Friday, February 28, 2014
Tomorrow is March 1, the beginning of a new month and for that I am so grateful.
I know that the turning of a calendar page is not a magic wand that gives you a perfectly clean slate and the ability to write over it with something phenomenal. Every new year, new month, new DAY is what you make of it. But sometimes, when life has dumped on you what feels like more than your share of hardship and disappointment, it's nice to imagine that a clean calendar page really does mean a clean slate. And after a difficult January and February, what I'm craving more than chocolate covered pretzels is a clean slate.
In January, my parents announced that they were getting divorced after 35 years of marriage: a devastating blow to my sense of family and roots. They'll be selling my childhood home (which I currently live in) and going their separate ways. Then, towards the end of the month, things began to get ugly and what was at best the end of an era turned into an all-out familial war with my older brother and I caught in the middle.
And it hurt, of course. It's been difficult. But I also did my best to let it be only a PART of my life rather than the all-consuming (w)hole. I spent a lot of time with my best friend, I worked on my Master's thesis, I got a new job that actually uses my skills for a good cause, I held onto the hope that this wouldn't last forever, and anyway it's only a matter of months before I move to begin my PhD.
And then February came. Things got uglier, the stress poured on, thesis work got more difficult, I fell behind at work, and oh yeah...I was rejected from my DREAM PhD. program. If January was about looking beyond the current pain, February was about just getting through the day. If I made it to the gym three times, it was a good week. All of which culminated in a three day stomach bug that left me completely useless on the couch this past week.
Through the past two months, my best friend has been a shoulder to lean on, my biggest cheerleader, and basically everything you could want from a best friend. And she has reminded me over and over again that if I had a super power, it would be resilience. In this position and others I've faced in the past, other people would run away or break down. And yes, I have been known to falter. I have been known to crawl into bed and refuse to leave for twelve, fourteen, eighteen hours. But I always get back up. I always hope that tomorrow will somehow be better than yesterday, even if I can't see how it could be. I hobble along, held together by duct tape and hope, but I'll be damned if I'm going to stay down. To me, that's what life is about: figuring out a way to go on when it feels like you're beaten. Because I don't like the alternative, and when things get really bad, I remind myself of that fact: would you rather tough it out, or would your rather be dead? Always, ALWAYS, the answer is to go on. Because well...
Thursday, January 09, 2014
So, I fully intended to write this post on Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. But such is life, right? Sometimes things get in the way. The good news is that it hasn't gotten in the way of my healthy-living plans....for the most part.
For the first few days of the year, I was hitting my marks like a Rockette. Workout in the morning, eight glasses of water every day, five-nine servings of produce, on track with my 10K training, even writing a blog post every day about my progress. In terms of checking off all my goals, I was perfect. And I knew it wasn't going to last. Not that I thought I was going to fall off the bandwagon and give up. Oh no, 2014 is not a year of giving up. No, I just mean that there are going to be days when I can't be on my A game: I'll be too tired or sore to do the full workout I had planned, I'll be away from home and have to choose the healthiest option from whatever food is available to me, I'll hit 8,000 steps instead of my 10,000 daily goal, I'll miss a blog post and catch up later. That's when the other 25 letters of the alphabet kick in. This was a Plan B week.
On Saturday night, I got some family news that kind of threw me for a loop. But I had that party on Sunday (which went well, by the way) and distracted myself with a good day hanging out with friends. And then on Sunday night, the news finally sunk in and hit me pretty hard. As I said in my post on Saturday, this would have been a perfect time to fall into old habits; to seek comfort in sugary, fatty foods, to ditch my workout routine and curl up on the couch to do nothing all day. Instead, I went to the gym for my scheduled run on Monday even though I didn't feel like it. I'd been crying most of the day and worried that I might burst into tears on the treadmill. So I started slow, I walked, jogged, and then finally ran; and ran HARD. It felt like a sopping-wet towel being wrung out in my chest. For half an hour, it all drained away and I focused on my muscles working and pushing. It was wonderful.
Unfortunately, one run didn't make the problem go away anymore than it could make the next twenty-five pounds go away. And the next day, I woke up sore and exhausted. Truth be told, I wanted nothing more than to hit the gym again and work out my frustration on some weights or the elliptical, but with the single-digits temps outside and my body feeling less than a hundred-percent after a solid week of everyday workouts, I decided it was a good time for a rest day. I ate as healthy as I could and moved around the house, but my body needed a break to heal and rest up. So it shouldn't have surprised me that when I hopped on the treadmill for yesterday's run, I still wasn't at full capacity. My planned 3miler turned into a stumbling one mile followed by an easy pace on the stationary bike. I could feel it coming on: burnout. After the high-flying enthusiasm of the New Year, it was time to be realistic and listen to my body, and my body was telling me to take it down a notch.
It's inevitable that energy ebbs and flows. Some weeks are going to be easier than others, while other weeks will feel like a slog to take even the little steps. This is one of those weeks when it's not about hitting every mark, it's about doing the best I can. And that's not bad at all. I'm down another pound, though I won't officially weigh in until Sunday. I've worked out every day but one this week. I'm still on track. I'm just settling into an easier pace for the long haul.
How are you all doing? Is your New Year's enthusiasm still flying high or are you buckling down to reality?
Sunday, January 05, 2014
This afternoon, I'm going to a Little Christmas party with my best friend's family. My best friend who loves to feed me. It's always good food, usually fairly healthy, but with a crowd of family around and lots of happy feelings, I'm expecting to have food pushed on me from every angle. So I woke up this morning with the attitude of going into battle. I'd get my morning workout in, drink lots of water, have a small but filling lunch before I go, and practice saying, "No thanks, I'm full." And if I do go a little overboard, I will take a deep breath, learn from the experience and do better next time.
So as I said, I entered this day from a place of defense. And then, because it's Sunday and the beginning of a new week, I decided to weigh in. I didn't expect too much, I'm taking things extremely slow this time around and even a half-pound loss would have meant I was on the right track. Maintaining would not have been a disappointment. But I got a surprise as the numbers flashed: a 2 pound loss! A part of my brain immediately began to temper the success, saying that it was probably water weight and the pace wouldn't continue to be this rapid. I even considered whether it was a mere fluctuation from dehydration or the like and whether I should count it as an official loss. But my voice of reason couldn't overcome my dancing, woohooing voice of BELIEF. If I weigh in next week and take a step back, that's no big deal. My weight loss graph doesn't have to be a straight-down ski slope. It will have bumps and dips and fluctuations. As long as the trend leans goalward, I will get there. Because 2014 is my year of BELIEVING I can. Believing I WILL.
Saturday, January 04, 2014
I had another post planned for today, a more thoughtful on a topic that I will get to eventually. But then life, as it does, threw me for a loop. Family drama of the most unexpected variety. And in the past, this would be a perfect moment for some good old emotional eating. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and serve it up with a whole plateful of cookies. And with the holiday cookie supply still at peak levels, it would have been very easy to dig myself into that hole. But the thought never actually crossed my mind. I had the small, low-fat brownie I'd baked for myself the other day as planned. I drank water when I felt a craving coming on and distracted myself with Pinterest, and soon the upheaval passed.
Friday, January 03, 2014
It snowed today.
If you don't know me, that might not mean anything to you, so let me fill you in. I hate snow. Sorry, one should not hate; it's not a word that I like to use. I DISLIKE snow very strongly. VERY strongly. Sure it's pretty and I had my fair share of happy childhood memories involving the white stuff, what with sledding, snow forts, and snow angels. But when the snow balls started flying I headed back to my natural habitat: inside, on the couch, with a book.
I've long ago given up sledding and as a grown-up (I almost put that in quotes) there is no such thing as snow days for me anymore. So now, when my window frames a pretty white-blanketed postcard, instead of smiling, I pout, grumble about digging out my car, and seriously consider going back to bed. Today elicited even more grumbles because it was the second day of snow and it had worn out its welcome somewhere around a sweet one inch coating. Now it was a foot thick, well below freezing, and blocking my path to the gym. That's right, the gym. I'm not currently working and I'm on winter break from classes so there was nowhere important for me to go. Except that I had a 3 mile run scheduled for today as part of my 10K training and I had planned to pound them out on my gym's treadmill.
At eight o'clock it was still snowing.
At nine o'clock, it stopped but the roads and my driveway were both impassable.
By ten, the plows had come around and cleared the roads but the guy who does our driveway was nowhere to be found.
At eleven, the driveway was still indistinguishable from the lawn. I began to get antsy. I have a run to do!
By noon, I could see that there was a very good chance that I would not be leaving the house any time soon, or perhaps at all today. Now some of you might be asking, "Why didn't you just go shovel the driveway yourself? It would be a great warm-up for your run!" Well, the short answer is: I don't want to. The long answer is that we have a large driveway, there was about a foot of snow on the ground and past experience has taught me that that is a recipe for injury at the worst and a missed workout at the least. Plus, I had faith that the plow guy would eventually show up and if I couldn't do my scheduled run today, I'd resign myself to tomorrow.
But what to do in the meantime? The couch was a tempting option. I had a book to finish and plenty of blankets. But to be honest, I'd done that much of yesterday and my short workout probably didn't make up for all that sitting around. I looked around my room grumpily and noticed that I hadn't dusted since before the holidays. Well, I could put on some music, dust my room and maybe the plow guy would come while I was dusting. So I did.
I finished dusting my room and the plow guy still hadn't come. Fine, I'd been meaning to organize the shelf in my closet. So I pulled down all the disorganized purses, gloves, and hats and rearranged them neatly, tossing some old things in the charity bin. My mom called from Florida, where she's on vacation and we spoke for awhile. I complained about the weather, she told me about her vacation. I had a bowl of lentil soup I'd made and read for a bit, all the while listening for the telltale sound of the plow guy. It was getting later and later and I started to look doubtingly at the old stationary bike shoved in a corner of the basement. It was better than nothing right? And then lo, a sound of angels! Okay, not angels, but it was certainly the sound of the plow guy coming to my rescue! Liberating me from my snowy prison! I rejoiced and donned my running gear, dancing around in anticipation as he dispersed with the vile snow. And then at last, at last! I was able to dart off to the gym for a glorious 3 mile run that then inspired me to make myself a lovely, healthy dinner.
Thus, with a bit of patience I didn't spend a single moment on the couch today until right this moment, I salvaged my exercise streak, checked off another training run, avoided mindless eating, and have a clean room to boot. And on a more serious note, it reminded me that we're all working towards something, not just far off but every day. You make all the plans that you can and keep a positive attitude. But sometimes life gets in the way. And you can either feel as if your whole plan is ruined or you can go with the moment and figure out the best way around it. I didn't workout this morning like I planned. But I still got to where I needed to be.
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