The Egg & Cheese Maneuver

January 31, 2014

I always tell the same story to my clients about how I went from eating a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich in the mornings to vegan oatmeal.  Let me tell you, it didn’t happen overnight.  First I removed the bacon from my sandwich order.  The first few times I missed it, but after that I forgot that it was no longer there.  Then, after a year, I removed the cheese from the sandwich.  I added peppers to the eggs (classic Italian combination: peppers and eggs).  Finally, I switched from eating eggs entirely to making myself a vegan oatmeal in the morning or a green juice.  This entire process took 2 YEARS!  To make lasting habitual changes takes time and efforts every day.  Despite what you see on television, health and weight loss are not “overnight sensations.”

This is the same way I built my exercise routine.  In November of 2011, I was 4 months postpartum and knew it was time to get my body in shape.  Inspired by watching a friend run the NYC marathon, I went to a Bikram yoga class the very next day. It was tough to get through that first time.  There were poses where I couldn’t even touch my toes and that was a little embarrassing.  What little yoga practice I’d had before having my son was long LONG gone.  But the feeling of accomplishing a 90 minute class was euphoric and definitely out-weighed a little bit of “out of shape” embarrassment.  I went to another class, then another.  Then decided to do a 30 day challenge.  Once the challenge was over I settled into a regular 3x a week practice.  This was the first time IN MY LIFE that I’d done any kind of regular exercise.  In the past any regular exercise had been a dance class I was enrolled in or dance rehearsals for a show I was doing.  It was never something truly self-motivated.  I was able to keep up this pace for a year, which as a new mom and working full time, I saw as a huge accomplishment.

The next November, in 2012, I had recently become a stay at home mom (SAHM) and thought (quite wrongly) that finally, I’d have more time to get to yoga!  Quite by accident, one morning on my way to yoga I stepped on a small piece of glass in my living room.  I’m still convinced it came in the house on my dog walker’s shoe.  I was in agony and had to run to the LICH emergency room (when it was still open).  My trip to the ER revealed nothing.  But I knew there was something in my foot because it HURT LIKE HELL.  No X-ray was needed for me to know that much.  I was distraught.  I could barely walk, let alone take a 90 minute yoga class.  But what about all my goals of getting to yoga daily and having one of those bodies that people envy?  How would I do this with a damn piece of glass in my foot??  I started to plummet deep into despair.  Don’t forget, I was a new SAHM who was grasping at some type of routine to fill the hole left by working full time.  The ER suggested I soak the foot to coax out the glass.  Then I realized, if I could get to the gym I could swim without hurting my foot.  Soak the foot, indeed.  I pulled out a bathing suit and some goggles and headed over there.

I really enjoyed swimming.  It’s low impact but a great full body workout.  It took a few trips to find a rhythm again, but soon I was gliding through the water!  Eventually (4 days later), the glass came out of my foot!  Thanks ER for telling me there was nothing on the X-Ray.

Now I’d accidentally started swimming in addition to my yoga.  It felt good, so I kept it up!  I continued this way – swimming & yoga – for a year.

Rich Joseph, Personal Trainer and Nice Guy

Rich Joseph, Personal Trainer and Nice Guy

Then as November 2013 approached, I started to think about what I could layer in (on purpose this time) to my exercise routine.  Luckily, in my networking circle for my health coaching practice I met a personal trainer named Richard Joseph.  A very friendly, warm, personal trainer (read: not intimidating), who was knowledgeable and accustomed to working with people who are just starting personal training.  Rich and I both come from an artistic background – me as an actor and he as a film maker.  We hit it off pretty easily.  I told him I was interested in personal training, but that I’d never done it because it seemed intense and scary.  He suggested we have a session to assess where I was and that didn’t seem to intimidating, so I went for it.  I figured, I’m in better shape than I was before I was pregnant, so I won’t embarrass myself at least.  First, he put me on a treadmill to see how fast and how hard I could run.  I was pleasantly surprised by how manageable it was to jog on the treadmill. Then he jacked up the incline and I realized, “Hell I am running on this thing!”

Sidenote: I HATE RUNNING.  I hated it in high school when we had to do the damn NY state test and I struggled to do the 13 minute mile.  I would run the straight-away and walk the curves of the track just so I could catch my breath.  I never had the lung capacity for running even as a teenager.  If Zombie’s are ever chasing me, I’m in trouble – like ‘Marie Becomes a Fellow Zombie” kind of trouble.

Next we did the plank position.  I’ve actually never done it before and despite looking easy, it is not.

plank cropped

It’s positions like this that scare me away from other types of yoga!  Then we did push-ups (I’m rubbish at these) and some squats (I felt the burn the next day!).  Overall, Rich said I was in good shape but had some areas to improve.  I was in an average place with my cardio – which I saw as a complete WIN.  The girl with the crappy lung capacity is average, yay!  Rich suggested we do some circuit training together combining free weights, machines and resistance exercises.  I told him my goal was “Michelle Obama arms” and the stomach of a woman who hasn’t had kids yet.  Lofty goals indeed!
Now that we’ve begun training once a week, I’m already seeing improvements.  I can hold plank position longer, I can run further, and I feel challenged in a new way.  It’s very helpful to have a coach guiding you, motivating you and tracking your progress.  I don’t quite have the Michelle Obama arms, but in terms of exercise, I’ve taken the bacon off my sandwich. It’s a start!
Rich has a fabulous website called Fitness Ladies where you can get information on workouts and diet plans. Plus you can read articles by me!

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