Motivation

The only way out is through

That’s a line from an Alanis Morissette song.

Some of you reading this might suddenly have a flashback to that time you were on a date with a frat guy named Alan who had a six-disc changer in his car when it was cool and he played the song Ironic for you while you were busy getting homesick at the site of a stop sign because you’d only been away at college for two weeks, and you were thinking that his car smelled like sweaty gym socks and he was wearing too much Drakkar Noir.

I mean, generally speaking that might have come up for you.

Well, I’m just letting it all out here. This is what I dressed like when I was listening to Alanis Morrissete my freshman year of college.

Well, I’m just letting it all out here. This is what I dressed like when I was listening to Alanis Morrissete my freshman year of college.

This song lyric is actually not from Jagged Little Pill, which I know half of you out there reading remember as her debut album of the early nineties - but I’ve always liked the phrase - the only way out is through. It seems a milder version of Nike’s Just Do It.

I was reminded of this lyric recently while reading a nutrition article. Like many people, I’m an avid consumer of information, whether that’s through reading or listening to podcasts and books. I just really enjoy learning. One of the challenges of the constant influx of information though, is paralysis. So the other day, when I read this line:

Action is more important than information - I had a mind blown moment.

The article went on to say that no matter how much you know, or how much you want to change, in the end, it’s only action that creates change.

I mean I know that action is more important, I just forget it all of the time.

I think we all do.

I’m trying to apply the action concept to my writing as I work on my second book (the first one is due out in September). On any given day I spend more time thinking about my book, talking about the concepts or reading about writing than I actually spend writing. Which somehow leaves me feeling exhausted without anything to show for said exhaustion.

Sound familiar?

I actually had this conversation with my therapist last week, and so she gave me an assignment, which I’m practicing right now. Write for 15 minutes a day.

I lobbied her to drop the number down, you know, to set me up for success in case I missed a day, but she’s a hard ass and didn’t budge.

Everyday, she said.

And what if I don’t hit that? I asked.

Then we’ll talk about it next time.

So far, I’ve hit my 15 minutes a day.

Because I’m spending 15 minutes a day working on the action of writing. I’m not reading about it, thinking about it or talking about it.

Let me emphasize that last point a bit:

I’m not thinking about it.

Sometimes we think ourselves into exhaustion about any given change on any given day. We’re so toasted from mentally ruminating on something that it wears us out.

But these past few days, I’ve just be shutting up and doing it.

And it’s been ugly.

Stream of consciousness, ranting, no punctuation, lots of ellipses - ugly. But it’s happening. The only way to write is to put your butt in the seat and write.

The only way to change is to take action towards that change.

The only way out is through.

You can’t get through if you’re not moving. You can’t see change if you’re not doing. I know you know this. But since when does knowing mean doing? How many times have you ever said to yourself, or your coach or therapist, I know what I need to be doing, I’m just not doing it?

If everyone did the thing though, I probably wouldn’t have a job because coaching isn’t about telling people what to do - it’s helping them figure out how to do things.

So this is what I want you to do. I want you to, right now, at this very moment, put your phone down and pull out a piece of paper and write down anything you’d like to change in your life.

You’d like to be more physically active, you’d like to clean off your desk, dust your bookshelf, go through one drawer of clothes and go all Marie Kondo on it (does that 15 year old stretched out sports bra give you joy?) - finally make that dentist appointment you’ve been putting off - whatever the task may be, pick one thing and take action on it for five minutes a day.

You can do anything for five minutes.

Ok?

Ok.

Good talk.

P.S. Are you ready to take action with your nutrition, but not sure where to start? Comment below or send me an email at kim@kimlloydfitness.com to find out more about my online nutrition coaching program that starts in July.

**Not open to Spurling Fitness members - we’ve got your nutrition coaching covered :-)

You are bathing suit ready

It’s getting to be bathing suit season, and so there is a lot of talk about getting bathing suit ready. Presumably, in our culture, “bathing suit ready” means endless squats, lunges, push ups, ab work, spin classes, bootcamp classes, running and generally beating the sh*t out of our bodies.

Hey, exercise is great for improving your overall physical (and mental) healthy - and there is nothing wrong with any of the activities listed above. With the exception of spinning (I’ve never taken a class if you can believe it), I enjoy them all.

But I don’t think more exercise is what you need to do to get “swimsuit ready.” (The phrase swimsuit ready came from a reader when I was surveying for potential blog topics.)

Regardless of what swimsuit you wear, resist the urge to bring back acid washed joggers. Please. For me.

Regardless of what swimsuit you wear, resist the urge to bring back acid washed joggers. Please. For me.

I believe the number one action you can work on to get prepared for a season that invites shorts and tank tops is….drum roll please……

Develop a positive relationship with your body. 

Yup. No big thing, right?*****

Most of us would find wrestling an alligator more natural than being kind towards our bodies.

If we met in person, you might describe me as fit - and with a lot of help from genetics and some weekly effort on my part - I hold my own. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with my own body.

On the outside of my right knee is a pale white scar from a teenage, neighborhood game of hide and seek. On the inside of my right leg is a small spiderweb of varicose veins that seems to puff up closer to the surface with each passing year. Sometimes you can’t really see them, and other times that’s all I see when I glance down at my legs. I have them on both legs, in several different places, and at times I am reminded of my grandmother, who rarely wore shorts, but I caught glimpses of her varicose veins when she wore dresses to church. 

These veins bother me in a way that I’d like to deny. But if I’m going to preach a positive relationship with our bodies, then you should know that I struggle in my efforts too. Those varicose veins makes me feel my age in a way that’s uncomfortable.

And so I’ve been joking that I won’t wear shorts at all this summer - because I’ve become embarrassed of my legs.

I’m not proud of that, but hey interwebz - I’m telling you anyway. So I’m working on that positive body image.

The thing is, my legs have taken me many places. They’ve hiked over 200 miles of Rocky Mountain National Park. They’ve run thousands of miles in all parts of the country, from New Mexico to Colorado to Oklahoma and more. They’ve worked 12 hour days on cement floors doing retail, walked through the farm fields of Western Pennsylvania to interview farmers, and stood in the dugout wells of minor league baseball teams, shifting from side to side to stay warm. They barked and complained when I did last year’s Tough Mudder, and they still don’t take very kindly to deep squats or lunges. 

But my legs, like the rest of my body, carry my story. 

And this summer, maybe more than any summer in the past, I find myself having to work very hard to be kind to my body. To be appreciative of my body. To be gentle with my body. To trust and appreciate that I am the best version of me that I know how to be right now, and that is all I can ask of myself.  

For the record, no I don’t think varicose veins are the end of the world, and yes, I know you can have them removed when they start causing pain. For right now, I’m just being vain about my veins. 

Yes, I did that. 

It’s not easy to avoid self-deprecating comments about your appearance and your body. We punch holes in all kinds of compliments that people pay us. 

You look great!

You’re lying!

I love your glasses!

They hide my fat face!

Those responses are reflexive - much like our apologies - and those are the comments that we need to corral.

As we get ready to head into summer on this Memorial Day weekend, and even those of us in Maine will experience warm weather, I want you to take this reminder and put it on your refrigerator and your bathroom mirror and your phone and maybe even a post-it note on your co-worker’s forehead:

You are bathing suit ready, just as you are.



***** Soooooo much sarcasm there. So much.


How do you gauge strength gains?

I’m bad at math. I know that, you know that because I’ve written about it, and at least a handful of my clients know it because of that one time someone accidentally hit a personal record of 205lbs on the trap bar deadlift…

One the biggest challenges I have day to day is helping clients focus on what they are gaining, and not what they are losing. On convincing them that they can set out to be more, and not less. This is an uphill battle when most of us, women especially, come in to the gym trying to lose body fat, inches, weight or appetite.

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If you include a dynamic warm up in your program (hint: do your warm up and here’s why), as well as using the foam roller, you’re gaining better range of motion. Hopefully exercise is helping you to move better, think better, sleep better and feel better overall.

These are the things that you’re gaining.

But often, after a few months in the gym, clients can become frustrated with all of the things that they are “only” doing. (Which is why no one is allowed to say only to me.) On the other hand, I understand how lifting weights can feel stagnant sometimes. Which is when I like to bring out my calculator and introduce the concepts of progressive overload and total volume.

Progressive whaaaa??

Progressive overload is fancy schmancy way of saying that you increased your workload for an exercise by either adding more weight or more repetitions to your workout. For example, if you perform three sets of eight dumbbell goblet squats with 15 pounds in week one, you squatted a total of 360 pounds.

15x8x3.

The next week, let’s say you lifted 15 pounds, but added more repetitions and sets. So you did 15x10x4.

Most clients are still stuck on the idea that they are “only” lifting 15 pounds. But when you do the math (with a calculator if you’re me), the reality is that you have now lifted a total of 600 pounds.

600 pounds.

That’s an increase of almost 50%.

The deadlift is another lift where clients tend to minimize their workload.

In the beginning, we start with the kettlebell deadlift, which is an excellent exercise to learn how to properly hip hinge (which translates into helping you pick things up from the floor in a way that keeps your back healthy and your knees happy).

Often we begin clients with a 35lb kettlebell to build a solid movement pattern, but it isn’t very long before we graduate to 50 or 60lbs. After that we progress to the trap bar.

Most clients average between 85-105lbs when they begin using the trap bar. Last week, I had two clients use the trap bar for the first time, both at 85lbs. They did 8 reps for four sets.

They lifted 2,720 pounds. And that was just on the deadlift.

Next time you’re frustrated with what you’re not losing, or the fact that you only lifted a certain amount of weight, step back, pull out your calculator, and do the math.

You’re gaining strength every day.

Celebrate that.

Celebrate you.








Last for the last time

Last week I hit a wall.

I know, it's pretty early for that, considering we’re less than three weeks into the new year. But I hit it anyway.

For the past eight months, maybe longer, I’ve barely squeezed my workouts in. 20 minutes here. 30 minutes there. Very little warm up, no rhyme or reason to the exercises I choose. Just trying to get something in. And something is better than nothing, right? 

When I'm missing my workouts, that's when I know my life is out of balance. Because the one thing I find most restorative in my life is training on a consistent basis. 

The lack of balance in my life was brought to light last week when my therapist handed me a worksheet with a list of standard questions: How much time do you spend tending to the needs of others, professionally or with family and friends? How much time do you dedicate to taking care of “you” and what does that look like? Do you do activities that are restoring - what other activities do you do that restore you? What activities give you energy? What activities take your energy?

All good questions right? 

My therapist then handed me a sketch pad, and asked me to sketch out the answers.  I laughed, but she was serious. The thing is, I see her on Fridays and usually by the time I walk through her door I’m so smoked from the first four days of the week that I can barely concentrate on conversation with her. 

So I sketched out my week - and this is what it looked like. 

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The red is time I spend doing something restorative - the purple is any time I spend with Sheila. And the rest is everyone and everything else. My weekends are a bit better of course, but this is the time I spend growing my business and writing - which are both things I enjoy - but they aren’t always very restorative. I’ve known for awhile that I pack my weeks pretty full. But I don’t think I realized just how full I’ve been packing them.

But why? 

Well, I've come to my calling in life a bit later than some. I didn't walk into my twenties and thirties doing the work I loved. I walked into both of those decades blind, trying to feel my way towards my purpose. So while I'm 42 years old, I have some catching up to do in the fitness industry, and so I'm still trying to pay the dues I should have paid at 25.

But that's only part of the story.

You could say I focus on other people’s problems because I’m trying to avoid working on my own. But I don’t think that’s the entire story either. I genuinely want to help people, and I meet with my therapist because I'm genuinely trying to figure some things out for myself. 

I think a larger part of the story, the one that's harder to tell, is the layer of self-loathing I have for myself. I try to help and support as many people as I can because that’s the only way I can feel worthy. Of what, I don’t exactly know. Love, time to myself, success - I'm sure the list goes on and on.

I don't write this because I want anyone to write back and tell me I'm worthy - please save your words. I write this because I know that many of us feel unworthy - of love or acceptance or self care or a balanced life. We put ourselves last yes, because we care that much, but also because we feel that we deserve so little. 

I don’t believe the line that we need to care for ourselves so that we can better care for others. We care for ourselves because we are worthy. 

I know, that’s just one big dung heap of a mess to get into on a Sunday morning, isn’t it? 

Welcome to the inside of my head. 

Sheila calls these my existential crises, which she is privy to more than most. 

But on the other end of this existential crisis was a pledge I'm making to myself, that I put in an Instagram video last week. That I've put myself last for the last time. 

I've asked several folks to hold me accountable to this pledge, and I had one person text me a reminder on Friday. My pledge is to train at least three hours in the next week. Training for me means that I have a program (thanks Josh Williams Fitness) to follow, and that I'll dedicate those three hours to restoring my body. 

What is your pledge to yourself? And who can you ask to hold you accountable. 

I'm here, and I'm available, except for those three hours of next week. :-) 

An open letter to women everywhere

Dear women of the world,

I want you to know that I see you.

You sit across from me in the waiting room, or next to me in a restaurant, and tell me you could never do “that.”

"That" varies.

You say you could never slog your way through a 10k, survive a Tough Mudder obstacle course or do a chin up.

I'm telling you today that you can do those things.

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I'm going to believe it for you until you can believe it for yourself.

Ok?

I want you to know that I see you.  

You hurry past mirrors and avoid your reflection in windows. You scoff at every photo you see of yourself. 

“Ugh,” you say. “I look like that?” 

“Don't you dare take my photo,” you say. 

“Do not post that picture to Facebook,” you say.

“I’ll take the photo,” you say. 

If you do let yourself be photographed, all you can see are the flaws. You pick yourself apart. You stare at your belly, at your chin - you compare yourself to others, or to the 22-year old version of yourself.

You can look at your friends, your children, your co-workers with kind eyes and a compassionate smile. You offer encouraging words to family members and strangers. 

But you struggle to offer these words to yourself.

So I want you to know that I see those beautiful things in you.

I know you don’t see them right now. Because you wear your shame like a cloak, you use that self-deprecating sense of humor to change the subject or bow out of a conversation. You work hard, everyday, to see the good in everyone but yourself. 

Because you can’t stand your own reflection.

But here's the real truth.

You. Are. Beautiful.

You. Are. Strong.

You. Are. Capable. 

I know that you struggle to believe those things. I struggle to believe them about myself sometimes too. 

I'm going to hold these beliefs for you until you can believe them for yourself.

Whether or not we’ve ever met, I'm pledging to you today, this one promise: 

I will hold a space for you.

I am going to believe for you what you cannot, right now, believe for yourself. I am going to see in you, right now, what you cannot see in yourself.

I am going to hold a place, free of judgement, where you can shed your shame, where you can embrace your vulnerability, where you can be you. I’m going to do my best to create and hold that safe space for you, until you can hold that space for yourself.

I’m going to believe that you are, right now in this moment, everything you are supposed to be. 

That you are, right now, in this moment, all that you need to be. 

I’m going to believe that for you, until you can see it and believe it for yourself.