Friday, November 21, 2014

Pride

I don't often brag about anything I've done. More often I'll be the one pointing out my faults, but last night and this morning I did things I am REALLY proud of, so forgive me while I gush a little.

1. Rope Climbs
I am working hard on rope climbs. I should have known something was up when Tyler asked me how I felt about heights about 10 minutes into personal training. Other than one weird moment during OCR class at the Lyndon Town School playground when I got to the top of the child sized climbing wall and couldn't get myself to go over and come down I've never had a problem with heights. Heights with muddy water pits at the bottom are another story and I'm not going there. One fear at a time...

Excuse the tangent, I'm back now. I finished some lat pull downs with the functional trainer and noticed Tyler had the ladder out and it was set up near the climbing rope. Oh, so that's what he meant about heights. I was the only one there...no way was I going to be able sneak out unnoticed. So I pulled up my big girl pants and discovered I'd be working on my rappelling (Yippee??). Tyler demonstrated and then it was my turn. The first time I climbed 3 rungs, grabbed the rope, stepped off the ladder and did a rope hang for a few seconds before I rappelled down. Then he let me play with the prowler and I was hooked. Give me a circuit involving heavy pushing, pulling or lifting and you've guaranteed I'll do whatever else you ask me without complaint.

My next rotation at the rope I climbed to the 4th rung and did a rope hang for about 10 seconds before rappelling down. Third round was a 15 second rope hang from the fifth rung and down I went. Next I went up 6 rungs and I was higher up than I had ever been. Tyler told me to open my eyes, look around and get used to the view from up there. I hung there swinging around with my eyes closed for a few seconds before I followed directions and looked around. The last round was from the 6th rung again and Tyler wanted me to try to go up the rope after I'd been hanging for about 15 seconds. The will was there, but my mind refused. That's okay: I know I will do, I know I can do it.

2. Box Jumps
In August I wrote a post about facing my fear of box jumps. This morning, during the Survivor Series workout I had the opportunity to prove to myself that I've conquered that fear. I completed 50 box jumps. Yes, it was the tiny box, but I did 50 after completing 50 burpees, 50 goblet squats, 50 TRX rows, 50 push ups, 50 kettle bell swings and 50 banded reverse lunges. Then I tackled my box jumps. My form was good and my landings were pretty soft. I considered trying the next box up, but decided it was more important to me to do 50 good jumps than to push how high I was jumping, I got my 50 box jumps in and I was thrilled. No fear  or doubt, just determination and the knowledge I could do it.

So there you have it...I gushed about my accomplishments. I am often proud of myself, but I prefer to keep that to myself. I don't feel the need to draw attention to myself very often. I do what I do, I don't see it as exceptional or all that amazing. I don't want or need to make everything all about me.

To be honest, I can't imagine anything in life more boring than me talking about me. Yes, I do keep this blog, I do write about me, but in my life and my interactions with people I prefer to be the listener: I want people to feel comfortable talking to me. I don't need to hear my own voice, I know what it sounds like and for many hours of the day Monday through Friday I hear it. If I have something to say I'll make sure I say it, but by and large I prefer to let others do the talking. I'll do the listening.

Maybe I don't feel the need to talk because I believe strongly that actions speak louder than words. I could talk about making a difference or I could put my head down, focus and actually make a difference. I'm trying to do that now. I'm not wasting one second of the rest of my life buying stuff in an attempt to feel better. I'd rather put that money to better use. That's the path I've chosen on my journey, I'm not saying everyone has to do it. I'm not looking for pats on the back or anything. I am doing what feels right for me.

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dreams

I am nearing the end of year 3 of this journey and there was a time in the early Fall I was sure the journey was over. We could get into why I felt that way, but digging up the past doesn't do any good. I'll leave it at I learned a lesson and I'm stronger for it. Onward and upward.

In preparation for looking at the goals I set for 2014 to see which ones I met and which still need work I've been thinking of my dreams old and new. Some I have been clinging to because they are what I wanted at one time, even if they don't quite fit anymore.

I remember thinking about my wedding while I was growing up, trying to imagine the kind of man I would marry and all the rest of the fairy tale I was convinced I wanted. I'm not knocking marriage at all. I have a great deal of respect for marriage and for people who make it work. I don't think I'm one of the people who could make a marriage work and I'm discovering that's okay and I am okay with it.

I found a quote the other day that I really liked. I posted it on my facebook page and I will post it here too. "Being with no one is better than being with the wrong one. Sometimes, those who fly solo have the strongest wings." If I am supposed to be single then that is how it should be and no amount of fussing or fixing on my part will change it.

So what does talking about being single have to do with my fitness journey? It's all about acceptance. My journey is just that: MY JOURNEY. No one else can take it for me. No one else can be in charge of it. No one else is going to have exactly the same journey. Even if a friend and I start in exactly the same place at the same time we are not going to necessarily reach the end at the same time. We might not even have the same "end" in mind.

Do I want my journey to speed up? Oh hells to the yes! I want to be thin, even though if I were I'm not sure I would see myself that way. I want to be fit so I can compete in any event I wish and know at the start I can finish it and be proud of what I did. I want to be a "cool kid", not the socially awkward observer. I want to perform each work out so well that I earn a fist bump.

I'm a contradiction though. For all the recognition I want, I want anonymity just as much. I want to do something that makes people ask me if I'm crazy or look at me with that disbelieving smile that says clearer than words that they really don't understand me and think I might truly be crazy.

I have had more recognition than I am remotely comfortable with and the one thing I still want to do and have every intention of doing is not for the recognition. I don't want a pat on the back or anything at all. With the extraordinary opportunities I have been given I want to pay it forward. I can't solve the world's problems, but I can make a difference in my own way.

There's enough meanness in the world, maybe one of my jobs here is to combat some of that with kindness. I might be socially awkward and quiet, but don't underestimate me. There is more inside than can be seen on the surface.

I should probably include a public service announcement with this. Something like: I am nice, I am kind, but if you choose to treat me as your doormat or your personal punching bag I will take notice. I am not weak, I am not here to be treated shabbily. Be that way if you feel you must, but know that I will not tolerate it. I will walk away even if it hurts me. I'd rather hurt for a little while than suffer endlessly. I'm not heartless, but I am learning my own worth.

So...the downward spiral is over and I'm crawling my way back up the hill. I'm trying to kill every workout. I'm practicing moves that are tough for me on my own, I'm doing my stretches and foam rolling, I'm walking into every work out with a positive outlook. I'm giving what I have to give and trying to remember my performance can't be compared to anyone else's nor should it be. It's not always easy to remember, but I'm working on it.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Detours

Have you ever noticed that life doesn't move in a straight line? I can't be the only one who maps out a course and then discovers their map would be more useful folded up as a fan. I've been off on a detour for the past few months, but I finally think I turned a corner, or crawled out of the muck or just got tired of whining, pulled up my big girl pants and soldiered on. I'm pretty sure it's that last one, but I digress.

So here I am, back on the path I wanted to be on in the first place. It's good to be back. As a friend said recently: I came to kick ass and chew bubble gum and I'm all out of bubble gum. Thank you for that belly laugh Eric, you are awesome.

Life is so much easier when you stop hunching your shoulders up around your ears and waiting for the next awful thing to happen. I did know that before, but I am still human. I fall down and wallow in the muck.

It occurred to me on Monday after a meeting that renewed my faith in some people in positions of power, that acting like a whipped puppy just isn't who I am. Feeling down is a part of life, it happens. Choosing to act as if nothing would ever be all right again takes too much time and energy. Yes I do know that my brain chemistry predisposes me to depression. I also know that "wiring" is not my fault and nothing I am or should be ashamed of.

What I forgot in the midst of all that I know is that the best way for me to fight back and stay on an even keel is to move my body. Be it group fit, yoga corr, all star workout or long walks with Abbey moving keeps me sane and happy. The problem with wallowing in the muck is that I forgot that. I decided it didn't matter and I could skip whatever I wanted and it wouldn't matter.

Fortunately I got my head out of my butt before any permanent damage could be done. Workouts are much easier when you just throw yourself in heart and soul. Okay, maybe Black Crow isn't any easier, but other things are easier. Except for Figure 8 Bear Crawls, Hang Tucks...I should probably quit while I'm ahead.

For the first time in months I went to Group Fit this morning feeling like a warrior. I was ready to excel where I could and give it my all where I couldn't excel. Darn good thing there was no pole holding those cones down during the figure 8 bear crawls, I would have impaled myself a dozen times. The highlight of  "Lung Blower"? Bar none when Tyler stepped on the prowler. Oh yeah!!

It wasn't that none of my workouts have been good since I started hanging out in the muck. I have had my moments: box jumps on Saturday, October 25 were a high point and reawakened the part of me that doesn't back down from a fight. I got a fist bump for those. Best part was when I was told to step up to the stack of mats and there was no fear. Curiosity and wondering if I could do it with good form, but not a bit of fear.

So now I'm back...I have some lost ground to regain since I took my detour, but that's not a problem. I'm in this for the long haul: I'll fight back to where I was. I've been a "mooser", I've been a badass (I think I still am...I feel like one anyway) and now I'm a part of the PRIDE. Most of all: I am ME.

It's good to be back. Maybe my next post can be entertaining. You could always hope!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

High Fives and Fist Bumps

This post will hopefully be somewhat more uplifting than the last one...but I make no promises. I have the basic idea of what I want to write, but often I find that the idea takes on a life of its own once I start to write. Quite often I get to the end of the post and am as surprised at the direction it took as some of you readers probably are. I'll at least try for entertaining if I can't be uplifting.

I suppose being honest is important too. I don't want anyone thinking this journey is easy. There are times, sometimes months when I wonder what I've done. Yep, having some of those months now. Bear with me, or run screaming for the hills. I wouldn't blame you for taking the second option. I'd run away from me too, but unfortunately you can't ever run away from yourself. It's a silly rule really...I should be able to pick up and leave myself behind any time I want. That's another post...or maybe a sign some therapy would be in order. Hmm...I'll ponder that later.

My title is a nod to the two fitness professionals I've worked most with on this journey. Ben was/is a believer in high fives and I LIVED for them. The end of personal training would come and some times I could barely haul myself up off the mats, but I'd find the energy to get that high five. It meant the world. Tyler prefers the fist bump and I love those just as much as the high fives, except recently. Recently I find myself not wanting any recognition at all. Even a "good form" makes me cringe and want to hide.

I seem to have misplaced my mojo...or it wandered off and got lost. It's not that big, I hope it isn't cold and lonely out there in the world. I'd put up missing posters and offer a reward, but since I don't really know how to take a picture of something that isn't real I'll have to keep looking.

Recently it is all I can do to drag myself out of bed and go work out. Yes, 5:30 am is early and it's often dark and cold, but it is also the time I've been working out for almost 3 years now. So I force myself out of bed, I dress and I drive to the studio and I walk in feeling like one giant open wound. I just want it to be over so I can go home. I don't feel like myself and if I am completely honest: I am not myself. I give it my best effort, but it doesn't feel the same. Everything feels harder, so much harder that I often find myself blinking back tears. There have been tears when the workouts are done, times I sit in the car, wonder why I bothered and why Tyler keeps letting me come. So when buddy training is over I don't feel like I've earned a fist bump or an "atta girl" I just want to slide out unnoticed.

I don't like feeling this way, in fact I hate it. I want to find my mojo, or my spark, or whatever the heck it was that made me keep going.

Friday morning I compounded my issues by stepping on the scale. I really should just chuck the darn thing out the window,after I open it and remove the screen of course. These are nice new windows and they were expensive. I'm pretty sure my mother would throttle me if one got broken.

So here I am Friday morning at 4:30 am already feeling low and I decide to step on the scale? Does anyone else want to know if I have any common sense whatsoever??

Well, the news wasn't good. According to the scale I have gained ten pounds since the last time I weighed myself. TEN POUNDS!?! I am proud of myself for not having a complete meltdown, but I was not a happy camper to put it mildly. I couldn't let that number go through the "Sinister 6" workout or at any other point on Friday.

I would like to note that none of my clothing seems tighter than it was and no one has said "Wow, looks like you're packing on some pounds". Of course, I would hope no one would be rude enough to say that to me, but the possibility does exist it could be said. So I will breathe a small sigh of relief and vow not to get near the scale again for a long time.

I know the scale gives me a number that in no way measures my worth as a person or tells you anything else about me, but OMG. That was NOT what I needed.

I went shopping with two amazing friends yesterday and had time for quiet reflection on the drive home. As much as I don't want to be acknowledged right now, there is a part of me that needs to know what I'm doing right and craves the high five or fist bump. I'm not too proud to admit that even if I don't think I deserve it an "atta girl" makes me feel better about my performance. I'll get back to being intrinsically motivated soon, but for now I need a little more encouragement.

Good thing there is no deadline on this journey, because I seem to have taken some steps backward. I recognize that and I'm not quitting. I'll square my shoulders, gather my will and my wits and trudge forward again. I'm not giving up and I won't go back to where I started.

Fist bumps and high fives all around: we've got this.

Thanks for reading!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Decisions, decisions...

Hi, it's me...back from the hole I closed over myself after I crawled under my rock. It's been a time, let's try to keep things positive and mostly drama-free and leave it at that.

Oh, who am I kidding?!? The concept of drama-free does not belong in any sentence where my name comes up. I strive for a mostly rational existence with the occasional wild ride that defies logic and explanation. Since most of these wild rides also involve a choice on my part there is probably a serious lack of common sense at play too.

You might remember that my last post was written before I was to tackle a Spartan Sprint. Well, tackling took place, sadly I was the one being tackled. A wise mentor assured me that we all have events like that and moving on and trusting my heart was the best option. I'd love so much to tell you I took his advice. I'd really love to, but that would make me a liar.

Before the race started I had clues this was not going to be a stellar performance for me. I was nauseated by the idea of what I was about to do, my back was sore from a long car ride and most importantly in my heart of hearts I didn't feel prepared. Not that I didn't have the training, I had the training, what was lacking was the self-confidence. No surprise there, I lack confidence in myself in many situations. I do my best, I give my all and I worry it is nowhere close to enough.

So I went over the start wall and the back spasms started. Not drop me to my knees debilitating, but painful. I took deep breaths, tried to quell the nausea and focused on the emcee. He was motivating, but there wasn't a lot of me to motivate. I was scared, outclassed and hurting. The race started and so did I with the best team I could have ever hoped for. Carole, Cheryl and Gretchen checked in on me, stopped to wait for me and told me I could do it.

By the time we were a quarter of the way up the mountain I knew I couldn't do it, the pain wouldn't quit, I was feeling panicky and because of that I was having a hard time getting a full breath. Why the panic? I was going to fail and I don't like to fail...it rattles the cage of the perfectionist taking up space in my head.

It was not a stellar performance, in fact, to be blunt and rude: it stunk. I wound up lost on the Beast course, sobbing like a two-year old at a water station and getting a medal I didn't earn and can't stand to see.

It's taken me until now to have any desire to write this post. I took the experience harder than I should have and I know that. I went as far as emailing Spartan HQ asking for an address so I could mail back the medal. The response was not what I hoped for. The customer service rep who responded did not give me the address I wanted. Here's an excerpt from the email:

"We encourage you to use the medal as motivation to compete in another race, so that when you race again and finish, this medal will symbolize your drive and determination to earn a medal on your terms."

My first reaction when I read that was "Is she NUTS? Another Spartan?! I'm not a Spartan: I'm a Mudder: No more Spartan races, EVER." Now I've had time to think, process and act like an adult and I know there is a good chance I will be competing in another Spartan race. The next one will be on my terms for myself. Quite selfish I know, but I can't ask other people to do it with me when I'm not sure I will do any better the next time.

You see, I came to another decision after the Spartan. Things need to change. I am pushing my body hard, not paying attention to signs that could signal a need to slow down, because I don't want to screw this up and be the person I was before. I have talked to my fitness professional and he assures me we can build my mobility and strengthen my core. He also assured me my strength won't suffer for this work and improving my mobility can only help. I say: bring it on! So dead lifts, tire flips, rope climbs, box jumps and the prowler might be missing from my personal training for the time being. I will get back to them though and I will miss them.

I'd like to tell you I learned my lesson from the Spartan, I know how to fix it and I've moved on. I've moved past the point where I look at the medal and want to throw it into the trash, but unlike the Mudder headbands it hangs near it doesn't make me smile. It makes me a little sad honestly: I didn't accomplish what I thought I would. Not that I did nothing, I did huge things: I trusted two people I didn't know to help me straight down the mountain. I trusted the Spartan staff member who told me how I was going to finish the race. I did not punch the volunteer who followed me from the finish line and kept telling me to take my finisher medal, she wasn't going to take no for an answer so I finally took it and stuffed it in my bag. I cheered for other people as they finished and cheered for the amazing team I started off with and the other friends who finished. I felt like a loser, but I put on my best mask, smiled as much as I could, pulled up my big girl panties and did my best to make other people feel good.

Now I'm going to take some time to make myself feel good. I've made a lot of decisions over the course of the last seven months: believing promises that might not make sense on the surface. Having faith to trust that things will turn out just as they are supposed to in my journey. Having the faith to keep moving forward when it would be easier to give up and give in. Believing there is a plan and a purpose when it's dark and I have lost the map.

I'm not superwoman, I never was. I'm all too human and if I look strong on the surface, it's because I'm stubborn. Physically I am strong, it's time to work on the emotional/mental side of the equation.

As always, thanks for reading!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Blessings

On Sunday I will be facing down another fear. I will be competing in the Spartan Sprint race. According to the Spartan site it is "4+ miles and 15+ obstacles". Did I also mention it is at another ski mountain? Killington to be exact. I keep telling myself it would be nice to complete one of these obstacle course races on a flat course. I keep saying it and I continue to sign up for races at ski mountains. Somehow I am NOT getting the message to the proper synapses. I'd like to note that I am also signing up for Tough Mudder New England 2015 at Mount Snow. I should probably just give up and embrace my love/hate relationship with mountains. Besides, it gives me something to whine about.

My goal for the Spartan Sprint is to finish the race and be an asset to my team. I am not too proud to admit I am terrified. Every time I think about what Sunday could hold I feel sick to my stomach. A wiser person than me might decide that the nausea is a sign that the Spartan Sprint is not for them at this point in time. I feel the nausea and decide I'm all in. I won't be the first to finish, but I will finish. It really is true that wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone. At 44 I have accepted that age is coming, but wisdom gave up a long time ago and left. It's okay...I have more than enough stubbornness to make up for the lack of wisdom.

So why continue to do things that scare me? No, it isn't because being nauseous is an excellent way to control my weight, though it is. It also isn't just that I am a glutton for punishment, though that's true as well. The real reason I am committed to do things that are outside my comfort zone is that this is my life, my ONLY life and I am determined to live it to the fullest. I spent too many years trying to creep through life being safe. No more, I really wasn't called to be a wallflower. Yes I run the risk of looking foolish, but I would rather look foolish than live a life that is bland, blah and boring.

I have been blessed with a mile-wide stubborn streak. Just ask my mother how stubborn I am. She had to raise me after all and I'm sure there were moments she wanted to trade me in. I'm not outgoing or loud, but when I set my mind to something I dig in my heels and I don't budge until I am good and ready. I am not a quitter, even when quitting might be the wisest course of action.

I'd like to think I have a good heart to go along with that stubborn streak. I want to make things easier for people around me if it is within my capability. I can also fall into the trap of people pleasing which isn't helpful for anyone.

I titled this blog post "Blessings" and I have yet to really get to the point. Thank you if you have plowed through to this point. I'm getting to the point, slowly, but I'm getting there.

What are my blessings?

1. My family: My mom and sister believe in me. They might not understand me, but they believe I can and will do whatever I set my mind to.

2. My friends: I have had the best adventures with my friends...I am looking forward to many, many more (and Eric I am holding you to the promise to let me do my Tough Mudder 2015 Warrior Carry with you. Oh and Ben...I will push you on the prowler someday: I will make a special trip for that to happen).

3. My job: Yes, you read right. My job is a blessing. Not every second of every day, but I LOVE what I do. It is never dull, never boring and never the same from one day to the next.

4. My fitness professionals: I consider them my friends as well, but they really do deserve their own mention. They all helped me see that deep inside the part of me that wanted to slink through life keeping to the shadows and being safe, there was a fighter who wanted out. They gave me the tools to make my fitness dreams come true.

5. Abbey: How could a dog who thinks you are the best part of her world not be a blessing? No matter how I feel Abbey is always happy to see me. She encourages me to walk one more mile or play one more game of tag and sometimes she even enjoys snuggling in bed at 5 am.

6. Eeyore and Gizmo: My cats. My furry, naughty boys. Eeyore's 2 am visits because he can't go one more second with being petted and Gizmo's habit of curling himself against my hip as I drift off to sleep make me melt. Okay, sometimes Eeyore's 2 am visits make me crazy, but I love my furry boys.

I am blessed beyond measure and I could spend much longer listing everything I am grateful for. Three of my blessings would like my attention though and all of them are more than capable of pushing my laptop to the floor to get my attention if they must.

I hope you ponder your own blessings.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tantrum


Have you ever had a moment when you know if you don't get away from a situation immediately you are going to act like an over-tired toddler? I don’t have those moments often, but when I do I’ve learned it is far better to just leave than to try and bottle up the feelings. Tantrums are difficult enough to handle with toddlers in a forty-four year old they are just completely ridiculous.

So what exactly sparked my descent to toddlerhood today?

It could be the fact that this year will be my year to be evaluated at work. After the events of last year the LAST thing I want is to be under the microscope again. It’s probably too late to just take up hiding under my desk and I deeply regret that. Live and learn. Next year I start the year under my desk and get to work on an invisibility cloak. Maybe I’m not supposed to be invisible any longer, but I really want to be. I’m not outstanding, I’m just me. I’m not favored or gifted, nor do I want to be: I want to do the best job I can and feel satisfied with that.

The tantrum could also have something to do with three core heavy workouts and a side plank finisher this morning. On a good day when my core isn’t aching side planks are difficult. When my core is aching and side plank crunches are on the docket too it’s a wonder all I did during round two was pound the mat.

Today I faced the challenge and found myself sorely lacking. That’s not the end of the world, but this morning at 8:30 it felt like it. The hurdle jumps were hard, but I only knocked one hurdle over. The stability ball plank made my abs feel like they were on fire and it was a struggle just to keep my balance, never mind trying to move the ball. Figure 8 Bear Crawls were tough, but then the timer went off and I had to try to do them backwards. I’m sure I looked like a drunk bear, because I couldn’t get my body to understand what I needed it to do. Then the finisher… I was certainly finished. I have never skipped stretching, today I could not get out of the studio fast enough.

I left frustrated, angry and defeated. That small, quiet voice that reminds me when I’m acting like a child was silent for a time. I licked my emotional wounds, did my own stretching, showered and went to spend the day with a friend visiting and shopping. On the drive home that small, quiet voice reminded me that I HAVE made progress even if it didn’t seem so today. I managed a side plank, even a few side plank crunches. I only knocked one hurdle over one time. I was even able to hold the stability ball plank.

I am not complaining about my workouts, please don’t misunderstand. I love the work and normally I don’t mind being challenged with moves I am not as comfortable with or as good at. It can’t all be deadlifts and tire flips after all. I understand in order to grow and continue to improve I have to face those movements that don’t come as easily.

So I am pulling up my big girl panties, remembering that I am in good hands and attempting to trust that at least in my workouts there is a purpose and a plan and I will be better for it. There may be many burpees in my future at the Spartan Sprint next Sunday, but I will finish. I am easily frustrated and impatient at times, but I am not a quitter.

Thanks for reading.