Sunday, September 18, 2016

I don't need more accountability right now... plus a podcast recommendation

 I'm sure you have seen stuff like this on your Facebook feed. A friend of mine posted it in a group and suggested we all try it and post our results for accountability. I thought about it for a minute and...

No.

I already don't drink soda. Check. I could work on my water consumption, sure. Good thing to do and I wouldn't mind that.

I already work out for 30-45 minutes most days.

The plank, maybe.

The squats are a "nah to the ah to the no no no." I work in a very conservative, straight-laced place. Doing squats in the bathroom would make me look like a total weirdo. Doing them at my desk even more so. If I'm drinking more water I'm going to be going to the bathroom a lot. And 25 squats 10 times a day, at least? It would be hard to do them with decent form and not seem like I was spending my whole day in the bathroom bouncing around like a crazy person.

Besides that, I don't need a whole pile of things to add to my to-do list. I feel like I have enough things on my Have-to-Do list and not enough on my Want-to-Do list already. I don't need accountability in my life right now, I need support and camaraderie and fun. I already feel way too accountable to everyone but me.

I did start a Monday night weightlifting group -- not for accountability but to make weightlifting fun so I would actually do it. I like group workouts, they're fun. I don't respond well to feeling like I have other people checking up on me, but if I can make something intrinsically rewarding, I'll do it.

If you're looking for something for your want-to-do list, a new season of Elizabeth Gilbert's Magic Lessons Podcast started up a few weeks ago, and it's great. If you haven't listened to Season One, you have a lot of great material waiting for you. She recommended putting things on your Not-to-Do list in a recent episode.

I'm hoping that soon I'll be in a little better place and will be posting here more often. I miss writing for this blog, but a lot of what has been going on has been the kind of stuff that takes up headspace but is not really shareable. Feel free to send any prayers, incantations, or positive thoughts my way.

via GIPHY

Hopefully it will get better soon.


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Monday, August 29, 2016

My experience with #TheGoal30

When I read about #TheGoal30 on No Thanks to Cake, I thought it sounded like a great way to step up my game on a few goals. I was really looking forward to making my own list, at least until I started the list.


The first few felt fun. Then I started to struggle to think of non-scale goals. Then I powered through the list, but when I looked at it, I just felt exhausted, not motivated. I'm going with my instinct to just forget it, at least for now.

I'm going through a rough patch, and maybe now is not the time for something like this. My heart wouldn't be in it. I'm starting to feel burned out on self-improvement projects.

I've decided to focus on one goal for September: Extreme Self-Care. I want to get better sleep, work my Weight Watchers plan, and get as much time in the outdoors as possible. Plus rest and get to water. Of course I'll do other things, like work and exercise and spend time with family and friends. 

This challenge was about self-care all along, so I guess I'm going with the spirit of it, even if it doesn't look as good on Instagram.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

7 Tips for Your First TED Talk

In March, I gave my first (and so far only) TED talk at TEDx WayPublicLibrary

I think the talk went pretty well, but I finally got a chance to see the video of my talk, and I have a few tips, in hindsight, that I'd like to share so that your first TED talk is even better.

  1. Wear color. The TEDx background is black. If you wear a black dress like I did, you might look like a floating head and hands. 
  2. Wear something with large pockets. My dress had none, which meant I had to hold the microphone pack in my hand. 
  3. Convince the organizers to light and shoot video from above, rather than below. I don't think the angle in my video was the most flattering -- who looks best shot from under their chin? And the lighting made some weird shadows.
  4. S-l-o-w D-o-w-n. Both my movements and speech were a little too hurried, especially at first. I didn't realize how fast I was talking.
  5. Make the audience laugh early in the talk. I told a joke early on, and it helped me to feel at ease and more connected with the people listening.
  6. Outline your talk ahead of time, but don't script it word-for-word. I think this is one place where I succeeded. I had planned out the points that I wanted to hit and really studied those. I used the images on my slides as a way to remind me of those points. This allowed me to relax and tell my story without the fear that I would ramble on and miss something important.
  7. Be vulnerable. I told a story that was, and is, very painful to me. I had a lot of people tell me that they identified with it and had their own similar experiences. If I had kept things abstract instead of making them personal, I don't think I would have had the same response.

The video of my talk is embedded below. See the other speakers' videos in the TEDx WayPublicLibrary playlist.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's get real: Weight regain


I get fascinated with the Facebook feature "On this day," which lets me look back to memories as long ago as about 2008, when I started using the site regularly.  Lately "On this day" has been letting me know that about two years ago, though I was not happy with my weight, I was thinner than I am right now. The picture on the left was taken a few weeks ago, and the right, two years ago.

I haven't quite gained 20 pounds, but close, and that means that instead of trying to lose the last 20, I'm dealing with 40 unwanted pounds. This is what two years of weight gain looks like:


You'll notice it's not all straight up, lots of peaks and valleys. Still, the general trend is up. And what happened in those two years? For one thing, my dad started to go into a rapid decline, eventually leading to a long period of suffering before his death. I was also starting to realize that my "dream job" was no longer what it had been. That started one uptick. Then things leveled off for a while. I even lost a little bit of weight as I was training for my big race last year, not a lot, but a little.

Then, after the race, I decided to see a functional medicine doctor, who told me I was exercising too much and that I should back way off of my workouts, cut out dairy and coffee and go gluten-free. At the time, I didn't realize how sharply my weight was rising. I'm sure that I could have handled all of that better. I had also quit my old job and committed to my new corporate contracting gig. At that time, I liked the work, but I had less time for my old routines, and I'm sure that didn't help.

I'm in a situation now where I want to make a lot of changes. I have a different assignment at work and I don't like it as much as my original one. It involves a lot of administrative tasks and not a lot of human interaction. It's stressful and boring at the same time. I have been really regretting not finding a way to stick it out at my faculty job -- even though I was unhappy with a lot of things that were going on there, I had a role to fill and a lot of people I cared about. Now I spend most of my days alone in a cubicle doing computer work. I feel like I gave up on my dreams trying to chase a higher salary, and I didn't even get the money to show for it.

It has been really hard going through all of this. I don't say that as an excuse -- I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to hold my healthy habits together better than I did. I still am hoping to find better, more satisfying work, preferably in an environment that is more conducive to my mental and physical health. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to make changes where I can.

Me on the left, with two of my awesome tri friends.

It's not like everything has been failure. I did some of the most challenging races of my life in this two years.  Last Saturday, I did my first century bike ride -- 100 miles in one day. I have some great friends and family members who have been really supportive through all of this. It has just been hard, and I feel like I have been hiding from the truth, so here it is. I am hoping that posting this will help someone, maybe even me.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Introspective in Indy: Fitbloggin' 2016 follow-up

This year's Fitbloggin' was a different kind of conference than the three previous ones I attended. In the past, the focus was definitely on the quirky, accepting community that started with the first conferences in Baltimore, and continued as the convention moved on to Portland, Savannah, and Denver.

In past years, I had always enjoyed the sessions, but the real focus was on the free-for-all of interactions with people I had met in previous years, or with new attendees. There were big social events like the opening mixer and casual activities in the expo hall to facilitate these interactions.

Denver. Sadly, Margo and I are the only ones pictured here who made it this year.

This year was the first year that the conference was handled by Zephyr, and though I think they did a great job of finding speakers, there wasn't as much of the informal social time that helped to provide opportunities for new people to meet up with old-timers. A lot of people decided for one reason or another not to attend this year, a huge Southwest glitch grounded a lot of the West Coasters who were planning to be there. There were also no real group meals, which on the positive side allowed us to explore the city's fantastic food scene, but made it harder for new people to find a foothold.

Great, but not quite enough breakfast for a long day of Fitbloggin'

Brunch later.

I was very happy that my perennial Fitbloggin' roommate Margo was on one of the few Southwest flights that made it. This was her first time in the Midwest, and as an Ohioan, I'm glad it made a good impression (see her video review). We had a lot of fun together, including an excursion to a local bar for a drag show (the bar pointedly displayed signs that they proudly serve everyone) and two trips to the fabulous Eagle's Nest revolving restaurant.

Drag shows don't make for great photos...
This pic does not do the epic Streisand costume justice


Revolving restaurant FTW!

Margo looking fab as always...
Beautiful bird's-eye view of the Capitol

Indianapolis sunset
More important to me was the time for reflection. I have been going through a lot in the last couple of years, from the deaths of loved ones to difficult, ongoing career transition. I don't like to wallow, so I have been struggling to stay positive, but I'm not sure I ever took the time to really feel and come to terms with that grief and loss. I have been really hard on myself about the weight I have put on during that time, but haven't done much reflection on the feelings that have contributed to the gain. I've been avoiding writing about it here, hoping that I could just "fix it" and move on.

The group sessions at Fitbloggin' and the professional speakers helped me to see things in a different light. It always helps to hear from people who have successfully dealt with the same situations, like David, Martinus, and Angie. This year I also found food for thought in keynote speeches by Lisa Delaney and Brooke Randolph. It's not like I needed information on the mechanics of weight loss. As someone who has lost and regained weight, I have all the information I need -- I just need a way to get through the stuff that gets in the way of doing what I know I need to do. I'm not saying I found ready-made answers, but I think I found a few insights that will help me build my own.

I'm going to read this and get all the secrets.
Plus, there was the chance to do my annual Zumba class, which satisfies my Zumba requirement for the rest of the year.

Introspective in Indy: Fitbloggin' 2016 follow-up

This year's Fitbloggin' was a different kind of conference than the three previous ones I attended. In the past, the focus was definitely on the quirky, accepting community that started with the first conferences in Baltimore, and continued as the convention moved on to Portland, Savannah, and Denver.

In past years, I had always enjoyed the sessions, but the real focus was on the free-for-all of interactions with people I had met in previous years, or with new attendees. There were big social events like the opening mixer and casual activities in the expo hall to facilitate these interactions.

Sadly, Margo and I are the only ones pictured here who made it this year.
This year was the first year that the conference was handled by Zephyr, and though I think they did a great job of finding speakers, there wasn't as much of the informal social time that helped to provide opportunities for new people to meet up with old-timers. A lot of people decided for one reason or another not to attend this year, a huge Southwest glitch grounded a lot of the West Coasters who were planning to be there. There were also no real group meals, which on the positive side allowed us to explore the city's fantastic food scene, but made it harder for new people to find a foothold.

Great, but not quite enough breakfast for a long day of Fitbloggin'

Brunch later.
I was very happy that my perennial Fitbloggin' roommate Margo was on one of the few Southwest flights that made it. This was her first time in the Midwest, and as an Ohioan, I'm glad it made a good impression (see her video review). We had a lot of fun together, including an excursion to a local bar for a drag show (the bar pointedly displayed signs that they proudly serve everyone) and two trips to the fabulous Eagle's Nest revolving restaurant.

Drag shows don't make for great photos...
This pic does not do the epic Streisand costume justice


Revolving restaurant FTW!

Margo looking cute as always...
Beautiful bird's-eye view of the Capitol

Indianapolis sunset
More important to me was the time for reflection. I have been going through a lot in the last couple of years, from the deaths of loved ones to difficult, ongoing career transition. I don't like to wallow, so I have been struggling to stay positive, but I'm not sure I ever took the time to really feel and come to terms with that grief and loss. I have been really hard on myself about the weight I have put on during that time, but haven't done much reflection on the feelings that have contributed to the gain. I've been avoiding writing about it here, hoping that I could just "fix it" and move on.

The group sessions at Fitbloggin' and the professional speakers helped me to see things in a different light. It always helps to hear from people who have successfully dealt with the same situations, like David, Martinus, and Angie. This year I also found food for thought in keynote speeches by Lisa Delaney and Brooke Randolph. It's not like I needed information on the mechanics of weight loss. As someone who has lost and regained weight, I have all the information I need -- I just need a way to get through the stuff that gets in the way of doing what I know I need to do. I'm not saying I found ready-made answers, but I think I found a few insights that will help me build my own.

I'm going to read this and get all the secrets.

Plus, there was the chance to do my annual Zumba class, which satisfies my Zumba requirement for the rest of the year.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

ENELL Ambassador Race Review: Quarry Ridge Triathlon

Note: I am an ENELL Ambassador, which means I get free merchandise and sometimes comped race entries. I paid for this race myself, and all opinions here are my own.

This is the second time I have done this race (previous review) and the second time I wondered if the weather would keep me from racing. There are no refunds, and I was also really looking forward to some midweek racing fun, so I was watching the weather report with concern.

Luckily, the weather cooperated, and this time we did not have to race with soaked gear. There was heavy cloud cover but no rain or thunder. Just like in Grand Rapids, I wore my Team Endurance Fusion kit and my Biscay Green ENELL This time, instead of an Olympic Distance Aquabike, I did a sprint triathlon.

With my teammate Michele
I have been doing a lot of swim training, an adequate (barely) amount of bike training and very little run training. I wasn't taking this race very seriously -- I was thinking of it more as a timed workout than as a real race.

These steps are killer!
I killed it on the swim, coming out of the water in just a few seconds over 10 minutes, though my official time includes the run up from the beach. I finished in the top half of the field for the swim.

I did pretty well on the bike, especially considering the wind, and finished just behind the middle of the pack.

Then there was the run. My feet were cramping as I got off the bike and my legs felt tight. I think this is a consequence of doing a midweek race after a day at a desk job where I spend a lot of time sitting. I was having a very hard time because my legs felt stiff and painful. I was toughing it out the best I could until the last half mile, where I must have hyperextended my knee on a downhill -- I felt something pop and was in a lot of pain. I hobbled in the best I could, convinced I had ruined my season. Not surprisingly, I was in the very back of the pack when I finished. It was a sad end to what had started out a fun evening.




After a few days of resting and recuperating, I think it's going to be okay, though I'm going to have to take it easy at first. I don't think I'm out for the season like I feared. I'm proud of myself for finishing despite the challenges.

This look says it all: Pain and determination
Finish line
With my teammates Megan, Michele, and Rebecca

Added my pretty new medal to the collection

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07