Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Whether You Think You Can Or Think You Can't, You're Probably Right

8 months ago I began a life-changing journey at the hands of Mark Fisher and his team of ridiculous humans.  Their motto is as follows:
More is not better.
More is more.
Better is better.
More is sometimes worse.
Enough is plenty.
You are enough.
High five.

"You are enough."  I quote this to myself every morning in the shower, and I'm starting to believe it.  8 months ago I had hurt myself running, was full of cortisol from various stressors, had no idea why my 1200-calorie-a-day diet wasn't working, and was sure I was destined to eventually turn into the Mama Cass I saw in the mirror (albeit with the voice of Karen Carpenter...don't hate).

(Interesting that my images of myself are both 70's singers with eating disorders.....)
I never knew there existed such a place as magical as the one Mark's team has created down on 39th Street.  I can't think of a time when I haven't been excited to go to class, and even the days when the commute sucks or I have to stop what I'm doing at work to put aside time for myself to get there, get dressed, and then get home, it's always worth it.  Upon entering I'm greeted with smiles, hugs, and lots of encouragement.  Once in class the instructors never fail to inspire and set the tone for the next hour of self-love -- be it Matt's costumes, Staci's cheering, Katie's "get-a-heavier-bell-slut" attitude, Geoff's aura, Harold's humor, Stephanie's music, Amanda's all-around-awesomeness, Brian's tear-inducing pride in me, or Mark's reminders to really look at myself in the mirror that make me nod my head rather than the former shaking my head in disappointment.

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, 
you're probably right." 

These words are my constant mantra in class.  The days I think I can't, I'm right and convince myself as such.  But the days I know I can, I fly higher, push the ground further, row faster, swing harder, plank longer, squat deeper, and love more than I ever knew I had within me.  I've sweat more, cried more, lifted more, and cared more in these past 8 months than I have in my entire life.  All because a group of foul-mouthed misfit toys who genuinely care about everyone's goals toward health and hotness.

We have a Facebook group where fellow members ("ninjas" as we're lovingly called) can post anything from funny quotes/pictures to confessions of falling off the healthy wagon to sharing family stories of how they got where they are today.  I look forward to these messages, and even though I'm less participatory (that's the introverted side of the ambivert I am) I feel for these people like they are my family.  We sometimes list our upcoming short term goals like sticking to a workout routine while on vacation, or in a recent case long-term goals like running a marathon next year.

Last weekend I decided to kill it and go all out to usher in November.  I got to the Clubhouse and saw familiar smiling faces ready to go after it as well, including the Mama Bear of my Snatched group.  As an individual she is so beloved and with good reason... she's a freakin' rockstar of a friend.  As a fitness champion her story never fails to awe-inspire.  When she started 8 months ago, she was doing planks against the wall in place of push-ups.  After nearly 30 pounds lost (and a sexy new waistline to boot) her goal is to do 1 perfect push-up before the end of the year.  In the middle of class I heard Brian talking her through her modified push-ups, and at one of our set breaks he turned the music down and told us that during the next set my beautiful friend would be going 1" lower to get even closer to her goal.  She did it during the next set, and at our break something amazing happened.  We took our breather to relish in the glory that had just happened on a mat in the back row.  We lived in the moment of a fellow ninja going 1" lower on a push-up.  I got teary.  We applauded.  It was such a beautiful moment that I'll cherish forever.  It's for reasons like this that I spend time, money, sweat, and tears with these people.

Today I'm stronger than I've ever been, the fittest adult version of myself, and more in-tune with my body, mind, and soul than I ever knew was possible.  I'm at a place where I'm eating 1700 calories a day, consisting of 170g of protein (wowza), between 113g and 170g of carbs, and between 38g and 63g of fats.  Translated: a whole lot of chicken, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs.  I track my intake with My Fitness Pal and I have a "buddy" who keeps me on track (and brightens my days with fun and inspirational emails).  I workout 3-4 times a week -- 2 classes at MFF and 1-2 at home.  I'm considering shaking this up a bit in 2014, but for now that's where I live.  I've lost pounds, inches, and clothing sizes, but I try not to make that as public as the change I've made in me (you can take the girl out of Disney, but you can't take the Disney out of the girl).

My most-frequent trainer, helper, teacher, and friend (Brian Patrick Murphy)

If you're in the NYC area and want a taste of unicorn-loving, ninja-becoming, brilliantly ridiculous glory that continues to change my life, check it out and tell them I sent you.  And if you're not nearby, check out their always serious, but not so serious you ever get a chance to be bored YouTube channel!!  (Warning: Not Safe For Work... these fools use some serious language and hilarious references you'll never get out of your head)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Whiskers in the Sink

For years I have prided myself on keeping a tidy house, making sure all dishes are drying on the rack before bed, not leaving for work with clutter strewn about, and never letting the laundry hamper overflow.  I've been used to a schedule of refrigerator cleaning on Monday, dusting on Tuesday, sweeping on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and so on.  In addition to the cleanliness, I've spent a number of years priding myself on the concept of "my space is my space and no one else's...except maybe Indy's...on a really good day".

I've been trepidatious for this month to come around for awhile -- dreading the reminders from Novembers past, worrying about slip-ups in my eating and workout glory, turning 35 without achieving "x" goals or "y" accomplishments, and replacing human contact with that of Pine-Sol, Swiffer, Lysol, and Mr. Clean himself.  So this morning when I began my usual routine of stumbling out of bed and into the bathroom through a bleary-eyed haze, I was momentarily taken aback at the whiskers in the sink.

The guy I've been seeing, no... the man who has completely captured my heart stayed the night in Astoria last night so he could be picked up more easily to head out to his annual college reunion for the weekend.  His pick-up time scheduled for much earlier than my eyes deign to open (6am), he clearly showered and shaved in a too-early rush leaving behind a few traces in my sink.  Without knowing, he brought to the forefront of my mind NOT stressful memories of 2012 trying to get back to NYC in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, NOT chilly autumn evenings spent ordering takeout and watching "La Vie En Rose," NOT frustrations of being told I need to put my running sneakers in the back of my closet.  No, this morning's vestiges brought back a conversation I had with my best friend in November 2006 when I broke out on my own and began making a life for myself.  I distinctly remember saying, "being alone will mean no more whiskers in the sink."  At the time that was my half-joke/half-realization way of saying my bathroom will be clean because no one else will be there.  But over the years, it's something I've actually missed.  It's a sign that I'm not doing this alone.

I've dated guys (Lord have mercy have I dated more than my fair share...), and none had the interest, the comfort, or certainly the familiarity to shave in my bathroom.  And now not only did this perfect complement complete a basic grooming ritual, but he did it with ease, while I slept in the next room.  Most importantly... I let him.  I happily let him.

French memoirist Francois de La Rochefoucauld (say that 10 times...) said, "The greatest of all gifts is the power to estimate things at their true worth."  Pretty sure I got an incredible but unexpected gift this morning in the form of those little whiskers.  This month is gonna be pretty great.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld -- super hot mustachioed wig wearer

*Note A: Today (November 1st) is Author's Day.  Maybe it's a sign I should dabble again in my love of writing.  Yeah, I think it is...

**Note B:  Below is a picture of me and my Andrew.  For those of you not connected to me on Facebook, pretty sure it's time to show him off.  I think he's gonna be around for awhile.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Just Like Every Other Gym

Many of you have asked about what's changing my body, diet, mind, soul, and everything else to do with my life.  I've attempted to report on my progress numerous times, but it's been changing so much I haven't been able to keep up with it by blogging! (#sorrynotsorry)  I'll work on that, gentle readers.  This is too good not to share.

In the meantime, watch this video made by one of my faves on earth... Mark Fisher himself!!  Basically his 8 tools in the video encompass what I'm doing.  Bam.

*If you're offended by sex, South Jersey language, gorgeous people, unicorns, and truth, my apologies... actually no... 
No apologies.  Splakow!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Actions Speak Louder Than Words... So Act

I’ve been making some massive changes… some “spring cleaning” if you will.  I’ve been journaling these past few weeks since it’s been such a personal and awakening experience, but soon I’ll compile it all and share.

As I look back on this particular phase of betterment, I’m reminded of the song from Tick, Tick, Boom, “Louder Than Words” which has significant resonance with me lately.  I owe so much to 3 main influences presently in my life who are living this song to its fullest by doing things for others while marrying that with doing something for themselves.  I love it.  And I want to pay it forward in some small way.

Since it’s tax time, some of you will be getting refunds.  I, of course, am jealous since I always seem to owe Uncle Sam more than the arms and legs I’ve been afforded (gotta love making a decent salary, being single, childless, and living in the most expensive city in the country).  But the point is, I’ll be giving to causes in support of these 3 PHENOMENAL humans, not only because they are people I try every day to emulate in some small way, but also because I support what they’re trying to do, so you should too!!

Even if you don’t plan on giving, keep reading.  Just check out how lucky I am to have these guys in my life.  I mean, seriously… how did I fall into such amazing company??

Now turn this song on while you keep reading… seriously… do it.  These guys are letting their actions speak louder than their words.  Let me share with you how.  Help me support them.

Not Waiting For Catastrophe To Start A Revolution
First is my girl Katie Mohr.  She’s one of the best friends a gal could ever wish for.  In caring for herself by staying fit and hot, she’s running a half marathon tomorrow.  Yes, she’s running 13.1 miles.  Yes, she’s been training for weeks while being an incredible mom to her 2 boys, volunteering at the local school, creating a foster resource out of her basement, writing a book, taking classes, staying in touch with her friends and asking about them, being a loving wife, and still staying on top of important things like “The Bachelor” (who I deemed to be the 2013 human equivalent to Jokey Smurf).  But beyond all that, she’s running for her friend who’s adopting internationally.  Every dollar that gets raised for Katie’s race, goes to helping Erin and her family bring their baby home from Uganda.  Read HERE to find out more.  Pledge some funds.  Do it.

Blazing A Trail Even Though The Well-Worn Path 
Seems Safe And So Inviting
Next are the people responsible for my latest transformation, Mark Fisher Fitness.  Six weeks ago I joined a Ninja Army to fix some of my food and body issues.  I had no idea the journey would address even more – my body, mind, and soul are forever changed (more on that when I finally get Snatched into a new me next week).  MFF has a super sweet Dragon Lair where I wish I could spend all day every day.  Alas I’m not a TOTAL creeper and still have responsibilities outside of working out.  Ok, yes, I am a total creeper… but I do still have a job and a dog and hours of cooking and dishwashing to do these days.  But I digress… the lot adjacent to the Clubhouse is being transformed into a park!  However, MFF has to raise the funds.  I would love some outdoor yoga when it warms up and a place to convene with my new Ninja family.  Read HERE to find out more.  Pledge some funds.  Do it.

Cages or Wings?  Fear or Love?  Which Do You Prefer?
Finally is the bravest and best person I know, Selby Brown. I’ve learned so much from him over the years and he never fails to amaze me.  Not to share all his bizness, but suffice it say, he’s had a heck of few months.  He changed his body all by himself.  He changed his diet and stuck to it for his health.  He’s dealt with things I’m not sure I’m cut out to forge through (and I have LIVED, ladies and gents).  In the midst of all this, he has formed a NYC-based team to walk and raise money for ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research and care.  His aunt in Arkansas has been living with this terrible disease for seven years, and he wants to show her that even 1200+ miles away she touches people and has support through him.  For this one, I’m gonna say pledge funds as well if you have it.  But more than that, if you’re in or around NYC on May 4th, sign up to join our team and come walk with us.  I guarantee your two miles walked will speak volumes – even more than dollars spent.  Read HERE for more information on donating, or better yet, joining our team!!

If you've gotten this far in my blogpost today, thank you.  I do hope you'll take a couple more minutes to check out those links and see what kind of good you can help with.  Even $5 is awesome.  I love you all and can't wait to come back next week with more stories to share on my latest adventures.  For now I'll leave you with this (complete with bump-it and Buddha)...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

If you're happy and you know it, write a blogpost

When your parents name you Joy, you are imbued with a powerful emotion.  You're one of those few words that falls into the fourth definition of noun -- person, place, thing, or IDEA.  You're the very ideal idea that people strive for.  Every report card states, "Joy is a joy to have in class."  Every professional you meet initially wants to work with you to have that sense of contentment on a given project.  Every guy you date anticipates bliss from the outset.  How can you have down days when you're the very definition of happiness?

Well, gentle readers, shocking though it may be, even gals named "Joy" have down seasons.  September through January were pretty tough on me.  I have no desire to vent all my grievances on the worldwide web or be a Debbie Downer, but I've had a few queries about where I've been so I wanted to share.

That Ain't Me

To roll on through this (yep, I'm quoting "Alabama"), I'll make this quick:

  • I don't like when friends are sad.
  • I don't like when friends are sick.
  • I don't like when mothers are sick.
  • I don't like when dogs lose their hearing.
  • I don't like when jobs pass over people for promotions.
  • I don't like when my country doesn't have standardized healthcare.
  • I don't like when bigots hurt people I love.
  • I don't like when I can't run to defend against said bigots
  • I don't like when my physical limitations... well, limit me.
  • I don't like when break ups occur (even when they're necessary).

So there's my season of down in a bulleted list o'ten.  Also I started a new job, signed up for Mark Fisher Fitness Snatched (watch out for updates on this), and got a sweet new tattoo (complete with Eagle #2).  None of those were downers... just wanted to throw them out there!!

In the end I love my name.  I love that it's hard to be sad for long when people are shouting synonyms for happiness at you all the day long.  Why I think people are shouting at me is a whole other issue...

"Joy comes from that connection to others."

That's a line from the documentary "Happy".  I dig it.  Thanks for connecting with me, gentle readers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

With every job when it's complete, there is a sense of bittersweet...

They say never make more than 2 major life changes at once if you can avoid it. Well, I've never been one to listen to "them"

In September 2006 my world had flipped upside down. I was in a new apartment. My marriage was dissolving, and my household (and disposable income) was about to go from 2 adults down to 1. I was completely lost and unsure of the future. I got the call from Disney saying they were opening a new show, a partnership with Cameron Mackintosh, and they'd like me to come onboard to work on it. My pay would be cut by about 20%. I'd be leaving a good, sure, secure thing to go work in one of the most volatile of industries. My parents, my friends, even my therapist cautioned me against it.

I went against the odds and took the leap. I needed something for me. I needed more art in my life. I needed less strenuous hours. I needed people who didn't know me as married Joy, boring dresser Joy, cautious living Joy, or anything other than the Joy I was inside. I'm happy to say it's up there on the list of good things I've done for myself in these 34 years.

A month later I went to see the show I'd started working on. In the 2nd act, Mary sings a song "Anything Can Happen If You Let It". It became my anthem, and I lived by the idea that anything can happen if we'd just get out of our own way. I made some glorious, wonderful mistakes along the way, but I've also lived the life I wanted by trying my hardest to stay out of my own way and simply riding the wave.

More than 6 roller coaster years later I'm about to say au revoir to this chapter. I'm moving on to something new, again in season of life where a lot is up in the air -- no risk, no reward, right?? But I leave taking comfort that no matter where I am, there's always a chimney sweep upstairs watching out for me.

Coincidentally on the same week of my departure, it's been announced that Mary's final flight at the beautiful New Amsterdam Theatre where she and I have made our home since Fall 2006 will be in a few short weeks. The Universe is tricksy like that. I will miss her terribly. And by miss "her" I mean miss all the ridiculously amazing people I've met because of her.

"With every job when it's complete, there is a sense of bittersweet, that moment when you know the task is done. Though in your heart you'd like to stay to help things on their way, you've always known [you] must do it alone." -Mary Poppins

Thanks, Mary. You're the best gift I've ever given myself. Thank you for forcing the winds to change direction every time... right on time.