Sunday, February 22, 2015

Work/Life Balance

"Don't confuse having a career with having a life." -- Hillary Rodham Clinton

See that face? That is the face of a girl who had to work out at 8pm because she worked too late on a Tuesday night. AGAIN. This is not a happy face. It was a good workout, yes, but working out at 8pm kinda sucks. It wrecks my sleep later at night, which makes for an even longer day the next day. I've been doing this a lot lately. How did I get here? Again?!?!

That wasn't an isolated incident. The above picture was taken from my desk. At 7pm. On a Thursday evening. I had come in just before 7am that same morning in hopes of not having to work late again as I had worked late nearly every day that week. It just wasn't in the cards, however, and I didn't end up leaving for another 30 minutes after taking this picture. UGH!

For seven of the last ten years, I put work before everything else. I didn't have any reason not to. I left my friends, family, and home to gamble on this career - I literally had nothing else to do but work, so that's what I did! I thought this was how life worked for the rest of us. You go to school, you move away, you work too hard, and then you retire... right? Only... I realized pretty quickly that not everyone was working this hard. And you know what else? My health was slowly suffering from it. I gained a TON of weight, my skin looked gray and sallow, and I was sick all the time. When I caught pneumonia for the third time in as many years, I realized something had to change. I committed to putting my health first! (... sorta)

I did ok for a while - I really did. But lately... I don't know what's gotten into me lately but I've forgotten how to say no. I keep taking on more and more, despite still being behind from when I was out sick earlier this year. The result? The last two weeks have been killer. The pic above was from Friday. I was supposed to work a half day - ended up working more than a full day and went back to work after 7pm to respond to an inquiry that I forgot about that was due on Friday. And so goes another late night in the gym. Yuck!

While reflecting on the last couple of weeks, I noticed one positive trend. Yes, the overtime sucks. My personal life kinda sucks at the moment too. But do you know what doesn't suck? My reestablished love for the gym! You see, every time I whined about working late... every time something went wrong at home... I found myself literally running towards the gym. This is such an improvement! I'm so happy that this is where I'm at now. 

Over the weekend, I got some pretty devastating news. I had already been having a pretty difficult week, and the news that arrived on Saturday was unexpected and sad. In the past, whenever I would have had such news I would have shut down. I would have wallowed. I would have ordered pizza. I would have watched Bridget Jones on TV for the upteenth time. But last night? I went to the gym. And I felt so much better. Sad, yes (as demonstrated in the picture above)... but better!

My goal this week is to say no. My plate is full - I can't continue taking on more and more without a little help. I know better than to do what I've been doing, and I know that the only person that can actually change it is me. Let's see how I do, friends! I've tried this before... maybe it will stick this time?  How do you maintain your balance? How do you find time to do what you do, and still do what you love on the side? Please help a sister out here folks... tell me it's this hard for you too!


Before I sign off... I have to give a BIG, PROUD SHOUTOUT to my bestie, Natasha! She added another half marathon to her collection, finishing strong despite the cold weather conditions. You are a beast, Natasha. I couldn't be prouder of you!

Happy fitnessing, everyone! Cheers!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

F@#k This, I Quit!!!

I recently had the opportunity to watch footage of a beauty queen snatching the crown off of the winner's head and throwing in on the ground.  You'll definitely want to You Tube that later.  I found it to be both awesome and hilarious.  I was amazed at how well her sentiment resonated with me.  They say that when you have a negative experience at a young age, you get stuck there.  Arrested development.  Maybe that's how it all started.  On the outside, I am a fabulous, 25 year old (wink), grown woman.  Inside, I'm basically a 3 year old who is not immune from tantrums.  

For most of my life I have been a professional quitter.  This weight loss situation is no exception.  A couple of days ago I came to the realization that no matter how much I exercise, I can't have dinner and dessert at Chili's, beer, wine, fast food and whipped drinks on the daily.  I was obviously devastated by this information.  I was thinking about how a few extra pounds isn't a big deal.  I could just stop off at the mall and buy a bigger bra and get used to this "situation."  I'm not super obese or anything so it's cool, right?  

Then I realized that it's not about the weight.  It's about deciding on a course of action and making it happen. I'm rarely decisive and it's even more unusual for me to stick with a decision once it's made.  I did try it once. I took all of the baby steps necessary to get to where I wanted to go and it worked!  It was slow and hard and aggravating, but it worked.  I try to remember that every day, every moment, whenever it's necessary. So today, instead of switching my half-marathon to the 5K option or hitting the drive-thru for a #1, I will just continue to put one foot in front of the other (eyes rolling).  I only hope that I will feel as wise tomorrow.  

How do you maintain when it gets hard?  When you're not in the mood?  When your inner runner-up wants to steal the crown and slam it into the floor?  I am always open to suggestions.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

We Suck At Blogging

"Beginners are many; enders but a few..."

I'm so sorry. I've done it again. I've committed to writing a blog and have totally failed at keeping it up to date. I could give many, many excuses for this but really... would you believe me even if I told you? January has been a weird month. It's not been a bad month but it sure as hell hasn't been a good month either. And on this last day of the first month of the year I find myself seemingly lost at where or how to proceed. But since this is a fitness blog, let's focus on that for a bit.

It's no secret that my weight has been an issue post graduate school. Up and down, up and down... with heavy emphasis on the up, and very few periods of down. I can make a million excuses for this too. Work was stressful, with long hours and too much travel for the better part of the first seven years of my career. Frequent relocations. Heavy family stress. Medical issues. Laziness. And on and on and on. It took me getting pneumonia in 2013 for the 3rd time in as many years that I finally slowed down on the crazy work schedule (our bodies - MY body - isn't meant to work 90+ hours a week, y'all). I literally had to tell my boss "No, I can't travel for a meeting while I have pneumonia" before I realized how bad it had evolved. I had to learn how (and when) to say no at work, and start saying yes to life. It was the only way to finally regulate my sleep and eating patterns. While this mostly helped with the fatigue, it did nothing to help with my overall health and fitness.

In the spring of 2014, I experienced something that forced me to ask myself what I really want out of life. Resoundingly, I answered myself that I wanted to take charge of my health and my appearance. I didn't want to hide under baggy clothes and oversized shades. I didn't want to continue to witness friends like Natasha accomplish amazing fitness feats while I watched from the couch. I didn't want to miss out on adventures and friendships because I didn't feel worthy of such experiences. I realized that life is far too short to sit back and accept mediocrity... and these revelations helped me experience the best year I have had in a long, long time!

The end of 2014 marked the end of a few things, but I didn't want to end my 2014 the way I had begun it. With Natasha's encouragement, I committed to rejoining the gym and doing a 30 in 30 fitness challenge. It felt good - and I felt so alive! I used the year's excitements, frustrations, and challenges to motivate me to work harder, train smarter, and go further than I had in a very long time. I was doing so well! And I was proud of myself for keeping up with it!

At the end of the month, I fell ill with the flu and strep throat. I was so mad. I always get sick at this time of year, but this was probably the worst I had it in a while. It completely destroyed me mentally to realize that my hard work in the gym was going to fall apart because my body had failed me. At first, I refused to believe I was actually sick. I worked the first two days despite being sick... and returned far too soon (while still coughing) during recovery. I was angry, frustrated... and incredibly sad. Why can't I win?

I've spent the last two weeks (feels longer) regaining my fitness mojo. I have worked out nearly every day, with my running time and strength training improving on a near daily basis. Despite how much I have accomplished in such a short time, however, I find it hard for me to consider these wins. I have SO far to go, and it's near impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That said - I've discovered a fantastic fitness community thanks to Instagram, and they've really helped encourage me along the way. One of my new friends started exactly where I did (albeit in September as compared to my December), and watching her improve is certainly helping motivate me along. My baby sister's fitness wins are also encouraging - I can't believe that she's the same kid! I'm oh-so-proud of her! 

And so... I'll keep chugging along. And I will keep this up. I don't want to be a beginner... I want to be an ender... and by ending, I mean I want to make this a change I keep up with for the rest of my life! So tell me... what motivates you? How do you keep going? And do you struggle like I do? I hope to hear from you!