March Check In

March got off to a very slow start. I was trying harder, but I still was fighting the fuck-its big time. It wasn’t until I ran my 12.5 mile run that things finally clicked. This run sucked and I HURT. Part of it was because I wasn’t running as much as I should have been, but mostly the joints in my legs hurt because of all the extra weight I’m carrying. I’ve run while being over weight, and I’ve run being in the best shape ever and I know the difference between pain because something is wrong, and pain because my joints aren’t used to hauling this much weight around. I haven’t felt that bad ever during a run because I haven’t run that heavy before. The difference was tremendous and it was a serious wake up call for me.

One of my many reasons for getting back into shape is to run the Dopey challenge at Walt Disney World. And judging by the way I felt after at 12 and a half miles, I knew I couldn’t keep messing around with my food choices or my workouts. So I let myself recover that day and spent the last two weeks of March busting my ass and eating really clean, no more slip ups. 5 pounds later my next long run of 14 miles was considerable easier and even faster than the 12.5 I did two weeks earlier. It’s amazing what happens when I do what I’m supposed to do and take care of my body, lol.

Me with an awesome Tony Stark cosplayer at Wondercon 2018. I’m totally sucking in my stomach and worrying about how I look and I feel like you can totally see it in my face. No more of that.

It’s a new month an I have new motivation. I’m going to an Avengers themed party at the end of the month and we’re allowed to wear costumes. I’m so crazy excited about, but it means if I want to wear my tried and true Black Widow costume, I’ve got to squeeze my butt back into a cat suit and there’s only so much spanx can do for a body. The last time I wore it was at Wondercon last year. I was only 5 pounds lighter than I am now and it was TIGHT. I was all spanxed up in it and super self conscious. While I had fun at the con, I didn’t have a lot of confidence and half the fun of cosplay is embodying the character, so I didn’t take as many photos as I wanted or interacted as much as I’d have liked and I feel like I missed out on a lot.

I don’t want to feel held back again because I didn’t take as good of care of myself as I could have, so my plan this month is to do everything I can to lose about 7-12 pounds by the end of the month so that not only does it fit, but I feel good wearing it. It’s a lot, but I’m near my heaviest and that weight is easier to get off if I do what I’m supposed to. The thought of wearing and rocking that costume at the party is giving me serious motivation to stick to my workouts even when my energy is flagging, and eat clean even when I want to snack or comfort eat.

I skipped a lot of walks and runs in March so my goal is to get a walk or run in every day this month and get back into the practice of that so I can inch my way closer to my goals for Run The Year. Got a 3.4 miles in this first day of the month so feeling like I’m off to a good start.

My challenge for the month is Darebee’s 10,000 squats. I’m trying to build my legs up for both the runs and future races, but also a stair climb I have coming up in the fall.
My programs for the month are Darebee’s Power Cardio and another round of Iron Born, this time with heavier weights. I’ve started using 15 and 20 lbs weights and while they’re still a little tough I can use them pretty regularly so I’m looking forward to seeing how strong I’ll be at the end of this month.

Also, because April is full of all kinds of geekiness, in honor of Avengers: Endgame, I’ll be doing an Avenger themed workout every day leading up to the release of Avengers: Endgame on April 26th. I’ll also be getting in a week long Game of Thrones workout in in honor of the final season.

It’s a new season, a new month, and I’m feeling good and feeling motivated for the next quarter of the year. What are you doing this month? What’s getting you motivated this Spring?

February check in

2019 started so well and I made good progress in January. Then February hit, and I developed a massive case of the fuck-its. I don’t know if it was all the rainy days, which always make me want to hunker down and hibernate with tea and books, or what, but my motivation was nearly non-existent this past month. I made poor food choices and chose sleep over working out, more often than not, and because of that I gained the four pounds I lost in January. While I also gained more muscle, and my endurance is a little better, I didn’t lose any inches anywhere and I’m back where I started in the beginning of the year.

March hasn’t exactly started with a bang, but I love a new beginning and fresh start, so this month I’m trying to push myself more. I got 11 miles in the first weekend which kicked my ass, but I got them done. And I’ve been adding the letter workouts, that I meant to do in February, to my workouts this month, and I’m already feeling them. Motivation or not, it all comes down to that Nike slogan: Just do it. I’m not going to feel motivated. Do it anyway. I’m going to be tired and sore. Do it anyway. The only workout I’ve ever regretted was the one I didn’t do. So that’s my plan this month: Just do it.

My challenge for the month is Darebee’s Iron Glutes and my program is Combat HIIT.

I’m also aiming to do more letter/alphabet workouts like following below as there’s always burpees involved and they always kick my ass for the better.

I’m also in the long run portion of my ramp up half marathon training plan for the year so I’ll be hitting 12.5 and 14 miles in the coming weeks which, combined with more workouts, will get me ready for my second half marathon training plan focusing on speed work.

So that’s me for February and the start of March. What do you do when you get a case of the fuck-its? How do you break the inertia when you’re stuck in a funk? I’m always on the look out for new motivation.

January Check In

My mantra going into February

The first month of 2019 is almost over and so is the first month of my journey back to better physical shape and wellness.

Let’s start with the not so great first:
I didn’t push myself as much as I could have. When I started at the beginning of the month I was truly starting from the beginning, but I allowed that to color my view of what I was capable of doing. It turns out I could have been doing a lot more.

I didn’t get up early as often as I should have so that meant less time for working out. I barely practiced any yoga in this month because of it.

I didn’t make the best food choices. I didn’t do as terrible as I could have, but I gave in to cravings more times than I’m happy about. Other than one particularly bad night, I didn’t go crazy with the less than healthy choices, but it was a little something here or there, all those little somethings eventually added up, and the scale didn’t move as much as I’d hoped.

Truth

The Good:
I’m down 3.7 pounds from December 31st.
I’ve lost 1 ½ inches from my hips, and 1 inch from my waist.
My BMI is down 1.1 points

When I started lifting weights, I had to start small using light weights. After about 2 weeks, I was regularly using the heaviest weights I have.

Other than missing one day due to illness, I managed to do a 5K or more every day, rain or shine.

I finished Darebee’s 30 day squat challenge with an extra one for the 31st, and completed all 30days of Darebee’s Iron Born program.

I got one round of “Wake Up’ in every other day.

I went out for an event and indulged sensibly. I enjoyed myself, but also made smart choices for the bigger meals. I didn’t deprive myself and felt totally satisfied, and it showed next day when the scale said I’d lost some weight.

What I Learned:

Part of the not so great food choices stemmed from not seeing any changes on the scale or in the way my clothes fit. Usually I see some results fairly quickly when I start to work out and eat clean after not having done so for a bit. So I got frustrated when scale wasn’t moving and my clothes didn’t seem to fit any better. The only thing that was encouraging was that my BMI was lowering fairly regularly, so I knew something was working, even though I couldn’t see it. I’d forgotten, though, that when I haven’t taken care of myself in a while, my body holds onto the weight desperately. Even though I wasn’t seeing what I thought was progress, I was in fact making some. The weights, for example, were a big indication that I was building muscle, and that doesn’t necessarily show on the scale.

I know I would have seen more progress if I hadn’t indulged as often as I did, but part of this journey is creating a new lifestyle, and it’s not going to be perfect all the time. When I DID indulge, it was in small ways, and I tried not to do that thing where I figure, “oh well, since I’ve already been bad with my food choices, I might as well keep eating more crap” and then go crazy eating whatever I want. So, some progress there, but definitely room for more.

I logged in over 100 dedicated miles this month for Run the Year. Consistency is key. Every day I did SOMETHING. Sometimes it was just walking a 5k. Other times it was just lifting weights. But it was something every single day.

Also, if I skipped my daily challenge or daily Iron Born workout, I made myself make it up the next day, or days, in addition to that day’s planned workout. If I missed two days of doing 50 squats a day, then when I finally got back to it on the third day I had 150 total squats to do. This is also where I learned I could and should have been pushing harder. On the days I had to make up workouts, yes, I was tired, but I got through them and realized I could do more than I was giving myself credit for.

Going forward in February

I need to get up early if I want to get a full yoga class, run, and workout in. That’s the main focus for my workouts, just getting out of bed at 4:45 every morning, no matter what. The extra time I’ll have means I have zero excuses not to get a yoga practice in, as well as everything else.

I’ll be continuing my 5k a day challenge, plus I have my first race of 2019 this coming weekend. I’m using that to set the bar for other races later in the year. I’m also getting into the middle of a half marathon training program, so I’ll be getting in even more miles and working on my endurance.

I’ll also be continuing my daily challenge and strength workouts with Darebee’s 30 day challenge: Squats & Punches and various Darebee weight workouts, and continuing to aim to do one round of “Wake Up” a day.

To push myself further, I’m adding:
Darebee’s 30 Days of HIIT program,
At least one alphabet workout a week.

I’m curbing the indulgences. I’ve stocked my freezer and fridge with healthy food so I have plenty to eat and with several events this month, I’ll have opportunities to indulge, in moderation. But if I want to see more progress, I have to stop with the little indulgences, so that’s my food focus for the month.

It may be a short month, but I’m looking forward to ramping up the workouts and hopefully seeing a ramp up in progress, too.
What about you? How did January go for you? What are you changing or continuing for February?

Y/E/S

Y/E/S.
That’s what I wrote on my To Do list after a while because I was too lazy to write out the three things the letters represented.  I didn’t intend the letters to spell anything, it just was the order in which I did what they represented, and yet, YES was the prefect word for what I was doing for my body.  Y/E/S stood for Yoga, Endurance, Strength, the three things that were the keys to me getting in the best shape of my life three times.  When I was training, for 5 days a week, I would get up at dark o’clock, go do an hour of yoga, go out and run 4+ miles, and then do an hour of strength, weight, and HIIT workouts. On Saturdays I would do a long run or speed working depending on my training schedule, and Sunday would be more yoga and strength or HIIT, or both.   I got the strength and flexibility from the yoga, the cardio endurance from the running, and the strength and endurance from the HIIT and weight workouts.  Y/E/S. This trio was the combo that my body LOVED.  I’ve never felt so good as when I’m incorporating all three in my life.  So this year I’m getting back to Y/E/S.

Yoga
I belonged to a yoga studio for almost 10 years and went nearly every day when I was running races and training.  I found it made such a difference in not only my flexibility and strength, but also my recovery from both races and brutal workout sessions.  One of the many things I love about yoga is it can be whatever you need it to be.  Want to sweat, push yourself, and get strong?  There’s a class for that.  Want to chill and de-stress?  There’s a class for that.  Want a bit of both with some stretching, too?  Yep, there’s a class for that.  Taking a yoga class before I went for a run helped stretch out my body and warm me up. It was also great to do a little yoga after a long run and stretch things out.  Or, if I was too sore from a previous workout to do another one, I could push myself gently in a yoga class and give my muscles a bit of a break while stretching and strengthening them as well.  There were times when I didn’t do any yoga when I trained, and really  felt the difference.  I’d be stiff, my body didn’t recover as well, and I just didn’t feel as good overall as I did when I made yoga part of my workout routine.

Nothing like a crazy arm balance to start off my workout

When my schedule stopped being compatible with what my studio was offering, I eventually gave up my membership, and ended up taking a break from practicing.  I’m a yoga teacher so I have no excuses for not rolling out my mat and practicing on my own, but, yoga is the one area where I’m not self motivated, I prefer to be led, and enjoy it so much better when I can take a class.  After struggling to find a program that really motivated me to roll out my mat, I never found one that gave me the same energy of a class until I discovered YogaGlo.  Originally a physical studio that taped their classes, a few of which I had the pleasure of attending while they filmed, they’ve expanded into so much more online, and are now known as Glo. 

https://www.glo.com/

For less than $20 a month, I get unlimited access to all kinds of yoga classes.  One of my favorite things about it is I can search by teacher, style, level, duration, and more.  They offer classes as short as 5 minutes or as long as 90 so it’s hard for me to say I don’t have time for a class.  And its not just yoga, they have pilates, meditation, courses, cooking classes, and more. Some of my favorite teachers from whom I took studio classes are on there like, Kathryn Budig, Kia Miller, Tiffany Cruikshank, Elena Brower, and even Annie Carpenter, under whom I did my teacher training.  I still struggle a bit to roll out my mat, but Glo has made it so much easier to get back into the habit of practice.  And if I want, I don’t even need to change out of my pjs.

Running
What was supposed to be a bucket list, one and done, half marathon at Disneyland, turned into a decade of running.  I don’t actually enjoy running, but I do love what it does for my body and my endurance. Plus I needed to train for the races I was doing so I sucked it up got my miles in, and now it’s a part of my life.  Trying something new to get me back in my running shoes, I’ve signed up for Run The Edge-Run The Year 2019.  It’s a challenge to run, either individually or collectively as a group, 2019 miles in the year 2019. As I’m aiming to do more races in the future, I’m hoping this helps motivate me to get out there in the mornings, get my miles in, and improve my endurance. 

I’m also a fan of Jeff Galloway. His interval method and training programs not only improved my race times, but saved my knees as well. I always did better on a race, and recovered faster from one, when I followed his training plan for it, and I plan to follow them for a few half marathons in this coming year.  I’m looking to get some new ASICS running shoes and custom insoles from Road Runner which I find helps keep my knees happy, too.  I’m also looking to up my interval times and work on speed work for a potential marathon in the next year or so.  With all the upcoming miles in my future, getting back to a yoga practice is going to really help.

Strength
Having been the fat kid/adult most of my life, and an introvert, I was never interested in going to gyms or taking classes.  I’m much more inclined now, but not all places have schedules that work for me so it’s hard to justify paying for a membership if I don’t use it.  Plus, if I travel at all, it makes it even more difficult. 

I’m a huge fan of DareBee workouts.  They have individual workouts, programs, and challenges you can follow, but what caught my eye the most was they have a lot of workouts that are geeky, movie, tv, or gamer themed.  Being a geek at heart, it’s way more fun for me when the workout is called something like Black Widow, or Starbuck, or Batcave.  They have a great search feature which lets you look for workouts based on type, difficulty, focus, equipment, etc. which is perfect when I’m looking for a geeky themed one or when I want workouts just using weights. 

I love their programs, too, like Iron Born, or 30 Days of HIIT, which are a collection of workouts over a number of days.  They even have interactive programs with story lines and are a bit like choose your own adventure which shakes things up a bit.  Darebee workouts are my tried and true, go to workouts because they’re all relatively simple, I can do as few or as many reps as I feel up for, and know I always get a good workout from them.

http://darebee.com/

Another workout I love incorporating is the letter or alphabet workout.  These are fun because you can use them to spell out a word, a phrase, anything you want.  I usually use a couple alphabets, so that I can spell the word/phrase out twice and get a longer workout, and sometimes tweak the exercises a bit to add more weights, or other exercises I want to focus on more.  Also, I don’t think I’ve yet to spell something that didn’t have burpees in it, so these workouts tend to push me. More than any exercise I’ve ever done, burpees get me in shape the fastest.  I both hate them and love them, but they work!

Using the two alphabets above, I created this New Year, New You workout that’s a perfect start for 2019. And hello burpees!

Y/E/S worked three times to get me in the best shape of my life, and I’m looking to it again to get me in shape a fourth, and final time.  I won’t be doing an hour of each, every day, though the plan is to eventually get back to that.  No, I’m starting small, building a base.  Maybe a 10 or 20 minute yoga class at Glo.  Then maybe a 3 mile walk or run.   Then maybe a couple sets of a Darebee or a single letter workout.  Start slow, work on getting a little bit better every day, and focus on the journey of getting healthier and happier in 2019, and beyond.

Abs are made in the kitchen

Want to know the secret on how to lose weight and get 6 pack abs?

Working out and eating clean. You were hoping for something else? Yeah, me, too. After getting to my goal weight/shape three times now I’ve learned there is no secret. There’s no magic pill, or exercise or workout, or special diet that will get me there. I really wish there was. Just eating clean and working out. It’s that simple. And it’s that hard. For me, the hardest part is eating. I LOVE food and I love eating, and it loves me…particularly around my middle. It’s also my favorite numbing device when stress and drama make their appearance. I’ve found, though, no matter how much I work out, I CANNOT eat whatever I want, when I want it and still be in good shape, too. That’s just not how my body works. There’s an axiom out there that goes like this: you can’t out exercise a bad diet. For me, it’s completely true. If I want to lose weight and see my abs and other muscle definition, I have to eat clean even more than working out.

Everyone has their own version of what eating clean looks like and works for them. Eating clean, for me, means eating healthy, fresh, non-processed foods. It means avoiding all those non-fat, fat-free, sugar free, etc. faux foods like fat-free ice cream, or sugar free muffins. I find I’m much better off eating a small amount of actual ice cream, than I ever am eating a pint of the sort of ice cream stuff. I find it’s easier to say no to all ice creams (fat-free/sugar-free included) than trying to fool my body with the fake stuff because the craving is still there. My body is at its healthiest and happiest when I eat lean meats, lots of veggies, and the carbs I eat come from quinoa, rice, and potatoes.

I try to avoid alcohol, sugar, gluten, and corn. I have a mild sensitivity to both gluten and corn, and after multiple challenges and responses, a bite of gluten or corn literally equals 1 pound on the scale the next day. Also, a lot of gluten free products contain corn (I’m looking at you, xanthan gum) and I react even worse to those. Just like the fake ice cream, if I’m going to eat it, I’m better off eating real bread than gluten free. Since both make me bloat, what’s the point of doing all those workouts if I can’t see any definition and it just puts on unnecessary weight?

For 3 months, while I was training to wear the bikini, I avoided gluten, corn, and sugar like the plague. But each time I trained, I dreamed about them. Literally, dreamed about food. Ask me about the dream I had once about a hotel ballroom filled with tables laden with bite-sized pastries. No joke. Once each race was over, I’d indulge, telling myself, oh I’ll work this off later, but those 3-4 hours or workouts never happened. Days of that add up and that was the reason I gained weight after losing it three times. I was on a diet, rather than a lifestyle, and diets are temporary.

Part of eating clean is also portion control, which I learned my first round of Slave Leia training. I thought, hey, it’s healthy, I can eat tons of this, right? I was eating tons of salads and couldn’t figure out why the scale was going up. It doesn’t matter how healthy the food is, I WILL gain weight if I eat too much of it, plain and simple, so portion control is key. I know there’s all sorts of diet plans out there, but the best strategy that worked for me was watching my calories. I’m short, barely 5′, so for me, after working with doctors and trainers, the most calories I should be consuming a day is 1000-1200 depending on how much I’m working out. It’s not an easy number to work with. After eating all the crap I’ve been eating, and so very much of it, for the next few weeks while I adjust to the new regime, it’s going to be a pain in the ass. I’m going to be cranky, and hungry, and want to eat all the holiday treats that are floating about every time I go anywhere this month. But it’s okay because I’m making the better choice. I’ll be eating for the body I want, not the body I have.

I learned something the last time I got in Slave Leia shape, and when I implemented it by eating clean most of the time, I found I could say yes to the occasional indulge. One of my last few weeks before I the race, I went on vacation for the first time to New Orleans. I knew a couple weeks after I’d be running in a bikini so I tried to be careful with my food choices, knowing I wouldn’t have the time to work off a week’s worth of “vacation” eating. I thought it was going to be terribly restrictive, but instead, it made me focus on my choices, and be honest with myself about whether I really wanted something, or just wanted to indulge for vacation’s sake. I also employed my friend Laurie’s 3 Bite Rule. The 3 Bite rule works like this:

Say there is something you absolutely want, need, cannot say no to, you simply must have it. Order it and take only three bites:

1) The first bite to give in to the indulgence of it.
2) The second bite to savor it.
3) And the third bite to say good-bye.

By indulging a little, being mindful of what I was eating, and eating clean the rest of the time, I was able to savor the tastes of the city. I had Bananas Foster at Ralph Brennan’s. I had beignets at Café du Monde. I had 3 pounds of crawfish all by my little lonesome. And only had to add a couple of extra workouts to burn them off once I got home.

And that’s my plan for 2019. I know I can’t eat clean 100% of the time because it’s too extreme. There’s no balance. However, if I eat clean 95% of the time and channel my New Orleans experience, like I did before, it works. I eat clean, unless it’s a special occasion/event, in which case I mindfully indulge. Also, and this is important: it never comes home with me. I cannot have anything tempting in my house or I WILL eat it. I have some will power, but it’s another muscle I need to work on strengthening. So, nothing in the house. If I go to see a movie? Fine, maybe I get a small bag of Sour Patch Kids. Going Disneyland? Fine, maybe I get a churro, but that’s ALL I get and I don’t bring home a candy apple. At a birthday party? Have 3 bites of cake. And then immediately go back to eating clean.

That’s the big secret. It sounds so simple, right? Eating super clean for 3 months was easy when I was motivated by the fear of running in a bikini in public. It got the job done, but only in the short term. I don’t have that fear to motivate me this time, because this time it’s not about the goal, it’s about the journey. It’s about changing the way I live my life. That’s my motivation. What kind of person do I want to be in 2019? The kind of person who eats clean most of the time, controls my portions, works out, and has the healthy body and life to show for it. While indulging on an occasional Disneyland churro once in a while.

2019: Training Montage

Finishing the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon

Once upon a time I was in the best shape of my life. Actually, not just once. Three times. Three times I had 6 pack abs, energy, strength, and could wear anything in my closet without worrying about how I looked. The first time I got in shape was to wear the iconic Slave Leia (or as it’s now called thanks to the new Star Wars canon: Hutt Slayer Leia) gold bikini for a half marathon at Disneyland in honor of Disney buying LucasFilm. Having been the fat kid/adult for most of my life, I’d never worn a bikini before, let alone run in one. The fear was daunting, but I LOVE STAR WARS and it had always been a dream of mine to wear that gold bikini and channel my inner badass princess.

I trained HARD for 3 months, working out 3-4 hours a day and eating really clean. All the blood, sweat, and tears were worth it as I got in crazy shape. I never imagined in my life I could ever look like that. Hello abs! Hello endurance! I loved it and I’d planned to keep in that kind of shape. But, after the race was over, I kept making excuses. Oh, I can eat this because I’ll work it off tomorrow.  One little cheat meal here or there won’t hurt. Or, oh I can pass on working out today and I’ll do extra burpees tomorrow. Those abs took lots of work, and if I wasn’t putting in the work, well… Being in such great shape only lasted about two weeks before I fell back into old habits and gained most of the weight back.

But then, a couple years later, Disneyland announced a Star Wars themed race weekend, and I felt compelled to run in the Hutt Slayer bikini again.  I trained even harder for 3 months, working out 3-4 times a day, eating super clean, and sure enough the abs were back and ran in that bikini proudly. THIS time, I was determined to keep those abs and keep the good habits going. Then, two weeks later, a family tragedy derailed me, my entire world got turned upside down, and the last thing I had the mental or physical energy for was a workout or clean eating.

The 2015 Inaugural Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon

A year later, Walt Disney World announced a Star Wars Dark Side themed race. I thought, perfect! Third time’s the charm! THIS time I’ll get in shape and stay there and that’ll be the end of it. Still in the midst of family drama and stress, I trained super crazy hard for 3 months, struggling to workout 3-4 times a day, struggling to eat clean, but I did it. It paid off, I was part of the inaugural Dark Side Slave Leia/Disney Princess running costume mash up group as Slave Ariel. I went home with the plan of keeping it all up. I quickly succumbed to the stress and drama that was still ever present, and gained all the weight back.

2016 Inaugural Walt Disney World Dark Side Half Marathon

After that, while the dream of getting back in shape was still in my mind, life, stress, and running burnout saw my weight creeping up, until finally this year, I pretty much gave up, stopped working out for the most part, and ate whatever I wanted. I needed the rest, and while sleeping in and eating gluten and sugar has been wonderful, it came at a cost. None of my clothes fit, I’m tired, weak, and lethargic, and I generally don’t feel good. The time for rest is over. Time to get off my ass and get back to it. I want my health back. I want more energy. I want to wear the clothes gathering dust in my closet.

I’m dubbing 2019 the year of my Training Montage. You know in movies like Rocky, or Creed, or Kill Bill, or Mulan there’s a scene of various clips of them training? There’s usually an inspiring song while we see them starting at the bottom and slowly getting stronger, faster, better, etc. That’s a training montage. It’s where a character builds him/herself/themselves up over time in preparation for a battle, or some sort of athletic event. And that’s what my theme for 2019 will be. Before, when I got into Hutt Slayer shape, I was already in pretty good shape, running several races a year. Now, though, I’m starting at the VERY beginning. I have to build a base before I can even think about getting those abs back.

Each time I got in shape for the bikinis I was under a time crunch. I had X amount of months to get to a goal so there was pressure and getting in shape became the main priority in my life. It was doable, but that was ALL I was doing. Eat, sleep, work, workout. That was my day, every day, for 3 months. It’s no wonder I couldn’t keep it up. There wasn’t room in my life for anything else I wanted to do. I couldn’t sustain it which is why I gained the weight back.

I recently read a book my friend Sylvia suggested called Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear. In it, Clear talks about how small daily improvements lead to success. That by focusing on just getting better a little every day, you’re more likely to reach your goal than just by focusing on the goal itself. Before I focused on the goal. I pushed and punished my body to get results, which I got, but the process wasn’t sustainable. And that’s what I’m looking for this time around: sustainable results. This year, I’m trying something different. Rather than focusing on the goal, I’m focusing on the journey. Don’t get me wrong, my goal is to get my health, endurance, and abs back, but I’m focusing this time on the journey getting there. I know fast and furious gets me short term results. I want to know if slow and steady gets me the same results, but also lets me keep them.

2019’s plan is for me to gather the proverbial footage for my own personal training montage. Using the year to work on building myself back up, bit by bit, and getting stronger, faster, better, and healthier. In the days to come, I’ll be posting my strategies for how I’ll be working out and eating clean. They’re the same ones that got me my abs in the first place, so I know they work, I’ll just be ratcheting down the intensity. I know I’ll get there. I’ve done it before. This time,though, I’m really feeling the idea of focusing on the journey, on working on being just a little better each day, on building a new, and sustainable lifestyle. I know I’ll build my abs (and myself) back up, it’ll just take a little longer, but hopefully this time, they’ll last a lot longer, too.

2018: The Year of Escapism


2018: The Year of Escapism

That’s what my friend, Leslie, called it after discovering she had read over 100 books this year.  I can relate.  I set out to read 52 books in 2018.  So far, I’ve read 100 books and 32 graphic novels, and the year’s not over, yet.
To say I’ve been escaping is an understatement.  After a personal tragedy in 2015, my life has slowly been going off the rails, getting worse with each passing year.  The good news is a lot of drama and other stuff finally came to an end this year.  The bad news is the three years of stress finally took their toll.  My emotional and physical tanks weren’t just empty.  They were bone dry with holes in the bottom. 

Being able to finally relax, breathe, and attempt to recharge, I ended up taking it to an extreme.  With my tanks so empty to start, any endeavor seemed to take way more energy than normal.  I’d go for a walk, I’d need to rest.  I’d do a load of laundry, I’d need to rest.   I’d brush my teeth, I’d need to rest.  Oh, I did a few new and exciting things here and there, but they’d take me days, if not weeks to recover.  I spent more and more time resting to the point of inertia. So I sat a lot.  And read a lot.  And ate…a lot.  At the end of this year thanks to all that inertia and lack of energy, I’ve read 100 books, and I’ve gained over 15 pounds.  I had such hopes for this year, of doing new things and focusing on others, finally free of stress and drama.  But  that wasn’t what I needed.  I needed to rest.  To escape into books and stories.  To take a break from things I’d been doing and dealing with for years.  It turns out, what I really needed in 2018 was a fallow year.

fal·low, adjective
1.(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

I spent the last decade running several races a year.  After 10 years of constantly pushing myself, a woman who doesn’t really like running to start with (I did it for the people and the costumes, but that’s another post,) I got seriously burned out.  So when Run Disney ended their Disneyland races at the end of 2017 my body, my mind, (and my bank account) were desperate for a break.  In addition, I’ve spent 20+ years at my job, only to have the work steadily dwindling the past couple years, as my job comes to an end at the beginning of next year.  Between all that, and the stress and drama, I didn’t really just HOW much of a break I needed. 

It wasn’t how I’d planned 2018 to be.  I certainly hadn’t planned to be so tired.  But it turns out all that resting is exactly what I needed.  Oh, I kept trying to push myself, rousing a bit of energy for some event, or workout, or whatnot, but it burned out quickly and  there wasn’t any left to sustain me.  All the motivation and determination in the world won’t start a car if it’s out of gas.  And while it took me a few months to really understand it, that’s what I was.  Just completely empty.  So I started to embrace it.  Other than some stress over the summer, I’ve been resting.  And while I didn’t plan on gaining so much weight, that’s exactly what happens when you eat what you want and sleep in.  And oh, how lovely it’s been to do both!  Don’t get me wrong,  I miss being healthy.  I miss my six pack abs.  But nachos taste better than burpees, and sleeping in a nice warm bed feels better than getting up in the cold dark at 4:30 to work out.  I welcomed losing myself in books, and movies, and tv shows and sitting back while some other person’s story played out.  I needed a year to restore and, while I’m not fully there, I feel like I’ve made some serious progress. Sometimes the best thing is to do nothing.

I’m still tired.  I still have to sit after doing something.  I still want to curl up and read books all day.  But the thing is, I finally feel like I’m ready for more.  I’m excited for 2019.  It’ll be hard to break out of the bad habits I just spent a year wallowing in, but I always knew they were temporary, and I have both the motivation and the energy now.  I’m looking forward to finding a new job.  I’m looking forward to getting my health and body back in shape.  I’m looking forward to new adventures, and time spend with friends.  Finally, for the first time in a very long time, I’m looking forward to the future.  But until January 1, 2019, maybe one more book…or two.