? I’ll already be at the gym anyway, so there will be no excuse as to why I can’t fit in my weight training. Not to mention the motivation I’ll get from being around other fit and like-minded people all day. No one wants to be the lazy one in the group. And that’s what I’ve been lately: LAZY! I haven’t been doing my own strength training workouts, only when I’m with my trainer. So starting tomorrow I will get my weights in BY MYSELF!

  3. I plan to EAT CLEAN. This means all whole foods, nothing processed. Right now, I’d say my diet was about 75% clean. I was striving for 80%, but I think I will strive for 90% clean. I need to be realistic in that there are going to be some convenience foods in my diet. I’m on the go A LOT and while I pack snacks, sometimes I forget. I’m human. I know if I set myself up with a goal of eating clean 100% of the time, I’m not going to do it and it’s going to make me feel bad about myself which will make me eat. They say abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. Welp, there are some things that are going to have to go.

    1. Cereal. I am a cereal killer, I really am. Before I had my son, I could eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My favorites were Corn Pops, Cap’n Crunch, and Coco Puffs. I also enjoyed Frosted Flakes with a banana sliced in them, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Sugar Crisp (which I guess is now Super Golden Crisp, but whatever). The only one of these that makes it into my house now is Honey Nut Cheerios because my son loves them. It is unfortunate, but the box that’s in the pantry is the last box we’ll have. He is not going to be happy, but he’ll get used to it. There will also no longer be any Chocolate Cheerios because I can’t not eat them. Poor Reuben. I don’t eat oatmeal, but I’m going to start to try to stomach it. I ate it regularly when I was breastfeeding because it helps with your milk production. I never ate it before, and I haven’t eaten it since. It’s amazing what we’ll do for our children that we won’t do for ourselves. Anyway, I’m going to try to make it from plain old regular oats and add fresh fruit to it. Already I’m gagging. I’m also going to start making my own granola. Right now I use organic granola or Kashi Go Lean Crunch (Honey Almond Flax flavor), but I’m not sure if that’s considered clean or not. I don’t know if I can give up my Smart Start yet. That replaced Frosted Flakes in my life and as far as I’m concerned it’s healthy and yummy and dammit I don’t want to let it go! I need to start making hot breakfast more often. Again, I need to wake up earlier. UGH! I love to sleep. And this whole healthy lifestyle is getting in the way of that. And sleep is a part of a healthy lifestyle. I can’t seem to find the balance. That’s another goal for another day.

    2. Random snacks. I buy stuff for Reuben that I end up eating. It’s not terribly unhealthy, but it’s also not clean. Like I’ll get him chewy granola bars and I’ll eat them, too. If I’m snack crazy enough, I’ll even eat a cereal bar. I don’t even like cereal bars because they are soft and yucky, but I’ll eat almost anything if I’m on a binge. Right now I have those Sweet-n-Salty Nut granola bars in the pantry. Sad to say I ate TWO of them last night, back to back. And I was in bed and sleepy, but I wanted to snack and wanted something sweet. Old habits die hard. But hard to kill or not, that crap is over because I can’t eat it if I don’t buy it!

    3. Peanut butter. *Sigh* This is such a travesty. The truth is, I’ve done SO much better having this in the house. This used to be a trigger food for me, but now it’s not, and that is actually a non-scale victory for me. However, I buy regular peanut butter that has some type of sweetener in it. Why? Because it’s cheaper and honestly, it’s just more convenient. I used to by natural peanut butter and it’s not that I don’t like it (and honestly it’s not that much more expensive), it’s just that stirring in the oil every time you use it is annoying. I was over it. So now I’m going to have to start making my own nut butters. Which is going to be more expensive than just buying the jar. BUT it will help me in that I can make ONLY the amount I need and it will keep me from eating all the nuts. Man, I can violate some nuts, you hear me? Any nuts I buy are gone within two days with the exception of almonds. I won’t overeat those. But peanuts, cashews, pistachios, mixed nuts? Yeah, I’ll kill those.

    4. Eating out. I indulge often in eating out for a few reasons. One, I still don’t have internet at home because I’m still on a crazy budget. So I’ll go places that have free wifi and sometimes I’ll eat while I’m there. If it’s McDonald’s, it’s no big deal because I’ll usually get coffee, apple slices, a grilled chicken caesar salad, or a yogurt parfait. It’s not bad at Panera Bread, either, because they have quite a few healthy options. But if it’s IHOP, we usually end up with a problem. I only end up at these places if I’ve forgotten my cooler or if I only packed snacks and no meals. But this goes back to planning and waking up earlier to make sure I’m completely prepared for my day.

So that’s my plan. And believe me, I plan to stick to it. I am going to take before pictures, take my measurements, and my body fat percentage this week. I am going to post the pictures here in my blog for all the world (or all 10 people who actually read it, lol) to see. I will probably show the pictures to my trainer which is absolutely horrifying, but it’s all in the name of accountability. Once I do that, I know for absolute fact I’ll follow through with my plan. There is no way I’m going to let that man see what I look like outside of my workout clothes without ending up with an after picture. I’ll probably find a way to send the before picture to Oxygen, too. I’m so sincere about this. 

As long as I remain dedicated, consistent, determined, and prepared, there is no reason why I shouldn’t reach my goals. I’m ready to see all that I can accomplish so that I can show my clients what IS possible. I want that feeling of accomplishment. I want to feel powerful and successful. I want to feel 100% confident in my clothes. I want to feel 100% confident in the gym when I’m shaking and gyrating in Zumba® class. And I want to feel 100% confident walking into the gym with a shirt that says TRAINER on it. I’m ready to step into my destiny. And I’m going to do it by having an Oxygen State of Mind.

OXYGEN MAGAZINE, HERE I COME!!!

I accept the Challenge!

Last night, I was sitting there watching The Biggest Loser. After the opening sequence of the show, I broke down into tears. The tears were for a variety of reasons. First of all, I quit my job last week to chase my dream of being a health and fitness professional. I am scared and overwhelmed, but I know that this is something I had to do. I have only watched a few seasons of TBL, but I enjoy the show. When it started and they had the kids on there, it overwhelmed me with emotion. See, ever since I completed my Basic Training to get licensed as a Zumba® instructor, I knew I would also get licensed to teach Zumbatonic® to kids. One, I love working with youth, but also because childhood obesity is something I’ve become passionate about. Children deserve a chance at life, from conception and beyond. It is sad that something so preventable is hurting our youth. To see those three kids on TBL tell their stories was at once heartbreaking and inspiring. To hear TBL challenge America to combat childhood obesity? It was like confirmation that I made the right decision. I literally broke down into tears. This is the second time in my life where I felt like The Almighty was whispering to me that I am right where I am supposed to be. I have a responsibility to help others not only reach a healthy weight but learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. I have a responsibility to help children learn how to live a healthy lifestyle so that they can have self confidence from now into adulthood. Self confidence, or lack thereof, controls the decisions we make. We choose more wisely, in all aspects of our lives, when we are confident in ourselves.

In truth, I have no idea what it’s like to be overweight as a child. I was a skinny kid my entire childhood. I became fat as soon as I became a legal adult at the age of 18. I went to college weighing 136lbs and wearing a size 6, came home for winter break a size 10/12, and came home at the end of my freshman year a size 14/16. The “freshman 15” was like the “freshman 50” for me. The largest size I ever wore was a 20/22. I don’t know how much I weighed at that time, but my highest recorded weight was 247lbs in 2002. I wore a size 18/20. That means that ultimately I gained 111lbs over the course of 10yrs (from 1992 to 2002). Whenever I look back on it, I am always amazed that I gained that much weight, but I am as amazed that I was able to lose most of it and get back to a healthy weight (I’ll never be 136lbs again; it’s just not desirable) and back into a size 6 (go me)!

Even still, I know what it was like to not be comfortable in my skin as a child and an adolescent. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re on the outside looking in. I am and have always been a nerd. It was not until I was 16 years old, in Inroads, and met a whole host of other nerds that I began to feel OK with my nerdiness and more comfortable in my skin. But even to this day, I am never completely comfortable in social settings. There is always an anxiety that I feel going into ANY social setting. People think because I’m so social that I’m not anxious or shy, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am extremely shy; I’m an extroverted introvert. I prefer to stay at home and have my nose in a book over going out. Unless, of course, going out includes dancing. If dancing is involved, then I’m down. Otherwise? I could take it or leave it. I realize that I’m different, the way I speak is different, my viewpoints are different. I am, in a word, unique. Some people say weird, but I prefer unique, OK? Thanks. At any rate, I know what it’s like to feel like a social outcast, even if the reason I felt that way when I was younger has nothing to do with weight. But as an adult, I know exactly what that feels like.

I know what it feels like to get on a bus or a train and have people look at you and you KNOW they don’t want you to sit next to them. I know what it’s like to be in a club and have all the skinny, scantily clad chicks look at you and smirk or chuckle like you don’t belong. I know what it’s like to have thoughts like, “It must be your ass cuz it ain’t your face,” when you smirk back at said chicks. I know what it’s like to go shopping with skinny people and hold their bags while they try on clothes. I know what it’s like to feel invisible in a room full of people. I know what it’s like to be introduced to the same person you’ve met 100 times who either honestly doesn’t remember you or just pretends like they don’t because, to them, you’re not worth remembering. If it weren’t for my parents, I would have thought I wasn’t worth remembering, either.

And that’s what I know these young people are lacking and what I want to help them find within themselves: self worth. I want them (and anyone I train or help to lose weight) to know that their self worth is determined by THEM, not anyone else. I want them to understand that no one else’s opinion of them matters, only what they think of themselves. There will always be people who don’t like you, who will talk about you, who will criticize you. Trust me, I know. I have a personality that people either love or hate; there is no in between. Luckily, my parents taught me that from an early age (I think they knew I was a little . . . different).

So I accept The Biggest Loser’s challenge! I hope that I already am, and will continue to be, an inspiration to others. I hope that I am able to take all that I have learned through studying and my experiences and make a truly positive impact on the lives of others. I want to be able to create ripples of hope so that those I inspire go on to inspire others in their own ways. I will live my alma mater’s motto, “Having light, we pass it on to others.”

11/19/12 Who Do You Think You Are?

Take a moment to get away from what you think is your crazy life and step into my crazy.

I fight with myself over things I might be good at. I wonder if everyone has this little voice inside that tries to sabotage everything you do. I mean, where does such negativity come from? And how can you even have this little negative voice if the positive choice was your decision in the first place? It’s like Sabby is my own little personal devil’s advocate. I almost hate to share this, for a variety of reasons, least of all that you’ll think I’m completely certifiable, but I have got to get this off my chest! This is my opportunity to check myself once and for all.

Ok so every so often I feel like asking myself, Monique, who do you think you are? You think just because you lost a bunch of weight you can now counsel other people on how to lose weight? You think because you exercise and dabble in strength training you can actually be a personal trainer to someone else? You think because you like to dance you can be a Zumba instructor? That’s what you think?

I have to admit I’m a little confused as to why my alter ego is doubting me. I mean, I’m me. And for the most part? I’m pretty fuckin’ fabulous, so with confidence I answer, YES, YES I DO!

And in my crazy, I respond, Like I said, just who, exactly, do you think you are??? Personal trainers are basically health professionals. Health professionals are pretty much scientists. You hate science and you aren’t really all that good at it. Your body is still a flabby mess. The only parts that are showing serious muscle tone are your arms. So what if you’re stronger? No one can SEE that. And face it, you are now entering into a career dominated by looks. YOU are gonna be judged by how you look. You have philosophical differences with the whole judging appearance thing. Yet this is the path you’ve chosen?

Your jump from personal trainer to scientist is weak at best. If not being good at science means it doesn’t come easy to me, then that’s true. Yeah, I have to study a whole lot harder than if this were math or literature, true. But the subject is independent of my level of intelligence. Though it may not come easy to me, I’m smart enough to not only grasp the concepts, but also practically apply them in real life. It may take me longer to understand, but it is definitely not beyond my level of comprehension. And so what if my body is still a flabby mess? That is TEMPORARY!!! I am a work in progress and I will continue to improve upon my body and my health. I look and feel better today than I did a month ago, let alone one year, 5 years, 10 years ago. As flabby as I may be, my before and after is still one hell of a transformation and one of which I am proud! It took commitment and dedication to achieve my goals. I’m not just stronger physically; I’m stronger mentally, too. I am entering a career dominated by health, not by looks. It may seem different from the outside looking in, but trust me, it is about health. People have always and will always judge me for how I look regardless of my profession. I truly do not believe it will hinder my success one bit. So, yes, this is the path I’ve chosen. I have chosen that which I am passionate about. I have found a way of helping people have a better quality of life in which I can also make a living. I can get paid to do what I love! Why are you hatin’???

So yeah, these are the conversations that are had in my head. When I first ordered my materials for my personal training certification course, I was so excited! Then they arrived and I felt completely inadequate and overwhelmed. But I told myself I could do this, and I began to study. That was four months ago. Today I realized I was more than 66% of the way through my course and could actually access my final exam online! I couldn’t believe it! When I first started the course, I felt like that was forever away and now here it is. I’m not going to start the exam, though. I just can’t work that way. I have to finish ALL the quizzes, then study ALL my notes, re-do the ENTIRE workbook/study guide, then take the practice exam. After ALLA THAT, I’ll start my final exam. Yes, it must be done that way. I’m a nerd, so it is imperative I not only pass the exam but that I also retain the information. My success depends on my knowing all this information, not just regurgitating it on a test. I only get one opportunity to re-take the exam if I don’t pass all sections. I am a perfectionist and it will devastate me to have to re-take any portion of the exam. I will somehow feel like less of a person. I wish I was kidding, but I’m so sincere. I only have two more sections (233 pages) to go before I’m all done with the 700-page text. So today I come home and try to plan to see how long it will take to finish the text. Then I look at the practice exam versus what will actually be on the final exam. And I got completely and totally overwhelmed. And scared. Again I began to think, who do you think you are??? And then I remembered a quote that I see on the ISSA message boards all the time:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” WHO SAID IT? MARGARET WILLIAMSON?
This quote speaks to me in so many different ways and I’m so glad they chose it. I will let my light shine; and in the spirit of my alma mater, I will pass it on to others! As my line-sister told me all those years ago, “Do it scared.” So I will press on. All I have to do is stay focused and study hard like I’ve been doing the past four months. I’ll treat it just like my weight loss, baby steps. I won’t even concern myself with the final exam for now. I haven’t been concerned about it; why get concerned just because I can access it online? Monique, you’re being ridiculous! Especially since you don’t even want to start the exam any time soon! Just focus on each section, unit by unit. And the next section is on your favorite topic: NUTRITION! I bet you are going to breeze through all six units in that section!

I think what scares me is the fact that I’m about to make a serious life change. I’m not just changing jobs, I’m entering a completely foreign career. And there is no chance of this not happening. It is inevitable. I mean, what else would I do? Waste the money I paid for the certification? Waste the time I’ve invested in studying for this exam? Of course not! So it’s like I’m stepping right out on faith and trusting that this is a good idea. Ultimately, I want to be a business owner, and this is scary to me for a variety of reasons, but that is another blog for another day. It’s just that when I think of the very near future, the unknown is so great, it makes me feel anxious. I have no idea what’s on the other side of all of this. I have a feeling, though, 2013 is going to be a good year and the start of many great years to come.

So here is my plan, if you could call it that. On Sunday, December 2, 2012, I am attending Zumba Instructor Training to become a certified Zumba instructor. On December 12, 2012, I am going to the American Red Cross to get certified in CPR/AED. I am anticipating receiving my personal training certification by the end of January 2013. I have until March 2013 to take the exam, but if I continue at the rate I’m going, I’ll be done by the end of January. Beyond that? I have absolutely no idea.

Ideally, I’d like my schedule to be super flexible. How do I picture it? I drop Reu off at school then go teach two Zumba classes or one Zumba class and one personal training client. Then I would pick up Reuben, drop him at day care, and then go work at Weight Watchers for a few hours. I could then pick up Reuben, go back to the gym for more training/Zumba while Reu played in the playroom for 90 minutes. My days would vary where his dad would pick him up so that I could put in more hours at whatever job I was working that day. I may even do early morning bootcamps outdoors in the spring, summer, and fall months. I just feel like the possibilities are endless. And when I think about it like this, I get excited. Again.

I got this.