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Today I got back up on the horse, if by horse you mean treadmill. Due to a chaotic September followed by a sprained ankle, it has been far too long since I did any running. I might be fighting against biology (let’s just say if anyone ever makes a sports bra out of titanium, I’ll be the first in line to buy it) and suppressing my knee-jerk loathing I have for running – but I’m determined to one day be a runner. I’m not sure why I’m so obsessed with becoming good (actually, I’d settle for competent) at something I hate – but I suspect that this fact says chilling things about my inner psyche (hence the title of this post).
I live next to the Arboretum and I get so jealous when I see people jogging there, especially this time of year when they get to jog under the radiant fall foliage and wrap themselves up snuggly against the growing autumnal chill. I’m like the loser kid trying to hang out with the cool kids at the back of the bus whenever I try jogging (which involves a lot of walking when I’m doing it) in the Arboretum – it is very obvious that I don’t belong. And while I have always proudly embraced my misfit status, for once I *really* want to belong with this crowd.
For one thing, I love the portability and the ease of jogging. You can pretty much do it anywhere (especially outside!) and you really don’t need to haul a bunch of heavy stuff around in order to do it (unless someone comes through on the titanium bra front). I do a fair amount of traveling and I would love it if instead of worrying about the hotel gym I could just go for a run. And when I do actually run, I love how it completely clears my mind of any daily stress – my mind actually has to get rid of those thoughts because it is too busy pointing out the fact that I suck at running and that I might die soon.
So despite the fact that all signs point to me not being a runner, I’m going to keep trying. I did a 5K in the summer (with some walking it must be said) and really enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it even more if I had been able to run the whole race, so I’ve already got my eyes on next year. After two months of not running, it kind of felt like starting from scratch today, but I’m going to keep trying. I made a new “run” mix on my iPod with tunes to inspire me and I keep daydreaming about rolling out of bed and being able to go for a long run in the Arboretum (yes, I realize that is an odd dream). When I was browsing in a bookstore last week, I came across a book called “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”. It is by an author I love (Haruki Murakami) and he started running when he started writing novels to help balance the sedentary lifestyle required by lots of writing. Now he has compiled his thoughts on running and I think that reading it my help keep me inspired (note to Santa – gift idea). I should probably admit that I am a total nerd AND I have a masters in library science – so I tend to ascribe books with actual magical powers.
Anyway, these are all thoughts on ways that I hope to keep myself motivated with my challenge. I did better today that I thought I would (once again, low expectations are my friends!). And I felt great afterwards. So I’m just going to keep trying…and maybe investigate my idea about titanium sports bras.
So This Is What a Plan To Fail Looks Like
I’ve often heard (and actually agree with) the adage “A failure to plan is a plan for failure”. But the past couple of weeks, it has really hit home. I think most people who know me would tell you I’m a very organized person. I love lists. If I have a “to do” list and I do something that is not on that list, I will add that task after I’ve done it just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. But one of the reasons I am like that is that I’m actually a totally unorganized and ineffective person if left to my own devices. So if I’m not super vigilant about planning, chaos ensues. And all of this leads me to the point that chaos has reigned supreme in my life since I got back from vacation because I haven’t forced myself back into hyper-vigilant planning mode. This has led to all sorts of things of which I am not proud. Like the fact that on Friday morning, I was forced to wear a pair of pants on which the hem had come undone and I had to fix that hem after I had the pants on. If that doesn’t sound too bad, it’s because I haven’t told you that I fixed said pants with a stapler. And let me be clear here – this was just a regular old stapler with regular old silver staples. And on an even more troublesome note, this lack of planning has led to dinners that look like this:
Yes, that is a bowl of Cheerios (with raisins!) and a glass of red wine. And that was my dinner on more than one occasion this past week. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Cheerios red wine. But it isn’t a very satisfying dinner. And since my lunches weren’t much better, I ended up snacking on crap a lot. To add insult to injury, snacking on crap makes me feel sluggish and far less likely to go the gym (especially on nights when I don’t have a class). There you have – a plan for failure.
So now I’m attempting to regain control. Friday night I sat down with the latest issue of Clean Eating (soooo many good recipes!) and planned my meals for the week. I spent today cooking, cleaning and actually writing down my workout plan for the week, complete with lists of exercises for nights that I don’t have a class (oh lists, I missed you!).
So I’m starting this week feeling like I’m back in control. But just in case, I also made sure to reload my stapler.
I like to think I’m someone who pushes myself in my workouts. I also like to consider myself a “quiet” person, but a friend nearly spit out her drink when I announced this the other day, so eager was she to correct this illusion. Apparently, I harbor under a lot of false illusions. So when left to my own devices, I do try very hard at the gym – but I don’t try hard enough. I’m fine with cardio and basic strength training exercise – but I totally cop out when it comes to exercise I truly detest (proof the universe hates me can be found in the fact the exercise I detest are the ones that trainers love) and when it comes to exercises where I’m not totally confident in my ability to perform it without breaking a window/maiming a fellow gym member/knocking out all of my teeth. So this all means that my workouts on my own in Europe were not on par with my normal workouts.
That changed today. I swore at Lauren under my breath a few times and half way through demanded that she return the present I gave her for her birthday – but when it was all over, I wanted to hug her (I was very sweaty – so *not* hugging her was kind of like a second birthday present).
When I’m working out by myself, my thought process goes like this: “I will do planks now. Actually, no. I will just lay here on my stomach for a while. I’ll suck in my stomach while I’m doing it though – that will totally work my abs.” Planks are probably my least favorite gym-related activity. I did not do a single plank the whole time in Europe. I even lost my “plank elbow” (also known as the rough skin around my elbows where my arms touch the ground during planks). And then there was today’s workout, where we did many, many plank.
Another solo scenario: “I think I’ll do some dead lifts with this super heavy weight. I’m totally strong enough for it. Hmm, but what if I do something wrong and screw up my back or break a window. Maybe I shouldn’t risk it. Is there a juice bar in the gym?” But in Bootcamp, I know I can rely on Lauren’s expertise to keep me away from broken backs and broken windows, so I’m free (and encouraged) to try the heavier weight.
All of this is my way of saying that today’s boot camp was the best workout I’ve had in over two weeks and I needed it. I felt grumpy and slow in a way that didn’t have anything to do with post-vacation/back to work blues. Nothing like a butt-kicking work out to clear the cobwebs! If you are interested and have never tried agroup training class, I highly recommend it. Being a confirmed introvert and self-conscious about the way I look (and sometimes smell) when I workout, I never would have thought I would like them. But I absolutely love them. You’ve got a trainer to push you and you’ve got classmates who cheer each other on (and sometimes plot about overthrowing the trainer in a bloody mutiny – but that hardly ever happens).
Anyway, I feel I have diverged a bit. I just feel 100% better after today’s workout. Now I just need to get back to sticking to me eating plan…
no planks were done in this lovely gym….
And lest you think I didn’t work out at all in Europe, I present you with a picture of my gym in Prague (people looked at my pretty funny when I was taking this picture – I didn’t care). A lovely and fine gym, but there was nobody there to tell me to do planks. And I don’t know the Czech word for plank, so it would have just been confusing.
Well, I’m back from my European jaunt. I had an absolutely wonderful time (it was one of the few times in life where things were actually *better* than I expected) – but I am also very happy to be home (not so happy to be back at work, but that is another story). I’m just about finished catching up with sleep and laundry and I’m looking forward to spending some time cooking and preparing meals for the week (the fact that I’m looking forward to cooking shocks me as much as if I had suddenly spouted a pair of wings). I missed having total control over my eating choices in Europe and I didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to food (and, erm, beer). But I’m not going to waste time doing a post-mortem on the whole things – it was an amazing trip and now that I’m back I can refocus. I usually feel invigorated at this time of year and it seems like a much better time to make changes than on January 1st (I think it harkens back to the “back to school” spirit on the season). I’ve got my meal plan for the week all set (hurrah for soup season!) and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into my gym routine. I would really like a new short-term fitness goal on which to focus - I was hoping to find a Thanksgiving Day “Turkey Trot” near my house that I could aim for, but I can’t. I think I respond well to these kinds of short-term goals because they keep me focused. I’ll keep racking my brains because I’d really like to publically state the goal here – you guys will keep me honest. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this picture of me and one of my new super-thin European friends:
(Just kidding – it is from this amazing church in the Czech Republic that is entirely decorated with human bones.)