Gold’s Gym: How We Started (with videos)

At the beginning of this year, I wasn’t really happy. I wasn’t happy with my job, myself, and – though it pains me to admit it- I wasn’t happy with my marriage. I had set out to change my career, something I’d been debating for a while. I told my husband (now ex) that I was ready to start a new phase in our lives. I wanted something more. I wanted a better marriage and I wanted us both to get healthy. Previously we tried dieting and gyms, but we just didn’t have the willpower. So I thought getting a recumbent bike would be a good start. I could exercise while sitting down watching tv!

I also made other small changes, like only drinking water and saying no to donuts and deserts while at work. After work, I could have a soda and desert if I wanted to. These were good ideas! Eventually, I chose to drink water at home too and only had a soda when eating out. Then I started choosing water over soda while eating at restaurants or fast food. Now, I rarely drink soda and almost exclusively drink water. I actually like water quite a bit, but it’s very hard to give up soda!

After the big split between me and my husband, I decided to stop eating out so much. I started focusing on making food at home. I tried to do the healthy meals, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I decided to try something new. I decided that I’ll make the foods that I love – like gumbo and ribs – but I’ll make much smaller portions and then eat fruit and veggies in larger quantities as my side dish. For example, I use 1/3 of the sausage link and a huge bag of okra to make my gumbo, so there is more healthy greens in it and only use a small cup of rice. I had a couple of yummy ribs, and a huge portion of green beans. I had 8 wings and a large side of fresh carrot sticks. I’m planning to make a chicken drum and big helping of mashed cauliflower. I decided to incorporate the fruits and veggies that I like into a bigger helping of my diet. I’m planning to have avocado on toast! Believe it or not, I love eating raspberries for breakfast. That’s it, just raspberries and a cup of water. Today, I made a small OJ, strawberry, and peach smoothie. I have a bunch of frozen fruit in the freezer for smoothies. The diet changes I’m making are an attempt to eat healthier but still enjoy my meals! It’s still in the experimental stages, but I think it’s going well so far!

The bike helped me build up my stamina and opened the door to doing other things. Feel free to read my post about the Recumbent Bike. I started to make daily posts on facebook celebrating my biking accomplishments and asked my friend for encouragement. I started at 15 minute bike rides and went up 5 minutes every week. I felt good accomplishing it and it felt good to see people cheering me on! At first, my back really hurt and it was really hard. I started taking an ibuprofen an hour before my workout and that actually helped me get through it pretty easily. Once I felt like 45 minutes on the bike was a breeze, I stopped taking the ibuprofen. It’s probably not the best thing to do, but I was desperate to get this workout going and I don’t regret it. Now I only take a painkiller if I end up too sore to sleep or focus on work.

My best friend was going to his apartment’s gym after work and I asked if I could join him. Unfortunately, they can’t bring guests to their gym. I suggested that we could find a gym and workout together, because we both want to improve our health. So we set out to find a gym. We went into a few gyms that were in a convenient location for both of us. We were hesitant to go to Gold’s because we didn’t want to get a heavy sales pitch or be made to feel like crap (as some gyms do). However, they were super nice and didn’t give us the heavy sales pitch. We didn’t get the membership that day, but sat on the idea to mull it over.

There was a girl that I met in a social group who offered to workout with me. I told her that I was already committed to working out with my best friend and once we picked a gym, she was welcomed to join us. However, she was very negative and didn’t realize it. She told me that we shouldn’t go to the gym every day and that we’ll never keep up with it. First of all, don’t tell me what I can’t accomplish! When she found out that we decided to join Gold’s Gym, she complained that she didn’t know why we would pick that place and tried to convince me that we should join her gym. We picked the gym that was convenient to our location and had an atmosphere we liked. I told her that she could join us but only if she left the negative and discouraging attitude at the door. Needless to say, she is not working out with us. Working out is hard and that kind of attitude will only make it harder! Attitude and a work buddy make all the difference!

I don’t know what her issue with Gold’s is, but they have been the most delightful and encouraging people I’ve worked with! They greet me with a smile every day, ask about my day, and ask me how my workout was. Not only that, but they actually listen to what I have to say. They never make me feel fat or shameful for being overweight. They don’t make me feel guilty for missing a day (which I have in lieu of an amazing concert or two). Yet, they keep up a very encouraging attitude. I love this gym! So on April 21st we bought our membership and tried out their equipment. We rode the bikes and walked the treadmills that were in the Cardio Cinema. It’s a dark room where they play a movie… like I was doing with my bike at home. We didn’t have a solid plan and just winged it at first.

They pointed us at the class schedule and there were only two classes that were at a time that we could actually make. The classes don’t cost any extra to do. That Thursday, I slipped into the Zumba class (video) for the last 30 minutes. I was happy to find out that you could join the class late. I wasn’t a huge fan of it because the instructor went really really fast and didn’t take the time to show us any of the moves. So I spent the half hour flailing and twerking. Still, I did work up a sweat.

When my best friend finally arrived, I was already pooped out! We attended the PIYO class (video) together, which was a mix of Pilate’s and Yoga. You wouldn’t think so, but PIYO is hard! We sweat and got sore. Our instructor said “If your butt is sore tomorrow, then you did it right.” I really liked Amber. She took the time to show us the moves before jumping into it. She also gave us ways to modify the moves if we couldn’t do it (due to size, flexibility, or health). She was also very encouraging and friendly. This has been one of our favorite classes. I had a hard time in class because I was tired from the Zumba and was still getting over a cold (no longer sick, just recovering).

We only workout Mondays through Thursdays, so we have the weekends off. We do a lot of walking around on Saturdays at our LARP (Live Action Role Play) and then Sundays are errands and then time on the bike. By the time Monday rolled around, we had decided on a game plan. Mondays we would focus on legs and lower body, Tuesday is the Core Training class, Wednesday is arms and upper body, and then Thursdays is PiYO class.

That Monday, we worked out our legs on the weighted equipment. I am stronger than I look and often stronger than I think I am. The first lift is the hardest. Sometimes I have to try a couple of times or have my buddy help me, but as soon as that weight is in the air, I’m good. It’s like I have to convince myself that I can do it and then I can. Anyone reading this paragraph is probably saying mind over matter. When the weights were too easy, we made it heavier. We only spend an hour at the gym, but we make good use of it!

That Tuesday, since I get off work earlier than my friend, I popped into the last 30 minutes of the Sh’bam class (video). I still flailed but it was easier to follow than Zumba. The instructor, Keyton, was more personable than the Zumba lady. I could see myself continuing the Sh’bam class, but I ended up deciding not to do it. The reason is because I’m committed to working out with my buddy and if I do the Sh’bam class, than I’m too worn out to give it my all in the Core Training. Eventually, when my stamina and strength can handle it, I hope to be able to do all the classes that I can make it too.

My best friend said he didn’t think I’d want to do Core Training (video). I told him, I’ll do any class and I’ll give it my best effort. I don’t care if it’s hard or if I suck at it, as long as I’m getting a work out. So we did the Core Training and it was hard. One of the personal trainers, Parker, was substituting for the instructor. He made us do 100 crunches (video), v-ups, and other floor based exercises. We were not fit enough for this class, but we did as many as we could and took mini breaks to catch our breath, and we kept going. We were very sore that night.

My mom asked how much weight I’d lost so far. I told mom that we weren’t focusing on numbers. Our goal was to just go and workout, have fun, and feel better. Yes, we want to lose weight, but we’re doing it our way. Numbers fluctuate depending on your time of the month, water retention, and muscle building. I could gain weight because of the muscle building, but eventually we’ll start losing weight. We just don’t want to focus on the wrong thing. It’s not about the numbers… it’s about getting exercise and living healthier! However, I did decide to weigh myself out of curiosity. Before getting my gym membership, I was 256 lbs and after several weeks I got down to 248 lbs. Mom was happy about that.

The second time that I went to PiYO, I had a lot more energy, and I did a lot better. Amber even complimented me on how well I did. I felt good about the class and that feeling keeps me going back.

Unfortunately, my workout buddy hurt his back and we ended up skipping a whole week. He was my ride home, so I couldn’t feasibly go to the gym without inconveniencing someone for a ride. So, I made the best of it! After work that week, I rode my bike and tried some of the PiYO and Core Training exercises that we would have been doing at the gym. I didn’t have the willpower to push myself the way I did while in the actual class. So most of my workout came from the bike. It wasn’t that I was pressured in class, it was that the atmosphere is different and it actually makes a big difference in your motivation. Your attitude is different. You dress for the gym, you go to the gym with the mindset of getting a workout, and you have friends there to compete with and/or encourage you. When you’re at home alone, it just doesn’t feel the same and it’s hard to do it on your own.

Another minor change that I made to my lifestyle was to stop sitting around in my bedtime clothes. I used to get home from work and change into my night gear. I learned that when I’m dressed, I am more likely to get up and do things. When I’m in my bedtime clothing, I’m in a bedtime mentality and it promotes a lazy atmosphere. It’s a very minor change in my habits and it actually made a big difference!

My workout buddy got better and we hit the gym again. I missed two more Core Training classes because I opted to go to the Ghost B.C. and Flogging Molly concerts. I didn’t feel too bad about it, because the concerts were a workout themselves! I was standing all evening with a mix of swaying and bouncing around. I sweat a lot and I felt like I had a workout.

May 18th we tried some other upper body / arm exercises. We alternated between plank exercises (video) and battle ropes (video). Then we moved on to wall ball (video) and ball slams (video).

I mentioned before that most Saturdays involve a lot of walking. When we travel to the Tulsa role playing game, we are walking on concrete and boy do your feet hurt after that! We usually show up at these games around 5pm and spend the whole evening socializing until about midnight. So while it’s not a workout, it is still some form of physical activity. I’ve gotten to the point that if we miss a day at the gym for any reason, it doesn’t feel right, and I at least spend an hour on my bike. However, my workout buddy and I are very habitual people so we hate missing the gym. It’s now ingrained into our schedule and it’s hard for us to skip the gym, which is a good thing.

May 25th we did more work on the weight equipment. I started to wonder if these types of exercises would promote weight loss? I am building muscle and I’m building up a sweat, so I imagine it burns calories too. I don’t know much about fitness, but I know that working out is hard and that it feels really good to accomplish something. I had decided that I was being too easy on myself, so I made an extra effort to focus on my control and push myself to do a few more reps. My arms and neck were sore that night but it was worth it.

May 26th the PiYO class moved on to a new routine which was harder, worked up more of a sweat, and made my ankles hurt! During cool down stretches I was squeezing my ankles and our instructor noticed that my right foot flexed but my left foot didn’t. Amber asked me if I’d ever damaged that ankle and I did. Several years back I had sprained my ankle but never went to the doctor. I hadn’t considered that there was permanent damage. She said that the tendon was likely torn and as long as it doesn’t cause me issues, it’s not worth it to get surgery. It was strange that I never noticed the missing flex until now.

May 29th we traveled to the Little Rock AR game and in addition to lots of walking around, there was a lot of journeys up and down the two flights of stairs. That’s a good workout too!

May 31st I finally made it to another Core Training session. This time the actual instructor was back to teach the class. Her exercises were very different. We did a combination of plank exercises (video), scissor kicks (video), and a lot of the exercises (but not all) that you see in this video. It was intense! She pushed us harder, because she’s a personal trainer and that’s how they roll, but was respectful of our limits. She said she respected us, because even though we couldn’t do it perfectly, we tried really hard and didn’t stop. We had a lot of 3 second breaks to catch our breath, but when she pushed us to keep going, we certainly did try! We actually accomplished a lot.

We were very sore and exhausted after this class. We were still very exhausted the next day and didn’t feel like going to the gym… but we did anyway! I said that it was better to go and just walk on the treadmill than not go at all. We spent the whole time on the treadmill in Cardio Theater watching the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion. I felt good and I was glad we didn’t bail on gym night!

The next day, we were still pretty sore and feeling exhausted. We went to the PiYO class anyway. We weren’t at 100% energy but we put in 100% effort. We didn’t perform as well as we did in the previous PiYO class – we made a lot of sour faces, groaned, and paused more often, but we didn’t stop trying and pushing ourselves. We still built up a sweat and got the best workout we could get on a half a tank of energy.

So this weekend we relaxed. There was no game and there was no bike. We got a terrible back/shoulder massage yesterday that has left us sore, but I think we’ll be alright. I am actually excited to get back to the gym tomorrow! I feel like this has been a very positive change in our lives! Losing weight is a slow burn, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling good at the end of the day and feeling accomplished. It’s also encouraging me to make better choices through out the day. We’re working on our posture while at work, walking straighter, sitting straighter. I find myself doing little stretches and brief squats during the day. It’s been an overall great experience!

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