Getting Unstuck for 2017. Here’s How…

How My Self Esteem and Motivation are Growing With My Lunges

I’m never one to make New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I set little goals for myself, but goal-setting is something I try to remain consistent about throughout the year. This year, however, was different. I’ve been feeling stuck lately in terms of my writing. I haven’t felt inspired and have been severely lacking motivation. This lack of motivation was bleeding into all aspects of my life. I was unhappy, dissatisfied and felt a little lost. I knew I had to make a change. But I discovered that the best way for me to change my sense of self and writing abilities, wasn’t by putting pen to paper, it was through working out.

I’ve always been athletic and enjoyed exercising to some extent. I did gymnastics as a kid and was a cross country runner throughout high school and continue to run today, though not as consistently. Just like my writing, however, I’ve felt stuck in a rut with my workouts, unmotivated and bored. So when my gym was offering a promotion for a personal trainer, I decided to take a risk and go for it. Getting a personal trainer was always something I’ve wanted to do. I just never had the courage, or reason to do it. The promotional deal was just the push I needed to finally try it.

My first workout was a total wakeup call. I did sprints, burpees, squats with weights, a ton of core work in which I threw a giant medicine ball back and forth and a bunch of other things that I never thought I was capable of doing. I was sweaty, smelled awful and was exhausted, but above all else, I felt motivated again. I felt confident in myself and my abilities. I felt like I could push myself further than I had before. I could work harder and I could truly achieve any and every goal I set for myself.

Although I know my workout sessions have just begun, I continue to see and feel this major shift within myself. And, surprisingly, the biggest change hasn’t been in my physical strength, or appearance, though I’m pretty sure yesterday I could make out an outline of a single abdominal muscle in the mirror, it is my mentality, spirit and drive. The fear of writers block has been holding me back, which is something I’m slightly ashamed to admit. It’s been a daily struggle for me to get any form of writing out. Before i began to challenge myself physically, I worried about writing an article, essay or even a journal entry and writing something that I wasn’t proud of, or worse being rejected by others. But when I start my day by bench pressing (80 pounds!) I have faith that I can push myself to write at least 500 words, regardless of the outcome. I’ve learned that it’s more about the journey and less about the end goal.

I’m not advocating for everyone to get a personal trainer. Some people just don’t like exercising and that is totally fine. But I do believe that challenging yourself in some way is so important to your mental and spiritual health. Perhaps challenge yourself by delving into cooking, take a foray into a class or hobby you’ve always wanted to explore. It is only then that are able to stretch, learn, and grow. I know I’ve learned a lot about myself in my workout process. I didn’t know I sweat so much, smelled so bad, or was capable of doing a single pull-up. But, perhaps most importantly, I didn’t know how low my confidence had been until I started taking the necessary steps (and lunges) to build it.

My Top 15 Excuses for Not Going to the Gym Today

I can’t possibly work out today — there are far too many excuses why.

Like many women, I have struggled off and on with my weight for many years. For me personally, I didn’t really have any issues in high school or college, other than the typical gaining of 20 or so pounds done by most college-aged kids.

In my mid-twenties, however, while living in my very first NYC apartment in Brooklyn, I suffered and survived through a terrible sexual trauma. This event led me to gain an enormous amount of weight, over a lot of time. I began using food for comfort, for avoidance, and for a way to shield myself against getting hurt again by men. (“If I’m fat, nobody will touch me. If nobody touches me, nobody can ever hurt me again.” That was the logic.)

Eventually, after many years, I got my weight under control. I wasn’t skinny by any means, but I was no longer dangerously large either. I was on my way. And then, out of nowhere in 2011, my 46 year old healthy and active husband, collapsed one morning, went into cardiac arrest, and died. Once again, in my grief, my weight went up and I started eating out of loneliness, pain, and boredom.

The past couple of years, I have finally started to do better. I walk most mornings, love to swim, and try to live a mostly healthy lifestyle. But it’s a daily battle. One thing that helps , for me, is having a sense of humor about life. About the things we all struggle with.

Often times, I will be all set to go and work out, and then I will somehow talk myself out of it. Motivation is so hard, and I’m sure it is something that most of us have a tough time with. I thought it might be fun to share a humorous list of ridiculous reasons I have actually used or at least thought to myself, of why I can’t possibly go work out today.

valentine's day alone workout

Maybe you have used some of these yourself. If you havent, you are welcome to borrow a few.

 Here are my Top 15 Excuses Why I can’t possibly Go to the Gym and Exercise Today:

  1. I can’t go because I can’t find my gym pants.
  2. I can’t go because I found my gym pants, but they have hair on them.
  3. Where are my sneakers? Oh, I’ll never locate them in this mansion of an Apartment! Forget it. I’m not going.
  4. (To my mom, who I share a car with right now) Well, you need the car in 4 hours, right? Yeah. I’ll never make it back in time. Better not chance it.
  5. I think the pool at the gym is closed today. They are working on repairs or something for it. (I have actually said this one out loud more than once, and it’s usually a lie. Once in awhile it’s true, but usually, it’s a total fabrication. )
  6. Where the hell are those gym pants?
  7. (This one has to be said in a panicky voice) It’s already 5pm. By the time I eat dinner, change into gym clothes, get the gym bag all packed up and ready, yadda yadda yadda, it’ll be August! They close at 10pm. I HAVE NO TIME!!!
  8. I JUST went to the gym five days ago! Who am I, Jillian Michaels???
  9. I can’t remember my locker combination.
  10. It’s the weekend. It’s going to be SO PACKED!!! Screw it.
  11. We don’t have any clean towels! Looks like Im staying home!
  12. My bathing suit is still wet from the last time I went.
  13. There’s not enough gas in the car. I’ll never make it there.
  14. It’s too hot / cold / rainy / snowy outside. Who wants to be out in this weather?
  15. It’s beautiful outside. Who wants to be stuck inside a gym in this great weather?

As you can see, ANYTHING can be used as an excuse not to get healthier, even reasons as ridiculous as the ones in this list.

If we try and create a mindset for ourselves that exercise is just another part of staying healthy and well, like brushing your teeth, good hygiene, or a balanced diet, it might become ingrained in us, and therefore easier to actually get out there and do it. I always feel better when I’m healthier. It’s just making myself get up and actually do it – that is where the challenge has always been.

So here’s a new challenge, for myself, and for everyone reading this. Each day, try and do at least one thing with the specific intention of living a healthy lifestyle. Just one thing. Start writing down your one thing, and then expand to two, and so on.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear about your “one thing!” What one thing will you do differently tomorrow? Let’s start this new list together. #OneThing

Read more stories like this such as: How Burlesque Let Me Claim My Body ImageWHY Do You Weigh Yourself?, or Truly Sexy People Do These 4 Things.

Simple Yoga Poses to Do With Your Partner

Recently, my husband and I have been trying to exercise together more. We love the bonding time and it’s fun to get to challenge each other. We run on treadmills next to each other, take fitness classes, and even lift weights.

But perhaps our favorite exercise to do together is yoga.

I’ve always loved yoga. It helps to relax my mind and strengthen my body at once, but now that I’m doing it with my husband, I’ve found a whole other side of it. There’s something so special about sitting together in a pose, quieting our minds together and even helping each other find the right stretch.

While we love taking yoga classes, we also love practicing easy poses in the mornings and in the evenings after work. These poses make us feel physically ready before we start the day and help us relax before heading to bed. Plus, it gives us some quality time to focus on each other.

We might not be the most experienced, strongest, or most flexible yogis in the world, but we feel so connected and refreshed when we take the time to do just a few simple poses.

yoga poses

Here are 7 great (and simple) couple poses that you and your partner can do at home too.

Partner Seated Spinal Twist

Lots of people forget to stretch their back but it feels so good to give your spine a twist after a long day of sitting in the office. It’s even more fun when you get to do it with your partner.

For this pose, you’ll start by sitting back to back in a cross-legged position. Both of you will reach back with your right hands and place it on your partner’s left thigh. Then, put your left hands on your own right knees. Once you’re in position, practice breathing together, lengthening your spine on the inhale and twisting on the exhale. When you feel you’ve twisted as far as you can go, switch sides and twist the other way.

Simple Partner Camel

The traditional Camel Pose can give you a great backwards stretch, but it can be a little challenging for new yogis. There’s a little bit of balance involved and it requires a fair amount of flexibility. This partner version will give you the same back stretch and you might find it to be a little easier.

Sit back to back again. This time you can sit criss-crossed or in the “butterfly” position with the soles of your feet touching and your knees out. Take a few breaths as you focus on strengthening your back, pushing against each other. Coordinate so that one of you leans backward as the other bends forward. The one who is bending forward can reach their hands out in front of them to get a good stretch (this is also good for stabilization). Move slowly, breathing as you go, and communicate so neither of you are ever uncomfortable. When you’re ready, switch.

Seated Cat Cow

You might have seen or done a traditional Cat Cow Pose before, where the yogi goes on their hands and knees and switches between an arched back and a rounded back.

With the couple’s version of this pose, you get that same stretch but with the added benefit of your partner’s support. You’ll sit cross-legged facing each other. Grab each other’s forearms and practice good posture by pulling your shoulders back and down. Inhale as you look up, allowing your back to arch a little and your head to go back as far as feels comfortable. When you exhale, bring your chin to your chest and round your back, bringing your gaze to your tummy. Move slowly and repeat this motion for as long as feels good to you both.

Seated Bound Angle

This one is a great stretch for your legs.

Sit facing your partner with a nice, tall spine. Decide who will go first and who will go second. Have “Partner One” bring the soles of their feet together in butterfly while partner two extends their legs forward so that the soles of “Partner Two’s” feet touch partner one’s shins. (Note: those legs do not have to be completely straight. If you aren’t very flexible, you might want to keep a slight bend in your knees to protect your hamstrings.) Next, grab each other’s forearms. Partner Two will gently pull Partner One forward so that they fold over their legs, using their shins for leverage. Make sure you are communicating and listening to each other as you breath. The one bending forward should try to lean into the stretch on the exhale but should never go farther than is comfortable.

When Partner One feels they are done, switch positions.

Back to Back Shoulder Stretch

This stretch is great for giving your shoulders a little stretch, and can help both you and your partner with your posture!

For this stretch, the two of you will stand back to back and extend your arms into a “T” position. Interlace your fingers with your palms touching and pick a partner to go first. Gently, the first person should bring their hands just a little bit forward, pulling on their partner’s hands to create a stretch across their chest and shoulders. Then, you’ll switch. Communicate to ensure your partner’s comfort. This pose can give you a deep stretch so be careful not to move too quickly.

yoga pose couple

Back to Back Chair

Sometimes doing yoga together is just as much an exercise in communicating and working together just as it is a physical activity. The Back to Back Chair Pose is one of those. You’ve probably seen the non-couple version of this pose before, often done against a wall. When done correctly, it looks like someone is sitting in an invisible chair. For this version, instead of using a wall, you’ll use your partner.

Just as with the last pose, you’re going to start this one back to back. So, stand firmly against one another. Communicate as you slowly take small steps forward. Stop when you find your knees at a 90 degree angle. Your backs will still be pushing up against each other and your feet will planted in the ground, but you’ll be in a mirrored sitting position, supporting each other.

Old this pose for as long as you can, taking breaks when you need them.

Partner Boat Pose

This pose can be a little challenging for new yogis but if you’re ready for a balance and flexibility challenge, this one can be a lot of fun.

First, you’ll sit facing each other with feet on the ground and knees bent in front of you. Reach forward and hold hands outside of the knees. You should be just far enough away to not be able to bend your arms to reach your partner’s hands. If you’re sitting too close or too far, adjust.

You might want to sit in this spot for a few breaths to center yourself and find your balance. When you are both ready, lift one foot each (of corresponding legs) and touch your feet sole to sole. Strengthen those legs upward. Do the same with the other legs so that each of your legs are touching each other. If you look at yourselves in a mirror, you should look like the letter “A” with your legs forming the two sides and your arms as the horizontal line in the middle.

Be sure to engage your core and don’t forget to breath.

yoga exercise

Hopefully you and your partner have lots of fun with these poses. You might even end up getting hooked and practicing yoga every day together. Not only will you get to improve your flexibility (and maybe get a little stress relief) but you’ll be able to spend that quality time with your honey—which makes it all the more wonderful.