I Am a Spartan

By no means am I wuss, a princess, or a diva; I have no problems getting my hands dirty and sweating. However, I’m not a tomboy and I’m not into the outdoors. I’ve never camped, hiked or whatever it is people think is fun to do in the woods—I dropped out of the Girl Scouts after one week and I avoid sitting outside for brunch in the summer when it’s too hot. I abhor humidity and can’t sleep if I know there’s a mosquito flying around in my apartment.

All that being said, I also like pushing my body to its limits, getting stronger and working out in any way that will get me my desired results; I want to be a physical beast (while still looking feminine). I want to know that if I have to run for my life, that if I have to scale walls or do whatever it takes to stay alive in a dire situation, my chances of survival are as high as possible. So when a fellow worker-outer started mentioning the Reebok Spartan Race I initially balked, but as everyone else signed up and grew increasingly excited, my boyfriend and I seriously began to consider it as well. And being the impulsive person that I am, I signed us both up two days before the event…then inwardly cringed. Not only did I feel physically unprepared and incapable, I didn’t even know how I could be mentally prepared for something as daunting as 4.5 miles of rocky hills and 15 grueling obstacles interspersed along the trail. Let’s just say I felt numb for those two days leading up to the race.

What exactly is the Spartan Race, you ask? Here’s the website’s description:  “Simply, Spartan Race is the world’s leading obstacle race series. It’s an event of pure primitive craziness that you’ll never forget! Spartan Race has:
· Races all over the globe
· Different distances for different levels and styles or racing.
· A unique culture and community of athletes striving together to overcome any and everything.”

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Our team ran the Spartan Sprint. After my initial shock of pressing “JOIN” wore off, I immediately started my own recon to find out everything I could about the course and how to prepare. The race is different every year, however I needed to see what kind of obstacles were probable so as not to go into this completely blind. The videos of races past, accounts from those who’ve participated in years prior, and pictures of men and women scratched up, tired and battered, had me at a total loss. Yet even all of that couldn’t prepare me for the actual experience of hurdles like scaling walls, rope climbs, barbed wire crawls over rocks, log, boulder and sandbag carries, monkey bars and nets, rock climbing, and jumping over fire. Hell, we had to scale a wall just to get to the starting line! I was ready to turn around and go back home as soon as I saw that craziness. Conversely, my mind completely changed when I saw one of the morbidly obese, out of shape contestants from NBC’s television show, The Biggest Loser, heave herself up and over that first wall: NO EXCUSES, BEAST MODE, FINISH THIS. There was no going back and I knew I had to test myself, body and mind. No more mental blocks were allowed to reside in my brain. If the man with one arm that was smiling a few feet away from me could do it, if the TV contestant could do it, then I could do it, too. I used to be that woman.

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Thank the gods on Mount Olympus that I stuck with it! While it felt like hell on earth at certain points (the barbed wire crawl was a big one), it was insanely awesome at the same time! Reebok has some smart people in their company; they design and engineer these races flawlessly. The courses truly show you what you’re made of in every aspect of human nature: fear, competitiveness, determination, strategy and ambition; physical and mental prowess, strength, capability and overall confidence. I regret nothing about joining this race. Self-doubt, fear of failure, and thoughts of defeat are now out of the proverbial window.

Right now as I type this post, the feeling of accomplishment is almost overwhelming. From being morbidly obese at 230 lbs with no muscle strength; from not being about to run one city block without losing my breath; from having joint pain because I couldn’t carry my own weight; I made it to the Tri-State Spartan Race in Tuxedo, NY on Saturday, June 7th, 2014. Every ache, scratch and bruise makes me smile and my eyes well with tears unshed. I went into this experience thinking this would be a bucket list item, but I already know this has now become an annual test for me—I’m hooked. Even my workouts will be geared toward preparation for future races. I am determined, I am focused, I am a finisher. I am a Spartan.

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PS: Yes, I sure did give myself a fresh manicure when I got home. You bet I did!

Motivated Monday

Several years ago when I first started getting into fitness, I had no idea what I was doing or should be doing in order to lose weight and get in shape. I threw myself into a bunch of cardio classes and got a personal trainer that didn’t properly create a plan that suited my body type or goals. Yes, I lost weight, but I also bulked up like a man because I wasn’t doing the right workouts for my body and my diet was neither practical nor conducive to my goals. After suffering from an injury due to over-training, bulking up (which everyone says is impossible for women to do—au contraire) and having to undo that damage while still on a weight-loss/fat-loss mission, I was forced to understand the science of everything: diet, fitness, nutrition and health. Basically, I have and am still learning how the body works as a whole.

After much research, trial and error, I now know what works for me. My body composition has changed due my mix of cardio and strength training paired with cleaner, more practical eating habits. Even though I’m back to lifting weights, my execution is different now; my body and muscles are not getting bigger, they’re getting leaner. I truly understand what bodybuilding means now and I’m applying it literally by building my body piece by piece.

Also, my mentality has completely changed. No matter how many times I tried to convince myself that it was ok that the numbers on the scale weren’t budging because of the muscle/fat equation, I didn’t believe my own thoughts or the science behind it; I was stuck on societal charts/graphs/”standards”/”norms.” I’ve finally broken away from my weight on the scale, understanding and truly embracing the fact that I am sculpting my body to fit my “norm,” my standards. This keeps me motivated and makes me want to help others understand their bodies more fully.

Am I completely satisfied with where I am right now? No, however I’m not finished; my journey will never end. Yet, please understand that I’m happier with myself and my body than I have ever been, even when I was at my skinniest, because now I’m at my healthiest. When I post pictures or videos of myself or my workouts, it’s not for vanity purposes. They are to keep pushing myself further and whoever else is on a similar mission or is thinking about starting. The more I learn and change, the more I will share my message to those who want to hear it. I’m here to inspire and motivate, while I reap inspiration and motivation from your journeys in turn.
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Options

Even though I live in “the city that never sleeps,” more often than not I choose to spend Friday night comfy and cozy on my couch or bed, catching up on tv, magazines (I do love my glossy rags), and snacking on anything I can get my hands on.

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Tonight’s dilemma is truly stressing me–which bar of chocolate do I tear into first? What show do I choose to start my dvr marathon? Which fashion mag do I peruse? All of this pressure is going to make me reach for the chips instead (I hid them from the camera…).

I’ll work it off at the gym in the morning. Until then, munch munch munch!

New Year, New Blog

Thirty-five years sounds like enough time has passed that something new should occur in one’s life—a career shift, a lifestyle change, or maybe something smaller like a new hairstyle, a different look, or possibly even a new blog. This past year leading up to my personal holiday (today), I have achieved them all except for the new blog…until now! The quarter-life crisis has been overcome, now it is time for some sort of third-life renaissance. After vacillating over this decision for months, the pros have outweighed the cons and The Vickylicious has come to fruition. For those that have been following my Instagram page (instagram.com/thevickylicious), this site will be much more in depth than just pictures with hash tags. Here, the hash tags and images will actually be explained so you won’t think my mind is as muddled as each waffle (#) I throw up. Since my brain isn’t syrup just yet and I can still write coherently and form rational thought, please enjoy my ramblings, discoveries, experiments and the miscellany that compile my life.

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