Fit Latina in the Making: Side Lunge Leg Raises (Yowsers!)

I knew it was only a matter of time before I found another exercise that I could equate with the burpee.  It’s a move I saw Ray film for a future month’s session of Bodyburn. I can’t even remember what it’s called because as he’s describing how he wants me to set up, I exclaimed: “Are we doing that one exercise I saw you do?!”

He just smirked back at me and shook his head affirming that I was about to do a round of these awful exercises.  When done in superhuman form, they look like this:

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Let’s just say my leg NEVER made it as high as Ray’s, and I slowed down as I pushed through to complete all 40 reps per leg.  But just like everything else we do, I completed all 80 of these side lunge leg raises (what I’m calling this evil move) and was a bit shocked that I was able to do it.

The best part was the fitness realization I had in between sets. 

I would sit back on my knees to rest up my legs, and I realized I wasn’t in any sort of pain. In the past, I used to feel a lot of strain if I sat on my knees like that. It was not a position I could sit in long, let alone get up and move around easily after spending some time in that position.  Apparently, that issue is now gone (like a few others in my life) and that helps fuel my motivation to keep going at this.

 

 

Fit Latina in the Making: How I Now Cope with Stress

If you’ve been following my blog (or know me personally), you know I’m not a person who let’s stress take over their emotions often. However, I’m human and some situations can sometimes make me forget how to manage the emotions best because the universe can suck and really hand you some curveballs.

I have consciously made a decision to work in a field where my job is to help provide comfort and care to families of medically fragile children. Thankfully, most of my days are filled with happiness and celebrations for the milestones achieved by the incredible medical team that is taking care of these very special families. But there are days that are awful, days that are sad and days that can make you very mad at the universe. It’s a part of what I do, and I’ve learned to manage those days well.

However, nothing can really prepare you for hearing the news that the person who is sick is someone who you care about and I had a weekend the other day where I received the news that it wasn’t just one person but it was three devastating diagnoses. I found my anger building slowly all weekend.  It conjured up a lot of emotions and memories of a friend who lost her battle to this disease 2 years ago. How I chose to deal with that surge of sadness and anger surprised me.

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As most people probably do, I would often turn to a source of comfort to try and lessen the sting. This would often translate in to a tasty dessert, a crazy delicious but not healthy meal or an alcoholic beverage. But I didn’t want any of these this time around. I was mad and knew that if I went my normal route, I would be even more pissed that I had also affected my weight loss progress.

So I turned to my favorite hobby. I walked around my house looking for a craft project I could complete. This is no small fete in the craft wasteland of my second bedroom. I have LOADS of supplies and several unfinished projects. Each would take too much time and I just needed to shake this off.

I knew that I had a workout to complete on my own, so I reached out to Ray to find out what he wanted me to work on. You can imagine my frustration when he said he was giving me the night off to rest my joints! I mean it was almost comical that I found myself upset that I didn’t even have a workout to do. I needed something else to be pissed about, and I realized I wanted that to be some sort of evil exercise.

So I took matters in to my own hands and I got on the treadmill. While it made me sweat, it didn’t help me shake off the emotional baggage so I did something I never thought I would do on my own….BURPEES!

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I made myself do 1, then 2, then 3….until I reached 15. I was pissed as I got down on the floor each time and eventually just started to channel my anger on completing the number I had set in my head. I used my frustration to power me through my most hated exercise and it felt good. When I finished the 15, I had to take some time to catch my breath and then I realized what I had just done.

All I could do was giggle because the whole thing was so ludicrous but yet so right. I have three women in my life who are fighting for their lives, so it’s only fair that I do the same and not take for granted that I have an opportunity here to give myself the best chance at a long life. My few minutes of discomfort will never compare to their journey but it finally let me shake off the rut I had found myself in so that I could instead focus on how I wanted to support them.

At the end of the day, my anger was stupid. I won’t negate that I have a right to feel angry or sad but their battle is not about me, and I will not be a good source of comfort to them if I let my emotions make me feel like the universe is being unfair to me.  I am able bodied and “healthy” enough to do what I can to support them. However, I just may need to knock out a few burpees from time to time because cancer fucking sucks.

 

 

Fit Latina in the Making: “OMG. Aren’t you the Girl from Chicago?”

This weekend, I had the painful pleasure of taking my first trip out to Boston to work out at the Club with Ray and his team. They rebranded and refurbished the studio so I had quite the introduction to what a Bodyburn session is truly like. Let’s just say this, I don’t normally like classes, but I can definitely see the appeal of this place. The atmosphere and energy of the participants and instructors was not like something I had ever experienced.

First – the instructors are insane. They are fun, their bodies are sick and they know how to encourage you when you feel you can’t do one second more. I mean, look at this crazy bunch of beautiful people!

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I arrived on Friday and was immediately put to work. Yup, I somehow became the weekend’s unpaid intern – ha! I helped put the finishing touches on a few things and had the chance to finally meet the team. I haven’t laughed this hard in quite some time.  I was immediately at ease, welcomed with lots of hugs and knew that I had to set aside any nerves about my first class the next day.

So there I am watching as the first class comes in. I was scoping out everyone’s fitness level visually and starting to psych myself out about having to stand next to people who I perceived to be more fit for an entire class. But I’m from the Midwest, so I often smile at people to acknowledge them when I make eye contact. Imagine my surprise when one of those persons gets this strange look on their face and immediately comes up to me saying:

“Oh my God.  You’re her, right?  The girl from the blog?  From Chicago?”

I burst in to a huge smile and laughed as I affirmed that it was in fact me. This happened SEVERAL times the entire weekend and never stopped surprising me. These complete strangers were reading my blog and following my story.  What?!

I heard words of encouragement and learned that some of them had started back up at the gym because of my story. To say that I was humbled is an understatement. I’m just trying to make healthy changes in my life and have decided to share my journey because it keeps me accountable. I didn’t expect to truly be inspiring others – especially people who had never met me!

So I quickly told myself to put the nerves away and anxiously watched the first class wrap up.  There was a DJ blasting tunes for the Bodyburn class and my best friend was going to follow me from station to station (she was going to be my “buddy” but had hurt her back the day before and needed to rest). Once my class officially started, I didn’t have a chance to even stress about whether or not I could keep up with my classmates. There was new equipment and frequent changes from cardio to strength. I just had to focus and keep moving.

And I did it.  Every single exercise.

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Was it hard?  Yes!  My body started to remind me very quickly that these were new exercises and that my muscles were not used to it but I was able to do almost all of it without a ton of modification. There were two machines that I had a little trouble with and one of the push up exercises had to be done on my knees, but I didn’t stop moving. I was a hot, sweaty, exhausted but happy mess at the end of class.

Do I think I would have been able to do this class a month ago?  Yes. How do I know this? I saw that there were various fitness levels in each session and the instructors were there to help anyone that needed a little help. I even had the honor of seeing an 80 year old woman show up to take the class cold turkey.

She kicked ass and I watched in pure amazement.

I remember smiling and thinking that I would like to be her in 40 years and that means I just need to keep at this.

But first…I’m really hoping some of my skype sessions turn in to the dance party I witnessed this weekend because I couldn’t stop laughing at Ray dancing away as he watched his team run the show and the class participants getting the work done. You could tell he was proud of what was happening and he deserved to be that happy. It was an incredible weekend and a sign of the fun that will follow. And no…I’m not saying working out is fun. I’m just saying the Bodyburn by Ray is a fun place 🙂

And of course I had to put my crafty skills to use for this first trip out east by making myself a custom shirt to wear. I’ll keep practicing my Baaaahston accent while I continue with the workouts.

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Fit Latina in The Making: Admit it…We all have that ONE outfit

As I inch closer to my next mini-target, I’ve found myself evaluating the clothes in my closet. As a woman who has struggled the majority of her life with her weight, I have a closet full of items that fit me at various points of my weight cycle.

Why have I kept them?

Well duh….every single time I started a new year, I told myself I would finally commit to getting fit. So I have many pieces that have moved from apartment to apartment over the years because I was determined to fit in them again. I started every new year thinking I would be in them by the end of that calendar year.

Have some of those items moved on to happier homes? Have many of my favorite (and classic) pieces stayed in my closet? Yes.

Not be excluded from this conversation is my workout gear. I have specific outfits for working out with Ray and other outfits for when I’m in the privacy of my own home and no one will ever see me in them.  These are those skin tight options that let you see what your body is doing and allow you to focus on form over fighting with whether or not your shirt is riding up or if it’s covering your ass.

You know what I mean, don’t you?  These are the outfits I wouldn’t be caught dead in for a class let alone be photographed in them!  Heck no.

And I have these options for everything!  

Coats, pajamas, undergarments, slacks, blouses, dresses, etc.   The madness has got to stop.

So this weekend, I’m going to identify three outfits that I want to wear and feel cute in again. I want to be confident enough to wear them and photographed in them…so you’ll get to see these three outfits one day. I’m going to focus on three areas:

  1. Workout outfit
  2. Formal dress
  3. Work outfit

I want to be comfortable in my own skin and lord knows I have some super cute clothes to do that in. It’s time to set my clothes free!

 

Fit Latina in the Making: Am I Dieting?

Since I started this journey, I am constantly answering three questions:

  1. How often do you workout?
  2. What is included in your workouts?
  3. What kind of crazy diet are you on?

So I figured it was time to give you all a little insight in to my new daily life.

How often do I workout?

It blows my mind to even type this now…but the answer is every day. When I first started, there were 30 minute Skype sessions with Ray. As we’ve developed our groove, and I’ve proven trustworthy to do things on my own…I sometimes I only get 15 minutes in if I’m having a crazy day.  I try not to have to do that often, but it’s a relief to know that it isn’t the end of the world if life gets in the way a bit.

But yes…that whole recommended do 30 minutes a day minimum is sort of where I am each morning.

What is included in my workouts?

Everything! When I had my first conversation with Ray, we talked about what I did do physically and what I enjoyed (and hated). We then talked about my space and what I had available. Remember, I’m not going to a gym and doing these workouts, I’m doing these workouts at home.

So on our day one, Ray got to see my baseline and has slowly built up the workouts. He changes them up every day, and we are slowly starting to use everything I have at home. What does this include?  An elliptical, weights, stairs, my own bodyweight, a wall, my kitchen counter, a box fan, door frames, a chair, etc.

He uses anything and everything he can that will continue to push me. I sometimes look at my furniture and wonder what’s going to be used against me next. Ha!

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But let’s get serious here. I’m working with a professional who knows when to push me and when to ease up. He also knows how to modify routines so that I can feel successful yet also achieve progress.  I’m slowly realizing that this is key to why this working.

I don’t think I would have been able to get anywhere near where I am right now if he wasn’t a part of this journey. I’d probably still be doing the same few minutes on the elliptical and a workout video that is too hard for me (and then I’d quit for the 100th time).

Am I dieting?

Yes and no. One of my biggest issues for several years now has been the fact that I don’t eat enough.  Yes…you read that right. I supposedly did not eat enough. Not consuming enough energy for your day means your metabolism slows down  to burn calories slowly so you “survive.”

I think I chuckled every time someone said this to me because come on….you don’t get fat from not eating. Well apparently that can be a substantial factor.

When I did decide to finally eat, it would usually be super late and the last thing I would want to do is cook so I would make terrible choices. So the little bit I was consuming was often high fat and loaded with carbs.

That obviously needed to change.

My workouts make me hungry first thing in the morning so I’ve had to become much better at starting with a good breakfast. I then often eat what’s available at work – which often has some good choices. I’m avoiding the available daily sweets and treats which is huge for me as I used to indulge every single afternoon.

I’m also cooking more which means I’m lowering my carb intake overall. I’ve realized that for many years now, my own cooking has gravitated toward more paleo like meals. I’m a bad Latina in that respect – I’m fine not having rice or tortillas with my meals. I don’t often miss them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a great pasta or rice dish, but it’s not something I have to have every day. And since I’m cooking daily now, I avoid the hamburger buns, cookies, sliced bread that I would often have daily. I’m also just snacking better. I pack healthy options and munch when I have an itching to visit the kitchen for a snack of the baked good variety.

Lastly, I can’t forget to mention the water. Before I started working out, I was a girl who was constantly dehydrated. Add the development of adult on-set allergies, and I was a hydrating nightmare. I didn’t take it seriously before, but immediately had to when my muscles started screaming from the lack of water in my system. I now tend to average about 12-14 glasses a day.

Can I still have my Foodie Fun?

The answer is yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Will a foodie night have an impact on my weightloss the next day? Of course it will. Is it the end of the world? No!

One not so healthy meal will not impact my overall progress, and that’s an amazing feeling. To know that I can still enjoy one of the things I love most (beautiful, artistic, delicious food) is amazing and encouraging. You don’t stop living because you decide to focus on your health!

Is this the hardest thing I have ever done?

Not really (and don’t hate me for it).

Maybe it’s the fact that I like to cook and enjoy healthy food or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have a spouse or kids to pull my attention from this journey. What I know is that this doesn’t feel insanely hard at all.  It’s challenging and there are days where I cave and have a bite of a cookie/donut/chocolate. But I haven’t had a terribly difficult time completing the workouts or paying more attention to what I eat.

But maybe I was just finally ready. Truly ready.

And then again…it probably has everything to do with making sure I get Ray to vote in 2016!

Fit Latina in the Making: Your Secret Confessions are Motivating Me

I wanted to first thank you for all the love and support about my last post.

It was probably the most difficult post to write, but I knew it needed to be done. I know I’m not the only person in the world with body self-esteem issues and it would be silly to assume that this whole journey would be all comedic posts about the hustle.  Because let’s be honest – this shit is hard and some days are going to be brutal.  If working out and eating healthy were easy, we’d all have perfect bodies.

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What is surprising me most about this journey is the many secret confessions from all of you. I get bombarded with Facebook messages, emails, and text messages from friends (and even strangers) who share their struggles, their successes and their fitness secrets. Many of these are things you tell me in confidence because you share that similar embarrassment I feel about where I am right now.

It blows my mind.

Here I am thinking that my current weight is the most embarrassing thing ever and here you are telling me that your more normal sized body gives you the exact same insecurities. What does this tell me?  It’s all about our self-perception!

Now don’t get me wrong, there are obviously health risk factors you have to account for, but the way we beat ourselves down is all about what we perceive as the reality about what constitutes a healthy or beautiful body.

I have plenty of weight to lose.  Lots. If I were to look up my suggested weight for my height, I’d probably get super discouraged.  I’m not entirely focusing on that. I just want to be healthier.  Yes that includes a target number for weight loss, but I may decide I’m happy and strong enough at a weight higher than the suggested medical point.  Who knows!  All I know is that I’m trying my best, and I’m working harder than I ever have at this game called fitness.

What I do know is that I’m not a coach.

I’m really touched that so many of you are reaching out to me to find out my workouts and plan because you are seeing my results and want to have them happen for you.  However, my plan is focused on me…where I’m at…how I live…and what I like to eat. So while it may benefit you to share a similar path, it may not be the perfect path for you.

And believe me, I get it.  Hiring a personal trainer is expensive.  It truly is, and it is one of the reasons why I probably hadn’t ever considered doing it in the past.  However, it really does make a difference when you find someone that matches you and listens to you (and who knows what they are doing). Because then it’s magical.  I have found my fitness unicorn in Ray.  (Hmmmm….I think that’s officially my Halloween costume recommendation for you, Ray. Please make it happen.)

So feel free to pester me with questions about why this is finally sticking and what changes I have made and just start.

Start and start and start again.

It’s taken me over 20 years to finally focus on me, and it didn’t happen over night. There were multiple attempts at getting healthier and multiple fails but this one seems to finally be sticking.

And no, I’m not enjoying one minute of the workouts.  I enjoy the interaction with the Boston strongboy and his accent, but the working out still sucks and the staying away from all the sweets is no fun.  But it’s getting easier and it’s becoming a part of my daily routine AND I’m getting healthier day by day.

Case in point: Today is our one-month anniversary and I’m officially down 15.7 pounds and my stamina is higher which makes me feel good after each workout.  That’s progress!

Fit Latina in the Making: Why I Never Opted for Gastric Bypass Surgery

Today I thought I would talk about a decision on a route I have purposely chosen not to take to help my growing weight.

Gastric Bypass is not for me.

Do I think my current weight would qualify me for it?  Absolutely.  I’ve got quite a large amount of weight to shed, so I do believe a doctor would let me consider this option if I wanted to pursue it.

However, I always felt that this was a cop out.

Why? I’ve never truly taken any serious steps to lose weight.  I’ve tried all sorts of diets and have attempted to work out, but it’s always been with half the true effort. This small effort didn’t yield results or change my behavior.

Please note that I’m not saying Gastric Bypass is an easy decision to make or undergo. I know that it is a very difficult decision, and that there are a lot of items a person has to complete medically before approved for the surgery.  You don’t just get the clear for surgery because you want it.

I refused to even consider that as a viable option for me because I felt it would be like all other fad diets I’ve tried.  I’d convince myself that I didn’t need to eat better or work out, and then I’d pile on the weight again. I felt I would fail at surgery.

So it isn’t for me…and I honestly don’t think it ever will be.

The steps I’ve taken in these last three weeks are building up a routine for me. I’m starting to get used to working out each day.

Is it fun? – Hell no!

Do I feel weird when I don’t workout? – Yup.

I needed to take this journey seriously before I even dared consider a surgical procedure. I’m now at the point where my pride will be hurt too much if I don’t make this finally stick.  My pride alone is going to make this happen….but it helps to have an army of my friends, family and followers pushing me to stay honest and stay on track.

So today, I need to say a special THANK YOU to a few key people:

  1. Josephine – I’ve known you for more than half of my life, and you’ve always been a source of fun and genuine kindness. You’re crazy in the best of ways and you are a beast when it comes to your planning, your discipline and your fitness. You’ve honored me by sharing your 5 kiddos as their godmother and it’s amazing. Your friendship/your love is ridiculous and I’m so lucky to have you in my life  Thank you for this very important push in my life and for connecting me to another nut (Ray). You have helped change my life in the best way possible.
  2. Ray – I haven’t even officially met you in person yet, but I think it’s clear we’re stuck with each other for awhile now. I was surprised to like you as much as I do because there was no way I would ever bond with someone whose life is in the gym.  This sedentary gal thought this whole thing was nuts but you have managed to get me to do shit that no one else ever has with humor, expertise and humility. I look forward to introducing you to my true sass, the rest of my crew, and the healthy me 🙂
  3. The Crew – There are too many of you to list separately, but you know who you are. This incredible group of friends (both old and new) who check in on me, invite me to do crazy things, offer to help me on this journey and just simply love me.  I love you crazy fools and thank you for all of your support. Your lack of judgment on my health choices to date show that it was more important to support me in my trying than to scold me for my failures and that’s HUGE.  As someone one said, “I’ve got people and they’re awesome.” TRUTH.
  4. My Family – If you’ve had the honor of meeting my mama and daddy, then you already know they are the best parents ever. They have always pushed me in their loving way (even if it means nagging or scolding) about all sorts of things. With weight – of course my Latina mom has tried everything to “help me.” Some of her methods were well received and others were not…but that’s what parents do. They don’t give up on you. When I started sharing this journey, I got the funniest text from my mom ever: “You keep working out. I’ll come deep clean your house for you.”  And then she did. My mom is also an incredible cook who doesn’t always make the healthiest of things, so I was super nervous about spending the day with them. Imagine my surprise when I’m sent home with a mess of grilled chicken and pre-cut veggies to stock pile my fridge. They are just the cutest.

THANK YOU!