Archive for category Fitness

On Being: an old soul, a woman, an advocate, a runner, and a learner

I am a whole comprised of many parts. Here are some of them that I feel especially define me at this time in my life:

Old Soul: I’ve always felt older than I am… I used to drive an old lady car, I have old lady aches and pains, I get tired a lot faster than other people, I MUST get enough sleep to function, and while I enjoy the occasional night out, or house party, I often prefer a quite night in with movies and beer. I used to hate that I felt older than my age. Now I realize it’s who I am and it’s better to just embrace it, accept it, and enjoy it, rather than try to be someone else. Accepting ourselves for who we are makes for a much happier life.

Woman: March is Women’s History Month. There have been so many fascinating, successful women throughout history who have defied opposition and judgment to shape the liberated life I’m free to enjoy. Despite all these wonderful female examples (and my old soul self) I still struggle with what it means to be woman. The massive amount of stereotypical images and information about what women are/should be makes actual womanhood even more confusing. I’m gradually developing an image in my mind of the complex, delightful meaning of who I am and what I am capable of as a female, and embracing all of my womanly potential. It looks a lot like this description written by my good pal Krista (a fabulous and fearless woman herself): “Women are also strong, and talented, and wise, and meek. They can be confident or careful, sexy or shy. Women are athletic and creative and beautiful and fun.” She is currently writing a series about influential women in history on her blog, Reviving Identity. I’d encourage you to check it out.

Advocate: I have endometriosis. You all know this. And I will continue to tell my story to increase awareness. I’ve said this so many times and will continue to do so: “Without awareness, there is no cure!” The world’s most brilliant scientists still don’t know what causes endo (although they have several uncomfirmed theories). They still don’t have a cure. And millions of women continue to suffer (often silently) in pain. This is not OK! I am passionate about this issue (particularly since it’s personal) and I will fight for the rest of my life to increase awareness, funds, and research. March is national endometriosis awareness month and by this time next year I hope to have planned an Endometriosis 5K. It will be hard and challenging and I’m still not entirely sure if I can do it, but I’m going to do all I can to make this happen in an effort to raise awareness, and of course money, to donate to the Endometriosis Association.

Runner: As I mentioned above, I’d like to increase awareness through a race. Running is my anti-endo. The one thing that can really make me feel powerful when I’ve had so many times I’ve been laid up on the couch, curled up in a ball. Despite the pain, if I can get out and take one step, just one jog around the block, I’m releasing powerful endorphins (body’s natural pain killers). Often, after just 30 minutes of pounding pavement I feel some relief and, if nothing else, I feel mentally and emotionally stronger and empowered. Running brings me joy and clarity and a break from the hectic-ness that is my life. It is part of me.

Learner: I am officially immersed in the depths of nursing school and I will be until Dec 2012. I am brain-deep in books, education, theory, tests, clinicals, homework, etc… It is GREAT. and HARD. For the first time in my life I actually really have to try. School has always come quite easily for me and this is the first time I’ve ever felt challenged. This is AWESOME. and HARD. But I love it all the same. Through my education (as well as running), I continue to learn self-discipline and perseverance. Valuable life lessons, eh?

Well, that’s just a summary of what I’ve been thinking about lately and some of the different aspects of my life that I feel define me. What defines you? What makes you who you are? How do you learn and grow from these things?

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B is for Badass

In this yucky in-betweenish kind of weather my motivation to run spirals down the drain and gets all chopped up in the disposal. I can’t wait to run some races this year and really want to push myself to go farther and faster. In order to get to that point, I’ve got to put in the hard work. I don’t like hard work. But, it’s one those annoying life realities. So I dug out this old pic from Head for the Cure last year to remind myself that the work is worth it. If nothing else, the work is worth that calf muscle. BAM! 🙂 It’s the little things, right?

I think I need to post this picture on my mirror or something to remind myself what a badass I can be when I set my mind to it. This picture was taken at one of the highest points in my life. This was my second 5K and my second time proving to myself that I could do something I never thought possible. Due to a mild case of asthma and the ever-present endo pain, I never thought I could be a runner and consistently told myself that for years. This is where I proved myself wrong. And it felt AWESOME.

I hope you don’t think I sound boastful or vain, because that’s not what I’m going for. What I AM going for is some of that all-important positive self talk. If I encourage and believe in myself, I can do anything and nothing will stop me. I think that’s pretty valuable.

So here’s to motivation and goals and encouraging ourselves to be awesome. May you dream big and, more importantly, believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that your dreams can become your reality.

“Decide what to be, and go be it,”
— the Avett Brothers

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Workin’ it on out

I got my booty in gear today and ran a couple miles.

Hollaaaaaaaaaa! Look at me, keepin’ up with my goals and priorities. 🙂

So you know how I’m too much of a wimp to run outside in the winter, right? Thus, I ran at the community center today… on a treadmill. I’ve walked on treadmills before, but never ran. I was always (justifiably) afraid that my uncoordinated self would lose focus and fall off the back of the dang thing. But I mustered up some courage & balance today and tried it out. It wasn’t that bad! It was actually kind of fun, but weird because the whole time I was thinking “I’m not going anywhere! I’m running and I’m seriously not going anywhere!” I felt like it was easier to zone out though because I could just focus my eyes on one point and run, run, run.

I should note that I’m not just running for the sake of working out. I have an ulterior motive. Rumor has it that exercise might be able to help out endometriosis. Who knows, but I’m willing to try anything. (This is the same reason I eat sardines or herring at least once a week… something about omega oils…) So, fingers crossed, and hey – we all have our reasons for trying to be healthy right? Seriously, I don’t know many people who are in relatively good health who work out or eat well just for the heck of it. (Except my husband – he loves vegetables. Crazy.) It seems like there’s always a reason. Endo is mine. What’s yours?

Alright, well, time to go work on another priority: STUDYING!

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Balancing Act

Life is all about balance, right? At least that’s what I enjoy saying. But how good am I at actually balancing? Literally, not so well. Figuratively, even worse.

As part of my 30 x 5 challenge, I’ve begun practicing yoga. After only a few sessions, I’ve already fallen in love. Yoga is weird. I always thought so, and I still do after trying it. It’s a bunch of crazy looking poses, some of which are ridiculously hard to achieve. But (there’s always a ‘but’!), through all those oddly-named poses, those sometimes annoyingly slow transitions, those instructors that keep telling me to ‘focus on my breath’, I find peace.

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It’s a practice that makes you slow down, forces you to still your mind. I (and probably 99% of America) can attest to the fact that I suck at slowing down and resting my heart and mind. As an anxious person I’m always thinking, often tense, easily stressed, and overly analytical. Practicing yoga makes me set that aside for a moment and breathe. Thinking of nothing but my breath and the pose and what I’m feeling. And it’s in that stillness where I can feel free.

Free to think (or not), meditate, and pray. It’s so hard for me to slow my mind down that I rarely feel in the mood to pray. Practicing yoga leaves me feeling still enough to draw close to God. Like that story about Elijah in the Old Testament, I find God is not in my hectic, crazy moments of life, but in the still ones. In a culture of busy-ness, I rarely take the time to find still moments. Incorporating yoga into my fitness regimen is helping me find more of those moments for which I’m so grateful.

If you’re wondering about my 30 x 5 progress, here’s the breakdown:

10/6 – 30 minute jog
10/7 – rest day!
10/8 – 40 minutes of yoga
10/9 – 70 minutes yoga workout
10/10 – 80 minute yoga
10/11 – rest day!
10/12 – Does walking around the mall with my mom count? Hope so! I’m not going to beat myself up for missing this day, I’m just going to borrow some minutes from the 10th to apply to this day. 🙂
10/13 – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga session
10/14 – Two hour hike through the state park with Kris

Namaste, my friends!

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So far, so good!

6 days into November and my 30 x 5 challenge is still going strong! Is it easy? No. Do I always like it? Heck no! But does it make me feel fab and happy that I’m taking care of my body. YES! Here’s the breakdown of my workouts so far

Nov 1 – 30 min jog
Nov 2 – insane 1 hr 15 min spinning class
Nov 3 – 30 min walk (still sore from the spinning class!)
Nov 4 – rest day
Nov 5 – 40 min run/walk
Nov 6 – I haven’t gone yet today but plan on going for a run in honor of my pal Krista who’s running her first marathon in Indiana today!

Whew! With the weather cooling off and the crazy wind we’ve had lately, I’ve had about zero motivation to get outside and run like usual. I’m going to have to come up with some new winter workout plans because – let’s face it – I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather.

What motivates you to keep exercising when it gets cold?

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. I joined a book club and we’re currently reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Talk about a page turner – I can’t put the dang thing down! It is an expertly crafted mystery that keeps taking twists and turns I never would have expected. It’s dark, gripping, and suspenseful. It also distracts me from the reading I should be doing for school. Like this “light reading” number I picked up to help me write my final paper for my aging class:

Actually, I find the latter book just as fascinating but I’m not going to say it keeps me up till one in the morning flipping pages.

Anyway, that’s all I got for today folks. Here’s hoping everyone has a great weekend and that the LSU tigers can whoop up on Alabama today. 🙂

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Running Lessons

There are many lessons to be learned from running: dedication, determination, and perseverance to name a few. As I continue trying to live holistically – incorporating physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects – I’ve applied many running lessons to the remainder of my life.

Today, as I was doing some October goal setting and taking a hard look at my priorities, I was inspired by this post. Since I’ve been maintaining my physical fitness consistently for about four months now, I started thinking about how well I’ve been maintaining my finances. I’m just not too impressed with how wisely I’ve been spending my blessings lately. So I added some financial goals to my October list, as well as some long-term savings goals.

Here are some examples from my list:
– Save a total of $X in the bank account
– Limit the spending of “fun” money by:
Planning and cooking all but one, maybe two, meals each week. More nutritious & delicious & saves $$.
Limiting money spent on clothes to one to two items per month, not exceeding $X
– Save $X to buy a car outright for J when his wears out (nearing 150K miles on his already!)
– Use part of “fun” money savings to make charitable gifts
– Save ahead for kids
– Save up for a great vacation before kids

I spent a lot of time thinking this out, and I’m really looking forward to following through. To motivate me, I printed out pictures representing each of my goals and posted them on my bathroom mirror to remind me of the long term and what’s worth saving for. To inspire me on the clothing limit I made a list of practical, classic pieces that I can choose from when it’s time to go shopping. I’m pretty excited about running in my financial life as well as I do on the pavement. Having goals definitely makes the whole process seem more fun!

As far as running on the pavement goes, I’m back in the groove and feeling GREAT! I’ve logged 6.27 miles over the last three days and have really enjoyed it. I’ve gotten to the point that a run can actually be relaxing for me now, instead of work. Today I was able to zone out and enjoy my music, the breeze, and the sound of my feet crunch-crunch-crunching along the asphalt. Aaaaah. Deep breaths and relaxation. Doesn’t get much better than that. I think running has also been a little more enjoyable for me lately since I decided to take a break from races for a while. I still have race goals, and found myself looking up 10K training plans today (yikes!), but for the time being I just want to run for fun, for the pure enjoyment of it. That fact alone gives me a whole new perspective.

How do you manage your financial fitness? Any tips or tricks for living frugally and meeting financial goals?

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Woman Up – Pt. 2

Well. Earlier today I was feeling extremely sorry for myself and wrote a draft of a post in which I basically just went on about how sucky my situation is. I was coming to terms with the fact that sometimes dealing with it isn’t as easy as I would like for it to be, and the fact that sometimes I just can’t do what I want due to the pain. I was feeling so frustrated with the pain and how it has been bothering me for so long and I just needed to vent I guess. So. After I finished venting via draft post I asked myself: what should I do, “woman up” and get over myself, or wallow in my misery?

I chose to woman up.

I laced on my runnin’ shoes, popped a couple of Advil, and went for …. a leisurely walk. 🙂 This may not seem like much but this was no small feat for me! I walked at a slow pace for twenty minutes around my neighborhood, staying close to my house the whole time just in case I couldn’t make it. I’m not sure yet if this was a good idea (sometimes things get worse after), but it felt GREAT to move and I wanted to test the waters of what I am capable of.

I feel like my posts have been a bit depressing lately and for that – I’m sorry. I’m ready to be up and about and working out again, sharing my successes & techniques instead of lame stories of pain. I promise the second I feel better I’ll be posting sickeningly happy, positive, fitness-inspiring posts. Maybe I should temporarily rename this blog to “See Mel Rest on the Couch.” 🙂

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