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On Burning Out

Back in January of this year, I wrote a post called Mojo, after receiving an email from a friend about exercising. She said, “I’ve become so freakin lazy. Feel like I’ve lost my mojo.”

Her email made me think about how I went from someone who lived next door to her fancy expensive gym but couldn’t muster up the motivation to actually get there, to someone who regularly traveled by subway to all corners of the city to take my beloved fitness classes — and told as much to the New York Times.

My main point from that post was this:

Exercise has become so ingrained in my life and has truly become something I love. Exercise has become a priority and a given.

I felt like I couldn’t longer relate to how my friend felt. I understood it because once upon a time I had been there, but now that I saw and felt everything exercise did for me, I could not imaging any other way.

And then last week happened.

The pain and pressure in my stomach that started suddenly one evening never dissipated. I tried to run 8miles on it and miraculously made it to 7.5.  In fact, it kept getting worse. I spent my entire second week at my new job sitting at my desk, unable to eat, feeling sick and trying to be on top of my game as I tried to do my job well, attend meetings with CEOs and overall make a  good impression.

I was able to put on a good show at work. What I wasn’t able to do, however, was exercise. Not only was I not able to — I did not want to.

For the first time in a year and a half, the thought of exercising was daunting, overwhelming and completely unappealing.

Scheduling my classes for the week, an activity I normally love and work on multiple times throughout the week, was just not something I was interested in doing. When Jess posted her weekly Say It Do It post, instead of commenting with my weekly plans as I usually loved to do, I closed the page. I couldn’t even consider an entire week of exercise. No interest.

I did not open the Refine schedule. I did not open the Core Fusion schedule. I almost attempted waking up a couple of mornings to run, but shortly before falling asleep I reset my alarm to sleep instead.

To be totally honest, I was not feeling well. I wasn’t able to eat anything without experiencing painful spasms, and while on the Cooler Cleanse from Tuesday through Friday, I was not able to drink more than four of the six juices each day — if that. I was nauseous, but luckily not eating stopped that pain from happening. But four juices a day is not enough to subsist on, let alone work out on. I did not have much energy. I felt weak and a little lightheaded. Working out would have been stupid and irresponsible.

But my attitude went beyond that. It was more than just not feeling well. I did not even welcome the idea of returning to exercise even after feeling better. The thought of it was revolting! I felt lazy. I  felt smothered by the idea of making exercise a part of my daily routine again. I wondered how, after experiencing the luxury of waking up at a decent hour, getting ready for work leisurely, and coming home right after to rest, would I ever want to make working out a regular part of my life again.

And I felt so weak that I couldn’t imagine ever not feeling that way. I felt like I lost so much of what I worked for so easily. Walking up the stairs in the train station seemed like too much. I took the escalator.

I thought about the Queens Half Marathon just a few weeks ago. I felt so strong, the speed came so easily. And my 14 mile run the following week was also phenomenal. How could I run 14 miles a few weeks ago, and now the thought of a single flight of stairs overwhelmed me? How would I ever run 14 miles again? Much less 26.2?

After an endoscopy on Friday, I spent the rest of the day in bed resting. I also spent much of Saturday resting before getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather. I had signed up for the NYRR Long Training Run Sunday. But late Saturday night, still feeling a bit weak, I turned off my alarm. I missed the entire sixth week of marathon training.

But on Sunday evening, I made a choice. I was going to slowly ease my way back into exercise. I took a full week off from any exercise at all, for the first time since January, 2010. At most I had taken a few days off in a row. At most.

I was able to eat on Saturday, and I was started to feel better. I ran 3 miles. They were not easy miles, but they also were not the worst miles. I went next door to the treadmill at that same fancy gym I once belonged to. I forgot my headphones and had to run the entire treadmill run with no entertainment, just my thoughts. And I did fine.

That run gave me the boost I needed.

The next morning, I went to Refine Method. I emailed Brynn, the owner and instructor of the class I signed up for, to let her know about my situation — which, being my friend, she already knew. But I wanted to be extra clear: I had not been feeling well, I had not worked out in over a week, my stomach might hurt, I might feel weak, I will be taking it easy. I wanted to ease back into working out.

The class was rough. I am used to feeling strong and confident at Refine, but yesterday I felt like the weakest one there. I did my best and I allowed myself to go slow. During jumpbacks, normally one of my favorite exercises, I started off slowly and eventually changed to step-backs, a slightly easier version. Normally, I am the person taking the harder modification.

During triceps with the kettlebells, I switched to a lighter weight rather than try and push through. I felt very aware of my limitations. And while the entire class was difficult and I certainly did not love it, I got through it and felt great after. And hungry — a very good sign.

And this morning, in an attempt to resume my marathon training this week (I simply crossed last week’s workouts off as though I did them), I ran 7 miles on the treadmill since it stays dark outside now. I gave myself permission to do less, but as the run went on I felt better and better.

And now I am back on track. I’m not going nuts scheduling classes like crazy, but I am easing back into my routine, most importantly my marathon training. I don’t think missing a week will ever hurt anyone, and because of the Queens Half Marathon I was already ahead in my training anyway.

After this morning’s run, I am no longer doubting my ability to train for the mararthon. I am no longer feeling a lack of motivation. My own mojo is slowly but surely returning.

The mood and energy boost I felt after Refine yesterday — despite the fact that it was not even close to one of my best workouts — and after my long pre-work run today . . . nothing else can make me feel this way. It is good to take a week off sometimes when you feel burnt out. I might not have even realized this if I hadn’t gotten sick. And no, I don’t believe my stomach pains were at all related to exercise — they were (and still are) very clearly eating related. The doctor saw something not normal with my stomach. But that week put my training and my attitude towards exercise and rest in perspective.

And now I am back. I walked into that fancy gym last night and once again became a member for the remainder of my marathon training. I happily signed the forms. I am not overwhelmed. I am not feeling smothered. I felt invincible to feeling a lack of motivation to exercise because I just loved everything it did for me. I heard others talking about it, but simply could not imagine, at the time I wrote that Mojo post, that it would happen to me.

But it did. And now I am back to myself. Just slightly wiser.


Core Fusion Lean & Toned Review & Giveaway

It is no secret that I love everything Core Fusion. In January and February, I embarked on my Core Fusion Challenge – to really amazing results. I’d never had such success with workouts before this. But Core Fusion changed my body, changed my entire outlook on exercise (I now love and crave it) and it changed how I approach situations outside the classroom in my everyday life.

While I did my Core Fusion Challenge at exhale spa taking live classes, many of the people who participated along with me used the Core Fusion DVDs. I actually own them all myself, and I use them when I am traveling or when I feel like doing a short exercise at home. Each DVD is broken up into five 10-minute workouts that you can do all at once, or split up whenever you want.

The stars of the DVDs – Body Sculpt, Pilates Plus, Pure Abs & Arms, Thighs & Glutes — are Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, Core Fusion co-founders, husband and wife, and also my teachers at exhale. They actually got married the same year I was born! They’re on the screen, doing the exercises and the movements are explained with their own voiceovers. Unlike other exercise DVDs, they aren’t irritating or mean or cheesy. Fred and Elisabeth explain each exercise, any variations you might want or need to do, and the benefits of each movement. Very calm, very chill – yet the workouts are VERY tough.

So those DVDs are all awesome. Seriously, I cannot recommend them enough. But now they decided to take a new approach with their next few DVDs and make them more like a live class – like the classes I take multiple times a week at exhale spa.

So far, they’ve filmed three of these class-like DVDs – and one of them, Core Fusion Lean & Toned, comes out on Tuesday, May 4! Being the Core Fusion aficionado that I am, I got my hands on an early copy (tip: they are already on sale at exhale spa locations). I’ve seen this DVD twice so far. The first time, I watched it in bed on a Friday night like a movie. Core Fusion really is just that entertaining to me! And the second time, I did as much of the DVD workout as one could do in a tiny Manhattan apartment with no living room.

I was excited about this DVD because it is marketed as being like a live class. Even more exciting is that in the DVD with Fred and Elisabeth are three of my favorite Core Fusion teachers! So if you get this DVD, you’ll be watching the teachers whose classes I take the most.

So what did I think of Core Fusion Lean & Toned?

I liked it! I think that for someone who doesn’t have access to live classes or can’t afford/doesn’t want to pay for them, this DVD will definitely give you a good feel of what class is like. That said, Lean & Toned is not exactly like a live class as I thought it would be. It was like a compressed version of class – as if someone held a full-length class at both ends and squeezed it in.

Lean & Toned goes something like this:

Warm up (leg/arm lifts)
Reverse Pushups (tricep dips)
Forearm Plank
Weights (for biceps, triceps, shoulders, back)
Thighs  (ouch)
Abs (flat back/round back against a wall)
Abs (pretzel/curl combo)

That is a lot to pack in 50 minutes! The movements are fairly nonstop so it does work up a sweat, although the stretching in between creates a nice feeling of balance. That said, some parts did feel rushed, like the plank and arm weights sections, which were much shorter than I expected. I also never saw the pretzel move interspersed with the abs curl position, as was done here. I was confused by the pretzel (imagine sitting with one leg bent in front of you and one straight or bent to the side) being here at all since there was already a glutes section, and this pretzel was intended more for abs. Just something I haven’t seen done in class. One final difference is that in class we do glutes right after thighs. In the DVD some ab work falls in between those sections, although a little birdie told me that was a production error. 😉

All in all, this is an excellent workout DVD and you will get the idea of a Core Fusion class. If you decide to order the DVD, you will need to own a set of light weights. I’ve been doing Core Fusion for months and I use 3 pound weights. You also need a chair to hold on to for the thighs segment, and a wall with space to lean against for flat and round back abs.

Want to try Core Fusion Lean & Toned for free?

I’m giving away one copy of this DVD thanks to the awesome people at Acacia, the company that produces all Core Fusion DVDs along with many other workout DVDs (one of which I will be reviewing next week!).

You will receive one entry for EACH of the following:

  1. Leave a comment telling me what body part you want to strengthen with Core Fusion and why
    Ex) I want so strengthen my arms so I can finally open the tightly closed bottles of POM Wonderful the company sent me
  2. Tweet this contest! Copy and paste the following into your Twitter:
    Win the new #CoreFusion Lean & Toned DVD from @dysterious:
  3. Link back to this contest in your own post and let me know in the comments section. Don’t have a blog? Post it on Facebook and let me know!

I will randomly choose a winner via the Random Integer Generator on Tuesday, May 4 – the day the Core Fusion Lean & Toned DVD officially comes out!

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