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.

Act “as if”

I may have written about this before, but I believe in the power of “as if.” I believe in it so much that I’ve taught my child to use its power. She is even better at it than I.

Not confident? Just act as if you were confident and it’s almost as good.

Not happy? Act as if you were happy. Smile and laugh and tell jokes. No one can tell you aren’t happy. Maybe not even you.

Don’t know what you are doing? Just answer as if you are sure of yourself. Others will believe in you, follow your lead, and soon you will be sure.

Right now I’m not body positive at all. I’m feeling old and sore and worn down (especially last night). But I post as if I’m sure of what I’m doing and that I know it will turn out right. If I keep saying it, not only will you believe, but hopefully I will too.

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?

Reasons to Succeed

Yesterday I almost didn’t get my 30 min walk in. The day got away from me so that the earliest I could get to it was 10 pm. It was rainy and icky out. I was really tired. But it’s only 30 min and I already brought my sneakers, I told myself.

Then I realized I had forgotten to pack up the most important thing: I carry a water bottle to the gym that has my Garmin watch, Bluetooth headphones, a sweat towel, and a scruncii to hold my glasses on. Could I really walk without these?

Yes, I thought:

  • Listen to the rhythm of your breathing
  • Enjoy the sweat as proof of your effort
  • Repurpose your empty coffee thermos from this morning as a water bottle
  • Rely on the treadmill to record your efforts
  • Hold your head high so your glasses don’t fall off

It was a great moment in positive self talk. I found reasons to succeed instead of reasons to fail. I kept thinking if you let these little things defeat you now, how will you survive the big things?

On my way to the gym, with less than an hour before closing, my glasses broke. One of the temples (arms) fell off and into the abyss of my dark car. To keep driving (I am completely blind without my glasses) I had to hold them with one hand and drive with the other. I had no time to go home for a spare pair and still get my walk in.

Well, that’s it, I thought. I can’t see so I can’t walk. Just give up. This is a legit reason. More legit than no headphones and no water bottle.

But then I thought, Fuck It.

I want to get my walk in. Let’s see (hehe get it) what happens.

So I went to the gym and held my glasses with one hand to find the changing room and then dressed blind. Then I held my glasses to find the treadmill and to see which buttons to press. Once I got a good rhythm going I put the glasses into the empty cup holder (yeah, I left the coffee cup in the car after all that) and walked blind. I didn’t fall. I didn’t fail. I didn’t give up.

All in all it was a pretty great day.

Recovery is hard

Between one thing and another I’ve been barely moving the past 3+ months. It wasn’t just my injury: politics, work, and family have had an impact on my soul, and this my activity level. There was a week/ten day period that I ate like my boyfriend broke up with me (he didn’t; you guess which week).

I’ve lost a lot in that time — self esteem, stamina, identity — but I’m ready to get my fight back. Not just in fitness but all aspects of my life.

The past few days I’ve been re-reading my old workout journals to set new goals. I just need to remember that I can’t compare my progress with where I was pre-injury or I’ll just give up.

img_0120-1For example, I’m only supposed to run 20 min at a time, with 1-2 rest days in between. Today I thought I ran so much better than Tuesday only to find I actually ran only 0.1 miles farther in the same time. I was sooo disappointed till I logged on to my favorite fitness Facebook page and was reminded that this was 20 min more than I could do the past 3 months. Then I logged into twitter and saw how many ❤ my recent posts have gotten. So I was inspired to come back here.

I need smaller goals. I need shorter posts. I need to celebrate my successes.
Thanks for giving me a place to lean.

Best Run in Months

OK, to fair, it’s been my only real run in months.

seldenMy last real run was in August. I did a 6 mile hill run that completely undid me. Since then I’ve  kind of lost myself. I tried a number of programs (weights, biking, yoga), but not with any enthusiasm. I’ve been disconnected, easily frustrated, and a bit lost.  What was supposed to be 6 weeks of PT dragged into 12 weeks. I was pretty faithful about attending PT, but kind of slacked off between sessions, not keeping up on my end of the exercise.
The events of early November didn’t help my already sagging mood. Not to get political, but I have lost enthusiasm for pretty much everything.

depressedThe PT, which initially showed promise wasn’t really getting me where I needed to go. Plus the doctors couldn’t agree on the best way to move me forward. One said I definitely needed surgery and it was a wonder I could run at all. Another said those were old injuries, and if I ran a half marathon last year those mangled bones and tendons couldn’t be the problem now. I went the path of least resistance and got cortisone shots in my heel.

At first I didn’t think the shots helped. I still felt all the pains, just in different places, but I renewed my efforts to work on PT and by week 2 things seemed somewhat better. My therapist said we could try a cautious run on the treadmill in PT. That was Monday. She let me run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, etc.  In all I did less than a half mile of running in 15 min. It was both agonizing and exhilarating.  My body felt free, but also in check. It was the best 15 minutes in weeks.

That was Monday… I rested and tested how my legs felt Tuesday and Wednesday, I did a morning run: A little further and a little faster.  As per my carefully planned out regime, I rested Thursday and woke super early this morning ready for my Friday run. I did 10 minutes straight running, nearly making the mile mark.  When my lovely GPS watch buzzed that my time was up, I almost wanted to pretend I didn’t notice, but I thought about all the months and months of PT and thought, “It isn’t worth it.”  I stopped and walked  the rest of the way home.

homerI have to say right now I’m concerned. My calf is pretty tight right now, tighter than it has been in months. Did I overdo it? Did I not stretch enough after? Am I being oversensitive and overthinking it? Maybe it’s sore because I haven’t run in 3 months??

Having said that, running this morning felt awesome. I got more done at work today than I have in weeks, and the people that needed me to clean up their messes didn’t piss me off nearly as much as usual. I even felt better about how I looked. I mean, that’s crazy right? But I was thinking about it. The past few weeks I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and all I could think is negative thoughts: I’m getting fat, I’m wrinkled, I’m out of shape, I look awful… All my body positivity work from the past 3 years has just deserted me.

i-ran-todayToday, I put on a pair of yoga pants and tight top and thought, “Wow, I look cute.”

Seriously…

 

I’d love to tell you want it means, but right now all I can say is I want to run tomorrow. I’m supposed to rest between runs, but really, how important is that?

(Just kidding: I’m doing stretches and PT exercises tomorrow. But I’m definitely running Sunday.)

Selfishness Required

selfishIn the interest of full disclosure, the title of this post is intentionally “click-bait.” For me, “selfish” relates to your relationship to others (lacking consideration for others). What I’m referring to here is more about “self-care” which relates to your relationship to yourself (providing consideration for yourself).

Sometimes I lament that I didn’t get into running earlier in my life. How much better might I feel (and perform) had I figured out how to take care of myself (nutrition, exercise, empowerment) when I was in my thirties or even my twenties?

But I don’t think I could have done it then, and here is why: Taking care of myself requires a level of self-care that I didn’t possess when I was younger. I didn’t even have a concept for this.

141256472.tiagBCsKI admire women who possess this trait without abandoning their responsibilities – a very tough tightrope to walk. My sister, for example, has 4 pre-school age children (triplets no less), a full-time job as a teacher, is working on her second masters degree and still manages to run regularly and gets in date-night with her husband every week. I’m not sure what she deals with internally to get everything done, but I’m pretty sure it means making tough choices and putting herself first when necessary.

I’ve always struggled with that, frequently working myself sick trying to take care of everyone but myself. The list used to look something like this:

  • My daughter
  • My partner (when applicable)
  • My family
  • My job
  • My family
  • My family (I have a very big family, so there is always someone needing something)
  • My close friends
  • My colleagues
  • Acquaintances, strangers, random people
  • Myself

Sometimes the order changed. There were weeks where my job leapfrogged to the top of the list or when a close friend edged out a family member. What didn’t change is where I was… way, way down at the bottom. Obviously my daughter always came first, but it went so far beyond that; I needed to make sure I was there for friends, family, partners, employers. Often there was nothing left over for me.

 

oxygenBut I’m working on changing that paradigm. At this point in my life I’m willing to put myself first and invest time for myself, but I have to think about it and make a conscious decision to put my needs before others. Of course, even today if I have to choose between something for my daughter and something for me, I will still pick her every time. Luckily I’m at a stage in my life and she is at a stage in her life where I don’t have to pick very often. More than that, I’m learning to say no to family, to bosses, even to my bf, when I have to.

Part of my awareness that I needed to invest in self-care occurred because I got seriously sick. I needed to learn to say “no” just to get through that. It was very freeing, but it may have been short-lived once I got healthy. I actually think the fat-acceptance movement was a very important part of moving me to this awareness long-term.  As I started to come around to a mindset that I was worth something – in spite of being fat – I also started thinking I was worth taking care of.

Consider training for the NYC marathon. I regularly spend 12, 15, 20 hours or more a week. It isn’t just the hour or three of actual running: There is the getting ready to run and the post run recovery time. (I’ve been known to lay in bed for a few hours after a long run – don’t judge). There is the time spent posting about my runs, time spent researching running, reading about running… I’ve probably spent 20 hours researching GPS watches and I still haven’t bought one. And most of the time I feel like I’m not doing enough.

me post run

This is me, post-run. How long I lay there depends on how tough my run was and how much time I have. I always factor the post-run crash when deciding how far to run.

I’ve gotten to the point where I lie about how much time I spend running. They are small lies: “I’m going for a quick run” means I’ll see you in an hour or so. “Going for a long run” means don’t even look for me for the rest of the day. “A short run” can be up to 6 miles and “We can do it after my run” means I’ll probably be late and most likely useless when I get there. I think my BF is on to me. The last time I said “I just need to get in a run first,” he laughed and rolled his eyes. “I know what that means,” he said.

In spite of everything I’ve written here, sometimes I still feel like I’m selfish – putting my own needs above pleasing others. What I’m slowly learning to recognize is that these feelings aren’t true. It isn’t selfish to take care of myself; it’s actually healthy.

TBT: Would You Talk To A Friend Like That?

47f5c4827e3c5ab95de6bb1f9f287719I’m trying a new feature: Throwback Thursdays. As I search to find my way again, I’m going to re-read old blog posts and revisit the themes. I’ll give you the link to the original article, and then some commentary on how my thinking has evolved or gotten tangled up.

I’m picking Would You Talk To A Friend Like That?  from September 2014 as my first TBT article. Two weeks ago was my daughter’s 22 birthday party. At the party someone commented on her body transformation. My daughter is autistic, a struggling reader, and a person who needs support to function in the community. But when asked about her weight loss she spoke about nutrition and exercise as if she were majoring in it at college.

For the past several years she has struggled with various diets and exercise regimes, as I did when I was her age. She’s tried “magic pills,” food replacement shakes, starvation, kick-boxing, etc.

how-to-have-a-beach-bodyMost recently she has been following the “Beachbody” food and exercise plan. I don’t know a lot about it, just what I observe. It is fairly expensive, but she pays for everything herself and I only give her advice if she specifically asks for it. She measures her food using plastic colored containers. And she makes these chocolate shakes which she says helps with food cravings. From my point of view it  seems like she is eating healthy foods and enough calories to not be starving herself (a vast improvement on some of the crazy plans she was following). She wakes up early every morning to get in an exercise routine (DVD).

Physically she is getting the results she wants. She is losing pounds and gaining confidence. She posts before and after pics on Facebook. She is proud of the hard work she is doing an loves getting a chance to share her success with others. In the middle of the conversation she made a statement that made me want to cry:

I used to love going to the beach when I was little, but when I got fat I was ashamed to wear a bathing suit.. Now, I won’t go swimming until I can wear a bikini– not a fatkini or plus-sized bikini, but a real bikini. I won’t feel comfortable until I feel good about how I look.

My immediate reaction is “I’ve failed her.” It didn’t help that everyone else at the party was oooh-ing and ahh-ing over her weight loss. She has told me that body-acceptance is fine for me (since I’m old so it doesn’t matter how I look, I guess) but that she can’t love herself unless she has the type of body that society deems acceptable.

rupaulWhen I started to think about it, though, I realize that I let a lot of that slip into my own thoughts far too often. I continue to have internal thoughts that are negative. I can’t until… I won’t because… I’m too old, too fat, too plain…

Self-love and body acceptance isn’t a thing you achieve. It is something you have to work for all the time. Sooo, I’m re-committing to my relationship with myself. I promise to be a better partner to my body and start treating my body as a cherished friend, not the enemy.

Here is my updated list to help me woo myself:

  • More massages, mani-pedis, and haircuts. (Boy do I need a haircut)
  • Looking at myself in the mirror every day, and looking for what I like best in the reflection. (I’m pretty good with this one most of the time)
  • Letting people take pics of me, taking selfies (it’s not a bad word) with my loved ones, and posting pics on my social networks.  I don’t Photoshop out fat, wrinkles or birthmarks. (I have to do this more. I’m better than I was, but not there yet)
  • Buy myself beautiful clothes that I love, rather than waiting until I’m a specific size, because damn it, I’m worth it. (Do running clothes count? Cause I buy a SL of them)
  • Taking some time for myself every day, even when work is super busy, and my personal life is super crazy. (This. I need to do this more!)