Posts Tagged With: writing

Bye, Bye Comfort Zone

You know how people say that you have to break out of your comfort zone if you ever want to experience real change?

Well, I’m here now, and guess what? It’s scary as hell.

I am in the midst of my full-blown training plan for the Disney Princess Half Marathon next month, and as I log my mileage on Daily Mile and watch Feb. 24, 2013 get closer and closer on my calendar, I have to admit that my comfort zone is starting to feel like a distant memory. While it all seemed like such a wonderful idea back in August when I decided I was going to register for a half marathon, now that it’s almost here, the thought of running 13.1 miles seems downright crazy…and I can’t help but feel those voices of self-doubt starting to creep in. Can I REALLY do this?

Posing with my first belt!

Posing with my first belt!

Meanwhile, this weekend I am testing for my Bo Black belt in Muay Thai kickboxing. I’ve been training for two years, and this test is essentially the culmination of everything we’ve learned thus far…all to be demonstrated after a brutal 45-minute workout. I remember earning my orange belt early in 2011 and feeling such a sense of pride and accomplishment that I had not only summoned to courage to try something new — especially since the workouts are INSANE — but that I was actually sticking with it.

In addition to a million things I had to memorize for this test, including forms and step-by-step self defense moves that we’ll have to demonstrate for all our friends and family and the entire staff, we also had to submit a written testimonial about what our martial arts training has done for us.

Well, it turns out that some of us are going to be required to recite that testimonial in front of everyone…including yours truly.

I should tell you that I am not a public speaker. I have never been a public speaker. I am strictly a one-on-one communication kind of gal whose livelihood depends on the written word…not the spoken one.  I’m the kind of person who still gets nervous when sharing a story in front of a group of four or five friends at a restaurant, let alone delivering a personal speech about my weight loss woes in front of a room full of strangers (PS, I have no trouble baring my soul from behind the safety of a computer screen, though…go figure).

Years ago, the thought of getting up in front of a group of people and sharing my story would have induced sheer panic. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not thrilled with the idea, and I know I will probably deliver a less-than-flawless performance rife with “ums” and “uhs” and my own unique brand of awkward.

My very first race!

My very first race!

But part of me does recognize this opportunity as another chance to break out of my comfort zone and prove to myself that I am not the same person anymore. And I’m only borderline terrified.

I have never believed in myself. Ever. My go-to motto was always “I can’t.” I couldn’t lose weight, I couldn’t be a writer, I couldn’t make friends, I couldn’t run, and the list goes on and on. There was a time not all that long ago when I was convinced that I could NEVER finish a 5K, or that I could NEVER lose weight (and actually keep it off).

I’m tired of “I can’t.” I WILL complete that half marathon, I WILL survive my Bo Black test tomorrow…and I WILL deliver that speech!

What are some ways that you’ve broken out of your comfort zone?

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Five Years Later: In for the Long Haul

At this time five years ago, I was embarking upon my most recent weight loss journey. I started Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time in November 2007 — the weekend right after Thanksgiving, no less!

This is, by far, the longest I have ever succeeded in sticking to a “diet,” and it is absolutely the first time I’ve ever been able to maintain my weight loss — I’ve been maintaining my 90-pound loss since the beginning of 2009.

And it’s all because it stopped being a “diet” to me after the first week or two on the program.

If you had told me in 2007 that I would one day train for a half marathon or wear a bikini or actually enjoy eating spinach, I would have laughed in your face. These were things that were so completely foreign to me, and yet just five years later my love of quinoa and addiction to 10Ks are part of my daily life.

It took me quite some time to figure out that weight loss isn’t about going on a diet and starving yourself. It’s about making a commitment…to healthy eating and exercise, of course, but also to not allowing yourself to give up.

pumpkin2007I am where I am today because I decided to make eating nutritious foods and exercising several times a week my new lifestyle. I made it part of who I was as a person, not just something I was doing to drop a few dress sizes. I don’t just run…I became a runner. I don’t just go to kickboxing or Taekwondo classes…I became a martial artist. I didn’t just start eating salads and skipping dessert…I took the time to educate myself on what my body needs to function at its best, and became passionate about nutrition.

At first, however, I was inspired to rejoin Weight Watchers at age 22 for no other reason than fear: I had stepped on the scale (“just for fun”) and saw that I was well on my way to becoming a 300-pound 25-year-old.

My first official weigh-in clocked me in at 263.4 pounds. At the time, I was busting out of my size 20/22W pants.

Today, I continue to hover right around 175 pounds, and am a very comfortable size 8/10M.DSCF1718

Did I think that I would be at my “goal weight” by now? No question about it. I’d love to step on the scale and see a nice red 135 or 140. But if there’s anything that I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s that weight is truly just a number…and that it is far more important to learn to accept your body and appreciate your health. I don’t love my loose skin or my stretch marks, but you know what? I earned them — and they will forever remain visual proof of just how far I’ve come.

Instead of constantly tearing myself down, I’ve learned to take pride in my efforts. I don’t eat perfectly every single moment of every single day, but I do the best I can — and if I happen to indulge in an extra holiday cookie or two (or three or four…) this month, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

I eat ice cream and chips and chocolate, but they no longer control me…I know that I can enjoy the foods I love in moderation without falling victim to my old ways. I’m not the fastest runner, but I continue to lace up my sneakers almost every day and register for races because I’ve learned to be happy with progress — not perfection. I’m doing everything I can to take care of my body and make up for two decades of taking my health for granted.

Five years ago, I couldn’t begin to describe the misery I was experiencing every single day. Being obese is about more than having trouble finding cute clothes…it affects the way you see yourself, and touches every aspect of your life. I refused to participate in anything for fear of what people might be thinking about “that fat girl.” To me, everything was impossible, and I decided that any dream I had (e.g. becoming a writer) was simply out of my reach. And that was that. I was unhappy, and I just didn’t like myself…and that’s the only logical explanation that I can offer for allowing myself to pack on 100 pounds over the course of five years.

bryantpark2007My non-working hours were spent gouging myself on junk food when I thought nobody was looking, and I was practically on a first-name basis with the drive-thru employees at every fast food chain in a five-mile radius.  While I graduated high school as a reasonable size 10/12 (only because I crash-dieted and lost 60 pounds for the prom), I proceeded to pack on the freshman 50 once I started college…and an additional 50 after that by the time I was working at my first magazine job and struggling to find the confidence to pitch stories and take on more writing assignments. To me, nothing I did was good enough. I suffered from severe acid reflux and who knows what else, since I refused to visit a doctor for fear that they might give me a lecture about being too fat.

I did nothing to fix any of these problems, because I was so sure that I was destined to live a life of obesity. I had given up on myself at age 22, and simply resigned myself to being fat for the rest of my life. I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is absolutely nothing worse than believing that you are not just not worthy of happiness.DSCF1930

Today, I still have my share of problems. Believe me when I tell you that weight loss does not magically make your life perfect, and I continue to struggle every day with many of the same issues I had when I was 100 pounds heavier, from difficulty making friends to dealing with stress without making a trip to the refrigerator.

But for someone who has relied on food for comfort since childhood, the fact that I am here, five years later, has changed my entire outlook on life. If I can finally develop a healthy relationship with food or learn to love working out, then I can do ANYTHING. Sure, it’s great to wear cute dresses and not hate the way I look in every single photo, but knowing that I have done something many people struggle to do their entire lives means more to me than anything else in the world.

I have changed my life. I have rewritten my own life story. I have transformed myself from someone who couldn’t walk for 10 minutes to someone who runs 10 miles on the weekend.

I look forward to another five years of health and happiness…and, who knows, maybe by my 10-year anniversary blog post I’ll be training for my second or third full marathon. Anything is possible!

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The Thing You Think You Cannot Do

There was a one-credit course I was required to take during my senior year in college — “Personal Fitness” — and as part of our final test at the end of the semester we were required to run one mile around the indoor track in the campus’ recreation center.

The humiliation of that day is seared into my memory. I remember I had completely forgotten my change of clothes, so I showed up at the gym wearing those Skechers sneakers with the platforms that were “in” at the time (and I commuted, so it wasn’t like I could go back to my dorm and change my footwear). At least I was wearing sweats, since that was pretty much all that fit me at the time.

I weighed at least 250 pounds by the time I graduated from college, quite possibly more (I wouldn’t know, because I avoided scales and mirrors at all costs). I grew winded walking across campus to the library, and did nothing but study and work, hitting the drive-thru hard between classes and munching on vending machine snacks whenever the mood would strike.

I think it goes without saying that running was a physical impossibility.

To make a long story short, not only did I come in dead last on the mile that day, but I never even finished. As I was grunting, sweating, and trying to ignore the blisters forming in my platform sneakers, some of my classmates were jogging up beside me to lend their encouragement and chant “you can do it!”

By the time everyone else had finished and I still had another two laps to go, I pretended like I was done just so I could leave the track and rush to my car and burst into tears. That mile felt like a marathon to me, and I was so ashamed that I was the only person in the class who seemed to have such trouble completing the test. I know the instructor knew I hadn’t finished, but I saw the pity in her eyes when she let me call it quits.

And that, my friends, is just one of many of my not-so-wonderful memories associated with running. It was always something that I simply could not do.

That is, until now. I don’t remember the last time I wanted something this much. And the difference now is that I can.

I am officially registered for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, and I’m also lining up a fall racing schedule that includes at least two 10Ks. I’ve never competed in any race longer than four miles, but I want to get used to running longer distances — and, more importantly, be able to submit a 10K proof of time to the folks at RunDisney to qualify to start in one of the earlier corrals on race day.

This weekend, I ran seven miles — my longest run to date. Mind you, I pretty much shuffled through the last mile, but I made a decision to complete seven miles on my “long run” day, and I actually did it. Yesterday I went out on a five mile run, as if it were the most normal thing in the world for me to do on a Tuesday afternoon. I can already feel myself getting stronger and faster.

There is something that feels damn good about doing something you never thought possible. With running, my success is even sweeter, because it literally was something I could not do. Meanwhile, I had all but given up on myself before embarking on my most recent and final weight loss journey. I never thought I would be able to beat the obesity that has plagued me since childhood, and experience life as an averaged-sized person.

I’d be lying if I said the excitement I feel when I see my byline in a magazine isn’t, in part, caused by the fact that I was told over and over again that I could never be a writer: “it’s too competitive,” “you’ll never make any money,” “you need to get a real job,” etc. This has been my dream since I was eight years old, and I relish the fact that I am doing what I love every single day and proving all the naysayers wrong.

Don’t get me wrong: going into business for myself was scary. Joining Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time was scary. And the idea of running a half marathon is downright terrifying. But I’m starting to realize how important it is to embrace that fear.

I know now there is nothing more gratifying than doing something you thought you couldn’t do. That’s why I will keep lacing up my sneakers and training for that half marathon!

Is there something you do now that you never thought possible?

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Stop Making Excuses…and Cheating Yourself Out of Success

If you want to ensure that you never reach your goals, do exactly what I’ve been doing: let your life be taken over by excuses.

On July 4, I ran the local Firecracker 4-Miler race in my hometown for the second year. Despite the fact that last year’s event was my very first race ever, and that it was the exact same course and we were experiencing very similar weather (hot and humid!), I showed absolutely no improvement from last year. In fact, I came in at almost exactly the same time, to the second. I struggled from start to finish, and couldn’t keep myself from stopping to catch my breath or surreptitiously take a break to “tie my sneakers” during the race.

As I was beating myself up afterwards, and trying to come up with excuses for not achieving what I thought would be an easy goal for me — beating last year’s time — I couldn’t help the niggling feeling that I was simply trying to not take responsibility for not working hard enough. All this time, I’ve been going out on 2 or 3 mile runs here and there. I wasn’t being consistent — sometimes weeks would pass without running at all — and I wasn’t exactly adhering to any of the advice I was skimming in my monthly issue of Runner’s World or any of my countless running-related Google searches about how to improve my speed or perform better on race day.

In short, I started to think about how I’ve been making excuses and only doing things “halfway” for quite some time…and how running is only one example.

It sometimes takes months for me to send out a fresh batch of article pitches to my dream magazines. I’m constantly telling myself I’ll e-mail that editor “tomorrow,” or finish that story query “after I do more research.” But then I end up convincing myself that it’s a stupid idea, or the editor is “just going to ignore me, anyway,” so it never actually gets done. Meanwhile, I always make promises to myself about blogging more often, since it’s something I love to do…but take one look at my past posting history and you’ll see that I can’t seem to manage more than one post a month.

When it comes to Weight Watchers, my attempts to reach my goal of 100 pounds lost are quite laughable. I’m only casually counting POINTS, and I’m doing way more guesstimating than ever. I still measure out everyday staples like 3/4 cup of cereal, but then when it comes time to enjoy some frozen yogurt after dinner, I somehow seem to forget where the measuring cups are located, because “I worked out today, so I deserve a treat.” I’ve also been allowing myself a few-too-many binges on weekends, from extra glasses of wine to munching handfuls of Angie’s Kettle Corn on the beach. That excuse is an easy one: “It’s the weekend!”

For months, I have been putting in shorter and shorter workouts (when I’m not in kickboxing class, that is), justifying their brevity with classic excuses like “I don’t have time.”

But then I wonder why I’m never landing those writing assignments, why the scale won’t budge, and why my fitness level (or ability to run a 4-miler without wanting to die!) has completely plateaued.

So, I decided to do something to take down the Excuses Monster once and for all. I decided to start by choosing one goal — in this case, being a better runner — and not allowing any more excuses.

I’m proud to report that I have chosen quite a lofty goal, and for the past three weeks, have been diligently working towards making it a reality. With no excuses!

It started with stumbling upon some race recaps on running blogs about the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Feb. 2013, and knowing that it was something I absolutely, positively had to do. I have harbored a deep-seated Disney obsession since I was in diapers, and running through the Magic Kingdom would be a dream come true. I just have to do it.

That’s right. I am going to run a half marathon.

Before I convinced myself that “I’m not good enough, fast enough, experienced enough, etc. to run a half marathon,” I set out in search of a training plan and for the past three weeks have been running 5 times a week, with mileage ranging from 2 miles to 6 miles. I invested in a Dry-Erase board to chart my monthly training runs, and I became a member of the Daily Mile to track my progress on-line. I created a little inspiration corner in my office with photos, brochures of races I want to run, medals, and even a painting my sister made of me crossing the finish line, and I use them as a daily reminder of how much I want to reach this goal.

And it’s already paying off. I competed once again in the Downtown Westfield 5k and Pizza Extravaganza, and the race that took me 33:03 last year only took 29:15. It wasn’t easy, and the course was incredibly hilly, but I didn’t once feel the need to stop. I felt comfortable and confident, because I knew, deep down, that I had put in the work…and wasn’t letting anything stand in my way.

There are no end to the excuses I could make to talk myself out of training for a 13 mile run — especially when the longest race I’ve ever participated in was a measly three miles. Aside from the physical agony and very real possibility of me not making it to the finish line, it’s out of state and extremely expensive…and basically another excuse for me to take a vacation.

But if I’m ever going to move forward, whether it’s in my writing career, weight loss, or fledgling attempts at running, I have got to stop talking myself out of everything…and cheating myself out of my own happiness.

Have you ever made up excuses or talked yourself out of doing something you really wanted to do?

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Letting Go of the “Old Me”

I have a confession to make. Prior to this weekend, I hadn’t weighed myself since before the holidays. And by holidays, I mean Thanksgiving.

These past few months have included some of the the most defining moments of my life — not the least of which was finally moving out of my parents’ house.

For years I have struggled with self-doubt when it came to both my weight loss and my writing career. I think it’s a fair claim to make that living under your parents’ roof in the post-college years somehow intensifies the inner turmoil that’s typically associated with the quarter-life crisis. But for me, self-confidence and the belief that I am actually capable of success — whether in the form of reaching my weight loss goals or landing assignments in my dream magazines — have always seemed just out of reach.

I have dreamed of being a writer since I was in the second grade. Interestingly enough, that was also the year when I suddenly found myself at the receiving end of the bullying that would continue until the day I received my high school diploma. In an era where my cruelest high school foes are just a click away on Facebook, I tend to avoid writing about my painful childhood years here, but I feel as though I can’t fully express the victory I experienced this weekend without at least a mention of my past.

Of course, I was teased and tormented because I happened to weigh more than just about everyone else in my class, and to this day I attribute my constant need to drown my emotions in food — and my inability to see myself as worthy of success — to my years of being bullied by my classmates…and, on many occasions, even those I considered my closest friends.

This weekend, I returned to a Weight Watchers meeting and stepped on the scale for the first time in months — and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was showing a loss of .4 pounds.

After over a decade of gaining and losing 20 pounds here or 60 pounds there, or having to sneak to the mall to buy bigger pants every couple of months, I realized that after months of holiday hooplah, a Florida vacation, and a move to my first apartment, I am actually succeeding at maintaining my weight.

For the first time in my life, I felt…cured.

I could have easily emerged from these past few months carrying around an extra 20 pounds, but instead, I realized that I have finally learned the secret to maintaining my weight loss…and that I have genuinely achieved what I once thought impossible. I am a healthy, active person now.

As my own worst critic, it’s often hard for me to recognize my own accomplishments, but to continue following my usual eating and workout routine despite weeks of skipped weigh-ins and the overwhelming task of having to pack 26 years of my belongings (and all the not-so-good memories associated with them) into boxes — and to come out in the end of it all maintaining almost the exact same weight — forced me to realize once and for all that while the old Jen still lives inside of me somewhere, I am, truly, an entirely different person. I no longer need the specter of a weekly weigh-in to keep me in check. I am enough.

I know I’ll have to work hard for the rest of my life not to give in to my old ways. I’ve accepted that the struggles with my weight aren’t going anywhere. I definitely succumbed to some of my former habits this weekend, as I was surrounded by hearty St. Patrick’s Day fare and festive green cocktails, but the difference now is that I know a day or two of not-so-great food choices or skipped workouts are not going to be enough to bring me down.

I no longer let the slip-ups that would have once completely derailed whatever diet I was on at the time make me feel like a failure. I’m living proof that allowing one mistake — like, say, avoiding the scale for weeks on end — to undo all of your hard work is all you need to send you right back to where you started.

I’ve even been pitching my dream magazines lately, and though I’m often faced with rejections — or, worse, a wall of complete silence — I’m starting to acknowledge myself as someone who can succeed as a writer. All I have to do is not give up.

I may not be at my goal weight, and I may not have bylines in all the newsstand magazines, but I’m slowly but surely starting to believe that I can reach my goals.

I’ve finally learned how to pick myself up when I fall, and not let my past dictate my future. The holiday season, family vacations, paying rent for the first time (not to mention having to cook all of my own meals!), and other life events are no longer powerful enough to send me to the refrigerator. I am finally in control.

And that, I believe, is truly the key to losing weight…and keeping it off.

 

 

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Seeing Yourself as Others Do

One of the (many) things about myself that I’ve been trying to “work on” lately is my inability to accept a compliment.

From the “you look amazing!” screeches from friends and family when I started losing weight to the occassional compliments I receive on my wardrobe, I have never been able to look someone in the eye and genuinely believe their positive words. I’ll spare you the sob stories of how I was ridiculed by everyone for my appearance as a child and teenager — including my parents — but I’m sure it has a heck of a lot to do with why I can’t accept that someone legitimately has something nice to say about me today, more than a decade later.

Why is it that I still carry around 15-year-old memories of my classmates calling me “fat” and “ugly,”  but when someone says they like my haircut or that my arms are really starting to tone up, it’s almost immediately forgotten?

While I’ve slowly been learning to appreciate my new body and graciously accept any praise with regards to my weight loss accomplishments, it still pains me to realize that when someone offers a compliment that goes beyond my physical appearance or choice of shoes and relates to who I am on a deeper level — my intellect, my talent, my strength — I find it impossible to accept their words as fact.

I’m one of the lucky few that’s found a man who is quick to offer his encouragement and praise. But any time my boyfriend is regaling me with compliments, I can’t help but argue with him. I can’t remember the last time he told me I looked nice, and I offered him a simple “thanks” in return. Instead, I usually suggest he go get his eyes checked.

And yesterday, when he went on and on about how proud he is of me for working so hard at pursuing my writing dream, I not-so-gently informed him that, in fact, I’m a total failure. Because, after all, I haven’t yet published a bestseller or landed bylines in all of my favorite newsstand magazines…at the ripe old age of 25.

If I could look in the mirror and see the woman he sees, I would never again suffer from lack of self-esteem. I’d never again ridicule the way my thighs look in shorts, I wouldn’t hold myself back from pitching my dream magazines for fear of not being good enough, and I definitely wouldn’t walk around thinking that I’m a failure just because I’ve managed to lose 90 pounds and not 100 pounds.

If we could treat ourselves with the same kindness, respect, and understanding that our loved ones do, and learn to recognize all of our positive attributes instead of constantly focusing on the bad, could you imagine how much happier we’d be? And how far we could go?

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Fighting Fear

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started to realize just how much fear has been holding me back. In my weight loss, in my career, in my relationships…in my life in general.

Last night I earned my orange belt in Muy Thai kickboxing. For two weeks I fretted about not being able to remember the form we had to memorize to “graduate” to the next belt, about not being able to throw a proper left hook or right elbow, and — most of all — I was terrified of failing to break a wooden board with a knee strike.

After it was all over and I was presented with my new belt, it occurred to me that I’ve become so used to doubting myself and assuming that I’m not good enough that I actually lost sleep over losing a battle with…a 16 inch piece of wood.

How did I let myself become so hard-wired for fear that even the most minor step I take out of my comfort zone causes such extreme anxiety? Why is it so difficult for me to tell myself that I can, in fact, accomplish something…and that I’m worth the effort?

For the past two years, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a rut in my writing career. I’m sitting back and letting the same editors come to me with assignments, because I’ve been too afraid to pitch the editors at my “dream” publications. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate my regular editors and I absolutely love working with them, but all this time I’ve been riddled with fear that editors at other publications will laugh at my ideas or tell me I’m not a good enough writer to contribute to their magazine. So I just haven’t bothered trying to introduce myself or to pitch them new ideas.

That’s why I recently signed up for an on-line course about generating new ideas and pitching magazines held by a very successful freelance writer, and a big part of the first week’s lesson focused on fear: how easy it is to let the fear that your ideas are “stupid” stand in the way of getting your writing published, landing new clients, and building a lucrative freelance career. Once I started tackling the class assignments — which actually required me to silence the “I won’t succeed, so why bother trying?” thoughts that are constantly rolling around in my mind — I realized that it all boils down to one word. Fear.

I now have a list of more than 300 potential article ideas, I have seven new queries in the works, and I’m getting ready to send them out to a few of the magazines I’ve always wanted to write for. Because, after all, what’s the worst that could happen? They don’t like my idea?  I’ll just try again.

For the past year and a half, I’ve gained and lost the five pounds over and over again, and let myself fall into the same eating and exercise routines. I’ve convinced myself that I simply “can’t” lose any more weight, and started to believe that I’d never reach my goal of losing 100 pounds. I’ve been trying to break this plateau for so long, but have I really been doing everything I absolutely can to get the scale to budge? In hindsight, I’m not so sure. I’m proud that I’ve been maintaining my weight loss, but for the most part, I’ve been afraid to radically change my eating habits or workout routines because…well…what if I still fail to lose any more weight?

I dreaded the launch of the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus, because it meant re-learning a new program and a different way of thinking about the food I eat. And, yes, it meant forcing myself to abandon some of my old ways (like snacking on baked chips all the time or eating heaping servings of brown rice at dinner). But guess what? I’m eating “cleaner” than ever; my entire family has stopped nuking processed meals for dinner on busy weekdays, and I’m no longer craving carbs all the time. In fact, I look forward to my 3pm banana break every day. Who knew?

It took every ounce of courage I could muster to walk into that karate studio and try something new. I was afraid I’d never be able to keep up, or that I wouldn’t fit in with the other students, or that the instructor would laugh at my pathetic excuse for a roundhouse kick. In fact, if a friend hadn’t given me a gift certificate to the karate studio, I might never have brought myself to sign up. It was new, it was scary, and — let’s face it — martial artists can be big and tough and intimidating.

But I did it. I’m having a blast, the scale is moving again (slightly), my muscles are tighter, I feel strong and powerful and confident, I’m actually going up to people and introducing myself…

And I can’t believe my fear almost stood in the way of it all.

In a few short weeks, my mantra has transformed from “I can’t” to “why not?” What the heck have I been so afraid of?

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Committing to New Habits

We’re less than three weeks into the new year. Raise your hand if you’re already struggling to stick to your resolutions, and find yourself slipping back into some old habits.

(Me me me)!

The good news? I’ve already started accomplishing at least some of my goals for this year: I’ve found a new workout that I absolutely love. I signed a one-year contract at my local karate studio for Muy Thai kickboxing. And anyone who knows my tightwad ways knows there’s nothing that motivates me more than the thought of not getting “my money’s worth.” No matter, though — I’m already addicted. I think it’s a riot that this season of The Biggest Loser is incorporating two new trainers: one is a martial arts expert, and the other a professional boxer. As I’m watching the contestants release all their stress, anger, and frustration by punching and kicking and pretty much fighting their trainers to the death, I’m feeling more and more confident that I’ve found the workout for me.

I’m also completely obsessed with the Nike+ Sportband I got for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) You tuck a little sensor into your Nike+ sneakers, and then a watch displays your time, miles, calories, and pace. I finally have an idea of how far I’m running — and how fast I’m actually going — while I’m exercising outdoors.

The watch also features a removable USB you can plug into your computer, and then track and share that day’s running stats with others. I love, love, love it, and despite the frigid, wet, icy weather here in the Northeast, I’m opting to skip the boring treadmill and brave the outdoors at least twice a week. Well, when I’m not throwing elbows and performing roundhouse kicks, that is.

Best of all, I realized that I’ve actually been clocking a pretty respectable time while running at least a 5K all these months. I’m thisclose to being confident enough to enter a group race; I’m already looking around for 5K runs in my area.

In other news, I’m having some mixed feelings about Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program. On one hand, I absolutely adore the fact that it’s forcing me to stop obsessively counting calories, and instead evaluate a food in terms of its actual nutritional value. I love fruit, and now that it’s “free,” I’m eating pears, oranges, and grapes like it’s my job. Finally, I can eat bananas without worrying about “wasting” 2-4 POINTs! I’m still chipping away at my holiday weight gain, but nevertheless, I already feel lighter, less bloated, and more energized now that I’ve essentially banished many of the carb-heavy packaged snacks and processed foods from the house.

But does anyone else find themselves craving carbs even more? I never realized how much I relied on pasta and cereal and granola bars, and now that they count for a whole lot more (the POINTs for my Kashi GoLean Crunch have almost doubled), I’m reluctant to grab a Fiber One bar on my way out the door or snack on popcorn in front of the TV. I know I can still eat these foods, of course, and I do — it’s just more difficult to work them into my 29-POINT day, is all.

Meanwhile, I’m reading yet another writing book, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen, and I started thinking about how the advice that’s meant to boost my success as a freelance writer (read: stop procrastinating) also applies to my somewhat lackluster approach to my continued weight loss. It lists some of the top productivity busters as: fear (yep); lack of short-term goals (correct); and perfectionism (is she writing about me, or what?)

I’m terrified of failing as a writer, and I’ve always been afraid of the unknown: life as a thin person. In my 25 years of life, I’ve never not been overweight. I stopped setting specific goals (like lose 15 pounds by my birthday) because I beat myself up if I don’t meet them, and my incessant need to be perfect is keeping me from sending article ideas to editors and leading to eating binges when I don’t adhere to every single aspect of the Weight Watchers program every single day.

Lately, that saying keeps rolling around in my head:

If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

I hate obnoxious cliches, but this one pretty much sums up every facet of my life that isn’t going the way I’d like it. I’m not making enough money as a freelance writer because I’m not actively seeking new outlets, and my weight loss has stalled because I’m not actively trying to change what I’m eat and the way I’m exercising.

It’s time to re-commit…to both my career and my weight loss efforts.

How are you all doing with your resolutions?

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2011 Resolutions

#1. To blog more.

Okay, so beyond my genuine promises to spend more time writing on this blog (and to update that two-year-old banner photo of myself once and for all), I’ve assembled a list of ambitious — yet, I think, still realistic — health and fitness goals for this year.

I recently posted a blog for CafeMom on this very topic, and I decided to heed my own advice when it comes to not declaring any more vague “lose weight” resolutions and calling it a year. I’ve been stuck at my current weight and my current fitness level for far too long, and now that Weight Watchers has rolled out it’s new PointsPlus program (more on that next time!), I’m determined to make this the year I finish what I started. It’s time to get to my goal weight, and tackle the following list of lofty health-related New Year’s Resolutions:

1.) Run a 5K. And I do mean “run.” This year I will prove to myself that somewhere deep down inside of me lies a real live runner who is more than capable of eking out 3.1 measly miles. I run almost every day — with the intention to burn calories and earn Activity POINTS, of course — but now I need to start making measurable time and distance goals…because I still have a hard time seeing myself as anything more than a fat girl in jogging tights. I have a feeling that the more I impress myself with my ability to run faster and farther, the more I’ll be motivated to improve — and, with any luck, I’ll finally develop the confidence I need to compete in a group race.

2.) Stop Binge Eating. I can almost guarantee that I routinely undo a week of hard work over the weekend, all thanks to my “I just weighed in this morning so now it’s time to gorge myself on pancakes, Chinese food, and Frappuccinos” attitude on Sundays. As much fun as it is to grant myself that one “cheat” day each week — for lack of a better term — I’m not doing myself any favors, and it has to stop. But instead of trying to quit my binge eating habit cold turkey (which clearly hasn’t worked for me yet), I’ll try planning for just one indulgence on Sundays: that way, I still get my “treat,” but I won’t completely ruin my progress that week and risk giving in to one of my oldest, most dangerous eating habits.

3.) Find New Workouts. A good friend of mine was kind enough to grant me a gift certificate for a month of kickboxing at my hometown karate studio for Christmas. I fully intend on using it for the Muy Thai kickboxing classes I tried a couple weeks ago. It’s an incredible workout, and what could possibly be more fun than releasing all that pent up frustration by punching the crap out of things? Just kidding. (Maybe). In other news, the YMCA I work for just opened a brand new, state-of-the-art wellness center and gym. It’s a huge facility, and I foresee spending lots of time testing out new equipment and getting back into spinning, yoga, step aerobics, and other classes I used to take when I first started losing weight.

4.) Learn to Cook. No more relying on the microwave as my predominant cooking tool. The new Weight Watchers program frowns upon anything that comes in a bag, box, or can (carbs are now calculated for POINTS values, and we’re supposed to keep tabs on sodium). If I truly intend to commit to my healthy lifestyle for the long run, I can no longer rely on convenience foods — or, as is more often the case, getting someone else to cook for me. I’m a fairly intelligent person, I would say, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to invest in a few basic healthy cookbooks, or spend some time scouring weightwatchers.com for recipes, and teach myself some easy recipes and healthy cooking techniques. I know it’s what I need to do to jumpstart my weight loss again — and, more importantly, learn how to sustain my healthy habits for life.

5.) Be a Leader. A Weight Watchers leader, that is. I have a burning desire to help others take that first step on the road to weight loss. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the Weight Watchers leaders and members who encouraged and pushed and inspired me along the way. I know there are so many people who feel the way I used to: completely hopeless and “destined” to be overweight and miserable. But I’m living proof that it can be done — and I want to do my part to help others realize that. Plus, I think Weight Watchers rocks.

So, what are some of your health and wellness resolutions for 2011? Please share!

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