Tuesday, July 25, 2023

you are NEVER done.....it's FOREVER

Life itself is a mixture of power and form, and will not bear the least excess of either. To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

aka no quick fixes.  don't get me wrong - we ALL want easy.  if that damn EASY button was a real thing, our lives would all be so much better.  but there isn't.  and even though we really really really want one, it's just not realistic.  this is where i could digress into all the alternate reality bullshit, but i won't.  but i will say, there are things that are verifiably true - and then there other things that we WISH were true, but arguably are not.  and just so i stay in my lane here - i am going to just talk about fitness/exercise myths - for fun :)

Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clouds, everything. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

let me start with this overall truth.....you are NEVER done.  there is no finish line.  the finish line is dead. until that point, you need to move your body consistently.  period.  you do not have to work out like a crazy person, unless that is your thing.  but you don't get to a certain place, and go "ok, now i'm done".  because the minute you stop, you starting UNDOING all the good things that exercise does for you.  does that suck?  sure.  but its just true.  fitness is not a "phase".  it is your life's work.  if you want to age in such a way that you can live to play with your grandchildren, or rescue dogs, or just be mobile and self sufficient you must move your body consistently over time. PERIOD.

now i know it seems somewhat self-serving to say that, as a fitness business owner. but for the vast majority of my adult life this WASN'T my job.  it's a passion - and always has been.  but not many people know why.  so here is the most honest answer you will ever get - i workout so that i do not end up sitting in a wheelchair in my 90s because i can no longer support my body weight. that's it.  i'm throwing my Great Aunt June under the bus here, but she is a big part of what keeps me motivated.  Aunt June lived well into her 90s, just like most of the other women in my family.  we have longevity - which is awesome.  but she was sedentary her whole life. office job, played the piano - and was an overall lovely human.  one of the nicest women to ever live, as a matter of fact. but she was also a bit heavy.  now i am not sure when that started to happen to Aunt June, all i know is that my entire adult life, i watched her get larger and less mobile. and by less mobile, i mean unable to get up and down.  if she fell (which she did quite a bit), my dad would have to drive to her house to pick her up.  and i vowed that that would never be me.  THAT is what keeps me moving.  sure, there are lots of other things i love about fitness and working out.  my community saves my sanity.  but the day in day out reason i work out is so that i do not become jabba the hut.  is that extreme?  sure.  but it's true.  we all take our heath for granted.  it is not guaranteed - and we need to work for our longevity.

Moderate exercise is indispensable; exercise till the mind feels delight in reposing from the fatigue. ~Socrates

now for the more fun ones: working out will get rid of my belly flab.  nope.  there are a million reasons to exercise, but your belly flab is a direct result of the amount of food (or wine) you ingest. it could also have to do with hormones or medication or any number of other things.  and when you are 20, maybe the gym can burn off those excess calories and you MIGHT see a change.  but once you are a bit older and maybe have had a kid or two, this no longer really works.  we have all heard the adage that abs are made in the kitchen.  true. 100%.  if you work out everyday but drink 2 bottles of wine every night, your belly flab is not going anywhere.  it's all a balance.  exercise is to make you STRONGER.  your heart healthier - and maybe, eventually give you some definition (if that is what you are going for).  but no one magically gets rid of their gut just thru exercise.  what exercise DOES it motivate you to eat better.  it usually (hopefully) goes hand in hand.  so yes, you see results from the gym.  and often amazing results.  but i am gonna guess it was some combination of exercise and food.

tricep pushbacks (or extensions - take your pick) will fix my arm jelly. nope.  you can do kickbacks with 5lb dumbbells til the cows come home.  will they EVENTUALLY help, sure.  but im going to bet that you give up way before you see the results you want.  you cant spot fix shit.  if you have flabby arms, you also probably have some flab someplace else.  you need to tone it ALL.  holistic approach all the way.  my biggest personal pet peeve is all the "fitspo" experts out there telling you that "all you need is 10 mins a day" to have perfect arms/abs/legs/butts by doing these "simple" exercises.  now there is a  TEENY TINY portion of the population that is actually naturally thin.  THESE people might be able to get some definition with 10 minutes of moderate strength training, but they are the only ones.  if you need to lose your fluffly layer to get to the muscles that you want to get definition, 10 minutes is not going to get you there.  is it a start? yes. and is it better than nothing?  sure.  but match your expectations with your effort level. if it sounds unrealistic (even tho the fitness person showing you has those muscles you want) it is.  i can guarantee you none of those trainers/models/experts works out for 10 minutes a day = and then eats/drinks whatever they want.  just not feasible in any way shape or form.

6 weeks is plenty of time to see results.  this one is a bit of a gray area, as it depends on your definition of results.  are you gonna be noticably skinnier in 6 weeks - nope. will you feel better? yes.  will you be demonstrably lighter (on the scale) - nope. will you be stronger? yes.  see where i am going with this?  it is IMPERATIVE that you set realistic expectations when you are starting your fitness journey.  if your one and only goal is to lose weight, get in touch with a dietician and learn how to eat correctly for your age/body type/lifestyle.  if your goal is to be healthier, get into a regular fitness regimen and set both long and short term goals.  showing up should always be #1 when you first start.  then your timeline goals should look like 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year.  you don't get to stop before then (and hopefully after that first year, you will be hooked!!).  if your only goal is 6 weeks from now, you are doomed to failure. it did not take 6 weeks to get unhealthy - and it is not going to take 6 weeks to get healthy.  it's a good start - but that is all it is.  a start.

there is a magic weight loss pill (or shot). hard nope.  this one is probably my biggest challenge.  we ALL want it to be easier - every single one of us.  but if there was a magic pill, we would alllllll know about it.  are there "aids"?  yup.  are they good for you?  debatable.  but everytime some pharma company comes out with a drug that helps with a specific condition - then all of the sudden one of the side effects is weight loss - and lo & behold, everyone you know now needs this drug.  (cough cough Fen Phen)  if you are taking a drug for a condition that you actually have and one of the side effects is weight loss, good for you i guess.  but if you are taking a drug that you dont need because you might lose weight without having to eat better or exercise, you need to reconsider your choices.  now, using something like this as a jumpstart - ok.  but do the work.  make the changes necessary in your diet and/or exercise (or lack thereof) to get OFF the drugs that are giving you the jumpstart.  long term sustainability is the goal. or should be. health is a lifelong endeavor, not a quick fix.

if i work out like him/her, i will look like him/her.  really hard nope, again.  if you are following someone or joining a gym to look a certain way, you are destined for frustration.  unless of course you look like that person to begin with - then go you.  but if you are a short stout person (ahem) and think the gym workout that some skinny chic uses to get arm definition is the answer for you, i am here to tell you it is not.  we are all unique.  our bodies will get smaller or bigger based on activity and nutrition, but you will still look like you.  if you dont have a big booty to begin with, i dont care how many squats you do, you are still gonna have a small ass - it might be slightly bigger, but you will never become beyonce by squats.  gyms have created this false aesthetic narrative that implies that you have to look a certain way to belong.  you don't.  you can look however you want.  the goal is and should always be to be HEALTHY. skinny and healthy. thick and healthy.  just healthy.  if the aesthetic matters to you, then sure - work on that.  we all want to look our best.  but just be realistic.  your best is YOUR best.  don't compare yourself with anyone else.  get started.  do better.  feel better.  rinse and repeat.

once i get to my "goal weight" i will be done.  NOPE.  you are NEVER DONE.  repeat that with me.  never never never. and that sucks. i know.  especially if you hate exercising.  and love wine. or donuts.  or crumbl cookies. but finding BALANCE is the goal.  you dont have to be a gym bunny, or lift heavy weights if that is not your thing.  especially as you age - you need to be kind to your body. but you still need to MOVE.  yoga, water aerobics, paddleboarding, hiking - walking.  whatever your thing is, do THAT.  play pickleball or swim.  walk your dogs or push your lawn.  it all works - you just need to commit to moving your body FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  there is no finish line.  this is a commitment TO YOU, FOR YOU that you need to prioritize for-fucking-ever.

My definition of fitness is to be able to carry out all of the activities in life that you desire, plus have a physical reserve at the end of the day to do something besides lie down and flip the remote. If you can do all that, if you're functional, then you're fit. It doesn't matter if you have great abs or can bench-press your body weight. Those things have nothing to do with real life. ~James Glinn,

life ebbs and flows.  and so will your commitment to eating right and exercising.  as long as its a niggle in the back of your mind - and stays there- you will be fine.  i have a 3 bucket philosophy that explains the fitness world (at least to me). it's this:  there are 3 buckets of fitness people: there is this HUGE group in the middle, which is made up of almost everyone, that works out because they should. they like it (or it's at least ok) and they have found a routine that works.  hopefully that is where your gym family comes in - they help keep you motivated and encourage you to show up.  the second bucket is the one at the bottom - they HATE IT.  hate every second of it. and only show up if someone is making them - be that a doctor or parent or someone else.  and they IMMEDIATELY quit as soon as humanly possible.  and that's fine.  but these people are the ones who need to be extra committed to their diet.  you can maintain your health without exercise, but it is tough. and i generally like to encourage this bucket of people to find SOMETHING they can actually tolerate that keeps them moving in some capacity.  movement is the goal, not the location that you are doing it.  the last bucket is the very tiny group of people at the top of the bucket - they LOVE it love it can't get enough of it.  this group might actually be smaller than those that hate it.  i would consider myself in the love it bucket.....NOW. but for most of my life i was in the middle bucket along with everyone else i knew.  but when you find someone that loves it, try to steal some of that energy :)  if you love it, it does make the long term commitment a bit easier.

Happiness is a place between too little and too much. ~Finnish proverb

but i will share this as well....you know what made me start to love it?  my unwillingness to fix my food.  which is TERRIBLE.  but true.  i would rather full on work out anytime if it means i don't have to stop eating cookies. or cupcakes. or ice cream.  so i love the gym. because it makes me feel STRONG.  and allows me to indulge in my favorite foods.  i know i have an unhealthy relationship with food.  i am actively trying to disprove the theory that you cant out-train a bad diet.  but i am AWARE of the ridiculousness of that activity.  its a fine line for me - because there is an inner jabba the hut that is always lurking just under the surface.  but i know that we have an understanding. we are in this for the long run together. it's all about the balance.

for those of you who are struggling to get started (or think i'm an asshole), be honest with yourself about your reasons why you do (or don't) need to be healthier.  you can start with the gym. or your food intake. but get started.  good health waits for no one - and its the hardest thing to get back once you lose it.  trust me, there is a community out there for you - that will support you and prop you up, and push you to keep moving.  but you have to take that first step.  which is always the hardest. but you got this!

I would make good health catching, instead of disease. ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Monday, June 5, 2023

eQuillibrium - finding your place in time

So i did a thing.  the journey of my life has taken twists and turns, just like the rest of the planet.  thru ups and downs, ins and outs, the one constant (aside from my family) is fitness.  and it just so happens that the stars aligned to create a space for me to pursue that passion to its fullest.  and i'm dragging as many of you with me as i can.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. ~Havelock Ellis

life is funny.  we all know that.  but i never had any intention of "starting a business" at 51. SiB has been a side-hustle since before side-hustles were a thing.  i have been teaching classes in one form or another for over 20 years (yikes) and it has always been the thing i did to stay sane.  and make some extra money, sure.  but as i have come to realize after having this conversation with LOTS of people, fitness is a life journey with no destination - and i have lived that.  it is THE example i feel like i have set, mostly without intention.  but it is true all the same.  and it is THIS wisdom and experience that brought me to eQuillibrium.

lets start with the name.  as with most things, i threw out in my family group chat "hey, i need a name for the new gym i am thinking about starting that has Quill or something like that in it".  literally 5 minutes later, my future DIL throws out equillibrium - and here we are.  eQuillibrium is about bringing ALL the parts of you into balance, thru fitness.  or wellness.  whatever makes you feel better to call it.  harmony with wherever you are in your life, thru community and commitment to your physical and mental wellbeing. sounds pretty hokey/woowoo for me (especially if you know me well), but i'm evolving.  as i should.

Happiness is a place between too little and too much. ~Finnish proverb

keith likes to call it a kinder gentler SiB.  and i would have to agree.  Strong is Beautiful was born out of a desire to show young girls (and eventually all kinds of people) that women should never be judged on their appearance.  skinny is not the goal (and it still isn't). FIT and strong is what it is all about.  but 37 year old deni and 51 year old deni have  a few different outlooks on what that means :)  and yeah, its been 13 years since we started our very first SiB class - on the tennis courts at TSHS.

looking back, i feel so good about what we have accomplished.  we introduced fitness to an entirely different generation of young people, and reinforced that what you can DO with your body is more important than how it LOOKS.  its an ongoing battle for sure, but i feel like for the most part SiB had a positive impact on the vast majority of people -young and old - that crossed its path over the years.

BUT - and there is always a but in these stories, right? but i lost my way when my dad died.  in lots of ways.  everyone handles grief differently - and in their own time.  and i just didn't handle it well.  i got meaner and way less tolerant. just way not in a good place in any way shape or form.  but couldn't see it, right.  i mean its hard to see those negative things in yourself when you are going thru them.  and then when COVID happened, it allowed me the space to just withdraw - from everything and everyone.  except my family.  which just so happened to include my fitfam as well.  zoom workouts for the win!

closing the physical doors to the studio felt like closing a real door to a moment in time that no longer fit the person i was.  it lost its joy and became another thing that somehow felt negative - because everything felt negative at that time.  and to be honest, i figured i was never opening those doors again.  lots of people moved on - to other places or garage gyms.  a handful stuck with me thru the zoom and driveway workouts....and over time i found that THING that keeps me always working out.  i LOVE it.  it drives me and keeps me sane.  it makes me be social, even when i don't want to be. and it makes me FEEL better - both physically AND mentally.  i refound my passion for it, at one of my lowest points.  go fitness!

The desire of activity is designed by nature to promote our physical well-being. Physical activity is the law of physical health. ~Edward Brooks

fast forward a bit.  i reopen the studio - with zero fanfare and only a very small fitfam.  but i am literally DYING sitting at my desk at work all day.  hate it.  hate it. hate it so much that i could feel all of the negative energy returning.  and i was literally SEDENTARY - like 1700 steps a day sedentary.  half dead sedentary.  and i knew something had to change.  although i wasn't sure what that would be to be honest.  

and then.  drumroll please......i got fired.  HA.  from a job i was pretty good at, actually.  and that paid the bills for a really long time.  i just was not doing a great job, in an industry i didn't really care for, working for a company that treated me like a cog in the wheel.  complete recipe for disaster.  and i knew it was coming.  and couldn't seem to bring myself to care - or stop it.  which in hindsight was probably the glowing, flashing, neon sign you can all see it to be, right?

Wherever I have knocked, a door has opened. Wherever I have wandered, a path has appeared. ~Alice Walker

so what do you do - at the ripe old age of 51.  newly unemployed for the first time since, um 1987.  you decide to take a break - like that is helpful.  but you know, it was almost a relief to not be doing something i hated.  and then the epiphany.  or more like the "maybe its ok to ask for help".  im not great at that.  but i am lucky to have an amazing support system - and her name is Lisa. i mean, there are lots of other people too, but she is my person. and always has been.  and now she gets to be Lisa AND Pop - so go her!  

i guess the TMI piece of this is that Pop left us a bit of money when he passed.  and it was always kind of a "that was nice but we don't need it" kind of thing.  until, you know, i needed it.  then it was, as always, Pop to the rescue.  and it made an odd kind of sense right.  the person that always encouraged me to see the bright side, and to follow my dreams, was still able to give that gift to me.  and out of that safe space to just exist for a few months came eQuillibrium.  it honestly was born from a right place, right time thing.  im ready to begin this new chapter, and an opportunity to fill a hole in the fitness community presented itself.  it was couched in a different opportunity, but you make the best of the hand you are dealt and just keep moving.  THAT is definitely the life lesson in all of this, right.  

Life is an educational process you can't opt out of. You either learn the lesson, or you become the lesson. ~Robert Brault

i started asking myself in my mid 30's (better late than never, right?) "what's the lesson".  what am I supposed to be learning from this experience.  be they kid challenges, or financial challenges, job changes, or opportunities - what's the lesson?  and that has really served me well as i've "grown up".  what i realized after the "fall" of SiB in its original incarnation, is that not everyone wants to work as hard as humanly possible at all times.  and that fitness CAN  be, but doesn't HAVE to be, a competition.  i told my kids from a very early age that you get what you need when you need it.  its not about everyone getting the same thing all the time.  not everyone needs the same things at the same time, so why give something to everyone that they might not need - or want?  and i think i was doing that at SiB.  i mean - i LOVED it - every bit of it.  but it was time to learn that lesson as well.  not everyone wants or needs that kind of "fitness".

Moderate exercise is indispensable; exercise till the mind feels delight in reposing from the fatigue. ~Socrates

which brings us to the kinder, gentler deni part of the story.  life goes on.  and it can be hard.  but it can also be amazing.  if you decide to come into eQuillibrium (or if you already have been in - thank you!), you will notice the photo homage to ALL of the many many people and kids that helped up grow SiB.  you will notice the columns painted in Jonquil yellow and the daffodils on the wall with the name.  Pops influence and presence are all over the place - because he's the best - but also as a reminder.  we can all use a little support. and a friendly face.  and a pick me up.  the COMMUNITY of eQuillibrium is what is important.  the fact that we are also helping people feel better, do more and be stronger versions of themselves is just the added benefit.

all of that to say this:  everyone is welcome here. if you need a place that will support you on your journey, that is what we strive to be.  where you are on your journey may not match where i am on mine, but we can still travel the road together.

huge thanks to everyone who has joined us along the road so far - no matter for how long.  we appreciate you and everything you have done to help us get here.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. ~President John F. Kennedy

xoxo, deni

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Measuring Progress

The question is not what you look at, but what you see. ~Henry David Thoreau 

This is one of the topics i spend the most time discussing with people individually, so i figured would be a good one to throw out to the masses.  prompted by the end of our first bootcamp of the year, and one of my favorite peoples individual journey beginning.  we revisit this A LOT, but just one more time for the people in the back - THE SCALE IS A TOOL.  period.  it is not THE tool.  or the BEST tool.  it has no way to JUDGE you.  it cannot make you feel better or worse about yourself -unless you give it that power.  so let's not do that.  put it in the category of a fork.  something you use alot, that is super helpful - but not always the right tool for the job.  give it the APPROPRIATE amount of attention.  and realize it needs other tools to be completely successful.

Change our thought, and the world around us changes. ~Richard Bach

this is zilpha.  i have her permission to use this before/after and share a bit about her journey.  the first thing i want to share is that she did not lose ANY WEIGHT in the 12 weeks she worked out with me.  she started out at bootcamp - 1x/week, with lots of modifications.  over the course of the 12 weeks, she got stronger, started doing more difficult things, added some weights and felt confident enough to come to some other classes.  one more time - she did not lose any weight.  but she got STRONGER.  her body changed.  her clothes fit better and she had better mobility.  she was able to get up and down more easily - had more energy and gained confidence.  and you can SEE those changes.  but they do not register on the scale.  

so here's the question:  would it be better if the results were not visible but the scale told her she was "successful"?  i HATE that we all still use the scale as the ultimate judge of our success.  we still have a "number" that we want to weigh - no matter whether we think we can get there or not.  there is still an ideal weight we think is the magic answer.  we might say we just want to ..... (fill in the blank), but we still know that number.

Win or lose, every time you do something in life be positive about it, be proud of the progress you're making. ~Troy Mullins, 2018

which leads me to all the people starting out on the journey.  of course the scale is the first tool they "go to" to see if they are having any success.  and it always comes back to this - there is a weight that we think is ok - and even if its different for everyone - its still there.  a few pounds over that weight is ok - for the most part.  but once you are more than 10 pounds over that number in your head, it becomes a weapon to beat yourself up with.  and maybe it motivates you to get your eating in order - or start a workout routine (or both).  which is good, i think.  but it oftens becomes the chain that holds us back from success.  if we dont see any change in that horrible number (that motivated us in the first place), then obviously we are not working hard enough or doing it right - or maybe its just not worth it.

so then how do we measure progress.  and the answer is, in a lot of ways.  taken together to create a picture of success.  its like life, right.  are you only using 1 yardstick?  it is money? it is family? where you live? where you travel? your friends?  it's impossible, right?  success in life has many factors - and sometimes some of them are great and others arent.  same with fitness.  lots of ways to measure success - and often they arent all always good at the same time.

its a JOURNEY.  just one more facet in your already complex life.  with different options for what success means.  so figure out what it means TO YOU.  maybe it is looking better in a bathing suit. but maybe its being able to keep up with your grandkids.  or go on a hike with your friends.  maybe its running a 5k or being able to do your own yardwork.  and maybe its a combination of all of those things.  your goals are not stagnant - and what success means at different points in your life changes.  so why we still hold ourselves to a single number makes no sense.

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes,

this is me.  over time.  lots of time.  one of the way i measure
"progress" is with my annual january photo.  the reason i am sharing these with you is because they mean something very different to me than what i imagine you might think.  and yes, in 2018 i was jacked (thank you very much).  after an entire year spent lifting really heavy things.  a concerted effort if you will - to see if i could put on some muscle.  and whether or not you like that - or think it looks good or bad or neither - i was PSYCHED.  because i knew i had to get bigger, to get leaner.  it was just a part of the journey.  the fun part.  i weigh the same -within 5 pounds - in ALL of these pictures except the first one.  in 2015 i was 10 pounds lighter.  great cardio - very little muscle.  and its been a concerted effort on my part since then to change that.  i will NEVER weigh what i did in 2015 - and that is totally fine.  better than fine actually.  because once i was able to break away from what the number meant, i had to start looking at my fitness and "success" through another lens.  as you can probably see, some years we go heavy on weights, and some years we go heavier on cardio.  mostly though, as this point, its just about consistency.

start where you are. and just keep going.  you will get better, stronger, fitter, more flexible, healthier, more balanced - whatever those other metrics are you will use to monitor your success.  but you WILL be successful.  because the true success is in the DOING.  prioritizing yourself and your health.  progress comes with consistency over time.  and success will mean different things to you over that time.  which is great.  we are not supposed to stay the same.  so why would our expectation of what that stupid scale says remain the same?

One key to succeeding is to get it out of your head that there's going to be clear daily evidence that you are. ~Robert Brault

this is not to say i dont use the scale - obviously i know what i weigh. but its not the measurement of my success.  its just one of the tools i use to see where i am.  if it creeps up (which it definitely does) it helps me take a look at the other things - have i changed my food or am i going through something and eating my feelings (that's usually the answer btw) - or have i changed up things at the gym.  all of these factors contribute.  as do hormones, age, and a myriad of other things. use the scale like you use the other tools in your toolbox - be that a fitness tracker or a food tracker or a step counter - or a heart rate monitor. they all contribute to the bigger picture.

so back to my friend who is new to the fitness thing.  she is doing all the right things.  started a workout program.  tracking her food.  literally going all in - food prep included.  the whole nine.  its been about 5 weeks.  she feels better, her ass definitely looks better (her words :), her resting heart rate has gone down, she sleeps better, AND can progress through her workouts more easily - so she is definitely getting stronger.  BUT she hasnt lost any weight. and that ONE measurement has 10x the impact than any of these others.  that is the stigma of the scale.  and what i am hoping we can start to break. understanding HEALTH & fitness as true success, regardless of the scale.  i say this to everyone when we talk about weight.  i am technically clinically obese.  based on my height & weight.  according to some 1950 study about the "ideal" weight.  we havent updated those basic parameters in 70 years.  at my height, i "should" weigh between 104 and 131.  for fucks sake.  i think i weighed 104 in middle school. and i definitely havent seen 131 since i had kids. and that is JUST FINE.  i am fit.  i am healthy. no matter what the scale tries to tell me.

if you are still struggling with the scale, do me a favor.  either get on it EVERY DAY - so you can see how your weight fluctuates over time, and get rid of the anxiety it causes - or NEVER GET ON IT AGAIN.  take pictures.  use clothes.  use your health app.  find real life ways to SEE your success.  because if you are taking the time to make fitness a part of your life - YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL already. and the physical changes you are hoping for will come, they just might take longer than you want.  just stick with it.  you got this!!

Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Turning the Page


Man, like the bridge, was designed to carry the load of the moment, not the combined weight of a year at once. ~William Arthur Ward

i'm back! i think.  it's been a long and winding road to get back to writing for me.  and over the course of the last few years whenever anyone asked, i just kind of brushed it off.  like it was a phase that i was over, or it just wasnt a priority for me. but in reality, i gave up.  i let "it" beat me.  and i guess its time to own up to that, and maybe get back on the horse (so to speak).

You will turn over many a futile new leaf till you learn we must all write on scratched-out pages. ~Mignon McLaughlin

no doubt its been a rough handful of years - and obviously not just for me.  and somehow i just let the weight of all of the negativity and sadness keep pushing me down.  i am pretty sure i am not alone in that, and that is really what is motivating me to try this again.  the original intention of the blog was a journey.  i was hoping to help some people along the way realize that we are all in the same boat in terms of struggles and success.  we are one big tribe of people just trying our best to do the best we can - if that makes sense.  

so consider this a reboot.  aquillnaway2.0.  i am not sure how often i will get here but the goal is to start sharing again - the things that i feel are important, or funny, or even helpful.  life lessons from life - and from the gym.  so if you are back, welcome back. if you are new - hi.  i am a completely neurotic basket case of a multi-tasking, side-hustling crazy person. you have been warned.

Every one should keep a mental waste-paper basket and the older he grows the more things he will consign to it — torn up to irrecoverable tatters. ~Samuel Butler

so just to refresh what is probably some version of everyone's last couple of years - politics drew a VERY DARK line in the sand between me and a lot of people that we were not able to straddle successfully.  i lost some very good friends - and that was before COVID.  when you add the loss of my dad, work messes, financial challenges & just a shit-ton of CHANGE - it was just a recipe for personal hibernation. at least that is what i like to call it.  a depressing breakdown sounds so much worse.  ultimately, circumstances made it very easy to isolate myself - and so that is what i did.  enthusiastically.  im an all-in kind of girl that way.

now that is not to say i have spent the last few years wallowing.  i did manage to keep a few very good friends, my family grew closer, and i found pickleball - so you know, it has had some great moments. and i guess after all of this time, i have a different (and hopefully more enlightened) perspective.  and realized that it is time to stop hiding.

Those who seem to be fortunate are magnificent on the outside, but in their inward parts are on a par with all men. ~Menander

let's start with the fact that i turned 50 during this mess. hows that for insult to injury, i ask you?  so on top of all the OTHER nonsense, i have to decide if i want to TRY to continue to age (somewhat) gracefully - or start fighting to the death.  clearly (if you've seen any pictures) i am ATTEMPTING to do the somewhat gracefully thing - it's hit or miss on how that goes day by day.  i am sure THAT will be a topic that gets revisited this time around.  to be gray, or not to be gray - that is the question :)

essentially what this new year means for me is a chance to start fresh.  be kinder to myself - and everyone else while i am at it.  i hold a mean grudge.  but it doesnt help me, and it doesnt matter to anyone else - so really why bother?  that is what i am learning.  slowly but surely.  i get my feelings hurt just like the next gal - but i need to remember that everyone else is just doing the best that they can as well.  looking forward means not dwelling on the past.  and its definitely time for that.

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. ~Thomas à Kempis,

the good news is that this was also a great time for me to recharge and reevaluate.  my crew at the gym is smaller - which has allowed me the room to try new things and get more feedback.  they kept me moving when i often didnt have the energy, and i am forever grateful that the tribe is alive - we weathered the storm and somehow came out on the other side - still strong, but changed.  and i think for the better.  getting old is not for the faint of heart.  and doing it while in the gym every day is EXHAUSTING.  if i did not have these people to share this with, there is ZERO chance i would still be doing it.

so that lesson remains the same - find your tribe.  hold on tight.  let go when you have to, but keep the center.  people come and go - that is a part of life.  but i still believe that your people come when you need them.  and that is the best lesson of all.

Just remember, there's a right way and a wrong way to do everything and the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way. ~M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter

a couple other quick lessons, which i am sure i will expound on later:  stress is what you let it be;  bad shit happens to everyone - so coping is something we all have to do at some point; loss impacts us all differently;  and we all need people in our lives who show up - even when its hard.

i am so grateful to be where i am in my life.  its still not easy.  i still miss my dad everyday.  tuition still sucks and work is way more challenging that i want it to be.  but i have learned so much about myself while i was wallowing in this little valley.  and i have SO MUCH to be thankful for.  somehow that just became harder to see for a little while.  

When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

2023 has some amazing things in store.  the bayer clan is on the move - graduations, wedding planning, home buying - you name it, someone in the fam is doing it this year.  its time to embrace this next phase and i am going to do my best to continue to do just that.  at the end of the day, we make it thru.  we love each other the best way we know how. and we just keep on, keeping on as my dad liked to say.

i wish you all a very happy, safe, sane, adventurous, joyous new year. or whatever adjectives you like best.  i myself am going to shoot for fun.  its about time for some of that too! i'm glad to be back:)

...Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to none...
~William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

Thursday, September 16, 2021

small changes (or no longer AS sedentary)

i am having a hard time sitting down to write these days.  tons of mixed emotions and generally this much introspection generally leads me to bouts of crying - which i am clearly trying to avoid.  however, a little positivity could certainly help.  

Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

so, the good news is my realization that i sat on my ass 98% of the time definitely inspired some change.  i would love to say i saw immediate results, but that would just be a big fat lie.  like with everything else, change is HARD.  and staying motivated is even harder, at least for me.  im traditionally a good "starter" but not so great at staying the course.  but, clearly changes needed to be made - and here we are:

6 and a half months later -ish. interestingly, the biggest overall change was absolutely not my diet.  i mean, i have been trying over the last 6 weeks or so- as the big 5-0 looms (shoot me now), but the first 5 months of this project were just centered on moving more.  i bought a tread pad for under my desk....and set a goal of walking 10 min a day, with the thought of just trying to walk during my internal sales meetings.  adding this to my mental checklist just made me more aware of the days when i was literally sitting at my desk all day - and not moving until it was time to go to the gym.  all that to say, that yes dietary changes also needed to be made....but they were last.  4 months was literally just changing my thoughts and actions around moving more.

Changes in life are like extra strength Gold Bond Medicated Powder. The burning means it's working. ~John Mayer

over time, different strategies evolved.  the first month OF COURSE i knocked it out of the park.  months 2-3, were just blah.  the biggest change was that i was AWARE of it.  still wasnt necessarily fixing anything, but i was no longer blind to what was (or was not) happening. and i was able, over time to add in more things that kept me moving more - and being more aware of when i wasnt.

i may have shared my obsession with my paper calendar once or a 100x over the course of this blog.  but what i did to help was adapt what i was tracking.  it used to just be circles for working out - easy, effective and quick. but the way i actually used the calendar was to go back at the end of every month, look at my workouts and just circle all the days at the end - and count them up.  easy peasy.  so there was accountability MONTHLY, but nothing immediate. i would only really realize i had slacked off at the end of the whole month - so not a great way to help stay on track tbh.

Keep on going and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down. ~Charles F. Kettering

i also may or may not still be struggling with my freaking achilles/heel/plantar THING that lasts for
eternity.  so as excuses went, it was easy to let myself NOT walk, so i could actually workout.  the mind is an immensely fascinating space - that really allows you ALL THE ROOM to make yourself ok with just about anything.  the amount of mental waffling i do about something that i KNOW will help me and make me feel better is just short of ridiculous.  so i finally did what any ridiculous person would do, and dragged my spin bike into my office and put it RIGHT NEXT to my treadpad - as if to say "one or the other, motherfucker".  and finally, that seems to be sticking.  at least for now.                                

my solutions, although they may not work for anyone else, have made me at least FEEL accountable - if only to myself.  i stare at this board - which has my workout, my "extra movement", possibly 10 min of stretching (which is a whole other, holy shit im gonna be 50 issue) and my TOTAL STEP COUNT.  let me tell you one thing, kids.  keeping track of your steps - or lack thereof - will tell you all you need to know about how much you sit still.  HUGE EYE OPENER for this girl.  there were days, before this crazy system, where my total step count, including working out, was like 2600 TOTAL.  thats like half dead.  and it was my NORMAL - with a freaking workout.  which really means i took a grand total of 13 steps the rest of the day.  just crazy.

Don't look where you fall, but where you slipped. ~African proverb

obviously, this is literally just one persons story.  BUT, i strongly encourage any of you, if you are feeling any kind of way about this whole crazy situation, do some evaluating.  look at your daily routine.  see if there is anything you can do or change - even in some small way - to help yourself FEEL better.  results beget results, right.  not to say i am not still having anxiety - or, as you might have noticed a small nervous breakdown about my birthday - but on the daily, i feel better.  i feel like i have taken charge a bit more of my circumstances - and in doing that, have stopped letting it all weigh me down so heavily - physically & emotionally.

does it take time- YES.  change does not happen overnight.  but also, habit forming and behavior changes take reinforcement. the first step is to acknowledge you need or want to change. after that, the world is your oyster, more or less.  but you still have to figure out how to pry it open!

He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him. ~Proverb

Monday, March 1, 2021

sedentary: (of work or a way of life) characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise

There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall. ~Colette

seriously, its been a YEAR since we started this two step with will we/won't we be able to be together. and of course it has had MUCH more serious ramifications that on the fitness industry at large, and on personal fitness in general. BUT for many of us, working out is the thing that not only helps us PHYSICALLY, it is also the thing that most helps us MENTALLY.  and in a year of topsy turvy, nothing is normal, stress out the whazoo insanity - the challenges seemed that much harder to take bc the outlet for all of said stress was also constantly in question.

people handle stress differently.  also people handle working out differently.  everyone has a different relationship with food. and isolation. so please take all of this with a grain of salt. it's just me - like always - sharing my perspective. and hopefully it will help you all be a little nicer to yourselves.

There were no violins or warning bells... no sense that my little life was about to change. But we never know, do we? Life turns on a dime. ~Stephen King

let's call 2020 the lost year.  in so many ways we lost so many things.  nothing, of course, is worse than those who lost loved ones to the actual disease.  but we ALL lost things.  some were very tangible - jobs & income.  some were not so tangible - connection, optimism.  and the rest fell into the sweeping category of things we didn't get to do that we took for granted.  school & shopping.  attending games & going out with friends.  spending holidays together & vacations.  it all wrapped itself up into this bundle of DIFFERENT.  it can't be a new normal if it's always changing.  from day to day and week to week what we thought we could do and what we ended up being able to do changed on a dime.  which is still happening, right?  some days it feels like this thing might actually be ending - people are travelling again, and kids are starting to go back to school. BUT it could all still change - and quickly.  and i think that ANXIETY - the never being totally sure about anything - has impacted us all.

so how does this relate to fitness?  physical fitness for me has always been about overall wellness - sure i want to look as good as i can, but i also want to FEEL as good as i can.  working out de-stresses me, lets me push myself, and just get out of my head for an hour a day.  it also makes me get up from my desk - which you wouldnt think you would have to make me do.   but that has been the biggest change for me over the last year.  i became SEDENTARY.  like completely bump on a log still.  all freaking day - every damn day - i SIT.  i sit on my couch. i sit at my desk.  i sit in the car (if i happen to leave the house, which for a long time was never). and then i sit on the couch again.  jabba the hut's movement has nothing on this girl.  nadda.  

By too much sitting still the body becomes unhealthy; and soon the mind. This is nature's law. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

surprisingly, it took quite a while for that to catch up with me.  for the first several months, i was just

happy to work out at all - took my 45 minutes on zoom and ran with it. i embraced being at home and not having to run all over the place all the time.  "slowing down" was something i was grateful for.  we did puzzles and watched movies. and just settled in.  you know we got crazy into pickleball, so when the weather was nice, i definitely moved at least a little bit more.  my good intentioned walks with  Petey lasted until late fall.  so maybe i started out ok.  but i fell off that movement - and fell hard.  and here i am.  the most sedentary fitness professional (if you can even call it that anymore) on planet earth.

what i have discovered - very late - is that you can't overcome sedentary with an hour a day of movement.  your body is still sedentary.  i mean, thankfully, the working out at least has been consistent.  i do get about 45-60 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week.  which in normal times would be great. but if you break it down, there are 168 hours in a week.  i am moving for a grand total of 6 of them.  lets say 8 if i'm generous.  that means that i actually do something physically productive for .05% of my WEEK.  not even 1% of my time is spent moving. and yet, somehow i was still BAFFLED by my increase in size.  y'all know i dont put ANY value on weight.  i just don't.  i think it's a bad measurement & completely relative to  body type/density, etc.  HOWEVER, i do put A LOT of value on pictures - and clothing fit.  and let me tell you, those 2 measurements are not being kind to me at the moment.  and it honestly took me WAY longer than it should have to figure out why.

Indolence is the mother of misery. ~Galen

i just don't MOVE anymore. and because i was still CONSISTENTLY working out, i didn't think too much further than that.  all those people out there gaining "covid" weight must not be exercising.  or they must be just eating too much.  or whatthefuckever makes you think other people get bigger but not you.  now, in the grand scheme of things, is this a big deal?  i mean seriously deni.  get over yourself, right?  we are all ok and have been super lucky in the grand scheme, right?  and that is TOTALLY what i tell myself.  BUT....

we need to be ok with WHATEVER is causing our stress. or anxiety.  or depression. we need to be able to acknowledge that yes, someone else may have it worse, but that doesn't mean we aren't allowed to still feel sad or stressed or anxious.  and for me, the cumulation of this year - josh missing out on his first (and kind of second) college lax seasons, luke becoming a teacher (and coach) in this environment, jake working on the Hill in all this craziness - and me trying to keep all the balls in the air for myself and everyone else - it just kind of coalesced into this overall WEIGHT.  which mentally actualized itself in my PHYSICAL weight.  i FEEL heavy.  i feel like i LOOK heavy.  to me.  it is a weight that is not only physical - bc in all honesty, its probably not really that much overall poundage - but i have CHANGED.  and not necessarily for the better.  might just be status quo - who knows.  but i don't like it.

The time will come when winter will ask you what you were doing all summer.  ~Henry Clay

we were not made to sit for hours/days/weeks/months at a time.  those of us that were "lucky" enough to work from home, were indeed lucky.  but with nothing else to do, and nowhere to go, we tied ourselves to these chairs and these desks.  these laptop screens and phone screens.  we, the active, became we, the sedentary.  maybe it only happened to me.  lots of my friends still go to work - their normal routines were not impacted that much and so that hour a day still works.  it still is the de-stressor.  regardless of how exactly 2020 impacted you, it did definitely have an impact.  i think a big part of 2021 is going to be figuring out how to move forward from it - one way or the other.  with spring approaching hopefully this will get easier.  

every day we seem one day closer to gathering again.  i think we need to acknowledge the way WE changed during this year of isolation.  do things just one day go back to normal?  are we still waiting for that? or are we going to have to continue to adapt constantly?  i think the hardest part for me, if i am being honest, is not the fitness.  i'm going to work out.  that is not the problem.  the problem is wanting to do literally ANYTHING else.  i missed doing all the things, until i didn't.  and now, i am not sure i do.  i have created this bubble - this sedentary, quiet bubble - that makes it pretty easy to just NOT do any of the other things.  that is what i am hoping the reflection will help.  i DO things. or the things i am allowed to right now.  but it is no longer second nature to ask anyone to do them with me.  and i have become fine with that. is it empowering to feel like you can do anything you want alone? sure.  but it's also lonely. and now lonely seems kind of normal.

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. ~Henry David Thoreau

to all of you out there struggling, i am here with you.  in the short term, i ordered a walking treadmill pad for under my desk (wish me luck with that).  in the longer term, i hope to start tip-toeing my way back to real life.  sending an invite to something outside.  taking a friend up on an offer for company. and to anyone out there that is also feeling mentally or physically heavy - you are not alone.  the first step is to figure out why - and the second is to ask for help.  

big thanks to my group chats - my SiB and Brown crews that have kept me sane, let me vent, and helped me understand that we are all still on the journey together.  we all have people we can lean on.  the hardest part is understanding that it is ok to need to lean.  xo

Hope is the physician of each misery. ~Irish proverb

Thursday, December 31, 2020

small joy (or f*ck 2020)

2020 was NOT the worst year for me.  i mean, it sucked.  but as awful and ridiculous and stressful as 2020 was, it beat 2019 for damn sure.  that "be careful what you wish for thing" is serious.  I did NOT think that 2020 could possibly be as bad as the year before, but it tried.  and tried pretty hard.  so in the cosmic "it cant possibly be worse" karma thing - i'm definitely not gonna try my luck with that again.

There are the waves and there is the wind, seen and unseen forces. Everyone has these same elements in their lives, the seen and unseen, karma and free will. ~Kuan Yin

If i go backwards, in 2019 i lost my dad.  how that impacted 2020....it made me take covid more seriously from the start.  knowing how difficult it is to lose a parent, we just were not willing to take that risk with my mom.  that perspective certainly helped weather the quarantine storm - especially early on.  it also, as crazy as this is, made me grateful that my dad was NOT here for it.  I got to see him on the day he died, and he passed in his own home.  in hindsight, those are blessings that those who lost loved ones this year probably did not get to experience.  losing someone you love is always hard, but circumstances can absolutely make it harder.  and my heart goes out to every person that lost someone in this insane year.

things spiral, right? so again, in 2019 kris and i had some financial challenges - going so far as exploring selling our house. we started 2020 maxed out and stressed, on top of sad.  but luckily for us, 2020 was kinder.  we both were able to continue to work throughout the pandemic, which made us way better off than a lot of people.  so as stressful as the pivot to working from home was (for everyone) and the challenges it presented - it worked for us.  and things got better.

i also had to make some big changes as the gym at the end of 2019.  and i lost a good number of people
who had been a part of my gym family for years.  change is hard, and at the time it felt like just everything was falling apart.  but then it didnt.  it just changed.  when i cut my schedule in 2019, who could have known that zoom was going to be the answer in 2020.  definitely not me.  but because i had already made some adjustments, 2020 SiB rolled right along.  smaller crew, but we hung in there.  

why am i sharing all of this?  because maybe for some of you 2020 WAS the worst year. and you don't see how its going to get better.  and maybe for everyone it wont.  but sometimes the bottom is a place you have to hang out for a while. and sometimes its the springboard for finding your way back up.  ultimately there is no always good or always bad.  just moments of both.  they just string together sometimes and you feel like its all one or the other.

There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall. ~Colette

this is my repetitive reminder - for myself, and any of you who need it.  learn the lesson. people come and go.  challenges come and go.  good times and bad times are all just a part of the larger "whole" that is your life. and you can learn from the good AND the bad.  more, honestly, from the bad.

for me, the awfulness of 2019 bled into the beginning of 2020.  and then BOOM.  just when you think you MIGHT be seeing the light, a global pandemic strikes.  creating a new wave of uncertainty and stress.  but it also created an opportunity. i am sure i am not the only person who did some serious reflection in 2020. LOTS of quiet time, right? and this is what i came away with: 

there is always small joy

when you look at all of the bad times, there is often something you can find somewhere in it that is a light.  it might not be clear at the time, but it shines through at some point.

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance:
The wise grows it under his feet.
~James Oppenheim

quarantine sucked.  but it meant i got to eat dinner with all 3 of my boys on the regular -for the first time in more than 9 years.  it meant i didnt have to get out of my pajamas if i didnt want to. it made me search for happiness INTERNALLY, not externally.  and of course, it brought me pickleball :)

closing the gym also sucked.  but that meant i had no reason to NOT work out.  i brought my equipment home, downloaded zoom, and stayed on it.  and for someone who HATES working out at home, it made me change my perspective on that. did i like it?  nope.  but i did it.  and lots of it.  and it worked.  eventually we moved outside.  and let me tell you, working out in the humidity in july was not really super fun.  but WE DID IT. and there is real satisfaction in not letting the things that are hard beat you. and also, it gave us perspective on just how hard it is to work out in a mask.  if we hadn't worked out outside in july, im not sure we could have figured out how to breath and modify for the indoor mask thing. so, you know, it worked to our advantage - even though we couldn't see that at the time.

at the end of the day, there was not much good to be said about 2020.  except for me that it wasn't 2019. and yet, it taught me some good things. i am grateful for every moment we get to spend with my mom. even if we have to play poker in masks. i am grateful for the way we have made family time a priority.  i think that it was easier as "empty nesters" to think about doing things without the kids.  and it was a good gut check - because there is nothing better than getting to do things WITH them.  i also learned that having gray hair is not the end of the world :)

Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will. ~Jawaharlal Nehru

as i look to 2021, i know this year is also going to be challenging.  I hope at some point things get back to "normal".  i hope josh gets to play lax this year, and that luke gets to coach it.  i would LOVE to go on vacation.  but at the end of the day, we will make it work - whatever happens.  because the only thing we can control is us.  its ok to be angry and sad.  but its also ok to be happy and grateful.  there will always be a bit of good and a bit of bad - how you deal with it is what matters.

my goals for this year can be boiled down to 2 things:  be nice. & get out of my pajamas before its time to workout.  

hoping you all have a healthy, safe & joyful new year.