Posts filed under ‘morale boosters’
In less than a week after doing the Muddy Buddy Race, I competed in Scale the Strat 2010. This is a charity event, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, so I had a raise a minimum of $250… and climb 108 floors or 1,455 stairs. It was the ultimate validating event for someone who climbs stairs as part of her regular workout regimen. My concern was that I didn’t know how I’d do climbing continuously. I only have 6 floors in my building, so I always have some built-in recovery time when I come down. The Strat doesn’t afford that luxury. It’s all the way straight up. I was even more daunted when I learned I couldn’t listen to music.
When the day came, I did it in 17:43 minutes, using the “turtle method”: slow and steady with no jogging or two-at-a-time stairs. I was BEYOND proud of myself. It was such a tremendous accomplishment, another huge first for me. I am already looking forward to next year. 🙂
Earlier this month, I did something unprecedented: I competed in two athletic events in less than a week. Me! The girl who was only ever picked to be anchor for tug-o-war!!
The first was the Muddy Buddy Race. Teams of two traverse a 6-7 mile off-road course and 5 obstacles. At the start of the race, one team member runs and one rides the bike. At the 1st obstacle, the rider drops the bike, completes the obstacle, and begins running. The runner arrives, completes the obstacle, finds their bike and begin riding. Teams continue leapfrogging each other through the entire course. At the end of the race, racers crawl through the infamous Mud Pit crossing the finish line together as official “Muddy Buddies”!
It was one of the most fun and exhilarating things I’ve ever done, and I’m still in awe of myself for finding out about it, finding a partner, and doing it… all within the space of three weeks. Something brand new and daunting… but I didn’t let that hold me back. I just did it! I’ve become my own Nike commercial!! LOL 🙂
I was feeling glum, distinctly ho-hum. I did NOT want to do my stairs. My stairs are only one component of my workout regimen, so I can get away with not doing them. However, my Scale the Strat is coming up on March 13th, so it’s critical that I keep up my “training” for that event.
All of a sudden, the motto “Do it and then feel it” popped into my head. I got off my stability ball, changed out of my suit jacket, and proceeded to do 20 sets of stairs: 1520 up and 1520 down, for a lovely grand total of 3,040 stairs.
The endorphins are flowing, and I do, indeed, feel it now. Yay!
My Honey and I had a fabulous homecoming from his disappointing and scary motorcycle race, and my mum’s husband is out of the hospital and doing well.
I started an intense and highly selective leadership program, and we just returned from a very fun camping trip with friends… our first camping experience as a married couple and in the rain. Nothin’ like snugglin’ up with your man while the thunder booms overhead and lightning flashes through the mesh windows.
I enjoyed the healthy stuff I brought for the trip, but I also indulged in some goodies brought by others: Oreos, Doritos and homemade s’mores, which we managed to cook over a damp fire in between rain showers. I talked to my girlfriend a little about my weight gain and how I’ve been struggling for several months being 7 or so pounds up. She said she couldn’t tell, which was nice… made even nicer by the fact that she’s extremely direct and would tell me straight up if she felt otherwise. It was nice, along with being away from the computer and cell phone access, not to have a scale around and not to keep track of every morsel. I felt free to just be me and do what I wanted to do with some moderating.
Returning to the real world this afternoon, I picked up the mail and found the latest issue of “More” magazine. Candace Bushnell’s column really resonated. Titled “Why I’m a beauty scrooge”, it details why she is against cosmetic surgery. She relates a story in which, earlier in life, she’s offered a half-price boob job. Even with a huge discount, she couldn’t afford it, and she realized she was “…just going to have to soldier on” with her “…grossly imperfect body”.
That is EXACTLY how I feel on most days: that I am soldiering on with a grossly imperfect body. It was wonderful to read that Candace Bushnell, an extremely successful writer and a “cougar” with a much younger boyfriend, has felt this way for years. As she says, the message is “change your looks, and you can change your life”.
Here’s the funny thing, though. I have done that! I have drastically changed my looks, and I have drastically changed my life. It’s actually pretty darned amazing. The life I’m living now is one I never even dreamed of. It’s miraculous to me. I am doing things personally and professionally that are exciting and challenging and notable. I am making a difference in my community, and going on adventures, big and small, with my new husband. My life has a surreal quality.
Yet, I am still “soldiering on” when it comes to my looks. There are days – after I see myself on TV or after I see a Facebook picture of a friend in a bikini who never let herself get fat and then had to fix it – that I am utterly devastated by what I see in the mirror… so much so that the urge to hide in the closet is nearly irresistible. But, I soldier on, knowing that I cannot discount the love of my man by dissing what he sees as beautiful… knowing that my contribution to work is based on my skills and attitude, not my face or body shape… knowing that my support and appreciation of my friends and family has nothing to do with the size of my jeans.
I hope to get past the soldiering. It’s admirable but tiresome, and in my case, it’s wasteful of valuable energy. It helps me live life fully, bringing me a kind of stubborn resolve to try that new thing “in spite of”, but it takes a toll at the same time, leeching joy and peace.
Instead, I hope to be able to truly embrace my transformation and appreciate its significance now… and what it will lead to in the future that I can’t yet see. I guess I’ll keep soldiering on toward that goal.
The first picture is of a pose that I think is called The Lady. It doesn’t look like much, but holding on by your thighs and one hand is challenging. Normally, you lean your head back and arch your hips up more than I am in this pic. We wanted to show my face. My hips need to be arched more, but I’m close on this one. As with the strength holds I describe below, it has taken me several months to develop the muscular ability to do this pose. It’s deceptive, as is much of pole work.
Another part of what we do in pole class are strength holds: poses that build our strength so we can do more maneuvers on the pole. They are much harder to do than they look. It took me several months to be able to do these two poses. I could never hold them for any length of time. So, I’m really thrilled at the progress I’ve made. 🙂
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am sharing a couple of pictures from a party I hosted a few months ago. My mum made me this delightful Candy Heart scarf, and naturally, I had to use it as a table runner. It was too pretty to be wrapped around my neck while I ran in and out of work in the chill. It needed to be revealed to the world – or at least to visitors to our place – in all its goofy glamour. The thing I like best about the scarf is the words she chose for the hearts. The word “piglet” is split into two hearts; it was the nickname she gave me when I was little. She still sometimes calls me Piglet today!
The scarf worked perfectly with the colorful Chinese takeout boxes of cookies and polka-dotted bowls of dip I served at the party. I love color; it makes me smile to see vibrant groupings like this. Fabulously festive fun!
We’re always hearing about how bad stress is for us. And, considering what extreme stress does to the body – “…headaches, stomach pain, high blood pressure, insomnia, and mind freeze…” – it’s understandable that we’re not encouraged to embrace it.
But can stress actually help us, rather than just hurting? Turns out, it can.
In reasonable amounts, stress can make you more alert. The “fight or flight” hormones and other stress-induced hormones heighten your senses, speeding up your heartbeat, improving your brain’s blood flow and improving vision and hearing. These hormones can even strengthen your immune system and prevent age-related memory loss by increasing brain cell activity. All this can serve to help you get more stuff done when you need to.
It can be hard to find the balance between good-for-you levels of stress and a harmful state of agitation, but you can learn where the tipping point is and utilize a variety of techniques to keep yourself on the right side of the line.
Having some degree of control – or thinking you do – generates more beneficial stress hormones. Even if you don’t have control, you can fool your brain into thinking you do. Choose not to respond to a certain stressor. Don’t check e-mail, for example, except at designated times. Or, work on other areas of your life over which you do have control, particularly if you’re good at whatever it is. Do something meaningful, like volunteering or donating or helping a friend in a difficult situation.
Taking time to pause also helps keep stress at positive levels. That’s often easier said than done, but when you force yourself to stop and breathe deeply, you often recognize which situations are beyond your control and which ones you can do something about. Pausing keeps you from letting your anxiety spiral into an unchecked panic attack. Ask yourself, too, if your immediate response to the situation is going to make things better or worse. Are you generalizing about your role in whatever is causing you stress?
Limiting perfectionist tendencies is important, too. Perfectionism is unrealistic and sets up unreasonable expectations that lead to unnecessary stress.
Believe it or not, a little bit of stress acts almost like a stress vaccine. If you’ve never experienced a stressful situation, you may fall completely apart when it happens, not being able to handle the surge of hormones flooding it. Having survived some stressful times means that your body is prepared to deal with its biological response when something negative occurs.
And, as we all know, exercising is a terrific way to manage stress. Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel good” mood boosters. Benefits typically kick in about an hour after you’ve worked out.
So, when you’re feeling stressed, don’t automatically assume it’s a bad thing. Remember that stress can be beneficial when it’s kept at manageable levels and use all the techniques at your disposal to make the most of it.