My FitWit Journey

Renovating the Temple

Category: Uncategorized

Drop it Like it’s Hot

A few years ago, my mom started a new workout program. During a visit, she excitedly shared her progress with me and one of my friends. My friend asked her what her long term goals were as she progressed with her workouts; did she have a certain weight or dress size in mind? Without skipping a beat, my dignified, church going mama offered a stunning response: “I just want to be able to drop it like it’s hot AND be able pick it back up.”


I have reflected a lot on my mom’s goal as I get ready to complete my second FitWit camp.  I loved her answer for several obvious reasons (#1,2, &3- My mom is a hoot).  But most of all, her reply made me consider that no matter what your body looks like, you have got to be able to do things with it.

After tomorrow’s workout, I will have been fitwittin for a full 12 weeks. And while I occasionally still lament some of my rolls and jiggles when I look in the mirror, working out with FitWit has helped me feel powerful! My body can do physical, powerful things.  I have not quite reached Serena Williams’ fitness status, I am certainly working it out.

My Fitness Sheroe.

And thanks to hundreds of squats, lunges, and wall balls,  I can drop it like it’s hot and bring it back up. Gotta make Mom proud.


Stop Waiting To be Who You Already Are


Stop waiting to be who you already are. I saw this great quote by jewelry designer, Melody Eshani, on the healthy living blog, Paparoxi. I need to wallpaper my house with this sentiment. Waiting is often the default.  There are so many things I want to do, but often I wait… until Monday or… until graduation… or until I really grow up. But while I am waiting, time and life still plod on.

This quote is a powerful reminder that we don’t need a title, a degree, a certain fitness level, or anyone’s permission to start being our best self and living our best life.

I love that FitWit has pushed me to start living out one aspect myself that I had put off for so long. I always knew I wanted to be active and fit, but I waited. I claimed to be waiting until I had more time or more money or more energy. FitWit obliterated my excuses and now I am finding who I always knew was there. No more waiting.



My Hero!

I ended the last session of FitWit on a high note. After six weeks of camp, I improved immensely on all my fitness indicators.   I more than doubled the number of squats, single jump ropes, and pushups I was able to do in a minute. I shed a few pounds and inches. I also noticed a considerable boost in my energy level and the quality of my sleep. I even felt like I was more focused and performing better in other areas of my life, like school and work.  With all these great improvements, I was still looking forward to the week off between camps.

During the week off, I traveled to visit my parents in Tennessee. My dad was celebrating his 59th birthday. 58 was a difficult year for him, but we are all so blessed at how well he has made it through. He had his leg amputated, due to diabetes and severe circulation issues, and he also had a quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery. He is recovering well and is still incredibly active.  He is my own six million dollar man, complete with a new fancy bionic leg.

Isn't he handsome!

I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful cheerleader in my Dad. It was his encouragement and his health challenges that inspired me to enter the Free FitWit contest. He reminds me often that I cannot take our health for granted.  So even when I feel blah and I don’t want to work out, I think of him. I think of the weeks he spent in physical therapy, as he relearned how to walk. I think of all the dietary and lifestyle changes he made, in order to be healthy, strong, and vital for many years to come. He tells me that what keeps him going is knowing that he will be able to play ball with his grandchildren (talk about reproductive pressure!). Through all this, he is still manages to be a rockstar at work and home.

If he can do all that, I can get my butt up and do a burpee or two. So when my week off was up, I was ready to FitWit it again.

Celebrating Small Victories

Popular fitness and weight loss narratives have conditioned us to expect the dramatic. Typically, it is only the transformation from couch surfer to marathon runner or the loss of 50+ pounds that warrant television commercials, reality shows, or magazine covers. With all this emphasis on the BIG change, it is easy to miss our small milestones along the way.

There is a steep incline on my path to class and the other day I walked up it without getting winded. It was a little difficult to celebrate this victory initially because:

1) I didn’t notice it at first and then…

2) I didn’t want to admit that I used to get winded waking to class.

But today it completely sunk in and it felt amazing.

Another small victory occurred at FitWit camp on Friday.  On January 6th, my first week of camp, we did an assessment workout called “Kristie.” And Kristie was one bad mamma jamma. The workout, and this was the beginner version, consisted of :

3 rounds (for time)-

2 indoor laps (running)

40 Lunges

20 wall balls (at least 12/10 pound medicine ball)

15 Kettle Bell swings (at least 35/20 pound)

10 Rows

10 Push-up Burpees


As a first week FitWitter, I was so not ready. My body had not attempted anything even close to this ever.  Every exercise tested me in a different way.  I got through the first two rounds of Kristie and then couldn’t make it through the third one. At 32 minutes, I called it quits.

Kristie haunted me. I am fine with a slow time. I will gladly be the one in the back of the pack. But I wasn’t fine with an incomplete.

This Friday offered me an opportunity to revisit my old challenge. When Kristie and I met again, I had five full weeks of camp under my belt.  Kristie was still hard, but five weeks of FitWit has taught me that I could do it. When I felt myself resting for too long, I remembered the January 6th workout and the fact that I wanted to finish it this time. And I did it! I completed all three rounds of the exercises in 29 minutes!

Workout by workout, my inner wonder woman is emerging. Small victory by small victory. I know I will not transform overnight, but each time I show up to workout I feel that transformation taking place.





The Tyranny of the Scale

Girl, don't even do it.

I can’t believe that this is week 4 of FitWit! Being at FitWit has impacted me in ways that I never imagined. I have more energy. I sleep better. I  am more productive throughout my workday. My clothes fit better. I have been more conscious of my eating habits, focusing on eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods.  All of these positive changes, led me to make one very poor decision this week. I decided to pull out the scale.

I knew it was not a good idea, as I have long known that the scale is not the best indicator of overall health improvement. My nutritionist told me this. The FitWit Information book told me this. My spouse told me this. But I decided I needed just one more affirmation of all my good work.

And the scale did not give me that. I had not lost an ounce. I was devastated. And swiftly decided that the most reasonable course of action would be to eat a cupcake.

Thankfully, I better judgement prevailed and I decided to go for a walk.

As I walked, I thought about all the things that the scale doesn’t measure. The scale does not measure the fact that I can now jump rope. Jumping rope looks easy enough, but before I could never get the rhythm and jump consistently. I would trip up after every few jumps. But now I feel like Rocky (or Michelle Obama)! And when I am able to do a double under, I am throwing a big party!

The scale does not measure the bursts of physical activity that I am compelled to do throughout the day now. I skipped into the farmer’s market yesterday. I jog a little while walking my pooch, Bella. I did a set of squats and push ups while watching Modern Family last night. I have impromptu dance parties at my desk. I am becoming more and more impressed with the things that my body can do, if I push it a little.

The scale cannot measure how great I feel about myself. I love that I am doing this! I love that there is a little less jiggle when I run and burpee. I love that I have not missed a FitWit workout and that I actually look forward to them.  Take that, scale!

A Beautiful Mile

My favorite professor played India Arie’s song, Beautiful Day, in class yesterday. I have heard the song before, but yesterday I heard it anew. I think it may be my new theme song.

I thought of the song this morning as I was running the dreaded timed mile at FitWit camp this morning.

I hate running.  I always have.  I knew this day was coming and I seriously considered skipping camp today when I read the blog last night and saw that today was the day.  I almost did a happy dance when I saw that is was drizzling this morning.  I assumed that there would be no way we could run outside in the rain. I was wrong.

But there is another part of me that wants to be runner.  I often see people jogging throughout the neighborhood and I imagine that one day it will be me.  In the past, I have signed up for 5Ks with great intentions to train to run them, but I always talk myself out if it. I always tell myself that running is not for me.  I am not svelte enough nor coordinated enough nor fast enough to run.  The cool kids run and I am not cool.

This morning, when I saw that we were running, I actually began to feel okay about it.  Stacy started calling out the past mile times of some of the FitWitters: 8:46, 10:12, 9:2.  I told myself that even if I doubled the times of the other runners, I would be done in less than 20 minutes.  I also knew that none of the campers or the trainers would make me feel bad about my slow mile time. But there was still a part of me that was ashamed that running provoked such anxiety in me. People run marathons, 26.2 miles, and here I was freaking out over one.

But it started.  Actually, I started. I ran slowly, but I ran, nonetheless.  I was way behind the other runners, and that familiar pang of shame began to creep up: I was too slow and too out of shape to keep up.

But then I realized I could smell the grass and trees, made especially fragrant by the morning rain. And I remembered the lyric from “Beautiful Day”:

Life is a challenge not a competition
You can still smell the roses and be on a mission
Just take a moment to get in touch with your heart
Sometimes you feel like you’ve got something to prove
Remind yourself that there’s only one you

I kept running knowing that this is my challenge,  not a competition.  As I hit the half way mark, one of the trainers joined me and helped me keep pace.  And then as I hit the last stretch the other campers, rallied around me and ran the last way with me. And I didn’t feel ashamed at all.  I felt excited and like part of the cool kids.

Turkish Torture

Last year, I had the amazing honor and pleasure of participating in a travel seminar in the Middle East. We journeyed, ate, and studied our way through seven spectacular countries. The trip was truly a life changing event. If I have any small complaint about the experience, it is that I did not get to visit the country of Turkey. I have long heard of the wonders and the hospitality of Turkey. It is at the top of my bucket list, or at least it was… until Monday.

On Monday, I was introduced to an evil exercise called the Turkish Get Up at FitWit camp.  Behold the Turkish Get Up.

Please take a moment to watch the exercise in the link. I found it extremely difficult to accomplish this with no weight, let alone with a kettle bell. I just don’t know if my body is built for that.


If I find out that the Turkish actually had anything to do with this madness, I am instituting a full boycott. With all the dazzling things that Turkey has to offer, this is what folks choose to export. I am not amused.

Beyond the Turkish Get Up, I am having a great second week at camp. I find that even after just a week and a half, I am able to do the opening jog without feeling as winded.  In the first few days, the warmup jog and exercises felt like a full on workout for me.  Who am I kidding? It still feels like a workout in itself, but I do feel like I am getting better at it everyday.  There must be something to this consistency thing.







An excerpt of a conversation that took place on Monday, January 2, 2012: Me: I am starting FitWit Camp tomorrow! Mom: That is wonderful. But please, Zeena, promise me you will not try to keep up with the seasoned athletes during camp. It is okay to be last. Me: Huh? Mom: You do remember those […]

Why can’t we be friends?

I was getting a bit smug. After two days (and defying repeated warnings), I was lulled into thinking “FitWit is not that bad. I can do this!”  Then something came to smack that smug little grin off my face.

Meet my nemesis:

Why don't you love me?


The kettle bell hates me. Or to be more precise, I think I may hate it. If you want me to write you a 10 page single spaced paper on how to correctly execute a kettle bell swing, I can do that. But if you want me to actually execute one properly… ummm… not so much. Stacy, the trainer, worked so patiently with me today as I fumbled each swing. Intellectually, I understood her instructions, but physically, my form would not cooperate. I couldn’t get her coaching to translate into my movements. My knees wouldn’t bend enough and my hip hinge was all off.

Let’s not even mention the soreness I felt when I woke up this morning. I know it is all part of the journey. But I imagine a Jeju Sauna visit is somewhere in my future.

I will keep working on that kettle bell swing and all the other exercises that elude me. I fantasize that one day I will swing that it like some of the veteran campers I saw today. In six months, perhaps I will be swinging like this


And proudly proclaim that KB and I are besties!

Goals for the New Year

The 6:00 AM Crew! Still smiling after our workout today.

Inspired by a post on the FitWit Decatur Blog, I have been thinking about setting fitness goals for my first session of FitWit. While I have sucessfully set and met goals in other aspects of my life, I have  had a much harder time creating and executing smart goals for my physical health and wellness.  I have also regularly fallen into the trap of setting my fitness goals solely in terms of weight and clothing size.  This time, I am trying a new approach.

I picked up The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin in the airport recently and have really enjoyed her approach to setting  resolutions and translating them into trackable action items. She created a self-scoring chart and awarded herself gold stars each day for the resolutions she kept.   I love this very concrete and measurable way of tracking progress daily.  And I love gold stars! I also saw this adorable gold star tracking sheet on the fitness blog, Yum Yucky.  Daily positive reinforcement of making healthy choices seems like a great way to go. 

So I am working on turning my larger goals into actions that I can track everyday.  I have goals like “Have more energy” and “Be able to jog a complete  mile without stopping to walk.” But I want to break these things down into something I can track each day.   Stay tuned for my goal tracking sheet. I plan to have it up this week.

I have completed two FitWit sessions and I am enjoying them so much! We have been focusing on correct technique and bracing  for our exercises. Many veteran campers have warned me that they are taking it easy on us, in an effort to get folks back on track after the holidays. But I am certainly feeling the so called “easy days”  in my muscles. Today, while working with Michelle on squats, she commented “See, you are already getting stronger.” It made me feel great! Now that is wonderful daily positive reinforcement. With trainers like that and gold stars, how can I not meet my goals.

Please let me know in the comments what goal setting and tracking techniques work for you.