Archive for January, 2013

Tuning In

Posted: 01/24/2013 in Uncategorized
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There’s a precipitation front of some kind moving in on the city. I know this because I woke up with kind of headache that I can feel in my upper molars. Sinus pressure.  Accuweather has this handy-little migraine forecast tool they’ve added that lets the internet confirm for me what my head is already convinced of – there should be pain in my day.

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Which gets me to thinking about headaches in general.

A little known fact about me is that a few years ago – and for quite a loooong period of time – I pretty much lived on Advil. Frequent headaches & severe neck pain. Waking up in pain almost every day was normal and throughout a day I would go through enough Advil to give relief to a small horse.  I wish I were kidding, but seriously, limit recommendations on labels meant nothing to me.

Yes, I said this was my normal form of existence. Once upon a time.

Which makes me consider how things have changed. Once in a while there are those little things that remind you of how far you’ve come, and frankly, I can measure a part of my progress in little orange pills. Advil isn’t the common daily thing anymore – it’s my final assessment. I literally run a type of body scan before I say to myself  ‘okay, you can have the Advil, it’s a legit headache and you need some help’.

I ask myself – have you had enough water? have you taken your Vitamin B*? have you eaten something? are you low on sleep?  will a cup of coffee help? have you gotten in some movement today?

And if the answers are satisfactory – then I pass ‘go’ and take Advil. But I look to tune into myself first, see if I can help a body out with something it may need more than pain killers – a glass of water, a nap at lunch, a cup of coffee, snacks, my vitamin, some stretching or exercise if I can.

There’s more to the transition than that – I’m simplifying a bit. I didn’t just one day decide to do this scan and BOOM! reduced my pain reliever intake significantly. It was a gradual shift of experimenting with water levels & nutrition, identifying my headache factors, and some time spent with a chiropractor. Tuning in to the messages my body was sending me. Then, exercise to improve & stabilize the whole system. 

But now, when I do that scan, and I think to the way I used to exist – it just seems like such a different frame of existence. A different lifetime ago.

______________________

*I am not a Doctor and I do not advocate for the usefulness of any particular Vitamin or supplement as something anyone else should consider ingesting. I’m only stating what I take and what works for me. Whether medically logical or not, I have observed a reduction in severity and frequency of MY migraine/headache pain when taking a Vitamin B Complex supplement on a regular basis.

Peeps, as I write this, there is so much cold-running gear stuffed in my gym bag that it looks like I’m packed for vacation. Yipes!  I’ve got running group on the calendar tonight  for 5-6 miles of hill repeats and it’s going to be all of 25-degrees out there, possibly snowing. 

And somewhere in the back of my mind there is this little voice – actually it’s more like a finger – not *that* finger – and it’s pointing to the treadmill a mere 2 floors away from where I’m sitting. Then it whispers – so I guess there’s a voice AND a finger – and it says “What have you got to prove with this cold stuff? You just ran out there Monday – when it was even colder! C’mon. Just stay on the nice warm treadmill today.”

I’m sure a few of you can sympathize. I don’t think you can effectively duplicate hill repeats on a treadmill, but it is a very tempting proposition that finger is offering. I’m waffling. Come 5 o’clock, I’ll make a decision. No need to figure it out right now. Did I mention that I’ll be changing into cold-gear in the lockerroom – near all the treadmills?

Monday it was only 19-degrees when I headed out. If I were going to point towards a “can-do” moment of the week (on Wednesday), I think I’d throw Monday’s run into the ring as a nominee.  The fast group was going to meet up at 6:30p for a 7-miler. Being much slower than they are, and off work early – I thought I’d get an early start & take advantage of the last strings of dusk.  The 7-miler looped back close to the start point, so I figured I’d do the back half of the loop – meet up with the group – and then do part of the front of the loop as best I could with them. So off I went…

Despite my layering, I was having problems feeling my fingertips after the first half-mile and told myself that if I hit a mile without feeling my fingertips, I was heading back. So essentially, I gave myself permission to quit the run right from the start. I got stopped at a busy intersection, which I guess gave my blood time to circulate better, but after that stop, my hands felt better – so I decided to keep going. Did 2 miles and looped back into the meetup spot to find the group about to head out – a very small pack of the really fast people. I was going to be looking at their asses pretty quickly – and then they’d disappear – and I’d be alone the rest of the way. Dark, very cold & alone. What kinda party is this?

I told myself to go up to the top of the street with them- about another 3/4 mile – and then turn back.  Okay to quit again, okay? Except then I didn’t. Despite all my permissions to quit on myself, I couldn’t argue with the fact that pace-wise, I was having a great run! Comfortably holding on to last year’s 5k PR. I made another route adjustment to bring me back to start about the time I’d hit 5-miles, and I was okay with that.  Running 5-miles – WELL – after giving myself permission to quit about 16-bazillion times on a kinda-challenging route is a win. I’ll take it.

Also, I realized on that run that my Garmin interval chirps have faded into background – which is also a win. Ever since I’ve given up intervalling, I’ve left my Garmin set to 3:1 intervals so I have a disciplined Plan B in the event I hit a rough spot & need to interval.  Then I either ignore it completely or use it as a motivational tool – ‘Come on Cynthia! By the time that 3 min beep hits, you’ll be at the top of that next hill! Don’t let go!’. Monday, I noticed that I wasn’t even really hearing it anymore. Because it’s a given that I’m not intervalling. Not intervalling is the habit now. Yay Me! So, that’s the can-do.

On another front – Yoga Teacher Training session 2 (of 11) finished up last weekend. Holy-sore-arms Batman! We spent a significant time doing range of motion arm exercises wherein about 10 different people aggressively felt up my shoulder sockets. By about person #5 – I was all OUCH! Except that I didn’t say that. I just sucked it up.

But I did have a great conversation about Laughter Yoga (yes, there’s such a thing) with a fellow student there – and I didn’t want to let it pass without writing it down. Mostly because I’m still thinking about it.

I hadn’t really thought about it before, laughter.  I just do it, I don’t really think about the why. It’s reflexive. I understand that it’s situationally appropriate in that ‘don’t laugh during eulogies’ way – but, at work for instance, hearing laughter coming out of someone’s cube is a pretty big cue that they aren’t working – which is frowny – but at the same time, we’re all turning around going ‘what are you laughing at? what’s funny?’ because we want to laugh too. We seek out laughter. We crave it. We go to romantic comedies and sing along with funny songs. It’s why cat pictures take up half the interweb. Why do we need to seek out a feel-good thing that comes to us so naturally anyway? Then we simultaneously frown at it, try to repress it. So many things we’re not “allowed” to find funny even though they’re absurd because it would be rude, intrusive. Because we aren’t supposed to. Weirdness. All of it.

I don’t know if that makes a bit of sense at all. Like I said, more than anything I just wanted to document the conversation so that I can come back to it later. Give it more thought on where I’m going with that. When something strikes me as really funny, I have one of those big room-sized laughs that attract a bit of attention, so maybe the topic of censuring laughter is a little bit closer to home for me than some. If I think of a better way to phrase what I’m reaching for with the topic, I’ll come back to it later.

So, I know this is really stupid, but the Lance Armstrong thing is bothering me. Really bothering me. Particularly my athletic side, which buys it the ticket to being blog material. Hold yourself, cause it’s about to get a little scarry in here.

One of the little things most people would not guess about me is that I’m a bit of a Pollyanna. Except, I know that my Pollyanna side is fragile and so happy and so hopeful – enough so that I keep her tucked quietly behind my ear to do her positive thing where the world (hopefully) can’t hurt her too bad. She gets to hide behind the rest of me -the running, boxing, can stop you with a look, me.

I promise, these two things – Lance Armstrong & Pollyanna –  are related.

Another thing which makes this more ridiculous that I promise is related is that I’m not really into cycling.  A casual ride on a bike, okay – but as much as I love to run, I have no compulsion whatsoever to cycle. My bike got stolen when I was 12 and I’ve never really forgiven the whole concept of bicycles for the trespass. Did I say my subconcious made sense? No.

But…but, but, but once upon a time, there was this guy that started getting a bit of attention on a big bike race because he was about to win it for the second or third time – in what seemed like a BIG FRICKEN DEAL – and THAT caught my attention. Because whatever your sport is, as an athlete, when you see another athlete making a real run on the achievement of a lifetime – you sit on the edge of your seat willing them every bit of energy you’ve got to cross that finish line FIRST – to meet that challenge – TO ACHIEVE BIG THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!! You invest, you hope, you cheer.

Pollyanna – she gets all over that shit! Her heart just swells to 3xs it’s pretty-big-anyway size. Next thing you know, she’s made you watch the next 4-5 Tour de France’s and gotten you into more than a few debates defending that athlete against any doping rumor that comes her way. “He’s passed more than 250 random tests of almost every known body fluid!” She says. “How could he do that if he was doping?” She says. “Why can’t people just let him be and acknowledge that he did something really incredible?” “And he started a foundation for cancer research! Would a bad dopey-Mc-doper start a cancer foundation?” She says.

Pollyanna – she just wants to see the good, the very best good, in everyone so badly.

Then – dude went and started doing Marathons & IMs. Now we’re talking my arena. Things that involve running. Not that I would ever be able to compete at his level – but he’s engaging in a sport I understand – AND HE’S ROCKIN’ IT!! So I follow along a little more. Maybe I do some cheering of my own.

Pollyanna & I – we got some good bonding in over Lance Armstrong.

But now – and seriously, why on Oprah? – I’m just sad. I’ve never met the man and yet my heart, my athlete’s heart, just fell when he finally fessed up.  Pollyanna – she’s damn near inconsolable. Me – I’m irked.

Right now, all I can think about it are the #2’s. Or 10’s. Or however many back in the pack it takes to find someone not using PEDs. Those athletes that busted their asses – to come in second or tenth through legitimate, legal effort – without any chemical help. How their accolades were lessened, how their moments on the podium were usurped, how they watched the endorsement deals & medals & interviews go to someone else when it shoulda coulda woulda mighta been them. Not that we athletes do what we do for that glory – but we do what we do for the glory, know what I mean? To achieve at our best possible level! As individuals. Whether it’s a 5k or a 10k or an IM. We push ourselves for the glory of pushing ourselves past what we thought we could do. And when we do it, applause is really nice! Those that pushed themselves as hard as they could without the drugs – coming in behind a cheat. My heart just aches at that thought. And then it gets mad.

To find out years later that the person you couldn’t beat though you tried your best was cheating – and the medal has been taken back – and maybe some of the money gets paid back – but your moment – YOUR MOMENT – when you should have been standing on the podium celebrating the achievement of your LIFETIME – you can’t ever get that. People in this country don’t remember second best. And when the final winners are determined  for these events, names are entered into history books WITH AN ASTERIK, no one is really going to care what their names are. Because the glory of the moment has passed. We’ve moved on. Lance stole their moment permanently – and there is no level of humility or apology that can fix that. 

There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, Lance Armstrong can do, as an athlete, that is not marred by this – and no apology he can make to the athletes he cheated that will ever be enough. It’s sad to see a hero made human – it’s worse to find out he’s not a very good human.

*sigh*

Pollyanna, I am so sorry. The fact that you believed makes you beautiful, even if you got crushed over it. There are lots of good people in the world – that compete honestly and with integrity. People who do good things. Keep believing that even if you can’t cheer on Lance Armstrong anymore, because it is very, very true. You cheer for that, and I’ll cheer for you.

The first weekend of YTT is resolved.

It was intense. I learned a lot – particularly that what yoga teachers have to know is severely underrated – or at least in the school I’m going to. I’m not going to run off and start performing surgery on anyone or anything, but we spent at least 6 hours talking about bones – between conversations on facia (we loooove facia!!!) and philosophy and 3 different yoga practices.

I also know I’m weird. Not that I was surprised by this.

I know I’m weird, because when we were all zen like talking about the differences in individual bones – and looking at slides like this:

and this:

My happy imagination slapped some eyeballs on that sucker and turned it into this:

 And then this:

Predator Loves You

Or more specifically this:

Predator Loves Your Bangs

Mulligan

Posted: 01/04/2013 in Uncategorized
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Right now I am thinking – rather severly at myself – that I did not plan this day nearly well enough.

Or this week.

And I don’t have a fraction of the things that need my attention even close to complete.

As an organized girl, who usually keeps a pretty solid calendar and to-do list in her head at all times, this irks me. It also means this post is probably going to be a data dump of bitching so that I can just get the frustration (at myself) out of me. You’re welcome. (And I’m sorry. I really do try not to be negative, but sometimes I just need to open a gate and let it flow.)

It is entirely true possible that I had a shitty workout this morning and it’s put me in a cranky place. One of those workouts where you want to stay in bed, but you make yourself go anyway, and then as soon as you get moving you realize your body showed up late and your brain never showed up at all. So now you’re half-assing it not getting a solid workout AND you’re not getting more sleep.  The thought that I needed a mulligan on this day hit me at about 6:15am – which is entirely too early for a mulligan.

(At this point, all I can hear is the voice of Malick Bowens in my head telling me “God is laughing” – which is an Out of Africa reference that dates me sadly (and is so old as to need explained). One of my favorite movies of all time though. True story.)

Oh – and my hamstrings are super sore from compensating for the back thing last week, followed by running on ice. My workout was going so shitty that at one point I just stopped and decided to spend a few minutes stretching the backs of my legs – which my trainer picked up on and very nicely spent a few minutes helping me stretch them. But sitting at a desk has tightened them back up. Crud. Did I mention marathon training is supposed to start this weekend?

Except that I’m going to miss it, because doing that doesn’t mix with the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), which also starts this weekend. I know I’m going to spend the next 6 months juggling all of this, and that once I get a handle on it, it will all work out. But today, I don’t feel like I have a handle on it and missing the first run meetup is a bummer. Also,I haven’t gotten a run in since Monday. Another bummer.

In fact, YTT starts tonight. I’m pretty excited about that – or I would be if I had just another week to get all the pre-work done. I’m not as prepared as I’d like to be (my own damn fault for getting on board with it late) and there’s this little struggle going on with the part of my brain that wants to get panicky about that. In reality, I’m probably far more prepared than I think I am whether I’ve finished the reading and watching the videos or not. But the panicky side doesn’t want to listen to that. I’ll get caught up. And I’m in the hands of a teacher who knows me. Dear Brain, please relax. All The Things will get done. Even if you don’t have everything you need when you get to class today, it will be okay. I promise. Just hope you remembered to put the right underpants in the gym bag.

Beyond that, it’s just work stuff and wondering how my nutrition is going to work on YTT Fridays. That’s the planning piece that’s really bothering me the most. I have an apple (A SUPERHUGE HONEYCRISP!!!) and almonds in my car and a granola bar tucked away, but for some reason my brain – oh silly, panicky brain- will not let go of the idea that I’ll be uncomfortably hungry in YTT. We don’t get out of class until 9pm – which is beyond the patience of my ugly-hungries. Again, I have what should be enough, and I had a filling  lunch, but the brain won’t listen.

Grrrr.  I read today that fear is just excitement dressed up in a bear suit. And I’m pretty sure that that’s all any of this crankiness is. Fear that I have no idea yet how I’m going to make all of this work out in a reasonable fashion – which is irksome to an organized girl. Fear that I’ll screw it all up, and that the little voice which felt so good telling  me to sign on for all of these things a few years months weeks ago is full of crap. Because when you know it’s ridiculous to expect your sore hamstrings to do a bootcamp, then a lunch run, followed by a yoga class evening, so then you half-ass the bootcamp and you skip the lunch run and you worry about the yoga class, you feel like you’re screwing some things up. Already. Grrr. But if there’s a lot of fear in there- and it’s just disguising excitement, then that’s a lot of excitement, right?

*Sigh*. All the things will get done. I will get a schedule figured out. My hamstrings will feel better. I will get my running in and Monday’s bootcamp will go better. It will all be okay. And I will accomplish this life as it should be. deep breath.

The clock turned 12, or 24, depending  on how you count your hours, and 2012 was gone.

It was a good year for me, but SEE YA!

I am not much for dwelling on nostalgic moments, or setting resolutions.  Once upon a time, I used to be more retrospective & resolution oriented on January 1st, but now I’m not. That’s that. On to the next one. Or in other words, Tuesday. All of the same things I had to do Monday are still there to be done, and any woes I had didn’t magically disappear at midnight. They need to be dealt with. After the champagne is empty.

But it doesn’t stop me from reading the various New Year’s resolutions friends have made and trying to figure ways to be supportive, encouraging.  So in my post-workout shower this morning ( again with the shower!), I asked myself how I make good things stick for me, and why do some of the things I’ve tried fail miserably…and I boiled it down to one thing.

One 3-letter – heck it can even be 1 letter – reason you can blame it all on:

WHY?

WhywhywhywhyWHYWHYWHYwhywhy…WHY. Y.

If your ‘why’ isn’t good enough, success is going to be a hard row to hoe.

Not that it won’t be hard anyway, but having a good solid reason why you’re doing something – a reason you can pull out and remind yourself, use to re-energize yourself, whack yourself on the head with – does make it a little easier to hold on in the attempt at whatever the goal is. 

It doesn’t particularly matter what the why is – whether it’s love or fear or big dreams or not stepping on legos – but it has to be clear to you, HONEST, and important enough to you to change something – it has to be one bulging bicep of a knockout punch kind of WHY.

And you can’t write someone else’s why for them. And they can’t write yours for you. You have to want it for yourself.  Do your own homework. Pull your own weeds. Quitting smoking or losing weight because someone else wants you too isn’t a very strong why (in my opinion).  Quitting smoking because your wife has a baby on the way and you’re scared to death it’s going to wheeze like you do & smell like tobacco instead of baby shampoo is a strong why. Losing weight because just once you want to know what its like to play soccer with your kid in the yard instead of sitting on the step watching them play alone is a pretty strong why. 

The why has to be strong enough to overshadow any sunlight from the comfort zone you were lazing around in. It has to make you want to move, change, progress. It has to shake you up.  Lift you up. Push you off your contentment cliff.

I am not the Judge of All Whys, but I think we all know when we hear a good one and when we don’t. You know what your why looks like – and you can feel it in your bones when you set a thing like a resolution, whether it’s strong or not. You know yourself, and you know your why’s – and you know whether you’re full of crap when you say you’re going to drive right on by Starbucks without that latte you gave up two days ago.  A latte is good, but how much does that cottage cheese you noticed on your ass two weeks ago bother you?

So as a friend, full of your own powerful why’s, what do you do to encourage a friend’s New Year’s resolution that has a so-so-meh why-strength factor?

Understanding their why, remind them of the why, and find little bits of why to show them what success feels like along the way. Help their why be as strong as possible – whether that’s calling a friend on their usual smoke break so that they’re too busy talking to smoke, or telling someone you’ll try out a few new fitness classes with them while they work on finding one they like even though it’s not what you usually do. Or in my very honest way of thinking, calling them out on the bullshit in their why occasionally.  Tell them when you see them wavering and ask them directly what you can do to get that why back in their focus.

WHY? You know why.