Tag Archives: motivation

Dance Flower! Dance!

Fitbit Alta HR

Now and then, in a quest to keep thing fresh and moving forward, I like to try something new.  To that end, I got a Fitbit Alta HR a few weeks ago.  I thought it might be nice to have a way to track my steps each day.  The Fitbit researchers decided, upon the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control, to start everyone on a 10,000 step per day goal.  I’ve since moved mine up to a 12,000 step a day goal which better suits my needs.  I walk the dogs every morning so that takes care of a lot of the requirement but then I find times during the day to walk to make up the difference.

Besides walking each day I also row using a rowing machine and lift weights.  The tracker allows me to add distance (for the rowing) and time to my overall activity minutes but those activities don’t count toward my step goal.  So in addition to my 12,000 step a day minimum I can also keep track of other activities like lifting, running, playing tennis, jumping rope etc.

I figured I would get some benefit out of having the Fitbit but it turns out it’s provided great motivation for me.  One of the clock faces you can choose from, has a flower on it.  When you’re not very active, for instance if you’re sitting at a desk working on a paper, the flower is short with just one a bud.  If you start moving around, the flower will grow taller, sprout more leaves, bloom and finally dance.  Oh my goodness, the things I’ve done to get that flower to dance!

One day I was waiting for a friend at the hospital and although I had my 12,000 steps for the day, my poor flower was just a sad looking little thing.  I went to a quiet corner and started marching in place (that counts for walking…and if you lift your knees high, is an excellent exercise).  Now, that was an odd thing to be doing, alone in a hallway and sure enough a nurse caught me as she came out of a stairwell next to where I was happily marching.  I stopped and just looked at her.  She said “Oh, you’re trying to get your steps, right?” Then she showed me the Fitbit she was wearing, the strap of which happened to be color coordinated with her scrubs.  We had a good laugh.  She went about her business and I kept on marching until that flower danced!

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I’ve got the Fitbit set so that it will give me friendly reminders to move when I’ve been still too long.  That’s a handy tool, since most of the time, I can get up and do a quick few steps.  If I can’t, it thankfully won’t bug me but the awareness that I’ve been sedentary for a significant period of time is a good little nudge to move around a little bit.

I’d say the Fitbit was an excellent purchase and I don’t even use most of it’s capability.  I don’t care to track my sleep, use the calorie counter or connect with other people for fitness challenges.  This particular model of Fitbit is very slim and unobtrusive and will track your heart rate. 

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Because it’s so slim, I think this model is marketed primarily toward women. I know there are Fitbits with wider bands that will fit a man’s wrist well.

It came with a black strap but if you go on Amazon you can order generic brand straps in a rainbow of colors to fit it.  They’re quite inexpensive.  I got a large assortment for a very reasonable price.   I even got one in leopard print.  Naturally, since I got all the colors, I find myself wearing the black strap every day.

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The straps come in every color you can imagine and there are lots of patterned straps too. They’re easy to switch out.

If you find yourself lacking in motivation and bored with your traditional way of tracking  your workouts, you might want to consider getting a Fitbit.  It just may provide a fun and amusing way to encourage you.

Staff Sgt. Sanchez

I find little bits of inspiration and motivation all over the place.  Yesterday, I saw photos of Staff Sgt. Sanchez finishing the Boston Marathon.  He was running with an American flag as he crossed the finish line and I thought it was a particularly powerful image.

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Later, I read a bit of his story and in it he said, “It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated.”  Oh really?  Well, mission accomplished!  I, for one, am feeling particularly pumped up.

This story makes me feel appreciative, fiercely proud, uplifted and infused with energy.  We all have challenges we need to face.  It helps immensely to see someone else who has successfully met challenges of their own.  It reminds you of the possible and how though wounded inside or out we can overcome, we can heal, we can re-fashion the shattered pieces of ourselves and continue to go forward…maybe just not the way we’d originally planned but forward nevertheless.

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Staff Sgt. Sanchez’s story as featured on NBC Sports sponsored Olympic Talk.

“On the best day for Americans in the Boston Marathon’s prize-money era, it was a man who took nearly six hours to finish who provided the most indelible image of American pride.

Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez, a retired Marine who lost the lower part of his left leg stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, was filmed and photographed throughout Monday’s 26.2-mile race.

Sanchez wore a “Semper Fi” shirt, ran on a prosthetic left leg and carried an American flag.

“I wanted to not only recognize veterans, but everyone that thinks that they’re unable to do something,” Sanchez told media afterward. “I couldn’t stand up for more than three seconds or walk more than two feet [after stepped on an IED]. And I found my for four, five years, just to be able to walk farther, be able to lift my body up. I kept on pushing it. Mentally and spiritually, I was good, so I wanted to push it even farther and do the marathon.”

The flag Sanchez carried Monday was full of inspirational messages. Via Runner’s World:

The flag was sent to him by his patrol unit as he recovered in the hospital.

“I boxed it up for three or four years because I didn’t want to acknowledge it,” Sanchez said. “One day I opened it back up and read through the inspirational quotes they sent me and I was motivated.”

“It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated,” Sanchez said on local Boston TV in the finish area. “We live for others. I’ve learned that throughout being angry, being frustrated. With all that PTSD, I’m channeling it to do positive.”

He previously ran the Boston Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., last year, carrying that same flag.”

Little, Bitty Goals

Rest assured, there were a ton of little, bitty goals that were met between the following before and after photos!

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It helps keep workouts going strong when you set little, bitty goals along the way.  There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals like losing 50lbs or running a marathon or winning a bodybuilding competition but it’s meeting the small goals that really propels you along day to day.  We all like to win so setting yourself up to do so is a smart way to keep yourself motivated.

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What do I mean by little, bitty goals?  I mean purposely setting the bar so you’ll be able to reach it with just a little thought and effort.  Perhaps you’ll ask yourself to drink one extra glass of water each day for a week.  Maybe you’ll add one extra set to each of your lifts for a month or go an extra quarter mile on your usual morning jog during football season.

Successfully meeting goals is a habit you can develop.  Reaching little, bitty goals regularly creates a mindset of accomplishment.  You learn how to keep the commitments you make and that sets you up for success with the larger goals you wish to attain.

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Practice makes perfect (or at least it gets you close)!

Never Too Late

I follow a lot of other blogs and Lifting My Spirits is one of my favorites.  The author has a wonderful story.  She’s living proof that it’s never too late to change your physique for the better.  She absolutely explodes the myth that once you’re past 40 or 50 years old you just have to resign yourself to falling apart physically.  I’m about to turn 53 and I just love seeing how she transformed herself.  I want to give her a standing ovation! This reflects a bit of the journey she undertook to make herself stronger and to sculpt her body into a form that she found pleasing.

Transforming Into An Athlete In The Second Half Of Life

 

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The first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  I’m now 54.

Some people say my age is an irrelevant point about me as an athlete, but they are wrong.  It’s extremely relevant.   I was a fully formed adult with scars and strengths from living life before I decided to live a completely different way.  And my decision impacted a lot of people who thought they knew who I was before I decided to be someone else.  I’m still working on making sense of all this.  Something yanked my chain this last week and I need to write to figure out what I think about things.  Sorry – I need to be a bit cryptic about it because it’s private.  But I believe humans have similar responses to things, even if details are different.

Please forgive me for veering into the past for a moment.   If what I’m going to say later is going to make any sense, I need share parts of my personal history.  I don’t feel comfortable doing that, because I don’t want to give the impression that I think my life has been difficult.  It’s just been a “life”.  But these things are a bit relevant to why I think what I think as I keep transforming into an athlete in the second half of my life…

  • My scoliosis was diagnosed early in high school and I was pulled from all sports. I was told to be “careful” for the rest of my life.  Between the ages of 17 and 24, I had at least two episodes when my back would freeze up and I could not move for about a week.  I remember my mother pushing me around in a wheel-chair at the hospital to get x-rays.   I believed all the adults who told me I was fragile.
  • In my 20’s, I got a job at a gym as a receptionist. That’s when I first saw female bodybuilders in magazines.  They were about my age, but they looked so strong – not fragile.  I wanted that, but I was intimidated by it for a couple of really good reasons.  1) I have scoliosis and shouldn’t lift, and 2) women aren’t supposed to look like that – guys didn’t like it.  I didn’t question those beliefs at the time.  I accepted them and set other goals for my life.
  • My mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 and I was 28.  I was the family member who was tasked with the decision to remove her from life support.  I watched her die.  I know some of you have had to do that, too.  It’s not exactly like how they show it in movies or on Grey’s Anatomy.
  • I decided to get a degree in mathematics and teach math because I was intimidated by it. That was when I began to do battle with my fears.  The time span from my first day of college to my graduation with a degree in mathematics was 16 years.  Mom died during this time and I lost my job because I needed to take a leave of absence to handle my mother’s affairs out of town.  Once I could get back to work, I had as many as three part-time jobs to support myself and still have a schedule flexible enough to attend school during the day when the classes I needed were offered.  This was the first time I set a scary goal and achieved it.
  • For the last 20 years, I’ve taught math to teenagers, ages 15-18. Takes a little courage to show up and do that every day.   Not many adults would want to attempt to manage a room of 30+ teenagers.  Fewer can handle it when a whole bunch of them are anxious about what you are asking them to do.  Math teachers are in short-supply these days.  Burn out is high.  Many students believe they will fail before they try, so they won’t try.  They will do a lot of other things to avoid trying.  While teaching geometry, I teach a lot of other things, too.

And that brings me back to my first point – the first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  All of these other things happened years prior to that.

To decide to become a female bodybuilder at that point in my life, I had to challenge and beat down a lot of my own thoughts about what women can do, what a person with scoliosis can do, what a busy teacher can find time to do, and what a post-menopausal woman can accomplish in bodybuilding.  I’m not saying my journey has been harder than someone else’s, because I know it hasn’t been.  There is no comparison to what others have had to deal with to just get through another day.  I have not had to survive trauma.

That said, I’ve still accomplished enough hard stuff to feel like I can do more.  It’s my journey.   I’ve already lived a life and I’m still in the mix.  My ego tells me that I should be respected for that, but I can’t control what others say or think.  (Yeah, something happened a couple days ago. I was hurt by it, but I learned something useful.)  I remind myself what I’ve done to get here.  My ego wants to puff up – that’s what others do, right?  But that’s not going to help me do anything except become an asshole.  I don’t need to defend my thoughts.

I am sensitive.  I am scared.  I am brave.  I reflect.  I learn. I overthink.  I lose my focus sometimes, but I get it back.  I tell my ego to shut the hell up.  She just wants to generate negative thoughts that feed uncertainty about whether I will ever have tangible success as an athlete.  I may always be a novelty act in public, she tells me.  Ageism is alive and well, we all know that.  Is that my only obstacle?  Of course not.  But it’s there.  I can’t get younger, but I can improve.  I may always be switched to the outside of the youngest, most novice bodybuilder in the line.  If I’m a better bodybuilder than I was the last time I showed up, I guess that’s going to be enough.  My voice may shake when I say “my journey on my terms“, but I’m still saying it.  I’m still insisting on it.

“Why bother?”  I ask myself almost every day.  Almost every day, I quit.  And then I recommit to what I’m doing as an athlete.  The last year has been difficult.  I may not be able to break this cycle until after I compete again.  That last competition experience needs to be replaced by a new one before I’m going to get closure on what happened that day.  Simply getting on stage again will be a win because I will be able to put away two years of trying to make sense of what will now be called the “2015 WTF Happened? Blesson”.

And then I touch a barbell and I happily battle gravity.  I get a little bit of clarity when I’m at the gym.  Lifting still fixes me.  I love to train.  That’s why I bother.   Everything else is just distracting noise, whether it’s external or internal.

The Size Of The Fight…

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We’ve all heard this expression before. It came to mind when I was looking at a particular photo I took during my son’s last lacrosse season.  It’s a photo of my son and his teammate, who happens to be one of the best offensive players I’ve had the pleasure of watching play.  He also happens to be very small in comparison to many of the other players on the field, particularly some of the guys on defense.  

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Rainy day…My son and Little Joe waiting for the game to start.

The size difference doesn’t matter one whit to Little Joe.  He plays the game with great gusto.  He’s fast and light on his feet…and he takes on much bigger players without a second thought.  He feints right, then goes left, he stops and changes directions on a dime, he’s got a whole repertoire of fancy footwork to rely on…

…but he’ll go head to head in a New York minute.  Little Joe has NO fear in him.  He attacks relentlessly and consequently enjoys great success on the field.  Now and then he winds up on his backside but he hops back up, eager to get right in there again.  That’s what makes him such a great competitor and teammate.  His unbridled love for the game and enormous enthusiasm more than make up for what he lacks in size.  He’s a beast on the field and those who underestimate him quickly learn the error of their ways.

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Little Joe usually wins when he goes head-to-head with the defense.

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Incoming!

Little Joe looks forward to challenges and he carries himself with confidence.  He’s an excellent example of how to tackle our own challenges whether at work or in the gym.  It doesn’t matter if we have some sort of disadvantage, we have to face our opposition (the miserable to deal with co-worker,that loaded bar or someone willfully trying to trip us up) with good cheer, expectations of a positive outcome…and a whole lotta moxie!

Don’t sit it out on the sidelines.  Get in there, be smart, feint when you can and hit ’em straight on when you can’t!

A Little Bit Of Motivation

 

I get motivation lots of places.  I heard this story on a news broadcast when it first happened and it’s one of those many illustrative events that I rest my mind on when I’m feeling personally weak and uninspired.  

Most of us have challenges in life that nobody else really sees.  We’re not in a stadium full of people who watch us overcome or who applaud us to the finish line.  Nevertheless, it’s the personal strength and determination that I enjoy watching on display in this video.  It reminds me to keep pushing.  It reminds me that even if everybody else around me has already reached their goal, as long as I’m still putting one foot in front of the other, I’m in the game.  It doesn’t matter how fast I’m going, as long as I’m still fighting.

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What’s The Point?

Do you need a few reasons to add some activity to your day in order to get your heart rate up? Here are 50 of them!

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Coincidentally, number one on this list is my favorite, immediate gratification result of exercising.  I always say it keeps me stress free…and HAPPY!

 

Beautiful Monday

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No!  No!  Surely that’s not representative of any of us.

We LOVE Monday because it signifies a fresh start in our weekly routine.  It’s energizing, exciting and we’re looking forward to a great week’s worth of workouts ahead!

Can I get an “Amen?”

Wishing you BIG ENERGY for all your fitness pursuits this week!

No Quitting

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This is as true in the gym as it is almost anywhere else.  Persistence is more important than fancy equipment or perfect exercise and nutritional plans.  It’s the key to success especially for those of us who train for life and not just for an event like a particular race or fitness competition.

Attitude is everything.  You must avoid beating yourself up when you have a setback or your motivation flags for a while.  If you can’t do your normal workouts, change your routine and do what you can.  Perhaps you can only walk around the block.  Maybe you can only manage some bicep curls or a little stretching.  Fine.  Just don’t quit.

Never quit!

 

Friday Poetry

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