My Year To Thrive

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." ~Maya Angelou


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Anxiety & the Gym

They’re all gonna have droopy boobs like me one day, anyway.
~The Oatmeal

Capture elderly oatmeal

Oh you must read this in its entirely. Go NOW!

What do that old dude & I have in common, besides droopy boobs & a generally cranky attitude?  We both want to be alone at the gym.  Not an issue exclusive to us.

When I searched “gym anxiety” a lot  came up.  Most of it was the usual “I’m fat/weak/clumsy/a heavy sweater & I’m afraid people will judge me at the gym”.  To which the usual answer was “Get over yourself. You’re not so special everyone is paying attention to you.”  While that is true, it’s not very helpful, especially for someone dealing with an anxiety disorder.  It’s also kinda mean.

Everyone’s anxiety manifests differently, so there are no blanket answers.  Personally, along with the “I’m fat & feel judged by all the fit people at the gym; everyone is laughing at me” form of typical gym anxiety, there’s also the anxiety that has caused me to cry in the grocery aisle – where only one other person was – suddenly overwhelmed by the idea of how many people were in the store.  There’s also the perfectionism causing a paralyzing fear of making mistakes & the paranoia that feeds the idea everyone is watching & judging me.  I’ve been trying to convince myself no one is paying that much attention to me in public for 20+ years, but it doesn’t work.  The being alone thing is part of what I like about running.  You may remember the only race I ever did.

Just not going to the gym is certainly one solution to this problem, but maybe not the best one depending on your goals.  I have chosen that route a lot of the time, & history says this will come around again.  If your goals lead you to pursuing the gym life in spite of your fear & loathing of other people, then here are a few suggestions from my experience.

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Playlist Redo

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.
~Bob Marley (Brainy Quotes)

I updated my playlist this week & thought it would be fun to share a few of the songs.  “Let It Go” is one unless you’ve been living in a cave you’ve heard of, but if you’re living in a cave, how are you reading blogs?

Below the cut I’ve added a few others covering various genres.  Interesting side note, I found a site, Jog.fm, where you can input your mile time & it will recommend songs for you based on bpm.  It recommended Enya for me. :-/

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Working On A Midfoot Strike

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.”
~Priscilla Welch (The 32 Most Inspirational Running Quotes)

My research into better running form led me to the midfoot strike.  I had never thought about where my foot landed before, so it was an interesting new concept.  I had however noticed going up the hills on my trail was more comfortable, & even running after I reached the top of them.  When I tried the midfoot strike, I realized my trudge up the hills seemed similar, so that was probably the difference & at the top I kept doing what I had been doing.

For me, the best part of the video was his exercise to get used to the landing midfoot.  He points out the difference between running & walking is when you run there’s a point where both of your feet are off the ground, so it’s more like jumping in that sense.  So to start practicing landing midfoot, start by jumping up & down a few times, next start lifting your feet & run in place a little, then just start moving those steps ahead.  Voila, midfoot.

I like the guy in this video.  He was relaxed & funny, easy to understand.  Plus he has a little goatee, but I’m not sure why that made the video better for me.  I’m not generally a facial hair person. I have nothing against it;  I’m just not “ooh, goatee” most days.   I think it’s because it set him apart from the guys on most of the running videos & blogs I’ve seen.

There seems to be some discussing on whether midfoot strike is better than a heel strike, but I’m not promoting one as better than the other, just sharing what I am learning.  Having banged up knees, I do appreciate Bobby McGee’s comparison of the two, stating midfoot puts less pressure on the knees; though he admits it’s a trade-off for “increased stress in their plantar fasciae and Achilles’ tendons as well as the calf muscles.”  He also hands out some good advice on effective heel, midfoot, & full foot striking, as well as form in general.

Over at Runner’s World, Alex Hutchinson enlists science, chart & all, to compare energy usage between heel & midfoot.  Heel wins out for less energy expenditure.  Interestingly, the difference changed according to speed.  It wasn’t a a huge difference, especially at higher speeds.

If you prefer text to video, & more detail, Active.com has some advice from Trisha Reeves on finding your midfoot.


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The Beginner Begins Again

What’s so fascinating and frustrating and great about life is that you’re constantly starting over, all the time, and I love that.
~Billy Crystal (Brainy Quotes)

Yes please

Anyone else remember the day time reality show Starting Over?  I loved that show.  Being a perpetual beginner, starting over is something I’m used to.  And it’s time for another go around!  I’m running again.

It’s been a couple of weeks, & I’ve been doing an hour of walk/run intervals.  I based my plan on different 5K programs I’ve seen/tried. I did three days the first week, but last week I only made it out one day.  It was a very up & down week.  Monday & Tuesday I was so busy doing other stuff I never got around to it.  Then Wednesday came.  It was like the other two days had sucked all the good out of the rest of the week & left me hanging.  I barely got out of bed Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday.  Saturday I drug myself out though.  I was feeling a little better, & did not want to let the week get away from me without going out at least one day.  Sunday was okay, & I spent a good bit of time researching form.  Yep, you’re going to see some of what I found this week.

It’s been stops & starts the last year trying to get back into a regular routine.  This time feels really good though.  I’m excited about running the way I used to be.  I’m back to being as slow as I was when I first started running, but part of it, beyond just I’m really slow, is I’ve slowed down trying to get my form right.  At some point my form became very jarring.  I noticed the first day I went out this time my back hurt, so I decided I needed to slow it down & focus on better form; better posture & less jarring.  My form is becoming more automatic & I was faster Saturday, so yay!  I feel strong too.  I think that’s my favorite part of running, feeling strong.  I’ve also been working on my stretching routine.

I wrote about how I got started running for Salty Running a couple of years ago, On Being a Fat Happy Runner.  Anyone who thought they could never be runner but wants to try, might find a few good bits in it, especially other plus size women trying to get started.


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Downward facing dog modifications for beginners & plus size yogis | Body Positive Yoga

“Yoga has a very prominent piece of philosophy within it that is called ahimsa. . . Ahimsa means non-violence, or non-killing or non-harming. . . Ahimsa also means acting with kindness towards ourselves. . . And I see this as a huge correlation with HAES® as well. I really feel that the diet culture that is out there and the weight loss culture that is out there can be extremely harmful as I’m sure most of us who have experienced it know. . . . Whereas HAES® is much more in line with yoga philosophy in terms of being about not harming. Let’s do everything we can to create a healthy body in a gentle and tender and loving and compassionate way.”
Tiina Veer, HAES® Meets Ahimsa: Applying Yoga Philosophy To Your HAES® Practice And Vice Versa (Body Love Wellness)

Downward facing dog modifications for beginners & plus size yogis

A variety of modifications for not only larger bodies, but people with varying levels of ability (including those of us with wrist pain).  Bonus!  She has a video about how you can keep your boobs out of your face during yoga!

Bonus Bonus! Modifications for Pigeon Pose

Triple bonus since I recently posted about Sun Salutations: Sun Salutation Modifications for Plus-Size Bodies


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Building Your Home Gym

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
~Agatha Christie (HuffPo)

This raccoon is rocking the home workout.

Since I posted The Minute Jar yesterday, I thought I would give you some ideas for fitness equipment you can stock up on to help you out at home.

To that end I found this article on WebMD, “At-Home Workouts: 5 Essential Items for a Home Gym“.  This actually lists several items in five categories: cardio, strength, balance, flexibility, & Guidance.  They list a variety of options at different price points, as well as advice from personal trainers & how much space you need to use the different options.

At Real Simple, I found “The Best Fitness Tools for Your Home Gym“.  They polled their “exer-stars” for compilations of favorite tips & tools in categories by budget & level.

I’ve posted about home gym equipment before, so here’s a handy list of links:

DIY Foam Roller for $2.49
How To Foam Roll Like A Pro | Greatist
21 DIY Gym Equipment Projects to Make at Home | Greatist

Hope this helps!

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