“To set again, or anew; to change the reading often to zero.” That is how the word reset is defined in the dictionary. Just as nature has its own process of resetting through the seasons or even natural disasters, we must also go through this process. This is where I am at in my fitness and health journey. I have not written in my blog in a while, maybe from lack of motivation but also because of lack of time. But I realized that it’s time for a reset. I learned earlier this year that I have a herniated disc which causes lower back pain. My case could be much worse of course, and by no means am I complaining. I can still function normally and I can still exercise. However; I have to be careful in my movements so that it does not become worse. You don’t realize how delicate your body is until something happens and you also begin to understand why it is important to stay healthy and fit. Not so you can look good, but so you can still function when you are 80 years old.
In my reset, of course I have to eat better, but I also have to get back into shape. Trying to figure out the problem with my back and dealing with a lot of pain caused me to lose my motivation to exercise on a consistent basis. Right now my exercise will consist of low impact cardio such as the stairmill, elliptical and spin bike. I also plan to go back to a routine that helped me to get in shape about 8 years ago; body weight exercises mixed in with short bursts of cardio. It does not take hours of cardio to burn fat. In fact, that can work against you. It is very important to do weight training whether that is your own body weight, bands, or dumbbells/barbells.
Here is my workout for today:
24 minute circuit.
First 12 minutes:
- 10 Lunges (5 each leg) followed by 10 squats (hold two dumbbells in each hand during both exercises)
- 10 Side shuffles Example here
- 1 minute on the spin bike
Repeat this circuit until 12 minutes is up. It’s not as easy as it sounds!
2nd half: 12 minutes
- 10 bicep curls into should raises Example here
- 10 dumbbell rows into chest flys Example here
- 10 push-ups (on knees or full)
Repeat this circuit until 12 minutes is up
Follow with 10-15 minutes of cardio or more if you are already in shape!
I’ll continue to share my reset journey over the next few months!
It has been a while. I think I have not posted here for years. Maybe because I was discouraged from the last competition and maybe because I don’t feel that drive that I once did that kept me enthralled in a healthier lifestyle. But two weeks ago, I attended the Red Clay Writing Institute in Athens, Georgia and the workshop reminded me that I am a writer. I think that I forget! Not only do I want to write again, I am more willing to share some of the stories that have not been shared in the past. I have written a very short story about my first bodybuilding competition and those who have competed will relate. Here it is. My first post since October 2014.
She stood behind the curtain backstage. As the MC called her name, she found herself shaking and thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” Her hand moved across the back of her suit as she made sure it was still in place. She looked down at her chest to see if anything was sticking out. The last thing she wanted to do was flash the audience. The MC ended his introduction and she stepped with one foot in front of the other until she was fully past the curtain. Good thing she had a little sip of wine because she was about two seconds away from passing out. The music was turned up loud and she looked out at the crowd but the only thing visible were the bright lights, the row of judges in the front of the auditorium and her boyfriend. Making her way across the stage in those five inch heels started to become easier with each step.
The first pose was one that she practiced over and over again with her coach. Left hand on her hip, right leg out to the side and a big grin with eyes on the judges. Her muscles flexed as she held the pose for a few seconds, but her face still looked relaxed. If only the audience knew how painful it was to hold those poses. She walked to the right of the stage and turned, showing her well-earned striations. Then she moved to the middle again with her eyes on the crowd. This was no time to be nervous. She had suffered through grueling workouts and walked a very fine line between fat loss and starvation for twelve long weeks. As she walked to the left, she thought about all of the food she was going to eat after the night was over. She turned around and showed off the v-taper on her lean back, and back around to display her six-pack abs. None of the women were as lean as her. After the T-walk on stage she went behind the curtain and her coach congratulated her. Never in a million years did she think that she would compete in such an event!
All the women went out together and followed the instructions of the judges. “Quarter turn to the right, quarter turn to the left, face the back, face the front.” They were up there for what seemed like forever. One by one, the award winners were called out on the stage and she heard her name. Fourth place! Not bad for a first timer. She was inspired beyond measure and she was inspiring others. Just a few years ago she was overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. The next day she talked to the head judge and asked for feedback. “You were just too lean. That was extreme. Nobody wants to see that.” Did he not realize how hard she had worked for her body? His words cut her like a knife. In her mind, her muscles showed her hard work and dedication that none of the other women had. But in his opinion, she should have been softer. Forget that! If she was going to do this, she was going to go all out. She could be “soft” by just not working out, but this was bodybuilding for God’s sake. When she was obese no one told her to lose weight so she could be healthy, but here she was talking to a man who promoted a healthy lifestyle telling her that she went too far. A Black man who should have been supportive of his Black sisters.
It was in that moment that she realized no matter what you do to your body there will be people who don’t like it. Too muscular? You look like a man. Too soft? You are fat. Small ass? Get some butt injections. Breasts small? Get some implants? Hair nappy and too Black looking? Get a relaxer to look Whiter. Bodybuilding taught her discipline and pride and she learned to love herself for who she was no matter what the judges thought or anyone else who decided to judge her body.
Are your fitness goals a reflection of what you really want to do? Too many people make the mistake of doing something just because everyone else is doing it. Your friend decides to go on a 10 day cleanse and only drink their food, so you give a shot. Everyone is trying Crossfit so it must be for you, right? People are jumping on the Paleo band wagon, so that means low carb and no bread is the way to go, correct? Wrong. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you have to do what works for you. If you do something without your heart being in it, or because someone else wants you to, you will surely fail. You might actually complete the task, but you have to ask yourself will you be happy.
If you are like me, you need a goal to keep you going. I have to have something in the forefront that makes me get up and train and eat a balanced diet. Right now, my goal is to encourage other women and to be an example of living healthy and being happy. It is not about a number on a scale, or getting shredded for a competition. It is about challenging myself to reach limits that I did not know were possible. Bodybuilding is a part of that, lifting weights is a part of that, spin class, yoga, running…and the list goes on. I decide what I want to do, when I want to do it, and when the time is right. Who knows what my next journey will be, but I am sure that it will be done in my time and with passion.
So just remember that you need to think in terms of your LIFE…not just for the short term. How can you live this way for life? I have tried many ways, and I will share with you what works for me.
- Having friends who are active and encourage and support my lifestyle.
- Reading and researching the areas that I have an interest in. Don’t just go blindly into a training and eating plan until you know what you will be facing.
- Keeping everything in perspective. Life is too short to worry over every little thing. If I have an off day, I just get back on it. Yes, sometimes my whole week is off!! But, I never give up. If I fall off the wagon, I eventually get back on.
- Sharing my struggles with others. People need to know they are not alone in this journey.
- Flexible eating. My plan is to live a LONG life. I am not going to live it without eating cake! If I want it, I eat it in moderation and add it into my macros. Food should not be thought of in terms of good or bad. Think about food in terms of meeting your fitness goals and you will have a healthier relationship with food.
- I have stopped comparing myself to others. This becomes very hard when you do bodybuilding competitions. You are judged subjectively and can’t help but see how you compare to the others on stage. Comparing yourself to others can lead to depression. I had to realize that I have a unique body that is a result of my genetics, and my lifestyle. I have to work with what I have, and if it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me!
Learn to love yourself enough to strive for health and you will be just fine. When you live healthy, and do what is true to your heart, you feel better!
“You are so busy being YOU that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” —John Green