Sunday, January 30, 2011
I don't usually run on Sundays. I don't usually drink coffee. Today I did both.
Since I skipped my regular Friday long run and subbed in walking 2.5 miles to work instead, I was actually really craving a run today (Ok, maybe it's not the coffee - maybe I just AM a crazy person - did I just say I was "craving" a run? Woah). So the plan was to allow myself to sleep in for as long as possible (Mission Accomplished - I didn't wake up until noon today), have a sexy breakfast, and then head out for a nice long, leisurely jog to see if I could accomplish my 8K distance (5 miles).
It's a dark day here today - very overcast and threatening snow. We've already gotten a winter weather watch warning (how's that for alliteration?) in effect for Tuesday-Wednesday. They say we're in for a doozy of a snow storm again - lovely - so I best be getting a good run in today anyway since the conditions were pretty near perfect for running weather - 30 degrees, clear streets with only a few slushy patches, and overcast so there isn't glaring sun in your eyes - and it could be dicey over the next week. Maybe I'll finally get to used my YakTax.
Anyway - the cloudy skies allowed for a very late awakening this morning which was lovely. It's what's made it so hard to get out of bed during the week too. When my room is still dark, I think it's night - therefore, I continue to sleep! Haha. After finally rolling out of bed, I padded to the kitchen to make that sexy breakfast. Two toaster waffles - one with peanut butter, the other with Nutella, a tangelo orange, 6 strawberries and a large cup of coffee with a new skinny caramel macchiato creamer...mmmm. Even though I don't usually drink coffee, especially at home, I had a coupon for a free bottle and it looked delicious so I got it. I usually only get coffee one other time a week. On Wednesday afternoons before I go swimming, I get a decaf grande skinny latte from Starbucks. The warm milk tides me over for a late dinner post-swim and the little bit of caffeine gives me a boost to get through my tough workout after a full day at work. Since I feel a definite difference between when I do and don't "fuel" like this before I go to the pool at night, I decided to try it as well on my run today to see if it made a difference there too. Umm, yeah, it for sure did.
Firstly, running mid-afternoon after you've had a ton of sleep and a proper meal is way different than running first thing in the morning on only a banana - which is my usual routine. I noticed this on Christmas Day when I did a 5 mile walk/run down the lake and back. My energy was amazing that day as well, so I knew I was in for a good time today too.
Secondly, the coffee just gave me a wicked boost of energy, and it was all I could do to keep telling my self to SLOW DOWN before I burned myself out after 2 miles.
I decided on a couple of different mantras before I left for my run that have been working for me lately. Besides "SLOW DOWN" which I actually use a lot on my long runs, today I also used "You Have All The Time In The World" and "Push It Through". "Push It Through" works really well for me if I'm feeling tired or if I'm having any pain. Whenever I say it I do that meditation technique of imagining a wave washing through your body from your head all the way down through your feet and out on to the ground. Usually this technique is done laying down, but I've been able to use it a lot on my runs as well. Every time my foot hits the ground I push a wave through my body and out onto the pavement. It's been extremely effective for pain in my legs. "Push It Through" and I can usually wash the pain or the tenseness or cramp out of my leg and out through my feet. "You Have All The Time In The World" was really nice today. Kind of like "SLOW DOWN", it reminded me that I was out to have fun today and relax and that I really wasn't trying to set any records (even though I did). And I could actually use it today and know that I was speaking the truth because I really don't have anything else to do today (except maybe a couple of loads of laundry) so I really didn't have to be in a rush, which I often am if I run before work. So that made a huge difference in knowing that I didn't have anywhere to be except right there doing what I was doing.
So of course you want to know how I did right? Haha. Well - I did what I set out to do. A full 8K, 5.02 miles in just over one hour, 1:02:50. BAM!!!
I got emotional again when I finally stopped running for the first time since I hit 5K for the first time back in November. That's an amazing feeling to have. When you accomplish something that is so huge, so life changing, that your emotions just let go and you cry like a baby in the middle of the street. I am changing my life. I have mantras for creeps sake. HAHA! What the heck is that? I've lost almost 80 pounds and I can run EIGHT FREAKING KILOMETRES!!! FIVE MILES. Holy crap. I am disciplined enough to run that far, to control my breathing and my body and my mind for five miles. Just a year ago I wasn't disciplined enough to press the power button on the remote control to turn off the television on a Sunday afternoon. THAT was the crazy person, not this. This person that I am now is FAR from crazy. This person is disciplined, and steadfast, and determined and beautiful. This person is the person I want to be, the person that I need to be.
I don't know that I want to pick up a coffee habit again just so I can run faster and longer, but at least it's worth it to know what it does for my training. I'll go back to my tea for the week I think, but I might make a treat of it on weekends as long as I'm running. It doesn't do much for my sleep (I'll have to see what happens tonight when I go to bed) but I'm hoping the strenuous exercise will counter-balance the caffeine consumption and I'll sleep like a baby. But for now I am just so proud of myself for what I was able to do today. And a full 3 months before I have to run my 8K Shamrock Shuffle too! It's my goal to be running at least a 10K by that point though, so that's the next goal. Now that I know I can run 5 miles, 6.2 will be a piece of cake right? Right?
Time to hit the showers. And maybe get to that laundry now. I have a BUNCH of sweaty running stuff to clean - and it's SO worth it!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I've been having a lot of problems lately with obligations. You see, there are two different kinds of obligations - those that you agree to (dinner with a friend, showing up at work every day, scheduling a morning run or an evening zumba class, general housework, etc.) and those that you don't (a work project that is forced on you, drop in company on a Saturday afternoon, having to pay for an expensive car repair, you get the picture...).
While I tend to pack my life very full of obligations that I agree to, it has come to my attention in the past couple of months that there is a big imbalance in my life between welcome obligations and unwelcome ones, or things that people just expect of me without asking my permission about them. And that is NOT cool.
This imbalance is throwing me off my game. That big, fat "I Don't Wanna" hat that I've been sporting for the past couple of weeks is due to this imbalance. Since we tend to lump ALL obligations into the same category and since I am harbouring hatred in my life for all of the people and situations that have been put on me since I got back from Germany, I have confused my desirable obligations with the things at which I am truly angry. And this is helping no one. I don't want to run in the mornings because my boss expects me to finish a huge project by the end of January that is not in my job description. I don't want to leave my house to spend time with my friends because my staff called and woke me up early on Sunday morning (during my personal time) with an issue that needed to be fixed immediately. These two things have NOTHING to do with each other, but in my mind, they are all things that I HAVE to do, and because I am angry about one of them, I have therefore become angry about all of it. And when I'm angry I cover up the emotion with one of three things: food, sex or shopping - the Band-Aid vices to which I cling when I don't really want to feel what I'm really feeling.
I'll be honest - most of this has to do with some issues at work right now. But so much of my personal life overlaps with my work life that it is impossible for me to separate the two into two different issues. My "ME Project" is a full time job in and of itself. This journey for me is much deeper than what is spelled out here on Spark; in my blogs, on my page or on the message boards. In order to revamp my life, lose weight and become an overall healthier person inside and out, I am devoting a ton of time and attention to ME - my behavious, my interactions with people, my food, my exercise, my reactions to situations - I'm working on all of this all of the time, and so a lot of what I accomplish with regards to my "ME Project" just happens to be while I'm otherwise on the clock at work. Thankfully I have the perfect job to be able to devote time to both it and myself in a day. I love that. What I don't love is when work throws me a curve ball that opens up something new in my "ME Project" that I didn't know existed before but that becomes a huge issue in both worlds until it is addressed. If left unaddressed I start to resent my day job AND reach for the fast-food/sex/retail therapy fix - because two negatives make a positive right? Right? Not so much.
My other issue with unwanted obligations is that I tend to have a bit of a Wonder Woman complex. When something is broken, I have to fix it. It makes me feel important. But that can also backfire when the thing that you have to do doesn't have a sure-fire positive outcome. Superheroes aren't supposed to fail. And I'm not sure this time around that I will succeed. Big, stupid, Kryptonite curve ball.
The first step in figuring out this curve ball was in defining what in my life is a welcome obligation and what is not. I could point to the things that I wanted to do, and I could point just as easily to the things that I didn't want to do (which until today was pretty much everything). But it took some work to dig deep enough to find the true culprit of my anger which was causing this ripple effect of negativity through everything that I have on the schedule. Knowing what I'm really angry about is one thing, fixing it is quite another. It's going to involve work. But being able to understand the cause and effect in this case of my reasons for rejecting all of the good things that I've been putting into my life lately is a relief. Now comes the hard part of learning to accept and love and DO those healthy things again, whilst still being angry about this work situation and not letting one affect the other.
This is a pretty big step for me. This is the point at which I would have quit before. This is the place in the past where things would get too hard, too personal, too unmanageable and I would give up. Give in to the vices and throw my hands in the air. But not this time. I can see my anger this time and I'm not going to let it get the best of me. Yes, I am still obligated to do the thing I don't want to do. But there are ways around it and people who can help and I do not have to hold myself 100% accountable for the success or failure of this project. I am laying down the Wonder Woman cape. I do not have to save the day this time. I will do the best that I can with what I am being given and if I do fail I'll figure it out then.
In the mean time, my running schedule, healthy food prep and personal life shouldn't suffer. Wonder Woman needs to rock her Spandex suit!
*Pic courtesy of www.robertocampus.com
Monday, January 17, 2011
So I walked home tonight. Remind me not to do that again after a bout of freezing rain. In a 45 minute walk home I slipped and caught myself more times than I can count (throwing my back in about 100 different directions - and after I JUST had an adjustment on Friday) after actually falling once right outside the doors of my office. Whoops. I landed hard on my right knee, straining my right groin muscle on the way down, but oddly enough, though I can feel the bruise on that knee as I write this, it's my left knee that hurts. I must have twisted it trying to hold myself up as my body wrenched in the other direction. My physical pain will heal, my pride - maybe not so much. I HATE falling in public. Urgh. And I did it right in the middle of a busy street in front of a ton of cars and people. Oh well.
I think my decision to continue to walk home after that was pig headed at best. I was pissed and so I was going to beat that damn ice. Every time I slipped, I picked up and just kept going. At one point I started laughing out loud (after shouting profanities of course). People must have thought I was a crazy person. Haha.
Anyway - I'm recuperating now at home, listening to the rain continue to fall outside. I'm disappointed. This likely means I won't be able to run tomorrow morning unless it warms up a bit and melts the ice. Freezing rain of this kind that coats everything isn't something that even my YakTrax can handle.
But maybe, if I can't run tomorrow morning, I'll bring them with me to work and try that walk home again tomorrow night. And this time I'll stay on two feet!
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Here's what 75 pounds of weight loss looks like:
And that's not all of it! I have already sent over 10 bags and boxes of items to Sparkfriends and local charities over the past 9 months. These are a select 7 bags of clothing that are going today to people who need them here in Chicago. Sweaters, jackets, one winter coat, about 6 pairs of jeans ranging in size from 26-18, skirts, a blazer, 6 good bras, socks, mittens, and tops, tops, tops. Winter clothes, summer clothes - they said they'd take them all, but I was selective so that they wouldn't end up with piles of things they couldn't use.
75 Pounds, 10 Pant/Dress sizes, and a whole lot of inches later, that's what it looks like, packed neatly in bags.
I can't believe I spent so many years in some of those items. Wishing for change. Hoping it would get better. Buying bigger and bigger items off the rack.
I have more room in my closets now for sure (I definitely don't have as many clothes, but it's also that the clothes are smaller so they take up less space!) but they don't feel empty. I don't feel empty - like I've lost something from my life - like I have so many times before with other diets I have tried. In fact, I feel fuller now than I ever felt with closet doors bursting wide with new items. Clothes used to fill me up. Food used to fill me up. I used things to fill me up that were material and not substantial. And giving things away was always so hard for me because it was like losing a piece of myself that I would then need to go out and fill again.
Today I don't feel like that. Today I am happy to, quite literally, remove this baggage from my life. Sure those bags contain some cute clothes that I really used to love to wear. But the clothes don't make the girl. I don't need those things to make me happy anymore. And a whole new WORLD of clothes awaits me at a smaller size. I can have whatever I want, and I know that now.
And though I feel full, I also feel lighter. Emotionally lighter, physically lighter - moving through the world has gotten so much easier for me these past few months. So here's hoping that these clothes will go to the people who need them most so that I might be able to help lighten someone else's burden today too.
Spreading the Spark, one t-shirt, one pair of pants, one pound at a time...75 different ways!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Any of you who read my status yesterday know that I wasn't having a wonderful Monday. In fact, I haven't had a wonderful Monday since the turn of the New Year (I know there's only been two of them, but neither one of them have been a good day). When the alarm goes off in the morning, I hit snooze about 4 times, then turn it off, roll over and fight with myself about getting out of bed - which usually results in falling back asleep, waking up late and setting the whole morning off from the start. I don't want to work. I have ZERO energy. And I end up sad and depressed all day long. Last night on my way home after a confrontation with a friend and work partner where we ended up shouting at each other I started crying on the bus and for the life of me could not figure out why. The blues had claimed my heart and there was just no shaking them off. Like Keith Richards says - I couldn't get no SATISFACTION - not even if I paid for it.
But enter this morning - Tuesday - my running day. I won't say that I "bounded out of bed" or anything over the top like that, but I got up - and earlier than I normally do - without a huge to-do over it. I caught enough of the news last night to know what I was about to face. Chicago is finally receiving it's just reward for being virtually snow-less amidst the crazy dumps that the East Coast has gotten since December.
The ground was already blanketed in white and coming down fast. But I accepted the challenge, laced on my shoes, and donned by new Fila running jacket (it's so super sexy, I think I got out of bed just so I could wear it this morning).
It wasn't an easy run - the fresh snow underfoot makes it like running in sand. My calves were burning within 5 minutes and then that burn spread to my hamstrings, but I kept running. I resolved myself to a slower speed, but settled into a really nice groove with an easier breath than I've had over my faster runs, so I didn't feel like I was pushing myself past my maximum. The snow was pelting my face sending streams of water down my hot cheeks as it melted, but I just kept wiping it away and sticking out my tongue to catch the big flakes. I was having fun! I only ran a 5K this morning, but I'm proud of getting my butt out there in those conditions and making the best of it. And a 5K is nothing to sneer at even on a GOOD weather day!
Given the fact that currently I am ELATED, I have wicked high energy, I'm happy - jovial even, and just feel an overall SATISFACTION with myself, I think I am finally safe to admit that I have a problem ...a running problem. I am officially addicted to endorphins.
Now this could be seen as a good thing, a good addiction to have and I agree. But if it means suffering through my rest days, that's no fun at all. So maybe it's time to give up the rest days. After this morning, I am convinced that I need to make Monday a running day since the exact same pattern happened last week too. The proof is in the pavement kids - my Monday rest days are starting to hang on me like lead weights (quite literally I felt "heavy" all day yesterday) until I get my Tuesday a.m. endorphin kick and life is roses again.
But I'm worried. I don't want to overdo it. If I run Mondays, do I also run Tuesdays? I've never run two days in a row before. I know some people run every day of the week - but am I one of those people? Here's the current schedule:
Sunday - Bootcamp Video x2, Light Cardio (cleaning or walking)
Monday - Bootcamp Video, Cardio Rest Day
Tuesday - 5K+ Run, Bootcamp Video
Wednesday - 1.5K Swim, Bootcamp Video
Thursday - Bootcamp Video x2, Cardio Rest
Friday - 5K+ Run, Bootcamp Video
Saturday - Zumba, Bootcamp Video
So can I fit in more? I currently burn in the neighbourhood of 4000-5000 calories a week just on my regular schedule. Adding another running day will put me almost to 6000 a week and I'm honestly nervous that it's going to backfire in the weight loss department if I start training too hard.
So I don't know. I think I'm going to switch it up for a week and see how it goes. I feel like a crazy person. There is still a good chunk of my brain that believes that you should only run if something is chasing you. That's the part that makes it hard for me to get out of bed in the morning. But more and more, the jack-rabbit in my soul is winning this battle. And I have to be honest - the new gear helps immensely. I'm hot to trot kiddies, so I best get out there and prance!
If someone had told me a year ago (they probably did and I probably looked at them like they had a face full of maggots) that today I would discover the cure for winter depression, I wouldn't have believed a word of it. But I'm so glad that every day that I get out of bed, pull on that sports bra and discover the cure over again, I continue to prove my old self wrong. Because in this case, I am willing to admit that I knew nothing back then. And my reward for the purging of that old belief system is pure enlightenment, reams of energy and complete SATISFACTION. Sorry Keith, ain't no drug on the market that's gonna come close to achieving this high.
*Photos courtesy of RollingStones.com & Kohls.com
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