fitness and nutrition

Follow My Lead

I’d been on this mountain many times. I grew up in its shadow. One summer I worked at a restaurant near the foot of it and climbed it every afternoon when I got out off my shift. In peak shape I would scramble up then jog down. My fastest round trip was 28 minutes back then.

I don’t do it nearly as often or as quickly these days. I live 30 minutes away and my life practically never sends me in that direction. But I try to do a long bike ride every Sunday, so I pegged Stone Mountain for today’s ride.

There’s a hilly 5-mile loop popular with bikers that circles the bottom of the mountain. I pushed through that loop more than once before my legs begged me to stop, or at least to make a change.

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I still had time, so then, in a crazy last-second heat-addled decision, I decided to climb just like old times. I had my AirPods in, I was in the zone. A bit slower than I wanted, but I already had some miles on those legs so I wasn’t too mad. Just one foot in front of the other.

It’s not too bad a climb until you hit StairMaster hill. Suddenly the granite just kicks up from manageably rocky to sheer and steep. Like lean-forward-at-a-45-degree-angle-while-you-shuffle-up steep. I passed several people on the hill, taking breaks. My steps were small but I just kept going.

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Maybe 20 yards after the hill I needed a minute to catch my breath. I don’t usually need breaks on the mountain, but I listened to my body and stepped aside well off the trail under some trees for a quick breather.

I turned to look back at the view and was stunned when, instead of hazy skyline, I see 4 people walking directly behind me. They all stopped suddenly and looked up at me. I had never seen any of these people in my life. Two men, two women, staring. But from their pull off the trail and stunned looks, it was clear they had been following my lead. After about 10 seconds of awkwardness, they moved back into the path and continued toward the top of the mountain in two separate pairs.

It’s not surprising that I was oblivious to the people hot on my heels. Music on, mind adrift, solo exercise is my zone-out time. What I couldn’t understand is why? Why follow me? It’s a clear path with dozens of people on it. I do have that nerdy, friendly librarian look where people ask me questions all the time in all kinds of contexts. But this was a no brainer. Just keep going up.

Maybe it was my pace, I thought. Maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing. I will never know.

What stayed with me is that there are times when we are leading but we may not know it.  We may not ask for it.  We may not see ourselves as leaders.  But, at times we are leading nonetheless.  

Maybe it’s not a literal mountain.  Instead, it might be going public with struggles, with triumphs, with progress, with challenges. Just living your life on purpose is leadership. No title needed. A neighbor stopped me the other day to tell me I inspired her to get moving because she sees me out walking the neighborhood. My daughter’s childhood youth group leader recently messaged me from out if the blue to ask about CrossFit, after watching my changes.

The people following you may not know your whole story.  They probably have their own goals, even agendas.  It could be they just like your pace.  Or you look like you know what you’re doing.  

You’re leading even if people don’t tell you. Near and far, people are watching. Think for a moment. What are you leading them to?

dare to be different, mental health

The Distant Shore

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A gorge in the Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee.  Calm, dark water with a hint of murkiness.

The rest of my group took off, swimming for the other bank of trees and sheer rock.

“Come on!” they called.  “Do it!”

I shook my head no as they doggie paddled, freestyled, and floated their way across the channel.

They called me and gestured a couple of more times, then they gave up when I continued to stand firm, head shaking. Nope, nope, nope. Not doing it. No sirree. Not this girl.

Then I asked myself, standing alone on the shore, why not?

Sure, I’m only a few years past being petrified to swim in any kind of water where I can’t see the bottom.  Sure, I don’t have a life jacket or any flotation device.  Sure, I have no idea how deep this is, or how far across it is (although I can see the other side).  Sure, I don’t really know how to swim in any kind of recognizable stroke or otherwise efficient way. (Which should have changed, given my story of near drowning, but it hasn’t.)

And after I told myself all that “why I can’t” stuff, I asked myself again, why not?

Then I started psyching myself up.

I can do this. I am training for a triathlon. Yes, it has been put off a year but I still need to get going. It’s not that big of a deal. I can do this. It’s not that far. Just start. Just go.

So I just walked out from the dirt “beach” and started to make my way across in some kind of swim-like movement.  Sorta freestyle-doggie-paddle, breaking into a vaguely-resembling-breast stroke at times, but never putting my head under water.  Eyes fixed resolutely on the other shore.

Yes, the fear set in about halfway across, everyone else in my group just chatting and laughing on the rocks.  I knew if I didn’t keep going I was probably in trouble, so I kept paddling along.

Eventually, the shore got closer.  My group noticed I was nearly there.  And I finally, eventually made it.  Seven straight minutes of swimming without touching bottom or using a life jacket.

Cut to the chase / return…I shaved a minute off my time and made it back in 6.  100 yards each way.

Still not real fast or real organized in the swim lane, but a small victory in calling myself on my own “nope, nope, nope” and raising it with a “why not?”

And yes, it was worth it.

What have you dared to do lately?

 

 

 

 

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.

fitness and nutrition

The Extra Mile

I’ve been kinda foundering with my home workouts at times.  I get bored, restless.  I don’t do warmups well.  I can easily get distracted. I stall when it’s time to get going. I’ve been doing hero WODs but that’s only on Mondays. So when a friend suggested I run a mile every day for a month, I grabbed on.  It was a goal to fuel me for the next little while.  Plus, running many miles is part of my goal for this year. Why not?

Then, as part of a fundraiser at my school, I told everyone who registered for a literacy charity race that I would run an extra mile for them.  That in itself was about 20 miles.  Suddenly I had multiple purposes to run each day.

Well, I’m reporting in on Day 26 and I am over it.  The miles get longer and longer.  Ok, so a mile can’t really get longer.  But, I can run it slower.  It can certainly seem longer. I don’t look forward to it. I actually actively dread it.  But, because I am stubborn and hard-headed I am going to get to 30 days.

Why has this become harder?

First, my mornings have gotten more hectic since I am going back into my physical workplace each day.  So, it is a bit of a scramble to add that 15 minutes in after a workout.

Second, I’m annoyed by my speed. A couple of weeks ago friend mentioned that after practicing each day, I should probably be running faster overall.  Honestly, I am not.  My attitude is bad about it.  But when I took on this task it was more about doing it just to have something to do.  My running pace has gotten quicker through my years of fitness, but I’ve never actually concentrated on my pace. It’s just been a side benefit of better overall fitness. So really, in this case, I didn’t have much of a goal beyond completing it.  Not really a very good goal to be honest. I have learned that my goal needs to have a bit more purpose than this one. And a purpose I really desire or believe in.

I guess I didn’t fail but I don’t feel like I succeeded.  And so there’s a lesson about goals in here that I am learning. My fear is failure, but I am still figuring out what failure means and how to embrace it when I need to.  I will finish and know for sure that I am not a daily runner. So I’ve learned that at least.  I like to run twice, perhaps three times a week if I am training for a specific race.  But doing it every day is not something I really enjoy. And if I don’t enjoy it or at the very least feel successful and satisfied when it is done, what’s the point?

Sometimes going the extra mile isn’t all that fun.  But, we do it because we need to, we said we would, because it is the right thing to do, or sometimes because we are just too hard-headed and stubborn to quit.

A few more days and this will be a memory, happily.