DietBet: a jump start once again

It’s been 8 months since I last posted. Where did the time go?

Since January I’ve been in a new job: a new environment, a new workplace, and (of course) brand new challenges. I can’t even figure out where to begin with how busy things have been… or how out of control my life has gotten. Or how I’ve felt a little lost as it relates to… well, me. I’ll spare you the boring details (for now) — for now all you need to know is that I finally got back into it.

It was June. I weighed in. 220. I was 15 pounds away from where I was when I first started all of this.

The academic year was coming to an end and I knew that if I was going to find a time to try to fit in fitness again, June would be the best time to start. I wasn’t wrong. A few weeks and a DietBet program later… I’m down to 197.

For those of you wondering, a DietBet is an online bet where you enter a “pool”. The particular challenge I looked at involved splitting the pot with folks who successfully loss 4% of their weight in 4 weeks. For those of you who’ve read my blog in the past, you know how closely I follow Kris Gethins. And you guessed it — he hosted. My best friend and I were enthused… and also skeptical. But between the two of us joking around about entering, we finally did. The pot was at 53k by the time the game officially started.

In case you’re wondering..we did it!

It was not an easy 4 weeks by far. DietBet added a whole new level of accountability, even though entering only costed $35. A financial incentive made challenging your peers that much easier and it helped that I had known other people who participated with me.

I stepped into the gym this evening, proud of my win, and ready for a light day in the gym as a reward to myself. By the end of my workout, I realized I had stayed 20 minutes longer than my usual 50 minutes, and I still had energy for more. This was my non-weight win for the week. I finally remembered what it was like to push myself. I’m starting to find me again… and figuring out how I might fit fitness back into my life.

I knew I had to quickly jot some thoughts downI can’t forget that I need to be accountable, with or without a financial incentive. And yes, I know, I know: accountability ultimately has to come from within… but for now I need to make sure I don’t lose steam. So… I’m putting my thoughts onto paper (technically screen) and into the (internet) universe.

Determination comes from within, but motivation doesn’t have to

One of my first blog posts when I started Fitting in Fitness was on the topic of commitment after a small shoulder injury. In that blog post, I deconstructed what determination and commitment meant to me. To recap:

Perhaps what is so striking about this word is its emphasis on persistence and persevering. In many ways, I see commitment as being result to determination–determination being the result of one’s free will, and commitment being a result of said free will. They are, however not the same thing.

Determination comes from within. Determination is your own free will. Your dedication towards a vision.

Commitment is scary. Commitment is ambiguous. Commitment is vague. Commitment requires courage.

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine last night and she told me she needed motivation to get fit again. This triggered something in me and made me think about motivation. I talked about determination, and commitment as a result of determination… but I never thought about my motivators.

Then today, while I was on the elliptical after one of my birthday dinners (yes plural, yes I’m obnoxious), I was having a moment where I felt discouraged and tired. I use my elliptical time as catch up time for my own thoughts and to catch up with friends and so I started texting one of my best friends who’s joined me on this fitness adventure, Jerry. I complained about how I felt like I couldn’t do it. His response: “YOU GOT THIS. Halfway done? You’ve done it once. You can do it again.”

This made me think – #4weeks2shred is brutal, but I’ve totally survived it before. There’s no reason why i can’t do it again.

Reflecting on this entire process, I realized that there were multiple motivators going on in this situation. On one level, there’s the obvious friend providing support to me. On another level, I was also receiving motivation intrinsically from the fact that I’ve done cardio before, and I’ve done this plan before. Then of course, there’s the end goal that’s also serving as another motivation because 1) I want to succeed for myself but also 2) because I’ve written my goals down and shared them, and I didn’t want to let anyone down.

In that same period of time, a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a while reached out to me and asked me for fitness advice. I took some time to explain what macros were, and shared my favorite protein power with him. Even though this was something small, it felt good to be able to give that advice. It was validating.

In my counseling course, we talked about ethics and the idea of beneficence and nonmaleficence, the idea of doing good and not causing harm. While they seem similar and slightly redundant, doing one doesn’t necessarily mean the other. I found this to relate to the motivators that I had because I found motivators that were both intrinsic and extrinsic. This was because of the support system I created for myself and this blog itself.

In thinking about all of these various motivators, I came to realize that while motivation can come from within, it can also come from the outside. And more importantly, I came to realize that all of these different motivators can come together to help support your determination to form commitment. In other words:

Commitment = Determination + Motivation

Motivators exist in a lot of different places. It’s about finding what motivators work for you. In thinking back, I don’t think there’s a single type of motivation that works best for me. I think that the inherently cyclical nature of combined motivation has impacted me the most. I never thought about what kind of motivation I needed, but I just made sure I surrounded myself with whatever I could get.

And to my friends who read this and are looking for your motivation — I don’t know that any amount of motivation would have been helpful if it didn’t start with determination. Motivation is around me and I’m sure it’s around you; but if you don’t let it motivate you in the first place, then what good is any motivation at all? Believe in yourself and don’t find excuses. Instead, find yourself and prioritize yourself. You can fit in fitness, I know you can!

Fitting in Fitness as an Intern

Working 80 hour weeks, boring grunt work, living off coffee and donut crumbs, and having a life that’s dictated by their bosses phone… these are just a couple of things that jump to my mind when I think of the word “intern”. Not much good comes from it. And trying to fit in fitness in that chaos… well that can be tough.

I’m super grateful to work at an association where none of those things actually apply to me.. except the coffee — and that’s by choice. Everyone knows not to talk to me until I’ve had my morning cup of joe. Jokes aside, fitting in fitness while starting my internship in a brand new city has proven to be a lot less difficult than I imagined. For one, I actually work decently regular hours now… and my life isn’t in total chaos. Because I’m simply focusing on the internship, I’m not thinking about course work, readings, or reflections outside of my work hours which has actually been a nice shift in pace.

That being said, a few things I picked up during my busy time of the year has proven to be helpful in figuring out how I work in my workouts and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Keep a calendar. The people who know me (and actually know me) know that my calendar runs my life… sometimes more than it should. If it’s not on my calendar it’s probably not happening. I make sure to keep a calendar of the important things in my life… and on my crazy weeks sometimes that means making sure I block off an hour for gym time.
  2. Meal Prep. Every Sunday I make time to make at least a majority (if not more) of my meals for the week. That way, when I run late in the morning or I’m just too tired to make something for the next day, I know that I can just pop a prepped lunch in my bag. This one helps save money too!
  3. Calendar your meal prep. Yes, I’m combining/repeating 1 & 2 because it’s that important. Cooking a huge amount of food on a Sunday night is the last thing anyone wants to do in their last few hours of rest before a week of work. I get it. I happen to love my job so this isn’t much of a problem… but if you work it in ahead of time then you’ll be ok.
  4. Make a commitment. When I pencil something in with my friends, I don’t bail. I don’t change my plans because I suddenly want to go to the museums. And if something does come up, I try to reschedule. Treat your gym time and meal prep time as a commitment to yourself — to your fitness. Commit and don’t bail.
  5. Be flexible. When I go to the gym, I am more than willing to shuffle around as it is. I know that as long as I get my workouts in… I’m happy. And since my weekends are cardio/active rest days, I’m never too concerned about having two consecutive workouts too close to each other. If I see two guys trying to work in on the bench, I’ll either find dumbells or switch a day at the gym. But never skip leg day.
  6. Remember it’s a lifestyle. Fitness isn’t another chore in your life. Many of you choose to brush your teeth, some of you make your bed, many of you take showers (I hope). Believe it or not, these things are all choices to decide to make. Choices that are a part of your lifestyle. Make it a part of who you are, not another thing on your checklist. See how the shift in mentality can change how you see fitness in your day to day life!

A lot of these things are just common sense for some people, but sometimes it takes hearing it from someone else to get it. Be committed to fitting in fitness and you’ll make it work. My friends and colleagues know that fitness is important to me, so I make it a point to remind them that I am my priority. If you have tips or other thoughts I’d love to hear them below!

When the cravings hit….

Photo Creds: Michelle Shih

Photo Creds: Michelle Shih

“You aren’t dumb. You know what’s good and what’s bad for you. You can’t live in denial and trick your physique.”

“Your body is going to be screaming for calories both good and bad, and you need to keep stuffing only good ones into it until it finally shuts up.”

My custom engraved bodybuilding.com ring reminds me to not just start something… but to finish something. Here’s to some midweek motivation to keep me through the temptation of restaurant week. Shoutout to my best friend who’s staying strong and resisting the hot cheetos.

Thank you Kris Gethin… can’t wait for your 12 week Muscle-Building Trainer when I’m finally ready to bulk!

Injury and Commitment

A lot of my fitness journey has revolved around the theme of commitment. Commitment is a funny word. It’s etymology involves the word “com” – together, “mittere” – to put, or send” and the suffix “ment”-the result or product of an action. The result of putting or giving a togetherness, or persistence. The history of the word commitment dates back to the 1600s. But, alas, I digress and I am definitely not a history buff.

I can promise you that this will be far from my last entry on commitment, but I hope it’s a decent first.

Perhaps what is so striking about this word is its emphasis on persistence and persevering. In many ways, I see commitment as being result to determination–determination being the result of one’s free will, and commitment being a result of said free will. They are, however not the same thing.

Determination comes from within. Determination is your own free will. Your dedication towards a vision.

Commitment is scary. Commitment is ambiguous. Commitment is vague. Commitment requires courage.

Kris Gethin has played a tremendous role in my fitness journey. This journey has been far from smooth sailing. He told us that we had to push ourselves, and if I didn’t get the results I wanted, I had no one to blame but myself. I had become brainwashed that my commitment to my success would be a result of pushing limits. I, of course, didn’t know where my limits were and mistakenly equated pushing my limits to mindlessly adding more weights onto my exercises. As a result, I ended up with a minor rotary cuff injury– partially dislocating my left shoulder (which I idiotically relocated on my own in the moment).

I realized I had to take time away for the gym; I did this with two reasons in mind. I knew that I had to give my body time to recover, but I was also afraid of more injury, and ultimately, failure. I was afraid that this would be the tipping point, where I would give up again. That this would become another failed attempt at fitness.

The two weeks seemed long. I missed the gym. The constant “soreness” I felt the 2 days succeeding a workout. The routine that I had established in my life. In this time, I started letting loose. My diet was out of sorts. Nothing was being tracked. I was upset that my “free time” from school and work, was wasted since I couldn’t spend it in the gym. Because of this shakeup in my routine, I lost sight of my vision. lost my determination.

It was in this process, however, that I had time to reflect. I came to realize that pushing your limits is no different from activism, at least how my wise, wise mentor chose to explain activism to me. She said “Activism isn’t mindlessly breaking the law or making people uncomfortable. Activism is knowing where the line is, and deliberately choosing when, where, and how the line is being crossed.” I drew the comparisons and realized that I couldn’t “push my limits” if I never knew where these limits where in the first place.

It was in this process, that I realized that failure wasn’t the answer. Failure would be the result of my lack of commitment. My success had to come from my commitment, and I had to rediscover my determination to be committed.

This week was my first week back in the gym. It started with me picking up the week I left off in Kris Gethin’s 12 week Daily Video Trainer from Bodybuilding.com. It was leg day (day 28). I knew I would make it through this day. I was, however, scared for my shoulder workout (day 32) that week. I was afraid that I would injure myself again. I was afraid of failure.

Today, I can proudly say that I finished one of my best chest and triceps workouts (day 33) with this program, the day immediately following the shoulder workout (day 32). My shoulders felt slightly sore, but not in an injury capacity. It was the feeling that I missed during the two weeks I was away from the gym. I realized that in finding my determination again, I had conquered fear. I had conquered failure.

Every day is still a challenge. It doesn’t get easier, and it only feels like an uphill battle that never steadies off on some days. But it is these small moments of success, the exhaustion after a solid workout, that ironically pushes me to continue forward. In doing so, I can proudly say that I have stayed committed to my success.

Remember, commitment is scary, especially when your goal seems so broad and far away. There will always be moments in your life when you want to just sit down from this uphill hike. There will always be the rocky times when you want to “take a break”, or try to find an easier path. At the end of the day, you need to find your small trophies of success to push yourself forward. For me, its feeling like I completely obliterated a muscle group after a hard workout (I swear that’s Kris’ favorite word… follow his workout and see if you disagree with me) or the soreness that ensues for the next 2 days. For some, its watching the scale and noticing a downward trend. For others who are further along, it might be seeing a increase in mass via a measuring tape.

Somedays, you might just need someone to tell you verbally: “you look good” or “great job, keep it up”. That doesn’t make you shallow, as long as you don’t dwell on the physical aspects of the statements alone, and lose sight of the bigger picture — your commitment.