Again with the starting again

I’ve been home from Utah for over a week now, I’ve posted my vacation porn, emptied out the suitcase (though, admittedly haven’t quite put everything away yet) and spent a week slipping back into my normal routine. Or, at least, attempting to get back at it, though (again, admittedly) I haven’t been entirely successful.

The Utah trip was fantastic — one of the best vacations I’ve had in awhile. Beautiful country shared with a group of awesome people — it doesn’t really get much better than that — but the vacation hangover was in proportion to the absolute fabulousness of the trip. We got home Friday night, and that weekend was such a letdown — real life thrown back in my face. Nothing exceptional occurred, but doing laundry, grocery shopping, food prepping for the work week ahead — it sucked all the good feelings from the vacation right out of me.

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Storm moving in over the mountains at sunset

But seeing as how the escape of retirement is still just a little outside my reach, I need a plan to combat these post-vacation blues. Something to focus on, some way to get from here to the end of the year, intact and forward-looking. Which is how my self-designated, but awkwardly-named weekend of Creating Goals For The Rest Of The Year came into fruition. Because I’m desperate for something to take my mind off of the fact that I’m not longer in gorgeous southern Utah, enjoying nature, friendship and life.

One of the big takeaways from the trip was utterly unsurprising to me: I desperately want and need to be in better shape. Now, before you get any ideas, the only one commenting or caring about my slowness while hiking was me. Ever been in one of those situations where your brain keeps telling you that you’re over-talking and not letting something go and to just SHUT UP and then stares in horror as your mouth just keeps running on and on about the topic? It was sort of like that. I logically knew that no one cared, that everyone understood that I was doing my best, but my own shame and anger at myself for it kept me apologizing. It was as if I needed to (continually) let everyone know that I knew I was out of shape, lest someone think I was oblivious to my obvious weakness. Weird, convoluted, and patently unnecessary, I know. Welcome to my how my mind works.

Coming home from the trip reignited my vast desire to do more hiking, see more places, take more pictures. Traveling and seeing nature up close is where I find my peace, my wholeness. It also reminded me that while I can do these things right now, in my current state of fitness, those activities are far more enjoyable when I’m not spending most of my time wondering whether or not my heart is going to cede from the Laura Nation due to a massive overwork situation.

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Desert flowers

By the end of the vacation week, I could feel my body starting to acclimate to the tough hiking. My heart was still pounding, but it got easier to regulate, easier to find my pace, my happy place. And looking back, I know that if I can just keep doing more of the same, it’ll keep getting easier. Of course, “more of the same” is quite the challenge here in flatland Illinois. Illinois might have its own sort of beauty, but the West is where my soul is called to and out that way, highway overpasses are just overpasses, rather than “mountains” as we could call them here in the Chicago area.

All this to say, I’m in this odd place where I have nothing specific to work on, but feel like I need some goals to keep me moving. So, here’s my working list of things geared towards moving me closer to my fitness goals. I’ll commit to these until the beginning of 2017, when I’ll review what I’ve achieved and decide on my direction for the new year.

  • From today through December 31st, I will be active every day. My minimum will be one intentional mile a day, walking or running or any other self-propelled way. Walking around the office doesn’t count and even a mile of walking between the couch and the refrigerator won’t check the box. Weight training, biking, stair climbing, hiking — these all give me a gold star for the day. Starting today, that’s 78 days of activity, and I’m already good for today. 1 down, 77 to go.
  • I ran a mile this weekend — my baseline for my fitness. Surprisingly, I actually ran the entire thing, which I didn’t think I had in me, figuring that I’d have to stop and walk at some point. I didn’t. Go, me! This will be my main way of measuring my progress.
  • No calorie counting, no eliminating foods, no diets. Instead I’m going to really work on mindfulness about hunger and satiety. I’ve talked about this before, I’ve done this before — it’s hard and I find it easy to ignore when I’m anxious or depressed — but I’ll restart again because I (still) firmly believe that only by developing this skill will I be able to create a healthy relationship with food. Eat when hungry, stop when full, whether it’s vegetables and chicken or pizza and ice cream. Remembering that hunger is not an emergency will also be key.
  • I need to restart weight training. Can I be honest here? I’m not a fan. It’s boring and hard and I don’t really enjoy it. And because I’m adult who’s definitely not being paid to weight train, I try to use the argument that I shouldn’t feel obligated to do anything I don’t like to do (well, anything that’s optional… unfortunately, things like showing up at work and paying the mortgage aren’t currently optional…). But I know better — good health, especially now that I’m getting up there in years, can be exponentially aided with weight training. It’s such a healthy thing for a body to do. If only science would somehow prove me wrong… but until it does, weight training, here I come. I’ll restart my Stronglifts 5×5 program (again).

Pretty straightforward, right? Not only that, but quantifiable (which is yuuuuuge for a numbers-gal like myself) and pretty black and white (I either do it or I don’t). And the extra bit of motivation resulting from the vacation? I want to be able to keep up with my friends. They do cool things, cool things that I want to do to without me feeling the need to apologize for myself. I know that this isn’t the best reason for doing something, but I’m only being honest here. I have amazingly cool friends, they do amazingly cool things and I want to be amazingly cool while doing amazingly cool things, too, all while not feeling like I’m going to die in the process.

So, it’s again with the starting again. But that’s life, isn’t it? Fall down 7 times, get up 8. Success and satisfaction do not come from taking an arrow-straight path and rather rely on resilience and the ability to pick up where I left off. Each time I start again, I go into it with lessons having been learned and progress made. Sometime it feels like square one, but it never truly is.

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6 comments

  1. I love this phrase, “again with the starting again” because it is so true. And, like you said, if you fall down 7 times, get up 8. It’s all math.

    I tell myself something similar: begin again. I can always do that. Start over. But it’s not a blank slate, because I have learned from my previous steps. I’ve gained wisdom about what motivates me particularly and what will inspire me to move forward.

    It is not surprising you would miss Utah. So gorgeous and dramatic. I love the desert.

  2. Go for it! Laura your mind works quite like mine, I have my own, mildy-bizarre-to-the-outside-world motivations and reasons, I also struggle constantly, not so much with fitness, but with weight (of course the two are linked). As long as you are still ‘up for getting back up’ you will do great! I applaud your goals. Have you read about the 100 days challenges? Similar idea to yours; change a habit for 100 years, make it accountable, makes it more likely to succeed. Good luck! I will be cheering you on from Scotland! X

  3. Ha! That should of course say ‘change a habit for 100 DAYS’, not 100 years! ( though it would be pretty much embedded after 100 years! ) x

  4. I call it “re-entry”… the returning to real life after a weekend away (for work or for fun). It is just hard, especially when it includes disconnecting from friends and/or loved ones. But I think your idea of setting up goals not with the intention of “being in shape”, but for being ready and able to join your friends for new adventures has the earmarks of sustainability. Your post reminded me that we are never really at the end or the middle, but we are constantly re-starting, and that’s okay.

  5. “So, it’s again with the starting again. But that’s life isn’t it? Fall down 7 times, get up 8.”
    I love this! And I can so relate. May the journey always be interesting.

  6. I absolutely love your ‘ weekend of Creating Goals For The Rest Of The Year’ and I think I could benefit from one of these myself – good luck with your goals.

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