Monday, April 30, 2012
"I don't train just to be better at training. I train so everything else in life is better."
My pal Nick (the shirtless one) getting ready for his fight on Saturday, with our Muay Thai coach Eric.
One of my martial arts buddies, Nick, had a fight on Saturday night. He was defending his chamionship belt that he earned at his last fight. He did lose the fight, but I know he trained hard. One day after we were done working out, he plopped into a chair, dripping sweat, and grinned. "I love the martial arts lifestyle," he said. Nick and I work out together quite a bit and I admire how hard he works. His determination has been an inspiration to me. He lives for martial arts and I have tried to emulate his dedication. He is fighting hard for the championship; he knows what he wants, and he works his ass off to go for it.
I may have not had a championship fight in the ring, but I feel like some of my victories have been like earning a title belt. I always have to come up to the next challenge even more prepared and more experienced than the one before. I have to prove that I can keep my title. As Lauren Brooks said in the top quote, training isn't about making the training better, it's about making life better. My ultimate championship victory is a rich and full life. April was a pretty good month, at least once I became cognizant that I was holding on to too much stress and made a conscious effort to let things slide. I feel physically stronger and more fit than I have in a very long time.
Along those lines, training this week was good. I got in 2 solid strength training workouts and several hours of martial arts training (see pictures below). Thursday and Friday I dedicated to yard work. I did about 10 hours of heavy yard work over the 2 days, so I definitely counted that as my workout. April was a pretty good workout month overall and I got in a lot of martial arts training, as well as strength training, every week.
Eating was okay this week. I was much better about tracking and tracked most days, which is an improvement. I didn't track (at least not accurately) for most of April. Not sure why--just didn't. I know I do a lot better when I am paying closer attention to what I put in my mouth, so I plan on tracking every day now.
Yeah, just squatting like 155 pounds here--nice light set.
Muay Thai bag work.
This was one of the better weeks I have had in a while. Last week I talked about needing to just let things go, and it has been much easier since I have made an effort to just let the stress slip away. I realize how much easier it is to stay on track when I don't let my mind get muddled with negative thoughts. I need to keep that championship on the forefront--the title is mine!
"Should you desire the great tranquility, prepare to sweat."
Sunday, April 22, 2012
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.”
I do animal poison control for a living. Most of the time I find it very rewarding to know I am helping save pets' lives, but sometimes, pet owners are not so grateful for our services. A lot of people are unhappy that we charge for our service (we don't receive any public funding/tax dollars, so like any veterinary practice, we have a charge for our service). Most people are happy to pay the fee because sometimes it saves them an emergency trip to the vet, and if their pet does need to go to the vet, we help with treatment so that a poisoning does not get out of hand and become fatal.
Of course, I can't please them all. I talked to a woman last night whose dog ingested the owner's pill when she dropped it on the floor. It was a dose of the medication that could cause a drop in blood pressure, respiratory depression, coma, and/or death. Of course I told her she needed to take her dog to an emergency vet right away. She argued and asked the same questions several different ways trying to get a different answer out of me, as if me saying, "Okay, sure, stay at home!" would save the dog. I firmly reiterated the information I had repeated several times, and told her I needed to let her go.
Now, I do empathize with my callers, I really do. I understand being frantic and upset. But I do have a low tolerance for owners redirecting their frustration with the situation at me and becoming rude. She called back less than an hour later and spoke to my co-worker, stating that she was upset at how the call was handled and that she wanted my supervisor to call her back, which means she'll get a call back from our head veterinarian.
Normally, I would fret and stew over a caller complaining about me. I would keep checking the case to see what our head vet said to the owner. Not this time. I was initially upset, but then I stopped, took a few deep breaths, and let it go. The situation is ultimately not my fault, and that owner would have complained no matter who had taken the call, unless she had been told that her dog would be just fine. There is no point in getting caught up in someone else's problem. Sure, the complaint was made against me, but ultimately, it is that pet owner's problem.
I am glad my automatic reaction was to choose to let go and to not hold onto any stress over this woman's actions (although I do hope the dog is okay). I have been hanging on to too much stress recently. Last week I said I wanted a fresh start, yet continued to be frustrated with myself for making the same poor choices over and over again.
Of course, my entire reason for being on SparkPeople is that I have not been able to let go. The extra weight on my body is just past pain and memories that have clung to my body. The extra weight is the food I turned to (and sometimes still turn to) for comfort. My past is no secret, everyone can see it with one glance at my 250 pound body. By making peace with the past, by letting go of the fretful moments as they occur, I have been able to make peace with my extra weight. By making peace with my weight, I have been able to make peace with my whole body and mind, at least for the most part. But I still struggle with letting petty crap slide and with letting in too much negativity, and worse, dwelling on it.
While I know I need to acknowledge my feelings, I can approach them with equanimity (a principle I have learned from meditation) and not actually react to them. Equanimity makes it so I can step back and decide how to react to my feelings before they turn into out-of-control emotions. Slowly, I have incorporated equanimity into my thinking. It helps me not blow things out of proportion and to think more realistically about any given situation. Since I have not been meditating regularly, I haven't drilled this concept in well over the past few weeks, hence struggling more than necessary over the past several weeks. Needless to say, I will be meditating every day, even if it's just 5 minutes, even if it's just a few minutes of moving meditation; I know I must do this.
This past week was not the best workout week, mainly because my neck and shoulders still hurt. I actually thought last week that my neck and shoulders were better, but I quickly realized on Monday that it still hurt to do Jiu Jitsu. I bailed on class and was so frustrated that I actually pounded on the mat and then went into the cage and started kicking the crap out of the bag (why not, my legs didn't hurt!). My coach Nate glanced in and saw me kick the 100-pound bag so hard that it slammed into the wall. I was near tears with frustration. "Are you pissed?" my coach Nate asked me.
"Yeah, I REALLY wanted to work out hard today in Jiu Jitsu." Nate is normally a smart-ass, but he actually looked sympathetic, so I must have looked really upset. I've come to realize that I NEED to work out hard to stay normal. Weight loss and whatnot aside, I NEED to work out. It is how I let go of all the crap that I hang onto. I didn't really need to go back to school and get a degree in kinesiology focusing on exercise psychology to know how beneficial exercise is for mood. Luckily, I was able to do a good kickboxing workout Monday, did a nice 2-hour workout on Wednesday (included kickboxing, weight lifting, some Jiu Jitsu, and nunchuks), and I also got in a couple of good walks throughout the week. But I wanted to do more, and luckily my neck and shoulders feel much better and I plan on resuming normal activity this week.
I have a private training session with my Muay Thai coach Eric tomorrow. It's the first time I've done a private lesson for martial arts. I am looking forward to it. I will be forced to be very focused, which is something I have not been doing very well on my own as of late. I am going to asking for a merciless, grueling, unrelenting workout. I want to feel like I am ready to collapse by the end. I need to remind my body and mind that I can push myself. I want a workout so tough that I'll wanna go home and cry to mama. Luckily, Eric will have no problem obliging me. I think it will be a great way to start the week--Jiu Jitsu class, some weightlifting, then a hard session of Muay Thai. My body is CRAVING it!
My eating last week was slightly improved over past weeks, but I still had a day of overeating (as in, I felt sick from eating so much junk). Most of the eating was with a friend, and as I've said, I feel slightly better about social overeating than secret overeating by myself, but I still could have made better choices. I tracked accurately about half the time, again, an improvement. Of course, I can do better. When I don't track my food, that feeds into the nagging little stresses, all which feed into each other. Again, I need to forgive myself, let it go, and move on.
I need to remember that even when I'm not at my best, I am still doing the best I can at that moment. But I am letting it all go. By letting go, I can actually take control instead of letting all the crap floating around in my head cloud my thinking. All those thoughts squelched my spark over the past few weeks. Today, I have no spark--I am on fire.
“Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t 'should’ve' done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day!”
Monday, April 16, 2012
Last week was not overly horrible, but not really eventful, either. I felt like I hardly worked out at all since I skipped Jiu Jitsu on Wednesday and Friday because my upper back and neck hurt, but I still apparently burned a good 3,000 calories. I'm not sure if I hurt my neck doing something in Jiu Jitsu last Monday, but it still hurts now. I am finally caving and am taking naproxen. I felt like I overate a lot, but my weight remained steady. It was just kind of a "blah" week, and I'm looking forward to a fresh start.
I think part of the "blah" comes from the fact that I have been working 6 days in a row a lot this schedule (every other week), and that is after having only 1 day off. I started this schedule a few weeks ago and I was already pretty fried from work. I may work from home, but I still have a pretty high-stress job on a typical day. When our next schedule starts in June, I will assert myself that I do not want to be scheduled 6 days at a time. Thankfully, I have a week off coming up soon (starting May 19th), and I am looking forward to it very much.
Tonight is my 6th day of working and I am ready to decompress. Dare I say tonight's stress relief involves homemade vegan brownies and watching Star Trek Deep Space 9 with my sweetie. I am looking forward to it.
Just thought I would share a quote that one of my Jiu Jitsu pals posted before a competition this past weekend:
"In fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit."
Sunday, April 08, 2012
I had the most productive week I've had in a while this past week. My eating may not have always been spectacular, but I had a great workout week, practiced my saxophone quite a bit, and overall felt pretty relaxed.
I got through almost all of my planned workouts this week, which is pretty good considering I plan on at least 3 Jiu Jitsu classes (did it!), 1 Muay Thai class (didn't do it), 3 strength training workouts (did it!), and 3 runs (I did 2 runs; I made the second one a longer run). I also stretched in some form every day, although I did not do my Pilates workout or a formal yoga workout.
I had an excellent week in Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu can be a fairly frustrating and defeating art at first, and I know it will continue to be this way for some time. But now that I have been doing Jiu Jitsu for about 5 months, I am starting to get more of a grasp. I have doubted myself a lot in Jiu Jitsu. I tend to psych myself out when I get into an offensive position and let my opponent take over and get a dominant position. Two of my good Jiu Jitsu friends keep telling me to be more aggressive and to not have the thought in my head that I can't get a submission. On Wednesday I was rolling with a guy who is considerably better than I am. I got into a dominant position and set up a submission. I would not give up. I pictured just sitting there until he tapped. Sure enough, he tapped. That is the first time I have gotten someone who is significantly better than me to tap out. I was very excited.
Eating--meh, still here and there. My diet is not horrible overall and I eat tons of fruits and veggies and drink tons of water every day. I have still not been diligent about completely avoiding wheat, although I don't have wheat daily or anywhere near as often as I used to, but I still think I have some bloating because of eating it. Of course, the wheat-containing foods were all impulsive and unplanned foods, so if I just stick to my food plan I could fix the bloating. Wow, simple as that! So, this week, no wheat--period. I have no good excuse to include it; it just happens that my trigger foods are wheat-based. If I avoid eating impulsively, I'll avoid wheat.
Overall, I am satisfied with this past week. I plan on making this next one even better. I might even get those boys to tap.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
March was all over the place. I had about 2 weeks of allergy issues and some blues that came with it. Of course, this was in the latter part of March right after I had surpassed the 50 pound weight loss point and was feeling very strong. I was a little afraid of losing momentum and backtracking. Although I did have a few days of of overeating and missed a week at the gym because of the massive allergy attack, I snapped out of it pretty quickly and returned to the gym last week as soon as my energy returned.
This past week was probably the best workout week I had in March, but that is pretty pathetic considering I only got to Jiu Jitsu twice and did no strength training or running. Now that the allergies seem to be tamed, I want to return to going to the gym at least 3 days a week (3 days of Jiu Jitsu and 1-2 days of Muay Thai) and running 3 days a week.
I am going to take another stab at Cathe Friedrich's Shock Training System staring in April. For those who are not familiar, here is a link to her website cathe.com/sts/ and to a review blog I wrote about the program www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4340707 . It is a 3- or 6-month progressive strength training program. I will need to be a bot more disciplined to get through it. I have used the excuses that it takes too much time and that it requires a lot of equipment, but neither are valid excuses. This type of hardcore strength training will help my martial arts training and will give me lots of lean muscle mass to help blast off some more fat. I may end up doing a bit of a hybrid program incorporating STS, but either way, I am going to start this week. My workout schedule will include the following each week:
Yoga, stretching, or "moving meditation" every day; moving meditation is simply fluid-like stretching
Jiu Jitsu at least 3 days/week (these workouts are 1-2 hours)
Muay Thai 1-2 days a week, either in class or bag work (about 1 hour each)
Running interval workouts 3 days a week (about 30-45 minutes each workout)
Kettlebells once a week (any length workout)
Cathe Friedrich's Shock Training System for strength training (3 days a week, about 1 hour each workout)
I feel the most energetic when I'm working out in this manner, so I need to be more disciplined. Despite not being the most disciplined, I am noticeably stronger (I hear it from my Jiu Jitsu pals a lot recently) and I am improving in Jiu Jitsu. The guys at Jiu Jitsu have also noticed my weight loss and are very supportive, although they have always treated me like an athlete.
My eating has still been all over the place. I have done a lot of stress eating over the past few weeks. I think I'm really burnt out from my job, because the stress eating has been after work. I am trying to focus on the week I have off in May and that there will be some reprieve soon, and just try to hang in there in the meantime. My goals for eating in April are to have more readily-available healthy foods so that I am less prone to turn to ordering food or shoveling in junk. I haven't had cereal or protein bars in the house for several weeks, and I now realize that both of these tend to save me from stress eating because I can grab them very quickly and allay emotional eating. I do make a lot of homemade foods, but when I don't have something made and ready, and I'm actually hungry, and I am stressed...well, you know the rest. I need to get back to being diligent about avoiding wheat and having more food readily available. This will require some more planning on my part as well as having a few convenience foods on hand so I can grab something quickly when I am truly hungry.
Come to think of it, I have not been meditating at all over the past few weeks, so it's no wonder I have been turning to food for comfort. So, in April, I will meditate every night (anywhere from 5-30 minutes) before going to bed. I was feeling a lot better when I was consistent with meditation; I guess I got caught up in stress eating and kind of forgot about it. Hmmm, and just when I could have used it most...
Okay, so I suppose I am ready to talk about the boyfriend. I have alluded to him or mentioned him here and there over the past couple of months, but haven't really talked about him. There are a couple of reasons for this. First off, I wasn't really looking for a relationship. I had a profile on OKCupid and would go on some dates with guys if they wrote to me. Nobody was very promising. I was looking for some casual fun perhaps, but I couldn't picture being in any kind of serious relationship. I had become rather jaded and cynical after my string of loser jerk "boyfriends" (or whatever they were) and had kind of given up.
In mid-December I received a message from a guy and so I checked him out. He could write coherent sentences, seemed intelligent, enjoyed writing, and seemed decent enough. I figured it couldn't hurt to meet the guy. We met at a wine bar near my house. In walks a 6-foot tall, well-muscled guy in a long trench coat and a fedora. After talking with him for only a short while, it was clear that he was very, very smart. I felt very comfortable with him. I am not going to lie, there was not any "love at first sight" or any major sparks; I thought he was just all right. I was in a place that was too cynical regarding dating to have any feelings like that. We had a nice first date and at the time I felt neither here nor there about seeing him again (again, too jaded...).
Now, to backtrack a little, romance was another area of my life that I allowed to be overtaken by my weight. I blamed my weight for the fact that I was not meeting a decent guy back when I was really trying to. They were all the same guy: arrogant (without any particularly great traits to back up their cockiness), uncaring, and usually had some sort of addiction. They were all the same guy. Now, I am NOT bashing men, not at all. I know lots of great guys and have a ton of guy friends. But when it came to dating, I built a wall around myself that would no one could break through even if they were interested in me romantically. In my eyes I was too fat, too unattractive, too unlovable. Depriving myself of a good man was another way to punish myself for being overweight. I settled on these jerks, feeling lucky that any guy was giving me the time of day (and they seemed to exploit this fact). Over the past year or so of taking a good, hard look at myself, I came to realize that my weight was an excuse for not letting a good man near me.
"Perhaps love is the process of my gently leading you back to yourself."
-Antoine de Saint
I knew in theory what I was looking for--a smart and kind guy who was also autonomous, their own person. This time, I was determined to be a little more patient, with myself and with him. Rather than pinpointing some minor perceived flaw and running for the hills, I tried very hard to objectively address any concerns with him. I have been trying hard to assess whether the concerns were really about him or if they stemmed from my own insecurities. Any time the thought crossed my mind that I wanted to stop seeing him, I stopped and assessed why I was feeling that way. They were all fear-based reasons.
We started out pretty slowly. I didn't hear from him for a week after our first date, and he sent me a text on Christmas day. I didn't see him for about another week. Our second date was the best date I had ever had. We spent most of the day together. We didn't do anything major--we had coffee and chatted, went to his friend's house, and went out to dinner. It was more the way he treated me that made it special. For starters, he didn't seem embarrassed of me. He introduced me to his friends right off the bat. He wasn't hesitant to be affectionate with me in front of others. I always felt like the guys I had dated tried to keep me a secret and I had never really met their friends or family.
We continued to see each other once or twice a week, which was fine with me as I am a person who does like to spend time alone. However, when we spend time together, I feel like we complement each other. I have always felt like I am a "whole" person and have never been prone to seeking out a relationship to find someone to "complete" me. However, I am starting to see the value of having someone who adds that special something and who I can ask for help if I need it (and hopefully help him in return). He makes me a better person by helping me find myself in ways I haven't before. For instance, he is the one who introduced me to meditation. He has been supportive about my weight loss, too; I never thought I would talk about SparkPeople or weight loss with a guy I was dating, but I didn't want to hide any part of myself from him. He is also making an effort to eat more healthfully and exercise more. It is in these ways that we complement each other, although both of us were already whole people to begin with. He doesn't "complete" me, but he is helping me become a better person--and isn't that ultimately the point of a relationship?
A lot of this is still new to me, because even when I have had long-term boyfriends, they just added stress to my life. I am still getting used to the idea that a guy I'm dating may actually not be mean to me. Sad, I know, for a 33-year-old woman, but I credit SparkPeople, and oddly enough, my Jiu Jitsu guy friends for getting to a point where I can have a healthy relationship. The guys at the gym have been a combination of a good example of what nice guys are like as well as a sounding board for my confusion. They have helped me build my confidence like never before, both in body and mind. The exploration I have done over the past year and a half or so on SparkPeople has made me the healthiest I have ever been. I am now in a spot where I can let a nice guy in.
We have been dating for a little over 3 months and officially use the terms girlfriend and boyfriend. It is a young relationship, but I am enjoying it very much and am glad I took a chance. We are even planning a weekend getaway in May, and I am looking forward to traveling with him.
So, enough of the mushy stuff. I hope everyone has a great April. Here are some parting words of wisdom to keep in mind during the splendid month of April:
Image from http://thechive.com/2012/03/27/a-little-in
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
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