Monday, March 12, 2012

Not About the Number

Most of my friends know that I have a bra fitting and personal image consultant business.  Yes, I fit women for bras, hit me up (  One of my clients has lost 30 lbs (woo hoo) and needed to be fitted for new bras.  S/N - when you lose weight, its time to assess everything in your closet, especially bras for the ladies.  Anyway, I'm so very proud of her.  It takes a lot to be dedicated to working out regularly and eating right when we all have these incredibly full schedules.  She proudly announced her weight and I quickly (without thinking) said, "Oh we weigh the same now!"  Then she retreated her excitement and said, "But I don't look anything like you."  (Yes, I do stop traffic, sorry . . . a little horn tooting)

I had stopped worrying about the actual number once I got into my good tight jeans again but in just a few words, I had killed her joy and I didn't mean to.  I quickly recovered and reminded her that everyone is different.  All my life, I've been a dancer - ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, West African - and my thighs and calves are the proof that I worked hard.  They don't call me Hamhocks for nothing!  I also weight train.  I teach 6 Zumba Fitness classes a week.  Once I noted these differences to her, she came back to life.  Whew!! I thought I had destroyed her excitement for good. 

We spend so much time comparing ourselves to other people that we can often lose sight of the great progress we've made.  I'd rather compare me to me any day and take feel pride in what I have accomplished.  We also forget that there is one uncontrollable factor - genetics.  I may not EVER have 6 pack abs but I can make any little black dress look SMOKING HOT!!  174 lbs is the smallest I have ever been in my adult life.  That's where I am now and consequently may or may not reduce that number but a whole lot BUT I like the way I look.  I am proud to say I can go through my Zumba Classes at top speed without a significant break and without collapsing.  Can you hang with me?

I do agree that we should use weight as one of the markers to indicate we are moving in the right direction, but if that's your only number, you're not getting a clear picture of your state of health.  This is why I like Doctor Oz's truth tube.  It tells what's really going on inside and can't no body magic cover that up!

Can you walk up the steps without huffing and puffing?
Are you able to get to your target heart rate without passing out?
How many inches is your waist line? How much visceral fat are you carrying?
What's your average blood pressure?
When was the last time you had your fasting blood sugar checked?
Can you go run around with the children in your family?
And yes, Cholesterol still counts!

If you go to the doctor and your weight is the only number the doctor is concerned about, I'd venture to say that you're doing pretty good.  I don't want us to obsess over the number of pounds we weigh since gravity pulls us all down at 9.8 m per second per second (one of the few things I remember from Physics).  I want us to be concerned with the factors that make us prime candidates for Heart Disease, Diabetes, Kidney Disease before the doctor has to give us that diagnosis.  Skinny people have Heart Disease too, did you know that? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's Your Excuse

I celebrated my one year anniversary as a Zumba instructor in January.  I have enjoyed each of my classes, meeting new people and of course, staying in shape.  I have even gotten a reputation amongst my fellow Zumba Instructors for "Going Hard" with routines that leave people running scared.  I take it as a compliment; that means I go to work!!  In my year though, I have had some people stop coming to class, some for reasons I'll except but others, I just won't.  Let me give you a few examples.

#1 - One of my students, over 50, has only missed class since she started coming over 6 months ago and that was for her birthday.  She does not take a break during my entire class, she keeps moving and smiles the entire time.  She is always on time and determined to stay healthy.  Her doctor has commended her for staying active and being the example for African American women over 50 who stastically have high rates of Diabetes and Heart Disease.  Though she won't tell me how much weight she has lost, she does brag about being able to sleep through the night (y'all know a woman's hormones mess with our sleep as we age), she has more energy than her 22 year old daughter and she's no longer embarrassed to go to a gym and work out.  She has also decided that she will be in Jamaica with me for my wedding :-)

#2 - I had a new student came to my Saturday morning class.  The director of the facility called me before I arrived to say, "Make sure you use a lot of hand signals today.  You have a new student and she's hearing impaired."  I just said, "Okay" without really considering what he'd just told me.  When I got inside, she was all smiles and had never taken a Zumba Fitness class before.  As I walked up to her, she and the director were using her phone to write messages back and forth to one another.  I introduced myself and she read my lips pretty well - but then I was mad I couldn't remember a lick of sign language (DAMMIT!!)  I gave lots of signals and like an idiot, I mouthed everything instead of yelling aloud like I would normally do (like an idiot) forgetting that the rest of the class could hear just fine.  With limited hearing though, she kept up the entire class, rhythm and all.  She smiled, she shimmied, did the imaginary hoola hoop, moved with the class and had a good time.  So good a time that she's bringing her mom back next time.  She made me realize that once again, there is no excuse.  There is no good reason, if you have the reasonable activity of your limbs, to sit on the sofa and do nothing.  I mean, turn on some music and do your favorite ol' skool dances, have a jump rope contest against your daughter, play tackle with your son, bust a couple push ups between commercials AND since you paid for the WII or XBOX, use the damn thing!!

#3 - A new student came to my Tuesday night class; she'd never taken a Zumba Fitness class before and she told me she had already purchased her wedding dress, 3 sizes too small.  Her goal is July to get into the dress.  I too have a wedding dress in my closet, but it fits perfectly, I just have to avoid gaining weight.  My warm up and cool down are the only routines that don't require too much exertion but I knew if she could hang with me, she would have the ability to focus and drop those three sizes.  But not just for the wedding, but for her health.  During the class, I could see the fight in her face; she was NOT going to give up and she didn't.  If it hurt, she would just march in place or walk around in a circle but she was NOT going to sit down.  When her arms got heavy, she threw them up with determination and after class she said, "I was determined to keep going; as long as I watched your feet moving, I was good.  I can see that dress and I see me in it."  We also talked about food choices and portion control; I'm definitely going to stick with her and do what I can to help her get to her goal.

#4 - I hope she doesn't mind me mentioning this but she's on my list of S-heroes.  She is a member of the ZIN Street Team MD and is pregnant with TWINS!!  Uh . . . yes, she is still teaching her weekly Zumba Fitness Classes.  And while she may not be able to workout as hard as she did before housing TWO babies, I hear she is still breaking it down!! 

So tell me, what is your excuse?

Time? I teach 5 classes a week, have a fianceĆ©, still work full time and sing with a band, not to mention writing my blogs and working on music. 

Money? While being a fitness instructor is a job, if you are committed (and honest) most instructors will work with your budget.  How about skipping that extra value meal or the morning chai latte? Those few dollars add up . . . they can either add to your health or add to the pounds (and your empty pockets). 

Children? Pack a book bag, homework, snacks and bring 'em along.

Coordination? Can you wave your hands in the air? Wave 'em like you just don't care?  Aiight, then you're good.

Look at yourself in the mirror and have a little talk.  Decide what you're going to do.  And that means, we're not coming back to the same place next year, the same way.  You know what you need to do.  No more excuses, get moving!