Discipline

I have no willpower when it comes to coffee!

Discipline is something most of us learn at an early age.  I am only saying “most” because I think there are a few kids (and adults!) out there who have learned absolutely nothing about discipline, but that is a different story for a different day.  Discipline drives every thing we do in life.  If we don’t have the discipline to get out of bed when our alarm goes off then the kids will start screaming, we will be late to work and we will become a member of the unproductive population.  If we don’t have the discipline to brush our teeth or wash our hair then hygiene issues will arise and we will no longer have any friends.  I guess you could conclude that laziness is the opposite of anything related to discipline.  Or, it could be that when you don’t have discipline then you have a loss of willpower.

We are all (oh, wait… I mean most) disciplined in some things and nowhere near to being disciplined in a handful of other things.  It’s true and I will admit my failures when it comes to discipline.  For one thing, I would not have enough discipline to banish coffee and scones.  I might be able to get by one day, but that might be the extent of my willpower.  Oh, here’s a good one that I think everyone can relate to:  I would not be able to go an entire day without getting on the internet!  Okay, if this is your discipline then please stand up and show us the way out of this technological madhouse!  Right, no one is standing up.  Figures.  We are lost to the computers and phones and ipads.

Most people tend to relate discipline to exercise and dieting.  We have learned that human beings feel better when they eat what they want and sit around to enjoy the process of digestion.  But, that is about the extent of feeling better.  We soon realize that the food doesn’t really make us feel better after we have eaten it and we end up not liking how we look because we ate too much of the stuff that tasted way too good.  Then we just sit around feeling depressed because we can only last 10 minutes on the treadmill before we feel like we might collapse.  Exercise feels good, but it takes a lot of work.  It is much easier to take a seat on the couch and watch a movie or two.

What is it about exercise that is so hard?  Waking up early?  Finding time to squeeze it in during your busy day?  Not knowing what to do and how to do it?  You think sweat is stinky and unattractive?  Feeling selfish because you took time out of the day to take care of yourself?  You are just not interested or don’t give a rat’s crap?

Well, it does take work and it does take time.  After a few years, I can finally say that I am pretty disciplined when it comes to exercise.  I will jump (okay, maybe it is more of a roll) out of bed as soon as my alarm goes off even though I would much rather be sleeping.  I make time for exercise, whether that means getting up extra early, taking the kids with me to the gym, pushing a jogging stroller, running on the treadmill during naptime, catching a class at my work or scheduling a workout around my husband’s schedule.  Give me any day and I will find time for a workout.  Sure, I didn’t know how to run when I started… said no one ever.  How could anyone not know how to run?  Or even walk for that matter because walking is exercise too!  Sure, you might not have the best runner’s form, but not even I know what that is.  If you say that you don’t know how to weight train, then I will understand.  However, it is not hard to find someone to show you how.  Sweat is wonderful and it means that you worked your rear off!  If you don’t sweat, then there is a problem.

The taking care of yourself part is a hard one for most women to grasp.  It is common knowledge that women feel a strong urge to put everyone else’s needs above their own.  It is a tough instinct to fight, but there is one clear way to look at it:  if you don’t take care of yourself, then how can you take care of everyone else?  Do you want more energy so you can keep up with your kids?  Exercise gives you energy (as long as you don’t get too crazy and overdo it).  Do you want to set a good example and inspire others around you?  Set a goal and achieve it!  Do you want to live longer so you can spend more quality time with your family and friends?  Well, you won’t live longer if you don’t stay active or eat healthy.  Of course there are no guarantees, but you sure as heck can up your chances.

This discipline thing will not work if you are just not interested.  Do you prefer to sit on the couch?  Or is it just easier?  If you prefer the couch, then I guess couch discipline is the only thing for you.  Now, if it is just easier to  sit on the couch, then you can be molded.  Life shouldn’t be so easy.  Things don’t end on a good note when life is too easy.  Being successful means taking on challenges and pushing yourself to new limits.

The only way to get rewarded is through discipline.  This can apply in many areas of our lives, not just diet and exercise.  However, when I have discipline in one area of my life, it tends to creep into other areas.  If I am willing to get up early for a run, then I am more willing to cook a healthy meal or spend extra playtime with my kids.  If I wake up already defeated, then I tend to be unproductive for the rest of the day.

It is not easy.  Not at all.  But that sounds like a challenge to me and I love challenges.  How about you?

Advertisements

Chasing Turkeys

The only thing missing: my family! Hopefully next year…

Okay, it was actually called the Turkey Chase.  Funny thing is that there were actually no turkeys to chase.  Even if I had caught a turkey, what would I do with it?  I don’t eat turkeys and I really don’t think a turkey would make a good pet.  Wait, there was a dude wearing a turkey on his head.  Too bad I passed him in the first tenth of a mile.

Thanksgivings in Jacksonville consisted of a half marathon followed by the family meal.  I know we didn’t live there very long, but I would like to say that it became a tradition.  Not really a family tradition because I usually ran the half marathon without my family, but I always found friends at the starting line.  Last year I even managed to achieve my half marathon PR on Thanksgiving.  That will probably be my fastest half marathon ever because I am not getting any  younger.  Needless to say, it was a memorable (and very WARM) run.

This Thanksgiving was supposed to be different.  For one thing, there was no half marathon… only a 5K.  Second, it would be a family event.  I was excited because my oldest daughter told me that she wanted to run the 5K.  So, the plan was that I would run with my oldest daughter while my husband pushed the youngest two in the jogging stroller.  Actually, he would have a stroller stand-off with his friend who would also be pushing a double jogger.

My daughter and I trained.  She ran 3 miles on more than one occasion.  She ran on the treadmill next to me at the YMCA.  She ran along the path next to the creek while I pushed the jogging stroller.  She even ran up the hills near our house.  When the week of the 5K arrived, I announced her ready to rock and roll!

Next thing you know, it was Thanksgiving morning.  It was a beautiful day outside and only slightly chilly (in the 40’s).  Our youngest daughter awoke with another bowel issue (a common theme for the week).  My husband told me that he would stay home while I took our oldest daughter to the race.  I started to put the plan into action… until… our oldest daughter  proclaimed “I’m not feeling so well.  I don’t want to run today.”  My heart sank.  I was in deep despair (okay, maybe I am exaggerating just a bit).  I looked at my daughter and was suddenly not so sure about her ailment.  Was she really sick or was she avoiding the run?  The second option did worry me.  Did I push her too much?  Does she actually hate running, but is too afraid to tell me?  I’m still not sure, but I am  slightly comforted by the fact that she laid around all day and didn’t really have much of an appetite (of course I don’t want her to feel sick, but I was just relieved that maybe she didn’t run because she really was sick).  Regardless of how she really feels, I will take a break from the coaching.  I don’t want her to hate running as much as I did as a kid.  You know those mile runs in P.E.?  I would silently tell the P.E. teacher to screw off as I WALKED the stupid mile run.

After much debate about who was doing what, I finally walked out the door alone.  Alone again for a Thanksgiving run.  As usual, I did encounter friends at the starting line.  Maybe I was somehow able to bring that piece of Jacksonville with me.  As I stood at the starting line, I thought about how this 5K would turn out.  Did I want to run fast?  Did I want to jog as I had originally planned to do when I was expecting to run with my daughter? Of course I chose the first option.  It sure does annoy the heck out of my husband, but I don’t know any other way.  I’m talking about my competitive nature.  I’m not exactly sure where it came from.  It didn’t flare up until recently… at least I don’t think so.  Maybe I am in denial… I’m not sure.  I guess maybe I have always been in competition with myself.

Screw it.  I will run fast.  I will try to fly past as many people (and turkeys) as I could.  What did I have to lose?  Maybe I shouldn’t have done boot camp yesterday.  Hmmm, I can barely move my arms and there is some weird pain in my rear.  Why did I do that interval run on the treadmill after boot camp?  Oh right, because I was just expecting to jog today.  Oh, and the half a pizza that I devoured (along with the greasy breadsticks) and the glass of wine (which tends to give me headaches no matter how little I drink).   Not to mention the dessert.  I didn’t lay out my clothes and gear the night before as I always do in preparation for a race.  I even ate something different from my usual waffles with peanut butter for breakfast.  Not only that, but I drank coffee!  I don’t drink coffee before any race… ever!  But remember, I assumed I would just be JOGGING.

Screw it.  I will still run fast.  If I don’t do well then at least I can say that I wasn’t prepared to really race the thing.  So, I stood there ready to rock and roll.  Without my hat that I always wear, overheated in my below 40 pants, without a recent water intake, without a bathroom trip and without my music.  Next thing I know, I was running.  I was running as fast as my throbbing legs could go.  Of course I started off too fast, but that was nothing new.  I ran down a very steep hill and couldn’t help but wonder how I would get back up that hill during the last half of a mile.  I figured that if I could just keep going at this speed then I would get it over with that much sooner… but I hadn’t even reached the first half mile yet.

Then came the turnaround (since it was an out and back).  I saw a friend from my running group (one of the super fast ones).  I was pretty close behind her.  That was good sign.  However, I knew that I would never catch up. When I looked behind me I saw the friend with the jogging stroller.  Oh crap.  I couldn’t let him catch up to me… not with a jogging stroller!  That motivated me to keep pushing as hard as I possibly could.  I was finally there… at the bottom of the hill.  I just thought about those stupid hills that surround our neighborhood.  I climb up and down those hills at least twice a week.  This should be cake in comparison.  I was pleased to pass a few more people as I clambered up the hill.  And then it hit me.  The wall. I know it doesn’t make any sense to hit a wall in a 5K, but it sure as heck felt very similar to that wall at mile 20.  I couldn’t even force myself to go faster.  I was worried that the people I had just passed would pass me now.  But I didn’t let that happen.  I used all of the strength that I had.  Even if it made me feel light-headed and nauseous.  I just knew it would be over soon.  Then I realized that I couldn’t feel my hands.  They were frozen.  How did that happen?  The rest of my body was on fire, but my hands were ice?  I must have looked like I would collapse when I finally crossed that finish line.

And wouldn’t you know it, I made second place in my age group!  Yes, second to my friend from the running group.  Don’t worry about my competitive spirit.  I am excited to run with her more because she will totally kick my butt and help me to run even faster!  And wouldn’t you also know it, I also had fun!  I know it totally sounds crazy, but kicking my own butt is actually fun for me!  Okay, maybe not in-the-moment fun, but the fun that comes after you realize what you just did!

The holiday ended on a good note.  We enjoyed our first tofurkey and apple meringue pie before settling down to a family movie.  My oldest daughter still has plenty of activities to explore.  Maybe she will be an artist, or a musician or a gymnast.  Whatever she chooses will be fine by me.  Not very many people choose running as a hobby.  Actually, I believe that running kind of chooses you.

Food!

Heidi’s homemade donuts!

I am going to side step from my dedication to old running buddies for a minute.  The holidays are fast approaching and a lot of people seem to have food on their mind.  Well, I can relate because food is always on my mind.  I really don’t like the words “binge” and “detox.”  These words seems to be flying around.  People tend to “binge” on Thanksgiving and Christmas and then “detox” when it is all over.  I know that I really don’t like over-stuffing myself.  I have never been one to eat more than I can handle at Thanksgiving.  Maybe that is because I am quite the picky eater.  I don’t like homemade stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce or green bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup.  I guess you can say that I actually end up eating like a bird.  However, I will admit that dessert is by far my favorite part of the holidays (but, you guessed it, I don’t like pumpkin pie).

As I was brushing my teeth last night, I considered what would happen if I had an injury that prevented me from doing any form of exercise.  I would probably become a giant blob.  Not that I am a bad eater (far from it actually when you compare me to most Americans), but I do have that awful obsession with pastries.  And even though I am usually involved in semi-healthy snacking (sesame crackers, bananas, berries, Kashi bars, nuts), I am a very frequent snacker.  Yep, I wouldn’t want to find out what happens if I stop exercising.

However, I don’t diet and I will not diet (and it did take me quite some time to accept this).  You know what?  I didn’t even “diet” to lose baby weight.  At least not “diet” in the way that most Americans do.  Why would I just eat protein without any carbs?  That makes absolutely no sense.  What in the world is up with the juice diets?  How can anyone just live on juice?  Obviously someone who doesn’t exercise.  I am on a pescatarian “diet”, but it is not one of those fad diets.  I just choose not to eat any meat besides seafood.  I also choose to eat mostly whole foods and limit the processed food.  And one good thing about not eating meat is that it limits restaurants.  There is no reason to go to a fast food restaurant now because most of the options include some type of meat.

Of course I am not a perfect eater (I think I already mentioned that).  I really, really love any type of baked good (unless it has pumpkin in it).  Chocolate is my favorite thing in the whole world.  Fortunately, processed baked goods are not very yummy when compared to the homemade version.  That makes it a bit easier to substitute a few healthier ingredients.  And it is kind of nice having a lactose-intolerant husband because that keeps my options limited.

My adversity to the words “binge” and “detox” stems from my mother.  Yes, she taught me how to be a runner, but she definitely didn’t leave behind any words of wisdom when it came to food.  I have her food/exercise journal that I often browse through.  The word “binge” seems to appear on quite a few pages.  On the other pages I notice how she limited her food intake during her many “detox” episodes. I suppose I am just trying to do the opposite of everything unhealthy that my mother did.  I am hoping to live beyond 44 years.

Sure, you might say that I will need to “diet” when I get older because my metabolism will slow.  Let me just tell you now that my metabolism is already slower because my thyroid can’t seem to get it right.  So, I will just look at you and shake my head.  How about just eating right all of the time?  I believe that doesn’t mean that you have to turn your nose up to unhealthy treats all of the time.  Just keep it all balanced.  These experts keep talking about a balanced diet.  That is a diet I think I can do.  Balance it with a bit of activity.

If you must know, I don’t count calories.  I do check my weight every now and then.  Gosh, it is almost funny to realize that I weigh less (and am a hundred times healthier) than I did back in my early twenties when I always seemed to be “dieting.”  Once again, I feel like I need to mention that I love scones, muffins, brownies, cupcakes and cookies!  After running 10 miles on a Saturday morning, I deserve a scone and latte!  I suppose I kind of base my eating on my activity for the day (or not).

Does all of this “non-dieting” make me an evil monster in the woman world?  Probably.  Oh well.  I can’t go a day just eating vegetables… sorry, I would have to say that I am weak in that area. Non-disciplined.  Non-motivated.  You definitely won’t find any inspiration from me.

Beer.  Beer is good.

Inspirational Motivation

Thanksgiving Day Subaru Half Marathon

Team in Training is about running for a cause.  It is about running for someone other than yourself.  You feel more dedicated to running when it is about something greater than yourself.  You get swept up in the waves of inspiration that seem to be around every corner.  Amazing families doing amazing things under tragic circumstances.  During my time with the TEAM, I met mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends of someone who had battled cancer… not to mention actual cancer survivors. Unfortunately, cancer was everywhere.  I couldn’t avoid talking about my own father’s battle with cancer, nor could I avoid listening to all of the stories of others who had faced similar fates… some not as fortunate as my father.  It was extremely sad knowing that children were also suffering from this evil disease.

I remember seeing Alan at the information meeting I attended.  I learned about his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I don’t know why, but he immediately reminded me of my own father (I told him not to be offended because my dad is still young :)).  Alan shared his stories with me as we ran together.  He became a new running buddy and I always enjoyed our conversations.  I ran that first marathon in honor of Alan and my father.  They were my inspiration to get across the finish line.

But that wasn’t the end of the inspiration.  A few months after I had completed my marathon, Alan suffered a terrible loss.  His beautiful wife, Carmen, had passed away.  I was at a loss for words.  I knew that there wasn’t anything I could do or say that would make anything better.  Yet, there was always running.  I knew a bit about running and I knew how Alan felt about running.  It was his saving grace after he had cancer.

A couple of months later, Alan made the decision to run the Never Quit 5K… a fitting race title.  He was supposed to do it with Carmen and he still kept his promise to do just that.  All I could do was say that I would be there and run by his side if he wanted me to.  So, that is what Tracey and I did.  Now, every time I look at that beautiful sea turtle pendant I think of that moment when Alan crossed the finish line as he looked up into the sky.  That was truly an inspiration.

Alan never quit despite the many obstacles he had faced.  I would often see him at group runs and he even talked me into doing an overnight relay for another great cause.  Sometimes injuries prevented him from running, but Alan would always come back.  He is definitely a fighter and I admire him for that.  Sure, Alan wasn’t as fast as me back then, but I hear he will be passing me soon!  Somehow that tough guy has managed to surprise even his own doctors with that determination!  Alan was the running buddy that I could always talk to about anything.  I truly miss that.