Goal Refresher Part 1 – Fitness

Remember when I posted I would pivot from effusively blogging about my millennial gurus? I take it back. I can’t help it if Alyssa says great stuff! “Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” she says in Ep. 097.

I just had a birthday. It’s been about six months since I seriously committed to a few goals. Time to check in, see how I’ve done, and plan what to do from here.

LOSE 20 POUNDS BY LABOR DAY

COVID-TIME: I logged my food. Everything I ate. Every day. I hate logging, but I pivoted my mindset. I decided it would not be terrible. Also, I finally started the Couch-to-5K training app that’s been hanging out on my phone for over 2 years.

TWO MONTHS IN: I completed the Couch-to-5K app in 8 weeks! I can run a 5K! Slow as f*ck but I can do it! And…I lost 10 pounds!

MID-JUNE: Running is stupid. I hate it. I hate Roosevelt Island. I run around and around this island and for what? Only 2 more pounds lost. And you know what else is stupid? Logging food. I hate thinking about it, I hate doing it, it’s dumb. Everything is dumb. I hate all of this. The same thing over and over day in day out BLEAH I’M SO BORED. I’m grumpy. I’m not doing any of it any more. Spoiler alert: I promptly stop losing weight.

Going to the gun show!

JULY: Since it’s too hot and humid to run most mornings, I opt to work out in the living room. I subscribe to The Fitness Marshall. Britney-inspired choreography for hundreds of songs. He’s brilliant! It’s the only workout where I smile as I’m doing it. I love dancing. Try Into You, Rain On Me, or Boss B!tch.

For strength training, I sign up for Snatched in Six Weeks, because you don’t get Michelle Obama arms by wishing for them.

TODAY: I dance with The Fitness Marshall twice a week. It’s still fun! I’m not enjoying Snatched. It’s not Snatched’s fault. Snatched is now Zoom-based due to COVID. I’m sick of everything being on a screen. The magic of the Unicorn Ninjas is their community. In person. I’ll try again when I can Snatch at the MFF Clubhouse, like I was supposed to back in March.

Put-your-pants-on handstand?
Challenge accepted, Mr. Massey.

I downloaded the 5k Faster training app. I don’t love running but I love being outdoors. I need to get away from screens. I have major screen fatigue.

FUTURE GOAL: handstands! Thanks yet again for the fitness inspiration, guru-adjacent Chandler Massey!

I still loathe logging. I’m using my hands as measuring guides. A palm or two of protein, two fists of vegetables, a thumb of healthy fat, a cupped handful of complex carbs or fruit, per meal, 3-4 meals per day. Spoiler alert: It’s not working.

As Mark Fisher says, “You can’t out-train your diet.” He also says, “If you’re not losing weight, 95% of the time it’s because you’re overeating.” Sigh.

This is not how I set my future self up to be grateful. Got any ideas? Comment below or send me a message.

Next up: Community

Coronavirus-itis

My husband showed me an article in The Atlantic about COVID-19 and I saw myself in it: Americans are used to moving forward in the face of fear. We don’t let fear stop us from living our lives. In the wake of 9/11, it makes sense. This was how I was mentally dealing with Coronavirus: just keep going. This is no big deal. Everyone is overreacting. I wouldn’t even blog about it.

The big difference is what we are defying isn’t terrorism but a virus. A couple of friends told me I was being an asshole about COVID-19 and it turns out they were right. But now I understand where my assholery came from.

I’m anxious. Will I lose my new job? What about our theater friends who have lost their show and waiter/bartending jobs? How will I get to my elderly parents if something happens to them? How long until someone I know gets sick, or someone I love dies?

Channeling anxiety into productivity is a challenge. I pulled out my bucket list and picked a few things to work on for the foreseeable social distancing. It’s important to pick tasks I can achieve in the short term (learn to armpit-fart. I’m not kidding! My nephew can also make a knee-fart) and the long term (finish my short story collection) so I feel accomplished throughout. I also want variety in the tasks, not just fart-noises or writing, and not just passive activity like binge-watching. My categories are: try something, learn something, start something and share something.

Try something. Now that my brilliant plan to outsource my health is foiled, I have to face the music and deal with my food issues and fitness on my own. I’ve had this Couch-to-5K app hanging out on my phone for forever so I finally caved.
Day 1: Running isn’t so bad.
Day 2: I’m very jiggly in weird places. I don’t like this.
Day 4: “I HATE YOU, RUNNING APP!” I screamed at my phone during one of the “walk” parts.
Day 7: This is still miserable but at least I’m outside.
Day 9: I’m running for longer stretches. I begrudgingly admit this is, maybe, a little, not so bad.

Learn something. Friends have offered to teach me to play chess throughout my life but I never took them up on it beyond a lesson or two. I lived above Chess Forum in the Village for a few years and never went inside. My husband bought me a Simpsons chess set that we have played exactly once. So, I signed up for lessons on Chess.com which also has an app. Need an idea? How about learning to sing, tie a tie, stretch your hamstrings? YouTube’s got you! If you can splurge, try a Master Class or two. There are dozens available taught by the legends of their fields.

Start something. I started this blog! I research topics that interest me, I write what I choose, and I watch a lot of WordPress videos on YouTube about layout and design. Whatever you’ve dreamt about but could never do, I am rooting for you to turn this stressful coronavirus situation into something positive for yourself. I believe in you. The millennials know: you do you!

Share something. Honestly, I don’t have any idea of something I can do that’s shareable beyond the short stories I tweet. I’m incredibly excellent at pinball, real and virtual, but no one wants to watch clips of me kicking Zen Pinball‘s ass. We are starving for new content. What are you great at? What’s your stupid human trick? Can you fancy-pan-flip an omelette? Got a cool card trick? Maybe this guy will inspire us.

How about you? Let me know what you’ll be working on in the Comment section below, or send me a message.

Snap! and PIVOT

Ask a Millennial: what should I do for fitness?

My millennial gurus, Alyssa and Freddie, count steps. I live in NYC and don’t own a car. I walk all the time. I hit 10K steps a day easily. My body is used to it. I’d have to increase my daily steps by at least 5K if I wanted to see any change, but I’m so bored with step-counting. I’ve also joined gyms (so sick of the elliptical) tap dancing (fun but not good cardio), couch to 5K apps (working out alone is a drag!), pilates (not my thing), on and on. I’m STUCK! I need something new.

To mix things up, I turned to another millennial for inspiration: Chandler Massey, a/k/a Will, the other half of the fabulous (sadly, now-defunct) Will and Sonny supercouple on DAYS. He recently posted on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

LONG POST WARNING My weight has been an obstacle for 3 years. The left picture is me in 2016, 191 lbs & 30% body fat. I had been off Days for 2 years, and had utterly let myself go. I rationalized my lifestyle by telling myself that once I started working again, I could easily shed the weight & be “camera ready”. The next year, I got the chance to prove myself right. Will Horton was back baby, and he was going to be lean, mean, & better than ever. But there was a problem. The fat that I had assumed was going to melt off my body like butter on a hot pancake refused to leave. I tried everything to get my fat cells to f*** off. Fasting, paleo, whole30, cico, keto, juicing, low carb, no carb. I tried to appeal to my vanity, pride, anger, shame. None of it worked. If you watch Days I’m sure you noticed I looked different the 2nd time around. There was a reason they gave @mrchristophersean the shirtless scenes while I chilled in plaid flannels. Some nights after crushing a box of lucky charms I told myself that this was just the journey of getting older. I was never going to be fit again, so why continue this pattern starving & binging, of quietly throwing up in the kitchen sink after my roommates fell asleep & trying to slap some willpower into me. I gave up 100 times during those 3 years. I tried again 101 times. I can’t point to a specific moment that was a turning point. Rather I believe it was the gradual process of learning from each failure. Instead of clinging to a fad diet I began to critically examine my relationship to food. I realized that my crappy eating habits were tied to negative emotional states. When I learned to recognize & deal with those emotions, I saw food for what it really is: a tool, not a bandaid. This was not a smooth journey. Just last Sunday I ate a family size pack of Oreos bc I was upset about GoT. But after each step backward I manage to forgive myself and take 2 steps forward. The picture on the right is me yesterday. I now weigh 160 lbs & have 12% body fat, reaching a goal that I wrote on my bathroom mirror 3 years ago. I’m not ashamed of the person on the left anymore, but damn am I proud of the man on the right.

A post shared by Chandler Massey (@therealcmassey) on

Isn’t he a sweet pea? Baby bunnies fall out of his pockets all the time too. I swear, it’s true!

Chandler does CrossFit. Great! CrossFit it is.

I booked a Fundamentals class at CrossFit NYC on New Year’s Eve Day. I’d heard that CrossFitters can be on the cult-y side. Maybe it’ll be the cult for me!

There was only one other person in the class, and the trainer was super nice. He showed us the proper forms for squats and jerks and lifts. Then we moved on to the Push Jerk.

Trainer: You’re hinging your hips. That’ll make your arms swing out. You don’t want to do that. (Stands 4 inches away from me.) Try again.
Me: I might hit you.
Trainer: No you won’t. You’ll do the jerk properly, right through the space between us. Try again.
Me: I might hit me. (steps back)
Trainer: (steps towards me) Try again, you got this.
Me: (steps back again) You don’t understand. I just visualized popping myself in the chin.
Other Newbie: You visualize, you materialize. (also steps back)
Trainer: …

To his credit, he was creative: he got a PVC pipe and held it in front of me instead. To my credit, I didn’t hit it or me.

Overall, it was a good experience. The positives were attentive trainers who listened and adjusted to help me, and the space was really cool. The negatives were a lack of showers and class times that didn’t quite fit my schedule. I wasn’t totally sold on CrossFit yet.

A couple of Gen-X friends raved about OrangeTheory Fitness so I signed up for a January 2 class near my new office. It was called Run n’ Row (I think) and we spent 30 minutes either frantically running on treadmills or rowing on rowers. I wasted a lot of time trying to not kill myself starting and stopping the treadmill. The next 30 minutes were strength training, but using small weights and doing variations of planks. The music was fun and the coach was enthusiastic, which was contagious.

There have been many articles about CrossFit vs. OrangeTheory. Basically, if you want cardio, go with Orange. If you want mostly strength training, go with CrossFit. Orange classes are the same across all locations. CrossFit gyms tend to have their own personalities. Both gyms gave me pause because of my clumsiness.

I’m not clumsy in a cute rom-com-protagonist way. I’m bloody-nose, break-a-toe, shatter-a-jar-of-mayonnaise-on-the-kitchen-floor clumsy. I wasn’t comfortable with the Push Jerk, and I felt spastic bouncing between the treadmill and the rower. Both gyms had great trainers willing to help. CrossFit had a bro feel, and OrangeTheory had a cheerleader vibe. I could see myself making it work at either gym… but I didn’t want to “make it work.”

I wanted to join a place that I actually wanted to go to! Where I felt like I was with my people. Where it would be okay if I was a spaz while giving it my all.

I looked for a unicorn.

Five weeks later…

My unicorn, Mark Fisher Fitness! (photos courtesy of Mark Fisher Fitness)

They’re “CrossFit-adjacent.” (Thanks again, Chandler!) Their staff and clientele are mostly working actors, which are TOTALLY my people. As soon as I walked in, I felt at home. And not just for the cool Hey Janet welcome sign! Their silliness is the right vibe for me. Their dedication to fitness is what I’m looking for. And I haven’t laughed that much with a stranger-turned-friend in a long time. This was the cult for me!

I not only signed up for a year’s membership, I joined their bootcamp Snatched In Six Weeks, starting this March. Stay tuned.

Fitness goal: in motion!