Archive for January, 2016

My first introduction to Jillian Michaels, before I really knew about the biggest loser or anything related to that, was looking at workout videos that were available for streaming on Netflix years back and I tried one of hers, and I didn’t finish it because her mentality pissed me off so much. Specifically what pissed me off was she stated at one point something along the lines of “I know you feel like you’re dying, but you aren’t, so don’t stop”.


Image of Jillian Michaels with a quote “I want you to feel like you’re going to die.”

Excuse me?

Are you in my living room with me? Do you know my health background? What makes you talking to people you don’t know and can’t see qualified to actually say that none of those people are actually in danger if they push through feeling like they are dying?

That attitude and disregard for the well being of people so disgusted me that I couldn’t stand to finish the video with her. I later learned more about her and discovered that her entire fame as a trainer is based around a total disregard for the well being of others

This is also an attitude that I see often put forth  in“fitspo”- encouragement to just push through no matter how awful you feel, and the insistence that feeling “bad” is always normal.

The truth is though, not all kinds of bad feelings during workouts are normal, ok, or safe! Pushing through some of that “I feel like I’m dying” can be dangerous! “I feel like I’m dying” sometimes is the precursor to death!

The thing is, not only can someone who doesn’t know us, what we are feeling, and what our health is, say for certain if we are really ok when we feel bad during a workout, sometimes we don’t know enough to make that judgment either!

I’m thinking about this now following my brand new diagnosis of asthma!

See, after a krav maga workout last week I started coughing, which is not very unusual for me. Though the coughing kept getting worse, was far worse than ever before. and lasted longer than usual. Maybe or maybe not related to me working out around others and feeling embarrassed to stop and take a breather when I felt like I couldn’t breath.

After this I started looking up info on coughing after workouts and talked with a few people about it, since like I said- it’s far from the first time I coughed following a workout. I’ve always before though just thought that was normal. One woman replied to me online telling me she was the same, until it was so bad she ended up in the ER and found out the coughing was not normal but rather asthma. Thankfully I got in to my pcp for the diagnosis and prescribed an inhaler before ending up in the ER.

It reminds me that sometimes feeling like you can’t breathe isn’t normal out of breath from a workout, sometimes it is a serious (if not treated) medical condition!

It is really dangerous that we have this mentality that workouts should make you feel like you are dying and the correct response is always just to “suck it up” and push through anything and everything no matter what. People absolutely can get hurt by this.

I’ve already written a bit about resolutions, but I have a few more thoughts on them. I was thinking about them last week and started thinking about shifting focus from the idea that resolutions should be something we do consistently from Jan 1st through Dec 31st to thinking of them as habits we want to have achieved by December 31st.

I’ve been thinking about this even more the more I hear people talking about failing their resolutions already- not even the end of the January and they already failed at their resolution. Hearing this, I just think “how can you ‘fail’ a resolution when it’s only the first month of the year? You have another 11 months to still work on this!”

Which has me thinking this is a needed mentality shift for people. If you resolve Jan 1st that this year you are going to go to the gym before work every day, and now it’s the third week of January and you haven’t gone to the gym at all this week, so you failed because you haven’t been to the gym before work every day since January 1st on. Since you have already failed, just throw in the towel and give up on that goal because you already failed. Except there is no reason just because you haven’t gotten this resolution down to a habit after only 23 days in, you can’t make it a habit. You have lots of time left to still work on making it a habit!

If your resolution hasn’t gone perfectly so far, that doesn’t mean you failed, it means you still have room to improve it.

So I was feeling better recently and getting back to lifting and I started thinking about this issue….

I feel better when I work out.

Or I work out when I feel better.

Which is it?

Of course it is both, I do believe that working out can make me feel better. I also know that working out depends on how I feel, so I need to feel well enough to workout. But to say how much is a vs how much b is impossible for me to say. When I’m working out and feeling better physically… how much of me feeling better is because I’m working out? How much of my working out is because I just happen to be doing better physically at this time.


I don’t really have much more to say on this issue, but wanted to throw it out there. I was thinking about this recently and meaning to post about it and never got around to it until now. Which is a bit ironic that I’m posting it now since I’m actually feeling terrible because of a workout right now. I finally started Krav Maga but after the class I started coughing terribly and I’m still struggling with it more than a day later. I need to go see my doctor, it seems from my googlings and talking with others I might actually have a form of asthma. I’ve often had coughing fits that last hours after runs but I thought that was rather normal, maybe normal-normal, but at least not a problem. Turns out I might have been ignoring serious issues.

One of my take away life lessons from 2015 is that it’s the little things in life that can have the most impact, at least for me.

I’ve struggled a lot over the past couple years with feeling not good enough, feeling like I’m not doing enough, and being unhappy. I’ve been stressed out basically. I was stressed out with school and feeling like I was never doing good enough or just plan old doing enough with it, I was stressed out working a job where my income didn’t cover my bills, I was stressed out trying to pay for health insurance, I was stressed out with a job where my work was not appreciated and I was not treated with respect, so I left that job and was still stressed out at not having enough money, I was also stressed out and feeling bad over social conceptions of what it means to not have a job.

By the end of 2015 I’m much happier. I’m not making a lot of money, money hasn’t ceased being a worry, ends still don’t quite meet for me, but it’s better than before. More importantly, I have a job where I feel valued. And those little things make all the difference.

I  still don’t have a “PhD” behind my name, yet. I didn’t present at any big conferences. I also didn’t go to any big concerts. I didn’t meet anyone famous. In many ways I didn’t “do” a whole lot.

Yet- I am far more happy with things.

With the new year, I saw this idea that I liked when I read about it- to create a rememberence jar- decorate a mason jar and then write down some good thing, or some memory, in that jar each day and at the end of the year you can see all these great memories or positive things.

This sounded great and I was totally going to do this, but then Jan 1st I was in my kitchen washing dishes late at night and wondering what I could possibly write down for that day. Washed dishes? That’s not really a big important memory to make note of.

But doing dishes is one of those little things in life. Few things in life seem to feel as good to me as a clean and empty sink. Maybe because I so rarely have one. Yet day to day those little things, and little sources of happiness, like getting all my dishes washed, have more impact on my overall happiness and quality of life than big exciting things, like going to a concert.

Which may just be me. I may just be exceedingly boring. I’m ok with that. For me, that’s how it is. So, keeping that in mind for myself, maybe something that seems designed to highlight “special” moments over everyday ones isn’t the best fit for me and my life.

I think there is a lot of pressure in our culture to have lives that look exciting from the outside. I feel this in particular being an introverted person, the assumption that surely my life would have more meaning, be fuller, and be better if I just go out more often, and do things, in public, with other people. But for me, that is not my path to happiness.

I mentioned in my last post that I like resolutions/goals for a new year that build off of things that have already worked. Well, keeping that in mind, I hope to spend 2016 staying in touch with the importance of little things. It may not make the most impressive instagram photo, or the most exciting story to share, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important or worthwhile.