January Fitness Challenge

Thanks to my girl Heidi with Train To Live, I joined a fitness challenge for January. The challenge consisted of a three-day cleanse and then two-weeks of workouts. I started January 5 and am proud to say I completed as of this Wednesday, January 21. I lost 2.875 inches total and feel more toned and energized than I have in a long time. Here’s the skinny on getting skinny…

CleanseJanuary fitness challenge
First let me say that this was not a cleanse like most of you are instantly thinking, intaking only lemon juice and cayenne for three days. It was a clean-eating plan with actual good-for-you foods that another health specialist created with Heidi specifically for this challenge. Participants had a meal plan to repeat each day, including tons of hearty vegetables, lean protein and this dank-ass flax granola we were all required to make. We were not allowed to have fast food, fried food, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar or white flour. The toughest part for me was caffeine. Cleanse Day 1 was categorized by a lingering headache. I was very happy to discover that green tea had just enough caf to take the edge off and was allowed as an herbal tea, full of antioxidants.

Workouts
The exercise plan spanned two weeks. It was composed of 6 Fit Day routines. Basically, over the course, we performed each of those twice (total of 12 days) and incorporated two rest days (Sundays). Fit Days 1 to 5 were pretty high-intensity endurance workouts. One day focused on cardio; one day focused on legs; etc. Fit Day 6 was a stretch day, with 10 minutes of warm-up prior. Amazingly, each day’s routine was designed to be done with zero equipment – and anywhere with roughly five-by-five feet of space. I did use a mat for floor stuff, because I had one handy. The rest of the workouts I did in my bedroom, in the driveway, in the hall at the YMCA or even while out of town.

Things I loved about this challenge
1) I am currently undergoing what I’m considering an incubator phase for my new journey into a health and fitness career (as a personal trainer, plus), and this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. That’s where I am right now – learning as much as possible to shape my interests and path. Now I’ve done a sanctioned fitness challenge. Now I’ve done a cleanse. Experience is power, baby.

2) I was greatly surprised with my own personal results. I had already been eating relatively clean – watching sodium, fat and calories. I was working out regularly too – with a goal of three days per week.  But, alas, we are in the winter season and the holidays just past. So I guess, I wasn’t doing all that I could. I am thrilled to see positive changes in my body and can’t wait to enlist in something else for February that pushes me. (Note: Lost 2.875 inches were sum of total measured at 11 sites – neck, upper arms L/R, chest, waist, hips, thighs L/R, calves L/R and butt.)

3) Sparked by a newfound enthusiasm, I recruited several friends to also participate in the challenge. Shout out to Erin and her bridal party for agreeing! This was a whole other angle, to lead a group through the process, to serve as a good example. I have found fulfillment in sharing, motivating and holding accountability.

4) This challenge encompassed 17 days, a short-term commitment. And all the exercises were extremely user-friendly. I am thoroughly impressed with this approach. People lead incredibly busy lives. Got it. But often they are excuse-laden. Don’t have time to exercise? Don’t have a gym membership? Don’t have a finish line so you never start the race? Let’s give ‘em a solution. Workouts 30 to 45 minutes. That you can do at home (hell, in a broom closet). That require no equipment. That only lasts two weeks.

Stuart Scott, an Inspiration

Last night my brother said, “Damn, Stuart Scott died.” He said Stuart was one of the first people he ever remembered listening to when it came to sports. My boyfriend agreed. They shook their somber heads.

I didn’t know who Stuart Scott was in that moment. This morning I’ve been watching ESPN and as soon as I saw a clip of Stuart Scott hosting Sports Center, I knew him immediately.

Stuart ScottI’m a girl, so sports commentators come a little more slowly to me. But I recognized this man. I had seen and heard him many times. I didn’t really identify him as a pioneer of the industry along the way, but in all the passings-by I have had with practically any sports viewing, he was there. He was building a legacy my whole life. I just hadn’t realized.

I knew his face. I knew his voice – and his catch phrases. Boo-yah! Cooler than the other side of the pillow! And people across the world knew him as an award-winning leader in sports broadcasting.

I watch co-workers, former partners, athletes and more speak about Stuart in a very touching tribute. He was no doubt loved and a person who loved life. I can recall that and see it vividly right now.

He was a talented, fun, family-oriented man. Many say that viewers felt like they knew him, and that they did know him because the man you saw on TV was the man himself. He was always real, and that is a rare thing.

His enthusiasm was contagious. Through Stuart viewers found appreciation for basketball, golf, tennis and any sport he laid his hands on. A subtle, powerful teacher.

I watch Stuart and am inspired. I saw a man who loved what he did. He had a spark for his job that drives me forward. And to think how inspiration on a Monday morning can come from such unexpected sources…

1965 – 2015

Away from Home

Mindful of the future, I want to be flexible and frugal. So after selling my house in surprisingly short style, instead of buying a new house or signing a lease, I decided to live with a friend. She had the whole upstairs of her house empty and was welcoming extra income to offset a mortgage. We had even lived together before, when I was a three-month intern at her ad agency about six years ago. I would save money, be contract-free and have fewer responsibilities. This would be a win-win for both of us.

I moved in at the beginning of November. All is nice enough. A decent size bedroom, with storage across the hall in another vacant room and a bathroom practically to myself. None of the home care to worry about like an owner. A very accepting, low maintenance housemate. All my change-of-addresses are complete, and the litany of post-move crap is finally done.

The transition is harder than I thought. Yes, all the reasons I sold my house and moved where I moved were good ones. This is a great scenario, cutting in all the right places, floating because it works. Aside from banking an extra $1,000 a month now, I’m also closer to many area amenities – grocery stores, retail shops, restaurants, fitness centers, doctors, downtown. But something is incredibly hard to adjust to.

It’s not the location. It’s not the house. It’s not my friend. I think it’s a feeling of loss, and being lost.

For the longest time, I have been independent. I started living alone my junior year of college because I didn’t like the roommate experience. I have had my own space since. (Pretty much… I moved back in with my mom for a period between an internship and first full-time job, and I hated it. I lived with an ex-boyfriend for a couple years, but let’s face it, that was my domain.)

I feel awkward not owning a house, I guess. That was the biggest purchase of my life, a substantial accomplishment. Like my forefathers, I was proud to have property. People were proud of me. It became part of my identity, whether I wanted that or not. It was where I created memories and discovered self.

It’s not the lack of possession. It’s the feeling like I don’t belong.

I realized that I have a history of having no home. A real home. A safe place that is comfortable and mine. My parents struggled to provide that. Then, as a young person, I’ve been a rover. But I want to stop.

It hits me kind of like a freight train to admit that I want that home, that the utmost thing I’ve been craving my whole life is a place of my own, to settle down, to build a sanctuary, to be whole and secure. I want a life filled with adventure, but excitement cannot be as sweet without a normal.

Selling 100 Kimberly

True to form, there have been and are to come a lot of big changes in my life. To prepare for such, I decided to sell my house, wanting to minimize expenses and increase flexibility. I was motivated by fear that the home selling process could take a while. Standard could be three to six months. Long-term could be a year or more.

100 Kimberly Dr LivingAlmost as soon as I moved into that house in Travelers Rest, I knew it was farther out in the country than I wanted to be. I thrive on activity and wished to be closer to downtown right away. It was a home and property too great for me alone and also not where I wanted to settle down.

But I was there and needed to make the most of it. To avoid the huge immediate headaches of selling, moving and paying any capital gains tax, I had to wait. Besides, it was a lovely place – hardwood floors, wood-burning fireplace, stainless steel appliances, custom open plan, tons of storage, tremendous outdoor spaces, etc.

Once I passed the two-year safety mark, however, for my sanity and purse, I veered toward putting the house on the market. Thinking I should start the potentially drawn out process, I went ahead and listed. A bit to my chagrin, I used a realtor, whose time could be devoted to the sale. I did negotiate a five percent max commission, so that eased the pain of payout. Her company also had the key element of 10-plus online listing tools that I couldn’t readily access.

100 Kimberly Dr KitchenI prepped by cleaning the house from top to bottom, literally using a cobweb brush in every ceiling corner and scrubbing the baseboards. All the rooms had finally been filled with furniture and wall décor. I hired a lawn maintenance man to keep the grass and leaves at bay and improve curb appeal. We enlisted a professional photographer to really capture the beauty of the house. (No doubt photos sell!)

The house went on the market September 22. The first showing was booked about five minutes later, after a buyer who’d been looking for that exact style home in that exact area saw an automatic email notification come through. Okay. Prospects coming at 4 p.m. I must rush home to stage!

That I did – Swiffer floors, fluff pillows, spray room freshener, place flowers, dim ambience lighting. The kicker was the handouts presentation on the bar, complete with a Home Highlights list, personal Letter from the Owner and Duke Energy Efficiency Report. And if they needed another touch, just grab a mint from the treats bowl.

100 Kimberly Dr move prepHardwork paid off. Within 24 hours, we had an offer. And in another day, we had a signed contract. I got my asking price and made a profit after only two years of ownership. The buyers were the cutest little family to fill that home with love, growth and happiness, a young couple with a seven-month-old half-Asian baby girl. Don’t worry about anyone’s savvy here. This was the best outcome that could have been expected. One day on the market – better yet the best outcome ever.

My entire life, I have only heard horror stories about people selling houses. Take a lesson here. If you pick a wonderful home and thoughtfully take care of it, some buyer down the road will recognize that. Kind of crazy though… I thought I had months to plan my next move.

Certifiable

Apparently this happens to me every couple of years. I don’t want to say I get bored. But a big part of me begins to miss the dynamic nature of an unknown day and wish for a challenge.

I’ve been in marketing for six years. I’ve worked for agencies – large, medium and small. I’ve done client-side, contract and freelance. For nearly three years, I’ve managed my own company. Design, media, visuals, online, production, branding, public relations, strategy… They are all pieces of the communications pie, a vital, powerful indulgence in our world today. After running the industry gamut though, I am ready for something new.

I’ve been considering career alternatives for a while, having to be a real adult and make calculated choices that took into account my personal responsibilities, promises to others and, most of all, timing. I wanted to turn my day-to-day into something I truly love doing. A no-brainer, I easily settled on a field where my passion has always flourished and excited – health and fitness. Why shouldn’t I focus on a cornerstone of the human existence? Why shouldn’t I help people utterly improve their quality of life? This is what matters.

A slew of research, conversations and deliberation later, I decided the first step would be to become a Certified Personal Trainer. I could get accredited and start gaining experience with clients right away. I mean, I had bided enough time; I needed to get moving.

The organization I found to be the most reputable certifying body was the American College of Sports Medicine, a.k.a. ACSM or The Gold Standard. They require what’s claimed to be the highest level of knowledge and skill of their trainers, and I aim to be the best. So I studied all summer. I hadn’t read a textbook since college, and not even cover-to-cover then. I used flashcards, for crying out loud, and did three practice tests. It was worth it. I passed the exam on August 28. (Legal, Professional, Business and Marketing was my strongest category. Ha!)

Now I’m a toe in the water. Not sure where it will all lead – perhaps more education and certifications, perhaps creating another business, perhaps an opportunity that I don’t even realize is out there yet. I do know that it means I’m on my path to happiness and self-fulfillment, and that I’m looking forward to making a difference. I’ll change the world if you let me.

Side side note… Brandfarmers, advertising and marketing solutions, will continue. I’ll be a heavy part of the company for the foreseeable future. Once my personal training gig revs up enough to be fulltime, I’ll scale back hours elsewhere. Brandfarmers will live on under the leadership of my business partner, regardless. No one is to worry.  :)