Posted in Health, Wellness

Eyes on My Own Paper

I haven’t written a blog post in a long time. Like, a really long time. February, to be exact.

Even before that, my posts had become infrequent compared to when I first started. The reasons were actually positive. I had plenty of time to blog when I first started my business, because I didn’t have any clients.

Within a few months that changed. I picked up my first client, then another, then another… Gradually I found myself with a small but consistent little business.
Life got busy. I was seeing clients three days a week, and I still had my full-time job at Trader Joe’s to pay the bills and maintain health insurance. Suddenly my time was at a premium. A quality problem indeed!

I also found that sometimes I would put out a blog post and it didn’t get many views, so I increasingly focused my marketing efforts on social media. Facebook and Instagram provided a greater “bang for the buck” with a much lower time investment. A blog post required hours to complete; a well-received social media post took minutes.

But I missed the blog. There is something about long-form writing that soothes my soul, whether it finds a large audience or not. It’s cathartic.

Which finally brings me to why I’m breaking my almost six-month silence on the blog.
Because I have suddenly found myself with unforeseen time on my hands, and the need for a little soul-soothing.

What happened?

Easy. I got injured.

Continue reading “Eyes on My Own Paper”

Posted in Health, Wellness

Renewal

I recently turned 40. A momentous occasion (allegedly).

What did I do to commemorate this milestone birthday?

Well, for one thing, I renewed my driver’s license. I know how to party, right? 

Standing in line at the BMV hardly seems to warrant a blog post. Pretty boring stuff.

Sure, today standing in line at the BMV is just another mundane adult task that requires minimal effort.

But a few years ago? Different story…

The year was 2014. February 19, 2014, to be exact. At this point I had never heard of Ludus Magnus or Matt Wenning.

Continue reading “Renewal”

Posted in exercise, Health

Steps Back, Leaps Forward

When it comes to diet and exercise, we often expect our progress to look like this:

progress

Stay dedicated, try hard, and every workout will be a crescendo of ever-increasing gains, right?

We are having a really good day, and do something awesome at the gym. Maybe a new lifting PR, maybe hitting a certain amount of volume or speed on an exercise. And then, we “expect” to be able to hit or exceed that same level at each subsequent outing.

But the truth is, those great days are rare. Most days we don’t feel our best. What then? Continue reading “Steps Back, Leaps Forward”

Posted in Health, Wellness

Painful Assets (Part 2): Food for Thought

To recap where we left off last week in our stroll down memory lane… As a child, I had already fallen into a vicious cycle that only worsened as I grew older:

I had natural biomechanical mobility issues exacerbated by weight gain (and probably severe inflammation from a high sugar diet). Physical activity was uncomfortable and associated with ever-elusive weight loss. Trying to do something I wasn’t good at made me feel even worse about myself. So I avoided most physical activity, which further contributed to weak muscles, stiff joints, and continued weight gain. I ate to comfort myself but felt intense shame for doing so (and was often shamed by the adults in my life when caught with the foods I loved), leading to secretive binge eating.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how I wound up a morbidly obese, yo-yo dieting, exercise-hating adult so stiff and inflamed that I could not do one proper squat when I walked through the doors of Ludus Magnus.

20170924_162051 (1)
Me holding my best friend’s son in 2008. I weighed almost 300 pounds. I was thirty years old and felt like I was eighty.

I promise, I do have a point in sharing all this beyond self-obsessed navel gazing. I don’t think my experience is that unique; sadly, I think it is all-too common.

I felt like a prisoner to these early established patterns for decades. I couldn’t simply wish them away or extract myself from them overnight. It has been a long, slow process of action: changing one thing at a time, making it a habit and enjoying some success with it, and then changing the next thing.

Having found a way out that works for me, I want to share my experience so that hopefully I can help other adults struggling with these issues, as well as parents who have children exhibiting some of the same problems that I had. Continue reading “Painful Assets (Part 2): Food for Thought”

Posted in Health, Wellness

Painful Assets (Part 1)

My trainer, Matt Wenning, has a new book coming out soon, and he recently gave me a copy of the manuscript to proofread. Sorry, no spoilers today! I will say that in addition to a treasure trove of technical information, he includes a detailed biography that goes all the way back to his childhood and discusses his challenges, talents, habits, etc., and how it laid the groundwork for who he is today.

I’ve been pretty open in this blog about my life-long struggle with food, weight, and body image, and that it has roots deep in my childhood. But Matt’s writing got me thinking about other aspects of my early life in addition to food, and how those issues that started when I was so young all contributed to the situation I found myself in as an adult.

For the sake of brevity I want to tackle this subject in two posts (I originally wrote it as one, but it was entirely too long!). Today’s post is mostly background about what my physical and emotional life was like as a kid, and how several factors came together to mold a body and mind that regarded physical activity as uncomfortable and punitive.

My next post will be about how I use the pain of the past to help others today. I will offer some observations and suggestions based on my experience that I hope can help adults struggling with these issues, as well as parents who have children exhibiting some of the same problems that I had.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

The year was 1987. I’m nine years old, in my third year of dance classes with the annual recital coming up. In addition to my usual tap and jazz routines, my teacher put me in a big group number set to Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

The routine opens with the girls coming on stage one at a time doing a move where they clap their hands above their head, and then drop down into a deep squat and clap their hands again. Over and over several times until all the girls are on stage.

There’s just one problem. Continue reading “Painful Assets (Part 1)”

Posted in exercise, Health, Weight Loss

Walking on the Moon

Great Dane. Baby hippo. Hellfire missile. Small person. Large child. 55-pound squat bar with two 25-lb plates.

What do these random items have in common? They all weigh over 100 pounds.

The same amount of weight I have lost over the past three years. 104 pounds, to be exact.

Hitting this astounding milestone coincides with my three-year anniversary of walking into Ludus Magnus and training with Matt Wenning.

Was losing 100 pounds my goal when I walked through that door?

Hell. No.

Continue reading “Walking on the Moon”

Posted in Health, Lifestyle change, Nutrition, Wellness

Have it Your Way

One of my favorite comedians, John Mulaney, has a great bit about the difference between kids and adults. It goes something like this:

Ask a kid what they did over the weekend: “Awww, we didn’t do anything!” *pouty face*

Ask an adult the same question: “Ahhh, we didn’t do anything!” *happy face*

As an adult, is there anything more satisfying than canceled plans? If there is, I haven’t found it.

What is a top complaint among grown people in the modern world? Too much to do, not enough time.

And when people get busy (myself included), diet is one of the first things to fall by the wayside. We reach for what is fast and convenient, which our industrial food sector is more than happy to supply. Continue reading “Have it Your Way”

Posted in Lifestyle change, Nutrition, Weight Loss, Wellness Coaching

The MyFitnessPal Trilogy Episode 3: Free to Eat

I took last week off from blogging to enjoy several days of Valentines Day and birthday-related fun, and spent some much-needed time with loved ones. But I’m back from my little mini-vacation to present the thrilling conclusion to the MyFitnessPal Trilogy. (Poking a bit of fun at myself here; I strive to not take myself quite that seriously!)

To recap: in Episode 1, I described what life was like before MyFitnessPal. In Episode 2, I finally began using the app to track my food every day, and learned the hard truth about what I was really eating. This final installment in our little saga is about what life is like today…

As of the publication of this post, I have logged into MyFitnessPal for 679 days in a row. It’s a way of life that works for me; it has become my new normal. Far from being a burdensome chore, it has freed me from how I used to live. Tracking my food every day has brought many gifts to my life, but the greatest one of all is not what you might expect. It’s not higher protein intake, or reduced sugar, or even weight loss.

It’s mindfulness.

For most of my life, I have eaten compulsively. Food was my drug, my first choice for comfort, entertainment, and pleasure. So much of my behavior was mindless and automatic, driven by craving and habit rather than intention. That used to be my way of life; that was my normal. Continue reading “The MyFitnessPal Trilogy Episode 3: Free to Eat”

Posted in Lifestyle change, Nutrition, Weight Loss, Wellness Coaching

The MyFitnessPal Trilogy Episode 2: Eyes Wide Open

A brief recap of where we left off in Episode 1 of our Trilogy… Spring 2015: I was coming off a month-long emotional eating bender, exhausted by my own behavior, unwilling to undo the gains I had made at the gym with a lousy diet, and determined to face the truth about what I was really eating every day.

Enter MyFitnessPal.

My journey at Ludus Magnus up to that point had already shown me the importance of small, gradual changes. So, when I loaded MyFitnessPal back onto my phone and began tracking my food, I purposefully did NOT make immediate changes to my diet. The first two weeks or so were purely a fact-finding mission. I ate what I “normally” ate, the only difference being I logged it in the app. Every bite.

The facts were powerful. And undeniable. Continue reading “The MyFitnessPal Trilogy Episode 2: Eyes Wide Open”

Posted in Lifestyle change, Nutrition, Wellness Coaching

What’s for Lunch?

Human beings are animals. Eating is one of our most basic survival instincts. The urge to find and consume food is hard-wired into the most ancient part of our brains. Without food, we die.

So why can’t anyone decide what to eat?

I see it everyday when I go to work at Trader Joe’s. People come through the door, sometimes armed with books and web printouts, totally confused. They’ve heard that gluten is bad, but they don’t know what it is (I’ve been asked for gluten free cheese more than once). Dr. Oz says olive oil popcorn is a healthy snack, so they fill their carts with it and eat a bag in a sitting. Because it’s “good for them.” A friend told them cherry juice helps arthritis, so they buy it by the case and drink tall glasses daily, pumping massive quantities of sugar into their bodies. Bags of frozen spinach are labeled “fat-free” because we have been told for years that fat is evil. Doesn’t matter that it’s spinach, which of course has no fat. Put the buzzword on the bag to get people to buy. Continue reading “What’s for Lunch?”