That fitness thing: pt. 2

Hey kids! Happy Saturday 🙂 I’m currently writing this post at work… so there’s that. Perks of working the front desk at a gym I suppose, being paid to blog and do homework – just finished up my stats homework prior to deciding to write a post!

In my last post I told you guys that I’m changing things up in terms of fitness and goals around competing (more specifically, what I hope to compete in again). I’ve moved from a solid strength and lifting focus blended with some endurance work to really structuring my workouts to become the best endurance athlete that me and my body can be. I’ll be getting into more detail about what exactly I’m doing at the end of this post (so scroll down if you literally just want to see how I workout… but that’s only half the fun).

d6059c61-f3c0-448e-bdd6-fcf4d569dfc1

Elevation profile of 2012 ultra… THIS = my jam. This stuff makes me giddy.

Quote from my last post to lay the format for this current one: “You can push until you can’t push anymore, but if the energy which drives the engine is negative, anxious, depressed, over-worked, stressed, and unsure deep down then the engine will only produce so much force before something breaks down. Our greatest goals cannot be forced.” This sums up my feelings about getting back into running and focusing on that aspect of my life versus pursing anything else especially at if it’s going to be from a competitive angle.

img_0411

Casual

I know for me, lifting helps my running tremendously – the answer lies in the capacity in which I’m lifting (e.g quantity vs. quality and then taking intensity into consideration). Running now compared to running in 2011/12 feels light years different – I feel SO MUCH stronger endurance wise, my engine is bigger. This is likely twofold: 1. increased capacity due to being just stronger in general from lifting, and 2. prioritizing self-care.

I’ve found that there are a set few characteristics from previous programs I’ve followed (which were strength based) that I’ll still implement. I like the set up that I’ve been using for legit forever of 5 weeks “on” and 1 week “off”, off meaning deload. I’m going to keep using this with lifting. It works super well for my body in that I feel like I’m staying healthy, not over-doing it, and able to then rest and repeat on the gain train. The only difference between now and past is my goals with having weightlifting be part of my weekly routine: then it was gaining as much strength as possible, now it’s maintaining, stabilizing, and increasing muscle endurance. Additionally, I’ve shifted from lifting four days a week (deadlift day, bench day, leg and accessory day, press day) to three days (see below). Frankly, I DO NOT NEED to lift four days a week if my focus isn’t there. Also, the more frequency the more risk for over-taxing and that just isn’t worth the risk. As mileage increases with running I will likely move to two days per week as/when needed!

Definitely going to be a trail and error so to speak for a little bit as I get back into the endurance world. That’s ok, it will be a real-life research experiment on my own physical capacity. I kind of dig it.

img_0478

Smiles for miles

Ok, enough with the novel… can you tell I like to really delve into things and explain them? 😉 Onto what I do inside and outside of the gym!

Monday:

  • lift (lower body) capped at 60 minutes
  • cross training endurance in the form of cardio kickboxing #yassss

Tuesday:

  • run – 45-60 minutes

Wednesday:

  • rest day

Thursday:

  • lift (split – upper and lower body) capped at 120 minutes
  • run – 30-45 minutes

Friday:

  • HIIT/cross train (usually come up with a workout on my own – I LOVE programming metabolic conditioning workouts… Or I’ll find a metcon on crossfit website that isn’t super taxing but which gets my HR elevated and blood flowing for a bit). Working different energy systems and challenging myself in ways other than longer cardio workouts!

Saturday:

  • hike or snowboard or easy recovery run

Sunday:

  • lift (upper) capped at 60 minutes
  • run – 45-60 minutes

tumblr_od8hagtbzd1rnsok6o1_1280.jpg

Right now my mileage is on the lower side, I’m getting my body used to running consistently again and using a slow and steady approach to this. I find that if I go completely gung-ho my body has a bit of a hissy-fit and ain’t nobody got time for that. Not like I signed up for a 50 mile ultra in five weeks so the slow and steady approach will work just fine. Ideally I’m looking at getting back into racing in May (25k, errrr 15.5 miles) and then July-August for anything of substantial distance. I’m in this for the long run. Endurance stuff speaks to me in a way that lifting doesn’t. It’s my zone.

“Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are…each time you let a new ingredient to enter your awareness.” – Deepak Chopra

Cultivating your power

Hi all!

This post could also be titled, “that fitness thing: round two”… If you’ve been a reader for some time now you might remember a post back during the summer titled “that fitness thing”, I talked about my routine at that point and gave insight into what I was doing inside the gym. If you don’t remember or you’re a new reader (hello!) , that’s a-ok because that post is history.

Let me explain.

Lifting is an integral part of my life. I LOVE it. I feel strong, powerful, capable, and in the zone when I’m lifting. It focuses me. It helps me push myself and grow. It’s therapeutic and is a great method for getting some angst and extra energy out. But that’s “it”. For the longest time I tried to convince myself that I wanted to focus on lifting from a competitive angle. That I should be competing because, well, I can lift a good amount for my size. As someone who has been on and off involved in competitive sports since age 5, convincing me or me convincing myself to pursue that isn’t much of a challenge. I’ll accept quite easily.

400317_10150565293312170_228960120_n

I’m on the left although Erika & I were twins at this stage of development… national jump-rope competition circa ~ 2007/08.

282431_10150274172072170_6896463_n

2011 Vermont Spartan Beast

578067_3109788232147_1278932257_n

2012 Peak Ultramarathon

The challenge lies in truly gaining my interest. Sure, I might absolutely be head over heels for something (e.g lifting), but there is a very big difference between loving something and wanting to pursue it competitively. It’s deeper than it may seem too… isn’t everything in life? It’s not just wanting to pursue it competitively, it’s trusting myself. I was an endurance athlete. Why did I all of a sudden begin to pursue a strength sport? I mean, that happens, it’s not uncommon. It seemed legit to me. I was missing something though, while I was lifting lifting and more lifting I was still going to kickboxing, doing metabolic workouts, running – I couldn’t give that up. I didn’t want to give it up. On the other hand, I knew that I wanted so badly to compete again. I felt very confused during this time. Stuck in a place which while it was working for me… it wasn’t really working for me.

The truth of the matter is: I want lifting to be the thing which helps me be a stronger endurance athlete. It’s my therapy. It keeps me grounded, centered, and balanced. As of right now I don’t want to pursue it competitively.

In my last post I talked about why I love running. After a bunch of events in 2011 and 2012 I dealt with a handful of injuries from a combination of over-training, under recovering, and still dealing with a subtle grip of my eating issues. I stopped running cold turkey, relapsed, got stuck mentally, went into treatment, changed colleges, and forgot about running. I left it behind. I wanted nothing to do with it. I felt like it was my past, something that felt and sounded bitter. But the thing is, we tend to go back to what we love. I’m at a point now where I understand and accept that it wasn’t running which left me injured, nor did it lead me to relapse. There were so many other factors involved. It was running while not taking care of myself as either an athlete or a human being. Accepting that has been groundbreaking.

As I mentioned in that post, running feels amazing lately. I swear each time I lace up my shoes and hit the road it gets better. I know that will unlikely happen forever, there will be tough runs, either physically or mentally, but the fact that I’ve consistently felt at my prime is a very big sign that I’m moving in the right direction for me. Nothing feels forced. It’s very natural. It’s almost creepy because up until a couple months ago I hadn’t been running much if at all… for years.

I recently came across a quote. It’s such a simple set of words yet it made everything clear to me. Almost if, upon reading these 9 words the entire world made sense again. That seems crazy, but realizations can be crazy.

“Self care is how you take your power back.”

Oh, hey. That makes sense. Yes, yes, yes. It’s so obvious. Those 9 words staring me right in the face like a deer in the headlights. I keep complaining that I’m not “happy” or “fulfilled”. I’m an anxious ball of energy. My mind races, circles, catastrophizes, and I move forward but not necessarily in the direction I WANT to me moving. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I miss competing. I miss my niche. I miss having that one thing that is not only my escape but my passion and drive. What differentiates me saying this a year ago from saying this now is that I realize what was missing: self care.

You can push until you can’t push anymore, but if the energy which drives the engine is negative, anxious, depressed, over-worked, stressed, and unsure deep down then the engine will only produce so much force before something breaks down. Our greatest goals cannot be forced.

If you haven’t picked up on where I’m going with this post yet it’s that I am going back to my roots. I’m going back to pursuing endurance sports, more specifically, running.

“That fitness thing: round 2”… that’ll be my next post..

“your mental health is a priority
your happiness is a priority
your self-care is a priority
your existence is a priority”

Mental health updates & living effectively + sustainably

Why must I use fancy words in my title? Well… #nerdlife

Effectively (adv): In such a manner as to achieve a desired result

Sustainably (adv): In a way that can be maintained at a certain rate or level

* source

I’m a huge proponent of waking up and feeling excited about life. Aren’t we all? Lately it’s been a lot of waking up content, going to the gym, and then heading to school. Fine and dandy, except when it’s not fine and dandy. I need to be capable of excelling in my day to day life without it being draining or daunting. I need to be effective. I don’t feel these two things right now. I want to reach my goals (we all do), but not destroy myself in the process of doing so. I’ve nearly destroyed myself before, a few times, and I’m not open or accepting to that experience ever again. Sure, I might be served a “shit sandwich” as Mark Manson likes to call it, but it’ll be my own preference and therefore I’ll roll with the punches. I want to be able to sustain my lifestyle, actions, inactions, and values.

Recently I’ve been pretty stressed regarding the future. Okay, I’m still pretty stressed, tbh. BUT, I’m becoming more accepting of the whole process, trusting my instinct (which changes… like daily), and letting things just ebb and flow. I’m a junior in college studying neuroscience and nutrition. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and that is entirely OK. I always had my mind set on something in healthcare, and I still hope to work within that field in some capacity or another. Ever since I was last in treatment for my eating disorder I’ve had my sights set on medicine (prior to that, for the bulk of my existence it was physical therapy). I’m not going to say I want to be doctor because I hope to help people. I mean, yes, that’s true, but it’s so so so much deeper than that. I want to teach people to take care of themselves before it’s too late, or before they get sick, so prevention. I want to help people love themselves. I want to show people that you can be in pain for years, decades, and still come back from that. I want to be the person who can answer the same questions I once had myself. I’m also insanely interested in the brain, microbiome, biomechanics, and the immune system. Oh and I think reading research papers is fun, almost as fun as histology. So essentially I’m a wee little nerd with a plethora of interests. Yep, nailed it.

I thought pursing medicine would be my thing, my niche. Maybe it will be, that I’m not sure of, but I want to broaden my horizons with new ideas. Perhaps becoming a physician isn’t the only way to do all of the previously mentioned goals I hold for myself. I sometimes wish I could just buckle down and say “ok, I’m going to be a doctor”. Close curtain. End of story. I can’t say that because I’m not sure. I know I’m capable of it but I’m not sure it’s the path to reach my goals, personally and professionally. I am working to expand my scope and explore different directions which are more in line with my life and other interests.

tumblr_ognbmvfMzT1rnsok6o1_500

I recently was listening to a YouTube interview with Dr. Allison Brager where she said “plan your career around your lifestyle not your lifestyle around your career”. This REALLY hit home. It struck a chord which hasn’t been struck in quite sometime. The job description of physician jives with my goals. However, the lifestyle of a physician does not come close to the life I hope to have 15-20 years from now. If there is anything I’ve learned from my past, it’s that not living true to myself doesn’t work. Destroying myself while trying to please myself won’t cut it. There’s always another road, another option, another direction for growth. Perhaps letting go of the one single idea I’ve held for years and replacing it with others is the best move I can make. It drives me absolutely crazy that I know I am capable of practicing medicine, but that the lifestyle and schooling process isn’t for me. I’m letting that go, because holding onto that feeling isn’t helpful. I have to remember what I want, not just career wise, but life wise. Ultimately, it comes down to trusting myself.

tumblr_od8hagtbzd1rnsok6o1_1280

I haven’t been really active on social media lately, which has been a positive thing. I’ve used the space to create a better sense of awareness of my goals versus being stuck in the image I’ve held for myself out of comfort. I’ve been spending my free time hiking, running, journaling, lifting, with friends, and reading. I feel like I’m “re-finding myself”. This may sound crazy but I think the last time I was in treatment, while it was extremely beneficial in terms of staying on the path of recovery, I lost a bit of who I am. I lost touch with the free-living, easy going, open, never quitting, curious, passionate side of Sarah. I still had the same interests but the way I approached life was safer.

I learned how to protect myself from relapsing, which in part translated to protecting myself from the world. I’ve been too comfortable, which has lead to extreme discomfort in my life. I’m not saying I have a bad life, I don’t by any means. I’m extremely grateful for all that I have, and the opportunities I’ve been given. But with all the positives I’m not content with what I’m doing. For too long now I’ve been doing what I feel I “should” be doing. While some “shoulds” is essential for getting though college and into graduate school, abandoning many dreams in the process should NOT be part of the equation. This safe avenue has lately been seeminly another way to not live in a way which is allowing me to thrive. I feel out of touch with myself. I’m doing great by the standards of society, acing my classes, working three jobs, sleeping 5-6 hours a night, working out most days, having volunteer positions, but honestly it feels off. I’m excelling in my academics, but they aren’t helping me to find myself. I’m not happy with what I’ve been doing academically and that is beginning to take a major toll on my mental health, between the time commitment and financial investment. Additionally, I feel as though I’m not pursing my real goals.

Stop taking pride in your ability to destroy yourself.” – Michelle K.

I believe personal experiences change people. For me, I’ve definitely learned a boatload about myself throughout the past four years with the past six months likely being the most notable. I’ve been hiking a lot since July. More than in my 23 years all together. It’s been and is an amazing experience. It is teaching me so much more about myself, my values, and my goals that I could ever imagine. I’ve never discussed much of my past on this blog besides that I’ve competed in jumprope and adventure races and am in recovery from a decade long eating disorder. That’s about it. Growing up my family camped a lot – tent, camper, cabin, you name it. We did a lot of outdoor activities – hiking, kayaking, general exploring. I loved it. I participated in softball, soccer, cross-country, jump-rope for sports. Other things I enjoyed were outdoor trips organized by my home town recreation department. We would go on weekend long trips once or twice a month, from snowboarding, camping, bike riding, horseback riding, farm maintenance, to hiking. I loved being outdoors. It was freedom.

tumblr_oayud52nZq1snhjb1o1_500

I’m a neuroscience major. It’s cool, yes, but not my passion. When transferring from community college to my current four-year university I decided on neuroscience versus kinesiology or nutrition because 1. I wanted to be a doctor and felt this major would be the best preparation, and 2. I was still in the treatment of my ED and was very interested in the neurobiology of psychopathologies. I don’t find myself learning what I want to be learning. I have enjoyed some of my classes thus far, they are “cool”, but I’m not gaining skills that I foresee myself utilizing much in the future if that makes sense. I’m excelling in my coursework, however I think I’m able to succeed not because I love the course material, but because I’m a disciplined and focused student. While not easy, they aren’t a real challenge either.

I’m tired of being comfortable. I’m tired of the safety net I’ve created. I’m sick of being anxious, depressed, irritable, and angry. I miss feeling amazing and like I could take on the world because I was living true to my own world. I want to explore my dreams again, because by doing so they could be more than dreams one day. I miss just going with the flow, accepting things, and seeing what comes from life. I hate being comfortable… there’s no growth, no newness, no change. It’s this stange viscious cycle.

IMG_6058

For a while I was feeling really stuck and still am to a degree. Althought by spending more time with friends and outdoors I feel better overall. I’m rekindling my relationship with myself, and while I have miles to go the progress at this point feels true to Sarah, not true to what society finds normal. I’m working to make note of the things which make me truly happy long-term, not superficially. I want to understand why I find myself more anxious in certain situations and have the strength to let go of them if need be. One main thing I learned in treatment was to let go. While I may have become too safe in my general approach to life, letting go is a skill which will likely come in handy. My goal at this moment is working to get back to my roots, and living in a way which feels both effective, supportive, and sustainable for me.

“You must go on adventures to find out where you belong.” – Sue Fitzmaurice

Live FIERCELY.

Hi guys! It’s Tuesday Smile  In my Literature and Business course we recently were asked to read an excerpt from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and while there were definitely some good and interesting points discussed… it just didn’t do it for me. I’ve written some posts on this blog as motivational sources for both myself and my readers. I’m currently working on a side project also and have taken some of a couple of posts to make one big post which I’m sharing today on living fiercely and my personal vision of success and life purpose. These are my opinions and views, so take with you what works and leave what doesn’t. After all, everyone is different in terms of what motivates them.

Ready? Set go.

OK wait… first some tunes for reading. Please please don’t tell me I’m the only one who needs good jams.

Always be yourself, that’s what everyone says. In a world committed to beating the guy next to you, striving always to get ahead, to have the balls to go after your own dreams is a novel idea in and of itself. It’s a hard choice to keep up the pursuit of your dreams, goals, passions, hobbies, the things which light your soul on fire. However, a crucial one nonetheless.

What gets in the way? Why do people feel it’s necessary to just live inside the bubble society has created and continued to morph as the years go on. Why do we conform ourselves to the needs of society versus the needs of ourselves?

Self-limitation. Self-sabotage. Whatever term hits you the hardest – go with it. Boy is that a concept. It’s also something most people do on the regular, whether or not they are actually aware of it. It’s hard not to. We are brought up in a society that tells us as children that well, we are amazing and can do whatever we set our minds to. Which if you ask me, that’s great. But what’s not so great is that as kids get older the support and the “you’re the greatest” start to leave the scene, and rather quickly. We end up with young adults who are trying to find their life path and also simultaneously being bombarded from every angle with messages about how to be richer, prettier, skinnier, how to succeed, how not to succeed, what you’re doing wrong, why you’re not X/Y/Z, how to be “healthy”, and the list goes on and on. Then of course there are the more important things like actually being a responsible adult, having and maintaining a job, college, graduate school, starting a family, ect. It’s a lot of pressure, so it’s natural for people to be hard on themselves and doubt their abilities. Things cost money, it’s easy to question if something is worth it and subsequently talk yourself out of things. It seems safer to go with the flow of society rather than carving your own path. Safer doesn’t always equal easier.

What we are not taught? How to listen to our inner fire and let go of our inner critic. Now that’s a concept worth actually pursing.

The one thing I have learned over the years is that it’s best not to run from your demons. Running from the negative doesn’t typically create a positive. It creates a void, a void that most people don’t know how to work with. Instead, work without them, accept them, be at peace with them, and if you really must – use them… but, don’t let them use you.

IMG_5563

source

I think we tend to get so caught up in the past and the future that we forget we are actually living currently, in the now. It’s a constant challenge to keep the mind focused on the present moment and you might find yourself present one moment, and then thinking about next Tuesday three minutes later. It’s natural for the mind to shift, to oscillate between past, present, and future. Our brains have so much going on, so many functions, things to process, and information to relay to us. I think what’s essential however is to be content and happy with the now so that the reason our mind is wandering isn’t to escape the present moment.

How to be successful in your life? Accept that it’s worth it.

It’s worth it for fucks sake. Whatever the idea is that you have in your head, pursue it. What if you are successful? What if it makes you happy and in love with every.single.second of your life? If it doesn’t… well you tried and after all it’s all about experience. TRY IT. Take a chance, or two, or three. Go out on a limb and explore new things, new boundaries, new places. You might end up finding yourself in a place you’ve only ever dreamed of being. Explore your limits. Explore your comfort zone. Say YES. And then say yes again. Listen to your soul, your body, your desires and get after them. Set up your day to day in order to reach your goals. Nobody is going to get you there except for you.

One of the hardest parts about reaching a goal: allowing yourself to try. I’m not talking about the give it a week or a month of slowly and ever so casually working on a goal. I don’t mean give it a week, then fall off the wagon, then two weeks later get back on the wagon. I mean give it all you have. If you want something bad enough give yourself the true opportunity to reach that thing.

People underestimate the true amount of time, effort, hard work, and pure determination that go into reaching a goal. It’s easy to leave out the key pieces, to not go full throttle. It’s easy to quit and say “it’s just not for me” or “I’ll try again next year”. Stop limiting yourself. Stop limiting your life. Stop taking it easy when the going gets tough. Choose the hard way. Choose to create a better life. Choose to reach what it is you truly wish to reach.

Throughout my experiences one of the hardest things I’ve come to terms with is what I feel that I *should* be capable of. I would take ego, standards, and previous accomplishments and hold myself accountable to what I believed I needed to be doing. I felt I needed to be the best at competing, a straight-A student, working full-time, always performing better than any other individual at a given moment – all while keeping myself together. I tried to be invincible, like super-woman. For a period of time I was able to adapt to these extreme standards, but soon enough I started to show cracks. It’s quite difficult if not impossible to maintain near perfection in every realm of life at each given moment.

Where did I learn these beliefs? Why is it that I hold myself to standards set higher than a majority of my peers? But better yet, why is it that I’ve met other people who have similar if not identical lifestyle patterns? In my opinion, it’s about trying to prove ourselves as human beings. It’s about your worth as an individual.

IMG_5420

source

All in all accept yourself, continue to grow into who you are and be a better version of you not your neighbor. Find what makes you come alive as a person, what it is that has you thriving in life and do that thing. Don’t be the reason you didn’t reach your goals. Stop holding yourself back because of trying to be the best at everything versus trying to be the best at your thing.

You have innate value because you are alive. Accept that.

So decide what you want to do. What’s important. What you want to work on. Decide what defines you, your life. Be extremely stubborn about your goals but stay adaptable. Keep evolving, both internally and externally. Mentally, spiritually. Focus on your shit. But be aware that other people have their own shit. It’s not yours to fix. Just be capable of listening. Make your work ethic respectable. Be humble. Remember the game when the going gets tough because it will get tough. Understand your thoughts, your emotions, your needs. Accept them. Don’t let them control you. Work with them. Use your voice, collaborate, help others, be kind always. Tell people how much they mean to you. Love every single part of yourself. Surround yourself with people who support your most difficult dreams. Keep reflecting and adjust what needs adjusting but make sure it’s for you – know your vision. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Let it go. Laugh. Don’t be so serious. Seriousness can come across as being an asshole. Figure out your shit. Don’t lie to yourself. Roll the dice and play the cards. Be capable of inspiring yourself. Know when it’s time to put your big girl pants on and know when it’s time to say fuck it. Be what you want to be.

xo, S