Resolutioners

I love this season. Reflections, taking stock of accomplishments, setting new goals, appreciating the good of the past while looking ahead with anticipation of what the next year might bring.

Lately much of what I hear at the gym is, something along the lines of, “Oh yeah, just wait until January! All the New Years’ resolution makers will be in here making the place packed…”

I love a new year. Why not make a plan to achieve a goal? Even if the goal isn’t completed, isn’t it better to make steps in the direction of your dreams than to not try at all?

How about this: instead of eye rolling the new members of the gym, why not smile? Why not give them a nod of encouragement?  What does positivity cost you?

Nothing.

Maybe if we are kinder to people, they won’t find the gym such an intimidating place. Instead of complaining about a lack of parking, let’s be a community of encouragement.

Let’s make one of our resolutions to be welcoming rather than arrogant. Remember how scary this stuff was when you started?

Perhaps this really is the year.

Their year to make lasting healthful changes.

Your year.

2016. Let’s dream some big dreams and chase them with abandon!

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Push Pull

I think most people are the same in that we often have opposing ideas. Our ideals can often contradict our reality, such as our beliefs not always being aligned with our actions.

If I had my way, I would live in a world without clutter. Paperwork and “stuff” that litters our countertops in piles would be eliminated. (Immediately!) I am a sentimental person, but I’m also a purger. I can feel warm and fuzzy about memories, but I don’t necessarily need a tangible memento to carry for life. Part of this comes from our life in the military. We move every 2-3 years. We get accustomed to downsizing and resizing as the size of our living space changes. My personal motto is, “If it hasn’t seen the light of day or been used in 3 years, it’s time to go.” We typically donate it to someone who can use it or have a garage sale. I’m not a huge knick-knack person. It’s just more stuff to dust and haul around. Yet, in reality – we have knick-knacks and clutter and papers that are in need of a permanent home.

Also in my perfect world, I would have a library with floor-to-ceiling shelving loaded with books of all kinds. I love to read and love that my kids are now readers. I would eliminate iPads and iPhones and even though we use both (ahem, I’m typing this on my laptop!) I would love to drastically reduce, if not remove completely, the amount of screens at which my minions stare. If my son had his way, everyday would be iPad day where he plays endless hours of Minecraft and comes up only for lunch and the occasional bathroom break.

After our rough weekend, iPad went away. We are currently finishing up our second week (of 8 total) without tablets and I have to say that I’m surprised at just how much I have loved it. My kids (shockingly) have not had the same fondness for this experiment. Nagging in general has lessened. “C’mon, turn it off, time for dinner!” or “Mom!! Just 5 more minutes, PUH-LEEEEASE?” have all been eliminated. My frustration level has gone way down. We’ve been reading more. Playing games as a family is the new routine.

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Rummikub! Our current favorite!

The kids are not racing through homework salivating for that looming iPad time after school. We’re talking more. I’m listening more. The fighting when one “kills” the other off in their linked game is done. No tears. No fighting about virtual worlds.

Peace.

But….

It’s easy to hand them the tablet when I just need a few minutes. It’s convenient to have them occupied when Eric and I need to have an uninterrupted conversation. It’s wonderful on long car rides. (Let’s be honest – here in Texas, every excursion ends up being a long car ride! This place is huge!)

There is this push and pull tension I feel between what I envision and the reality. I still don’t have answers, despite having done these types of experiments before, here, here, here, and here. I doubt the tension will lessen any time soon. It’s hard to have balance. Given the choice, I never would have purchased tablets in the first place. I do think it’s entirely too easy to lean on it as a crutch, much the way we used tv before tablets.

I love having electronic “breaks” but wonder how, after our 8 weeks are up, to reintroduce the privileges without it becoming all-consuming. Am I the only one that has a kid THIS into electronics? Our daughter enjoys it, but can easily move on to other things and doesn’t seem to crave it in the same way that our son does.

What’s it like at your house? How do you set boundaries or are you boundary-less when it comes to electronics and screen time?

What Medals and Miles Will Teach You

When I started running, I remember my friends tracking numbers. Things like pace, distance, miles over the year. I remember thinking 300 miles seemed like so many to run over the course of one year. Then I started goal setting. Apps on the smartphone like MapMyRun and RunTracker got the job done, and eventually I got a GPS watch to track my stats.

In 2011, I logged 188 miles. 2012 saw 326 miles and in 2013 I eeked out 170 miles. (Thank you deployment!) Last year I made the goal of 500 and as of right now, 2015 mileage sits at 507. These miles seem insane to me on paper and goal setting is really only one tiny fraction of what running has given me.

Not only have there been running challenges, laps on tracks, fartleks, races, tempo runs, trail races, medals earned, bib numbers pinned, traveling runs, sprained ankles, pain, victory, sprints, nausea, euphoria and more, but there has also been therapy, solace, and peace in these miles.

Running is transformative. It changes who you are and who you think you can become. It changes your mood. It takes the impossible and makes it reality. It offers comfort in the uncomfortable. It’s an escape, if only for the duration of the run. It forces you to be in the moment. Every single time you run, you return better for having done so. Running has brought self confidence. Running will bring out a mental strength you had no idea you possessed.

It will shock you. 

It will shock you just how difficult it can be. It will hurt. It will ache. In the beginning for me there was a reckoning of just how far I’d let my physical fitness go. I had to learn to focus on each little accomplishment because the road ahead seemed just too damn long. Sometimes those little accomplishments are just making it around the block. There are shin splints and cramps and side stitches. Then we learn to move past the physical pain. We discover work arounds to the pain and the inconvenience. Running is a fantastic metaphor for emotional pain. That sometimes the only way around the pain is through it.

It will challenge you.

When you stick with it, it becomes impossible not to chase after that next thing. That faster pace, that longer distance, the next goal. Running will whisper in your ear, “That was awesome. Can you come just a little bit farther? What about this distance? How much do you love me? Wanna go a little faster?” Running will taunt you. “Betcha can’t beat your last time…”

It will change you.

Running will restore your belief in the impossible. Distances or paces just out of reach will become your new reality as you set your sight on the next goal. Striving for improvement will bleed over into every other facet of your life. Running just does that. It changes who you are; physically, mentally and emotionally.

What has running taught you?

Turn Off the Noise

I’m really tired.

I’m tired of all the drama, the hype, the noise around pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

Have you heard the term orthorexia? According to the National Eating Disorders Association:

Orthorexia nervosa is not currently recognized as a clinical diagnosis in the DSM-5, but many people struggle with symptoms associated with this term.

Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.”  Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity.  They become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with “slip-ups.”  An iron-clad will is needed to maintain this rigid eating style.  Every day is a chance to eat right, be “good,” rise above others in dietary prowess, and self-punish if temptation wins (usually through stricter eating, fasts and exercise).  Self-esteem becomes wrapped up in the purity of orthorexics’ diet and they sometimes feel superior to others, especially in regard to food intake.

Basically, we’ve become so obsessed with diet and exercise it’s on its way to becoming classified as a disorder. To quote Amber Rogers from Go Kaleo, “…nothing says ‘elitism’ better than a long list of foods you CAN eat, but won’t.”

Seriously.

As a person looking to help people in the arena of health and fitness, I find it sad that as far back as most of us can remember, people have struggled with self acceptance, physical appearance, diet and exercise. Aren’t we tired of the dieting culture yet? Aren’t we better than constantly striving for a physical aesthetic? Do we really want to be 75 years old and STILL on some stupid diet?! Aren’t we tired of the noise of ‘Eat this, don’t eat that!’? Even outside of this particular subject, a flip through the Facebook feed will reveal the same kind of noise regarding all kinds of subjects; mommy wars, religious superiority, crafty moms vs. anti-pinterest moms, lifters vs. runners, cross fitters vs. everyone else, and on and on it goes. Follow this guru! No wait, this one is a quack! But this other one is science-based! Follow this person! What?! You follow {insert group/person of choice here}?!

Why don’t we ask questions like “What can I do?,” “What do I think?” or  “How can I serve?” instead of “How do I look?” and “Am I fat?”

I’m really just tired of the noise and the negativity.

Yes, we live in the real world. We like to look nice.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with dressing up or wearing make up, eating healthfully and working to improve physical fitness etc. But where does the motivation lie? How about doing these things because they make US feel better. Not to please others or to fit into some arbitrary jean size. I love to workout. I like the way it makes me feel. My body works better when I take care of it. The black hole of depression is kept at bay through physical fitness. I love being able to help others feel better in their skin, too.

I say let’s focus on other goals instead of obsessively, compulsively fixating on food and exercise.

Let’s reach out to a friend who needs it.
Let’s cook meals at home instead of eating out. Let’s eat it around the dinner table with people we care about.
Why not try something we’ve never done before?
Why not join that group exercise class? Or go for a bike ride? Or do yoga – or anything else that floats your boat?
Let’s be a little more real. Even when it is scary.
Let’s let go of a “someday” ideal and go out and be the best we can be. Right now.
Let’s find something that lights our fire and go after it with reckless abandon.

If you, like me, are tired of the noise, let’s all collectively turn it off. Shut it down.

And go be our own awesome.

More Miles

“Mom, I want to run one mile a day for a hundred days. Then I will have ran 100 miles!” – Jacob, 6.

Be still my beating heart.

Out of the blue my son told me this while driving to a haircut appointment. I wasn’t asking him to run, I wasn’t telling him “Hey, you should be active and get some exercise” while I sat the couch.

I’m sure he’s overheard Eric and I discussing plans to allow for me to run and get in my miles these past few weeks. He gets excited to play dodgeball in the back yard. He hears us discussing workouts, eating healthfully, and planning meals. He loves going on family bike rides. He understands why our dogs need plenty of exercise. It’s sinking in. When I lead the kids (and the dogs, for that matter) by example, they will follow. “Do as I say, not as I do” never works.

The fact that he chose running is the cherry on top! It looks like I’ll be continuing my streak at least to 200 – with a really great running buddy!

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Shut Her Up

I set out to run a total of 500 miles in 2014. Late this fall, inspired by my niece, I decided to kick it into high gear and complete a 100 day streak – which would force me to complete my mileage goal. There were days when I really really did not want to get out there and run. Days when I just had to force myself out the door after wearing my running clothes around the house for 3 hours battling that little quitter voice in my head. You know the one. Most of the time that voice tells nothing but lies. Every time I ignore that voice and do what I know will make me feel better (in this case running or working out) the next time that voice gets quieter and easier to shut down. As of today, I have shut her up 100 days in a row.

I shut her up when she told me that a goal of 500 miles was too aggressive.

I shut her up when she said that it doesn’t really matter what I’ll do – I’ll never get “there”. Wherever “there” might be.

I shut her down when she focused on how tired or sick I was*.

She stopped talking when I did my runs on vacation, while moving across the country, and while staying in the Navy Lodge.

I shut her up when she tried to make me feel like a bad wife, or a bad mom because my fitness was taking time away from my family. (As if self care doesn’t benefit them by my not being a raging lunatic!)

She didn’t have much to say when I challenged myself to virtual races, 5K Resolution runs, half marathons and even the Tough Mudder.

And she will shut up again tomorrow when I run 4 more miles to round out the year with 500 miles total.

Fitness doesn’t come naturally to me. That voice and I battle all the time. The more I ignore that voice, the stronger mentally I become. These 100 days have shown me how to deal with the procrastination, the natural laziness, and am so much better for it. I also set myself up for success. If I set a goal, I announce it. That holds me accountable. There is no way I could say “I’m running a streak,” and then not do it. Not a chance. By using Facebook and even this blog – I hold myself accountable.

I just love our running and fitness community.

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How cool is it that people who don’t know each other randomly grin and high five – simply because we are both out there doing our thing? I think it’s AWESOME. 10 days ago I calculated that I would need to run 5 miles everyday to the end to get these miles done. You know what happened? People volunteered to virtually run or walk them with me! Who volunteers to help out? Fellow runners, that’s who!!! Knowing my niece was up in the middle of a Minnesota winter running these miles with me, or that my pregnant friend was walking her miles with me, and my other niece who runs half marathons while dealing with Crohn’s  – that and more has kept me motivated more than you know. It gave me the push to the finish and I am so humbled and proud to say I am a part of your ranks. Runners: You ROCK!

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the one person who helps me shut up the voice on a daily basis; my husband. While not a runner himself (even though he can, has long legs and runs like a gazelle – grrrr….so jealous!) he knows how important is to me, and to my sanity. He always asks how my run was, if I got it in and rearranges his schedule to accommodate runs. I could not ask for better support!

Here’s to a fantastic 2015, a new year, new goals and continuing to shut up that voice that says you can’t!

Because you totally can. 

*A note on working out while sick: my rule of thumb is that if it is neck and up, go for it! If the sickness is in your chest, aka, neck and below – take a day off. All my sicknesses where colds/germs brought home from the minions and the germ havens (aka preschool and kindergarten) they attend. 

The Two Keys

Today is day 81 of running at least a mile a day for 100 days. There are many nuggets of wisdom in this process, but two key elements that keep coming up for me over and over.

1. It’s a mindset shift.
If you don’t give yourself a choice, exercise is just a given. If it’s something you do everyday – you will find a way to get it done. The “choice” of whether or not to exercise is taken away. Magic happens when that shift occurs.

2. You can’t wait to “feel good”.

If you wait for feeling like it – it’s never going to get done. This applies to running, strength training, meeting new people – any area of life where stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary. What we fail to realize is that the feelings come AFTER the action. It’s in the doing that confidence is built. Go and do. Feel good after. It’s so worth it!

Have you committed to a fitness goal? What nuggets have you pulled out of the experience?