fitness

Lessons from an ugly teapot

On a Saturday afternoon in March of 2002, we were celebrating my friend Melissa's upcoming wedding. As bridesmaids, we took her dancing on Friday, showered her with gifts on Saturday, and then someone decided that should we paint our own pottery.

For Jon and Melissa.

As a gift.

That they'd have forever. 

My artistic skills begin and end with watching Bob Ross. Watching. While I was fascinated that he could create a painting in under 30 minutes, my skills were limited to stick figures.
 
But, I suppose I was feeling ambitious that day. More accurately, I was so wanting to show my appreciation for Melissa’s friendship that I decided to make a grand gesture. Melissa and I often shared cups of tea while trying to sort out our purpose in life (or mostly she listened to me trying to sort out my purpose in life) so I decided to go all in and paint a teapot.  

16 years later, that gesture continues to be grand. 

Rather than take the simple approach and paint my teapot one color, as my fellow bridesmaids did, I decided I’d paint a nature scene on the teapot. 

I was an adult when I painted this.

I was an adult when I painted this.

But after finishing a barren tree with no leaves, I decided I’d just paint the other side green. Then I painted the lid yellow and gold, because Jon was a Steelers’ fan.

Then I painted the spout brown because…well, it was already pretty ugly.

By the time I was finished, the thing was so ugly that I felt compelled to add a quote on the outside that read, illegibly, that “it’s not what’s on the outside that matters.” 

When I took the final product to the employee, I tried to bribe her to break it before it made the kiln.

"Oh no," she said. "We're very careful with our pottery."

"But if I gave you an extra 50 bucks..." I offered.

Nothing says best wishes for your future like a barren, dead tree in winter. 

Nothing says best wishes for your future like a barren, dead tree in winter. 

My reaction when the teapot reappeared in my life a decade later...

My reaction when the teapot reappeared in my life a decade later...

This teapot, needless to say, has been the butt of jokes since 2002. It has survived multiple moves and plenty of questions from Jon and Melissa's kids. The teapot made a surprise trip from Pennsylvania to Maine in 2013 when Melissa spoke at our wedding. 

Melissa reminded me recently of the teapot last week when she told me that it was currently on prime display on her counter top. 

Originally, I was going to use the teapot as a symbol of what happens when you constantly change your nutrition and fitness routines - jumping from the Whole 30 to the 21 day fix to weight watchers to nutrisystem. 

And I do think that’s true when it comes to health and fitness. Jumping around from program to program makes it very difficult to see progress. You have to commit to a process for at least 90 days if not longer to see results. 

Um...can you guess which ones her kids painted? Her kids whom are all under 10? 

Um...can you guess which ones her kids painted? Her kids whom are all under 10? 

But as I started writing this post, I was reminded of several conversations I've had in recent weeks with friends and clients. These folks are taking big risks - leaving old jobs for new ones - leaving jobs without a new one - going back to school - starting their own businesses, and deciding that it’s time for a change in their lives.

Sometimes a blank slate, while appealing and beautiful and filled with possibilities is also terrifying. It can feel permanent and scary. 

This teapot, ugly as it is, is pretty symbolic of the way my past 16 years have gone. I’ve started and stopped multiple journeys - second guessed decisions, tried to please other people, and in the process, created something that was sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, but always, always, always authentically mine.

So I guess my message today is two-fold:

Choose a fitness and nutrition plan and give it time to work.

But follow your curiosity and your heart. This is your journey. This is your story. Write it for you. Take that leap of faith. 

Be kind to yourself, today and always.

Do you need to join a gym to get in shape?

The other day, a friend of mine shared the following article from the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/style/do-you-need-to-join-a-gym-to-get-fit.html

I firmly believe one of the reasons that races like the Tough Mudder are so popular is community, team, and play aspect of it. Also in searching for a portapotty in the middle of rural New Hampshire. That's fun too...

I firmly believe one of the reasons that races like the Tough Mudder are so popular is community, team, and play aspect of it. Also in searching for a portapotty in the middle of rural New Hampshire. That's fun too...

The article, which is certainly worth the read, highlights the efforts of a New York Times reporter to join a gym and try to “get fit.”

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but she ultimately decides that she doesn’t need a gym to get fit. She gets plenty of exercise from playing pick up basketball.

What is this article basically saying? 

Playing like a kid is good for you.

Absolutely! Get out that whoopie cushion and that fake dog poop and...oh you don't have that in your desk drawer? Oh yeah...uh me neither. Nope, not me. 

Playing like a kid IS good for you. (Whoopie cushion too...) There are many benefits of playing sports as an adult to stay in shape. 

1. You move in different planes of motion

The sagittal plane is where most of us spend our time. We’re walking forward, and in the gym we’re squatting, deadlifting (I hope) and curling in the squat rack. Don’t curl in the squat rack. The frontal plane is moving side to side, a lateral lunge for example, and the transverse plane is rotational movement, such as a golf or a softball swing. 

Very few of us move in different planes of motion as an adult, even that biologically, that’s what we are designed to do. Playing defense in basketball and swinging a racquet or golf club keeps us moving in ways that we are designed to move. 

2. You’ll forget that you’re exercising

Hahahaha...I know what you're thinking. Kim, I forget my name half the time but I could NEVER forget that I'm exercising. But you know what I mean. When the focus is on scoring a bucket instead of watching the minutes drag by on the treadmill the time goes faster. 

Playing volleyball, basketball, racquetball or squash is a great way to think about something else while still getting in a good cardiovascular workout. 

3. It’s fun

Remember fun? I hope you don't just remember fun, but that you've had some today. And yesterday. And every day. 

I make videos on a weekly basis promoting the fun of exercise, but let’s be honest, it’s not fun for everyone. Some people just flat out hate to exercise so turning the workout into a game can make the time go by much faster while also providing a good outlet for stress.  

Dodgeball anyone? 

One caveat

I just wanted to use that word.

I completely agree with the author that there are some fun and creative ways to get a good workout in without dropping 50 bucks a pop on a barre or spin class.** But I believe strength training is essential to any workout routine, especially if you’re a recreational athlete playing tennis or pickleball. 

Strength training is going to help you build more muscle and better bone density and those benefits alone will help you not only perform better in that noon-time pick-up game, but also stay healthy in the process. 

The worst feeling as an adult is when you sprint down the first base line in a beer league softball game only to pull a hamstring. It makes you feel old. Our muscles get more like beef jerky and less like a prime cut of steak as we age (analogy courtesy of Mike Boyle). Our muscles also get short as we age - for example if you sit all of the time, your quad (front of your upper leg) muscles are going to be short while your hamstrings (back of your upper leg) are going to get longer. Those shortened and tight muscles that you didn't have as a 16-year old are going to make it harder to move your joints through a full range of motion.

In other words, blah, blah, blah, beer league softball just broke me. Which brings me to my last point.  

For the love of all things holy, warm up 

Regardless of what you decide to do for a workout, warm up. Please? Please?

At a minimum, do your foam rolling or throw a tiger stick in your gym bag. Doing a couple of arm circles and side bends aren’t sufficient to get your muscles warmed up to go from 0-60 out on the basketball court. 

Just to help you out, here's an introduction to foam rolling.

Thoughts? Questions? Ready to get your own workout program? Comment below or shoot me an email at kim@kimlloydfitness.com

Even if it's just to say hi. Or tell me a joke, I love jokes. 

Last minute gift ideas

As I type this, my niece and nephew are taking naps. Not gonna lie, Aunt Kimmie had a nap too.

In fact, I think Aunt Kimmie probably needed the nap more than they did. 

Ho ho ho my goodness. 

Ho ho ho my goodness. 

So far today we've played hot potato, made ginger bread houses (so sticky), and played football in the back yard.

Before I get back to to "Despicable Me," I thought I'd throw out a couple of last minute gift ideas for the fitness enthusiast in your life. Or the person who is planning to become a fitness enthusiast in the new year. 

1. The New Rules of Lifting books

If you can get to your local Barnes and Nobles, pick up one any one of Lou Schuler's New Rules of Lifting books. I got my first start with fitness by using The New Rules of Lifting for Women - it was both an education on lifting and also included six months worth of programming from Alwyn Cosgrove and some great recipes from Cassandra Forsythe. It's the best 15 bucks you can spend.

Though I haven't had a chance to read it yet, Lou and Alwyn recently updated the original book with "Strong," which includes nine workout programs. They have several books in the series, and any one of them would be a great pick up for someone wanting to get fit.

2. A heart rate strap

While there are plenty of fitness devices out there that will track your heart rate, I've found that the straps you wear around your chest work best. To date, I've tried out three different brands, including Polar, Wahoo, and MyZone. The MyZone straps are often sold and used at certain gyms (we use them at Spurling), but both Polar and Wahoo can be found on Amazon or at Best Buy. 

If your recipient is a smart phone user, the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor or the Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor both work with smart phones or Apple Watches. Either option will cost you around 50 bucks. Though I haven't done my own review on this site, I'd rank them, in order of performance, just the way they are here. The MyZone has worked best for me, followed by the Polar and then the Wahoo.

If you'd like to read a more thorough review, check out this recent article from ware.com.

3. Fitness E-books

If you're looking for something a little more advanced and you don't have time to actually go anywhere, there are some fantastic e-products out there, including Eric Cressey's High Performance Handbook which is the closest thing you can find to working out at Cressey Sports Performance. This program is perfect for anyone who is looking for some guidance on strength training - and Eric has broken the programming down into either two days, three days, or four days. 

You could also hop on over to Nia Shanks website (check it out even if you don't need gifts) and purchase the Lift Like a Girl Fat Loss program, or check out the Modern Women's Guide to Strength Training from the ladies over at Girls Gone Strong. 

Ok, the kids are awake and we're about to get our Minions on. 

 

 

Are you putting yourself in a fitness box?

I know what you're thinking.

No one puts Baby in the corner.

If you're not thinking that, then chances are you're under 35 years old and never saw the wonder that was Patrick Swayze on the big screen.

boxklf.jpg

I’ve been fortunate in my athletic career to avoid major injuries (knocking wood as we speak here), and one of my only surgeries to date was an arthroscopic procedure on my knee known as IT band lateral release surgery.

As the doctor put it a few days after the surgery, “I always like to take a healthy person and make her limp.”

I was a 25 years old avid runner. At the time, I’d been training for the Cleveland Marathon when I started to feel like Joe Pesci had taken a baseball bat to the outside of my knee. Eventually, I was diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome or runner's knee.

When I started exploring options for treatment, the overwhelming recommendation was to take time off from running and cross train.

And, stubborn 25 year old that I was, I refused to do either. When the doctor proposed the IT band lateral release surgery, (which I don’t think they do anymore), I jumped at it.  

Running wasn't just my form of exercise, it was my identity.

I see a lot of this thinking in the fitness world. Someone is a yogi, a cyclist, a power lifter, or a runner, and, much like I was, resistant to try other things. We know we "should." We know it would be good for us. 

I did myself no favors that summer, and while I returned to running a few months after the surgery, chances are I’d have been able to do so anyway with just rest and…drum roll please…some cross training.

It's great to find an identity through fitness (we'll avoid the deeper questions of who am I for now), but sometimes limiting yourself from other activities can cause more harm than good.

Also...

Yesterday I experimented with Facebook Live. If you can ignore the weird thing I'm doing with my hands (air piano maybe?), you might be actually find something useful to do with that fitness equipment that's been sitting in your spare room since last year :)

Click here to watch yesterday's video on stability balls.

But wait - there's more :)

Because last week was Thanksgiving and we're in the thick of the holiday season, sign up for my newsletter below to get a free guide on keeping a toe in the fitness water during the holiday season. 

 

How much of an impact does genetics have on your fitness?

I’m a little obsessed with my ancestry, a hobby that can be very time consuming because each of my parents had over 80 first cousins.

Let me say that again.

That's my grandfather in the front - looking a little like Jon Hamm. He was 5'7. My great-grandfather Joseph was 5'5. 

That's my grandfather in the front - looking a little like Jon Hamm. He was 5'7. My great-grandfather Joseph was 5'5. 

Each of my parents had over 80 FIRST cousins. It's impossible to drive through my hometown without laying eyes on a family member. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of my readers for this blog are family.

Hi cousins!

Genetics comes up often in a typical day working with clients. Somewhere along the way, we talk about having an apple shape, pear shape, inheriting our mother’s legs or being big boned like our Italian ancestors. 

I personally wonder whether or not my incredibly short legs are at all a factor of the coal mining history my dad’s side of the family shares. Dad and his brothers are all 5’7.

Thanks for those 26 inch inseams Dad! Even petite pants are too long for my little legs. Cheers!

But do your genetics actually limit how fit you can be? Not all of us are built to be basketball players, sprinters, or swimmers. Some have better hand eye coordination than others, which is why I accidentally hit my partner in the face with a softball playing catch when we first met.

I'm still apologize 10 years later.

In regards to fitness though, people often can feel limited by genetics. You might not have the genetic makeup for elite human performance, but you can still improve your overall health, lose fat, and/or gain muscle. But your improvements to body composition and performance might look a little bit different based on your body type. 

Three different body types. 

Normally I don't like putting baby in the corner or Jimmy in a box, but most of us have a body type that fits into one of three categories: endomorph, mesomorph, and and endomorph. These categories were created by American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon back in the 1940's, and the general descriptions, as pulled from Wikipedia (yes, I did that), are as follows:

  • Ectomorph: (thin) characterized by long and thin muscles/limbs and low fat storage; usually referred to as slim. Ectomorphs are not predisposed to store fat nor build muscle.
  • Mesomorph: (muscular) characterized by medium bones, solid torso, low fat levels, wide shoulders with a narrow waist; usually referred to as muscular. Mesomorphs are predisposed to build muscle but not store fat.
  • Endomorph: (curvy) characterized by increased fat storage, a wide waist and a large bone structure, usually referred to as fat, or chunky. Endomorphs are predisposed to storing fat.

So what does this all mean?

Well, first of all, it means you should probably stop hating on Janet from HR because she eats two helpings of birthday cake at each party and never seems to gain any weight. Janet is an ectomorph and she has low fat storage. But you can take comfort in the fact that you could potentially deadlift Janet and throw her across the room if you wanted to do that. But you don't want to do that. Because assault is illegal.

This is also a good reminder to stop comparing yourself with other people. Stop it.

It means that achieving results and fitness won't look exactly the same as Janet or Sally from accounting. If your parents are obese, you run a higher risk of obesity for yourself. Studies on twins show high BMI correlations in adulthood - even in those who have been raised apart from one another, says Brad Schoenfeld, MS, CSCS, author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect. "This indicates a genetic predisposition to obesity and ultimately makes it more difficult for some people to lose weight compared to others."  

Regular exercise A 2008 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that among Amish people with the FTO gene, a gene associated with obesity and a high BMI, physical activity prevented the weight gain typically seen in people with the gene.

But it also doesn't mean that you can't get fit.

Let me say that again. Your body type does not limit your ability to get fit.  

What it does mean, however, is that while your friend may have found that running was her best bet to stay lean or get lean, because she is an ectomorph and stores fat differently, doesn't mean that running for you, as a mesomorph, is going to be as effective. 

This quote, from Gary Toubes book "Why We Get Fat" is a good analogy.

A greyhound will be more physically active than a basset hound, not because of any conscious desire to exercise, but because its body partitions fuel to its lean tissue, not to its fat.

In a nutshell, my dog is sooooo not wired to run off a bunch of calories. He's just not built like that. He is built for short bursts of energy and long hikes. Greyhounds are like marathon runners. Basset hounds are like...basset hounds. And power lifters. But with more skin and longer ears. 

What does this all mean?

Well, mostly it's a friendly reminder that fitness looks different for everyone. And while we might be genetically predisposed to marathon running or power lifting, we can still get results. Those results might just look a little different.