I want to talk more/post more about working out because I do it a lot and I love it for now so this is my first attempt at that.
I used to never work out. I used to BLATANTLY FROWN UPON working out. You’re right, you’ve examined my #tbt photos accurately, I WAS an athlete in my youth, but I saw those activities as fulfilling a different type of need than the need I assumed working out would fulfill. When I was doing gymnastics and cheerleading, I was just doing something I happened to enjoy with my pals and it also just happened to count as working out. I was never very interested in working out separately from that. I would “run” or do strength training on my own sometimes, but it wasn’t a big thing to me. I was usually too tired or too bored or too busy doing something else.
I’m going to pause for a moment and let you know that the first part of this post will be a lengthly preamble about how I used to be very unhealthy. If you want to just read about workin out, plz scroll down to “this is where the workout part starts!” Thank you.
Lengthy Preamble/Personal Anecdote
I think for a long time I resisted working out because in my mind “working out” was tied up into body image/disordered eating/”watching your figure”/burning calories and I wanted no part in any of that. For a big chunk of my life, me and every single peer I spent the most time with were required to wear short skirts, tight tops, very small shorts, sports bras, and leotards and it was hard for most to not take notice of how their bodies looked and felt in these garments. To take stock and to find themselves lacking. To feel shitty because they didn’t look as good as they thought their friend or their enemy or a girl on another team looked. And that really messed with people.
I will come out and say that I never felt like this. I felt great! I loved wearing naked stuff! I still love wearing naked stuff! And I’m sorry. Maybe because my parents were super nice to me and inflated my sense of self (thanks parents!) but I never had body image issues. Tons of other issues yes, but I resisted having to deal with this one and that’s something I’m thankful/grateful for. Again I’m sorry.
I think we all know that cheerleading and dance can sometimes act as breeding grounds for disordered eating and negative body image. I love both of these activities and think people should keep doing them forever because they are fun and give you opportunities to make friends and be on a team and travel and be strong, but I do think it’s worth mentioning that body image often suffers in both of these environments and we should be aware of that so that we can HELP STOP THE MADNESS.
Anyway, I protested this madness by not working out or caring about how much I weighed or ate and kept up the fight against the idea that I should be eating very little and exercising a lot. I ate a lot. And I moved around very little.
This worked in college because I was still cheerleading. I worked out every day! The eating everything didn’t really affect me. The drinking everything else didn’t mess my life up that bad either. OH TO BE YOUNG AMIRITE?
This still kind of worked in my 20s because a lot of that time was spent on the road as a shooter/producer for MTV’s MADE. I was bopping all around the country and standing all day EVERY DAY holding a camera for 16 hours and chasing after unruly teenagers to get their reactions when they were running away from me crying because CRYING HAD TO BE ON CAMERA, sometimes up hills. I ate a ton still, usually scarfing down some Sonic (mmmm Sonic) in the driver’s seat of my rental car while I was on endless tedious phone calls with the producers back in the office. I think it goes without saying that being a road dog also involved a great deal of drinking, usually a bottle of sauv blanc in my hotel room at night, but I guess I just said it. It was a lifestyle.
Once I became a house-cat and got a desk job, I was super pumped to have a real schedule and actual free time and for a second I did try to work out because I knew I would be very still sitting in a chair every day but that motivation quickly went out the window.
So began 2 years of mostly sedentary behavior, too many naps to count, feasting on everything in sight until I felt sick, but not in a happy way and also in a DAILY WAY, and I ended up gaining like 40 pounds.
This would have been fine because, who cares, but I DID care because I felt like SHIT. I was so so so so tired. Every second of every day I could barely keep my eyes open. I was sad and so hot and out of breath all the time. Being overweight doesn’t mean being unhealthy for everyone, there are many people that are overweight but also healthy, happy, and active. But being overweight meant being unhealthy for me. My body could not handle it anymore. If you know me you know that I like to stay busy and do things and by this point I didn’t even feel the energy to DO THINGS and my whole personality was distorted and it was an emergency situation.
I went to the doctor in January 2016 for my annual thing and also because I always go to the doctor and I had even seen her a few times the previous year so she saw how much weight I gained and how quickly, and she was like okay this needs to stop. Get your shit together. I’m changing your meds.
I’m the first to admit that I have been medicated for anxiety and depression since high school. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t have plans to “wean myself off of it one day.” That is not necessary. This is what works and I will continue to use it as prescribed because it is a useful tool along with therapy and I refuse to see it as a weakness or as giving up or copping out or doing something wrong. It was medicine designed to help and it helps. I know that “pharmaceutical companies” and “insurance companies” and “doctors” all make money off these types of prescriptions in some way and maybe people are overmedicated but that should be explored on a case by case basis and get off my lawn.
So we changed some things up medication wise. And some changes started to happen, slowly but surely. I felt less sad, so I felt like I had a little more energy, so I started going to the gym, and that made me feel even better, so then I wasn’t stuffing food in my face all day everyday (it was seriously all day every day. You may not believe me but it was) to feel better, so then I started eating better too.
where the workout part starts!
And this is where the workout part of it comes in. Unfortunately when you’re trying to lose a lot of weight, or any weight, it feels like it is 80% diet and 20% exercise. And it is. You really, really have to pay attention to what you eat and it’s terrible and I hate it to this day. To this day because if I don’t pay attention it quickly spirals out of control and then I eat until I feel sick. Like a dog (what’s up, dog friends?! Wanna eat til we feel sick? K see ya there). It’s something I have to be mindful of. Just like any other bad habit that you have to work every day to stay away from except I can’t fully stay away from my bad habit BECAUSE YOU NEED FOOD TO LIVE so it’s pretty hard. Oh sorry I’m still talking about food BECAUSE THAT IS ALL I EVER THINK ABOUT.
TOP 5 FAV WORKOUTS.
But yes, working out. During this time of weight loss/renewal/revelation/personal growth, I worked out a lot! And I still do now. I try to go at least 4 times a week, but feel much better about 5 or 6.
My favorite and most consistently attended workout over the past few years is JaneDO. I love JaneDO! It was a good place to start from square one all over again when I hadn’t worked out for a long time because it was also relatively new, I knew the owners and a few of the instructors, and I had been around in the very beginning before they opened a studio and they were doing workshops and pop up classes and still tweaking their brand and class structure. I always liked the vibe there. One of my fears about getting involved in working out was that it would be cultish or super basic bitchy or ridiculous lady shit all the time but JaneDO isn’t like that and I was grateful. It feels like a supportive, empowering environment without being corny or annoying or making you feel like you’re becoming one of those people you roll your eyes at and secretly hope they trip and scrape their knee and tear their Lululemon leggings. Oh did I say that out loud? Sorry. Not sorry. Anyway those people aren’t at JaneDO so there ya go.
2. The Sweat Spot
My second favorite workout isn’t even a workout it’s a dance class BUT IT IS ALSO a workout. It’s called Sweaty Sunday, OR Wet Wednesday, and it’s at this incredible place in Silver Lake (the Brooklyn of LA) called The Sweat Spot. The dude in charge Sir Ryan Heffington (I don’t know if he’s really a sir but it says that on his Instagram and it makes me laugh so I’m including it here. It also says it on his personal Instagram which I have not yet been approved to follow so I’m linking his public insta here) has done choreography for Sia, and choreographed the “movements” on that show the OA and also choreographed the final scene in the final episode of the first season of Euphoria. This is a real deal dance man we’re dealing with here. But this is ALSO an AMAZING and INCLUSIVE class that ANYONE from ANY LEVEL of dance experience can waltz in or leap in or trip in and fall on their face and then get back up and they will have a beautiful and enjoyable and exhilarating experience. IT IS THAT GOOD. I don’t believe in god but I HAVE SEEN GOD AND IT IS HOW I FEEL IN THIS CLASS. True to the name you do get very sweaty/wet and your legs are all shaky at the end and I think that means it’s a good workout. Ryan once came to NYC to teach a class over this past summer and I was ELATED. It was one of the best ones I have attended. I also really enjoy Nathan Kim’s classes at this studio because he seems so sweet and joyful all the time. I have more to say about it but it will get its own post someday soon.
3rd fav workout is barre. Just barre, overall. I’ve been to a ton of different types of barre. Maybe it would be more accurate to say “brands” of barre. JaneDO used to have barre, there’s this other place called Local Barre I’ve tried, there’s Pure Barre of course, Bar Method, the list goes on. I think barre is great and I enjoy the workout a lot and I feel like it’s doing something even though you’re just doing quick tiny movements and that alone blows my mind and therefore amuses me. At some places barre can inch close to the lines of basic-ness and cult-like behavior that I try to avoid so one must be careful. A lot of the brands seem to have like “patented methods” which I don’t fully understand but they push hard to indoctrinate you into those methods and sometimes that’s important for safety as far as how you’re moving your body but other times it’s like okay calm down. But I still like it a lot and I’m not mad about it.
4. Soul Cycle
Speaking of cult-like behavior, 4th favorite workout is Soul Cycle. I know, I know. This is the most basic and possibly the most ridiculous of all time. And I’m sorry. Not even going to @ them because like, YOU GET IT. But this is the only cycling class and also the only cardio class that I can get on board with. I hate cardio and I hate cycling but something about these classes really takes me to a higher plane of conciousness and I’m not even joking. It could be the dark or the lights or the loud music or that I’m dizzy and going to faint, but something about it just feels euphorically trancendetal. Before you say it’s the weird new age stuff the teacher is saying I will submit that it is NOT. I’ve gotten a way too spiritual teacher before and the class has been ruined. RUINED! Shut up spiritual teachers. I need the teachers that are like dancing around and moving their arms around to the beat like they’re at the club and just yelling “YEAH!” like they’re freaking pumped. That and only that will get me there.
5th fav is Y7 yoga and Y7 yoga EXCLUSIVELY. Regular yoga is too slow and it’s too much time alone with my thoughts. Y7 has fun music and it moves fast and it’s kindaaa hot but not so hot that I faint (this has happened to me at hot yoga before). I’ve only been to the one in Silver Lake (Brooklyn of LA) and they had a whole outdoor locker room and it was INCRED but they also just re-did the studio in Flatiron by my office so I gotta go! PS they follow NO ONE on Instagram and that is a BADASS POWER MOVE.
Okay! Those are my jumping off point workout thoughts. Do you like to work out? Where do you work out? What gets you up in the morning to work out? Or are you a night worker-outter? Do you hate people that work out? It’s okay if you do. I did for a long time too.
As a special treat, here is a stream of consciousness kinda non rhyming poem or weirdly structured essay I wrote for a writing club meeting where the prompt was “success” and I was like well getting in shape has been my greatest success so far, here goes –
Success – 11.13.18
In 2016 I lost 60 pounds in 7 months.
You’re stuck, you’re tired, you hate everything
You’ve been hurt, disappointed, beat down
You tried to find comfort in things
Any noun you could find
You filled up your house
You filled up yourself
Until you didn’t recognize who you were
Those you love were worried about you
But you couldn’t change alone
You don’t have the willpower
Or the self control
Or the focus
You needed help
You needed science, a magic pill
To make it better
The pill helped
You changed your diet
The binge-ing stopped
You woke up
Before the sun
You never thought you could
You ate vegetables
Drank diet beer
Stopped taking naps
Success was wearing crop tops
Success was posting bikini photos on Instagram
Success was putting all of the size 12 clothes in a bag and never looking at them again
Success was also doubting that this was even possible
That you would gain all of the weight back
That you did it the wrong way
That you would let everyone down
For this kind of success isn’t a one day thing
Once you have found it, you can never rest
You have to stay vigilant, watchful, on your toes
Every morning, up before the sun
Every evening, keeping your hands busy knitting so they’re not aimlessly shoving food in your face as you watch Netflix
Mental binges are acceptable, even when physical ones are not
Every single day, reminding yourself that this is what you wanted, this is what you needed, this is how you succeeded