New Years

Recently I was at a party and a person mentioned how much she hated the winter. There was simply nothing to look forward to. I can totally understand this. As someone who celebrates Christmas with a passion, I have to steel myself for the letdown that inevitably follows. I am sad when Christmas is over and the lovely long break comes to an end. It reminds me of time passing and all the spaces in my life where I am not where I want to be. This year is harder with my son going back to college, my weight at an all time high and feeling as though I am ineffectual in my own life.

But I don’t hate winter. I am at the point in the holiday season that I am looking forward to taking down the decorations and reclaiming my space. Winter gives me the permission to stay inside and move more slowly. I find winter to be the best time for reflection, self revelation and connection to my own spirit. This year in particular that feels very necessary as I wonder if I am struggling with clinical depression. Winter gives me permission to grieve and cleanse in a way that seems obnoxious in the spring and summer. And, I do set myself up with things to look forward to such as Valentine’s, the Philadelphia Flower Show, planning a new garden and the eventual reality of spring.

I actually love winter. I love creating new plans towards health for myself, setting new goals and seeing where I can actually follow them. I am always going to try something new and then probably become deeply enmeshed and passionate about it only to either grow bored with it, or find that it isn’t what I had hoped. I am a perpetual teenager in that respect. But I am tired of apologizing for it. I really like that about myself. I love that at fifty one I can still become enthusiastic to the point of exuberance around something. And everything that I become super passionate about leaves its mark in some way permanently in my world.  I like that as well. Things that don’t grow die.

So, I am ready and excited to try a new plan for myself. This fall I have spent a ridiculous amount of time trying and failing to bring myself back to running form. The reality is I don’t love it the way I use to so it is time  I readjust. Not that I am giving up on running entirely, I just can’t and won’t continue to use that as my barometer for success. It has become a negative spiral. I have also become a terrible eater. Trying to maintain a calorie restrictive eating plan has made me both tired and mean. But I like to have a plan, something to follow. I feel a little lost in this since I can’t afford either a nutritionist or a personal trainer. As with everything I have taken to scouring the Internet for myself.

As far as eating, I know that anything that eliminates any type of whole food is not really a plan for life, unless a person has an allergy or sensitivity to that food. I am leery of taking oats completely out of my diet, or lentils or anything like that, even though they are high in carbs. However, I am willing to try any plan to kick start myself. So, it is with a little trepidation that I am trying paleo. Mostly because it is a plan that my husband wants to try and food harmony in a house is a good thing. But also because at it’s core any diet that removes processed foods, flour and sugar is going to help. I can also modify it so that it isn’t a meat fest. Because that is just gross. I don’t believe in the wonky science behind most diets, but I do believe that sugar, processed foods and flour are bad for the body, and the mind. I have recently starting taking SAM-e for my feelings of deep sadness and anger and it has helped a lot. But I am hoping to control this more through diet.

I also found an exercise plan on line that I can live with. I like this plan because it spirals up from beginner to advanced. Three months at each stage gives me both long and short time goals. I am starting an Instagram account to track my progress in pictures and challenging myself to a full year of fitness which will start January 2. That gives me the first week to practice the workouts at home before I try them out at the gym. I can also do most of the workouts at home which means I don’t have to wake every day at four. Woo Hoo!!

 

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Tinkering With the Big D

In the past few months I have found myself once again flying around in a million different directions trying to fix myself. I constantly feel at a loss as to how to overcome the many ways in which I feel as though I am failing. My weight continues to skyrocket, I roll over in bed when the alarm goes off. It is not just that I don’t want to go to the gym, I don’t want to get out of bed. Period. I just want to be left alone and sleep. “I’m just tired” or “I’m doing the best I can.” are phrases that continually flow from my mind and mouth. This is a state of being that continues in my life. Sometimes intensely and sometimes I feel as though I am getting the upper hand. My house is a total disaster which leaves me in a state of perpetual embarrassment. Every time I see an ant amble across my counter, I take it personally. What kind of mom allows her children to room with bugs? The unending pile of laundry, the orthodontist appointment I keep forgetting to make, the mammogram I continue to blow off. Just barely getting by.

I know people feel this way all the time. But added to all of this has been a deep sense of sadness. So deep that it pulses like a physical pain in my chest. I keep thinking if I can just get ahead a little bit, if I can just get a second to breathe, it I can just take one weekend to reset. But I can’t. I don’t. I don’t know.

Recently it became so bad that I started investigating anti-depressants. I did this without really thinking about depression. Although an obvious pairing – the word depression being in the cure I’m seeking, I pulled away from it. I have no problem with you being depressed. But that isn’t me. I can’t, won’t take on that label. I refuse to be broken. Because my life is awesome and I should be happy and more grateful. I don’t deserve to be depressed. What does it say about me, as a human, if with such a great life I am depressed.

Except I think I am. I think I might have struggled with this for a really long time and just assumed I wasn’t good enough. I pull away from family, friends, everyone because having them find out just how screwed up I am scares me. And please don’t come up to me if you read this and tell me you love me. Because, and don’t take this wrong way, it doesn’t matter. I mean, it does, but until I figure this out, all the love in the world isn’t going to fix me. I know I am loved. I’m just pretty certain if you knew me you would know better. So there it is. Nothing you do or say will change that. I have to.

I have looked into seeing a therapist, but right now can’t find one that I am willing to trust. I’m just not ready. I have also looked into natural anti-depressants and have been taking SAM-e for a few weeks now. I will say that it definitely helped immediately. I take 400mgs once a day in the morning. It has helped me to pause before I bite off your head. You’re welcome. I am already considering stopping it. But we will see. I have a lot left. But it is really expensive. Plus it might be a placebo effect. I think I have decided that if I notice a downward shift I will bring it back. The problem is I’m not sure the exhaustion I have started feeling in the last few days isn’t an effect. Plus my nails keep breaking. I know that sounds stupid, but it bugs me.

I am also listening to How to Get Back Up, A Memoir of Failure and Resilience.  It is an Audible book I am really enjoying it and think I might start to listen to it all over from the beginning because I keep forgetting everything I want to remember. One thing I’ve learned after listening to this and reading some on depression is that when you concentrate on happy or positive things you can reshape your brain. I know that sounds obvious, but I think about how often my own thoughts turn negative or surly. I want to change that, and research says I can. So I am committing to writing twenty minutes everyday for twenty consecutive days about things that make me happy. I realize that I often turn to journaling when I am sad or angry or feeling overwhelmed. I am providing, and deepening those sad pathways in my brain. I can reroute my brain by focusing on positive and happy things. The same parts of your brain that are activated when happy or positive things happen in your life are activated just by thinking about them. Writing things down or journaling helps reinforce this, I think. I have my own mini data control from when I journaled about how well I thought I was doing when I first started working out. Every day was a success and I wrote it down. The truth is some days as I was writing there was a little voice inside that insisted that I wasn’t successful and I was kidding myself. But I pushed forward and congratulated myself anyway. (By the way, this isn’t the positive writing).

I have also started making to do lists again. First, I want to be honest with myself about how much I actually expect myself to get done. I’m not sure my to do list is humanly possible. But I am setting some goals and then chunking them. This is part of the Buckets idea I also got from book. The idea that we have so much time in a day and how am I spending it. I want to put myself on a mini reward system. Small short goals, small rewards. I haven’t completely figured that part out yet.

Also, I wrote down what makes me happy and how I actually spend my time. Some things are non-negotiable. I have to food shop, I have to go to work, etc. But I need to prioritize better about how to spend my time. Another thing I don’t have worked out. I feel better when life is less messy, literally when my house is clean. But I can never seem to get to everything. How do I fix that? How do I make the things that make me happy non-negotiable?  I am working this all out as I go.

 

New Narratives

This past week we dropped my son off at college. It was an exciting, heart wrenching and surreal experience. He was definitely more ready than I was. In addition to the feeling of loss, I also found myself a little jealous of his new opportunities. He is just over five hours from home, knows nobody and has the ability to be whoever he wants. Of course, I hope he stays true to himself blah, blah, blah, but is is also the chance to live outside of the narrative others have created for and about him. This is such a rare opportunity and not granted to everyone.  His biggest challenge will be letting go of the script that he has followed for himself, the narrative he may have co-created or allowed to be written for him. Letting go of the voices that hold him back.

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I thought about this a lot this morning as I once again tried to reinvent myself as a runner. Over the last two years I have progressively lost more and more of my stamina and my ability to run. Some of this has been because I was getting (and still do get) pretty sick when I run. But there was also the feeling of being lost in it all. As the build up continued to my son leaving, as my daughter began to move ever closer to being a true middle schooler I found myself lost. I wasn’t sure how I fit into their lives anymore and really what my job was. I also found myself lamenting any time that I didn’t spend with them. This included all the time I spent working out.  Honestly, they didn’t miss me at all, because that is the nature of growing up.

So who would I be if I had the opportunity to reinvent myself? It is almost a scary thought. One thing I know, I want to feel strong again. Whatever shape or form that takes, I want to feel as though I have stamina for days. I also don’t want to feel sorry for myself. If I am honest, there is a part of me that is thrilled he is there and happy because now I can stop worrying about that and spend more time and energy on things that I like. Baking, football, writing, running, reading and biking. I do feel a certain sense of peace and joy. I love the school he is attending and he seems to be doing great. (Five days in, I know it’s early but all signs are pointing up!)

Running, for some reason, makes me feel strong and accomplished. So as much as I tell myself that I don’t need it anymore and I can let it go and maybe I should as I am over fifty, I just can’t. So I really did start from scratch. Last week I started running for one minute and walking for two. I did this for an hour. And I only did it twice because last week was so busy. That was something I realized over the summer. I was cutting myself a huge break constantly. That attitude led me to be about five pounds off my highest pregnancy weight. Whoops! Oh well. The good thing about that is, the more you weigh the harder your body has to work the more calories you burn. Silver lining! The bad thing is, well I  fit into absolutely nothing. So yeah, that’s a problem. Getting dressed is a nightmare and I never feel good about myself. Which is another area I really need to be honest about with myself. How I look is important to me. I don’t want to feel unattractive and at this size I just do. In the interim though, as I work towards better health and a better self image I am going to buy some new clothes that fit. It will make me feel good to dress better and breathing again will be an absolute joy!

Today I ran two minutes and walked two minutes. I thought about my son starting his classes this morning. I thought about my daughter going away with her sixth grade class next week.  And I thought about how much I was enjoying the running walking combo. For the first time in a long time I feel inspired. I’m excited to see where it takes me.

Chasing Youth

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©Kaityn Podulka June 25,2018

I love this picture. My daughter took it while we were out for a walk. What she didn’t capture is that behind these runners is a much older man also running. The difference between these young runners and the older man was striking to me. They ran three abreast, shoulders straight, their arms pumping, legs stretching out and pulling up high almost as though they were galloping. He was more hunched over, his head down, the efforts so apparent on his face. His steps were smaller and his feet did not come near as far off the ground. When they looped back he was still behind although much further. They were still laughing and feeling strong, he was struggling, his face red his steps smaller. But he was moving. He kept moving. And they were completely oblivious to him. It strikes me now that as opposed to looking at it as chasing youth I could also interpret it as what is coming up behind them, age. Eventually even these strong people will be older and will slow down.

I have been thinking a lot more about age because I have been feeling my age more. Not that I feel old and creaky, I just often feel as though I am the oldest person in the room. And this bothers me. I don’t know why. I think I feel less relevant and yet also I care less about what people think so maybe relevance is less important. But I have come to understand something else about aging. People age very differently. I have taken to binge watching Grace and Frankie, a Netflix show. Part of the reason I started watching the show in the first place is because the age of the characters. I am tired of watching people who have no connection to me or where I am in life, so this show appeals to me. What I love most about it is how vibrant they are. There are jokes about forgetting things but they are still so active. And this is a reality. All of the main characters are actually in their mid to late seventies. At one point in a show, Jane Fonda lifts her leg and washes her foot in the sink from a standing position. She doesn’t fall or even wobble. I was awed by this. And it might have been the inspiration for my starting yoga. Her balance and agility at age seventy something is better then many twenty year olds. All of this is to say that I am realizing that I don’t have to assume that menopause or peri-menopause is a reason for me to stop or even slow down. It is harder but that doesn’t mean it isn’t doable.

I am realizing something else. For quite some time all of the bike riding and running helped me mentally. It kept me even keeled. But I’m not sure it so much helped as just left me too exhausted to care. I think that can only last so long before you need to deal with shit that crops up. For me, besides the age or maybe in addition to the number is the reality that my son is hitting adulthood. He is moving away to college in two short months and from there he is truly in the transition of moving out permanently. I don’t think I got the truth of this until he went away for a week with his friends. I would not yet call him an adult but he is on his way to independence. I know this is a good thing and what I want for him, and I am immensely proud. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t grieving this as well. There is a part of me that aches for a childhood gone by so fast. And I see my daughter rapidly following as she continues her journey through middle school. Our house is clearing of toys and letting go of myths such as Santa Claus. It is all natural but somehow feels so sudden. And it hurts. I found myself in a negative spiral that was infecting my running and biking. I just felt too tired to care. I also wanted to hold onto every second that I could squeeze out with my kids. This isn’t healthy. So I’m dealing with my shit.

One of the ways I am doing this is through meditation, although I won’t lie. That is harder for me. It is too much stillness. It is sometimes wonderful but often painful for me to try to concentrate on just my breath. I have also started reading The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron again and committed to working through the twelve week process. I tried this before but didn’t stick with it. I do know that the morning pages, one of the tasks in the book, really helped me tremendously. It has a way of quieting my brain so I can listen for me. I know it might sound hokey or ridiculous, but if you are struggling and can’t or won’t see a therapist I highly recommend this book.

I am trying to find a way to be happy in me, in all of my numbers: the scale, the measuring tape and the age. It is hard because I feel as though it was all so much easier when I was younger. But there were times that were harder too. I don’t want to be one of those people that needs to be younger, whether it is lying about their age or trying to look younger, to feel good about myself.  I am fifty one years old and pretty happy with who I am right now. But I’m not going to stop ever trying to be the best me. Maybe this isn’t me chasing youth. Maybe this is what youth chases and tries to understand.

Oh and it is Tuesday and I have biked and run a little over thirteen miles so far this week. So far…

Yoga Take Two

So I have been trying to fit it all in. The running, the biking, the strength training and adding yoga. There really aren’t enough days in the week. So I am trying another tack. I am adding ten minutes of either yoga or strength to the days I already work out. This morning I tried another yoga. I went in with the idea that for the first few times it was just a learning process. So I spent a lot of time practicing the poses the and how to move from one to the other. I realize that I don’t have a great space for this but I am adjusting.

As predicted by a trainer last year, it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. My body felt stiff and the poses made some of my muscles ache. I am glad about that, but I am not ready to give up weight training unless I can be sure that yoga can give me the same necessary benefits. I am not sure I am getting the poses right and think I should probably take a class at least to get the poses down. I don’t have the time or the resources right now to do that. But I liked it, much better than I did when I tried it years ago. Right now I have found a routine that is ten minutes and is challenging yet doable for me. It also adds in some planks and arm work which makes me happy.

Today, I am going to try running around a track to see if it is any easier. I know everyone hates track running, but I hate that my running has fallen off so much. And I know when I first started that it was the track that first helped me to get in the first three miles. So, I am going to try. I am also going to charge my headphones. I think some music will definitely help.

Keep keeping on.

Bridge to Nowhere

 

This morning while I was out on my bike I noticed a wooden bridge on the front lawn of a house. I’ve seen this bridge before, but for some reason it really struck me this morning. I can’t decide if I like it or not. Because I want to like the bridge, simply because I like bridges, I find them romantic, especially wooden bridges. But this bridge, which is about three or four feet long with a small arch is randomly placed in a front yard. It doesn’t, as far as I can see provide a necessary path, there are no flowers that adorn the bridge, it simply is. And it goes nowhere. If you cross the bridge, you are on the other side, but still pretty much in the same space. This caused a moment of dissonance in my brain as I chugged up the hill, the bridge to my right. A bridge should lead you somewhere, carry you over to a new destination. This bridge was simply there.  And although I know it is ornamental, the randomness of it in the center of the front yard, with no other embellishments to affirm it’s decorative identity bugs me.

I wanted to find the poetry in the bridge like all roads really lead home, but that seemed somehow trite and didn’t do the bridge justice. I thought about the analogy to my own life, that very moment, as I bike around and around the neighborhood going nowhere, knowing I am going nowhere but still going. And always returning home. And then, maybe because I still had a few miles to go, or maybe because I had been biking for about forty five minutes at that point, I went deeper. I thought about all the work I put into training four years ago, and here I was back at the very beginning.  All of the hours on the bike, running and in the gym, achieving a certain level of fitness only to return to where I started. Miles and miles gone by to be simply where I started. Another bridge to nowhere.

But bridges are also connectors, bringing together two separate spaces. Except this bridge didn’t need to connect anything, the space was already whole. I again thought about how I had come so far only to be back where I started. But I also thought about how all the biking and running helped me to connect to myself. The time in the morning that I take and hold for just me. No one benefits from this, but me. It is my selfish time. As an introvert it helps to get me through a day so often filled with people. It is my bridge to me, my bridge to nowhere. It takes me back to me.

This morning I did twelve miles on my bike in a little over an hour. I spent the last twenty minutes more or less thinking about beginnings, going home and connections.  I thought about all the work to achieve something and then losing it. I thought about starting over and going nowhere. And I thought about home and what that means.  I thought about all of this because of that bridge to nowhere.

 

Change

Hello, World. It’s been a while. And although I’ve been working out (sort of) less, with less intensity. I have done a complete backward slide.  The original purpose of this site was to sort of track my progress, and force accountability.  But it also served as a way for me to journal through what it all felt like.  I lost that. I also lost the time and the mental discipline to work out. This created a shame cycle that was just completely unhealthy. So, I’m back. But not in the way of starting over. This isn’t the beginning, it is the middle.

Every good leader knows that change, new initiatives whatever go through cycles of chaos, and feeling lost. It isn’t until you come out at another peak that you often can see and understand the point of the harder times. I resist all harder times, and sometimes hide from them. I am considering this somewhere in the curve of the “u” and wondering what I can learn down here. Because, you know, I do believe understanding where you are in your journey is pretty important. It helps me to center myself and know that it is a place in my journey and not the destination. Goal markers change all the time, they have to. Otherwise we would be dead. So, goals yes, destination unknown.

I’m fifty now, almost fifty one! How about that! I weigh just about as much as I did when I was pregnant with my first child. My legs are larger than I’ve ever seen them and when I do run I feel as though my ass is like an extra piece bouncing along behind me. Oh yeah, I can’t run. Yesterday I did my first  mile in a really long time. I’m not sure how that happened and I use to come home and cry about it, but I don’t anymore. I just keep trying. I do run less, which I know isn’t helping. But the joy is no longer there. Well, sometimes it is. It feels much harder. It’s like yoga only more tiring.

I needed a reassessment for myself, and here it is This might be the best I can do. Seriously, I am going to keep trying, but what if this is it? What if the person who ran all those miles, biked for joy and ate healthy because she was fueling her body has aged away? What if this is my new best me? Then what? Well, fuck! (Yeah, some things have not changed). Then I am just going to love this body. Because it’s the one I got. And it is still getting it done. I am going to find the beauty and the joy in who I am now. I’m proud of my accomplishments. And being me, I am going to keep trying. I am going to keep pushing myself to be stronger, have more endurance, etc. But maybe this is the new peak. Okay, well then Yea, Me! Because I’m still here. I’m still out there even though it feels as though I’m going backwards. I’m still trying, even though I have so often wanted to just give up. So, YEA, ME!

I am going to keep writing and I am going to post it, because I feel as though that helps. I want to be able to run seven miles again. Why seven? I don’t know but it has always been the number. And I want to bike again. I have been out a few times, but not as much as I would like. I know I need to strength train, and I want to add yoga. This is part of the problem. It is so hard to keep up with everything you are supposed to do. It becomes overwhelming and constantly feels as though somewhere I am failing. I tried doing what brings me joy but apparently that much red wine isn’t healthy. Who knew? So, I am sort of tweaking and working out a schedule. For the working out, not the wine. Wine needs no schedule.

I can’t start over, but I can keep going.

Three Miles, finally! Go birds.

Yesterday I woke up tired. I continue to struggle with getting a full night of sleep and will often go days stringing together three to five hours of broken sleep. Add to this two extra middle school girls in the house, an impromptu sleepover, and it was a foregone conclusion that I would wake up exhausted. And I did.  But in an effort to regain some of my intensity and commitment to working out, I forced myself out the door. I had new running pants, a gift on Christmas, and I told myself that at the very least I would walk. Maybe run some. We would see. I didn’t work out either Thursday (planned rest day) or Friday,(just no.)  so it was imperative to me that I get out the door.

I did. It was cold. My legs hurt. I felt old. I felt sorry for myself. I felt fat. I tucked my hands deep in my sleeves, wondered why I hadn’t brought my gloves and continued walking, my warm up. Around the corner up the next block and to my traditional starting point. I turned on Runkeeper, futzed with the volume while letting seconds tick by. I would never have done this two years ago. I would have cancelled the session and started over.  I felt a little petulant as I adjusted the volume. I’m gong to just let those seconds tick away, garbage time not real time on my run, so there! Clicked on my watch and started a slow jog. I decided to run the route I use to run when I first started. It had more hills but since I haven’t been able to run for longer periods, very little past ten minutes, I was nonchalant. I would run as much as I could and then walk. Unlike previous runs I had no set plans of running for at least twenty minutes, or only walking for one. I was just going to do what I do. I started slow, as always.

In the beginning of some runs, I set a goal that I lay out like a bargaining chip with the universe. It goes something like this, If I can run a mile, then the Eagles will win the game. Or, if I add two reps to each exercise in my work out, my son will get into the college of his choice. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like habit, on the day of a big playoff game for the Eagles, the thoughts came on immediately. But this time I pushed them aside. It was too much pressure. I didn’t want to be the reason the Eagles lost or my son didn’t get something he wanted. And yes, I know this is a peak into my own little bizarro brain, but there you have it. Don’t judge. If you are any type of sports fan or have ever struggled with the lack of control you have over your life, this makes perfect sense. But on the day when the Eagles, the top seed in the NFC, were home field underdogs and I have been struggling so much to go a solid mile, it seemed ridiculous to take on this responsibility.

So I ran. And the first thing I noticed was that I didn’t have the almost immediate sense of tiredness in my legs. They weren’t perky, I wasn’t going to start sprinting but they felt okay. They felt like they could keep going. At six minutes I realized that if I was going to make three miles I was going to have to run for thirty more minutes. This seemed like an eternity and seemed insurmountable. It also meant I was pacing a twelve minute mile, which just made me feel sad. But I kept running, starting to measure distances. I was surprised by how quickly space was going by.  When I reached a mile and a half I was pacing closer to an eleven minute mile. Not great, but I was still moving so that was something.  Many times when I looked at my watch I was sub eleven minutes, but I worked to maintain pace. Distance became more important to me than time. As I reached one point seven five miles I started to feel as though I could do it. I could run for three miles. Not fast, but I could do it. I started bargaining. If I can run three miles the Eagles will win. This flipped back and forth with three miles or thirty six minutes, whichever comes last.  I was worried that I jinxed myself. But I kept going.  It took thirty four minutes, but I did it. I ran three miles.

I kept going for the last two minutes. At thirty five minutes an Eagles fan drove by. I know this because they were in a camper painted in Eagles green with the throwback Eagles insignia on the back. Coincidence? I think not! We won didn’t we.

Fly, Eagles, Fly! e2ae9a847ac88d243cd6d761a61b4e74

The Tug of Me

I have taken quite a bit of time off from this journal as well as working out. Although I have been going to the gym three to four times a week, the intensity, motivation and purpose have been missing from my workouts. Some of this is due to gut problems. The constant worry of being able to make it to a bathroom, or the pain of running through relentless constipation. These are the fun and gross facts of IBD. But mostly I have been sort of feeling sorry for myself, because even though I try to get out the door I am flat out exhausted often. The four o’clock regimen that I once enjoyed has grown tiresome and I miss spending time with my family.

The challenge of trying to be healthy is that there are so many little threads to track. Food, sleep, and work out programs. Trying to figure out why I am so, so tired all of the time.  It can be a full time job. Hell, for some people that is how they make their living. But I don’t want to walk away, and I hate feeling fat. That is the cold honest truth. I want to be more positive and say it is all about being healthy but that would be a lie. It is all about pretending that I can go back to twenty three. Which, if I think about it I smoked like chimney and drank like a fish, so nothing really healthy about that. But I worked out like a champ. Okay, maybe it is not all about that. Because I couldn’t run when I was twenty three, so in that way, hell I am there. I can’t seem to run now on the street.

But I am working on turning all of this around. That is in my nature, it is a large part of who I am. I can only wallow for so long before it bores me. I am a bit of a control freak, so I try to create an action plan. In that vein, I have been reading a lot about nutrition, and novice work outs. I know I am not exactly a novice, but I have lost a lot of my strength and my endurance.  I don’t think I realized until just right now that it isn’t that I can’t run, I just can’t run the way I did before. Some of that is due to IBD and some of that is me being ridiculous, trying to run through it. Playing to some voice in my head or the soul of someone on my phone that drives me. You know, how you let an app dictate your workouts, and decide your successes as opposed to your own body.

In the book Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by the Heath Brothers, which I highly recommend, it says to study success. What was successful before? For me, part of it was the fact that I had no real baseline, there was no healthy athletic me to live up to so everything was more or less a positive movement. I can’t realistically go back to that. I can’t pretend that I am just starting out. I’ve thought about stopping for a while and then actually going from square one, but I don’t really want to. So, I scour plans and try to find one that suits me. What I’ve realized is that I will have to adapt my own plan. Also, I didn’t start out with just running. Originally, I was preparing for an event that had three different components, running, biking and kayaking. I want to do this again. Focusing solely on running has caused burn out. I am tired of just running all the time and I dread my work outs. I am happy that I was able to amp up my milage but the truth is that may be a thing of the past. I can’t be in constant pain just so I can say I ran so many miles. Biking is a safer work out for me right now. Maybe things will change someday but for now, the running has to be done intelligently so I don’t get sidelined.

So, I have a plan. And I am sort of excited about it, but feeling a little pessimistic as well. The next adventure will be in food. Finding a way to fuel and hopefully help out my gut. All in all, I am grateful that I am blessed with the ability to be mobile, to run, bike and work out. I know that I am lucky.

Back in the Saddle

Recently, as in the last two weeks, I have brought bike riding back. In a year that I lost all ground and I was searching not only for my mojo, but also for my joy. I use to sing while I waited for the coffee to brew in the morning. Now I talk myself in and out of running.

“It’s too dark outside.”

“It is almost dawn. Don’t be so afraid of everything.”

“I’m so tired.”

“I’ll feel better if I do this.”

“Really, I didn’t sleep well. Maybe I should cut myself a break.”

“I never sleep really well anymore. If that is the criteria, then I will never go.”

“I’m going to be fifty. What am I trying to prove?”

“Exactly fifty! Refuse to let that get in my way. Get your ass out there.”

And then I go. I normally reach a compromise that goes something like this:

“Alright, but I’m not running fast and I’m only going for thirty minutes. Forty tops.”

This is actually my second Sybil like conversation. The first starts when the alarm goes off in the morning, when part of me is begging for a few more minutes and another part of  my brain is screaming: “Get up! Get up! GET UP!”

The problem, or you know great part depending on what part of the conversation you root for is that I do feel much better when I get up. And, I have to admit I am seeing improvement. I have lost between eight to ten pounds and therefore my running time is getting faster. The thing is, I never really know if I am going to have a good run or a really crappy run. I am up to about forty plus minutes most of the time, and I am doing four miles. My plan, if I have one, is to build off of this. Really, it’s not a plan, it’s a goal. My goal is to keep going until I can run seven miles relatively easily. This means that it doesn’t take me out for the day and I can run for about an hour two or more days a week in addition to this.

Biking is my reward and my joy. It is, I believe, the secret sauce to my workouts. For me, no matter how hard I kept running, I never felt as though I was seeing progress. I know that some of that was me being unrealistic, reaching for times and distances I had previously achieved when I was much better trained. But some, was just that it turned to drudgery. I use to see other people running and feel jealous, lately it’s been more like, “yeah, glad I got that out of the way!” I don’t burn as many calories when I bike, although more are from fat. To me it is the perfect HIIT exercise. Pushing myself hard up hills to coast down and give my legs a break. I do think that it is making me a better runner.  Working out the supporting muscles or some such. 

So now that I have brought biking back, I am hoping to keep it as part of my regimen. I never have those conversations with myself when I bike. My self talk is always at the end of the ride. It goes more like this:

“If I let the kids buy lunch, I can go for another ten minutes.”

“I really can’t be late for work again.”

“I know I can get a shower in three minutes. I can add just one more short loop.”

“Wish it was Saturday, then I could just keep going.”