1. I coughed so I must be getting sick and should rest.
  2. It’s too cold out.
  3. It’s too warm out.
  4. It’s too _____ out.
  5. The dogs will give me a guilt trip for not playing with them.
  6. I don’t have any clean workout clothes.
  7. I just did laundry and I don’t want to dirty anything right away.
  8. Did I hear donuts calling my name?
  9. I don’ wanna (said in my best, whiny, toddler voice)
  10. My horoscope said that it might be dangerous to lift anything heavy today.
  11. But there’s a marathon of Law and Order on TV!  I’m sure that’ll never happen again!
  12. My blog isn’t going to write itself.
  13. I’ve just gained the trust of my bed and hate to endanger that trust by leaving.
  14. The sun will make me squint too much and give me wrinkles.
  15. Right after I clear the next few levels of Candy Crush….
  16. It’s such a good hair day that I hate to ruin it by sweating.
  17. It just seems like so much…. work.
  18. There’s no one else home and I’m afraid that I might accidentally get pinned down by a barbell.
  19. My chakras would revolt.
  20. I’m trying to conserve energy in the event of a zombie attack.
  21. I’ve got a very important appointment with my couch that I must keep.
  22. Girl Scout cookies are in season again and I’d hate to be rude and not answer the door when they come calling.
  23. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!
  24. I need to immediately start working on my new year’s resolution to get more sleep.
  25. I’m testing out the theory that a watched pot never boils.

Of course, for every 25 reasons for not working out, there’s always one good one in support of getting your sweat on: that feeling of accomplishment and badass-ness you get from taking on the world and coming out victorious. And that trumps those 25 excuses any day.

What’s your favorite perfectly acceptable reason for not working out?

The merciless sun was beating down and sweat was pouring down my face. My feet were blocks of cement strapped to the stumps of my legs, and I wanted nothing more than to lay down on my back, smack dab in the middle of Michigan Avenue, hoping that I wouldn’t get run over. Instead, I just kept muttering an insipid Nike slogan to myself, “Don’t suck. Just do it.”.

Of course, I assume that I wasn’t the only person out there feeling that way: after all, it was mile 23 of the Chicago Marathon. It was perfect spectating weather — mid 70’s and sunny — which meant that it was not exactly great marathon weather (the sunburn I’d have at day’s end would attest to that fact).

But, let me start at the beginning. It was October 2011 and this was my fourth marathon, my third Chicago Marathon. After each marathon, I always swore that this would be the last. Really, the last one! Honest! But then, as the agony of the last marathon faded, it would be replaced by the angst of the unsettled score I had with the distance: the completion of a sub-4 hour marathon. And that’s how I got to be in the middle of Michigan Avenue, ready to pass out, looking as if I were on a death march.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t go sub-4 hour. My finish time was 4:09:40, just a little bit over what I had wanted, but it didn’t matter — I was ecstatic. And the whole experience taught me lessons that I’d do well to keep in mind:

Training matters
Every day, there was something I had to do and I had to want it more than I wanted that cookie or to sleep in. And going against everything I thought I knew to be true about myself, I trained, trained hard and kept at it with a consistency that I didn’t think I had in me. No matter what anyone says, the hard goals in life require dogged preparation.  

If it were easy, everyone would do it
Sure, there were 45,000 other runners around me, but still over 2.6 million people just in the city of Chicago that weren’t doing it because they didn’t think they could. Hard goals separate you from the crowd.

When the going gets tough, the tough just keep plodding along
There were parts of the marathon that just flew by, like the early miles when my biggest worry was whether I was running too fast or if I should have Gatorade at this water stop or the next. And then there were the other 24 miles where just about every cell in my body wanted to quit, but even still there were those few rebel cells in my body that whispered, “Just a few more steps…” over and over. Just move forward — that’s all that counts.

The finish line is the shizz
I made the left turn onto Columbus Avenue and saw the finish line banner up ahead, waving in the breeze. I saw the time clock, sadly past 4 hours, but not yet hitting 4:10. I unearthed 45 seconds of what felt like sprinting (in reality, um, yea, not so much) and crossed the finish line, arms raised in triumph, hearing the announcer say my name. And with that, I fell to my knees, simultaneously laughing and sobbing, and was just so damn relieved that it was over (side note: there’s no better way to attract cute EMTs than to fall over after running a marathon).

There’s no better feeling than being proud of yourself and your effort
After assuring the EMTs that I really was okay, I could feel the sense of accomplishment and fierce pride spread through me. I did it. I really, truly did it. Perhaps I hadn’t hit my 4 hour goal, but I had trained as hard as I knew how and I didn’t quit out on the course, not once. I knew that I had pushed as hard as was possible and that feeling, well, there’s just nothing like it.

And that’s really the main takeaway from all this: I can do whatever I want and anything is possible. All it takes is commitment and consistency and the deep down desire to get it. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. Any goal is just a marathon in disguise.

2014 has come and gone in a flash — isn’t that always the way? Like Gretchen Rubin says, “The days are long but the years are short”. So true.

2014 was a good year.  Sure, there are definitely some goals that I didn’t hit, but overall it’s been a fun year. I feel like I’m settling more into being true to myself and overall I’m FAR less concerned about what people think of who that person is.  I’ve taken a few awesome trips, discovered the joy of learning how to balance on a slackline and even started teaching myself a few things about web design — a few of the many things accomplished during 2014 and only a fraction of things for which I am grateful.

And what’s on the docket for 2015?  You’ll notice that anything weight/fitness related is conspicuously absent from the list — it’s easy enough to say that I want to lose weight and get into shape, but I’m still not positive what form that will take, so I’ve decided to just leave my options open. But, that’s not going to stop me from making my annual list.  I mean, what would January 1st be without resolutions?

2015:  The Year of Growth

Meditate every day  I know.  I know!  I’m a little afraid to commit this idea to (virtual) paper, but it’s now been 17 days that I’ve done it (going through the program at headspace.com) and I’m strangely enjoying it.  I still don’t know exactly what benefit I’m getting out of the practice, but somewhere deep inside, I feel like this might be key to something important. If nothing else, it gives me a block of time to be mindful and relaxed and grateful.
Read 50 books  Upping my last year’s goal by 150% and would like to split it about evenly between fiction and non-fiction. Along with this — recording each book read on Goodreads.  I really love to be able to see exactly what books I’ve read and what I thought of them.
Go through all classes on codecademy.com  I just never make enough time for this but I really do want to learn these skills.  This is one of those hobbies that once I start doing it, time just flies. There’s something about creating and coding that gives me a confidence and pleasure that I don’t get in many other places.
Keep journaling daily — and read through the corresponding entry from a year ago  This is a continuation from last year; definitely something worth doing.
Teach old dogs new tricks  Gotta keep the dogs stimulated and mentally sharp, Clarke especially.  Belle gets a fair amount of physical exercise (we play fetch where I stand on the main floor of the house and throw the ball up to the 2nd floor loft), but Clarke is a lazy butt (and also seems to spend a lot of time all gimped up) and so learning new tricks is a great way to tire him out and keep him learning new stuff.
Digitize my life as much as possible  Bills, photos, any type of paperwork — it’s all about getting organized and removing clutter.  And can’t forget to also implement a backup scheme!
Complete the 30 Days of Writing online  Sarah Peck is starting a One Month of Writing Prompts — 750 words a day for a month — and I’m all signed up.  It’s free and I’m hoping that it gets me back into the habit of writing every day.  I avoid writing sometimes just because it’s hard … but I know (full well) that the more often I do it, the easier it becomes.  Funny how so many things in life are like this.
Focus on self-care — whole foods, good sleep, good sweat and practicing gratitude on a daily basis  I need to give more importance to my physical and emotional well-being.  If I can’t keep my eyes open, if I’m not getting fresh food and I’m not paying attention to the moments that happen every day to be thankful for, then I’m not being kind to the most important person in my life.