My Gym Romance

For the past couples months I have been pretty faithfully attending the gym. It’s shocking really. I have done so faithfully because my boyfriend pushes me and trains me when we get there.

On days when I just want to go out and order a dozen buffalo wings and chill in front of a tv, I balance with days at the gym or getting some workout in. It has not been easy all the time but so worth it.

I choose to step out on my tv nights to build my love affair with the gym. My boyfriend has been incredibly supportive on this journey. It feels good to pick a healthy activity together to make ourselves better. 

We used to do our own things in the gym and he would leave exhausted and I wouldn’t even be sweating. I wasn’t challenging myself and building up any kind of endurance. I was more than happy with 20 half-assed minutes on an elliptical while watching some ridiculous show. 

Now having an accountability partner, I am building muscle and endurance, helping my heart, mind and body get stronger all the time. I literally do every thing he already planned to do on his own, just at a lighter weight. We have different days to focus on different muscles and some days are the hardest thing ever. That feeling though to push past what you think you can do, is the most liberating feeling. 

Getting all that excess energy out is a stress reliever. It slows down the brain busyness because I have to concentrate on not hurting myself or dying in the gym. It’s perfect for draining me to get a good night’s sleep. 

I am not good at everything though so I also learn lessons in being patient with myself.

I used to be nervous I was holding my guy back in the gym and I would look goofy holding 2 or 5 lb weights doing my thing but I focus on myself and him only. He taught me to track my progress and I have seen true change in my appetite for more. Now I can push the limits and it feels good.

Our gym routine is also another great positive way for us to build our connection with one another. A couple that works out and sweats together can learn to conquer so many other things in life together. We lean on and trust each other as we mold our weakness into strength and share vulnerability in our health and wellness journey. 

I used to tell people that I refused to pay for a gym membership for things I can do at home. Before my guy moved to Chicago, I used to do more workouts on my own. I would pull up YouTube on my tv and do yoga right in my living room. Whatever works is worth it if you work it. 

If you have been telling yourself you need to work on getting fit or back in the gym, start as soon as you can. If you don’t think you will stick to it alone, find yourself an accountability partner like I did. 

Now I force myself to take more opportunities during the day to walk. Instead of taking the bus home which is closer, I often walk to the train which is a few blocks further and gets my heart pumping. As a city girl, I walk fast so more activity is better to really get my blood flowing. 

Life is simply too fragile and short not to take care of ourselves. My next step is really examining my diet because I LOVE to eat and 83% is not healthy lol. 

For now I will continue my love affair with the gym. 

Be More Than Happy

It’s May 1st!! Ahh we are 5 months into 2016. How amazing. College kids are graduating and getting ready to embark on the next phases of their adult life. High school kids seem mainly focused on prom for now but truly probably fighting some nerves surrounding their next steps. Some off to college, others off to work, probably all wondering what their future holds.

We find ourselves immersed in spring showers here in Chicago. The warm weather is not consistent yet but it is clear we have arrived in a new season. A fresh month and a chance for new starts.

We also celebrate a world of mothers next week which reminds me it is hard to believe a year ago I shared this post about what I have learned from my own mom.

Later this month we reflect back for Memorial Day. Paying respect and honoring heroes. May is packed to the brim with preparations, celebrations and activity.

Before we fall face first into summertime, we can take advantage of this month to really get ourselves on track and our lives in order. If you’re anything like me, you’re not perfect meaning you set goals, get really great momentum and occasionally life happens and you get sidetracked.

I have been on this path of getting my fitness up and taking care of my body and health. I am taking on a holistic stance to give myself my very best. My physical, mental, spiritual self are all impacted by my actions. Those around me can also be lifted up or dragged down when they come into my space depending on my energy and self-care. I always want to build others up but that starts with myself.

Before I got sidetracked a few weeks ago, I was eating salads I made at home regularly for lunch. I was exercising at least 3 times a week. I started walking more before and after work. I had been seeing great progress then I set it aside. 

Now I’m getting back on track this week. It is not just about being happy. It is about feeling whole.

Happiness has always been a fluid concept to me. Situations and things and people bring happiness but when those things shift, change, leave… sometimes the happiness disappears with it.

My goal is joy. I always felt like joy has roots that can’t be easily shaken. Joy begins internally and radiates outwardly. I like being happy but I love being filled with joy.

Make it a great May!!

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Me as a kid

Summer, You’ll Be Missed But…

I live in Chicago which means Winter could arrive any day now. Today was gorgeous weather — mid 80s — a welcome change from the coat-wearing, fall day, wind chills we have had lately.

It was so nice outside that I tore myself away from the tv shortly after the Chicago Bears won and went on a walk with my sister.

As summer begins to fade, I will focus on cherishing all the good times until next year. One thing I will miss most is how easy it was to find motivation to workout.

I basically measured my summer in workouts. Every Saturday that I could from June to early September, I would peel myself out of bed — toss on shorts and a tank, sling my yoga mat across my back and head for Millennium Park in Chicago’s downtown.

I spent one hour for each doing a class in Yoga, Pilates and Zumba.

Three hours several Saturdays a summer may seem excessive but I learned from them and I felt fantastic doing them. The way the park schedules the classes, gives the group a chance to slowly warm up the body with each hour.

It feels good to sweat alongside a community of strangers in it partly for similar reasons. We are out there stretching and strengthening and challenging ourselves. We have an excuse to start the day in an ocean of sunshine.

The satisfaction I feel after 3 hours is worth it even though I am not a fan of getting up or moving around so early.

It went right along with my other health initiatives. I also use a free app called MyFitnessPal to track what I eat in an online food diary. It notes how many days I log in and it feels like an accomplishment to stay consistent for weeks and weeks.

I used to have a goal of doing it every day for a year. 365 consecutive logs to help me pay attention to salt intake or getting enough protein, veggies,  etc. The first time I made it to 325 days and missed one day of logging in. My day count went back down to zero and I was devastated. I wanted to give up.

I realized it was bigger than that. Seeing the ticker count up towards 365 was amazing but that could not be my only motivation.

I find myself paying attention to my health and wellness now more than ever. I can’t afford to wait for my health to decline before I start caring about it or noticing it. Unfortunately, there are serious health concerns that run in my family’s history so awareness, prevention and proactively doing everything I can to stay healthy is vital.

Even though I’ll miss the ease of working out in the summer, it has to be bigger than that for me. I want my heart and body to be healthy for more than just a season. Don’t you want the same for yourself?

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Bright Pink Octobers: Why I Care and You Should Too

By the end of this week we will be in the full swing of pink. As most people know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For 31 days, businesses and football players and marathon streets are decked out in bright pink.

More and more the month of October elicits a lot of emotion surrounding loss and victory. Breast cancer battles continue hitting closer and closer to home.

My maternal grandmother had issues with it. My aunt is currently battling breast cancer. Many of my friends have had loved ones affected by breast cancer in one way or another.

A little more than a year ago, my mom had a mastectomy on her left breast after being diagnosed at stage 0 for breast cancer. We were so grateful to have caught it early enough to not need radiation or chemotherapy. We had to make a decision within weeks of finding out the news regarding mom’s health. It was still a major decision to do a mastectomy instead of lumpectomy. It altered our lives. It changed the way we think about health and care for our bodies. It changed us.

There have been many hours in doctor offices and hospital rooms. We have done several surgeries and recoveries, hoping that it’s the last time we will ever need to discuss this with a physician or cancer center. But we never will stop talking about it. It is part of us now and will forever be a present topic in future check-ups.

When that word cancer comes alive, even if it’s a scare or not worst case scenario, it is paralyzing.

In that same summer of my mom’s diagnosis, my sister’s did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I went out to support them at different mile markers over the two day walk. It was powerful to see how many lives breast cancer touches. People are weakened by it, strengthened by it and every stop between. No one can tell you how to feel or what to feel. We all react differently and that’s okay.

A few years ago, I went to a breast cancer support group hosted by Bright Pink. Bright Pink is a national non-profit organization focused on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.

The support group was a chance to ask questions and share stories with young women who had either known someone with these cancers or had themselves gone through it. We bonded over doing an activity together. It was my first and last time ever doing a spin class after I threw up all over the floor following the workout. (That’s a story for another day.) It was an inspiring and eye opening experience to sit and share our stories, encouraging one another in awareness, prevention and treatment.

Now over a year later from our first set of doctor visits for my mom, we are taking breast cancer awareness Octobers rather seriously. We are also celebrating this life. To be aware, is to be alive…literally in some cases.

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