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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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Exercisin’

Blogvember #3: On Chocolate Pigs and Resets.

Real talk: since arriving in the Lone Star State in September, I’ve been ingesting sweets and junk food like a chocolate pig. I wish I were exaggerating.

If you’ve followed TSP for a while, you know that in 2015, I embarked on a gaining health lifestyle change. I changed everything: how I felt about food, how I felt about fitness, how I felt about taking care of this body of mine. A year later, things were continuing to go well. By no means was I was challenge or struggle free, but when is life challenge or struggle free? Things turned upside down, however, when I landed in this one horse town (I’ve always wanted to say that). I moved to a city with drive-through bagel places and donut shops on every corner. I became an animal. The combination of emotional eating and availability was a death knell for all the hard work I had done for a year and a half. (There’s a place here called Nothing Bundt Cakes, for heaven’s sake. Can I live? Can I live?)

But we all have our a ha moments, don’t we? Where we shutter excuses and just decide to do work? I did last week. I became resolved. As cute as chocolate pigs are, it’s high time for a life/health/fitness reset. So far, I’ve been making better choices. Last night, I also officially restarted my weekly gym routine.


That facial expression communicates everything you need to know. I took a class called BodyCombat. The name was appropriate. My body was beaten up, in combat, and so out of shape. It was like a scene in an action film when the unfortunate villain shows up in a dark alley brandishing weapons that the hero ends up using against him. Yes, I came with nunchucks that ended up around my neck. But guess what? We have setbacks and we move on. I have a class tonight and I’ll be back at it next week. Because: goals.

Have you had to make any life resets lately? Do you love donuts as much as I do?

relax…relate…release…

This past weekend, I had a much-needed, long-overdue massage. Incidentally, one of my former masseuses mentioned that I should be doing these once a month. relaxrelatereleaseAs lovely as that sounds, since Idris hasn’t yet proposed, my income just doesn’t allow for that yet. But with the increase in my exercise regimen (I’ve joined the back-to-back daily workouts life; more on that in another post) and more importantly, the quiet cries I hear from my joints every time a workout is completed, it’s time to use that Groupon app and find some massage deals, isn’t it? Anyway, during the session, my masseuse promised to give me a list of areas on my body where she noticed muscle tension–from there, I could go online and research stretching tips for those areas. Well, I got that list. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t a few places here and there. There were five areas she noted, all places that I tend to feel muscle tension throughout the minutes, days, months, years, that pass me by.

And that leads to my confession, dear reader: I don’t think I’ve ever been fully relaxed. Ever. Sure, I’ve had moments where I lay there and feel at peace, serene, undisturbed. But not 100 percent, you know? Not just like languid and droopy with relaxation. Case in point: just last week, prior to this massage, I was laying on the couch in our living room. Ostensibly relaxed, right? My eagle-eyed mom looks at me and asks if there’s anything wrong with my foot. I respond that my foot is fine. She then asks why it seems to be at attention, straight and rigid. I shrug and respond that I don’t know and that it feels fine. When I told her about the masseuse and her list of five areas, she reminded me about our conversation about my foot and how it looked tense. I thought it over and over and realized what I mentioned above.

rrrHonestly, I believe that This Square Peg came into this world not only quietly, but enshrouded with a ball of tension and pre-adult anxiety. So not African, right? Most of my countrymen and women are relaxed, easygoing, go-with-the-flow kind of people. (Yet another thing I didn’t inherit.) Not this one. I think I was born ready to run, ready to spring. I’m never even fully asleep when I sleep. Always aware, always listening, always ready to club someone over the head with a can of potpourri or whatever usable weapon I can find. My beloved dad, who worked at night, used to say that when he came home in the mornings from work, he knew one person would always hear the key going into the front door and would be ready to greet him: me. It was true. I basically sleep/rest/relax with an asterisk next to my brain: *asleep/resting/relaxing, but not really.

Le sigh. So what do I do? Google “how to relax”? Psychologically identify why tension coils around my bones and muscles? More massages? We shall do them all, especially starting with making use of that Groupon app I mentioned above. I have a feeling that if I incorporate massages into my regular schedule, perhaps I’ll finally begin to unwind. After that, I’ll need a leather couch, someone with a pen, and long conversations about just why I believe someone needs to be struck with a can of potpourri in the middle of the night.

How do you relax?

Before and After.

Happy to let y’all know that I contributed a piece for my good friend AB’s new blog. I also hold the privilege of being the very first contributor for her new baby, which is awesome when you consider how much I love supporting my friends, especially when it comes to writing/blogging.

Check it out here, please. I talk about my once tenuous relationship with “Before and After” photos and their impact on my gaining health/weight loss journey.

And kindly follow her blog, won’t you?

Pictorials.

Or shall we say Fit-torials? Anyway, fantastic workout last night, folks. Let’s walk through it, shall we?

Fitness5

First: the requisite sweaty, social media shot. (Done for Snapchat, in case you’re wondering. And no, I have no idea how it works.)

Fitness1

A bit of a smug smirk, no? And yet that’s the face you make when you’re murdering a treadmill, folks.

Fitness2

“This hurts. And you’re not smiling or smirking anymore, are you?”

Fitness3

Tiny guns growing in them arms. Also, since you see my trusty earbuds, the following artists are great for a workout:

  • Justin Bieber (I’m serious. He’s annoying, but the little boy is talented. We’ll discuss further in another post. Kindly withhold the hurling of tomatoes in this direction.)
  • Anything from the 90s. Last night, I rocked Ini Kamoze and Born Jamericans, great blasts from my past, and they had me literally running in rhythm on the treadmill.
  • Whatever floats your fitness boat, really. I’ve also rocked Carly Simon and Anita Baker in my ears while exercising, so to me, it’s whatever you prefer.

Fitness4

Closeup of the facial sheen. (I love to see myself sweating.)

 

That’s it for the pictorials. As far as last night’s regimen:

-30 minutes of cardio on the ‘mill

-30 minutes of the following: squats, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, weight lifting (again, trying to birth some guns), and my very favorite, planks. I tried to do multiple reps of each.

-At least several minutes of stretching

You read about my winter struggle to find motivation. Since then, I’ve been really pleased with the turnaround and getting back to my routine, so I wanted to share.

Tell me: if you’re a gym rat or just enjoy exercising/being active, what are some of your favorite things to do?

Rallying.

In high school, I loved pep rallies. There was something electric about all of us gathered in the gym, screaming for the basketball team or the football team and the loud music and the cheerleaders and all of that. Never mind that in four years of high school (and college, too), I never attended one single sporting event. Not one. (Are you kidding me? Leave home and miss a showing of Beverly Hills, 90210? No, thank you.) But, boy, did I love those rallies. I thought about those pep rallies this past weekend, particularly the rallying part. Those gatherings were meant to push us to action, to come to the game and root for the home team, to be energized and excited. Despite the amusing reminder that I was far more interested in the pre-hoopla than the games/events they were meant for, I was reminded of just much how much I needed that energy this past weekend when I was supposed to get my hind parts off my bed and head to the gym to work out.

You, dear reader, know about my gaining health journey. You know that regular exercise is part of that. But if you live on Planet Earth, dear reader, you also understand the weight of winter. The desire for carbohydrates. The laziness. The doldrums. The inertia. Due to all of those things and quite honestly, having reached a weight that I find mostly satisfying, my visits to the gym have been sporadic, at best. And I can’t accept that. Sporadic for me means eventual oblivion, the disappearance of this routine I’ve built for almost a year. And since my goal is to be healthy and maintain the strides I’ve made so far, sitting on my bed and bemoaning the interruption to my sleep is just not an option.

But I couldn’t rally. I couldn’t. On Saturday, I woke up when the alarm

bosses
But this boss did.

dinged and lay there, gaping at the ceiling. Eventually, I rolled myself out of bed. Since I go to bed with my gym clothes on for mornings that I plan to work out (yep, you read that right), I slowly pulled on my shoes. I sat down. I told myself to stop playing and to get going. I stood up. I sat down again. After several minutes of this silly back and forth, I stumbled into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, bid a hasty goodbye to my mother, and went to the gym. It was a fantastic workout. On Sunday, the same things happened. This time, however, I walked in and out of the house three times before I abandoned my efforts and returned to the couch on the living room, muttering to myself that I was late anyway and didn’t have time. No workout happened.

What happened, y’all? Particularly on Sunday? Why couldn’t I walk to my car and just turn it on and go? Why did my motivation, already tattered, essentially give out until I found myself on the couch, chewing on a health bar and berating my lack of energy? Could be an assortment of answers. But like a pair of dangling, ignored gym shoes on a Sunday morning, I will leave them unanswered.

Today, I have my gym clothes here at work. When I’m done for the day, I’ll change and head to my exercise class this evening. The rest of my exercise schedule this week is planned, and I hope to see all those plans through. Realistically, this may or may not happen. But I intend on sticking to my schedule, and I intend on sticking like glue.

Even if I have to call upon my inner 15 year-old, sitting in a gym with gleaming eyes and a giddily racing heart, excited beyond measure, I will rally.

Reader, have you had mornings like this? How did you push yourself? Tell me in the comments, won’t you?

About your Author: It’s Hot.

Apparently, winter hijacked springtime and then we went headfirst into midsummer. 
Yeah, tell me about it.

How are you handling it?
Lots of sundresses and sandals. But since the atmosphere at the OK Corral tends to be below zero, I still wear sweaters over my dresses and closed-toe shoes. It’s very confusing.

I can only imagine.
Speaking of confusing, you’re being like super normal and not sarcastic with me. Are you all right? Did you fall on your head? Is the heat somehow making you completely different and–shudder–nice?

Here you go. I’m trying to be good, trying to have things in common with you. Are you ever satisfied?
Nah. But you being nice seems like the calm before I’m-kidnapped-and-stuffed-into-your-trunk storm so I needed to check.

No comment. What else have you been up to lately this summer? Still writing? Where’s that third book?
Still writing. The third book is germinating. So far my life is work, my life outside of work, writing, graduation parties, and trying to avoid bread. So basically nothing new under the hot, unrelenting, summer sun.

Still doing the health/fitness thing?
It’s not a “thing”, dear. It’s my life.

Not "almost."
Not “almost”, my friends.

Sheesh, simmer down. We journalists are supposed to ask the hard-hitting questions, aren’t we?
Well, I’m not Nixon and you’re certainly not David Frost. And no serious journalist has ever uttered the words “simmer down” to the person they’re interviewing.

Speaking of that, why in the world are we conducting this interview? You’ve said nothing of substance and I’m too hot to keep this going. 
That’s the point, isn’t it?

All right, we’re done. We’re done.
Whew. Back to your old self again. ‘Bye, my angry love!

there’s really no other way to say this…

guns

…I think I have guns.

Look at those arms. Look at them. You see some kind of definition there, don’t you? Don’t you?? I snapped this photo last week in the dressing room of my favorite place, Ross, while trying on that dress. And dare I say it, I think my hanging out with weights on a weekly basis might be doing something.

Here’s to women with no upper body strength hoisting 20 pound kettle balls.

About your Author. (Again? For real?)

Why, oh why, are we doing this again?
Oh, you’re in rare form today, huh?pussycat

Have you been living under a rock? It’s cold. You can imagine what living in the frozen tundra does to a girl’s mood.
Hey, I’m cold, too. But I felt like it was time for another chat.

Totally disagree.
Yeah, well, you kind of have to do what I say.

Oh, flexing the muscles, huh, since you’ve been working out like crazy?
Well, I still have virtually no upper body strength, so you’re safe from the “flexing.” But, yeah, I’m loving the regular exercise. It hurts, yes, and my abs cry out for justice, but I feel healthier than I have in a long, long time.

What do you do at the gym?
By and large, I get on the treadmill for 60 minutes and do speed walking with occasional running/jogging. Of late, I’ve been ignoring my distaste of the wannabe bo-hunks hanging in the weights and head back there to also do strength training after my cardio. On days I don’t get a chance to go to the gym, I work out at home.

I thought you were allergic to the workout at home thing.
I feel more motivated now. No videos, though, because that’s just an excuse for me to sit on the couch and watch Jillian Michaels do her thing. Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve come up with some nice routines that I can do.

Are you like a exercise nut now? 
Nah.

Thank goodness. 
What if I were?

Look: I get that you’re obsessed with dying seasons and Lupita and other things, but I cannot take you as a workout nut. Like I cannot.
Would that be so wrong?

Yes. Yes, it would.
Don’t worry, pussycat. Everything within reason. I’ll keep dying seasons and Lupita at the top of the list. It’s just nice to have an active routine and feel better. For someone with a Master’s in Couch Potatory, it’s kind of amazing.

All right. I suppose I can accept that. How have you been dealing with this disrespectfully cold weather?
Double scarves, ear warmers, hats, giant coats, gloves. Like, there’s nothing more to say. It really is disrespectful.

We agree on something. Alert the media.
Oh, the sarcasm rears its head. Good times.

Anyway. What else is new in your life? Started that novel yet?
Um, no. A girl is busy.

So we’ll wait another 10 years for that, then?
Have some faith in me, will you?

Got it. 10 years. Seen any good movies?
The frozen tundra has me in the house. No movies lately.

Hmm. Seems like being in the house should give you plenty of time to be writing that novel.
All right, honey. We’re done here.

Honey? Pussycat? Oh, yeah, we’re so done.
Good. ‘Bye, sweetie.

The Unholy Hour. (Or, the Gym Diaries)

Hi. And ouch. But a good ouch. So for the past few days, I’ve been waking up at 5AM to go to the gym before reporting to the OK Corral.

Truth. But it's getting better.
Truth. But it’s getting better.

Yep, you read that right.

Since you’re getting to know me here on TSP, let me educate you on a few things about me:

1. I generally feel that 5AM is reserved for murders, crime, and anything unsavory. That explains the whole unholy hour thing.
2. Like a newborn, my eyes don’t function…before 7AM. In other words, I have no ability to open them and/or use them prior to that time.
3. I am a night owl, so waking up that early is usually very painful and accompanied by a primal scream here and there.

In short, I don’t like waking up early. I loathe it.  But I’m also committed to new this healthy lifestyle I’m aiming for, and I fully recognize that this includes a regular exercising schedule. Most of the time, I prefer to work out in the evenings–there’s a dance aerobics class that I enjoy going to in the evening, I tend to be more cognizant and lucid at sundown, etc. But this also means coming home with the endorphins all wild and crazy and having a difficult time winding down and finally getting to sleep. A friend of mine suggested that I exercise before work. No, I didn’t push her down a flight of stairs for suggesting that I rise at the unholy hour and exercise. (By the way, it has to be 5AM, being that I commute to work and need time to both exercise and head back home and prepare to arrive at the OK Corral a reasonable time.) I was just convinced that it wouldn’t work, being that when I tried it in the past, it petered out in a week or so. So initially, I thanked her for her suggestion, didn’t push her down a flight of stairs, and kind of moved on.

Then last Sunday, I woke up and went to the gym in the morning. Like I just woke up and did it. And I enjoyed it immensely.

Yeah, man.

It gave me energy throughout the day. Check.
It felt great. Check.
I got it out of the way. Check.
The gym was virtually empty, which is my absolute favorite thing in the world.
Check, check, check. run

Essentially: hook, line, sinker. So far, I’ve been enjoying it. And the belief that waking up so early would tire me out for the day? Hasn’t happened. Why? Because this night owl has been going to bed at 9PM! Whaaaaat? Could This Square Peg be letting go of her nighttime-is-the-right-time ways? I’ll say this: it feels good to get a good night’s rest. Just call me Captain Obvious, why don’t you.

Lest I throw all my exercise eggs in one basket, however, I won’t be doing it every morning. Thursdays are still reserved for my aerobics class in the evening (7:30PM), which still gives me time to get home and force myself to shut these newborn eyes at a good time. Anyway, onwards and upwards, rig

ht?

Tell Me: What time of day do you prefer to work out and why?

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