The gym.

It’s been months since I’ve been there.  Once I put my membership on hold back in May to prepare for my Europe adventure, I’ve been making every excuse possible to avoid reinstating it again.  My health… my wallet… my busy schedule… All three of them have been rebelling against my extreme need to exercise regularly but now I’m finally getting a grip on all three.  My health is no longer forcing me to stay in bed, losing all the muscle strength I worked so hard to gain earlier this year.   My wallet still isn’t very full but next week I’ll have a new refreshment of grant money so that can help with my lack of funding… and my busy schedule?  Well, that hasn’t changed but I’ll make the time simply for the reason that I NEED TO.

I’m a member at a very popular gym in my hometown and, unfortunately, it has a few qualities about it that I wish I thought it over more when I joined.   The alluring temptation of the membership fee being waived and a $30 a month with no contract easily won my cheap brain over as I was fully aware  that the other gyms in my area cost much more.  ($200 membership fees with $50 a month was the last gym I attended)

Of course I’m not the only one who likes a bargain so probably 1/3rd of my town is a member there too which makes it difficult to get the machines you desire.  There only seems to be about five hours in the time span of the gym being open that it’s not insanely packed.  Sure, the thick and invisible fog of sweat and hot circulated air that engulfs your body as soon as you walk in may be enough to make you want to immediately walk back out, but maybe it has an opposite reaction for you!   Maybe it’s motivation enough for you to get your work-out OVER and done with so you can contribute your essence to the gym’s atmosphere and walk back out to that wonderful reward of fresh air that doesn’t have humidity made out of sweat to it.

I do enjoy watching the people who take the time to wipe down  the machines afterwards though.  The OCD in me watches which areas they spray, which areas they wipe down, and which areas they neglect completely even though their sweaty palms were clutching to those side handle bars for most of the work-out.  It’s fun to play a little game with myself as I swish along on the elliptical on guessing which sweaty people will actually clean their machines after.  If you ever need some sort of entertainment in a gym that offers sanitizing spray for people to wipe down the machines – I highly recommend making guesses on who you think does and doesn’t!  It can be quite surprising to see who does it but it’s always disappointing when you quickly realize the buffet of germs that are on the machines since so few people take the time to clean them off.

Regardless of the cleanliness of the machines or how heavy that air inside the building is, it’s time for me to go back.  I’m thinking about sacrificing my membership and coughing up the $200 and extra $20 a month to go for the other gym I mentioned in town. I loved that gym, it was hardly ever busy and all the classes had enough space in  them that you didn’t have to worry about having anyone’s body parts close to your face.

Do you go to a gym?  How often do you go?  What qualities do you look for when choosing a gym? Do you have any tips to make the time pass by with ease?

Enjoy your weekend!



Now Self versus Future Self

Do not disturb!

Do not disturb!

This morning, my alarm clock went off at its usual time, 8:10 AM (I know, I’m spoiled rotten. Thank you, work from home gods.) The sweet sounds of ukelele floated through the room as I pressed the blinking red “snooze” button on my iPhone, silencing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for a few more minutes (if you need a smile, listen to this song. I walked down the aisle to it!). As I snuggled into my pillow, I remembered I had the day off! As the joy of sleeping in filled my head with visions of pouncing through sleepy-cloud-land a bit longer, I remembered that Monday mornings I could go to a 9:30 Zumba class with one of my favorite instructors.

Suddenly, I was faced with a decision. I could stay in bed, curled up in my traveling gnome pajamas with a kitten wrapped around my head and a lazy tabby at my feet. I could enjoy my day off to the fullest by getting some extra Z’s, waking up later, around 10 AM, maybe even 11, with rays of sun peeking through the blinds. OR…. I could get out of bed, into the cold bedroom air, and put on my workout clothes. I could fill up my water bottle, grab my keys, and drive ten minutes to the gym, where I could jolt myself awake with loud latin music and screaming, sweaty women.

As I lay in bed negotiating with myself, I caught a glimpse of this book on my nightstand –The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It. This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I suddenly remembered one of the main points of this book – we all have a “now” self, and a “future” self. When we’re facing a willpower challenge, in my case, getting up and going to the gym, I tend to always think about my “now” self. My “now” self wants to stay in bed, to be lazy and warm, to not have to do any sort of ‘work’ on my day off. But what about my “future” self? My “future” self wants to fit into size 16 jeans, go on vacation to Thailand without fear of being ridiculed for my size, and to one day have healthy, happy pregnancies without being “high risk” because of my weight. My “future” self knows that I’ll feel great after a workout, and that’s the most important thing.

Seeing that book reminded me that I’d rather have what my “future” self was having – a healthier, happier future. So I got out of bed, into the cold bedroom air, put on my workout clothes, filled up my water bottle, drove to the gym, and jolted myself awake with loud latin music and screaming, sweaty women. My “future” self said “Thank You.”

When you’re faced with a decision, do you ever look at it as “now” self versus “future self”? You can also think about it like what would feel good now, versus what would feel good later. Most of the time, unless we’re really, really sick or emotionally not good, the “feel good later” will end up being the better deal. 🙂 What do you think?

A Major Non Scale Victory

Sweaty after bootcamp, but loving my pretty purple “stay dry” tank.

So, on Tuesday I was all pouty because I gained a pound. Tonight, I realized that I’ve foolishly been looking for reward in only one place – the scale. I’ve been trying to do a couple of group exercise classes every week, because it’s the best way for me to get the full hour of cardio in without sneaking off early like I’m inclined to do if it’s just me and the treadmill.

I sweated my butt off in Bootcamp tonight, and about halfway through I realized something. I was winded, sweaty and tired – but I was keeping up. I didn’t need breaks to catch my breath, and I was doing the intermediate moves. I attacked the 45 squats with gusto and didn’t freak out when we did 100 knee kicks in a row. As I started putting two and two together, I realized “Holy crap! This is working! I’M GETTING IN SHAPE!!!”

I’m always amazed at how long it takes to get in shape and how quickly you can get out of shape. It makes sense that I’d be starting to feel some results now as I’ve been back to my old gym since September and working out more than ever. This was exactly the reminder I needed that helps me remember why I need to stay on track and keep pushing. I may not see the number move on the scale, but tonight, I felt great! I left the class drenched and tired, but my endorphins were rushing, my body felt loose and limber and my skin had that pretty pink glow. It’s times like this that I remember that success in weight loss isn’t just about a number – it’s about how you feel.

Sadly, I’m one of these people. “I skipped the french fries! Did I lose weight yet?”

Are you the type of person that expects instant reward when it comes to weight loss, too? Have you had any “non scale victories” lately?


Thailand 20 Tuesday: Week 1 Results

Hello friends! Today marks the first week complete of my Thailand 20 Tuesday and I am happy to report I am starting the week right on track with a loss of two pounds!

McCormick Fiesta Citrus Salt Free Seasoning on Cucumbers

This week I made lots of changes that helped me be successful – like eating tons of veggies! For lunch one day, I paired my turkey sandwich with some fiesta style cucumber slices – just cucumbers, lime juice and McCormick Citrus Fiesta seasoning I got from FitBloggin’. Yum.

Then for dinner, I bulked up my meals again with yummy things like roasted peppers and brussels sprouts with a spritz of Balsamic vinegar. Of course, I tracked everything on MyFitnessPal, too.

Brussels sprouts on the stalk! Just mist with EVOO and balsamic vinegarette and roast at 400!

I also stayed true to my word of entering “beast mode” and exercising as much as I possibly could! Not only did I hit the gym, but I did things around the house like washing the cars, weeding and doing laundry.

Sweaty and pink from a great cardio workout!

A couple other small things I did: I started a new vitamin regimen (more on that later), I drank tons of water and tea and tried to cut out my beloved diet coke (Sad.), and I was mindful of being hungry when I ate – not just bored or looking for a fix.

All in all I’m thrilled that week one was a great start – and now it’s time to keep it up for week two! Yay!

My new gym

Fancy Matador Recreation Center

Today, I had a little bit of a stomach ache. Today, I also decided I was going to the gym – no ifs, ands or buts about it. And then the stomach ache got worse.  My intentions were good. But my stomach was not good. I pondered this over and over. The husband chimed in. And then I thought, “No. You know what? If I do the same thing I’ve always done, I’m going to get the same results I’ve always got.” So I got dressed. I went to the gym. And I walked for 45 minutes on an incline, and my stomach ache went away. Figures. I’ve had the not so shocking realization lately that to lose weight, you kind of need to be all or nothing. It’s not 60% here and 90% there. It’s got to be mostly all or nothing. If I keep putting out half attempts to lose weight, I’m going to get half success in return. So I bucked it up, grabbed a magazine and got my butt walkin’.

Rock Climbing Wall

I’m super spoiled to have a new and beautiful gym at my disposal – the CSUN Student Recreation Center. It’s included with my tuition, so I get to use it for “free”. There’s a rock climbing wall that I’ll surely hit up when I’m a little bit more in shape, three separate cardio equipment areas, and an indoor track that looks down into a racquet ball court. It’s snazzy! There’s also cute copy all over the place, like a sign above the water fountain that says “This is not a spittoon, others will be drinking soon.” Clever. Well played, CSUN copywriter, well played.

Blurry fancy robot pod machine thing because I was in motion!

What I love most, however, is the fancy machine-robot-pod- TV-thing that’s attached to every cardio machine. I can plug in my head phones and watch music videos, TV, On Demand, or… my favorite… RUN THROUGH SCENIC PLACES! It’s cool, yo. Last week I ran through the downtown Chicago Loop, which was kind of hard because inevitably it got me thinking about Chicago Hot Dogs and how if I was there I’d stop and get some caramel corn from Nuts on Clark and… You get the picture. This is what happens when you’re obsessed with food. Even whilst burning off the aftermath of said food, you’re still daydreaming and salivating and longingly thinking, “Oh, fattening delicious thing, wish you were here.”

Tonight, I walked through the Swiss Alps, feeling little tinges of jealousy here and there because my sister was actually in Switzerland all weekend, probably walking among the REAL Swiss Alps. However, this virtual activity thing is super cool, and CSUN’s probably getting sick of me tweeting about it because every time I use the robot machine pod thing I have to tweet them because I loves me some fancy robot pod machine things. It’s just a fun little perk that makes fitness a little more exciting, and a little more interactive.

Food Network Magazine: To remind you of all the things you can't eat because you'll have to work out longer to burn them off.

So yeah. I enjoyed a little virtual exercise, and then because I like to torture myself, I read the new Food Network magazine and pondered their recipe for buttercream with egg whites. It was a positive exercise experience – one I hope to replicate very soon.

Do you have any perks or special things about working out that make the experience a little better, especially if you’re naturally lazy about fitness, like yours truly? Tell me your secrets!

(PSST: See that little indentation next to the red towel? That area perfectly cradles an iPhone or iPod. It’s kind of creepy. Like they designed it that way. I’m telling you, these are state of the art fancy robot pod machine things!)


PS: Big thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway, and an even bigger thank you to EatSmart for sponsoring a scale! I hope to have more exciting giveaways soon. We have a lucky winner, and it’s Sharon, who said – ” I’m so happy to be your winner! Just tonight I needed a scale to weigh out flour for a recipe – this is wonderful!” Congrats, Sharon!


Sweatin’ it, Simmons Style

When I found out that Richard Simmons teaches classes at his studio, Slimmons in Beverly Hills, that are open to the public for $12, I knew I had to go. Not only would it be a great blog post and an excellent workout, but it would fulfill a dream of my grandmother’s, as she always loved his buoyant personality, dolfin shorts and puffy fro of reddish-brown curls. I was lucky enough to be accompanied on this journey by my friends Merrie and Hilda, two lovely ladies whom I work with and work out with! In addition, some wonderful blogger ladies and gents like All The Weigh, The Curvy Nerd, Finishing the Hat and Keep It Up David were there, too! (They’re regulars!)

Me, Richard and Hilda. Yes, he's eating her hair!

As soon as Richard came in, that Southern sense of hospitality kicked in. He flitted around the room like a butterfly, greeting everybody with hugs and kisses. I was wearing pigtails and he walked right up to me, gave my pigtails a gentle yank, and embraced me in a big hug. It was surreal. (Hilda is blessed with a lovely svelte figure – Richard told her he’d eaten ribs bigger than her! LOL)

As the music kicked in, Richard screamed that it was Beatles night! His tank top bedazzled with colorful busts of Ringo and Paul should have clued me in, but I was psyched as techno versions of “Hello” blared through the speakers. The first few songs were SO FUN, as Richard bounced around the room shouting praise and encouragement as we marched and kicked and squatted. I had a big goofy smile on my face at the silliness of it all – me, in Los Angeles, a girl from the suburbs of Chicago, working out with a major fitness star, Richard Simmons! I also was mildly star-struck when I learned I was working out next to Ellen Degeneres’ Mom, another regular.

We proceeded to bounce and jump and jiggle through an hour of cardio. Near the end, Richard created a huge circle and started picking sets of two to go in the middle of the circle and do the moves with him. Merrie and I were “summoned by Simmons” and laughed as we did arm thrusts, knee kicks and other moves in front of 50 people, alongside Richard Simmons. (Rumor has it he posts videos online – as soon as I see it I’ll share!)

After cardio, we did thirty minutes of weights and then sit ups and push-ups. I was quite proud of how well I kept up through out the class. Other than the usual disorientation about following aerobic patterns, I used five pound weights for all the reps and didn’t need to take any breaks. I remember distinctly thinking, “Yes! Finally! All this exercise is catching up with me!” It as an awesome workout – I was drenched!

Check out his Beatles shirt!

The cool thing about Richard Simmons is that he’s not just a “personality”. You can tell in his classes that he’s the real deal, and he honest to God cares about what he’s doing and teaching. When I worked out alongside him in the circle, he looked me square in the eye as we trotted across the studio, and he had this passionate intensity coming directly from his pupils – the kind of self-confidence and drive that looks at you dead-center and says “This is all me, and it’s AWESOME.” He’s also freakin’ hilarious and had many dirty quips and jokes. I think what I really liked about his class was that it took the SERIOUSNESS out of exercise. Exercise is serious business, and I get it, just like being obese – but I’ve always been the type of person to try and find something to laugh about, to have fun with, which is where this blog’s name came from. It’s all about taking something difficult or hard and learning to find the light side, and Richard does that so well.

He graciously stuck around after class to take pictures, and when it was my turn to pose with him, he again yanked my pigtails and said “Well, aren’t you just the cutest thing?” I have to admit – that was cool to hear from a celebrity, albeit someone as effervescent and sparkly as Richard Simmons.

I can’t wait to go back, and Merrie and I are thinking we’ll try and make it a monthly goal to trek to Slimmons and sweat it out with Simmons. Now – Next time, who’s coming with me?