The Question

“Do you love running those long miles?” she asked me in an ongoing text conversation. We do swelfies (sweaty selfies = swelfies) with each other as an accountability check for both of us. It’s what battle buddies do! It was a question that hit me like a ton of bricks.

I thought to myself, “Wow. I hadn’t even considered if I love it or not, I just do it because that’s what the training schedule I mapped out says to do.” If I want to be prepared for this race, I need to do the training so it won’t end up being like last time where my legs give up at mile 14 and give me the finger. “I just want to improve my time,” I texted back. Which was true, but it got me thinking deeper.

I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago, (and after a 2 week break) have since been running, but it’s still not 100%. It gets aggravated by longer distances. During this busy fall season, adding in long runs in addition to work schedules has been proving more and more challenging while maintaining sanity and time spent as a family. (Not to mention what not ever being home does to laundry piles, kitchen floors and dogs denied their usual overflow of attention!) Do I love running those longer miles? Honestly? I love the way I feel when I’m done. I like knowing I can do it. This time around, the training and the timing has sucked the fun right out of the whole thing.

I gave myself the weekend. A weekend to mull it over and really contemplate whether training for and running this marathon would be worth it. Do I love it? Am I having fun? Aren’t these extra things supposed to be fun? We went to the movies as a family. We went to church. We played outside. What kept running through my mind was, “If I decide not to run, doesn’t that make me a quitter?”

Maybe.

I took the training runs off of my calendar and felt physically lighter. I had no idea I was feeling pressure at all. Isn’t what I tell clients applicable to myself? Find something you love to do…

Is one race worth it?

Is it worth being crabby and tired and overextended time-wise? Is it worth the time away from family? Is it worth risking a more serious injury to this ankle? Is one race worth risking not being able to run over the long term? My gut reactions came back fast and furious; no.

There will be other races. There will be another marathon in my future. The timing just isn’t right yet. Sometimes the best we can do is exercise good judgement and evaluate just why we do what we do. I wouldn’t call myself a quitter. A postponer, perhaps, but not a quitter.

I want to continue to love running. For a very long time.

What about you? Ever have to cancel a race due to injury or other circumstances? How did you wrestle with the question of whether or not to continue?

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Challenges, Accountability, and Finding Balance

As a member of various fitness groups and pages on social media, there always seems to be some kind of challenge, contest or accountability thing going on. For example, one group is streaking (repeating running or exercising consecutive days in a row), another is recording minutes per week engaged in physical exercise, and another offered up a fast food New Year’s resolution. The resolution is to abstain from fast food entirely (including Starbucks) for as many days as possible. I love all of it; the feeling of not being a fish swimming up stream and that we are all in this together to improve our health. Camaraderie and having partners to help us stay focused are wonderful things.

What I struggle with though, is when to say “I’ll pass, thank you.” I tend to have a hard time living in that elusive window of moderation and balance. It’s all or nothing. It’s either balls-to-the-wall or slugfest on the couch. No middle ground. I recently finished  a 138-day running streak (at least 1 mile per day). It started out as a challenge to streak for 100 days. Then, my son wanted to jump on board. Many days it was a strength workout combined with running. Some days were just a casual walk with my dogs. Sitting here typing in my 3 hours of minion-free time, it feels like I “should” be doing something physical. “Why didn’t I do the workout first?” The truth? I had to get some bills paid, eBay stuff shipped, and make some appointments. It was just nice to do it in the quiet (and finish a task uninterrupted) instead of trying to do it around playing family, barbies or coloring with my daughter. Getting crap done allows me to really be present when the kids are here.  My being present and not in my head thinking about the 45 other things I could be doing results in them feeling more connected, more loved, and all the feel-goods. Time and presence are the keys to improving and maintaining my relationships.

Given all of this that I know to be true, why do I feel guilty about when the workout doesn’t happen as it should? I know I’ll be walking the dogs with the kiddos later. My workout will still happen and they’ll get some exercise, too. It’s a win-win. But there is that nagging in the back of my mind. Perhaps it’s simply that I know how good I feel when the workout is done. Maybe taking one step closer to the window of balance is just what is needed.

On the food front, I’m not a fan of fast food in general. I would much rather eat my own food from home. The times when I would eat fast food, I never felt good afterwards. Ever. No one eats lunch out of a drive-thru bag and thinks, “Hmm. That was delicious and will help me feel better!” No, it’s more like, “Ugh. I’m not hungry anymore but I feel like crap and I want to take a nap…” Basically, the fast food type of challenges are not really that much of a challenge, which is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge for someone. Something occurred to me as I was re-working this post from a draft. I can sound really awful! Here is a portion of what I wrote (unedited):

So why do we continue to put crap in our carts and fill ourselves up with junk? Why do we complain about bloating, pain, weight gain, and general sluggishness and still buy boxes of preservative, artificial food-like products? Some might say it’s because we don’t know. Okay, maybe to some degree. If you never listen to the news, and you were raised on junky cheap foods, I get the patterns of habit. But really?! Does anyone consider the connection with how we feel with what we put in our mouths?

While I agree with the substance of what I wrote – I reread it now and cringe. I sound so preachy and self-righteous! YUCK. Like most people who like the world of extremes – once we learn something (i.e. – healthy living) we think we must convert EVERY SINGLE PERSON to our way of thinking. Does this really do much good? Or do we alienate those around us? I think it’s more of the latter. Delivery methods count. If you have ever yawned through a fitness post, or I’ve come across as self righteous and preachy, I do apologize.

Here’s the thing; I know what it feels like to be winded at 9 a.m. by simply walking up the stairs. I know the frustration of running after a toddler who is faster than you. (And the worry that he’ll duck into traffic and what do I do if I am not quick enough to grab him?!) It sucks to feel that way. It sucks to feel depressed and think there is no way to climb out. It sucks to live in a body that doesn’t feel good. (This has nothing to do with aesthetics and being “pretty” or a socially acceptable size. It has everything to do with how we feel on the inside.) The realization of just how bad I felt came only when I started to feel better. Only then, did I realize just how uncomfortable in my body I really was. There is an urgency that many of us feel that have gone from unhealth to fitness. It’s simply an urge to share just how much better we feel, to share just how good it feels to be in a body that moves and is well-cared for. It’s an urge to help anyone who is tired of being tired. Ultimately, please understand that a delivery method may not always be palatable, but it’s coming from a place of passion. 

Those of us who have succeeded in any measure of lifestyle change are passionate people. We know what it’s like to feel awful and we know how good the opposite feels. I LOVE the feeling of a killer workout. I LOVE the endorphins that follow a spectacular run. And ultimately this blog – when it pertains to fitness – is me sharing that love with anyone who wants to listen.

When it comes to food, fitness, and being present with family – balance is hard. We live in a space of “if some is good, more is better.” Here’s to all of us finding some balance and not clobbering each other over the head with our passion in the process.

Eeyore by Nature?

Hiking Kokohead while living in Hawaii was a wonderful experience, but not for the obvious reasons.

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The view was beyond beautiful overlooking Hanauma Bay. Being able to lookout over the marathon course from that perspective was mind-blowing. Hiking it with a dear friend makes it a forever treasured memory. The encounter we had with a man who hikes (runs!) this trail 3 times a day changed how I view not only this particular hike, but life in general. Seriously? A conversation with a stranger changes your life? Well, sort of. Perhaps life-changing is a bit extreme, but it brought to light a shift in perspective to which I refer often.

As we were going up, the man was coming down rapidly. Sprinting is a more accurate description. My friend and I marveled at his speed and asked him, “Don’t you worry about falling?” He replied grinning, “I think differently. I don’t think about falling.”

This little exchange comes back to me frequently. The daily prompt title was “Make Me Smile” and asked to discuss things that make us happy. While not exactly that specific topic, I immediately thought of this hiker and his wise words on perspective.

When we look at our Twitter feeds, Facebook walls, or even conversations with our friends, are our words peppered with complaints, sighs, and general negativity? If someone you didn’t know was to read everything you posted online, what would be their perspective? When spending time with friends, how do you come away feeling? Uplifted and content, or heavy and burdened?  If we focus on the negative things in life, that’s what we will attract to ourselves.

I’m not saying that every day is rainbows and kittens and life is always pleasant, because it’s not. Not by a long shot. Crap happens and life is messy. In general though, do we go through life complaining, resisting what is, or do we adapt and look for the good, seeking out joy despite circumstances? For some of us, I think it may come a bit easier as it’s in our nature to be positive, and in turn, if the natural tendency is negative, that’s what flows most freely.

What about you? What’s your perspective? Do you look at the world with a perpetual glass-half-full viewpoint or do you look for the negative, complain, but don’t really know why?  Perhaps it’s time to “think differently” like my hiker friend!

V-8 Running

With a 5 mile training run to do today, I had to make the decision to either trudge along on the treadmill again (I’ve been doing that all week and I really don’t like it, but it’s a necessary evil at times) or brave the weather and do an outside run.

Let’s just say that this old 80’s commercial of the sideways walking dude was EXACTLY what I looked like trying to run in the 20+ mph wind today. Running along the sea wall, the ocean was literally slamming the rocks and splashing up over the sidewalk! It was funny, and I actually laughed and giggled at what a ridiculous sight I must’ve been. As I type this a few hours later, it’s still windy but the rain has stopped and the sun has decided to finally appear, if only for a moment. Go figure.

While running, leaping over puddles, and trying to breathe as the wind gusts literally made it difficult to get air into my lungs, I kept thinking about how this pursuit of fitness, and even a single run can be such a metaphor for life.

Everyone has hardships, life throws curveballs and unexpected events happen. It’s part of life. In a military family, we deal with all the same stuff as our civilian counterparts, but often it’s while our spouse is away. We have to say goodbye (again) to dear friends, and teach our children, as well as ourselves, to continue to keep an open heart even at the risk of it breaking.

We all have a backstory and hardships to bear, and it’s important to not compare life’s hurts. There is no “I have it so bad” because really, do we ever really know what someone else is walking through? Or if they have the skills to deal with what life can throw?

While running sideways, V-8 style, rain pelting me in the face and trying to keep my feet underneath me, it occurred to me that life is the same way. I can either choose to sit on the sidewalk, bury my head in my lap and get rained on, or I can do the best I can – put my head forward and run into the wind with the best of my abilities. I can’t control the weather or life, but I can control how I react to it. It always boils down to a choice.

Today I chose to run into the wind. It was a great run, I felt good and what started as a 5 mile training run that I wasn’t looking forward to, turned into a fun and windy 10k.

It was a good day to run outside. Even if it was a little stormy!

Do you prefer treadmills to cold weather conditions?

Goin’ Out on a Limb….

Yeah. So I’m gonna go out on a limb for a minute and rant.

This morning I got up, fed the kids and checked messages and came across a Facebook post about Miley Cyrus. Wondering what all the hubbub was about, I checked the YouTube video of her “performance” on the VMAs.  The look on Will and Jada Smith’s face in the audience said it all. I won’t link to the video because I don’t think it really needs any more hits.

Here’s my question: When did being a singer/actress/celebrity become a constant cry for attention? And if I hear one more person in the public eye complain about the “pressure”, I’m gonna puke. (Come and talk to a single parent or a military spouse about pressure!) If you want to be famous, you HAVE to know that by now, that comes with a certain level of responsibility.

I love talented celebrities. While Lady Gaga may not be for everyone, when she is outlandish and crazy, she’s making a statement – and it’s not ALWAYS about sex. I am beyond tired of the Brittney/Lindsey/Miley Disney-product-good-girl-gone-bad” story line. It’s tired. If you have talent – sing. Act. Dance. Do what you love and are passionate about. The fame thing – so over it.

No, I am not a prude, I vividly remember sitting wide-eyed as Madonna danced around in her cone bra. But there is a constant pushing of the envelope, pushing the limits of what is socially acceptable. I know sex sells. I get it. But perhaps if we stopped buying the cheapened version of it, we wouldn’t have to quickly change the channel so our 4 year old won’t ask questions that he is not equipped to handle just yet.

Thoughts?

Should I Marry Military?

I get asked this question from time to time. It’s also phrased by non-military friends as statements: “I just don’t know how you do it. How do you go for months and months (and years!) without being together? Isn’t it hard?”

Well, yes. (Duh.) It’s extremely hard.

Could you do it? Sure.

You can do so much more than you think you can. (This applies to so many areas of life.) When you truly love someone, and are proud of who they are, what they stand for and what they do, it eases the pain of separation a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it still sucks. But it’s doable.

So, should you marry a person in the military? The short answer: When it comes to being married to the military, the stress of this life will exaggerate what’s already there. If it’s a not-so-strong relationship, communication is lacking, or there is adversarial “tit-for-tat” type of behavior, it’s most likely not going to work, and both people will be completely miserable. On the other hand, it’s my experience that the reverse is also true. Communicating often, coming to the realization that you both are on the same team, and really want what’s best for your marriage and your family – it can be an amazing adventure.

This military life is filled with highs and lows. There is drama. It’s exhilarating. But it can also be heartbreaking. Saying goodbyes (and aching through the goodbyes of our kids) is not for the weak. While it may have been better to have ‘loved and lost, than to not have loved at all’, that saying just isn’t comforting when leaving very dear friends behind.

But we in the military do get an amazing opportunity to have friends all over the world. We’ve dropped in on friends that we haven’t seen in years, and we pick up, catch up and carry on like no time has passed at all! It’s really an awesome community of which to be a part. I am very thankful that my kids will have a piece of that experience as well, hard though it may be at times.

Should you marry a person in the military? Well, like any path of life, it’s really what you make of it. You can be miserable in the military, or you can make the most of it. That’s up to you. You will get out of this life what you put into it, military or civilian.

I love this life and the experiences it has lent to our family. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Even the hard parts.

 

Dash Recap: A Day in the Life of a Warrior

Ahh, Warrior Dash day! I love the energy of race day! It’s just fun getting out there with other folks to play!

On the way down to the “battleground”, I stopped at a Starbucks to get some coffee and one of those spinach feta egg white wraps. (I love them!) I then had to stop at REI to check out their triathlon suits, as I will be needing one in a few weeks! I had a nice conversation with the lady helping me and then I was on my way. I decided that since I live nowhere near a Nordstrom, I should probably stop to check things out before the race. After perusing the Anniversary Sale, I picked up a couple of shirts and headed to the counter.

I have never received bad service at Nordstrom. But today was just a bit off. The person ringing me up wouldn’t look directly at me, was a bit curt, and seemed to want to be done with the transaction. “It was pretty busy with the sale,” I thought as I made my way to the car. Getting in, I looked in the rear view mirror and was suddenly horrified. I had the biggest spinach leaf in my tooth!

Similar to this:

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I have come to the conclusion that despite my best efforts – I will never be cool. Nordstrom is great, I love their clothing, but I definitely fit in better with mud and sweat-soaked peeps conquering obstacles and pushing past comfort zones.

Whatever. Cool is overrated. Down to the dash!

The camaraderie at these events is palpable. It really is so much fun! When you arrive, you see the warriors all clean waiting to run, and then the muddy ones that have already completed their race. You can tell they’ve done it by their swagger. A “Yeah, I did the Dash” strut. (Think John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever, but with mud and sweat instead of chest hair and bell bottoms.)

They changed up the obstacles a bit this year, but still included lots of mud, barbed wire, and fire jumping. There is one obstacle I call the “‘Get over that wall Seagar!’ wall”. (As in Louis Gossett, Jr. yelling at a flight school candidate to get over the rope wall. Yes, most of my military references are from Hollywood.) I take a running jump, grab the rope and walk the wall. In my head Louis is yelling at me to get over that wall. Have I mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of heights? Well, I got to the top and was okay, but there were people next to me so I sat straddling the top waiting for my opportunity swing my leg over to rope climb back down the other side, you know, without giving anyone a swift kick to the head. I must’ve looked panicky because two guys came up the wall, one in front of me, one behind, and exuberantly patted me on the back and said, “C’mon girl, we got you! Swing that leg over!” Then we all climbed down simultaneously – high fives at the bottom and off we went! That’s just how it is at the Dash – everyone helps everyone and we’re all there to have a good time. And I LOVE it!

And then I saw others approach obstacles and not even try, but just decide to walk around. “Nah, forget that. I’m walking around.” Not trying. I guess you could say they “did the dash”, but do you really do something when you half-ass it? I know my nature and I knew right then I would do EVERY obstacle. I am not a quitter.

Try. Get dirty. Get messy. Get into life!

CargoClimb_1

At the cargo climb obstacle (above), I saw a woman who looked to be between 60 and 70 years old shakily sitting on the top, unable to make herself climb down the other side. Her fellow warriors were at the bottom hollering up encouragement and trying to guide her down. “One step down!” “You can do this!”. Ever so slowly she moved her quaking legs down each rope to the ground. Then immediately she covered her face with her mud-caked hands. She was crying. Probably from relief, but hollered an over-joyed, “I did it!” through her tears.

“I did it!”

At the top, we all clapped and wiped away the sweat that was suddenly leaking out of all of our eyes. Conquering fear is universal. Watching someone be brave in their life is stunning to behold.

Then there were monkey bars. Monkey bars about 10 feet over a giant mud pond. (This, other than the electrocution, is what I’m the most nervous about for the Tough Mudder race in October.) Monkey bars represent upper body strength – which is not my strength. I watched as others grab the first few bars, get into the middle, lose their grip and then plunge into that cold muddy water. (Even a few really buff dudes!)

Then it was my turn.

I climbed up to the first bar and mentally started to figure out how I was going to plug my nose when I hit the water. I started to remember the people who didn’t even try, but walked around the obstacles. I gripped my first bar, and swung out to grab my second, then the next, and the next. I kept looking up at the bars and decided that I shouldn’t look down, but instead kept chanting, “I will NOT fall into the water!” “I WILL NOT fall into that water!” I made it to the other side and practically screamed, “I DID NOT FALL INTO THE WATER!” There wasn’t anyone around to celebrate with, so I high-fived myself and ran on to jump over the fire. (More of that “never being cool” thing.)

Whatever. I did the dang thing and didn’t fall into the water! That’s gonna carry me for weeks!

Tough Mudder – I’m getting ready for you!

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Getting into life. Conquering fear. Being brave when life’s obstacles seem too challenging.

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I WILL own one of these!

Bring it!