Becoming Okay With Being Uncomfortable

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Me running up Mountainwood at the Cotton Row 10K. I’m proud every time I make it to the top without walking. (Photo Credit: Gregg Gelmis and We Run Huntsville)

I am a complete-er, not a compete-er. That’s my motto. My goal at any event is to always finish happy. That’s it.

That said…I firmly believe there’s no progress in fitness if you can’t accept being uncomfortable periodically. Yesterday is a prime example. It was “personal challenge day” at boot camp. That’s a day where we do a set of exercises to repeat again in 3 weeks to check our progress. But yesterday? I was feeling like crap. My endometriosis was causing me all sorts of pain and I was bloated and I didn’t sleep well so I was tired and just all around miserable. So, every exercise I wanted to half-ass it. And I had every right to do that.

But, I didn’t.

Because – no matter how fit you are – progress is made in the moments where you push yourself beyond where you want to be.

Now, I’m not talking about those stupid motivational images on Facebook with the beautiful girl and the tan skin and muscles running up the mountain looking prettier as she sweats than I do showered in full makeup. Or the toned girl in the sports bra lifting the heavy bar and showing off her minimal body fat. No. None of us are ever going to be that girl. I’m talking about pushing yourself to do as many line sprints as possible when you’re cramping. Doing one extra pushup than you did last time. Running for 30 seconds more on your run interval, or cutting your walk break 10 seconds shorter. It all boils down to taking that one realistic step past where you want to be. If we don’t ever take that one step into the zone of DISCOMFORT, we will never move ahead.

And I pushed myself to that level three times yesterday.

I did Body Pump later in the day because I haven’t done it in over a week and I had a class yesterday fall during some free time. I decided it was time to go up 1lb on my dumbbells for the shoulder work on this track. ONE POUND. I went from using 6lb dumbbells to 7lb dumbbells. And that ONE POUND? It pushed me outside my comfort zone and into the zone where I have to make that annoying exhale sound with every front raise. But I knew that if I didn’t do it – I would just settle into the 6lb “easy” routine and not make any progress in strength. So, as much as I hated not being able to do the whole track (had to take longer breaks with the heavier weights) I knew that those few minutes outside my comfort zone meant progress.

And my run yesterday. 5 miles in the heat of the day…90 degrees. I was so miserable by mile 1.5 I just wanted to stop. But, I pushed myself. Because I have to get used to running in the heat if I’m going to keep to my schedule in the Fall like I did last year. Ultras and Marathons. And to be there I need to be doing 25’ish miles a week during the summer. Which means I gotta SUCK UP THE DISCOMFORT. I wanted to stop and walk with every step. So, instead, I gave myself 2 walk breaks. I never take walk breaks on a flat 5-mile run. But I did yesterday – TWICE. But I did it – I ran the 5 miles even after changing my mind and opting for a shorter distance about 400 times during the first half of the run.

Progress isn’t about how far you run, or how much you lift. It’s not about how fast you run or how many squats you can do. It’s about taking those tiny steps into the zone of discomfort on a regular basis until that zone becomes part of your comfort zone. Doing a 45-second plank instead of a 30-second plank until that 45-second plank is no longer difficult. Those first steps into that area are always the toughest. They zap you mentally AND physically. But in the end? It’s totally worth the effort.

Personal Record For The Cotton Row 10K!

It’s time for the obligatory Post Cotton Row 10K post that I seem to be making a habit out of here on this blog. The first time I ran the 10K was in 2011 and I trained quite hard for it and was TERRIFIED. My time was 1:01:49 and I was so proud of that time I almost cried. Then, I ran it again last year and hoped to maybe come in under an hour. I finished in 57:24. And again, I was so proud I almost cried.

This year? I had no idea what to expect. My recent attempts at speed made me think that maybe I should just hope to come in under an hour. It’s normal that I not be as fast as I used to be since I don’t do speedwork anymore, so I really didn’t think I could beat last year’s time. However, I also knew not to stop myself from at least trying. So, I set out hoping to hold a 9:30 pace for the first 3 miles (which are all uphill), run up Mountainwood (super-steep hill in the middle of the race) and then try to speed up the back half as I ran the easier, downhill part of the course.

Well, I felt great the first 3 miles going a little bit faster average than 9:30. I spent a bit following someone I thought was a friend who was not and by the time I got to the mega-hill I was a tiny bit under my goal. I realized that if I could keep all of the back half of the course under a 9-minute pace, I could maybe beat last year’s time. Well? I did better than that. I did mile 4 in 9:13, and that mile included the hill so I looked at the data and after the hill I actually went a big chunk of that mile in under an 8-minute pace! I did mile 5 in 8:07 and miles 6 in 8:29. I knew I was coming really close to finishing in under 56 minutes and that became my home-stretch goal. I came close – 56:03. A course PR for me by over a minute. I felt FANTASTIC.

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Now that I’ve got all of that out of the way? I have to tell you the kicker. Now – this is for all of you girls out there. This is probably TMI for your boys, so feel free to stop reading now. But you girls? I want to tell you the most impressive part. Today? Was the worst day of my cycle. And with my endometriosis that means my cramps were severe and my bleeding was hemorrhagic. I had to do the race with double protection to keep accidents from happening. IT WAS AWFUL. I mean…AWFUL. I don’t want to give you the gory details in case any boys stuck around this far, but just know that I have never experience chaffing like I experienced today due to the need for extra protection during the race.

So, the fact that I PR’d on top of that mess? Earned me several beers and a lot of junk food tonight. And I’m totally not even going to feel guilty about it.

My Dearest, Most Amazing, Most Hilarious, Oldest Child,

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Holy F*ckballs. Today you graduate from high school.

You like that? I threw that f-bomb in there just for you. I don’t use it often but I know when I do you think I sound ridiculous so that one’s for you. When they call your name tonight I’ll scream “WAY TO GO M*THERF*CKER!!!!” just to see if I can get kicked out of the arena. I want your graduation day to be memorable, you see.

BUT SERIOUSLY.

Sometimes I wonder that I talk about how awesome you are so often that you’ve become desensitized to it. Yeah…there goes my Mom again…talking about how wonderful I am…whatevs. But other times I worry that maybe I talk about it to Donnie, and to my friends, and on my blog, and Facebook…but how often do I tell you? So, I guess your graduation day is as good as any.

This year you’ve really shown me how ready you are to be an adult. You faced some big challenges, had to make some big decisions, and deal with the results of the decisions. And you did all of it with way more maturity than I show in the face of conflict at age 37. You did your first non-school play. You got your first real job. You worked that real job for more than 30 hours during your exam week. AND YOU LIVED TO TELL THE TALE. You still step up and take care of your brother and sister when we need you to. You still tolerate me sitting on your couch and eating a bowl of cereal and talking about my day.

(Sidenote: I first typed “eating a bowel of cereal” which I think may be the most hilarious and disgusting typo ever.)

And holy donkey balls, you’re hysterical. I have you listed on my “favorites” list on Twitter alongside Hank and John Green, Colonel Chris Hadfield, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Grace Helbig. Your tweets are always my favorite of my favorites. I literally laughed out loud at this one and wanted to tell everyone at the ballfield about it. But then I realized that would be weird.

You have introduced me to some of my greatest loves, not the least being the aforementioned “Favorites” on Twitter. For starters – you showed me Tumblr. It’s like you gave me my teenage room back and a new copy of Teen Beat every day to cut up and plaster on the walls. Tumblr has allowed me to continue being the Giggly Fangirl for all things Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Whedon, and even my first every You Tube Fiction Addiction: The Lizzy Bennet Diaries. Thank you for helping me maintain my status as the dorkiest girl around. And then there’s YouTube where I fell in love with many others besides Grace Helbig. There’s Tyler Oakley, and Mamrie Hart and of course…the Vlogbrothers.

Speaking of the Vlogbrothers, John Green is probably the best thing you introduced me to. And it took me so long to listen to you! Why????? But I did. Finally. And my life will never bee the same. I know own t-shirts and posters graced with his words and I watch his videos and hope to some day be at a book signing so I can tell him, “You give me a constant connection point with my oldest child. And for that? I thank you.”

My point in all this? Who in the HELL is going to keep me up to speed when you’re at college? I mean…your sister only watches “Kickin’ It” and your brother only watches “Power Rangers” so I’ve got my teen fighting shows covered, but beyond that? What am I going to do? You have to text me the cool stuff you’re discovering while you’re at Montevallo. Especially considering that campus seems full of my kind of people. I mean – I saw no less than 4 million people wearing Doctor Who shirts when we visited. Keep me in the loop with those people!

Congratulations for surviving your first 12 years of school. But mostly? Congratulations for surviving life to this point. I am so proud of the man you’ve become and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I had faced half of the struggles you did in my teen years? I would not have shown as much grace or strength as you did. I definitely wouldn’t have worked during exam week. THAT SHIT WAS BANANAS. But you amaze me in every way. I’m so proud of everything you’ve done this year and I know I’ll continue being proud of everything you do in the future.

You graduate tonight with intelligence, but more importantly than that, you graduate with wisdom. And and compassionate heart. And a well-tested funny bone. And an amazing head of hair.

I love you. I’ll be the one scream-crying, “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” tonight when they call your name.

Love you,
Mom

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Yes. It says “Graduation” on my calendar.

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In case you are unaware, my boot camp is four weeks on, one week off. That’s how the schedule works. And when I first realized our week off was going to be the week between Wes and E’s graduation, I thought perfect! But then I ate all of the food in all of the city from stress and now I’m thinking…not so perfect.

Did you see what I did there? So subtly mentioned the one thing I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about? E graduates tomorrow. TOMORROW. And the 19 million things going on in my life for the last two weeks have piled onto that little graduation fact and have turned me into the most Eatingest of all the Stress Eaters in the ENTIRE WORLD. The things I’ve done to food in my kitchen this week should be recorded in some sort of manual entitled: How To Spot Someone Emotionally Addicted To Food.

It has NOT been pretty.

Add all of those calories on top of no boot camp and you can imagine how I’m feeling about my body. I did run on Tuesday. And I will run this morning. But I’ve done no strength training at all this week. I usually do boot camp 3 times and BODYPUMP twice. This week? I’ve run one time. ONE TIME.

So – not only am I stress eating like there’s no tomorrow, but I’m also not doing the one thing that sometimes helps me relieve stress: Exercising.

And yes, I know this is dumb. Logically I know I need to put down the box of crackers and the tub of peanut butter and do some pushups. But all I can think about is my task list, my out-of-town guests, and my BABY GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL. WAAAAHHHHH!

But I’m going to run today! And maybe do some simple strength training in the form of this 7-minute workout. It’s not a 60-minute BODYPUMP class, but I think I can find 7 minutes somewhere to do some of this stuff. Then, maybe, when I think about graduation TOMORROW, I won’t go straight for the freezer.

Pardon The Mess

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Part 1 – The redesign of my website.

Please don’t tell me you hate it. Okay? I know you hate it. Everyone always hates a redesign. It’s just the given nature of managing content on the internet.

(Sidenote: I don’t always hate a redesign. I do – however – HATE the new flickr dashboard. Simply because now I can’t find anything. It looks great for people who are real photographers managing their beautiful portfolios. But if you use flickr like a photo storage center like I do? It now is IMPOSSIBLE to navigate. BLARGH.)

I have had the same design here for several years and it never really served the purpose I had originally wanted it to serve. I wanted it to motivate me to write about various topics – hence the different category features at the bottom. BUT I NEVER DID THAT. So, those little spots stayed the same ALWAYS. Defeating the whole purpose of the design.

So, I decided to implement something a little sleeker. A little cleaner. A little simpler.

It will take me a week or so to work out the kinks. Be patient with me. If anything isn’t working how you expect please let me know. If you hate it? Please don’t let me know.

Part 2: The redesign of my career.

I’m doing tons of design and development with WordPress lately and it’s making me want to play around with some newer elements on the platform and with some newer plugins. This new design will allow me to do that. I love my new job and I really feel like it’s expanding my knowledge more than my last 5 years of web work. This means that I’m a lot happier about my professional life than I ever was before. It’s amazing how being satisfied professionally changes so many aspects of your life. Seriously. If I could do this full-time I’d be completely happy. I’m hoping to be able to someday, but for right now I’ll just enjoy the hours this new opportunity gives me.

Unfortunately for you, that means I may periodically tinker with things around here and you may often hate that. I’m apologizing in advance.

Part 3: The redesign of my home office.

The WiFi was only working in half of our house (long story) and my laptop died a sad death (even longer story) so I ended up “temporarily” moving my desktop setup to our sitting room which hasn’t had furniture in it for awhile because we moved it all upstairs in the main den for our last party.

Y’all? I LOVE WORKING IN THIS ROOM. My old office doesn’t have windows and it’s shut off from the rest of the house. This seems ideal in theory, but now that I’m working out in the main area? This is SO MUCH BETTER. I can pay attention to the kids and the dog easier, I can see the outdoors, and I have tons of space whereas my office is about an 8×8 room. So, while this was supposed to be temporary? It is totally not. I love working in this room. And while I think Donnie may hate having an office out in the main spot of our home? For now? He’s sucking it up because it’s making me much more productive. And also? I get to enjoy all of the Zoot Decor I put in this room in the first place. It’s totally my space now and I’m loving it.