2019 Goals

Teachers enjoy two “new year” beginnings, one in January and one in September. So far, I have done a nice job maintaining several of my school year resolutions.  I have been going to bed early and getting lots of sleep. I have been meal planning.  I pick up the house a little bit each day and have been doing a good job of keeping up with laundry, avoiding the need to spend most of Saturday morning cleaning.

Where I am slacking is when it comes to working out. I have not gone for a single run after school.  The main reason for this is being in a new school with a new curriculum.  Because I stay at school a lot later than I did last year, I head home to pick up Liam and avoid spending even more on after-school care than we already do. Liam has promised to start running with Banjo and me in the afternoon. While the runs aren’t long or fast, they include bonding and watching Liam set goals.

This start to the new year has me thinking about my goals. I have my students email weekly goals.  When they ask why they need to email me their goals and create a plan to reach them, I explain that a goal without a plan is nothing more than a wish. Sharing them makes them real.

When I first decided to sign up for a half-marathon, my husband told everyone. I was not as excited to share the goal, mostly for fear I would fail and everyone would know. Once everyone knew I was planning to run two half- marathons in 2018, I had to make sure I was able to achieve this goal.

Setting these goals makes me think a lot about what I want to achieve next year.

So here, in random order, are my 2019 goals:

Run a thirty-five minute 5K.  I just finished reading Deena Kastor’s Let Your Mind Run. She talks about her goal of running a fifteen minute 5K. I’m focusing on my own goals. Cutting a minute off of my 5K PR would put me in the thirty-five-minute range. I would be happy with that.

*In the time between my first draft of this and when I got back to editing it, I shaved forty seconds off my 5K, putting me at 35:59. Next goal is to make it to 34:59!

Cut a minute and a half off my half-marathon PR: I know that isn’t a lot over 13.1 miles, but it would put me in a 12:29 pace. For some reason, dropping down a ten-second increment sounds likes an awesome goal!

 

Do a handstand: I’ve been able to do a headstand for a  few years and want to transition to a full headstand. I think a lot of it is mind over matter; I need to get over my fear and make it happen.

Week Four: Getting Out of Your Head

This one hits home this week as we have been helping Liam find strategies for managing stress and Mike and I have been dealing with a lot of stress. (I try to focus on the positive so I will keep that to myself. Nobody wants to read about our woes.) I have struggled with anxiety since childhood. It’s been a long journey, but I finally feel I have a good hold on it. Here are my ways I get out of my head:

  1. I have a ritual for worry. I allow myself a certain amount of time to worry, then I make myself file it away. I used to spend sleepless nights worrying about things that were frivolous or beyond my control. Getting an honest grasp on what is worth my worry have been huge.                                       
  2. Running and yoga. What started as activities for my physical health became huge components of my mental health. Since I am still nursing a strained calf muscle and haven’t been able to run in ten days, I am feeling the need in my head as much as in my body.
  3. Spending time with Mike and Liam. Yes, it sounds cheesy and I am not apologizing. They always manage to make me laugh and forget about things that are worrying me.
  4. Reruns. We have Netflix and Amazon Prime yet, whenever I need to shut my brain off, I find myself watching Friends, Big Bang Theory, or How I Met Your Mother reruns. I know them all by heart but refuse to venture into new shows. I stick with what helps me feel better. Maybe they work to shut my mind off because I can half watch them and still follow along with the plot.

I asked Liam how he quiets his mind when feeling stressed. He struggled to find answers. We talked about a few things he does when he is worried.

  1. Play with Banjo                                                                                         
  2. Watch funny TV shows. Liam and I just started watching Fuller House. It is totally cheesy and he loves it. Having traveled to San Francisco to work twice, I earn major coolness points when I able to point out landmarks and pull up pictures on my phone. I’ve even been to Alamo Park and saw the Fuller House house. He asks if we can visit when he gets a bit older. I loved visiting this area and can’t wait to take him in a few years.
  3. Go to the playground. When Liam is getting miserable, we know that we need to get him out of the house. Walking to the nearest playground is a great, free way to burn off energy. He is trying to teach me to cross the monkey bars. I love watching his patience and interest in trying to teach him something that comes so easily to him.
How lucky are we to have this beach a mile from our house?

Five Weeks to Go, Injuries, and #noweightilmay

Wow, that’s a long title!

This first half is quickly approaching! While ordering Liam’s lunches for the month, the calendar brought me to the weekend before the half. How is that happening? It seems as though I was just nervously and excitedly texting my friend on Thanksgiving, assuring each other that we could complete a race that was scheduled six months from then. But now the almond milk in my fridge expires after the race; it will be here before I know it!

The expiration date on this milk is after my first half. Why did this make me nervous?

So this is not the worst time to get hurt, but it certainly isn’t ideal. I was able to run Saturday and Sunday with just enough pain to let me know it was there, but I don’t want it to get worse and stall my training entirely. Because I had been experiencing knee pain for over a week, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor, who informed me I had pulled a tendon. It could definitely be worse, but I need to give my knee a week off from running, then gently try again. If it still hurts, then we can try physical therapy. Hopefully, the resting will work and I can get back on the road soon!

If I had to hurt my knee and take a week off, I’m glad I’m off on a week with terrible weather. It snowed Monday and has rained Tuesday and today. There is a chance of snow on Saturday, the day we are meeting up to attempt a ten-mile run.

So I am terrible at balancing a healthy diet. I tend to follow “all or nothing” extremes. My thyroid does not make this easier. This weekend was proof of this. Mike and I had a date night. We ate pizza and had a beer at the local place walking distance to our house. I indulged on Easter. Monday, I was up six pounds in a week. I’d like to think most of it is just bloating from sodium. However, it is so frustrating that I can inflate so quickly. Yes, I indulged, but I wasn’t over the top. If I am really on point, it will take two weeks to get rid of it. It is really discouraging not to just throw in the towel and admit defeat, but I need my body to be strong to accomplish my goals.

Because of these moments, I am aware that I am obsessed with the scale. On one of my Facebook running groups, someone suggested not stepping on the scale during the month of April. In a rare moment of punny brillance, I suggested calling it “noweightilmay.” So, I am going to avoid getting on the scale not just during April, but until after the half-marathon, deciding to focus on how my body feels and how my jeans fit rather than the number on the scale (that I currently step on several times daily). I am curious to see how eliminating the pressure of seeing a certain number on the scale affects me.  Obviously, I am hoping the scale goes down a few pounds, but I will just as happy if I can adjust my mindset.

My Own “Ride or Die” Group

I just finished reading Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes. After being accused by her sister of never saying yes to anything, she agreed to every invitation and opportunity she received. During this year, she played with her kids every time they asked, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and The Mindy Project, and gave several keynote speeches.  While sharing her experiences, I  wanted to be best friends with her.  In one of the later chapters, she discusses losing two close friends over this year. Her other friends informed her that they were never really “friends” and seemed to be upset over her transformation. Shonda (because we are on a first name basis now) categorized her closest friends as her “ride or die” friends. I immediately decided to steal the term for my own. Since entering adulthood, I’ve lost several old friends. Some were toxic and needed to be cut, others just lost touch and, when space became too great, drifted apart.

The result of my many offers to perform flower girl duties at my friend’s wedding. I still giggle when I think about this picture.

I used to mourn the loss of these people quite frequently. As they were replaced by amazing, supportive friends, I realize that some of the breaks were definitely for the best.  The current people in my life are my own “ride or die” group. They showed up even when I claimed I didn’t need them. They check in frequently and remember things that are going on in each others’ lives. We are silly, inappropriate, and supportive. We keep group messages going. After spending time with them, I will remember silly things we said or did and randomly laugh, causing Mike to glace over and humor me by listening to me recap our shenanigans. Sometimes, our sessions actually hold up and are hilarious to others. Usually, these recaps end with Mike shaking his head and smiling.

 

I’ve said that I had to meet Mike when I was older; twenty-two-year old me would not have appreciated him. The same is true for my friends. I needed friends who expected more of me than they were willing to give, belittled my life choices, and made catty comments about me when they thought I was out of earshot. I needed these people to understand that I hit the friend jackpot as I grew older. My yoga girls, mommy friends, and running buddies slowly became my “ride or die” group.  I thoroughly enjoyed Year of Yes and believe it should be required reading to anyone who has ever doubted themselves. Her ideas about friendship are one of my favorite takeaways. Shonda reminded me how important it is to have a “ride or die” crew. I am eternally grateful for mine!

Finding My Running Mojo

Have you seen my motivation? I seem to have lost it. Recently, I went an entire week without working out.  As of this week, I am officially in half-marathon training. However, for the past two weeks, I’ve only managed one run weekly.  There are many reasons for this:

  • The weather has been terrible: bitterly cold, snowy, icy days make it tough to leave the house
  • I’ve been trying to keep a cold at bay. It’s that awful rundown feeling that you are only one bad night of sleep away from getting the full-blown cold. During the past two weekends, I’ve actually spent a good amount of time on the couch, something I never do.
  • Two weeks ago, Mike went away for work, making it impossible for me to get out for runs on the weekend since I had Liam with me.
  • We adopted Banjo last weekend and spent a lot of time getting him used to his new family and home.

Anyway, I have not been running. I’ve completed lots of other workouts involving yoga and strength training (PRed my sumo squat- 2×205!!), but have not made it out running more than once a week.  Banjo and I have been going for long walks. Because I’ve been trying to get him used to walks on a leash, he and I have only gone running once. Sunday morning, when the weather finally gets above take your breath away freezing, I will need to go out and complete five miles to stay on track for the half-marathon training schedule.  I know that once I am out on the road, I will be fine.

Usually, I love running around the airport, but I can’t seem to get my butt out there.

 

I have been really great about watching my diet and staying active, managing to lose a few more of the weigh I’ve gained since Halloween. Thanks to walking Banjo twice a day, I’ve been kicking but in my FitBit challenges!  It’s taken years, but I have finally stopped treating working out as a punishment for eating too much or a consequence of gaining weight.  I am actually looking forward to getting in that long run this Sunday morning!

I Went a Week Without Working Out… and it was Fine

What is that quote about the best-intended plans?

I had every intention of working out each day this week.  I have a routine established:

Monday: Strength Class

Tuesday and Saturday: Yoga

I usually get at least two in each week. However, all bets were off last week. On Tuesday, I had a faculty meeting after school and stomach issues that evening, causing me to miss out on both running and yoga. We got three inches of snow on Wednesday. I had a hair appointment Thursday afternoon. Friday, Liam woke up at 3 am with leg cramps, and I never got back to sleep. I had been keeping a cold at bay with plenty of sleep and Emergen-C; this night of lousy sleep was enough to bring on a full-blown cold. I skipped running Friday afternoon and spent the weekend on the couch. Mike was in Tennessee this weekend, making me unable to go out running even if I wanted to. I planned to do a few Beachbody on Demand workouts over the weekend, but I could not get myself off the couch.

So there you have it: why I didn’t work out for an entire week. While I thought I would be upset with myself and feel terrible, I am actually okay with this. I managed to keep my mild cold from becoming much worse. We watched The Martian.  I introduced Liam to Fuller House. I caught up with friends Sunday morning by helping at a fundraiser and attended a birthday party that afternoon.

Liam was very impressed that I saw the “Full House” houses at Alamo Park!

Because I didn’t work out, I meticulously watched my food intake, still managing to lose two and a half pounds this week.  (Having a cold definitely attributed to that weight loss. It’s not ideal, but I’ll take it this week.)

This is what I learned by taking a week off: I genuinely enjoy working out. I like seeing what my body is capable of doing and how I feel afterward. Working out is a want to, not a have to.  It is no longer a punishment for being idle or for overeating.  While I am happy when I have the time to work out, I no longer need to beat myself up if it just doesn’t happen.

Gratuitous Year-End Review

Gather round, folks, it’s time for me to summarize the highlights of the year!

I think I’ve grown more this year than I have in a decade!  My forties may be my time!

Highlights:

Okay, I’m going to be superficial and say that seeing  Hamilton was one of my biggest highlights.  I’m still amazed that Mike and I were able to see Hamilton at all, nevermind having third-row seats!  Hamilton got me through some challenging times; I am thankful we were able to make the trek to Broadway to see it.  While we were waiting for the play to begin, we were able to go to the top of the Empire State Building.  Mike and I thought it would be a brilliant idea to avoid the elevator lines and take the stairs from the 82 to 88th-floor observation decks; we quickly learned that was a terrible idea!

 

Becoming a runner was my most significant achievement of the year!  I can’t say enough good things about  Beginning Runner Group.  Their support throughout the process of running a 5K was the key to my success!  If it weren’t for this program, I would still be saying, “Someday, I’ll teach myself how to run.”  Wednesday night, I finally conquered the giant, seemingly endless hill on Rochambeau, accomplishing my last running goal of the year! Next year, I am signed up for not one, but two half-marathons.  While I have no interest in ever completing a full marathon, I am nervous and excited to meet these goals next year!

Making great friends and finding my people was one of my favorite parts of 2017.  Here, I wrote about being very lonely after Liam was born.  It took me a while as a mother to find great friends.  I now have a wonderful, supportive group of friends who encourage me, laugh with me, and push me to better myself.

 

Thankful for friends who embrace silliness!

 

Seven has been my favorite age!  I love everything, well,  most things about having a seven-year-old!  Sometimes, it seems he ages a year in a week.  Other times, I see glimpses of my baby boy hiding in this ginormous kid.  Liam is kind, thoughtful, and curious.  I love this journey, but look forward to seeing the adult he grows up to be.

How did he grow so much in one year?

I should admit that, in spite of all of my working out, I only lost a half pound this year.  However, I lost ten inches, proving that the scale is not always the best way to measure progress.  While I hope to tone up a bit next year and lose a bit of my tummy, in this post, I was able to finally realize that working out is not just about losing fat and trying to cancel out food consumed.  More than anything, I am looking forward to getting stronger and faster next year!.

Liam is thriving at school!  We were so happy with his daycare center that we kept him there through kindergarten. Last year, we started him in a new school for first grade.  He was so nervous about learning a new building and making new friends.  While I didn’t tell him, I had the same fears!  We both had to learn new policies and politics and make new friends.   I am happy to report that lightning struck twice!  Liam loves school, his teachers, and his new friends.  He loves staying at their after-school program and participating in after-school activities.  In addition to Liam making great friends, Mike and I managed to befriend a great group of people! We are truly blessed to be part of a school that makes you feel like a family!

 

 

It’s My Shavasana and I’ll Think if I Want To!

I felt like I hadn’t been to yoga in forever.  A variety of reasons, such as our trip to Maine for Thanksgiving and Mike’s trip to New Orleans for work, left me missing too many yoga sessions.

Yoga is not like riding a bike.  Since I started running and lifting heavy, I noticed that I am much stiffer these days.   After two weeks off, I was stiff, barely able to touch my toes.  It felt so good to stretch and push my body.

Yoga was the first physical activity as an adult that I loved.  I loved it for many reasons:

  1. There is constant room for growth beyond repeating the exercise with a heavier weight or finishing a few seconds faster.  Growth in yoga is real and motivating to continue practicing! Mastering a pose that previously eluded you is one of the best feelings ever!
  2. It was the first exercise as an adult that I was good at from the moment I started.  Even though I will never be the smallest person in a class, I am usually one of the stronger and more flexible people practicing.  Let’s face it; no one likes doing something they’re not good at.
  3. I connected with amazing people! I love my yoga squad!  They are some of the most important people in my life.  Seriously, outside of family and coworkers, how many people do you see twice a week on purpose?  We share fears and vent when needed.  Most importantly, I laugh with them, often smiling and giggling to myself after class when I think about someone that was said.

There is one part of yoga that I cannot seem to complete correctly: Shavasana.  I just can’t turn off my mind.  During this time, I stew over the fact that I am not good at this.  How can I ever be a “real yogi” if I can’t complete the simplest pose?

One of my friends is able to fall asleep during Shavasana, often snoring loudly to our amusement.  I can’t even shut off my mind, yet she can go to sleep?!  While thinking about how awful I am at Shavasana, I often think of other things I need to do or am terrible at completing.  I mentally run through my to-do list.  I wonder if Liam will be awake when I get home.  I think of previous embarrassments and relive them in my mind.

Last night, I laid back for a few minutes of worry and contemplation.  This time, I focused on an ear-worm that had been in my head for days.  Liam’s teacher assigns homework via a website called  Spelling City.  Every time I hear this, I think of the old Barenaked Ladies song “Hello City.”  This song has been in my head for days and found its way into my Shavasana.  However, “Hello City” was just what I needed to shut off my mind for a few minutes.

After a decade of trying to master what should be the easiest part of yoga, I’ve come to terms with the facts that I will probably never find zen during Shavasana.  However, I know I find my calm and peace in other ways, during my walks with Liam and Mike, listening to an interest story on NPR, devouring a book, and while I am running.  I don’t need to force zen; I just need to allow it into my space.

Being Forty Versus Being in My Forties

In less than one month, I will turn forty-one.  For my fortieth, Mike asked what I wanted to do.  I’d always said I wanted to visit the West Coast and put my feet in the Pacific Ocean.  Summit training provided me that opportunity twice.  Being realistic, I decided on a party in the backyard.  It wasn’t fancy.  It was simply a night with all of my favorite people together.  Mike borrowed a bouncy house “for the kids” from a coworker.  We barbequed and ate great food, talked, and laughed.   I was a little nervous that people would bring up politics as it was a few days before the election; people stuck to safer topics.   I loved seeing friends from different parts of my life come together and get to know each other.  We sat around the fire belting out old school rap.   It was perfect!

Turning forty is a milestone to be celebrated.  However, turning forty-one simply means that you are in your forties.  Why does this feel different?  I remember being seven, the same age as my son.  I also remember when my mom was forty-one.  My thirties brought quite a few changes and milestones:

  • Buying a house
  • Getting married
  • Becoming a mother
  • Losing my mother

An older friend recently told me that her forties were her favorite decade.  Her forties brought her confidence and health.  I’m trying to decide how I feel about being in my forties.  I, too, think this might be my decade.  I weigh more than I have in awhile.  While I wish I could lose ten pounds, I am proud of what my body can do.  I’m strong and getting stronger.  I can run (slowly).  I’m able to perform yoga poses that previously eluded me.  I am also thankful that I have the time and support to work towards bettering myself.  If my thirties were spent trying to figure out who my friends are, my forties provides strong friendships.  I’m blessed with my yoga crew, a strong core of mom friends, and spectacular coworkers.  Mike and I have a great marriage.  We have this amazing son who teaches and inspires us every day. I am really happy with where I am right now.

In college, I remember writing a list of all the things I hoped to accomplish in my adult life.  When I stumbled upon it years later, I was happy to realize I had accomplished a few.  I found myself back to being an active member of a church.  I can appreciate Shakespeare, even asking the Reverend to read Sonnet 116 during our wedding.  My toes have touched the Pacific Ocean.

I promise this is the Pacific Ocean!

Fanfare and celebration accompany of life’s biggest milestones; turning forty was no exception.  In the next few weeks, I will officially become in my forties.  I can honestly say that I am looking forward to this portion of my life.  Life is pretty good when the only thing I can think that I really want is a cup warmer for school because I am constantly getting caught up in things and letting my tea get cold.   I love this simplicity.  I am hopeful that my forties will be the start of my favorite decades.

 

Why I Practice Yoga

The idea of yoga always fascinated me.  I loved the yogi vibe, their lithe bodies, and their simplicity.  I first purchased a Pilates video and didn’t mind completing it, but didn’t feel passionate of accomplished in regards to taking them.  Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to go to a Pilates class at my gym, surprised and impressed that I was able to keep up with the rest of the class.  After sharing with a friend that I had always wanted to try yoga, we decided to attend one at our gym together.

The only thing I remember about that class is that my normally baggy gym clothes were not conducive to yoga; I spent most of the class trying to keep my oversized Eagles T-shirt from falling up during downward dog.  I couldn’t get my mind to shut down during Shavasana and laid there waiting to feel something zen.

As weeks went by, yoga became a class I attended regularly and looked forward to.  I enjoyed the challenge and found myself to be good at it.  Yes, I saw progress in my weights classes, but there is a much greater sense of accomplishment the first time you’re able to master a pose that has previously alluded you than there will ever be when you go up a weight set in class.  (“Look, I’m using the blue weights instead of the orange ones” isn’t nearly as cool as mastering camel or crow for the first time!)

I am competitive by nature.  However, my competitiveness is subtle.  You won’t know we are competing, but I assure you that we are in my mind!  I am not tiny.  My figure is average, but not what I would consider athletic.  Years of retail, waitressing, and teaching gave me muscular legs, but that’s about it.  In spite of my figure, I am really good at yoga.  It is rewarding that I am never the smallest person in the class, but I can keep up and sometimes exceed other in the class.  Once, I took a class filled with women wearing Lululemon sports bras and leggings.  I was totally overwhelmed by them (my issue, not theirs).  While fully aware that this goes against everything yoga teaches, it made me feel better to discover that I was just as flexible and talented in my practice.


Most weeks, I am able to attend two yoga classes: a higher and a lower level class.  Tuesday’s class is challenging.  I love being sweaty and winded when I leave.  Saturday morning’s  class is low-key and relaxed.  We complain if we are made to stand up.  During both classes, we laugh, get sidetracked, and engage in inappropriate conversation.  Learning the importance of breathing has greatly helped my weightlifting.

Yoga reminds me to take time for myself and that doing so isn’t selfish.  It makes me a better wife, mother, friend, and teacher.

Yoga reminds me that I need to recharge and challenge my mind as well as my body.

Yoga reminds me that it is okay to topple, fall, and not be able to do things.  If they are important to me, I will keep trying and achieve them.  (Hello headstand and mermaid.)

Yoga reminds me that I am a work in progress and that habits must be maintained to stay sharp.