Getting back on track

getting back on track with good habits by setting priorities

Old habits die hard. New habits fade quickly.

Have you ever noticed that? You put a lot of energy toward building up a new good habit, and as soon as you turn your head, that new habit is gone – poof!

Well, I’ve been noticing that all the new habits I’m trying to build all at once are stretching my will power beyond its limits (did you know that we have a limited supply of will power? It’s true!). I’ve been trying to exercise more, eat better, take better care of my home, be more productive at work, tend this blog, be nicer to myself… And, in the past, I would have trundled along, just feeling like a failure; saying to myself, “why can’t I just DO these things? What’s the matter with me!?”

However, after going through the savoring experiment and learning how to look inward, I have been able to actually see what I’m doing to myself. I’m simply expecting too much. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling like a tornado in the middle of a hurricane – I’ve been spreading myself far too thin.

Here’s how I’m getting back on track

I need to prioritize the areas that I want to focus on, so that I can apply the appropriate amount of effort and determination (i.e. will power) toward each one. So here is the order in which I have decided to give a shit about things.

  1. Prepare for the Spartan This damn race is happening on June 1 whether I’m ready for it or not, and I’ve already booked my flights, my hotel room and my place in the race, so I’m IN THE RACE. And pardon me when I say I’m fucking terrified, since I’m so far behind schedule on training. I am going to need all my will power to keep myself on track with a six-day-a-week training schedule.
  2. Eat healthier This goes hand-in-hand with my #1 priority, but it doesn’t come naturally to me, so it takes will power to choose broccoli over french fries as a side, or fruit over Goldfish crackers for a snack. I will never choose anything over bacon, so don’t even go there. In any case, I’m not going to beat myself up over my food choices.
  3. Do my daily chores I started my new routine last week, and my reminders have been working pretty well. But, when I haven’t been able to empty the dishwasher because I didn’t start it the night before, I’ve been chastising myself. That stops today. I’m doing the best I can with the energy I have to put towards this. I’m not going to stop the reminders, but I AM going to cut myself some slack when I choose not to do something because it’s a lower priority than #1 and #2.
  4. Be more productive at work Screw this and the horse it rode in on. Kidding. Sort of. I’m actually doing much better at this lately, after spending some time reviewing my priorities and partnering with my boss to determine what she believes is really important. As for doing better, well, we’ll worry about that if I live through the Spartan. For now, I’m just going to make sure that I’m getting my job done well.

So there you have it folks. The top four things I’m going to put all my energy into. If it ain’t on this list, I ain’t got time for it.

making time for top priorities

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Today is the day

Don't procrastinate - today is the day to do all the things you've always wanted to doWhy wait another day? What do you gain by waiting? A better question: what do you lose by waiting?

Today is the day that I’m going to the gym to replace my lost membership card. I’ve waited months to do this, hoping that I would find it. In the meantime, I’ve lost out on many opportunities to improve my health, my fitness, my strength… I’ve lost so many chances to prepare myself for the Spartan.

Today, I’m done waiting. Today, I choose to do something about it. Today, I will do just one thing to move toward being the strong, slender, healthy, fit woman who looks better at 40 than she did at 30.

What one thing can you do today that will move you towards something you’ve always wanted to do?

Image source: Mattie

Preparing for a beast of a race

Photo credit: phoenixblue0

I signed up last fall for the Spartan Sprint in NY in June. At the time, it seemed so far away (I had approximately 6 months to train for it). Since then, the weather turned cold, I got the flu, and my incredible cross training routine fell to shit.

Now, the race is in three months, I am less fit than I was when I signed up, and the prospect of RUNNING UP A SKI HILL suddenly has me crapping my pants with fear.

And that doesn’t even touch the obstacles – jumping over fire?! Climbing shit? Army crawling through mud? BURPEES????

I honestly don’t know what the hell I was thinking. But, I’m committed – not only have I purchased my spot in the race, and joined a team, but I bought tickets and pre-paid for a hotel room. So I’m GOING to the race. I’m going to BE IN the race.

The only question is: Will I survive it?

Yes.

I have to train for it. I have to run up and down stairs, and then big, big hills. I have to buy trail shoes, and break them in on actual trails. I have to lift weights, and do burpees, and run some more.

I have to do all of this very, very soon. I need to start as soon as possible, or I will not only be letting myself down, but my teammates, too.

Hey, if you’re up for it, let me know if you want to help me train! I’m in desperate need of some local accountability and training partners.

Why I’m trying to cross train, again

Spin Class

Spin Class (Photo credit: Nottingham Trent University)

I’ve mentioned before that I consider myself a runner (a beginning runner, but a runner). Running is my primary form of cardiovascular exercise. Last fall, I started cross training and lifting weights, though I allowed the holidays to derail me, and I haven’t kept up with it. There are good reasons that I should get back to it, though!

The primary thing that originally convinced me to lift weights was the fact that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. I added other cardio to my schedule because cross training greatly reduces the chances that you’ll sustain repetitive use injuries from doing the same kind of exercise all the time. Another benefit to both cross training and weight lifting is that they both help me be a better runner – more speed, more strength, more endurance.

When it was still warm out, I had added in one day of bicycling each week (in addition to three running days and two weight lifting days), and that was fun – I adore the feeling of going ridiculously fast on a bike. I am not running as much this winter because of the bitter cold we’re experiencing, as well as the precipitation (both snow and freezing rain), but I still want to work out, so I’m going to get myself back to the gym this week, and will kick some ass on a stationary bike.

Do you vary your workouts?  What do you do to stay fit through the colder months?

Just get moving

The hardest part of an exercise program, for me, is simply getting started with it. If I can only get moving, I find it much easier to keep up with the routine of working out. Somehow, I forget how good it feels to move my body with purpose, if I let too much time elapse between workouts.

When it was warm out, I ran three times a week, and after my busy season at work was over, I added weightlifting twice a week, too. I was moving my body at least five days a week, and sometimes six times a week, and it felt wonderful.

And, then the weather turned colder, and I lost my gym card. And, I have used both as excuses not to work out. When I happened to be in Orlando for work a few weeks ago, I took advantage of the warm weather and went on a 3 mile run. When the weather warmed up here, I went on a nearly 4 mile run. I am in San Diego this week for work, and I’ve made it a point to run while here, too. So I know that I’m still capable of enjoying running, and that I haven’t lost my passion for it, but I am not scheduling workouts like I had been, and I need to get back to that.

This post is a reminder to me as much as anything, to just get moving. Hey Krys: go replace that gym membership card, go run on the track at the gym, go lift weights, practice yoga at home, find a body weight resistance workout on YouTube, or go run (once the streets are safe again)… Just get moving!

How do you keep yourself on track with workouts? When circumstances change, and you can’t use sheer momentum?

Run? Who me?

There is a language among fitness buffs that confounds the outside world. Over the past few months, I’ve learned terms like C25k, NROLFW, SL 5X5, SS, 30DS, and that there’s something called a Fitbit. I’ll be trying out all of these things over the next few weeks and months, and will report back on all of it. I’ve already experienced the phenomenon known as C25k.

One of the coolest things I’ve done since beginning my quest to find fitness is to download and use an iPhone app called C25k Free from Zen Labs. It turned my obese, flabby ass into a runner. Yes, I consider myself a runner. I’m not a particularly good runner, but I run, and therefore I am a runner.

SO anyway, this app. The C25k stands for Couch to 5k, and it’s a training program that takes a couch potato (someone who considers strolling at a leisurely pace vigorous exercise) and turns them into someone who can complete a 5k race. Note: I said complete. Not win. Complete a 5k. There’s a difference. It’s significant.

I began using the app in mid-July 2012, about 5 weeks after I started losing weight, and about 4 weeks after I started walking regularly, albeit slowly, for exercise.

The app has you walk for 5 minutes as a warm up, then walk for another 3 minutes, and then it tells you to run (slowly) for 1 minute. One. Minute. 60 measly seconds. I almost threw up at the 40-second mark. I’m not even exaggerating here. And, just when I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest, the app let me walk again for another 3 or 5 minutes or something wonderful like that. And then I had to run again! For another 60 seconds! How DARE it?! This time, I couldn’t breathe. I could not get enough air into my lungs. I felt like I was drowning in sweat and shame. But I made it the whole 60 seconds again. And this cycle continued for a full 20 minutes, when finally, the app told me to cool down with a 5 minute walk.

That was the first week. It progresses from there to a 2 minute run, with walking, then 3 minutes, etc., until you get up to 10 minutes. Then, it jumps you straight up to a 20 minute run, and from there you progress to a full 30 minute run, which is approximately the length of a 5k. The whole program is 8 weeks long.

The app is very forgiving, in that if you feel like you can’t progress to the next level, you can always roll back to a previous session and do that again. Lots of people stay at the first week for far longer than a single week. I was able to follow the program on a prolonged schedule, without backtracking, though I really pushed myself to my physical limits on more than one occasion.

I completed my first 5k before I completed the C25k program, and my time was a respectable 31 minutes and change. I completed my second 5k later that same month, and improved upon my time by about a minute.

I’m currently using a similar training program to work my way up to a 10k, and will progress from there to a half marathon program. I tell you – I’m a runner, and it’s all that damn app’s fault.

Do you run? How did you get into running? What advice do you have for beginners?