I’m at the gym right?

The gym is a microcosm of the earth’s inhabitants, therefore mysteries abound. 

The following are a few that I observed during my adventure tonight:

  1. A see-through lace tank top isn’t exactly “gym attire”
  2. Make up doesn’t help you sweat any less
  3. Mean stares seem to be the part of the salutation norm
  4. If you really need to have a conversation about your garden club meeting, can you do so in your car before you hop on the treadmill?
  5. Turn it down please

Let me elaborate before you accuse me of being a mean person. 

The dreaded club clothes: I don’t think that everyone should be in compression gear and dry fit material; that would be obnoxious and sometimes we can’t splurge on a tank we’re going to sweat our asses off in. A basic T-shirt will suffice. Nike shorts are a hot commodity these days, I hear. There are so many options…I just can’t fathom going through my closet, picking out a shirt I might wear to Fred’s, and rocking it in the gym while I’m doing squats.

Make up is nice sometimes: This one I just can’t wrap my head around. I enjoy going to the gym bright and early. It helps me clear my head before the day starts and acts as a stress relief for the rest of the day. I would NEVER wake up an hour earlier to make sure my false eyelashes looked halfway decent. I can totally understand if you’re coming straight from work and want to get a run in. I don’t think an early morning gym session constitutes a full face of make up.

Staring is awkward: Why are people so mean at the gym? Why do you look so mad? What’s really going on? I have so much respect for people who are attempting to live an active lifestyle. Why would I ostracize someone with a mean stare just because he/she doesn’t look like a “regular?” Again, I rarely go to the gym at night so this is just an observation from one random evening at my local gym.

Talking about ferns: Having a conversation while in close proximity to others is a little weird. Having a conversation while on the treadmill adjusting your incline is really weird. Save it for later please. It’s common courtesy.

Rocking out: Hey bro, I’m so glad you enjoy Limp Biskit. It reminds me of sixth grade, which was a good year for me. Please do your dignity a favor and turn it down a notch so I don’t have to hear your bench press pattern that just so happens to coincide with the rhythm of the song.

I suppose this is my attempt to figure out these quirks. I love going to the gym because it’s my “me” time. I can stay as long as I want most days, and I can get some serious tension relief. It seems as though some people still crave a distraction (besides the obnoxious amount of TVs displaying Sports Center) from their gym routine. Maybe you should try a new circuit set or a new form of cardio?

Eat right, geaux hard

Disclaimer: I’m no professional.

I live in a city that could be considered a “foodie” town. Baton Rouge boasts holes in the wall that you always want to revisit, the usual chain restaurants, Cajun cuisine galore, and I don’t think the culinary geniuses that invade LSU’s campus on any home game during the fall deserve to be left out.

Point blank: it’s hard to eat right here. I mean, Cane’s Chicken Fingers was founded here dammit. Instead of Starbucks on every corner, we have Cane’s drive thrus open until 3 a.m.

I have felt the gurgling deep down in my gut that occurs after you devour a Box Combo at 2:50 a.m. with your best friends at the Cane’s on Highland. I have woken up from a food coma after killing a Chimes Brunch. Hell to the yes I’ve gorged on jambalaya on game day leading to my quick demise and prayers for nap time as soon as possible.

What I have learned after a couple years’ worth of these experiences is that I no longer want that lifestyle. I never felt good. Eating is easy; eating is a necessity for survival. I’m pretty sure cavemen didn’t have a deep fryer, though.

So…I decided to get motivated and live the way that I knew was the best for MY body. Every body is different, as genetics dictates. You have to tailor any generic plan to work for you, not against you. Step one on the road to health was my diet. “Diet” has a negative connotation associated. I have never considered myself to be on a diet. I like eating whole foods, fruits, veggies, lean meats and nuts. I love drinking water. Here’s an example of my usual lunch:

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My staples are a quick salad with spinach, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, red onions, lots of bell peppers and light balsalmic dressing or even just oil and vinegar; a turkey wrap on a whole wheat tortilla with hummus as spread; trail mix including plenty of pecans, peanuts, almonds, etc., with chocolate covered raisins (my vice); Greek yogurt of some sort; and a few other randoms depending upon how long my day is. I like to eat my lunch piece by piece versus as a whole. It helps my metabolism and I don’t feel “too full” at any point in time.

There are days that I get invited to lunch for work or don’t have time fix something like this. It’s all good though. Everything in moderation, I say. (As long as it’s not a Big Mac…that just doesn’t work.)

I love brussel sprouts too. I get made fun of frequently by my boyfriend for my love of them. He has a point, I guess, because I’m making them tonight.

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Enough of that. The second step for a healthy lifestyle was for me to forget the intimidation factor of a gym. I finally got some courage and bought a membership. That was probably the best decision I’ve made in my collegiate career. Fun fact about me: I don’t particularly like the UREC. It’s always busy regardless of what time it is, there isn’t enough space or equipment, nagging, nagging, nagging. I do LOVE the Specialty and GroupX classes though. They rock.

This post isn’t a means of bragging about my progress or an attempt to get accolades. I want to share my journey just in case there is someone in the position that I was in a short 6 months ago. I needed personal motivation as well as external motivation. I found it over a period of time, and it’s certainly not at its peak. Always remember that being fit and being skinny are two completely different things. Being healthy and being skinny are also two completely different things. I’ll never be skinny. I’m a thick and “bodacious” woman (check number four on the list). I dig that about myself.

Always stay positive about progress and keep the negative thoughts at bay. Honestly, you’re more critical on yourself than 99% of the people around you. I’m saving the last 1% for your mean great aunts that probably (if they are anything like mine) yelled about you getting fat at age 10 to each other over straight bourbon. Classy shit.

I’m reaching goals and setting new ones each day. That’s my motivation. Oh, and the hopes that I’ll live an incredibly long and healthy life with the people I love.

ImagePlease disregard the bathroom selfie on the right. The left was my freshman year of college.

Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions. Remember the most important thing is how you feel at the end of each day.

If only Richard Simmons was my instructor

You have to admit he had a way with words and his projection of those words.

(Disclaimer: This was inspired by a long run and a glass or two of red wine.)

I’ve been working my ass off since November in terms of fitness. It’s difficult as a college student to genuinely be healthy–mind, body, etc.–but I’m trying. It’s not a matter of hours you spend being active or the amount of calories you intake, though, and that has been difficult for me to conceptualize. 

I played 3 varsity sports in high school. I was always tired of running in circles for coaches (literally in cross country). My problem was that I never saw the benefit of being incredibly active. I was more concerned with how my body looked versus how I felt. By the time I came to LSU, I was burnt out on sports and suicide drills. And maybe this is super cliche, but now that I’m at the point in my life where I’m really comfortable in my skin…I would rather feel good than be concerned with how I look in an obnoxiously tight dress. 

I think that’s the bulk of the problem, America. We are so transfixed with our physical image versus how we feel when endorphins are released or how being all-around healthy (diet, exercise, sleep) can make EVERY LITTLE thing you do 10x more enjoyable. Seriously. Even the mundane things that you really can’t stand seem a little less annoying because you’re not exhausted and you’re energized by something other than an extra grande cafe’ latte. 

I’m no fitness expert, but I notice that now I look forward to my morning workout and afternoon jog. It clears my mind, releases some built-up stress and anxiety and makes me excited to take part in whatever I have planned for the rest of the day and night.

Every body is different, and we all find our solace in varying ways. Exercise is the same way. If Zumba is where you feel most comfortable, dance your ass off. If you would rather run the levee when no one is around, I understand completely. My one piece of advice: Give your body a chance to feel the best it can ever feel and it will repay you in the long run. 

“What does Richard Simmons have to do with anything, Erin?”

Well that’s a great question. 

The title works well…let me explain. Sometimes we need a little motivation. We like that instant gratification of ‘mapping our run’ or ‘checking in’ at the gym on Foursquare. If you need someone to truly motivate you to get to that next level–whatever that level may be–just ask. I know it seems odd and makes you feel vulnerable, but I guarantee that someone reading your post on Facebook or tweet about wanting to walk the lakes or check out a Group X class at the UREC will respond and want to know when you’re going. 

Take some risks; sweat a little more; forget about who’s watching you.

You have one life. Make it a healthy one.