No pain no gain


(my first Tony Horton video. Yesterday I purchased my third - P90X3)

I had a conversation with a woman yesterday about exercise and our bodies. She mentioned that some of the moves she’d seen on the video made her joints hurt just by watching. My response? That there are modifications for every move, shown on the video. I went further, though, asking about her specific issues. I modify everything too, because of a bad knee and shoulder, and I made a point of telling her that listening to your body is so so important, whether or not the video trainer shows you less intense ways to move.

“I like your approach! So many people are into ‘no pain no gain.’”


This made me pause. There is good “pain”, which I think of as my muscles working hard. It’s the fatigue that makes me fail midway through a pullup, or collapse on the ground doing a pushup. It’s the great and satisfying ache that comes when I wake up sore the next morning, and the sigh of relief when my muscles start their work again.

And there is not good pain.The twinge when you start to move in a way that is not good. The intake of breath as something goes wrong. The wince (as opposed to the grimace of good pain).

I’ve learned to listen. When I feel a twinge, I stop and modify. No ego involved, no “I have to keep up with whatever superfit superhuman is on the screen in front of me.” That the trainers keep telling me to listen to my body surely helps. “Take breaks,” admonishes Shaun T. “Do your best and forget the rest,” says Tony Horton.

Is there a life lesson in this? Is it badass to be able to read the “pain” signals of my choices, to choose to modify when the pain is not constructive and positive? Maybe so.

I believe I’ll start with Tony’s mantra, changing it a bit. “Do your best and learn from the rest.”

Learning is about as badass as it gets.

Listening to your body

This might be a cop out. I’ll fully admit that right here, but my firm belief is that if I were to call it a cop out, it would be because of some “expectation” by “society.”

I’m on day 2 of no morning workout. Me, of the wake-up-early-and-sweat-to-start-my-day variety, admitting online that for the second day in a row, the cozy sheets and horizontal position have won.

No alarm going off and snooze button hitting. I’ve decided the night before, in both cases, that what I need is sleep. My brain feels like it’s on overload, and when my head hits the pillow at more like 11 or 12 than 9:30, well, let’s just say I need more sleep than that.

The thing is, our bodies are complex organisms. How “healthy” we are depends on far more than how much we can bench press. It’s water intake, and what we eat (and how much.) It’s how much we exercise, to a point. It’s our friends, and our hygiene, and our mental acuity. It’s the stuff we put into our brains as well as our mouths.

And it’s sleep. You want small things to make a difference in your weight, in how you feel about yourself? Start with getting more sleep and drinking more water.

Badass me, rolling out of bed at 6:30 and straight to a shower. I needed it today, no apologies.


Besides, I have to be up late for a couple of nights – Julian is in his first high school production!




I posted these pics of my progress to date on Facebook the other day, which engendered an interesting discussion among people who don’t normally engage with my posts other than a “like.” There were the “WOW” and “you’re so brave” comments (probably because those first pics are in my underwear), but then we got into the meat of the whole thing.

Someone said “Hard work pays off.”

My response? “Consistency and forgiveness – one day at a time.”

Yes, forgiveness. We are so quick as a culture, as a gender (do guys do this too?) to beat ourselves up if we “fail.” If we fall off the track we’re carving out for ourselves. If we somehow show a weakness. It is my strong belief that if we don’t forgive ourselves or learn from those lapses, we’ll never stick to it. So you ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch one night. Or at a whole loaded pizza. So you didn’t get your sweat on for a week (or a day). Whoops. We all do it.


It’s kind of like riding a bike, or the proverbial riding a horse. When you fall off, you get right back on.

When you learned to walk, I bet you fell a bunch of times. Did that make you say “Uh oh, can’t do it. Better quit now. I’m such a loser because I’m not perfect.” Nope, and nobody else said it too.

Exercise and eating right, adjusting your lifestyle to have those be a part of your life? It takes work, and trial and success and frustration and setbacks. And it takes forgiveness. Not forgetting – you want to learn from it. Why did you eat that? What made it hard to work out? How can you change those things?

It’s badass to be nice to yourself. And I don’t mean “get an ice cream” nice.




My current workout is called T25, an intense 25 minutes of serious sweat put together by the master himself, Shaun T. His other workouts include Insanity and Asylum, plus some less crazy ones. I haven’t done Asylum (even the name makes me shudder a little) but I have done Insanity – and that’s 45 minutes or an hour of pure, hard work 6 days a week.

So how do people get results in just 25 minutes? It’s all in the FOCUS, a word Shaun repeats over and over. It’s on the walls behind him in the studio. It’s even officially a part of the name – “Focus T25.”

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about multi-tasking. What was once a hallmark of ultimate efficiency, this drive to do a zillion things all at once is coming under fire. Turns out our minds are not really capable of cooking and talking on the phone all at once, or writing a paper and listening to our kids. (I think it’s safe to say, though I might be proved wrong, that you can still walk and chew gum at the same time.) Our mind ping-pongs back and forth between the tasks, making each take longer or turn out poorly. Far better to focus on one thing for a time, then shift focus.

From a photography standpoint, if you're not focused, the picture is blurry.

This focus (for lack of a better word) on focus, on doing one thing and giving it your all, I can also think of as intentionality. If I am deliberate in my decisions and in my actions, I will get results.

Focus. As powerful a word as any I’ve heard lately. How might you apply it?