Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Hard Are We Working?

I've spent the last two weeks gaining and losing the same pound. Up a pound one day, two days later, the pound is gone. A few days later, its up. Then, thankfully, down. And so on... I felt like a very angry yo-yo.

My first impulse was to throw the scale through the wall. I mean, it was obviously defective, right?

My second impulse was to throw my hands in the air, say to heck with the exercising (actually my words were a little stronger, but this is a public blog LOL) and go sit in my comfy chair and read for that hour instead of sweating.

My third impulse was to slap my arms over my chest, stick out my lower lip and pout like a pro.

I went with the third impulse. For about an hour. Then I sucked it up and asked myself a few questions.

Have I lost weight in this journey? Yes.

Have I lost more inches than the scale represents? Most definitely.

Have I been sick and could that affect my weight, since I had many days where I hardly ate anything and others that I walked instead of ran? Yep. For sure.

Did I make any bad eating choices in that week? Well, sure, if we want to be really honest. Eating out once a week isn't a bad thing, but eating out twice in one day was probably stupid.

And once I was feeling better, had I been working out at my maximum? Hmmm, this was the real question. This was the one that hit me in the gut, made me cringe a little, hem and haw and try to wiggle out of answering.

Since January 31 of this year, I've kept my 6 day a week, 1 hour a day exercise schedule. I've dutifully logged my calories via my heart rate monitor. I had a range, and I shot to keep my workouts in that range.

And that, I realized, was a major problem. The more I exercise, the more conditioned I become. Yes, I have to work a lot harder to burn 500 calories now than I did in February, because my heart's becoming healthier and my body is working more efficiently. But... I wasn't pushing past that. I wasn't stretching the envelope.

I wasn't working hard enough.

I was proud of myself for exercising. I stuck with the workouts, I kept my schedule. But once it became comfortable, I quit pushing. I quit trying hard enough.

So yesterday I pushed. I didn't watch a TV show while I ran, I listened to music instead. I kept the distractions to a minimum and kept my focus on pushing. And I burned an extra 100 calories in the same amount of exercise time.

How about you? When you workout, are you pushing or just showing up?

Tawny Weber writes hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze. In January 2010, her novella, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, was out in the Blazing Bedtime Story anthology and her next full length Blaze,, RIDING THE WAVES, will be out in September 2010. Come by and visit her on the web at


Rachel Kleinsorge on April 15, 2010 at 6:44 AM said...

Great question Tawny! Since taking up Trish's April Challenge, I feel like I have been pushing it... which makes me realize how much I was 'just showing up' for the last few months. I'll admit that I don't like being sore, muscle pain doesn't thrill me, and the panicky out of breath feeling that comes from really working hard isn't one I enjoy but now that I have all of those, I’m also seeing some dramatic results. You're right, we need to push ourselves. Bodies adapt so quickly, if you don’t feel like you’re really working hard, you probably aren’t.

Michelle Butler on April 15, 2010 at 9:24 AM said...

Wow. Way to go, Tawny, for forcing yourself to ask the tough questions and figuring out how to change stuff based on the answers. Did you feel better physically for having pushed yourself hard in your workout?

One of the reasons I love going to classes at the gym is that keeping up with the instructor always pushes me harder. I've also taken the time to test out classes at 3 of the gyms around me to see who has the toughest instructors. Almost 90% of the time, the Ballston Golds Gym wins and that's where I tend to go there the most - even though it's the furthest.

Yesterday, I was in a bad mood. Last night, I was so incredibly angry for reasons I'm not sure I was ever able to figure out. Since I no longer numb myself out with food, I've discovered that I feel more emotions more intensely - particularly negative ones. I'm sure it's a phase and I'll get better at handling it soon. Anyway, I HAD to go work out.

There was a sub at my Zumba class and at first I was really disappointed. His songs weren't as fun, I couldn't figure out what his choreography was all about, and I thought he wasn't pushing us enough. The movements were jerkier, but it wasn't necessarily hip hop or latin dance. I was confused, but I grew to realize how hard I was actually working. Then, I recognized how angry all the songs were. Oh how awesome! That hit the spot. I wanted each song to be angrier than the last. I pushed myself so hard and danced away most of my anger. I then followed this up by dancing some more in my apartment to an angry cd and writing in my journal.

Since I pushed myself so hard, I felt awesome physically when I got home, slept wonderfully, and am still feeling a high this morning. I've learned that I need to keep pushing myself hard/ keep to a certain exertion level to get these wonderful physical benefits from the exercise. Best wishes with your exercise!

Sally Kilpatrick on April 15, 2010 at 12:15 PM said...

Tawny, great insightful post. I have just been showing up for about 6 months--hence the lack of progress. Of course, by at least showing up, I haven't really backslid either, but I was just thinking last night that it was time for a Come-to-Jesus meeting, if you will. Thanks for another kick in the pants. : )

Tawny on April 15, 2010 at 5:32 PM said...

Rachel, that rocks both that you took Trish's challenge, and that you're seeing the results of pushing harder!

Its so easy to become complacent, to think we're working so we should be seeing results, then getting upset when we don't see them. I know I'm guilty of that on a regular basis :-) But pushing... that really helps a LOT.

Tawny on April 15, 2010 at 5:33 PM said...

Michelle, I want to give you a huge round of applause, a giant hug and a big balloon bouquet that says Way To Go!!!

You've said before that emotional eating is one of your biggest challenges, and when faced with it this week - you took it to the gym. OMG that's so inspiring and awesome!!!

Tawny on April 15, 2010 at 5:40 PM said...

Sally, I think its hard to realize when we are showing up vs pushing hard because, in so many instances, just showing up is hard. Getting to the gym, exercising regularly, working out -for the majority of us, thats not 'regular' life.

We're trying to change our patterns and feel proud that we're putting in the effort. So its doubly hard to push past our comfort zone, yet again, and work out even harder.

But then again, if we're there anyway, we might as well get the most bang for our buck :-)

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