perspective

Max Mentality

 

I was looking for benchmarks and it seemed a simple enough test.

Do the maximum reps of pullups (or scale) that you can.

Then,

do the maximum reps of pushups (or scale) that you can.

Rest 2 minutes.  Repeat 3 additional times.

I read tips.  How to scale so you get a decent benchmark (choose a scale that lets you get at least 15 reps fresh, etc.)  So set up and pressed start.

It didn’t take long for me to stop. Yeah, I can’t do a ton of these exercises. But what I noticed is that I stopped before I was really “maxed out.”  I could have done one more, maybe two, even three, who knows?

And I didn’t just stop early the first time. I did it every. single. time. Left some in the tank, so to speak.

Why?  I thought to myself. Why stop short? Why not push to failure, really find where my max is? What do I fear?

When I thought about it, I realized that I take this approach all the time in fitness. I tend to run along at 70-80% when I should be maxing out.  In a workout with 5 rounds it is not unusual for me to have my last round be my best round. I don’t usually have the fall-on-the-floor-exhausted at the end, either. That’s fine sometimes. But I can’t kick it into high gear when that is necessary. My legs don’t have sprint in them.  Or, rather, I never test them to see if they do.

I believe I do this in most areas of life where I put forth effort. I’m always hesitant to really see how far I can go.  To see where my abilities can take me, and, maybe more importantly, where they can’t.  What is it about pushing myself to my limit that is something I struggle with?  What do I fear about learning where my edge is, and reaching for it?  Knowing where that is helps me make progress.  Helps move the carrot or the needle or the yardstick.

I even do this with my heart and my enthusiasm.  Even if I am crazy excited about something, if I am asked how excited about it I am, I’ll usually say an 7 or 8 out of 10.  What am I holding back for?

Something to think about as the summer begins and priorities shift.  What does it mean to max out as a writer?  A friend?  A parent?  How often am I cruising with that less-than-best-effort when I should be doing more, crushing it?

How about you? What’s your challenge for giving max effort in life, or maybe what’s your secret?

 

 

 

dare to be different

Mundane

The word mundane may be used more often during corona times than in the year before when people look at their lives.

Living in the confines of your home 24:7 for an extended period of time with limited access to other humans, socializing, touch and so much more. I’m sure many can relate.

However, there are some who live a mundane lifestyle year-round. They never bend or flex. They don’t seek change and they exist within the normalcy of their mundane life.

The perfectly manicured lawn. The impeccably made bed. The spotless sink. The routine. The regimen. The mundane life.

Is growth possible when all is predictable? Is it possible to chase perfection in the mundane lifestyle or will you wait forever to reach perfection?

If I view my life from a distance I’m more gypsy-driven compared to mundane. I’m eager to chase change. I love a messy bed or a more lived-in look. If I was to mow the lawn I wouldn’t follow the perfect pattern, rather I’d chart my own path. I’d opt for a paper plate and utensils to save dish clutter. I don’t travel in a gypsy pack but I enjoy the carefree lifestyle over rigid and mundane.

Work tasks on my mundane list are mostly accounting tasks or repetitive duties that require little or no independent thought. I could make widgets but I wouldn’t enjoy being a widget maker. I can post accounting transactions but for the love of God I could not be a full time accountant.

When I had time to sit back in corona and evaluate my own circumstances I looked at my Crossfit regimen. Definitely mundane from a schedule or routine perspective but I always defended the choice noting the constantly varied workouts of the day. But then I looked closer and Mondays were leg days, Tuesdays were chest and back and so on. I had to shake up my life and challenge myself.

Enter running. I’m not a runner by design. I’m a thick fit but I am opting for trail runs with switch backs and diversity a couple days a week. I’m opting to use my bike. A road bike some days and erg another. Body weight exercises at home some days and some strength activities in between. It’s not perfect but it’s me stretching. It’s me breaking the mundane cycle. I don’t think I’m alone here. I think many have shifted their workouts to take advantage of online training options and variety within their environment.

I may circle back in time but to be true to myself I need to evoke change. Even if minimal it’s required for me. Variety is my spice of life. When I glance at the last 10 years of life I can say I have been evolving. Mastering the chaos in my world. Charting my path toward my golden years with freedom and variety to not only reduce the mundane in my life but to seek pleasures that stimulate my mind.

Some people just can’t be overly routine. Take a partitioned Murph routine in Crossfit. 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats for 20 rounds. Talk about a hamster wheel. Every time I try to partition that workout I have to change it up at the end. 15 pull-ups, 30 pushups and 45 squats. I just can’t mentally push through the redundancy of the same pattern for 20 rounds. This is crazy to me and a mundane task I will try to overcome in time but it’s a noticeable trait I have. Change is my normal. It feeds my soul.

We have one life to live. It’s important to live our best life while continuing to grow as individuals. Growth doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone. It happens when you test the water or temperature just outside of your proverbial box. This was my recent view when I opted to step outside.

I am not a word wizard by any means however word usage can be fascinating due to the depth of their usage. I write as a constant form of change and exploration of life. Thanks for coming along for my ride/journey.

As I wrapped up this post the mail came. In comes a what seemed like barrel full of affirmative words on a tiny postcard sent by a dear friend. I was born to be an original. I couldn’t have said it better myself. No copies allowed. No mundane for this girl.

 

Until next time.

fitness and nutrition

Sore vs. Soar

Oh how I love a twist on words or one word vs. another. A simple competition for me to challenge myself to think. Is it word wizardry?

Who knows! For me I used this word wizardry to unmask my current challenge relating to fitness.

In order to soar in my personal fitness goals I must first be willing to be sore. That’s easier said than done on most days.

I went back to the gym after a long 69 days away from the box. Yes I counted to be sure. It’s been about 5 years since I missed even 5 days in a year. That makes this a big break. I worked out during isolation however I never pushed myself to new limits. I never held myself to the same standard I would in a competition or even a metcon.

No real reason other than I just didn’t do it. I had other priorities at the time. I had background noise pulling at me and a bit of stubbornness. Not really excuses just choices. So here I am in the now. What’s happening now.

I’m recommitting to my fitness at a high achiever level. A competition level. I have more time. The pandemic regulations are diminishing in my area. It’s a good time to shift priorities and mindset.

First obstacle to overcome or being generally accepting about is soreness. The kind of soreness that makes it hard to walk/sit on some days while it’s hard to just giggle on others due to ab tightness. No matter what the pain, it’s progress.

After the soreness becomes tolerable then the frequency adjusts. The number of days I can endure the constantly varied workouts.

Once both of these areas are buttoned up, a routine is established. A healthy manageable routine of fitness. That’s where the beauty lies. The beautification process to some or the achievement gratification to others. Either way transformation is visible.

As I wrote this fitness update I was outside or more like near a window. As I wrote in flew a butterfly. Not the most attractive butterfly but one that sat patiently with me as I wrote. Flapping the wing span like it winking at me. Just hanging around like my faithful dog Teddie does.

A sign for me to soar. To spread my wings and soar to new heights. Let go of the achy sore in search of the ability to soar as an individual. A healthy fit individual.

Recently I’ve used photos to aid in my story telling. This may appeal to some while annoy others. Whichever category you fall into let it be known that I am ever so in tune with my surroundings and environment. I choose to listen, feel, smell and touch the world with my uniqueness.

May the coincidence of this butterfly cause you to take in your surrounding a bit more and see if any signs give you clarity for obstacles you are facing in your life.

Perspective is a valuable tool to use in life. Words are also equally valuable. Words can hurt or words can make you smile.  That is just the case with the two words I selected today.

Enjoy today.

perspective

Stripping the Fun Stuff Away

The return to “normal” has begun.  Gyms, restaurants, hair salons, sports leagues, bowling alleys, summer camps and a host of other businesses have gotten the green light to open their doors. Yay! (right?)

Of course, nothing is really normal and the “new normal” has already lost it’s luster (if it ever had any). Opening business doors often comes along with an eye-popping list of new restrictions.

Both the chicks have recently given their views on restaurant dining.

Like restaurants, for many businesses, industries, and institutions, it’s still a strange time. We are all figuring it out on the fly, customers included.  I’ve noticed that in some cases, we are stuck trying to do the hard parts but the fun parts are what we miss now.  Here are a few examples:

Gyms are starting to reopen.  But, I never really stopped working out.  I’m still exercising in my basement or on the pavement most mornings due to financial and work constraints. Some lifting, some cardio, some basic bodyweight movement, Heroes on Mondays. I get my exercise in one way or another.

Is it the same?  Yes and no.  Yes, I get my movement in.  But some of the most enjoyable parts of the gym experience are gone.  I don’t see friends and like-minded people.  I don’t get coaching.  I don’t get to use all the great equipment. I don’t get the occasional coffee and breakfast after with friends. Sure, I don’t miss certain things about the gym, but some of the parts that made it fun and special (and the hard parts less hard) can’t be replicated in my home.

My work is a similar situation.  I am a librarian that teaches in an elementary school.  We left school for a long weekend in mid-March, not knowing that students and most teachers wouldn’t return this year.  Instead, we’ve been teaching and learning online for almost 9 weeks.

Are we getting the job done?  Yes and no.  Yes, there are lessons and many teachers working extremely hard to connect with students and families.  Yes, there is learning happening.  But, some of the parts that make school fun and meaningful are stripped away.  Field day. End-of-year culminations of work and celebrations.  Social time at lunch and recess on the playground. Working shoulder-to-shoulder to finish a puzzle or create something together. For me, it’s just walking through the library with a student and helping them find a great book.

Or reading a funny or suspenseful picture book to a live Kindergarten audience, laughing and responding together in that moment. Nothing replaces those. And those are some of the things that make school worth going to for many kids (not to mention food, etc.)  Instead, online school often seems like a lot more of the work and a lot less of the fun stuff that makes school special. (And yes, this is about the teachers, too.  I miss the energy of my students! Computer screens, while helpful, don’t cut it for connection!)

On the flip side, there are also students and families who aren’t built for distance learning.  Some have limited or no access to technology. Some need the structure and surroundings and encouragement of others working.  Some need the social benefits.  Some need the food and care that come along with being at school.  Some parents are working from home while also trying to manage multiple children learning online.  It is all extremely stressful.  School isn’t working for many, and it is definitely not the same even for those getting by.

Then, there are the fun things that are just not happening anymore at all.  Most notably for me are travel plans for myself and my family, and races I was training for.  Pleasure travel by anything other than car seems risky (and if you take a road trip, where do you stay overnight?)

I was sad that the triathlon I was training for got canceled.  They can’t guarantee safety and I am sure liability is also a big part of that decision.  Would I have wanted to participate in some sort of sanitized race?  I had mixed feelings about the virtual 10K I ran recently. Although it wasn’t terrible since I was able to do it with friends, I missed the trip to Nashville, the mass of runners, all the spectators and the thrill of race day. It just wasn’t the same. I may still do a virtual version of the triathlon at some point since I am already training.  But, some things just can’t be replaced.  You can’t take away some of the most fun and challenging parts and expect a similar experience. Again, some of the most fun stuff of life is stripped away.  And it is hard not to be bogged down in the frustration and sadness of it all.

You can’t recreate the Mona Lisa with a Magic Marker. It just isn’t the same.  And will it ever be the same?  What do I expect? I don’t know. I know many people are trying their best.  I know many people disagree about how all of this is being carried out.  Frankly, between dealing with that personal and political drama and the abundance of the day-to-day changes, I am exhausted at times. The fun stuff buoys me along and there is so much less of that.  Nonetheless, I want to try to find the celebration in the irritation.  Today, I realized I would have never bought my road bike if I hadn’t set the triathlon as a goal.  My bike has been a huge part of my sanity through the stay-at-home orders. So there is a bit of sunshine.

It’s hard not to wonder when things will get back to some kind of regularity.  What will things look like on the other end? When can we plan a race, some pleasure travel?  When will I be able to read to kids again?  When is the finish line of this mess?  I can budget my energy if I have a finish line in sight.  But now we are in the long middle miles when it’s hard to stay energized and forward moving.

I think it’s ok to pout as long as you don’t wallow in it.  Acknowledge the loss then move on.  It might be easier if we knew the story had a happy ending.  I can deal with suspense as long as it gets resolved.  I have to believe that day will come.  Maybe not quite happily ever after, and maybe this is a heck of a long chapter, but it will be resolved.

 

 

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

Mondays are for Heroes

In my life, Monday are for Heroes since the pandemic lockdowns began.  Every Monday morning, bright and early, I complete a CrossFit Hero WOD.

I started with Zachary Tellier.

Soon after I completed Chad, which left me with a lot to reflect on. 

Then I moved to Loredo and Maupin and MA3 Oscar Temores.

The heroes behind a hero WOD may be widely known, or they may just be memorials within a specific community. Last Monday, I did a WOD programmed by 20 Mile CrossFit  to honor one of their community who succumbed to COVID-19. They shared it on their instagram page and I was glad to be able to participate and remember. Reading the stories, thinking of the rounds and reps and how they relate to the person’s life makes the movement more meaningful for me.

Every Monday morning, another challenge.  Every Monday morning, another hero. Every Monday morning, another chance to reflect, to endure, to overcome.

I’m not sure why it feels right about doing a hero WOD to start the week. They are usually long.  They are taxing.  They often leave me sore the next day. Saturday would make more sense.  But….

Maybe it’s because I do cardio training on Sundays, so my muscles are usually ready for something brutal on Monday.  Maybe I am just restless, looking for something each Sunday for programming.  I like to know what’s coming and hate waiting until late the night before. I like feeling settled on Sunday night with a solid expectation of how Monday will begin. And it needs to begin well.

Even more so, these days Hero WODs get me thinking about the frontline heroes that are working for us every day in risky situations.  I am focused and in the zone. I want to start the new week kicking some butt.  Hero WODS always give me a sense of accomplishment.

I will keep on with the Heroes.  Mark Klement and Hey Buddy are on deck for future Mondays.  I’ll continue through the yearly completion of Murph on Memorial Day.

After that is summer and anyone’s guess.