This is Accountability Sunday where I look at the past week and how much work I did towards my goals and then set some goals for the coming week. Interested in joining me? You, too, can have some public accountability: just go to the accountability spreadsheet and put in your goals for the coming week. The goals can be fitness-related, health-related, work-related or anything else that you care to track. It’s not about competition, it’s just about putting your goals out there and then assessing how you did.

Okay – I’ll admit it right from the start – I missed last week’s Accountability Sunday. Go ahead, flog me, berate me, yell at me … just keep in mind that I cry easily. And your Mom wouldn’t like it if you made me cry.

And here are my excuses:

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A gorgeous (too short part of a) day in Zion National Park. Unrelentingly uphill and uncompromisingly beautiful.

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Fantastically fun family get together in Vegas — look at how well-behaved we all are!

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A trail race in Indianapolis that made my sides hurt both from the race and all the laughing I did with my friends. Plus a snow globe for a medal. Can’t beat that.

A weekend ago I was gallivanting in the wild west. A family get together in Vegas was the perfect reason to head out a night early to spend a few quality hours in Zion National Park; I immediately fell in love with southern Utah and plan to move there as soon as I’m independently wealthy and can afford to retire from my job. Then, this past weekend I was in Indianapolis getting together with friends to celebrate and birthday with a quarter marathon on the Eagle Creek trails. We’re a masochistic bunch, what can I say? Even not being trained for the distance (or the terrain!), it was such fun and I’m glad I was there.

Because of my globe-trotting ways, I didn’t really have set goals this past week, instead, more of a just a vague idea of what I wanted to get done. And, with the exception of the race, I did a good job at completely ignoring those vague ideas. It was a rough work week and I felt pretty happy just to make it from Vegas through work to Indy in one mostly sane piece.

More on the race later. More on Zion later. Promise.

But for now, back to real life and getting things done the way I ought to.

Goals for this week

  • 14 total miles (6 mile long run). I’ll need a day or two of recovery from the trail run — my body is pretty sore. I’m tweaking the half marathon training a little; this is supposed to be a rest week, but I intend on doing a number of short runs to keep my legs going and then a moderate long run.
  • Two strength training sessions
  • Walk at least a mile every day (running counts for this)
  • Write 3 blog posts (aren’t you guys lucky!?)
  • Celebrate my birthday in style without going (too) overboard

I’ve had two absolutely fantastic weekends of hanging out and catching up with friends and family — I’m a homebody by nature, but it was so good to connect and see everyone. Reminds me of how incredibly blessed I am for all the wonderful people in my life!

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

Okay, here’s where I admit how incredibly lazy I am. Like, totally, without a doubt, undeniably lazy. I found potatoes that are washed and bagged, ready to pop into the microwave. Take them out, smash them up a bit, add some butter and garlic salt and VOILA! you have awesome smashed potatoes. So good, so easy! And yes, I realize that for substantially less money, I could buy potatoes, wash them and clean them and microwave them with the same outcome. But that wouldn’t be nearly as easy. Trust me on this.

 


This is Accountability Sunday where I look at the past week and how much work I did towards my goals and then set some goals for the coming week. Interested in joining me? You, too, can have some public accountability: just go to the accountability spreadsheet and put in your goals for the coming week. The goals can be fitness-related, health-related, work-related or anything else that you care to track. It’s not about competition, it’s just about putting your goals out there and then assessing how you did.

2000px-MW-Icon-CheckMark.svgAnother week gone — and it was a busy one for me as I talked about yesterday. My focus definitely shifted to work-related things (blah) and a lot of other commitments fell to the wayside. It’s been awhile since it’s been like this, so I can’t really complain too much (though I’ll still complain), but it really did throw me off my game. I’m glad — and a little surprised — to say that I got back on track before the week ended. That’s a good sign for this slacker who will take advantage of most any excuse to bail from hard workouts.

Last Week’s Goals

  • 6 mile long run — 10k in the books! On the treadmill, since winter has decided to come back and I was too much of a wuss to handle mid-teen’s temperatures. And I’ll say this: even though treadmill running is easier, this run was still tough. But I’m proud of myself for getting it done. It was close to being axed because I really did have a legitimate work excuse to get out of it.
  • Run 14 miles — managed 14.65 miles, if you can believe it. 2.80 miles were hiking because after not running all week, doing my long run on Saturday and then still having 2.15 miles to go, Sunday was not going to see me running. And since my next race (in two weeks!! AAAACK!) is a trail run with a lot of hills, I figure this is good training.
  • Strength train twice — done! And more effort than last week. The knot in my back has finally released (mostly).
  • Track weight — down 2.9 pounds … basically I’m back where I started. More importantly, I had sidetracked myself but righted the ship, to mix metaphors. Failures teach lessons and starting back up builds resilience. It’s all good.

This Week’s Goals

  • I’m supposed to run 15 miles (7 mile long run) and this will be an aspirational goal, and will not necessarily reflect what happens. I’ll be heading to Zion National Park for a day and then a weekend in Vegas with family, which will be non-stop fun fun fun which probably won’t translate to run run run!
  • Track weight because the saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” certainly was not referring to weight gained.
  • That’s all. Don’t you remember me mentioning Vegas just a few bullet points ago?

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

I randomly thought about my compression calf sleeves (they were packed away with my “I’m a real runner” gear) and used them for my long run. Whether it be science or just placebo effect, my legs really did feel better. I have achilles tendinitis that flares quite often and while the sleeves didn’t make the run easier, they did seem to make it a little less painful. I’ll take that any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

For the last week, I’ve spent most of my waking hours living and breathing virtualization. Server virtualization, to be slightly more specific. To explain server virtualization in a nutshell (because I know you can’t help but what to know), there’s one physical server that you can see and touch and throw in the river when it starts misbehaving. That physical server will then run many virtual servers. These virtual servers only think they have a physical hard drive and memory; in reality, these virtual servers are completely made from imagination and the resources of the physical server.

I know, I know — I don’t mean to go all geek on you (and for any geeks out there, yes, I realize that my explanation isn’t entirely correct … just loosen up and go with it, okay?). But hang with me because I’m getting to a point, a non-geeky point, I promise.

First, a very short primer on the physical server and the virtual servers it hosts:

So, this one physical server can spin up many virtual servers. If the physical server has more resources than what all the virtual servers demand, then life is good. There’s resources to spare and all the virtual servers get everything they need.

Spin up a few more virtual servers, and then physical server starts to sweat a little. It’s time to start divvying up resources on an as-needed basis. Maybe virtual server #1 is doing nothing but hosting files and isn’t working too hard, so the physical server will take some resources from there and give it to virtual server #2 that’s taking care of email — am I the only one who thinks email is evil? — and all the servers are happy.

Then, a few more virtual servers are added. Uh, oh. Now the physical server looks like a circus act giving and taking back resources faster than the virtual servers can even make use of them. No servers are happy, no servers are getting anything done. Everything comes to a gridlocked standstill.

In the midst of all this, I realized that I’m just like that physical server (see, I told you I’d get to my point eventually). I’ve got a certain amount of resources — time, energy, motivation — and things to devote these resources to. If I have only a few of these things in my life, it’s all great. I’ve got resources to spare! That means that I’m getting 8 hours of sleep every night, I’m happy and content with what I’m doing and my activities are thriving because of the attention that I’m able to give to them.

But then, I add a few more things on. Perhaps I pick up mountain biking. Or coding. Or anything else that takes up time and energy. I’m probably still okay. Maybe each activity in my life isn’t getting everything they want at every instant, but I’m able to make decisions about what’s important at any given time. Perhaps today it’s sunny and 70 degrees and gorgeous out — time to go running or biking! Or maybe I had a great idea about something to write about — time to stay in a peck away at the computer for awhile. But all in all, it’s good and I’m not so busy that I can’t get things done.

Until, of course, I keep adding new activities to the list without giving up any of the other ones. That’s pretty bad news — I just don’t have the resources to do anything well and trying just makes me stressed out. I’ll lose sleep, I’ll run around like someone with ADHD on Red Bull and I’ll always feel like I’m not doing enough.

The point of all this … managing resources, whether it’s memory, CPU and hard disk or time, energy and motivation is where it’s at. I’ve felt that keenly this week as I’ve really tried to Do All The Things and have failed miserably. I got cranky and stressed, didn’t get nearly enough sleep and still didn’t really get anything done. Strike three and I’m out.

I admit, it was kind of a weird moment when I stopped, cocked my head just like Belle does when she’s confused about what stupid human thing I’m doing, and realized that I’m just like a computer, except without the good memory. And without the ability to schedule resources as rationally as a computer could. Which is how I got to the point where I was trying to fit in working, doing off-hours work to study up for a certification exam, trying to fit in training, writing every day, finishing up the library books that were getting egregiously overdue and, you know, eating and sleeping all into an inconveniently-short 24-hour day.

I’m lucky in a way — this past week was more of an anomaly for me– but for so many, this is just normal life. It’s like busyness has become a sort of status symbol, where we’re always trying to one-up people: “Oh, you get 5 hours of sleep a night? I could never sleep so much and get everything done!”

I suppose it’s quality over quantity, to simplify it down to a cliche. It’s important to have a few activities that you love dearly than so many that you risk not being able to create a relationship with what you want. Being mindful and present can’t happen when you’re worried about what’s coming up next and how you’re going to fit it in. And only by being mindful and really living in the moment can you truly enjoy your life and the activities that you choose to fill it with.

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When I first started thinking about this, I grabbed my journal and started sketching. Needless to say, drawing is not one of the activities that I’m going to spend my precious resources on. You’re welcome.

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My custard and fresh banana are the two in the lower left hand side of the box. They were totally yum yum YUMMY.

It’s Paczki Day (pronounced “poonch-key”, these are in the donut family and made for Fat Tuesday specifically)! One of my most favorite days of the year, even more so in the past few years since my roommate began putting in a paczki order at the local bakery and making sure that I had one or two of my favorites in the batch (one custard, one fresh banana, just in case anyone was wondering or looking to compete with her for the title of Most Favorite Friend on Fat Tuesday).

And tomorrow starts the season of Lent. I’m not very religious these days (um, yea, understatement), but my Catholic upbringing sticks to me like the sticky stuff on the floor of movie theaters and I can’t help but think about what to give up for the next 40 days (approximately – this never made sense to me – you know, until Easter Day).

Last week, I was thinking that sugar would have to go. Well, no sugar as in no cookies, no candy, no cake, no sweets. Not no sugar as in “I’m hog-wild Paleo and don’t eat sugar” where fruit, diet Pepsi and a little honey to sweeten my greek yogurt would be forbidden. But I’m worried about doing the whole restricting thing; I feel like I’m just starting to really drop the “good food/bad food” dichotomy and I’ll tell ya, it makes moderation a whole lot more achievable.

And if you’ve ever seen me on Easter, you know what restricting for that long does to me. It’s even uglier than a chocolate bunny with its head bitten off.

So instead of the normal giving up of stuff, I’m going to do the slightly non-normal mostly giving up of stuff. I’m allowed some dessert as the part of a special-ish dinner (ish = not at home by myself). No extraneous candy. No alcohol except in Vegas (because, Vegas). And I’ll check in daily with my nutrition coaching group with my results, keeping myself accountable without being too weirdly overzealous about all this.

I guess what I’m giving up for Lent are bad habits and striving for unattainable perfection. Seems legit to me.


This is Accountability Sunday where I look at the past week and how much work I did towards my goals and then set some goals for the coming week. Interested in joining me? You, too, can have some public accountability: just go to the accountability spreadsheet and put in your goals for the coming week. The goals can be fitness-related, health-related, work-related or anything else that you care to track. It’s not about competition, it’s just about putting your goals out there and then assessing how you did.

 

2000px-MW-Icon-CheckMark.svgYesterday I posted about how failing and starting again was a noble practice — that’s where the lessons are, after all — and if that’s the case, then this week was chock full of lessons. Instead of being off for a meal or a workout or a day, I’ve been off for pretty much the entire week.

It wasn’t completely without merit; it was a rest week, so I had that going for me. But the rest was all reactive. Since Tuesday I’ve been dealing with Igor, which is the name I’ve given to the huge knot that’s sitting in my lower neck/upper back and is making me miserable. In the beginning, I couldn’t even lift my arm above shoulder level without pain and I just kept hoping the Igor will get tired of my whining and leave. He’s gotten much less annoying in the past few days, I’ve got most range of motion back, but he continues to be a rude house guest and I don’t want to do anything to anger him. And aside from Igor, I got some blood test results back that have caused me to do some “Last Supper” eating as I contemplate the changes I need to make to make the numbers better. Of course, I’m not giving up any food forever — as I said before, restricting does nothing good for me — but I’ll have to think about adding a lot more vegetables, lean meats and fruits to my diet (which will push out the bulk of the cookies, candy and other sweets).

And plus, it was a rest week. Didn’t want to push anything too hard! How “rest week” came to mean “sit on my ass all week”, I’m not sure, but that’s kind of how it ended up.

Without further ado … or further excuses…

Last Week’s Goals:

  • Run 11 miles — Um, yea … none. Didn’t run once. Up until about Thursday, Igor really did make it too painful to do anything, but since then it’s just me being lazy.
  • Strength train twice — did this! Well, kind of. I had two strength training sessions, but — again — because of Igor they were necessarily curtailed and not too intense.
  • Mindful Eating — I wasn’t too bad for the first part of the week, but then got into Last Supper mode and it’s been a field day of sweets every since.
  • Track Weight — remarkably only up a little over 2 pounds.
  • At least 4 blog posts — 2 posts. It turns out that I’m better at writing every day than writing sometimes.

This Week’s Goals:

  • Run 14 miles, long run of 6 miles
  • Strength train twice
  • Start to cut most sugar out of my diet
  • Track Weight

This week will be interesting because I’ll be home taking a class (a virtual class — everyone in the class connects via a website and the instructor lectures from the comfort of his own home). I believe I’ll have a certification exam connected to this class that I’ll need to take once it’s done, which means that I’ll really have to put energy and study time into this one.  The schedule is nice, though, since it doesn’t start until 7:30am, leaving me plenty of time to sleep in. Which is the best thing ever.

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

I just finished a book by Dan Marshall called Home Is Fucking Burning and it was really great. A memoir written by a guy who’s a self-proclaimed selfish asshole who overcomes his asshole ways to quit his job and move back home to take care of his Mom who has cancer and his Dad who has just been diagnosed with ALS. It’s both raunchy and foul-mouthed while also being self-aware and strikingly honest — a world of all emotions in between the covers.

So, for the month of January, I posted here nearly every day. I had committed to posting every day, but missed twice, both times mostly because I couldn’t sweet talk my brain into cooperating and coming up with anything worth writing about. Ironically, having hit 29 out of 31 days was much more difficult than hitting all 31 days would have been.

What?

Yup. You know how it is. You set out to do something and you get at it, day and day after day. It’s not yet a habit, but it’s something you’re thinking about, planning for, making time in your schedule to do. And then, you miss a day.

I don’t know what it is about missing a day, but it kind of just sucks the life right out of me. I posted for 18 days in a row — 18 days, people! — and then missed on the 19th and felt like the other 18 days of work were entirely wiped out and inconsequential. The streak is broken. Perfection is out of reach. Might as well just give up. Right?

In all honesty, once I missed that 19th day, the 20th day felt like a real struggle. Like my creativity had dried up or gone on vacation without letting me know in advance and I wanted nothing more than to just forget about the challenge — after all, I wasn’t going to hit all 31 days like I had pledged to do. I was already a fraud, a failure so why bother continuing?

Really, why bother?

I bother because failing does not make me a failure. The failure comes in not dusting myself off and getting right back at it the next day. After all, it’s the failing that teaches me the lessons I need to learn, like the fact that writing every day actually feels pretty good and that missing one post doesn’t make everything else I’ve accomplished worthless. I can’t remember a time when I went from starting out to success without some missteps along the way. Failing is some way is the nature of the beast.

Failing is good for us; it means we’re pushing beyond our comfort zone and doing things that aren’t easy and there is much to be said for sailing into rocky waters with intention and fortitude. Every time we fail we are given the opportunity to begin again — yes, the opportunity! — and that builds a habit of resilience. And a habit of resilience will carry us through many stops, false starts and times when quitting is the easy way out.

I continue to struggle with the act of starting again, and I suspect that I’m not alone in this. It’s so easy to let something go once I’ve messed up one time — but this has been a good reminder of why I need to continue. Not only is whatever I’m working on at stake, but just the act of getting back on the proverbial wagon strengthens my resilience and helps me keep at the things that are important to me. I mean, I’ll never get to where I want to be if I don’t get up after falling down, right?