Changing my perspective

I spent the weekend rethinking what I’m trying to do. I didn’t walk I didn’t write. I just thought. (And got a foot massage which helped both the chronic pain and the thinking.)

I examined the issues I thought I was addressing:

  • Always tired
  • Chronic pain
  • Feeling old
  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling loss of self to outside pressures (work, school, family, relationships)

Then I thought about my motivation:

  • Empowerment
  • Self-acceptance
  • Acceptance by others
  • Peace of mind (sanity??)

To be honest, I’m not convinced I’m on the right track. Trying to adhere to a schedule (30min 30days) was great when I was successful but left me feeling like a failure when I (a) failed to make the minimum requirement or (b) felt pain or suffered in recovery. Even writing an article each day and creating a meme is wonderful and insightful, but between work, school, and family I’m not sure it is a realistic expectation. I actually felt bad missing a day and that caused me to miss another. Ugh!!

This is not to say I’m giving up. Getting up and moving around was great. How do I do it with semi-consistency and without undo pressure? Writing this blog again has been so helpful. How do I arrange time for it without it becoming a drain? My type A personality usually only employs two setting: Full-on-high and off. How do I cultivate a lower setting?

So, I’m thinking and considering. I’m looking for resource outside myself. I’m hoping for inspiration. I’m planning more massages, more walks on the beach, more sleep. I’m trying to change my perspective.

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Took some time for me

This week has been crazy, but I got a brief window today to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I headed to the beach to do my 30 min walk on the boardwalk.

I used the time to think about what I wanted and where I think I’m going. I’m reading a helpful book (more about that later) but one thing I realized is that I’m really mad at my body. When I got hurt a year and a half ago, and had to drop out of the marathon, it felt like a betrayal. My body betrayed me.

I’ve been punishing my body ever since. I’ve been depressed, angry, and pissed off. I see other bodies doing stuff and I feel jealous. I still haven’t forgiven my body for letting me down.

They say that knowing what’s wrong is half the battle. So I guess that means I still have half the battle left.

Some Days Are Just Hard

Monday’s are rough for me. My day starts at 4:15 am and I’m out the door by 5. I get home after 10 pm. Yesterday, between work, grad school, and 120 miles of driving I somehow managed to solve 3 major family crises and still get my walk in. I really pushed it.

Tuesday are usually easier but I still had to get up at 4:15 this morning and when I got home at 6 pm I didn’t go for a walk. And I didn’t go before dinner. And I didn’t go after dinner. And now it is 10 pm and technically I could go. There is time… and it isn’t rainy out…

But I just don’t think I can make myself do it. In fact, I just made a deal with myself that if I wrote this post and admitted that I was skipping for no good reason, then I could skip and go to bed.

And as I type I think, but shouldn’t I just push through it? Force myself? Won’t I feel better after?

But I don’t think I will feel better. I actually think pushing myself yesterday is why I feel worse today. Every muscle hurts. Every part of me aches. And I’m sooooo tired. And if I push too hard, and some point I will break.

I don’t think I’m admitting defeat. I’m changing the parameters to give me a chance to succeed. I’m resting so that tomorrow I can give it another shot. I don’t even have to wake until 5:15 so woohoo!

And right now I’m going to get some sleep. I’ll figure out the rest later.

What Will It Look Like When I Succeed?

I was feeling pretty proud of myself walking out of the gym last night when I had a strange, unfinished thought: What happens when I reach my goal?

I don’t mean my immediate goal of 30 min of walking or some type of exercise for 30 days in a row. I’m already seeing some preliminary changes. My mood is better, I make it to the end of the workout without feeling like I’m going to die. I’ve consistently figured out how to get my 30 min, despite school, work, health, kids, and other unexpected dramas.  I’m even considering what my step-up goal might be for next month.

No, I’m talking about the long-term goal. What will I look like/be like when I’ve spent 365 days trying to get healthier physically and mentally? How will I measure success? I can’t weigh it on a scale or look for it in inches? I can’t touch it or take a pic of it? All my guideposts are inappropriate.

So here is my first draft of what I think my success will look like (I reserve the right to edit these, cross them out, and completely delete this post if necessary):

  • I still think my goal of a healthier happier me is important.
  • I still think my goal of a healthier happier me has nothing to do with my weight, my size, my age, or my ability.
  • I still make me a priority for some portion of the day, every day.
  • I am able to love my body “as is”
  • I am able to forgive myself when I don’t meet any of the above expectations
  • I continue to try to learn, to do better, to grow

For someone who likes counting, crossing things off lists, and coming up with data, these goals seem pretty “wishy-washy.” And really super hard to achieve. And maybe a little bit worth it.

Got any ideas to add?

Be Competitive…With Yourself

32 weeksThe other day I was doing one of my long runs (over 13 miles) and feeling great. Nothing was hurting (unbelievable) and my pace was decent compared to recent runs. About 4 miles out a woman passed me as if I was standing still. For about 20 seconds my heart sank. I’m too slow, I thought and it took a lot of effort to get that thought out of my head.

flowerbloomsI spent the next 2 miles telling myself:

You aren’t competing with her;
       you are competing with yourself.

This is a difficult lesson for me.  I don’t think of myself as very competitive, but I guess at some level I am. When I look at other runners (strangers, friends, family) I always feel like a failure. I’m too slow, it takes me forever to improve, blah, blah, blah. But when I look at myself and how far I’ve come and how much better I am than I was, I can’t help but feeling like a superwoman. Obviously I’m better off focusing my energy inward, don’t you think?

dontlookbackIn High School we were supposed to run a mile for gym class and I could barely walk it. Only a few years ago I periodically needed a cane to walk. I remember walking over the Brooklyn Bridge with my family and being totally crippled by the task. When I first started running it took 14 or 15 min to run a mile. The idea that I would ever run a half-marathon was inconceivable, but  I’ve already run over 13 miles (twice and counting) and my regular pace fluctuates around 11 min miles (12 or 13  min miles on those really long runs and under 10 in my last race).

And I’m not done improving. In 32 weeks I’ll be 50, but I’m faster, stronger, and braver than I’ve ever been in my whole life. And I got this way– not by looking at other people– but by constantly competing with my old self.

13.1 Miles (Unofficially)

13point1funToday I ran 13.1 miles for the first time.  I say for the first time because my race is still 6 weeks away. I’m hoping to run this distance (maybe a little farther) a few times before the actual race. Even if I don’t, today was a big accomplishment. I proved to myself that I can do it (something I haven’t been totally sure of).

Today’s run was brutal. It wasn’t the “joy of running” that I frequently blog about. It was more like the “slog of running.”  I had to wake up early (6 am) to try to beat the heat of the day. Even at that it was about 80˚F/76% humidity when I left the house, and in the high 80s when I finished the run.  The first 6 or 7 miles were fine, but after that I really had to convince myself to keep going… Every! Single! Mile!

get strongerMost of what made the run difficult is my own attitude. I know it is hot, so I should run slower. I know that it is a longer run than what my body is used to, so I should run slower. I know that I beat my goal time (3 hours) by almost 17 minutes. Yet the nasty voices in my head wouldn’t let me just relax into the run. I kept pushing to go faster and the more I pushed the harder the run got.

Around mile 8 I noticed that my toenails were hurting. Really?? It was all I could think about for a good portion of the run. How my pinky toenails were going to fall off… Oh please could they just fall off and put me out of my misery.

Towards the end I almost gave up.  I’m not sure what pushed me to go the last few miles.  Maybe it was the knowledge that, good or bad, I was going to post about the run afterwards. Maybe it was the constant stream of positive self-talk, as I desperately tried to be my own coach. My mantra sounded something like this:

long runYou can do it. Don’t fall. Don’t quit.  Keep going. Just 3 more miles. Oh, I like this song. A little faster. Don’t fall down. C’mon, you can do this. Just 2 more miles. You can run 2 miles easy. Don’t trip. Watch out for that car. Keep it up. Just 1 mile left… and so on.

Whatever it was, I did finish the full 13.1. I was dripping with sweat.  Every bone and muscle was sore. My toenails were painfully cutting into my toes. My stomach was starting to cramp. And I don’t know when I’ve ever felt that good.

And I can’t wait to try it again!

Don’t Get Hurt

37 weeksI am almost 50 (37 weeks shy, to be exact) And here I am training for a half marathon. What if I get sick? What if I get hurt?

ankle2One thing I needed to learn (and I keep having to relearn, because, hey, I’m a slow learner) is that you can’t help yourself if you hurt yourself.  Negative self-talk is one way to hurt yourself emotionally, but in this instance I’m  talking about physically getting hurt. Sometimes you can’t help it (a car comes out of nowhere or you get sick or you trip on your own feet), but many times injuries are a function of overdoing it. Running too much and not taking rest days. Running in the dark. Running on unmarked trails in the woods. (FYI: I’m completely guilty of doing all of these, even though I know better.)

When I had my serious operation almost two years ago (which eventually became the catalyst to my transformation) I let myself heal slowly. I did a little bit more every day and worked my way back to health. It was a good plan.

yogaIf I got sick like that today I would have a much harder time being patient. I would want to rush my recovery (I see this every time I get sick) But time and again my experience has shown me that long-term results depend on short-term patience. And listening to your body. When something hurts, aches, or twinges – do something: Rest it, ice it, heat it, or get it treated!

My new rule is “If my mom or daughter told me these symptoms, what would I tell them to do.” And then I do that. Because I know I would give them the best care possible and the best advice possible. And I deserve just as much.

doit

No “Rest Days” for the Wicked

minionTo prepare for my upcoming half-marathon I’m following a training program from mapmyrun.com (my favorite app/site for running). It tells me how far to run, which days to take an easy run, which days to work on pace, etc. It also tells me which days are “rest days.” Oddly enough, when the program tells me to run 6, 7, or 8 miles I’m fine. It’s the “rest” I’m having trouble with.

It’s not that I run every day. On a good week I get in 5 runs, but most weeks I average 4. Generally speaking, though, my reasons for not running have to do with living an actual life: Work obligations, family responsibility, social engagements, etc. The app is somewhat flexible in that it lets me re-organize my week so that I can coordinate rest days with life events and everything is fine. But what happens when I have a rest day on a day when I have nothing better to do?

Charliebrown-1-

I’m really not good at resting, even when it is for my own good.  Rest days are important because they prevent injury and enables your immune system to repair muscles and joints. I know I can do other things: walk, yoga, swim… but all I keep thinking is, “I should be running.” And sometimes I do run on my rest days – even though I know better.

rest dayI’m smart enough to recognize that my body wants to rest. Too many days of running with no breaks makes my muscles tighter and I actually run slower. But inside I feel badly about not running: Like I’m lazy. Like I’m goofing off. Like I’m back-sliding. As if one day of rest is going to undo my months of training. (Actually research shows that it takes about two-weeks of not training to impact fitness and performance)

I know this is ridiculous. Even as I type the words I’m thinking, you are being ridiculous. But there you have it. It is just one more way I sabotage myself. So here I am really, definitely, positively not running today. Probably.

Unit Foods

I have said a few times on this blog how I just couldn’t deal with another diet again and maybe I’ve been a bit negative about my time on Weight Watchers. The truth is, I once lost over 100 lbs on Weight Watchers. I kept it off for years, too, until I didn’t and gained it all back (plus a little extra). For me, the problem with WW is that it becomes a game: What can I get away with and still lose weight. Also, it focuses so much on the weight loss, which becomes counter-productive. You can only maintain that for so long.

Technically a cookie is a unit food. You aren't going to eat one and a quarter cookies are you? Let's be clear: Just being a unit food doesn't make it healthy. It just makes it easy to measure.

Technically a cookie is a unit food. You aren’t going to eat one and a quarter cookies are you? Let’s be clear: Just being a unit food doesn’t make it healthy. It just makes it easy to measure.

I did learn some helpful things in WW, that I continue to use today. Going to all those meetings, I learned a lot about what is in foods. I had this one leader, Margot, that I loved. She was the only leader I ever met that made sense to me. Among her many words of wisdom, she taught me the term “unit food.”

unit food is a food that comes in single serving size. You don’t have to measure or weigh. You just get one unit. Food’s that are naturally unit foods are apples, eggs, and hot dogs. While it is possible to eat half of an apple or two eggs, you don’t accidentally consume an extra 2 oz of these foods when you serve yourself. The advantage of unit foods is you aren’t fooling yourself.

yogurtSome foods can be purchased as unit foods. For example, the Fage® yogurt that I eat every single day comes in single serve containers. I also purchase frozen yogurt (Healthy Choice) and Sabra Hummus in single serve. Frequently these foods are more expensive, because you are paying for the wrapping. However, it is worth it. When I buy a large (multi-serve) container of yogurt, for example, I find it is a struggle to make sure I have the proper serving. Some days I’m a little more generous than others. So it is better for me to pay a little extra and have a serving I can just grab-and-go.

Some foods aren’t available as unit foods or are too expensive that way. Whenever I can, I try to make my own unit foods. For example, I buy a big bag of almonds and measure out 1 oz into snack-size plastic bags. I also make a big pot of rice and beans every week, and then measure out single servings into plastic containers.  Technically they aren’t unit foods, but once I’ve measured and sealed them, they sort of are. It isn’t likely that I’m going to open up another plastic container and eat a few bites of rice and beans. If there was a big pot or bowl of it, I probably would, but once it’s been sectioned out, I pretty much can stick to the sections.

All of this is to say, you need to find tricks that work for you to get control over the food. For me, it’s unit foods and eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day. For you it might be something else.

Not too cocky, now…

So I saw this on one of the blogs I follow:

Now, in the past this is where I would have gotten cocky and said ok let’s make this mile portion of the goal more difficult. Then something would happen and I would not be able to do as well as I thought I would, I would get discouraged and then give up and end up barely missing my original goal.

Accept the days when running seems impossible; Embrace the days when running seems effortless.

Or as I like to call it, yesterday and today.

And this little thought has been niggling at me since I read it. And when something starts niggling, I just have to write about it.

Yesterday when I ran everything hurt. My ankles. My knees. My back.  It was a tough run and I pushed just to get through it. By contrast, today’s run was great. My first two miles were two of my fastest ever. And just for fun, I ran another two, more slowly, just because I was feeling so darn good.

On days like today I start thinking that my 3,000,000 step goal is too low. Or my 8,000 steps per day is too low. Ha! I can easily do 4,000,000 steps this year, or 10,000 steps per day. I can run every day. And faster. And farther. And….

And that is where I get myself into trouble.  I know from experience that  if I overdo it, I’m going to hurt myself and set myself back. I try to remember how far I’ve come. Right now I’m running better than I ever have, in my entire life. I feel good about it. I enjoy it more. But there is that lurking risk of injury just waiting at the periphery. So I need to settle back, and push myself just enough but not too much. And for this reason, I’m not changing my goal.

At least not now. If I hit 3,000,000 steps in November, or even October, I can always change my goal then. Or not. Or I can come up with a brand new goal. Right now, the important thing is that I’m going to do those 3,000,000 steps, and the 12,000 steps I did today just got added into the pile.