Better or Worse

9 09 2010

One of the great things about having Godfather as a trainer is just when you feel like giving in, he says something that just clicks. On Wednesday I walked into the gym thinking I was going to have a somewhat mellow hour. I was super exhausted and pretty sore after a Tuesday filled with an hour session with him and then returning that evening for my first ever Boot Camp with my friend Jessi (who by the way has her own blog HERE and you should totally go over and give her some love). Godfather pushes me to the limit each and every time. Add to that boot camp and Tara = TORE UP! I had planned on just doing something totally mindless for an hour and getting the hell out of there. Godfather had a different idea. He invited me to work out with another one of his clients. I love working out with this particular person and when he asks you to participate…

you don’t refuse

So here I am, exhausted and feeling physically like I’m at the end of my rope but I warm up and off we go. About 30 minutes into the session I begin to have a mental breakdown. There’s something about being in the gym super early in the morning, having so much sweat and snot on your face that you can’t tell what’s what and being told to move faster that makes you feel like sitting down on the floor and refusing to move until someone brings you a blanket and a teddy bear. That’s where I was. I needed that blanket. I needed that Teddy Bear. I needed for Godfather to give me a break. Since I wasn’t going to get any of the fore mentioned I just started crying. But I was moving. In fact I was running. Running in between two cones. I don’t know if he saw me crying. I don’t really care. I just want to keep moving. I want my body to get stronger. I want my body to get fitter. I want my body to get leaner. It’s not going to happen by giving up. It’s not going to happen by asking Godfather for a break. As I’m having an internal conversation with myself (more like begging my body to not give up) I hear the following words come out of his mouth:

“In any situation, you’re either getting worse or you’re getting better”

I’ve never heard a truer statement than what I heard at that exact moment. Yes, I was a sweaty snotty mess. My shirt didn’t have one dry place on it for me to wipe my face. My legs hurt from the TRX sequence, my arms hurt from weighted push-ups and my lungs were about to collapse from the one minute sprints (and still trying to recover from boot camp) but I was making myself better.

Everything we do we’re either making the situation worse or we’re making it better. Every decision, every choice and every conscious effort as we move forward and take control of a life we once thought was lost forever. This is how I need to look at my life. No, this is how WE need to look at OUR lives. No matter where you on this journey you can always asks yourself: does this help me to be better or does this hinder and lead me towards being worse? If you’re stuck in a binge, if you can’t muster up the energy to break a sweat or you just happen to pull up to your nearest Jack in the Box stop and ask yourself:

Will this make me better?

Will this make me worse?

I didn’t stop crying as soon as he bestowed this wisdom on me. In fact, I continued to cry pretty much right up to end of our time together. But what I did begin to do was say to myself, (and out loud I might add) I am getting better. All the exhaustion, all the struggle to keep moving and all effort I put into this journey is making me better. A better athlete. A better mentor. A better person.

It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.

Isn’t it what we all want to be?

This week has been about as physically demanding as I’ve ever experienced. By the end of the week I’ll have seen Godfather five times, done boot camp twice and run about 12 miles.  I’ll have cried and prayed my way through multiple hours of movement despite being tired and my muscles will seize up after sitting for a even the shortest periods of time. But when I ask myself if these situations are making me better or worse…

I know the answer.

What’s your answer?


Brick wall…

22 07 2010

When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable” ~ Walt Disney

I write that quote first thing because I am living with some serious mental blockage. You’d think after being on this journey for almost 7 months the proverbial brick wall would be coming down but I woke up this morning feeling like someone added another layer to it.

As my body changes shape (getting thinner) and I start to notice more muscles coming through (getting stronger) I also spend more time focused on what else is still there: loose skin. I don’t like it at all. I don’t really like the way my stomach feels (skin wise) and I definitely don’t like the way my thighs look. I’m having a hard time not being negative about what my body looks like today even though I don’t weigh 263 pounds anymore and I am stronger right now in my life than I’ve been in the 40 years that I’ve walked this earth.

I want to be strong, fit, fast and at my goal weight of 170 and I want it to happen right now. I know, I know slow and steady wins the race but try telling that to my loose, feels like aunt bettie’s underarm gibblet, skin.

Today I woke up weighing the same as I did yesterday. Same as I did two days ago. Same as I did on Saturday. I didn’t feel fat on those days. Today I woke up feeling fat and unhappy. The mind has a wonderful way of sinking it’s teeth right into you at the first sign of negativity. It didn’t take too long for rest of me to catch up with that negativity and for the first time since I started working out with a trainer, I thought about canceling. I didn’t want to go and sweat in front of other people. I didn’t want to go and look at myself in the mirror wearing a swim suit. I didn’t want Godfather to tell me to jump on that red box. I wanted to crawl back into bed and just forget about this journey.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am a stickler for keeping appointments.

I went. In fact, it was pretty awesome. There were some parts that I  struggled through. I had to look in the mirror a few times while doing squats and the face staring back at me was not thinking the best of thoughts about what my body looked like. Godfather did want me to jump on the red box. He wouldn’t let me leave until I got up there and it took me 30 minutes to battle the “I can’t” and get over to the “I can”. He did this really wicked (and by wicked I mean mind boggling) thing after watching me stand in front of the red box and contemplate why I  couldn’t convince myself to jump. He stood in front of me and told me to put my arms out and not let him push them down. I did. He pushed but I didn’t really waver. Then (with the declaration that what he was about to say was not true but to listen) he said the following words to me:

You’re lazy

You’re fat

You’ll never be strong

Then he told me to put my arms up and BAM he just pushed them down like it was the easiest thing in the world. He then said (with the declaration that everything he was about to say was true, to look him in the eyes and to listen) the following words:

You’re stong

I care about you

You deserve this

Up go my arms and sure enough, he can’t push them down. I was letting myself think all those negative thoughts and they were keeping me from getting on the box. I didn’t jump up right away in a fit of super human power. In fact it took another 15 minutes of serious mental work to jump and jump high enough to land my feet.

So I struggled today at the gym but like I said, it was awesome. At one point Godfather gets down on the floor with me and does everything that I’m doing. How awesome is it to look over while doing “I think I’m going to throw up” crunches and see your trainer doing the same thing? You can’t give up or slow down when you totally want to kick the ass of your trainer and show them who’s boss (he’s still the boss!). I walked away from our session, out of breath and a little irritated with myself. But I also walked away with something else…

One brick out of that wall.

I don’t know where you are on this journey. I don’t know how high your brick wall is or even if you have one. Whatever it is you are trying to accomplish it must be done with every fiber and you must believe. There are going to be days where you just want to crawl into some dark hole and hope that no one notices that you’re gone. You’re going to look in the mirror and wonder if you’ll ever make it. You’re going to wonder if it’s all worth it. You’re going to try to convince yourself you’ll start again tomorrow. Some days you’re going to stand in front of your red box and wonder if you can…

The answer is yes.

You can.

You will.

Right now.

Let’s talk about coach chuck…

14 07 2010

I’ve wanted to sit down and write a post about coach chuck for a while now. I’ve been working out with him for about 3 weeks and while I am sad that I had to make the switch from Superman to him, he has not let me down at all. In fact he has upped the level of performace that I am looking for and I feel he is the right person to take me where I want to go over the next three months.

I gave Superman his name for a few different reasons. First reason is because his real name is Kent so it was easy to associate him with that particular superhero name. The second reason was because in the story of  Superman he flys around and saves people from perilous danger and for the last three months Kent  has been doing just that: helping me save my life from the perils of depression, obesity and allowing my life to slip past me. Finally Clark Kent is a very quiet and reserved person to most of the world around him and Kent is much the same way but when Clark Kent becomes Superman he has all the charm of a true superhero. Kent possesses that quality as well.

Unfortunately due to his illness I had to move on to another trainer and when I picked Coach Chuck I wanted to give him a nick name that was fitting and appropiate to how our relationship was forging. It didn’t happen overnight so instead I’ve taken the last 3 weeks to really get to know him before bestowing the honor of having a nickname. I thought about just calling him Coach Chuck but it just didn’t seem right. I mean don’t get me wrong, I call him “Coach” when we’re training together but it just didn’t have enough substance or oompha in describing his personality. For three weeks I waited for the nick name to come to me. I researched male superhero names in hopes that something would pop out at me, but I got nothing.

Until yesterday.

Coach Chuck is very demanding. Not in a bad “I’m gonna yell at you until I’m blue in the face and you’re gonna lay there and take it you weakling” kind of way. I think they have those kind of trainers at my gym. No, Coach Chuck is a “this is what you want and this is how you’re going to get it” kind of trainer. He has some high expectations when it comes to the 60 – 90 minutes you spend with him. He wants you to work hard. He wants you to earn every drop of sweat you leave on the mat and he doesn’t want to hear any negativity come from your mouth. He wants you to take pride in the work you’re doing even if you feel like you’re going to puke up your guts if you have to do another round of stations he set before you. He pushes hard. And when you feel like you can’t continue, he pushes even harder until you finish. He can tell when you’re physically tired or when it’s a mental obstacle and if it’s mental you better believe you’re not stopping until it’s done. When you think you can’t, he’s gonna let you know you can and he’s going to make you prove it to yourself. He’s asks and in the end all you want to do is give because you may not want to do it for yourself but there is something that makes you want to do it for Coach Chuck.

During our session yesterday, another one of his clients came up to him. I was sweating profusely and pretty much curled up in fetal position after having done a total of 60 crunch like exercises while my feet were in straps. I hurt. I was loving every minute of it. He looked right at her and said the following sentence:

You need to work harder when you’re working with me

In that instance I knew I never wanted to hear those words come from him and have them be directed towards me. If Coach Chuck ever has to tell me to work harder then I’m not there for the right reasons. I wanted to look up (but I was still laying down waiting for my stomach muscles to relax) and say to her “How can you not be working hard with this guy” He knows if you’re  not pushing yourself enough and he’s not afraid to put in out there for you to recognize: Either get it together or move on. Here he is offering me the chance of a lifetime…

It’s an offer I can’t refuse.

Much like Marlon Brando in the Godfather, I can’t refuse when Coach Chuck asks me to perform to the best of my ability and just when I think I can’t keep going to take a deep breath and push through the fatigue to show him I can and in the end prove to myself I can. Much like the Godfather, he asks and much like the mafia I respond. Much like the Godfather, he doesn’t want to be disappointed by his “family” and much like the mafia, I do not want to disappoint!

Coach Chuck = The Godfather

It’s going to be an AWESOME summer!



So Many Changes…

1 07 2010

I’ve got so many thoughts going through my head I had to actually make a bullet list on paper to make sure I kept the scrambled mess in some sort of cohesive order. I’m using the computer at the library and have about 50 minutes to get all this out onto this blog before some crazy ass flashing light comes up on the screen and tells me to vacate the premises. I’m here for two reasons: One to get used to taking advantages of the free services my local library offers and two because I owed a $.20 fine from the last books I checked out. Go me for making sure my fines are paid!

Okay so first train of thought: I am ready to make the switch from Superman to Coach Chuck. It was a hard decision to come to but I feel okay with the process. I still don’t know what is going on with Superman but I’ve gotten word that he is alive (I did have my doubts) and since no one knows when he is coming back, I’ve decided it’s time I move on. I didn’t make the decision purely based on Superman disappearance  but also on what I think Coach Chuck can offer me over the course of the next three months. I’ve trained with him twice and how he talks to me is a big factor in making the final decision. He uses words I need to hear now. Words that I’ve used since the beginning of  journey. He says things like “Your body wants this”, “this is all a mental game, don’t let the mind control what the body wants”, “You want this? You work for it”. In just the two times we’ve worked together he has pushed me to what I thought were my limits and then he pushed me past them. Both Superman and Coach Chuck are all business but there is something else in Coach Chuck that I didn’t find in Superman and that’s a desire to push as hard as possible and then push again because everything is possible.

I seriously wanted to throw up after 10 minutes of our 60 minute session. It’s a series of what I can only describede as some crazy form of crossfit stations that go something like this:

(all 45 seconds each station)

  • Bench Press
  • Bench Squats
  • Kettle Ball Throw
  • Core Knee Pulls (push up position, feet in suspension straps off the ground and then pull your knees into stomach)
  • Vertical Jumps (alternating left/right position) onto step
  • Hopscotch Ladder
  • Forward Bench Press with Suspension Straps
  • Row with Suspension Straps
  • Full Squats with Suspension Strap
  • Core Alternating Knee Pulls with Suspension Straps (push up position, feet in suspension straps off the ground and then pull your knees into stomach alternating left/right – kind of like riding a bike)
  • Vertical Forward Jumps onto step
  • Criss Cross jumps on Hopscotch Ladder

That is one round. Repeat for three rounds then curl up on the floor like a baby and that is what we did today. He’s all about endurance training and I am all about building that endurance. I’ll take the necessary steps to transfer my trainings over and forge a new relationship with a new trainer. Now to come up with a superhero name…

Train of thought number two: I ran for six miles yesterday. A new distance record for me as I work to run longer and faster. It took me 1:19:00. It’s the first run I’ve actually been disappointed with since the start of my running adventures. I was disappointed because half way through the run (and the farther point away from my destination I hit a rock right in the middle of my heel while wearing my vibrams. It made for a painful situation. One where I had to stop and consider how I was going to get back to where I was going. I had to walk for a little bit but it’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to run. the entire time I was walking that damn recorder was playing in my mind. Telling me I’ll never be a runner. Telling me I’ll never run fast. Telling me I’ll never make it to a half-marathon let alone a full marathon. It took a lot of effort to get my feet to move faster than a walking pace. Eventually it happened and I finished the route. I shouldn’t be disappointed. I should be jumping up and down for joy at having surpassed my last run by a mile. I should be patting myself on the back for mustering up the willpower to keep running. All these “I should” and yet I still walked away disappointed. I’m not sure if this ties in with my recent employment situation but it has been a depressing conversation in my head. One that just shouldn’t be allowed to exist. I remember crying and hugging myself after running for 5 minutes straight (and maybe 1/4 of a mile) and thinking how awesome it was and yet yesterday I wasn’t good enough after running for almost 55 minutes straight and clearing close to 4.5 miles before stopping due to an injury to my heel.

I have a lot of emotional work still.

Train of thought number three: I have seen 199 enough this week that I am confident it will happen on OWiS #27. Barring a massive salt intake or TOM it will happen and I am ready to enter a new phase of this journey. I’ve lost almost 65 pounds since January and for the first time in my adult life I like the way my body looks. I am moving away from this being a weight loss journey and moving towards this becoming a journey of strength. I am confident in this new phase the weight will continue to come off my body but it won’t be the focus any longer. I’m going to move away from stable exercises like the elliptical and stationary bikes and move toward less stable exercises (swimming, weight training, outside biking, spin class, running and endurance training). The stable exercises helped me lose the first 65 pounds. Unstable exercises will not only help me lose the next 35 pounds but will also make me leaner, stronger and much more fit.

That’s what I want.

That’s what I’m going to get.

Seeing 199 on the scale has been monumental. I don’t feel fat anymore. I don’t see myself as fat either. I see the small pudge in my stomach or the under arm flabbiness and I think “it’s only a matter of time” because while I look in the mirror and see my stomach/under arms I also see the  muscles in my thighs. I see my biceps and I see new part of my body one: my collar-bone. I didn’t see those things 6 months ago, but I see them today.  Hard work, sweat and a gazillion tears are paying off by giving me the body that I was born to have. The body I abused for the last 25 years has accepted my apology and is moving forward business as usual. If I can do this in six months…

Think what can be accomplished in a year.

Fourth train of thought: All is okay in my world. Last Wednesday everything came crashing down around me as I joined the ranks of the unemployed. I’ve had a few panic moments and one fight with my husband (as to be expected I guess) but a week later, I am doing okay. My interpreter friends have helped me tremendously in giving me contact information for various opportunities. I thank them and the universe for looking out for me. There isn’t much work out there (Summer is always slow) but there is work and I will find it.

There are some plans being jostled around in my head that while I want to share with the world, I need to just sit on them for a bit longer before making any sort of commitment. These ideas include leaving the profession of interpreting and venturing off into a new career. One that would require me to go back to school after 10 years. I am building a stronger body, now I also need to think about building a stronger brain. I see the change that can happen in people and I want to be a part of the change. I want to be the catalyst to that change. No not want, need. It’s time to refocus what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up and it’s time I make it a reality.

This is one crazy ride and I’m glad I got on!

Coach Chuck

22 06 2010

I really want to read everyone’s blog right now but also want to post about my upcoming appointment on Friday. There is no word yet on Superman as of today (Tuesday). So I’ve decided to go ahead and schedule a session with another trainer for this coming Friday. I knew who I had in mind so it was just a matter of approaching and asking for a session.

<—- This is Coach Chuck (I’m not giving him a super hero name since I have no idea what’s happening with Superman). He’s pretty much the bee’s knee’s when it comes to trainers. I’ve watched him now for several months and if things weren’t so awesome with Superman, he’d be my next pick. I approached him today and reiterated that while I’m not jumping ship, it has been almost a month since my last training session and I’d like to at least do something while waiting to hear the outcome of Superman‘s situation. He agreed and so we set something up for Friday. Coach Chuck is a great guy and I’m really happy that he’s willing to do these interim sessions until further notice. He even agreed to not charge me since I bought the sessions thinking I was going to be with Superman.

Hello Mr Awesome Trainer!

Here’s the snippet on Coach Chuck:

Work Experience-
• 20 years- Physical Education Teacher, and Coach
• 25 years- Kenpo Karate
• 12 years- High School Club Volleyball Coach
• 5 years- Athletic Club Manager and Personal Trainer
• 4 years- High School/College Volleyball Referee

• Nutrition & Menu planning
• Cardiovascular Conditioning
• Increasing Flexibility
• Weight Loss Management
• Strength & Conditioning
• Personal Motivation
• Balance, Agility, Coordination

• NASM- Certified Personal Trainer
• 5th Degree Black Belt-Kenpo Karate
• 4 time High School-Volleyball, COACH OF THE YEAR!
• CPR/AED Certified

and his Philosophy:
I believe a trainer’s job is more than to just instruct their clients on proper body alignment, nutrition, and the correct use of equipment. A trainer should be a life coach; someone who cares about the whole person, not just their physical body. As a Trainer, I try to understand my client’s lifestyle; their likes, dislikes, their background, and their goals. I then model their training with those elements in mind. My goal is to first understand, then teach, inspire, and motivate. My background as a coach has taught me that lasting change does not come when you tell a person what to do, but only when you teach them how to do it. My goal, during the time I spend with my clients, is to design a program that they can enjoy and teach them how to take positive steps towards lasting changes; to teach them life skills that will last a life time…

Yhea, pretty much rockstar right there.

So Friday it is, unless Superman says something different.