An Evening Ritual

I ran today!  It’s amazing because we’ve been in a constant state of icy/freezing/cold drizzle since mid-week last week.  And Michelle and I still got some of that on our run (wrapped in my robe under a blanket and my feet are still cold!) today but the key was it wasn’t raining when we started.  We went for a good 6 miler on the river and then warmed up on the R Bar patio talking training plans.  We may have wagered a deal that ropes me into another full…..maybe.  Don’t mix a shivering me with a mimosa.

6 miles, 50:03, 8:21 average.  Splits: 8:43, 8:18, 8:14, 8:09, 8:13, 8:27

Confession time.  Last week was a major struggle for me.  We were coming back east from a ski trip in Lake Tahoe and I’m not sure if it was the time change, the couple of days of skiing, lack of sleep on the first few nights back or all the germs of travel but I got knocked down again.   Zero energy.  Not just too-tired-for -workouts low energy, but the so tired I had a headache and nausea tired.  Or maybe the cause was vice versa.  Whatever it was, I was an unproductive sleepy and sick gal for the latter half of the week – making appointments when I could and sleeping all the rest of the time.

I’m feeling much better now after taking it easy Thursday and Friday, and sleeping over 14 hours each of those days.  Things are about to get extremely busy both for my personal running training with upcoming races, my coaching at the studio and some other growing client bases.  It’s all so good, and I want to be alert, focused and energized for all of it.

eveningritual

Bedtime helpers

I’d really like to get back to the days when I would wake up an hour before 6am classes to have some time with myself before my days got crazy.  I miss the quiet morning time, reading, practicing yoga for myself and having a clear mind to think about the flow of the day.  But simply setting the alarm for 5 am hasn’t been working for me.  I just snooze until the very last possible minute.  So, the next logical place to go is the front end of the sleep cycle.

I’m creating an evening ritual, and once I’ve mastered this for two weeks, I’ll start working on the morning ritual.  Every night beginning at 9:30pm I will:

  • Turn off electronics – email, blog, scrolling, texts
  • Drink a big glass of water
  • Brush/floss my teeth
  • White strips
  • Face washing routine – wash, toner, lotions, eye cremes
  • Lotion – legs and hands, this winter dryness is killing my skin!
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Ritual essentials close by.

This should put me in bed at 10pm, where I’m allowed to read until I get tired.  I think it sounds like a pretty good plan.  I think the 9:30pm time could be a challenge since most nights I get home from my last appointment after 8 and I like to cook dinner and do some work on the computer.  I’ll have to be more strategic about what I get done on the screen during the daytime.

Do you have an evening ritual, or you just get in bed when you’re ready?  How  do you fight overwhelming fatigue?

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2017: The Year of Less

Happy 2017 friends!  I’m relieved the holidays are over, and even though January 1 is just another day in the year, there’s something about it that gives me energy to get shit done.  This year it even started a day early – all New Year’s Eve Day I spent in my house, alone, cleaning out my closet.  It’s a daunting task to end 2016 with but it felt amazing, and like the final perfect task for an excellent year.

This closet purge was inspired by one of the podcasts I’ve been listening to called Organize 365.  I don’t listen to every episode but the host has a 40 week program that guides you through one organizational task per week.  The idea is to work on it all week, but I’m a procrastinator and like to tackle it all in a tight deadline.  I skip over days that don’t apply to me (like kids’ closets) and have completed two weeks of organizing pieces of the house. I’m going to start sharing each week here so you can follow along too!

The Master Closet

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Before

The first step is to take everything out of the closet.  Since I only have myself to worry about, and a relatively small closet, I tackled my dresser too.  This was the easiest part.  It took me less than five minutes to create a gigantic pile of clothes, shoes, purses and other odds and ends on my bed (put it on the bed – huge motivation to complete the task, unless you want to sleep on the couch.  Which I don’t have right now, so I had to get it done).

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The Pile

The sorting process is next.  This is a little daunting.  The following items get tossed:

  1. It doesn’t fit anymore.  Right now, today.
  2. You don’t feel like a million bucks in it
  3. It’s torn, ripped, stained
  4. You haven’t worn it in the past six months

I struggled at first but then I got on a roll.  Old high school sweatshirts, out.  Torn designer jeans, out.  Bridesmaids dresses, out.  Skirts, never worn, out.  Some of this was really hard, but I just shoved the items into bags and soon they were out of mind.

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Sorted.

Everything else got folded and sorted onto my kitchen table.  Jeans, workout pants, shorts and shirts.  Sweaters, shoes, hanging items, accessories.  My table and bench were covered.  But my closet and drawers were empty and cleaned!  From here, I continued to pare down.  No duplicates went into the closet.  I tried on every pair of jeans and dress that I put back in.  If I didn’t feel great I bagged it.  If it was too big, even though it was my favorite dress, I bagged it.

The struggle came with the race shirts.  SO MANY.  And I never wear them, ever.  So, I decided to keep only the ones from the state races, and any current PRs.  Everything else – bagged.

I had one bag of trashed clothes (torn, stained, unwearable etc), hangers and tattered shoes and two bags of giveaways.  Everything up to this point probably took two and a half hours.

Returning everything to its proper new home was easy.  “Dress” shirts (for me, anything that’s not athletic) went back in the closet in a color coordinated order.  Jeans, shorts, sweatshirts and workout bottoms got arranged on shelves in the closet.  Shoes on the bottom.  Workout tops, bras and shirts into the dresser drawers, sorted by bra, built in bra or just a top.  Workout t-shirts in a separate drawer.  And the race shirts all ended up in a duffle of their own in the hall closet.  Scarves and winter gear moved to the hall closet.  The over the door hanger moved to the bathroom to hold towels and robes.

And just look at the magic….

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After all of this and seeing my pile of clothes on the table, I had a thought: I do not need a single ‘nother item of clothing.  And today, as I write this, I’m resolving to not purchase any additional items of clothing this entire year (excludes new running shoes, clothes bought with Athleta points and a dress for a wedding).  Yep, there it is in writing and now all y’all can hold me to it.

What are y’all working on this year?

 

30 before 30

My birthday is in just a few short days.  A few months ago I told someone I was 27.  Then last week I told Chap that I promised I’d make a dentist appointment before I turned 30 next week.  Apparently late 20s comes with some memory loss?  Or I’m deep enough into ambiguous ages that I can’t even keep track anymore….I am 28.  29 on Saturday.

I know people react differently to aging, and I’m sure part of that is being at different stages of life.  This current age used to seem so old and adult and put together.  If I could only tell my 15 year old self what it’s really like (some days you’re a great adult and other days you survive on cereal and naps with your mutt Miley) maybe she’d not be in such a rush to grow up.  Although the cereal and dog parts aren’t so bad.

In anticipation of the monumental (so they say) dirty 30 next year, I started making a list of things I wanted to accomplish, experience or learn before then last year.  I’ve slowly been working my way through the list and using the hashtag #sprenks30before30 on Instagram to document it.  I had some friends ask for the complete list so I’ve compiled it below.  I like to think I have a nice mix of adventure and travel, fitness and knowledge, goals and skills to master.  Many of these will be money dependent so I’m not expecting to complete the entire list but it’s nice to have something to dream about.

These are in no particular order except what I thought them up in:

  1. Skydive
  2. Snow Ski
  3. Red Rocks Concert
  4. Travel Out of the Continent
  5. Open Fitness Studio
  6. 20 States on the Race Map
  7. Porch Swing on House
  8. Eric Church Concert
  9. Skinny Dip (not in a pool)
  10. 2 Nights Camping Trip
  11. Scuba Dive
  12. Learn Another Language
  13. Rappelling
  14. Hot Air Balloon Ride
  15. 15 Pullups
  16. Half PR (beat 1:47:36)
  17. Open Retirement Account
  18. Sub 21minute 5k
  19. RYT Certification
  20. Winter Cruise
  21. Remodel Bathroom
  22. Alaska Trip
  23. Payback Graduate School Debt
  24. Cook Rice Without Burning It
  25. Helicopter Ride
  26. File My Own Taxes
  27. Read
  28. Shooting Range
  29. Year of News
  30. ???

And as I’m typing this, it appears my inability to count my age also translates to making lists.  I thought I had 30 things!  What would you put as the last item on my 30 before 30 list?

Reassurance

I’ve started teaching a beginner’s yoga class out of Foolish Things Coffee Shop on Tuesday mornings.  Right now we meet at 7 am every Tuesday.  It’s very much a come-as-you-are (fresh out of bed), pay-what-you-can (gratitude and effort) beautiful way to start the day.

I find most of my exercise choices to be spiritual experiences.  My favorite sport – running – is very much that way.  Whether I’m out in the morning with the sunrise welcoming new opportunities for the day or in the evening as the sun sets, reflecting on the accomplishments and setbacks of the day, it’s a mindful time for me.  Yoga though, in my personal experience reigns queen as a spiritual fitness experience.

I very much believe in the practice of setting intentions.  In yoga class, other forms of exercise, and daily life  What do you want out of your efforts today?  What do you hope to accomplish with your time today?  Why are you putting energy into this?  What do you need?  I think we get so rushed and settled into routines that most of the time we aren’t intentional about our actions.

My intention this week is reassurance.  I wrote last week about the uncertainty of change.  Transition periods often lasting longer than the actual act of transformation.  I’ve had a week to meditate on the changes in physical place, mental state and consciousness and I’m ready to embrace the start of the new season.  The next step is reassurance.

To restore confidence to; to remove doubt or hesitation from; to relieve from fear

What in your life needs some confidence?  How can you work towards that?  Talk to someone.  Make a plan.  Set a budget and track your spending.  Write things down.  See the progress.

What doubts can you let go of?  How would you proceed forward if there was no fear?

How can you support yourself?  Who else can you draw on for support?  Reach out for assurance from others.  Ask for an accountability partner.

How can you support someone else?  What can you give to help reassure others?

Often times the best way to get what you need is to give it to the universe.  Give someone a big hug today.  Give someone words of confidence.  Give someone some reassurance and you may find yourself believing it too.

It’s going to be ok, I promise.

Inspiration

1. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.  2.  the drawing in of breath

It’s interesting to me the stark difference in these two definitions for the same word.  There’s a proper grammatical term for this which I can’t remember (sorry Mrs. Thacker).  At first glance these two definitions for the word “inspiration” seem miles apart.  They are actually quite related.
I’ve been thinking about inspiration over the past few days.  Inspiration in the form of the first definition.  Recently with the big transition from Austin to Tulsa, arranging things in the house, recruiting new athletes for the team and challenging the current ones, I’ve lost sight of my personal inspiration.  I’m not trying to make excuses but I’m coming clean to all y’all.
In the almost six weeks I’ve been here I’ve skipped some workouts, eaten delicious chocolate chip cookies for days in a row, and had more to drink than in almost my entire two years in Austin
I’m telling you this, not to discredit myself as a fitness professional but to try to explain a deeper desire I have for all of you.  I hope, more than having a perfect diet, more than never missing a workout and more than being a perfect size 2, you realize that this “healthy lifestyle” will have ups and downs.  There will be good phases and bad phases.  Peaks and valleys.  Seasons.  But more than anything I want you to be able to let go sometimes, but still come back to what you know makes you feel good.  And to want to come back to what makes you feel good.
Over the past few days I’ve started to find inspiration in the season change.  Summer is slipping slowly into fall.   Although there is a date on the calendar when this seasonal change occurs, in real life it is a slower and less pronounced transition.  Each leaf takes it’s time turning from green to warm.  Soft to crisp.  A few 90 degree days slip in between the 60s and 70s.  The only thing that comes out full force at the first sign of fall are the boots and orders for pumpkin-flavored things.
I am transitioning into a new life.  New city.  New friends.  New clients.  New routines.  New spots.  New trails.  I shouldn’t have expected to adapt to it instantaneously.  I certainly got here and hit the ground running with the house, and the business and other jobs to make ends meet.  And in that mess I lost my personal commitment and daily intentionality.  But, just as the season doesn’t arrive on the day the calendar dictates, I have not fully arrived despite August 9 being my moving date.   As fall creeps in on September, I’m feeling the moving and settling season slip into a comfortable and routined phase.
As summer continues to slip into fall I’m committing to more intentionality.  More time in the morning with myself and my writing.  Regular running (4 times per week), weights (2-3 times per week), yoga (as needed).   Walks for Miley.  More eating at home, both for health and wealth purposes.  These are the daily things that will help me breathe life into my bigger dreams of continuing to inspire people to live their best lives.  To make the small but scary changes out of old habits.  To work towards my personal studio.  It’s time to end the transition and welcome the new season.
Your transition into fitness and health doesn’t have to be all or none.  This journey will have its seasons too, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is superhuman or bullshitting you.  I’m not here to do that.  Hold tight to whatever it is that inspires you.  A superstar athlete.  Your younger brother who won’t let go of a childhood dream despite repeated injuries.  Your boss who keeps her head up despite a sick husband and hospitalized daughter.  A friend who is unhappy in her situation so is facing fears to make change.  Your clients who show up day after day ready to work hard and get better.  Inspiration is out there – find yours and hold onto it, take a deep breath and exhale that inspiration into your dreams.
Inspiration in the Transition

Inspiration in the Transition

 

Positive Mornings

Happy Graduation Week y’all!  Congrats to those of you who graduated this past weekend (most of my Indiana crowd) and those of you who will this weekend (the UT crew)!

I’m still enjoying the extra time without the demands of class, homework, teaching and summer work 🙂  One of my favorite things is having calm back in the mornings.  I know that soon the rush of getting a run/workout in, showering (if my morning clients are lucky), eating and taking care of Miley will be back and my body will be responding mostly to habits.  But right now I get to savor the extra time.

This morning I zombie walked to the coffee (not before considering a snooze fest, boy am I glad I skipped that!) and made it out the door in time to meet Gilbert for today’s workout by 5:45.  We did a circuit/core workout with some 400s mixed in at Austin High.

When I got home, I threw together a delicious breakfast of 1 fried egg, 1/2 cup of black beans, 2 tbsp pico and 1 tbsp guacamole plus half a grapefruit and sat down for some morning reflection time.  I really do cherish these quiet moments in the morning and find that my days are more thoughtful, productive and happy if I take just a few minutes to reflect.

Positive thoughts and Texas pride.

Positive thoughts and Texas pride.

If you haven’t had time to reflect, or pick out a thought for the day, take a minute now!  It can change the way your day goes.

Do you take time in the morning to sit for a minute?  Or are you on the go as soon as you’re up?  How do you add positivity to your day?

The Art of Love Lotioning

I teach an anatomy lab to aspiring physical therapists, strength coaches, doctors and nurses at the University of Texas.  I think this class, more than Fitness Leadership or Exercise Physiology, has given me an incredible appreciation of the work my (and your) body does.  SO much goes on to keep us in homeostasis that we don’t even spend an ounce of energy thinking about.  If we had to consciously depolarize a neuron to the axon terminal, release the proper amount of acetylcholine to stimulate the action potential in the sarcolemma, adjust the levels of calcium in the cytoplasm and help the myosin heads create the power stroke every time we wanted to contract a muscle, I’m fairly certain we’d all be paralyzed!

The Amazing Human Body

(photo source)

And that’s just muscle contraction.  Think about temperature regulation, digestion, pH of the brain, regeneration of skin cells, healing an injury, and sensory input.  Exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, growth, protection against germs and other invaders.  All of this goes on without us even knowing, and almost certainly without us even knowing how.  I definitely wouldn’t be able to tell my body consciously how to fend off an influenza germ!

Before I lose you in all the science jargon, I just want you to think about what an amazing piece of biological creation your body is.  Amazing.  

Because of this incredible capacity your body has to exist and function with little thought, I think it is such a shame that our society is so picky about what you or I should look like.

So, take care of your body.  It’s your soul’s only home on this earth.  Treat it with love and respect – it deserves it.  Shut out the haters – even your own voices.  Love every inch of it.

Every inch.

(photo source)

When I was first starting this journey of self-love, I created a ritual around  putting on body lotion.  Instead of just slapping it on without any thought, I started to slowly and deliberately apply it to each body part.  I start at my toes, thinking about the work my feet do every day to carry my weight and move me in the direction of my dreams.  I progress up to my calves and thighs and booty, grateful for the legs (though imperfect because of cellulite) that are strong enough to run my crazy soul to its content.  Squirt some more lotion and rub on up through my torso (though imperfect because there’s no six pack) I thank my tummy for holding all my organs inside, and for it’s curves.  At my arms, which could always be more toned, I pause to appreciate the love they spread through hugs and waves and high fives throughout each day.  This five to ten minute ritual of daily love lotioning helps me remember to appreciate this body that is daily bombarded with tips on how to be more sexy, thin and toned or less fat, jiggly and dimply.

Thank you body, I am grateful for all that you allow me to do daily.