mindset

How do you get out of your fitness funk?

It happens to all of us at some point - we get on a good roll, with work, with fitness, with life - and then life happens.

This is a photo taken by my friend Joe Chandler, whom I worked with at Rocky Mountain National Park all those years ago - he named this sleepy owl “Lefty” and I’m guessing Lefty is having his own fitness funk…

This is a photo taken by my friend Joe Chandler, whom I worked with at Rocky Mountain National Park all those years ago - he named this sleepy owl “Lefty” and I’m guessing Lefty is having his own fitness funk…

We miss one workout, then another, and then before you know it, you haven’t worked out in weeks, or did any meal prep, and you feel like a sloth.

Sloths are pretty cute though, you have to admit….

When we start to feel like we’re behind on everything - then we start to get overwhelmed. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m overwhelmed, I’m also prone to anxiety and fits of existential despair, fearing that I’ll never amount to anything every and also I’m a horrible person.

It’s a completely logical place to to when you get off track, obviously.

Friday, I asked my therapist to hold me accountable to three workouts over the course of the next week. Yes, I asked my therapist to keep me accountable to my strength workouts. Here’s why:

My workouts are my domino - I know that when I get my workouts in, other habits fall into place. 

If you are off track or have found yourself in a fitness funk, you don’t need all of the things, even if you have all of the feels.

Stop thinking of all of the things you need to or want to do, and find one.   

What’s the one action that can take that will propel you forward with all of the other actions?

I have a list of things I’d like to do, and a bigger list of things I feel that I should do. The best way for me to get out from under the weight of those project lists is to focus on the one.

For me, it’s my workouts. When I get my workouts in, I feel better. When I feel better, I eat better. When I eat better and workout, I sleep better - and have better brain function and I'm a better coach, co-worker, and spouse. 

For instance, I have many clients tell me that they know that if they go grocery shopping, that meal planning happens more easily. And when meal planning happens, meal prep happens. When meal prep happens, they feel in better balance and like they have more energy. When they have more energy, they workout.

And on and on it goes. 

So what’s the one thing you need to do?

Perhaps you need to put your screens away and get into bed by 9:00, because you know that when you do that, you get more sleep and wake up feeling more rested. Maybe you need to hit your 10 minutes of meditation, or a morning walk with your dog or 30 minutes on that new Peleton in your basement. 

The bottom line is that you don’t have to figure out everything. Not today, and not tomorrow. 

You need to figure out the one thing. That one domino that will help all of the other ones fall into place. 

Life is too short for black coffee

And coffee is even better in this Wonder Woman mug. Thanks Cheryl.

And coffee is even better in this Wonder Woman mug. Thanks Cheryl.

“I like cream in my coffee. And I like to sleep late on Sundays. And nobody knows me…”

While those things are both true, they’re also lines from a song – can you name it? 

About five years ago, when I hired my first coach to help me with both nutrition and exercise, I got pretty strict with my diet. I practiced intermittent fasting, (click here to understand more of what that is about), counted out my calories for every meal, and measured all of my macronutrients

It was the most time and effort I'd ever invested in my nutrition, and I learned a lot during those first few months. Tracking food intake, measuring portions and learning to measure those portions based on macronutrients changed the way I ate, and it helped me get myself back on track after being laid off from my full time job. 

It was also during that period that I started to drink black coffee. (And asking the kind people at Starbucks to put ice in my coffee so I could drink it the same day because nuclear).

I continued drinking black coffee for the next year or more, indulging in half n’half only on the occasional weekend or when I went home to visit my parents, because my mom makes the best coffee ever. It’s Maxwell House, she makes it with a Mr. Coffee pot that she bought for 50 cents at a yard sale and it’s the best. Coffee. Ever. 

Gradually, I started putting half n’ half in my coffee, not just on Sunday’s, but on Saturdays too. Then on Fridays. And then finally, I realized something:

My life is too short to drink black coffee. Black coffee is ok. And by ok I mean disgusting. Like eating coffee grounds. Probably. Not that I've eaten coffee grounds. Except that one time when I was desperate.

Have you ever read about natural highs? Waking up two hours before your alarm goes off and realizing you can nuzzle under the covers a bit longer, the feeling of brand new squishy socks, and for me, my first cup of coffee. With cream in it. 

After suffering through black coffee for a few years, I finally decided that cream in my coffee is my non-negotiable. 

Every day I have conversations with clients about nutrition, and I ask them to do the same things I listed above – track food – measure portions – and that information is often eye-opening. If you’re trying to stay at 1600 calories for the day and you’re putting 300 calories worth of sugar and cream in your coffee, then that is certainly something to pay attention to. But once you’ve educated yourself on where your calories are coming from – once you’ve begun to measure your salad dressing and servings of almonds and the tastes you take of everything while you’re cooking, it’s important to parse out what you truly enjoy.

I can forgo a second tablespoon of olive oil on my salad, I can be content with one small piece of dark chocolate - I'm willing to make other concessions. But not with my coffee.

Be honest with yourself about your quality of life - about the things that are important to you and that you truly enjoy - and, within reason, let yourself have it.

Because life is too short to drink black coffee.

Every little bit counts

I was well into my 20’s before I realized that Santa wrapped presents for other kids.

Seriously.

DB curls while drinking coffee from my Captain America mug? Why not? Every little bit counts.

DB curls while drinking coffee from my Captain America mug? Why not? Every little bit counts.

Every Christmas morning I’d wake up with my brothers, and we’d race out to the living room of my parents tiny ranch house to see what Santa had left us. You could generally tell by the piles of gifts which presents Santa had left for whom. Anything baseball related was mine, and anything else I didn’t care about it.

Especially the Barbies that were left for me in an effort to sway my interests. 

I never thought twice about the lack of wrapping until a friend and I were discussing this after I graduated from college.

You mean your parents actually wrapped the presents from Santa? I asked, flabbergasted. Really?

You mean your parents didn’t? She asked, equally incredulous. 

One day a few years ago I asked my mom about not wrapping gifts for us. “It was a way to save money,” she said. “Every little bit counts.”

I’ve said before that my dad lost his job in the steel mills when I was a kid, and there were some years where things were lean. We tease my mom about her frugality now. She buys slightly expired bread “it’s still good,” she says; never buys anything without a coupon, and will drive an extra five miles out of the way to save 3 cents a gallon on gas. Without my mom’s efforts, I’m not sure where we would have been back then, or even now.

My mom doesn’t like us spending our money on her either. In fact, her favorite gift from me is the slightly cracked pot of flowers I picked up in the middle of the road one day 20 years ago.

Seriously.

I think they were funeral flowers that fell out of a delivery truck. And she was like OMG! Best. Gift. Ever. (She doesn’t believe me now when I try to pass off that the new sweater I bought her came from the side of the street. But I try.)

Every little bit counts. 

I think about this now, when I’m looking for ways to save money. I think about it when I make the decision to walk up the flights of stairs at the Portland Jetport instead of taking the escalator. I think of this when I get up in the morning and struggle to write 100 crappy words, which is my commitment to myself every day. I think about this when I opt to skip the Christmas cookies for breakfast when I know I don’t really want them.

Mostly, I try to take inventory of what’s really important - because after all, that’s what my mom was doing. Our birthday gifts were always wrapped, after all (usually with leftover paper from the previous person’s birthday), and I never felt like we were deprived of anything growing up.

So this holiday season, I take my mom’s words and actions to heart, as much as I can. In trying to make positive change in my life, wherever and whenever I can, I try to remember that every little bit counts. 



Stumbling into gratitude

I stood at the bottom of the mountain, penned in a box with 150 other participants, thinking of my typical Saturday routine. Sleep in a little, maybe meditate, then sit down with a fresh cup of coffee to write while Rooney sleeps on my feet. 

Today, instead of sipping hot coffee, I was staring disbelievingly at the side of the mountain that I was about run as part of the 2018 Tough Mudder Half. A mountain that in winter, is reserved for skiing.

Down.

Not running up.

So that’s a hill. And those specs are people…

So that’s a hill. And those specs are people…

All around me people were fidgeting. Some were jumping up and down, others were cracking their necks, while a select few others were screaming.

Like just randomly screaming.

Loudly. 

I stood, cemented in place, unable to shut off the steady stream of sarcasm rolling through my mind.

I looked at my teammate Lauren. 

“I’m not doing this next year,” I said.

“Yes I know. You said that last year, so I’ll remind you that you told me that when we’re standing in line for next year’s race.” 

We both laughed. 

I stopped laughing abruptly. 

“Yeah, that’s totally going to happen again isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yup,” she said. “Totally.”

*****

Next thing I know, we’re schlepping our way up the side of the mountain and I’m dishing out a healthy stream of bad one-liners. 

“Why would I want to be at home drinking coffee and watching College Game Day?” I asked to no one in particular. A guy who was doing his 100th race swept past. 

“Because this is so much more fun!” 

“Yes,” I said. “Yes fun. That’s the word I was searching for right there. Thank you.”

I’m not always proud of my sarcasm, because I know it bumps up pretty hard against negativity. I toe that line of negativity and often cross it, and I crossed it a lot more on Saturday than I wish I had.

Humor is how I cope. And Saturday’s course provided a lot of opportunities to work on coping skills. This was by far the most difficult course I’d ever attempted.

Towards the end of the run, once we had sponges for shoes and mud in places you never thought mud could go, we came around a corner to another mountain. But this one was too steep for walking. We had to scale the mountain on all fours. 

I’d like you to take a moment to recall the famous Chevy Chase tirade about a happy family from the movie Christmas vacation. 

Then add another minute of expletives.

That’s roughly what came out of my mouth at the bottom of that mountain - sans the Santa hat.

There was no way around this obstacle. Literally, the only way out was up. So all of us, many of whom shared my thoughts, threw ourselves into the mountain and just started climbing. 

Half-way up the mountain, I lost my footing. Up to that point I’d been methodically choosing my footholds and hand holds, moving quickly, not giving myself enough time to think.

But suddenly, I had nowhere to put my foot or my hands. I looked down. 

If you do this course next year, let me give you some casual advice when you arrive at this stage of the race. 

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SACRED DO NOT LOOK DOWN. 

So then I looked up. And I’d like to take a moment here to add a second piece of advice. 

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SACRED DO NOT LOOK UP. 

Not gonna lie - I kind of panicked a little. (I don’t think I peed my pants, but it was hard to tell, since I was drenched.)

But here is what’s cool about these kind of races. I said I was stuck, and the woman behind me put her hand up for me to step on it. So I did. And I was able to get my footing again, and after a few minutes, I could see flags in the distance and hear my teammates cheering me on at the top. 

kimlloydfitness.jpg

(When people cheer for me in sports, they can’t help but call me Kimmie, because they need that extra syllable. And for some reason, in that context, I find the name Kimmie oddly comforting).

Once I hit level ground and could stand up, I leaned up against a tree to catch my breath. I looked out at the view. I looked down at the others still climbing. 

And in that moment, I stumbled straight into gratitude. 

Gratitude that I have a body that allows me to scale a mountain. Gratitude that I didn’t have to go it alone. Gratitude for my health. Gratitude for a growing sense of camaraderie with my teammates, many of whom I had the good fortune of getting to know a little better on Saturday.

At the end of the night, a shower never felt so good. Sweatpants never felt so warm. And my bed never felt so soft. And I was grateful for all of those comforts.

But I’m not doing this next year….

Believe in your worth

Believe in your worth. 

I jotted down these words in my notebook as the speaker continued his presentation. I circled them, drew stars around, and more than anything, tried to do just that; believe. 

In my worth.

Worth.

I looked around the room at the other fitness professionals and wondered how many others questioned their worth. I don't think I was alone in chewing hard on this phrase - but looking at so many of my colleagues, in their twenties and thirties and mostly men - felt like I was in the minority.

I could be wrong, but I think women struggle differently with worth than men do. Not always of course - but often. 

The speaker was talking about finances - about literally believing in the value you provide to others and being willing to ask for money to be paid appropriately for your time, skills and knowledge. But it can be really difficult to believe your skills are worth someone else’s money if you struggle to believe in your own worth as a person. 

Researcher Brene Brown says that the practice of worthiness is about vulnerability. I mean, she does study vulnerability for a living so of course she says that…But she goes on to say that worthiness is about recognizing the voice of “never enough” and finding the courage and strength to persevere anyway.

Good enough

When I first started to hang a shingle as a photographer, I constantly battled the “good enough” mindset. Working in a camera shop, I saw plenty of photographers who were charging money for their work, and, in comparison, I didn’t think mine was that bad. 

But I still didn’t think I was good enough. When the local AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates hired me to take pictures, I refused to take their money. I was so surprised that they hired me that I accepted season tickets as my payment.

Season tickets that I didn't need because I had a pass to shoot the games from the dugout...

I mean you can't make that stuff up.

kimlloydfitness.jpg

I battled the same crisis of confidence over a decade later when I made the switch to fitness. I quit my job at Bates to take an unpaid internship in another state so that I could feel like I was good enough to do this fitness thing.

And yet still, at the end of almost every day for the past 40 years, I lean on the bathroom sink and look in the mirror. I scan my face, my crows feet, my laugh lines, that two inch chin hair that good lord, how have I missed plucking that?

And I struggle to believe that I'm good enough.

I write this post today, not because I want anyone to tell me that I am good enough - in fact - please don't. That message needs to come from within me. Just as it needs to come from within all of you.

It's up to me to work on my own worthiness. To meditate, to practice self-compassion, and to let go of comparison with others. But we all need a little help and support in keeping each other accountable for that kind of work too.

Sometimes I write what I call a head-nodding post. Nothing earth-shattering here. Perhaps just something that you read on your smart phone on your lunch break and think yeah - me too. I also feel that way. 

And maybe you think hey - me too - I'll work on the too.

Be strong. 

Be kind. 

Be gentle.