So, I just passed the halfway point in my challenge to my 40th birthday. I'm 22 days in. Since January 1st, I have taken 25 classes, taught 25 classes, and trained to teach three more. My body is a bit fatigued, but overall I feel great.
I'm amazed by the reserve of untapped strength we all possess. I see it in class when in the last 10 minutes, I challenge Lithers to give it their all, and they dig deep and do. That has been something I hold onto when I am taking class and thinking, "I probably could do 10 more plyos, I just don't want to."
I'm doing my best to pick sculpting classes that target different body parts to allow some recovery time, and since I have been teaching a lot of cardio this month, I've been lightening up on those in my own schedule. If you've ever taken one of my classes then you know it's really hard for me to stay on the platform and just watch. I love being down on the floor, sharing the energy and spirit. I definitely bounce around and get my heart rate going. So all of this has been a great lesson in listening to my body, feeling what it's telling me, and trying to adapt as needed.
I've been surprised by how my body is physically responding to all of the training. It was exciting when we got down on our side in Endvy to do clams and I felt the strength in my back as I lifted up through my shoulders and ribcage. It was enlightening when I thought I was going to have an easy time in Floored, and then my muscles started to shake like crazy with every leg lift. It was humbling when I got to the end of Skinny Jeans and my thighs and glutes were burning so bad from the fold-over work that I had to come up for a break. But, it's also rewarding on the days when I make it through one class and realize I just might have enough reserve to push to take another that day. Each day is very different, with its own successes and challenges, and I am muddling through the best I can, looking for the little victories in each.
I am the first to admit that my numbers might be a bit excessive. It just worked out for me that the beginning of the year is a quiet time for me in regards to acting work. I also suffer from the cold weather blues and don't do too well with excessive down-time. I have been focusing my energy on keeping my endorphins pumping.
As for food, it hasn't been nearly as bad as I imagined. Yes, I miss my wine. That is a given. :) But I'm not too much of a carb craver, so cutting back on the refined carbs wasn't too hard. I have however been eating A LOT, and I mean A LOT, of fruit to satisfy my sweets craving, which has been the toughest for me.
I've had two cheat days since I began. The first was New Year's Day as it was the first day of the challenge and I was out of town staying at a friend's house. I didn't plan far enough ahead. I did bring ingredients to make Lithe breakfast quinoa. But, as morning slipped into a lazy afternoon, and then into early evening, my host made us a lovely dinner. It was pretty healthy, but I can't say it satisfied all of the restrictions of the challenge. My other cheat came this weekend while I was at a funeral. Sitting around the table with loved ones, sharing stories and laughs, I realized life is too short not to partake in some of its sweetness (and the four cakes people had baked) every once in a while.
It has been easier than I thought to go out to dinner. Most places have a grilled fish or salad which is genuinely tasty with just a little cold-pressed olive oil and lemon.
My weight hasn't changed at all which wasn't a goal one way or another. I notice my arms becoming more cut, but my abs aren't necessarily responding the way I anticipated, making me think it's time to reevaluate a little bit and kick it up just a notch for the second half. Maybe subbing a yellow pepper for a mango or snow peas for pears.
I realize at this point that it's the little steps and the small changes that are going translate into maintained behavior. I have a 21-year-old California cabernet sitting in my basement waiting for midnight on the 9th. And I am dying for a slice of pizza from anywhere at this point. These things will definitely come back into my life. But I also can see moderation is easier than I thought, and allowing yourself that little bit of grace on the days you need it will do your heart and soul a world of good.
I learned to appreciate modifications! Don't be afraid to modify in class. Right now, you might see me flat-footed at the barre or on my quads for push-ups. But also, find the day you're feeling strong to try and start that ab work on the mat with 5 lbs. You can always drop down to 3 lbs. after the first set if you need to, but at least you got that one set in. And trust me, next time you just might make it through the second set.
So much for keeping this short, but I have to say, the best part of the entire challenge has been the Lithe community. Everyone has been so supportive which really means so much. That encouragement has pushed me through the shake and burn to finish each class. I LOVE hearing about everyone's personal challenges that they have taken up in the new year as well. Some of my favorites have been, "I stopped after just one Girl Scout Cookie!" (Seriously WHO can do that with Thin Mints?) Or, "This is only my second class since the new year, but I'm here!" It's everyone's determination and passion that keeps me going strong. Thank you all for your inspiration! It is a gift!!!!
As you hear me say in class, "We're already halfway there. It's just a little muscle fatigue. You are SO MUCH stronger then you realize! Keep going!"
Annette's "before" image via Lauren