Friends in Orange Places
For single people, there can often be an ulterior motive for going to the gym. Of course they want to get a good workout, get in shape, be healthy, and boost their energy. But a lot of them are also looking to hook up.
That’s part of the reason that some women don’t like the gym—they feel like it’s a “meat market” and they don’t want to be bothered. Others love that aspect, and purposely get dolled-up to do their workout thang, with the secondary goal of catching a hottie’s eye.
Back in my single days, during the random stretches that I actually went to a gym, I was so focused on trying to figure out the equipment and not look like a complete dork that the last thing on my mind was trying to meet anyone. Now that I’m married, “hooking up” at the gym has a whole new meaning.
I’m talking about friends. Workout buddies. Comrades in exercise. Don’t get me wrong—when I started the Weight Loss Challenge at Orangetheory Fitness, I wasn’t trying to become best buds with anybody and sit around singing Kumbaya together after our workouts. I was trying not to pass out on the rowing machine. But I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness not just of the OTF staff, but of the members.
The support started on day one, when the staff welcomed me like I was a long-lost friend they were SO HAPPY to see. That was cool, and it made me feel good. And even cooler, it’s still that way. They’re just as welcoming now as they were when I first started, and I like that. It’s part of what motivates me to get off the couch and show up for class.
But what I realized is that their attitude sets the tone for all of us, and helps us encourage each other. I’ve struck up conversations with some really nice people as we were waiting for class to start. I’ve started seeing the same folks at some of the classes. We commiserate over splat points and how many pounds we’re losing. It’s like a little support group.
Take Yukari and Shawn, for example. Coworkers and friends, they’ve been coming to Orangetheory just a little longer than I have. I met them one night after class and kept seeing them on certain days.
Yukari moved here from Japan a few years ago. She said she likes it here, but the culture and lifestyle changes translated into her gaining weight.
“In Japan you walk a lot more, take the stairs, and live an active life,” she told me. “I drive a lot more here and I like American food, too—eggs, cheese, beef, and I love huevos rancheros.”
Me too, Yukari. But I don’t have moving to a different country as a good excuse for gaining weight.
Yukari heard about Orangetheory from a coworker, and recruited Shawn to try it with her. Now both women are hooked. They challenge each other during class and spur each other on as needed. That’s perfect for Shawn.
“I think it helps because I'm a competitive person so I'm like, ‘This girl can't beat me!’” she laughed. “I see the person next to me who seems to be doing the same as me and I compete. And I yell to Yukari to keep going. It fosters a healthy competitive spirit.”
I’ve enjoyed getting to know Yukari and Shawn during our brief conversations. They even gave me tips about using the OTF app. And now, they encourage me, too.
“Come on Kristi, you’ve got this!” I’ve heard Shawn yell out on more than one occasion when I’ve been ready to tell that rower what it can do with itself.
And there are other folks in my various classes whose names I never got, who provide encouragement as well. Several times I’ve been heading from the treadmill to the weight floor and gotten a high-five from another member. That unspoken support (often because we’re both out of breath) is a boost that seems to happen at just the right time.
A few times, I’ve even run into friends of mine that I didn’t realize were OTF members. One Sunday, I saw that two of my friends, Stephanie and Erin, were in the same class. Afterward, we hung out for waaaay too long catching up (props to the OTF staffers for not kicking us out).
So I have to say, I’m digging the social aspect of Orangetheory Fitness. I need that, it helps me stay motivated, and it makes working out more fun. It’s good to have friends in Orange places.
The Fitness Gods Must be Crazy
I don’t know about you, but when I start working out I want to see results quickly. I mean, if I’m putting in the effort, my energy’s up, and I’m committed, why shouldn’t I automatically start dropping weight? Is five pounds per week too much to ask for? Apparently so.
In fact, the gods of fitness decided to play a joke on me during week three of my Orangetheory Fitness Weight Loss Challenge. I was sooooo proud of myself. I’d stuck with this workout thing for three whole weeks! That’s longer than some relationships last! And for this chronic exercise avoider, it was a flat-out miracle. I’d been going to the late-
I imagine the conversation between the fitness gods happened as they were working out on their cloud, and went something like this:
“Oh Lars, god of sculpted abs and bulging biceps, look at that human huffing and puffing on her little treadmill! How amusing!”
“Why yes, Gelda, mighty goddess of physical power, endurance, and badassery, her little legs are just a-flying, aren’t they? Ha ha ha! What say we perform a bit of mischief?”
“Oh, do tell, Lars! What do you have in mind?”
“Rather than her losing pounds, let’s add some to her body!”
“Lars, you are SOOOOOO BAD! I love it!”
And so it was. During class, I would start on the treadmill, and spend most of my time at a four or six percent incline, at a pace of 3.7, and work up a good sweat. I’d get on the rower and I could feel that I was stronger. Same with the weights—I was able to do more reps before I felt like my muscles were melting. So at the end of week three I thought, “I’m gonna weigh myself and see where I’m at.” All the while of course, assuming that I had actually LOST a few pounds. But oh no.
I stood on the scale, and it said I was up two pounds. I got back off the scale. It had to have made a mistake. I got back on the scale. It said the same thing. I had gained two pounds. Dammit!
I admit it. I freaked. How could this be? I was actually sticking with my workouts! I hadn’t bailed once! And I could tell that I was shrinking. My stomach was a little flatter, my face seemed a little thinner. So what gives? Dejected, I had a little heart-to-heart with Doug. Doug was the trainer for my last class in week three. And as luck (and the fitness gods) would have it, he was also a nutrition expert.
First off, Doug calmed me down by telling me that gaining weight when you start working out is actually normal. I had never heard this. He said when you start working out regularly, your body doesn’t know what to think, so it struggles to find a new balance and adapt.
OK, I guess that makes sense.
Doug said I should be more concerned about body composition change than weight loss. I had definitely noticed that my clothes were looser and I had more energy. That’s a good sign. Then we started talking nutrition.
Oh yeah. Nutrition. I had kind of forgotten about that.
“So what do you typically eat? And how often?” he asked me. I told him that I was trying to make better choices. I’d start most mornings with a protein meal shake. Then I’d try to eat a sensible lunch, maybe a veggie burger and quinoa, or a sandwich and some snap pea crisps (much better for you than potato chips, right?). For dinner it could be anything. Hubs is the chef in our house so I’m down to eat whatever he’s cooking.
Of course, I may have neglected to mention that a lot of times, as Hubs is creating his culinary masterpieces, we “might” do some snacking. Some dinner pre-gaming, you could call it. And during the day, when I want a snack, I’ll often have some nuts. Not just a few, though. Way more than the portion size (who actually COUNTS out nuts to eat?!) listed on the container. I told myself that nuts are a healthy choice because they’re not chips (can you tell that I love chips?) but those little buggers have a lot of fat. You can say it’s good fat. But the bottom line is, it’s still fat.
And of course, we do enjoy a drinkipoo or two throughout the week. Whether it’s wine with dinner or one of Hubs’ amazing bourbon cocktails, we like to get our drink on.
Doug recommended that I think of my food intake like a pyramid, where breakfast is the largest meal of the day and the others get subsequently smaller. That’s the complete opposite of how I have always eaten. For me, dinner is always the big meal, the one you really share with family and friends. It is a social event. That would be a big change.
He also suggested that I go by the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time I am eating healthy and staying pretty strict, but 20% of the time I let myself have a little leeway. Of course he did specify that “leeway” did not mean I could eat an entire canister of cinnamon rolls.
OK. It was time for the reckoning. I had to drastically improve my eating habits.
I went home and dramatically announced to Hubs that we (yes, “we”—I can’t change my eating habits without the help of the chef) had to overhaul our pantry, fridge, and how we shop for groceries. He looked at me like I had lost it. And I kind of had. Because ultimately, I was trying to lose weight/inches.
So we did. We went through our pantry and got rid of things that weren’t so great for us. Then we made a grocery list and really tried to think of items that would be healthy for meals and snacks that we would actually want to eat. We also made a commitment to lessen our portion sizes.
Overall, it’s been working. I can tell that I get full more quickly so my stomach is shrinking (yay!) I’m eating smaller snacks throughout the day rather than focusing on big meals at certain times. And Hubs and I decided to abstain from cocktails for a while (just to see what difference that makes.) I feel lighter and better.
Here’s hoping it sticks.
I'm Back on the Treadmill Again
Back where a splat point's my friend
Sing it with me, people! “I’m back on the treadmill again… back where a splat point’s my friend…” It’s week two of the Orangetheory Fitness Weight Loss Challenge and I’ve gotta get back in the groove. I was pretty (awesomely) tired after my trip back east to the Women’s March on Washington, so I took a couple of days to rest. But I had to get my three workouts in so off to Orangetheory Westside I went.
I had more energy than I did during my workouts in Week 1. I hopped on the treadmill and our instructor, Elia, got us going. We spent roughly 25 minutes alternating between our base pace, and doing “pushes” of higher intensity. During the pushes, I kept my pace at a 3.5 but upped my incline to six percent. I could definitely feel it (super heavy breathing) but I hung in there. Once or twice, I’d bring the incline down and up my speed to 4 just to mix it up. I broke a serious sweat and knew I was getting a good workout.
After the treadmill we hit the rowers for a 1000-meter challenge. I was doing pretty well until I hit 461 meters. Yep, that’s when my quads started burning like mofos! Note to self and anyone else who is doing an intense workout – stretch before you exercise!! Yes, I know I’m supposed to. No, I didn’t do it. And I paid. I hopped off the rower and stretched my poor little fiery quads out. Then I got back on to finish that last 500+ meters. Our instructor, Elia, saw me and the next thing I knew, she was on the rower beside me. “Come on Kristi, you can do this! You’re almost there!” she cheered me on. That was pretty awesome. I was the last one to finish, but hey, it got done.
Despite my burning quads, I’m trying to stay focused on “what I burn for.” That’s Orangetheory Fitness’s big question—“What do you burn for?” I burn for preventing myself from becoming a diabetic and having the same health issues my parents now deal with. If I burned for looking like a swimsuit model I would’ve done this years ago. Nope. Health has got to be the motivating factor.
I had a long conversation with my parents about their Diabetes during my recent visit. They told me some things I’d forgotten over the years. And some of it freaked me out. Like, that they weren’t all that overweight when they were diagnosed. I now weigh more than they did when they were told they were diabetic. Crikey.
I asked how dealing with Diabetes has impacted them. Mom said, “It consumes your life. There's not a day that goes by that you don't think about it. There's not a meal you eat that you don't think about it. You never get a day off.”
She said she definitely recommends exercise, because it helps control your blood sugar numbers. This is a HUGE statement coming from her. She and Dad were late to the exercise party. They finally started working out in 2014 at around 70 years old, after my Dad had another heart catheterization. I’m really proud of them for doing it. I get my sedentary genes from them, so I know it takes motivation to get them to the gym.
Mom’s Diabetes is under control, but Dad’s isn’t. His numbers are all over the place. He’ll count his carbs and shoot the appropriate amount of insulin, but an hour or two later his blood sugar can be sky high. He’s working with his doctor to regulate it better.
I finally met their doctor. The infamous Dr. Musselman. He was very nice, and in the brief chat that we had, I asked him how to keep myself from following in Mom and Dad’s footsteps. The look on his face said, “You’re doomed.” Shit! He told me that exercise will help at least delay it (delay!?) and that I should go ahead and lay off eating sugar. “One coke has 30 teaspoons of sugar in it,” he said. “You should try to eat and drink things that have less than eight grams of sugar per serving.” 30 teaspoons?! Less than eight grams? But what about my beloved Malibu and Cokes?
A little freaked, I asked Mom to test my blood sugar. The next morning, on an empty stomach, she poked my finger with a needle. A small prick (get your mind out of the gutter) and a tiny drop of crimson emerged. I held my breath. The meter beeped. “109,” Mom said. “That’s in the normal range.”
Woohoo!!! What a relief! Normal and I want to keep it that way! I am definitely keeping up with this workout thing.
At the end of one of my workouts, Elia shared this quote from Jim Rohn: “Everyone must choose one of two pains. The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”
I’m choosing discipline. I don’t want anymore regret.
Prison Bikini Beach Bod
Besides your weird uncle Sharkie, it looks like the latest thing to come out of prison the nation’s newest fitness craze is—workouts developed and used by inmates to buff up while they were locked down. And the best part? It’s practically free. You don’t need a gym membership, fancy machines or even basic weights. The workouts are based on calisthenics such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats. According to Paul Wade, author of Convict Conditioning and former inmate at San Quentin State Prison, “You just need your body and your mind.” And in yet another twist of irony, these techniques developed by some of the nation’s most hardened criminals are being used to train some of the nation’s finest servicemen. Wade, for example, has trained both Navy Seals and Marines. He describes the workouts as “primitive, brutal, painful and incredibly rewarding.” Visit www.builtbehindbars.com for a free workout program or www.HoodWorkout.com to view videos of impressive regimens posted by prison workout enthusiasts.