Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thoughts from a Disillusioned Athlete

                  
                   

Challenging The Stereotypes of Athletes and Physical Activity.

When I started getting fit and active in the past year, I've started noticing stereotypes being thrown around based on the certain physical activity I decided to participate in. Whether it was yoga, lifting weights, swimming, boxing, running, or climbing, there is this apparent stigma and persona associated with each sport and I thought it would be interesting to examine what I see as stereotypes, and how I don't fit into any of these, but maybe all three simultaneously.

I would first like to separate them into 3 different athletic categories.

  1. Yuppy/Outdoor Athlete
  2. Olympic Style Performer and Competitor
  3. Body Power-House Athlete

Number 1 is pretty easy to stereotype. Most of these people involve themselves in outdoor activities, whether it be rock climbing, hiking, running, cycling, skiing, or snow shoeing and yoga . Wear very similar clothes, typically North face, Lululemon, Mountain Hardware and REI.

Number 2 is also very easy to stereotype. They focus on what they are good at, they strive to compete against a number of people but have one goal in mind, to win. They not only challenge themselves, but are very competitive with anyone who may presume better at their sport than they are. They usually stick to one sport. Either they are swimmers, runners, or cyclists typically speaking. They usually wear Nike, Adidas, or Puma, or any other major sports brand.

Number 3 is a little harder to identify. Most die hard bodybuilders or MMA sport athletes, (yes I know its also an olympic sport too) do compete with others. But they also focus on their own physique and how to gain more muscle, or work on their fighting techniques. Many of these people tend to fall under the title of being meat-heads, in other words, they don't think about anything else but building muscle or their next fight. Tattooed, tanned/dark skinned people with a tough attitude is what they wear most.

I think many people can identify themselves into one group or the other. However, I am having a really hard time doing that for myself. When I got into shape and started getting really active in many things, I was drawn to several different sports. I gravitated to yoga and kickboxing, where according to these two typical stereotypes, they are worlds apart.

I also love to lift weights, but before that I was a real die-hard yogi. In between sports, I was challenging myself to run a 5K. I got really fast. I also equally enjoy rock climbing and challenge myself every time I climb. But you see, all of these are in different categories. I didn't just pick a sport to see to if I fit into that category.

The general rule of thumb is if you practice yoga, you must become a yogi and adopt everything that has to do with yoga as your dogma of belief. Same goes for weight lifting, if I am caught lifting weights, people automatically assume I am a meat-head. Maybe, that title is thrown towards the male sect of humanity, but its still a large assumption that just because you enjoy a particular sport, you are categorized automatically to fit into that certain group and wear that persona.

I could see the argument come up about why you are practicing a certain sport. My reason's vary, but its usually because I get bored quickly, and I love being active and trying different/new things. Plus my main reasoning isn't to compete with the next best athlete, but to challenge myself and to stay in shape.
I love practicing yoga because it gives me a sense of groundedness and focus, and when I weight lift, it gives me a sense of strength and perseverance. When I run, it gives me bursts of energy like nothing else. When I kick box, it relieves stress and gives me strength. When I climb, it has helped me overcome my fear of heights and challenges me to climb harder.

As far as my clothing and persona goes, I have a plethora of brands in my closet. From Nike and Adidas, to REI and Northface. I have one tattoo on my foot, and I am white as they come. I tend to be a jack of all trades in what I enjoy and pursue in physical activity. And I beg to differ that I must or have to pick one sport to get really good at. Its just not my style. Nor is putting labels on people and throwing them in boxes....

I am writing this for people who may have also struggled with the stereotypes that come with staying active, and perhaps have given people caution to pursue certain activities because the pressure to perform and compete is very demanding, or what it may look to others. I challenge those who put people in typical boxes to reconsider your limitations to exploring new and exciting ways to stay in shape.

Sincerely, One Disillusioned Athlete.  



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fear Is Not Real - Free Falling Into Something Deep


I don't know if this is just a season in my life, which I sure hope that it lasts a lot longer than just a season, but for the first time in my life I feel like fear isn't the dominating force that prevents me from taking risks or trying something new. I feel set free from fear's grip that has sucked the life out of me for so long. I actually feel like for once in my life, I am actually living. I have dived head first into things that I have never thought I could do or even try. The fear of the unknown, something new, something unfamiliar to me would usually make me tuck my tail and run the opposite direction.

I read a quote the other day that spoke volumes.

“You must realize, that fear is not real. It's a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”

Fear is really just a thought I choose to give control over to. I have allowed it to prevent me from trying new things, or exploring new territory in which case I have put a stop to. Lately, I have tried rock climbing for the first time since I was a teenager. I fell in love with it. It makes me want to do it more. Its crazy but ever since I started lifting weights, my upper body can really pull me up and I just keep going. Its something that I plan on doing a lot more this summer. I have some really good friends that LOVE to rock climb, and I hope to participate in that activity. Another sport that I have recently got involved in is Kickboxing. It's incredible how motivating and physically stimulating this is. Learning the techniques and stances is probably the most challenging, plus remembering the names of the moves, but, its really something that I love. Its like my favorite thing to do. Its so strange, but I never ever imagined me getting into stuff like this before. I was never physically active or in sports growing up, so all of this, even the gym life that I have is very new to me. Being in shape and in good health is new to me in and of itself. Maybe that has given me incentive to pursue things that I have never really thought I could pursue up until this point!

Brene Brown, who is a Vulnerability researcher who I have talked about here before has really been speaking to me in the last several months. She has a book called, Daring Greatly. She has spoken life to me through her books and speeches that she has given. She says, "Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” I really find that quote to be very true in my life these days. I've had the courage to embrace physical activities, along with confronting people in my life with some tough feelings that I needed to address. This has also given me the opportunity to take a really good look inside myself and allow myself to let some very painful experiences go for good... It's like the pain from the past has held me captive for so long and I was so afraid to open those doors and really take a good look at them because I was afraid of the pain that would lead right after the first glance. Its really freeing to let go of the past, but what I have found through all of this is it has primarily let go of me.

People tell me that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I admit, its scary at times, but I no longer live by fear, but by that which drives it out! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Am What I Am - OceanLab



I know you've read
So many books
You keep a breast of all the things you think you should
You've got your own home grown philosophy
And it works for you
But please don't try to make it work for me

You have nothing to prove
But you're trying much too hard
Stop trying to change me (Stop trying to change me...)
I am what I am (I am what I am...)
No I don't need you to save me (I don't need you to save me...)
I am what I am (I am what I am...)

I don't want you to show me (I don't need you to show me...)
Because I stand where I stand (I stand where I stand...)
I just need you to know me (just need you to know me)
Just know who I am (Just know who I am...)

Just know who I am...
Just know who I am...

I know you feel
You need to prove
That you are good at something
Everything you try to do
And people have on your every word
That you deliver
With conviction
Though they may just be absurd

Leave your armor behind
Free your vulnerable mind

Stop trying to change me (Stop trying to change me...)
I am what I am (I am what I am...)
No I don't need you to save me (I don't need you to save me...)
I am what I am (I am what I am...)
I don't want you to show me (I don't need you to show me...)
Because I stand where I stand (I stand where I stand...)
I just need you to know me (just need you to know me)
Just know who I am (Just know who I am...)

Just know who I am...
Just know who I am...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Yuna - Live Your Life


Monday, February 18, 2013

My Journey To Well Being


I thought sharing my weight loss and healthy lifestyle journey may somehow encourage those who may have struggles in this part of their lives as I have in the past. Not only that, but we all could use a pick me up now and again through others experiences and stories, which I hope this delivers that for you in some way or another.

Growing up I never really was athletic. Being homschooled in rural New Mexico never really rendered to the possibilities of sports or constant physical activities. So, needless to say I've never viewed myself as outgoing in a physical way. I did play outside, hike and that sort of thing, but I guess being 'active' wasn't always something that came easy for me or something that I naturally leaned towards. I didn't really wrestle with my weight up until I was in my early 20's. I think I just liked to eat and eventually as I aged, my metabolism slowed and the weight gradually came on. I was at my heaviest of 160 pounds last summer. I wouldn't have ever considered myself obese, but I was definitely not in a healthy place. I had low energy all the time. I didn't care what I put in my body. It was all about convenience and cheap food that I choose. I just didn't have the drive or the motivation to really care about my well being. Like many, I had tried other diets, Weight Watchers, low carb diets ext.... However, those were only short term diets that never lasted. I think I lost about 20 pounds on Weight Watchers several years back, but the minute I stepped out of line with the program, the weight came back on pretty much right away. So, that was a downer. I think for me what really worked was the combo of both exercise and appropriate eating habits. I really hate calling what I did a diet or a quick fix from being heavier. Rather, it has become a transformative life change from the inside out. Trust me when I say, losing weight didn't happen over night, nor was it a walk in the park. It took more dedication and determination that I even had to make it to where I am today. It really was a change of heart and mindfulness.

It all started for me last summer. June of 2012 to be exact. I don't know if I had an epiphany one morning when I woke up or what. I started noticing many individuals in my life during the time that had this immaculate determination to get healthy. As unnatural as that kind of lifestyle was to me, needless to say, it was contagious. I wanted to change my physical appearance and that became a huge push in the beginning. Then it became more about being mindful in how these new healthy foods and fitness lifestyle made me feel.

My body stopped craving sugar and fatty greasy foods after sometime. I normally focused on eating a lot of hummus, whole wheat flatbreads and all the veggies in the world. I would eat some chicken but stayed away from dark red meats. I turned to boca burgers for my protein. I guess if I had to name this eating habit, it would be called the Mediterranean diet. Where olives, basil, hummus and veggies were on my plate in every meal except breakfast. Breakfast foods became essential to my success of my goals. I would never miss breakfast and would only eat either greek yogurt or fat-free yogurt with a little granola and fresh fruit, and/or multi-grain oatmeal with a little honey for sweetness and fresh fruit, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I would just cook the oatmeal with water, and no added sugar or cream. I got used to eating it this way and I love it. I still eat my oatmeal like this. Instead of honey, I have switched to agave nectar. Little changes in the way I eat have made all the difference for me. Portions even of this kind of food made a huge difference. Suddenly, the weight started falling off. I found a lot of awesome healthy recipes on Pinterest and also many different substitutes were found for butter, milk products and the like. I replaced butter completely out of my diet and cooked with Olive Oil instead.

But I have realized from diets and trying to lose weight in the past that I could not do this without exercise. So I began to walk about 3-5 miles a day, EVERY DAY. I think in the course of 2 months, I missed like 3-5 days of walking/jogging. It was summer, so it made it a lot easier for me to get out and walk. I was working a lot during the summer too, which made it complicated to find the time, but I was so dedicated to walking that I would get it in my day somehow. I was determined to get at least over 2 miles in a day regardless if I had the energy or not. My motivation turned into increasing my metabolism, which after time my body craved and earned that time to walk/jog. That made it easier as well to find the energy to get out and move. It became just apart of my every day routine and if I didn't get out, something was missing in my day and that alone kept me going! During the summer months I also dedicated to going to yoga at least 3 times a week. I would actually go like 5 times a week because it was my stress reliever and it really helped me increase my focus to lose weight. In September, I joined a local gym. I had a friend who's hobby was lifting weights. Lifting weights was very foreign to me and completely took me out of my comfort zone, but she motivated me to give it a shot and she coached me through it, and she has been my gym buddy ever since. We now have a weekly workout routine that I hardly miss. Its such an important part of my life that I can't go through the week without going to the gym at least 6 times. Mon/Wed/Fri I lift weights, Tues/Thurs/Sat. I focus on cardio. Sunday, I usually take off unless I already had taken a day off during the week then I will switch it out.

When I started this lifestyle, I was 160 pounds as of June 1st 2012. I now weigh 115 pounds. I am currently in the process of just maintaing my weight and toning my figure. It's been such a great experience for me and I refuse to ever go back to where I was before. That is not an option for me. I've always wanted to be skinny, but to me its more than that now. Its a way of life. A way to live wholeheartedly well in what I consume and how I treat my body. Learning new things about healthy eating and fitness has really broaden my horizons, life and hopefully lends to inspiration for others.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shelter Me


Shelter Me.
Lyrics by Cate Kanell.

In a dream I am crawling on my knees
All the people surround me
I try so hard to breathe
Suddenly they are turning into trees
The streets become the sea
and it carries me.

I make a wish that the magic in my head
Could flow into my world
Tears turn into pearls and satellites
I'm alright
You shelter me
When nothing's as it seems
You shelter me.

I'm alright
You shelter me
When nothing's as it seems
Miles of smoke screens
You shelter me
My love
You shelter me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chromatics - The Page

when the world changes to the place so cold
i wonder if i could be your mirror
these days they say that no man is an island
but when i dream of who we were i slip away

like the pages of the book i'd never get to write
on the eastside of the city
where the ink is running dry
and if you love me like you say
take this book and burn the page
the rain will wash away the ashes
On the eastside of my heart

tomorrow when your eyes are growing old
and your reflection starts to turn so cold
i wonder if i could be your mirror
and together we could crack and break forever

like the pages of the book i'd never get to write
on the eastside of the city
where the ink is running dry
and if you love me like you say
take this book and burn the page
the rain will wash away the ashes
On the eastside of my heart