Why You Should Embrace Humor and Your 'Thunder Thighs'

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!

Smile: A Love Letter to the Goofballs Who Play Baseball

I love baseball for a lot of really important reasons—the intensity of a pitcher's duel, the glory of a walk-off, the anxiety of a no-no in action, the excitement of Opening day, a well-executed double play, all-out diving catches in the outfield, the grace of an infielder flipping a ball behind his back or through the knees after a particularly epic sliding catch. My brothers play ball, I played softball, my family and I are aggressive Cincinnati Reds fans and, really, is there anything better than taking in a game on a cool summer night under the lights? I could go on and on.

Strategy and passion aside, though, I find the man-child attitude of many ball players to be baseball's most endearing quality. From sometimes silly walkup songs and outfield celebrations to veteran pitchers making a rookie carry gear in a tiny kid's backpack and rewarding the hero of a particularly tense game with a post-game shaving cream pie to the face, silly traditions and superstitions abound if you take a peek around the average dugout. Honestly, I challenge you to not laugh as you watch Jeff Francoeur get pranked over the course of months into believing his teammate on the El Paso Chihuahuas was deaf.

Watch the intense training regimens of any All-Star posting workouts on Instagram and you would never guess that most of these guys probably were voted "Class Clown" in high school. Now, I'm not saying that other professional athletes can't have a sense of humor about the game—it's certainly evident in most every touchdown dance—but baseball players seem to have this shared goofball sense of humor. After Team USA brought home the "W" in the World Baseball Classic championship game and celebrated by rubbing the head of their bald eagle statue, my mother commented, " Does baseball make them strange or do they play baseball because they're strange?"

This recent chicken or the egg conundrum got me thinking about our approach to spring training. As the swimsuits hit shelves and we start seeing more skin everywhere, people react in one of two ways: With either a determination to start aggressively hitting the gym or by admitting defeat and feeling lousy about those goals you set and abandoned back in January. Adopting a goofball mentality can solve both extremes.

Hear me out: Weight loss is all about finding success through sustainable changes. By approaching the gym or a healthy eating plan as a "punishment" for not being prepared for the warm-weather months, you're setting yourself up for failure, frustration and maybe even injury. Conversely, getting down on yourself for procrastinating on or deserting your goals won't do anybody any good. You're here now and the best thing to do is regroup, reexamine and get started. Humor is key. Approaching this new lifestyle with a lighthearted, fun mindset transforms those aforementioned extreme feelings from dangerous to realistic and, dare I say, enjoyable? As with many things, life is what you make it, so you can look at the gym as torture or find ways to make it more exciting.

Weaving in elements of fun can take many shapes. For some, they might find listening to a comedic podcast during their walks encourages them to hit the trail more often. Others might enjoy lightening their weekly group workout by coordinating theme days where everyone dresses in 80s workout gear or as their favorite superhero. Maybe you recruit the neighborhood to participate in a cul-de-sac obstacle course or end your water aerobics class with a little game of Marco Polo. Take a page out of A.J. Ramos' book and start a friendly Instagram competition with a friend. I once took a spinning class that incorporated a race midway through the class and then later had us move in and out of our seat from the first "Hey Ya" to the last in the chorus of the popular OutKast song. Inject a little humor into your workouts and you'll find yourself not only advancing toward your weight-loss goals, but you might even start looking forward to your sweat sessions.

This spring, I implore you to take a page from the MLB and approach your own spring training for that "summer you" as a ball player would—with a sense of humor.

Sweat: X Gon' Give It to You

As a big proponent of at-home workouts, I've tried all kinds of things to motivate myself to stay interested in and excited by exercising on my living room floor. In high school, I was all about my three-disc Winsor Pilates DVD and would often bribe my then-three-year-old brother to do the workouts with me. I've tried Insanity, Jillian Michaels, kettlebells, resistance bands and too many online bodyweight workout videos to count.

And, while I love bodyweight workouts for my abs and legs, I've always struggled with finding effective ways to work my arms. Thanks to years of volleyball and softball, my right shoulder hollers, "Hey! What are you thinking? Are you trying to kill me?!" every time I try to do more than five or 10 pushups. I don't have the space to house a full set of dumbbells in order to increase and decrease weight to appropriately challenge the stronger and weaker muscles in my arms. I've tried the bicep-curls-with-a-can-of-soup-or-wine-bottle route before, but never felt like I was really hitting my muscles in the same ways that I could with a full weight room at my disposal.

I’m wary of at-home workout products, since many of them fail to deliver on their promise of true versatility, which is why I was legitimately surprised when the XBar arrived at our office. Invented by ex-pro-snowboarder Damian Sanders, the product combines a simple barbell with resistance bands, allowing you to actually work the whole arm, along with the rest of your body. The starter kit includes a number of exercise demonstrations, as well, if you're looking to use it for your whole body.

To start, I used the lightest band attached to the five-pound bar and still woke up with a hurts-so-good soreness in my biceps, triceps and shoulders. Having tried and failed to do shoulder presses with regular resistance bands, it was immediately clear to me how the addition of the bar not only increased the intensity, but also better targeted those shoulder muscles that I can't hit with pushup after pushup. Plus, changing the grip on the bar from close, then regular to wide for my bicep curls meant I was hitting the inside, middle and outside of the muscle that I'd mistakenly been ignoring with my typical dumbbell curls.

I literally cleaned just this space in my apartment for this photo. You're welcome, friends.

For me and my home workouts, the arms exercises are the most beneficial, though there are a few killer back, leg and abs workouts that I'll be trying in the coming weeks. If you've already invested in a full set of dumbbells or enjoy going to the gym, this might not be a great fit for you. If you're just getting started working out at home and want to add a little something-something to your bodyweight workouts, though, it might be worth taking a peek at the XBar.

A word of warning: If you do go to their website, do not be intimidated by the exercise video demonstrations. Every single person has biceps as big as my face. Don't worry though—if I can do it, so can you.

Spark: Flaws? Me? No Way.

I'm a girl who has always had muscular thighs. Alicia "The Empress" Napoleon can relate. If you've ever doubted what your body was built to do, let Napoleon inspire you out of that funk.

Today, Napoleon is a champion boxer, but back in the day she was teased for wanting to join the wrestling and baseball teams—despite the fact that she was so good she could beat some of the guys. In this short video, her self-confidence, body positivity and strength shine through, whether she's in a floral-print jacket or rocking her American flag boxing shorts. I watched this video twice last month and once more while writing this post, and after each viewing I felt empowered, ready to take on my afternoon or night workouts or look in the mirror and say, "Dang, girl, those shoulder muscles are looking good."

Thinspiration is out; fitspiration is so in.

Which video or quote always motivates you to feel empowered, beautiful or strong?