Bodies & Minds

We share with you what we are working on to keep our bodies and minds well. We also run into quite a few obstacles along the way and we offer those for your amusement!

I know I said slow…

We said we were getting a slow start to 2023, I just didn’t know how slow. About 12 days in, I picked up my husband’s cold. I did what many of us do even though we’ve had countless colds in our lifetimes; I threw every remedy possible at it hoping to shorten its stay.

And while I am sure some of it helped, colds have a way of taking as long as they take.

And all that talk about starting slow began to feel like my nemesis. I didn’t want to be slow. I wanted to be purposeful and methodical. 

About nine days later, I returned to training; while lighter than I’d prefer, sometimes you are required to go slow to go fast.

I spent a great deal of time with a cold being mad about it, worrying about my training, and obsessing about how it put me behind.

Did it help? No. Did it make me feel worse? Yes. Did I continue with that path anyway? Oh, yes, I did! I may not love slow starts, but I am, for sure, a slow learner.

And then Sunday arrived, and I felt like I was back. I felt relief. I came upon a quote:

“Relief is a great feeling.

It’s the emotional and physical reward we receive from our bodies upon alleviation of pain, pressure and struggle. A time to bask in the lack of the negative.

And yet, think about it—relief is really the status quo, a negation of the suffering, a nothing in itself. It is the way things were before the pressure and struggle began.

So, is it a step back? A regression?

Or is it an opportunity to regroup, start over, and move in a different direction?

Use your moment of relief well.”

~ Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

This was at once exhilarating and jarring. I was feeling the sweet sensation of relief. But relief is a step back; it’s status quo? What? And yet, I couldn’t refute its truth.

It left me with a bit of melancholy and puzzled as to whether I was using my relief to its fullest.

I wasn’t an existential crisis but it has been on my mind ever since.

What am I doing with my time? With my life? I mean, really?

Then I received Cheryl Richardson’s (https://cherylrichardson.com/newsletters/why-i-love-cold-water/) weekly newsletter. It arrives every Sunday and always has a nice thought to start the week. In this particular missive, she is attempting to quantify the personal value of a cold plunge for her life.

She referenced how Joseph Campbell told Bill Moyers years before that people say they want more meaning in their lives, but Campbell believed they meant more “aliveness.”

This brings me back to relief and the deeper feeling under my anxiety about not training. I don’t want to waste this life. I also long for aliveness. I think it’s what propels me to attempt ultramarathons. When you are trying to do something that tests limits, everything is magnified. Your senses are heightened, and it gives me a distinct sense of aliveness.

I am making peace with my nine-day layoff and my slowish return to training as I coerce myself into remembering the race I have in March – no matter how much I care about it (and I care a lot) – isn’t my biggest goal.

I have to accept, cope with, and deal with the reality that I have the time I have. How can I make the best of it?

What I have decided with my head, that my heart is slowly coming around to, is that being as physically strong as I possibly can is the next best thing.

It doesn’t mean I am not still putting in the miles. It doesn’t mean that strength wasn’t on my radar before. It simply requires that I slide strength into the number one spot because it’s a more realistic reach.

I said last year I was playing the long game. I still am, and what I was looking ahead to last year is still months in the future. I have been on an 18-month plan for a while now. And not shockingly, things have NOT gone according to my plan.

Instead, it has involved tantrums, tears, reluctant acceptance, compromise, adjustment, disappointment, pleasant surprise, mental anguish, resilience, and… relief.

And I am going to venture that all of that goes under one bigger umbrella – aliveness.

This is what it means to be alive! What it means to live a human life.

I can battle with it, fight it, curse it and trust me, I will. But I could also find relief in that too. I am not missing it; this IS IT. This is a human life. What a relief.

“use your moment of relief well.”

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Slow Burn

It’s that time of year, folks.  Did you work out and eat healthy through the holidays?  Are you feeling proud of yourself?

Did you find yourself in that familiar black hole between Thanksgiving and the New Year where family, celebrations, life, turmoil, obligations, etc…left you on the sofa eating your feelings in the form of popcorn and Milk Duds?  

Be honest.  Do your jeans fit or are they a little snug?  Have you found yourself wearing leggings or unbuttoning your jeans after dinner?  

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions except the first few, then hello!  Happy New Year, I see you.

You might have started back to the gym last week, in which case you are likely so sore you can barely sit on the toilet.  You are also likely grumpy because you are detoxing from above-mentioned concoctions of the sweet and salty and now everyone wants you to be back at work, and all caught up, and it feels like the world started the new year without you.  

Again….I see you.

There are some things that are out of our control, and we just need to plow through with relentless forward motion this January.  This doesn’t mean we can’t take time to breathe and appreciate the slow burn of the New Year.  We don’t have to start a workout routine, detox, drink more water, do yoga, and start a meditation practice by mid-January.  

Let’s assume you are still treading water or just trying to get a routine off the ground.  What would happen if you just started drinking more water the first week?  Maybe in the second week you started having less sugar and the third week, you started just moving your body for 30 minutes.  Doesn’t that sound much kinder than trying to shame yourself into submission because you enjoyed yourself over the last few months?  Not only is it a kinder, gentler way to treat your body, but it also gives you a much higher chance of succeeding.  A year is a long time, and if we try to do it all in a matter of days, not only will we fail, but we will likely be back to eating our feelings.

I will admit that I have had years where I was back on the wagon January 1st and years where it’s taken me until February 1st to get it together.  This year definitely took me an extra week of deliberation and I’m not walking around shaming myself at every corner.  I am focusing on small, doable steps and living by the mantra-better than yesterday.

So, if you are still nibbling on holiday snacks that your neighbors brought delivered and you haven’t made it to the gym, now is the time.  Have a glass of water, put down the cookie and go move your body for 30 minutes.  

Tomorrow, rinse and repeat.

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