Thursday, April 3, 2014

Couples Therapy

I always viewed people who went to therapy as weak.  Well that's not completely true, people in my family who went to therapy.  Therapy seemed to enable my mom to keep hitting us and justified her not having a maternal bone in her body.  It didn't prevent my brother from being destructive and suicidal.  And it didn't make my father any less angry about having MS.  Sure I didn't cope with any of life's issues well myself but I coped better than they did and I didn't have the benefit of years of therapy. 

So imagine my surprise when I was the one who suggested that my husband and I go to couple's therapy.  After seeing so many of our friends go through divorce I didn't want us to be next.  We weren't in crisis.  There is no infidelity. There are just the same lingering issues that have been there for our entire relationship.  The problem is they aren't getting better and no matter how minor, issues that go unresolved turn into problems.  

We had our first therapy session yesterday and it went well.  In one hour we communicated better about things that we normal spin our wheels on for weeks.  There was no anger.  No resentment.  No fighting.  It was just a great space for us to be honest and talk about what we needed from each other and what we wanted from our relationship.  

Do I think we're weak for going to therapy?  No, not at all.  Am I ashamed that we're under 40 and already in therapy?  No, because I have no plans to be divorced before we hit our 10 year anniversary.  Maybe if a few of my friends had sought out therapy they would have found a way to make their relationship work.  I don't know.  Either way, I'm all in for weekly therapy and I'm feeling pretty strong about the whole thing.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Finding Myself Again

I find myself at a crossroads.  I love being a fitness instructor and all of the things that come along with it.  I am more excited about a new workout outfit than I am about a new dress.  I love interacting with people and hearing their stories.  I love encouraging them to meet their goals and consoling them when things don't go their way.  My fitness classes are my social life.  We laugh, we talk, we dance, we sweat and then we go back to our regular lives.  Most of my week is full of practice and planning for my classes so that even when I'm not teaching most of my energy goes to fitness.   

My real job brings me very little joy.  I still like the idea of what I do but what I actually do at this point is far away from where I started.  As an engineer I solve problems.  I look at data and try to come up with solutions to those problems.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I solve a problem.  I enjoy the praise that I get from others when I solve a problem that has existed for year.  But after 15 years I am less of an engineer and more of a manager.  The problem with being good at your job is that you get promoted out of doing those tasks that you enjoy.  Most of the problems that I deal with now are related to people and not case studies.  On a good week, half of my time is spent being a real engineer.  

After 15 years I am burnt out.  I am at the point where I'm going to be promoted to upper management (which would equal no time being a real engineer) or I need to change careers.  If I was willing to work for a state or local agency I would have more chances to be an engineer until my retirement.  But, in doing this, I would give up the salary and the freedom that I have become so accustomed too.  Realistically, I could never afford to be a fitness instructor if I didn't have my engineering salary to pay for all my trips and certifications.  And I definitely wouldn't have the time to teach as often as I do if I had a 9-5 office job vs. a flex schedule.

So how to I find balance between a job that often feels like it is sucking the life out of me and a job that feeds my soul.  My life as an engineer is solitary and lonely but I wouldn't be able to afford my house, my car, anything without it.  My life as a fitness instructor is amazing.  I feel like a rock star. I can be myself and express myself with wild clothes and over the top hair styles.  When I go to business meetings I dress conservatively and keep to myself.  I have tons of great clothes in my closet but little opportunity to actually where them. 

I never thought I would say this but sometimes I miss working in an office.  I miss the business lunches and the water cooler conversations.  The happy hours and the office gossip.  The Christmas parties and summer picnics.  Because as much as I hated the high school clique-i-ness that often came out of those situations, it was a social life.  I always had plans for the weekend.  I carefully selected my clothes for work and other events because I cared about what people thought of me and I would be seen by a lot of people. 

Sometimes I wear my pajamas all day or until I head to the gym.  When I have meetings I put on nice clothes but usually that's just for a few hours and then its back to the sweats.  I try to force myself to get dressed up once a week and go to the office and go out to lunch but that almost makes it even lonelier.  I sit in my office by myself, I go out to lunch by myself and then I ask myself why I wasted the time getting dressed when no one notices me anyway. 

Of course my work friends were acquaintances and not lifetime friends.  They didn't really know me. It was all surface stuff but that's really what I'm missing.  A social life. Something to fill the gaps between fitness classes and sitting at my desk alone.  I recognize that the me from my fitness classes isn't the real me either. It is the other extreme of my personality, the loud, outgoing party girl.  But living at these two extremes and nothing in between leaves me feeling lost and lonely more often than I'd like.      

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Voices in My Head

Whenever I'm getting in my own way with negative self talk, I like to watch "feel good" reality shows on demand.  For me this means weight loss or make over shows.  When I'm down on myself for having 2 pumpkin pie and white chocolate chip cookies (so delicious) and ready to throw the whole day in the trash I need perspective.  Because of one slip I'm ready to go over the edge and these shows bring me back.  

There is something about seeing someone who has a lot more shit to work through than me that helps me. Should I be eating cookies when I've already had my sweat cheat for the day?  No.  Is it the end of my healthy new lifestyle and attitude.  No.   After not meeting a weight goal or eating a little too much when out with friends the people on my TV hop right back on the wagon.  Granted, they have cameras in their face and millions of people like me at home watching, but still, they persevere.  

They don't over analyze why they reached for the cookies in the first place or decide to eat 8 more cookies to wallow in their mistake.  They just shake it off and move on.  They maintain a positive attitude whether even though they may have 100 or 200 pounds to lose.  Because they are celebrating the journey that they decided to take to better health.  This is about the war, not every single battle.  My husband is very good at reminding me to get out out my head and to stop sabotaging myself.  I'm so glad that I married such a glass is half full guy. Honestly, sometimes it's hard for me to even see the glass!

Starting a new eating plan one week before Christmas was ambitious enough.  I'm going to do my best to make good food choices and get my workouts in this week.  But if I don't meet all my goals and the scale isn't my friend Sunday morning I'm going to leave this week in the past and start fresh next week.

So what did I do today?  I made a freezer full of healthy high protein and fiber smoothies to last me the next few days, baked spinach chips for snaking and ate more vegetables and fruits than normal.  Tomorrow is another day but today isn't all that bad after all.     

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A New Year's Resolution Comes Early

So here we are again.  Another epiphany.  Another chance to redirect my life.  I tell myself that this time is going to be different.  That I'm not going to be lazy.  That I'm going to pay attention to my diet.  That I'm going to be the me that everyone seems to think that I am.  And maybe it will stick this time.  Maybe I will finally break through my own bad habits and get my shit together once and for all.  But really what is different this time?  Why am I going to be successful now when I never have before?  I don't know the answer but I feel like I'm ready to figure it out. 

I am a contradiction.  I weigh a little over 200 lbs.  I am 5'6" tall.  I am obese by any chart that look at.  My stomach and inner thighs are where I carry all my weight.  My calves and quads are solid.  When I flex, my biceps and triceps are impressive.  I teach Zumba and water aerobics.  I run half marathons.  People pay me to help them exercise and lose weight.  People look up to me.  I have helped people lose weight and develop healthy habits.  

Let me be clear that there is nothing wrong with being a curvy, fit girl.  I know and admire a lot of them.  Being skinny doesn't mean that you're healthy and being thick doesn't make you unhealthy.  But I know that this weight is unhealthy for me.  My joints are dying under the excess weight.  The typical injuries that I used to experience from working out are taking longer to heal.  Granted, my training isn't what it used to be (another thing I'm working on) so I'm more susceptible to injuries but the weight isn't helping.  

My blood pressure is normal.  I don't have diabetes.  I have never had a bad stress test, blood test or any other major medical condition to push me into a lifestyle change.  I know that this is because of luck.  Almost everyone in my extended family has diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or another obesity related ailment.  I have seen them suffer because they refused to make changes in their lives.  I know eventually my luck will run out and my genes and my bad habits will win out.  That should be enough to motivate me but it hasn't been in the past. 

I am a very anxious person.  I obsess over what other people think of me all the time.  My anxiety gives me panic attacks and heart palpitations.  As I have gotten older I have become more nervous.  I know that this is because I am not balanced.  That if I were happy with myself and my life that no one could shake my confidence.  I think back to a time when I did yoga every morning and planned out my day.  When I wrote in my journal every night and stretched and practiced deep breathing exercises before bed.  I would plan out my day, my week, hell sometimes my month.  I was prepared for life and being prepared made me relaxed enough to enjoy it.  I didn't stop being this person all at once but gradually, I lost her and became that basket case that I am now.  

I recognize that I might not be able to fix everything on my own.  That if I don't start to feel better emotionally or if I feel like I continue to stand the way of my own success that I might need professional help.  I am ready to say that it doesn't make me weak to need help from someone else.  My number one priority is me. Whatever shame I have previously attached to professional help is gone now.  It is more important that I become healthy; my pride is going to have to get over itself. 

I have gained about 30 pounds in the past nine years.  My husband has gained about the same amount during that time.  Normally I go on these life changing missions on my own with the support of my husband but not the participation.  But this time he feels as bad about himself as I do about myself.  He misses the healthy body that he used to have.  So when I mentioned buying a diet book and trying to change our lives he was on board. 

I have bought celebrity diet books in the past.  I have done Nutri System.  I was on Weight Watchers.  But all of those offered short term success.  I eventually went back to my old habits. I never tried to make any big changes.  After I saw a few pounds drop off I gradually went back to my old ways and put the weight back on.  All of these diets/plans work great for other people. There is nothing wrong with any of them.  The problem was that I wasn't committed to changing my life.  That is why I wasn't successful.  I am ready now.  

So I picked up Dolvett's 3-2-1 Diet book this week.  And tomorrow we start the rest of our lives as a healthy couple.  I'm not going to get pre-packaged food delivered for the rest of my life.  I'm not going to count points.  I'm just going to change my habits and pull it together.  Easy right?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Newest Fitness Dream

I would like to be a big fish in a small pond.  In Zumba there are Jammers, education specialists and special presenters that draw crowds of people to learn their choreography and work out with them.  I love going to events but I don't think I want to be one of those people.  The time and travel commitment.  A lot of people using my original ideas in their classes.  Neither of these really appeals to me.  Plus, I have no desire to deal with the drama that will inevitably come with it. 

But to be a trainer in one of my water fitness specialties.  That I can do.  I don't know if I can make a big enough impression at the live certification events because there is always someone there who is willing to go above and beyond to be the center of attention.  Even if I perform amazingly, I don't usually get the attention because I blend in with the rest of the group.  But for most of these certifications there are home videos that you have to make to demonstrate your proficiency as a teacher.  In my home gym with my members I can be a rock star.  And if I can convey that to the home office, maybe I'll get a shot.  Maybe I'll apply for a position the next time there is a call.  I would love to inspire other people.  I would love to show people that you don't have to be a skinny white girl to be fit.  

I feel like this is an achievable goal that is on the fringe enough to keep me out of the drama of the local mainstream instructors.  Because lets be real, water fitness definitely takes a back seat to land aerobics and I like that.  I like that outside of the pool a lot of people don't even know that I teach fitness classes.  I want to be the shining star in my own little corner of fitness.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Birth of a Fitness Instructor

When I first became a Zumba instructor, a little over 3 years ago, I was shocked at how unfriendly other instructors were at jam sessions, conventions, training classes and other events.  Women are definitely cliquey and catty by nature but Zumba seemed to bring out the worst in a lot of people.  Most of the large studios in my area had so much drama among the instructors and their "pet" members that it was often uncomfortable to work out there.  I used to take another instructor's class at least once a week but I stopped going because there was so much negative energy. 

A year after getting my Zumba license I became AFAA group exercise certified and then AEA aquatic fitness certified the following  year.  To maintain these certifications I attend a lot of non-Zumba events. The people at the non-Zumba events were so much friendlier and more open than I was expecting.  There are always a couple of divas in the room but nothing on the level of Zumba drama.  What is it that makes some Zumba people so catty?  Why do I find myself sitting in a corner by myself when I go to a Zumba event outside of my city but make 10 new friends every time its any other certification?

I have to admit part of it is definitely me.  As my confidence as an instructor has grown (which I definitely have to credit to Zumba) so has my willingness to network and reach out to people.  Maybe sometimes I was sitting in the corner by myself because I didn't appear friendly.  Why should someone reach out to me if I'm not going to reach out to anyone else?  

This Friday I am going to a master class with a local Zumba Jammer.  I have all but sworn off these events because of how un-fun they generally are.  But this Friday I'm going to walk in with a smile on my face and my expectations high.  I'm going to talk to people and dance my ass off.  I'm going to do my best to ignore the negative energy and focus on the positive.  I have to believe that people who teach such an awesome class that has totally changed my life aren't all bad.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Self Conscious in the City

I am super important.  At least that's what my subconscious thinks. In my brain everyone is always looking at me and judging me.  I'm not sure when this phenomenon started but I'd sure like to make it stop.  

Yesterday I went to spinning class with my husband for the first time in a year and a half.  I always struggle when I ride a bike because I can never get the seat comfortable or I'm gripping the handle bars too hard (both leaving me sore for days after).  I have been told that biking once a week will reduce my running injuries and improve my overall muscle tone. I know this true because I can feel the changes in my body after just a few weeks back on the wagon.     This is what should have been going through my head last night.  I should have just listened to the instructors voice, enjoyed the loud music and the dimly lit room and gotten in the zone.  Instead this is what was going through my brain: Why didn't I wear a more supportive bra? Does anyone notice how much my boobs are shaking?  Am I pedaling fast enough? Do I look like I'm working as hard as everyone else? Is the instructor watching me? Does she think I'm pedaling fast enough? Is my stomach hanging out? 

A similar dialogue runs through my mind in almost every other situation in my life.  This leads to headaches, back pain, depression, heart palpitations, panic attacks and so much more.  I have been working on daily yoga and meditation and putting myself in situations where I am not comfortable while pushing myself not hide in the corner.  I am definitely a work in progress.  Sometimes I have good days, other times not so good. 

When I was single I was so much more self confident.  I went places by myself.  I did challenging home improvement projects alone.  I was kind of a bad ass.  But I was also lonely, a workaholic and a heavy drinker.  Somewhere in the middle there is a healthy 37 year old woman just dying to get out.  I think people say that 40 is so fabulous because you finally leave all this immature B.S. behind and you're ready to kick life in the ass.  I sure hope I figure it out before then.