On Fitness: Gym Anxiety

A little over two months ago, I stepped into my gym with a goal to clear my head, get my blood pumping and hit an emotional high before diving into a particularly traumatic conversation immediately following where I parted ways with my long distance boyfriend.

While most aspects of life have progressed as fun and normal since then, my love and affinity for my gym has waned as I’ve found every excuse to not keep up my routine with my personal training plan.

I’ve opted to keep seeing the gym regularly but I wonder if my romantic split is battling custody over my relationship with the gym.

For the past year, I’ve likened the gym to my private reflective place where I completed solo missions and awarded personal accomplishments.  But now I can’t help but feel my bond with the physical entity is somewhat tainted.  Looking absentmindedly at my phone has a way of reminding me of the anxious feeling from two months ago, where I kept counting down the minutes, trying to fit in my work out before the scheduled time I promised to place the phone call.

Even now, I am left with a terribly anxious feeling at the memory.

And I’m not quite sure what to do about this.

In early July, at the mercy of some free personal training sessions, I completed some of the most mentally and physically challenging circuits, thinking to myself “If I can get through this, I can get through anything.” The personal high afterward affirmed my self-confidence at my ability to move forward.

But I may have spoken too soon.

Whether I’ve needed a new water bottle, new headphones, new gym shoes, new podcasts or music, I can’t seem to get my act together to complete a full scheduled week of workouts. Additionally, my appetite is all over the place, switching from ravenous to completely void.

I’m left contemplating how to change-up my routine; how to bring back that loving “spark.”

I have grand ideas of pursuing a more group-centered approach, accepting my humbled loss of strength, spending more time stretching and dancing. I know, most importantly, my priority is to keep up my fitness – I am proud of pushing myself and proud of the physical results that are more important than ever.

So how do I make fitness a priority when one of my more sacred places has been corrupted? Is there a good goal I could distract myself with? Honestly, I’d love your ideas.

On Fitness: Soundtrack for my Fake Fitness Class

Through the twists and turns of the blog, I’ve found various subjects and concepts I keep coming back to because they interest me  – be it relationships or self-worth or fitness.

And lately, fitness has returned to the forefront of my mind.

I’m glad to have been riding the work out bandwagon for most of 2012 and what has made the habit stick this time is – humorously – I’ve found the right level of entertainment to power me through.

For the $60 bucks a month I pay for my gym membership, it is slightly disappointing there aren’t those little TV’s strapped to the cardio machines. I can’t help myself – I need something to keep my brain interested.

So, first, I found an entertainment source in podcasts – aka Savage Love on repeat – to take me through my cardio or solo weight training sessions.

But, I still haven’t found a group fitness class’ music choices I felt jived completely with mine. You know, when a teacher or class picks a song you are just not that into? I’m pretty sure I ponder getting certified in group fitness just so I can make my own playlists to share.

Until that day, I’ll just play dress up.

Below are my current top five favorite “get pumped” jams and the best times to play them during your workout.

My  Top 5 Current Workout Jams

“Fade into Darkness” – Avicii

Great for warm-ups!

“Boyfriend Girlfriend Mashup” – Mashup Justin Bieber vs N’Sync

The most fun song I’ve recently come across. Use it for a dance segment or to start a work out on a perky note.

“Levels Remix”  – Avicii ft Skrillex

Ideal for powering you over the hump of a workout – when you are struggling, getting bored or losing energy.

“Memories to Blow” – Mashup of my favorite song by Kid Cudi and David Guetta and Drake lyrics

My favorite song on the list – perfect for the final sprint or intense peak or climax.

“Longest Road” – Morgan Page ft Lissie

I love this for a cool down. I’ve only known the Deadmau5 remix of this song until recently and I think I may prefer the original. I also saw him DJ during a Vegas pool party and he was fantastic

In other news – last weekend in Canada, I walked into a Forever 21 with the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard. I asked all the sales people and  manager where the mix was from. Apparently the Forever hires this dj to make an in-store playlist of mashups. I contacted the dj and he’s asking me $60 for a downloadable 3-hour mix. While this is obviously more than any GirlTalk mix, it’s probably comprable to going to a concert, only I’d get to keep the music. It sounds a bit expensive but it’s this dude’s livelihood so I’m not sure what to ask next. Do think I should try to haggle it down?

Music fiends, let me know: Any new jams to add to my playlists? 

How to Pick the Right Workout Plan for You

With my 24th birthday come and gone, I was struggling how to address my thoughts on growing older and my never-ending search for stability.

So I thought I’d talk about the early birthday present I gave myself almost two months ago when I signed up for online personal training with Tara.

After feeling less than perfect in my skin the last 2 years, I really wanted to enter into my 24th year feeling like the old, early 20’s Mel: beautiful, optimistic, fun, confident. And smaller.

My 21st birthday.

I am sooo proud to say that from May 15 to June 21, I followed a personalized plan designed to challenge my body in ways I have never imagined. Tara designed a nutrition and 5 day-a-week workout plan and it PAID OFF!!

On my 24th birthday, I felt like I was back in my own skin. The fun, sassy and confident Mel celebrated with a pole dancing workout class with 11 girl friends, effortlessly lifting herself up and around the pole, oozing with strength, void of self-consciousness.

Vegas with the girls, the day after finishing Week 6 and the program.

You’ll hear it over and over: Being dedicated to a plan will yield results

But in my experience, it can be very difficult to find a plan that makes you want to stick with it the whole way. Whether results don’t come fast enough, the work becomes monotonous or not challenging enough or too challenging or there is no support or you get interested in another sport or goal – the right program is different for everyone!

Before signing up with Tara, I was pondering 4 different types of programs: an online bootcamp, an in-person bootcamp, various online personal trainers and a free online follow-as-you-go program. I’ve been known to weigh the pros and cons of options for days, so I’m really glad I didn’t dally and choose Tara. The way I feel and the way I look says it all. Finding the right program WORKS.

Since finishing my 6 week plan, I took a few weeks to workout with an awesome personal trainer at my gym who pushed me to my limits, made sure my form was correct and gave me confidence in my strength. Now I’m rearing to go for my next 6 week plan with Tara!

Having gone through this process, I can affirmatively state there is a fitness resource out there for everyone! Answering the following questions should help you evaulate your needs to guarantee a program or trainer is right for you.

How to Pick the Right Workout Plan for You

  1. What are your goals?

    Goals can include fat loss, muscle growth, “losing weight and looking toned,” adopting a healthier lifestyle, competing in a race, or looking good for a wedding, vacation or event.

    Mine was to look good for my Vegas vacation and 24th birthday by losing fat and adding muscle. Knowing there were only a few weeks until I’d be in a swimsuit next to my beautiful friends was a constant reminder to stay on track.

  2. How much can you afford to spend?

    You’ll find a variety of costs when it comes to online personal trainers, in-person trainers, boot camps, online programs, etc. Depending on the resources available, pick what’s right for you. For an online trainer, plans vary around $7 – 10 dollars a week. A 4 to 6 week training plan is usually around $50. Bootcamps – depending on the included resources – can range from $25 to $150.

  3. How much support do you need?

    Online personal trainers will usually be accessible to you by email and sometimes by skype for any questions, checkins or adjustments. Online (and gym!) boot camps fuel persistance by having fellow members cheer each other on. Free “get fit” plans require self-motivation.

    As I mentioned, when I signed up I wanted something that would be tailored to my needs so I was looking for some support in case I had any questions or needed any adjustments. I think the group support is one reason I would love to try a boot camp one day. Tara was awesome about sending me updated nutrition plans when I had a very late or very early morning workout.

  4. What is the relationship you want with your trainer or group?

    This may be more important to some than others. I know some people like the think of their trainer as a service-provider or someone who fulfills a professional need, while others want someone tough and strict, and others look for their trainer to become a very, very close friend.

    What was very important to me is my trainer supports my goals. I wanted a trainer who would support my desire to lift weights, would allow me to get protein in non-animal forms sometimes and would let me have the occasional treat. I went with Tara because we seemed to agree on all points so I trusted her with devising a plan just for me.

  5. How do you like to work out? What works best?

    The personal trainer is a fitness professional who should be trusted to devise a plan that will kick your butt and knock you out of your comfort zones into some new territories. But every trainer will ask you a bit about your likes and dislikes so you will be content with the plan. It’s important to find a plan that will cater towards your loves, whether that means you get to take your favorite spin class twice a week or split your strength training by certain body parts.

    I knew my body responded best to lifting weights but my plan kicked me out of my comfort zone by taking me to new machines and exercises. I also knew that because I care about adding muscle as much as I care about losing fat, I would not do well on a program where stepping on a scale every day is encouraged. Something like Weight Watchers where calorie counting and weigh-ins are part of the program isn’t as right for me.

  6. How much time can you dedicate to this plan?

    It is important to know both how long you’d like to be on a plan – whether it’s one month, 6 weeks, three months or longer (very usual durations) – and how much you can dedicate each week to the plan – a certain amount of hours or days a week – an hour four times a week perhaps.

    Because I was looking for some intensive results in a 6 week time frame, I trained 5 days-a-week.

  7. What are the trainer or program’s credentials?

    Most importantly, how can you be sure to trust this individual with your fitness and health?  Look up reviews and blogs by previous participants who discuss their experience. Locate the trainer’s professional certifications and read their blog, website or brochure to see their viewpoints and background. Make sure you feel comfortable in their qualifications and are sure they’ll support your goals.

    I read reviews before trying Live Fit Trainer; I looked for blogs of participants in various boot camps; I did a trial fitness assessment with my gym trainer and I sent Tara an information request before signing up with her. I found the proof I needed…and now I’m just another example of a success story.

To all the personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts out there, is there anything else a client should consider? How do you create the perfect match of trainer/program and client?

Lifting My Extremes

Being the cool kid I am, Saturday night I found myself loading my backpack, ready to tackle my friend’s personal statement for medical school at the only suburban joint open passed ten pm: the gym.

After more than an hour of rearranging sentences and searching through thesaurus on the gym’s main level couches, my long time high-school friend Tats and I closed our laptops and laced up our sneakers for the shift from mental exertion to physical exercise.

As two of only five or so members in the large gym, and with any and every weight and machine at my fingertips, I quickly completed my planned bicep and tricep work out and wanderded back to Tats to interrupt his legs workout. What continued for the next hour or so was the most fun I’ve ever had at the gym!

It lined up to a perfect combination for a work out.  Although both of us were pretty new to being in the gym so late, a midnight work out seemed only natural. Tats is a fellow night-owl; we used to instant message each other about our AP Psych projects until three in the morning, long after our AIM Buddy Lists were near empty.  Because he’s someone I trust and someone I trust in the gym with his Kinesiology major and work out background, our game of “How strong are you?” was better than any stranger trainer at the gym could have given me.

He loaded up over fifty pounds onto my bench press and I nearly keeled over as I lifted two 35 pound weights on the Olympic dead lift – I mean, wow, the added distance of the weight threw off my exertion! Inverted, my legs pressed 100+ pounds as effortlessly as right-up. We practiced correct form of clean and presses with the Olympic sized bar and went through a whole slew of hammer-strength machines. I laughed hysterically when we both failed at the triceps machine because although each side loaded thirty pounds, we could both clearly push our right arm through while the left stayed quite stationary. At 5’2, I cleared a new height on the box jumps, still nervous to tackle the highest box. And he   shared my disdain for the chin up machine, especially after my accidental run-in with going too light on the weights and nearly falling off.

I felt like my 6-year-old self back at Discovery Zone crawling through tubes and climbing ropes. Bouncing from machine to machine for a few reps at a time was the ultimate adventure.

While I’ve frequented various gyms for years now and have steadily began a relationship with weight lifting, I never had the full benefit of having someone watch my form and correctly show me how to use some of the scary-to-me equipment.  Especially with my newest work out plan, I am pushing my muscles but I’m always left wondering if I am performing at my best.

Leaving Life Time at 1:30 a.m. I had a high that one wouldn’t normally assume could be found by staying “in” on a Saturday night. But improving my strength and my body has been a long trend in the two years since I graduated college.  I may not be the strongest kid around but I will never be a woman who cops out by saying she doesn’t have upper body strength.

And the results have felt more noticable than ever since attending my little brother’s college graduation earlier this May.

Because my own graduation day in 2010 was not something I’m proud of. Confused about my next steps and in terrible relationship with my body, I hid from all photos. It had been too many days having my “last” meals of campus restaurants, drinking 14 days in a row and piling on more fat and bloat from a weight gain I’d be struggling with most of senior year. I was generally uncomfortable in my skin, finding every flaw.

But at Josh’s graduation, I was full of pride for him and comfort in myself. The scale may read only a few pounds difference, but the noticeable shift in my body composition and in my pride is palpable. While I wish I had more progress and less plateaus while working hard over the last two years, the most important thing to me is that I hit a low and never looked back. I didn’t let it continue but I turned around my habits and my opinion of myself.

Lifting and jumping to new heights this Saturday night only seemed to confirm the I pride I feel in myself.

Even if everyone looking at me can’t tell how different I am, I know I’ve changed for the better.

Mmm-ing on Desserts and the Famous

Remember when I promised I’d challenge myself at the gym in my last post?

I guess plans don’t always go as you’d hoped.

That day, last Wednesday, I initiated an interval treadmill run but 7 minutes into my exercise, got hit with the worst asthma attack. I’d completely forgotten my inhaler and had to cool down, laying down, trying to catch my breath for about 20 minutes. Scarryy. I’ve definitely learned my lesson about preparing for a workout and I’ve tried to come more prepared ever since.

The good news for me…but maybe not the best news for my health…was that after calming myself down, I headed back to work at 7:30. For my job, I frequently make and edit videos of different cool events and people at the school I work for.

Well..I just happened to need extra footage of our highly ranked culinary students. And when I waltzed into their class, guess what the theme of the lesson was?

DESSERTS.

Sugar, we meet again.

All the students were so considerate and I had the chance to sample all of their gourmet “signature desserts.”

Thank you, Blackberry camera

In the spread was: orange infused double chocolate brownies, caramelized mango tart, an Asian-inspired steamed cake, triple sec chocolate souffle, chocolate/raspberry/ coffee balls with white chocolate drizzle, baked peach crisp, carrot cake, wanton dessert sandwiches, and a few more.

It was a pretty wonderful adventure and I was loving life…either from the awesome opportunity to taste culinary masterpieces or the pulsing sugar through my veins.

Thursday night, work threw my foodie frenzy for a loop again when Andrew Zimmerman spoke on campus. The star of Travel Channel’s Bizzare Foods actually planned to use my office building as his green room. Needless to say, I stayed the extra hour after work to get a chance to meet him!

Must. Remember. To. Shower. And. Bring. Make Up. Before. Important. Events.

He was really friendly and funny which I definitely admire because I imagine it’s hard to be personable when everyone is throwing cameras and signs your way to autograph.

This is actaully the 4th famous person I’ve hung out with! I have quite a love of meeting famous people in a genuine setting and may recap this sometime in the blog if you would be interested. My other 3 encounters have been with: Corbin Bleu from High School Musical, Neil Flynn the Janitor on Scrubs, and Kid Cudi the musician.

Fitness

My other quick news from the week is that in some ways, I have stuck to my goal of challenging myself. For example, Saturday I set a new PR!! No, not 5k time or longest mileage. At all.

I spent 19 hours in heels! My feet and calves definitely think this was worthy of mentioning. Somehow a day out, turned into a night out, turned into a early morning out.

Yesterday, I also finally climbed ontop of the daunting Stairmill which I have been staring down since joining this gym.

10 minutes of intervals on levels 4-8, 100 calories and 35 flights later, I have to say I dig this machine! I didn’t feel too winded byit – probably because I was still getting my bearings – but I was definitely sweating.

Here’s hoping for as much excitement these next few days. I have a feeling some adventures are in store.

Have you ever met a famous person? Have you tried any new exercise equiptment?