In the beginning…

Yesterday, I began my plan to be marathon ready by July. I’m not actually going to run in one, I just want to be capable of running in one so that in July, I can start on training for Dopey. Between my confidence journal and my training journal, I’ve been able to fully establish what my goals are for the year. Marathon ready by July, Dopey training beginning in July, two half marathons at two different points to establish where I’m at in my training and what I need to focus on, and hopefully along the way, establish better nutrition and sleeping habits, as well as a cross training routine that will help build up my core, shoulder, and hip strength. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? And I’ve got a whole year to do it. Mostly. January is almost over, after all.

The hip strength is going to be key as I go along. A couple years back, I tore my hamstring doing single leg deadlifts. There was a sharp pain, the sensation of a spring vibrating up the back of my leg, and that was that. Only, I didn’t understand what had happened at the time. It wasn’t until I sucked it up and went to see a physical therapist seven months later that I learned I had actually torn it. There was a lot of scar tissue built up, and because I’d ignored the problem for so long (big lesson learned there), my body is totally out of whack from having to compensate for my injury. I now have hip problems that I didn’t used to and my hamstring can start to ache where it attaches to my hip. I’m hoping that extra classes on my non-running days will help with this. Core, barre, yoga, strength training, anything that can strengthen my muscles to help support my legs and body.

All talk at the moment, right? Instead of going to a class today, I went and saw Aquaman and then took the dog for a walk. Admittedly, it was 3.26 miles through the snow and ice, so we’re not talking a quick walk around the block, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of activity I need to start incorporating into my routine. Okay, that’s not true. What I really should have done was skipped the movie, gone to a class AND taken the dog for a walk. My priorities aren’t exactly in line yet, but that’s something to work on. Not that I have anything against going out, relaxing, having fun, watching Jason Momoa do his thing on the big screen, but it didn’t even occur to me I should have taken a peek at the class schedule until just now. That’s the kind of thing I need to start thinking about as part of my routine. It’s hard for me to think of classes at the gym as potentially fun. They’re a chore, work, something to find ways to get out of. If I give them a chance, maybe I will actually enjoy them and start seeing them as something to look forward to.

Same with running.

The first thing I usually hear when someone mentions running is, “I hate running”. And for some people, that may actually be true. Personally, I don’t hate running. I hate the effort that I have to put into running. I know it will get easier the more I run, it’s just getting out there and doing it. That always seems to be the hardest thing.

I obviously don’t have a point tonight. I missed out writing last night because I was too busy obsessing over the storm and whether or not we should close today and if it would be safe for everyone to go into work. Today, I just can’t seem to focus. Too many things to worry about. Too many thoughts in my head. Beginning to sound too much like a self-help book. Funny thing is, most of this is just stuff I’m figuring out as I go along. Writing it down does help to make me think a little deeper about my motivations, my issues, my goals, and hopefully I’ll be able to find ways to untangle them and set them on a better path.

But most likely, I might read this over next week or next month and think, oh crap, I forgot I was going to do that. That’s usually the way it goes.

Slippery Slope

The weekend storm, and the lack of city initiative, has left the side streets around town a crisscross of random ice rinks. There’s a patch in front of my house that is utterly terrifying. I live at the bottom of a hill, so I’m just waiting for the day someone slides right into the house. Walking the dog takes twice as long as I try to carefully step across the ice to reach a dry spot where, for the next two feet or so, I can once again walk with confidence and not have to worry about falling on my ass. Tony, on the other hand, I will lose track of only to turn around to see him rolling on the ice, or in the snow, or attempting to pry up a piece to chew on. It amazes me how he can slide down the sidewalk and it doesn’t even faze him. He just carries on as if nothing happened, while I’m just trying to make sure I don’t break anything.

There’s another couple rounds of winter arriving throughout the week, so that means I’m going to be limiting my extracurricular activities to things I can do indoors. Like giving myself an ulcer worrying about the drive to and from work. I will also be seeking out classes to take at the gym. I belong to two gyms–that’s right, two. One is the usual fitness gym, one is a crossfit box. (Is that right? I’ve been a member half a year and haven’t been enough to understand the terminology.) Like many sad people with gym memberships they don’t use, I hold onto mine with the belief that one day, I will return and take advantage of what I’ve lost so much money on already.

This week’s potential motivation is brought on by the beginning of a weight loss challenge being held by the regular gym. Having attended the opening class tonight, I now realize that it is actually a six week long advertisement for the group classes and personal training the gym has to offer. I feel a little duped, like I was promised a vacation and ended up with a presentation on owning a timeshare. Whatever. I guess it worked. I’m now actually going to seek out some of the classes and give them a shot. There were about sixty people who showed up tonight for the gym timeshare lecture. Maybe seeing some of my fellow competitors in the classes will make them seem a little less intimidating.

The sucky thing is, I can’t actually complete the challenge–I’ll be on vacation for the final week, so I automatically fail. I knew this going in, but it still kind of sucks all the same.

While waiting in line for our first day measurements, one of women standing next to me started a conversation, asked what makes me happy. First of all, who asks that of a perfect stranger? Isn’t that kind of personal? Second, fuck if I know. That definitely requires some thought on my part, more than I want to spend while waiting in line. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t offended or anything, just a little taken aback. Such an odd question, but maybe that’s just the kind of person she is. She seemed entertaining, and definitely entertained. Maybe she just likes seeing the reaction she can get.

So, how about it? What makes you happy? Can you answer in thirty seconds or less without having to think about it first? Or do we all need to take a moment, define what happiness means to us, and then decide whether or not we have achieved happiness?

Give me a month. Maybe I’ll have an answer.

Sunday tasks

Took Tony out for a three plus mile walk in the snow and ice. It actually sounds worse than it was–the sun was shining, so I actually got pretty toasty, and my dog loves the snow, so it was good for the both of us. Meanwhile, the friend I’m doomed to do the Dopey Challenge with completed the Houston marathon this morning (I was kind of hoping this would dissuade her from the idea–no such luck). I followed along a bit on the live tracking they had–she finished in under six hours, which I think is amazing. I honestly can’t imagine running for six hours straight. What do you do? How do you keep yourself from going crazy? She told me she does math (which, ugh, would just make me even more insane) or counts cars, if she’s going through a neighborhood. I’m hoping I can find a method that works for me. I know if I start thinking too much about my life, it throws off my focus and I just can’t get it back. When I was younger, I used to be an aspiring writer (weren’t we all?), and I still occasionally make up stories in my head for those moments when I really don’t need to be thinking about anything–when I’m driving, in the morning when I’m getting ready for work, when I’m trying to fall asleep. Maybe that’ll do the trick. I’ll just have to come up with a really good storyline. Unless that requires too much concentration. The main issue I’ll have is finding a way to keep crazy bitch mode under control. This is one of the reasons why I’m trying to develop a confidence journal.

Crazy bitch mode is what I call miles eight through eleven during a half marathon. Some people call it hitting the wall. My way seems a little more descriptive. During crazy bitch mode, I’m mentally ranting about how tired I am, how hungry I am, how mad I am at how I’m doing, how I hope they just take me off the course completely, how much I hate running, how stupid I was to sign up for this…you get the idea. Every negative thought comes out during that time, and it takes up about a third of a half marathon. Imagine doing that through a third of a full marathon. There’s no way I would finish.

One of the running groups I’m in recommended Strong: A runner’s guide to boosting confidence and becoming the best version of you by Kara Goucher. It’s basically talking about how to develop confidence in yourself using a method that she uses, keeping a confidence journal. Trying to get through this book is already starting out rough. One of the first exercises is to list three things you like about yourself, and I’m drawing a blank. In fact, I’m procrastinating right now by writing here. Surely, I have more self-esteem than this. But that’s a tough question to answer for most people, isn’t it? Or are there people out there who can instantly start listing off things they like about themselves? The idea that those people exist kind of blows me away. Do I want to be one of those people? Is it possible? I suppose there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a little more self-assured, in knowing that I can believe in what I do. I’m sure there will be always be fears, but having a method of overcoming those fears is something I think everyone would want. A confidence journal might be my method, it might not. Still, it’s worth a try.

Back to trying to find three things I like about myself. Can’t give up now–I’ve just barely begun. That’s a thing, right?

I blame you, SNL.

My favorite sketches on Saturday Night Live are those parodying the game show Jeopardy with Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek and Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery. The utter vindictiveness and willful stupidity portrayed in those sketches never fails to make me laugh, and I love how Sean Connery always manages to misread a category, turning it into something awful. Having said that, one night, the category was “Let it Snow”. Sean Connery, being the asshole that he is, reads the category as “Le Tits Now”. Because of this sketch, I can never see or hear “Let it Snow,” or even walk through a winter wonderland without thinking, “Le Tits Now”. Thank you for that, SNL.

I’m currently in the middle of another winter storm, and I’ve spent a good hour texting with my employees trying to decide whether or not to open tomorrow. I’m not expecting much business, but these days, every little bit counts. The worst part is that I live thirty-five minutes away, so the driving for me can be somewhat hazardous in winter. And it’s not even driving on the roads themselves (though I’ll admit, ice packed or snow covered roads are not my favorite), it’s the idiots who think they’re invincible and drive without any sense of safety for themselves or for the people around them. The ones who creep up behind me, get pissy when I’m not going ten miles over the speed limit, and then pass me while I’m just thinking, “Please, don’t kill us both.” They’re the reason I hate driving in winter. Them and the ice.

Forecasters have been predicting this storm all week, and I’ve had trouble sleeping with the anxiety caused by the anticipation of having to deal with winter. It’s been a great excuse to sleep in instead of getting up and maybe going on a long walk with the dog. Well, not great, but it’s been an excuse, and excuses are just so easy to come by. Being a business owner, I can really take advantage of that to let myself off the hook for a lot of things. The excuses may not necessarily be real, but they do come in handy. Time for that to stop, I suppose. If I make it through tomorrow, I’ve got one day off before returning to work, and my goals for that day include laundry, actually getting on the treadmill since the snow and the wind and the crazy low temperatures are not going to make it feasible to walk outside, working on my confidence journal, beginning my training journal, and meal planning (not prep, mind you, just making sure I have the right kinds of foods around the house so I’m not tempted to search out the wrong kinds). One day to get my shit together for next week. The beginning. Week one.

If you read Day 1 (I honestly don’t know what else to call it–I wish this thing were formatted more like a book. Who wants to come in right in the middle of anything?), you’ll recall I’m supposed to start marathon training on Tuesday. I’m kind of looking forward to it? I know it’s not much to start, and I’m okay with that. I can’t do a whole lot right now and it’s been months since I last attempted to run. I had to hunt for my poor Garmin, which was shoved deep in a bag in a corner of my desk, the battery completely dead. I’m happy it charged. Now I just have to remember how to work it. I once spent two minutes trying to save a run and just kept starting and stopping it over and over again because I forgot the watch had a touchscreen. Not one of my finer moments.

Maybe some of my winter anxiety can be written up to training anxiety. There’s always that fear of failure. I have to remember it’s actually okay if I can’t run a full marathon by the end of June. That’s when my challenge training starts, and my marathon training is supposed to help get me in shape for that. Still, it would be nice to know I can actually get through one before devoting myself to four days of running hell. But that’s not something to worry about right now. Right now, my immediate worries are centered around what the weather conditions will be like tomorrow and if I’ll be able to drive to and from work without sliding off the road.

Le tits now, le tits now, le tits now. (Damn you, SNL.)

I’m so confused.

This is possibly why I’ve never set up a website for my business because this is supposed to be one of easiest formats to navigate and I’m just wandering around thinking, “Huh?” I did switch over to my computer with the disappointing hope that it might make things easier to navigate. It really doesn’t. But, the page is up and running, so I guess that’s a start.

Back to my “journey”. Ugh. What a terrible expression. It’s not a journey. A journey is something done by Hobbits and dwarves and elves and the like. It’s got a beginning and an end and a tale to tell and is an adventure. If major lifestyle changes came with ethereally beautiful elves and rugged handsome men, all those diet fads across the world would immediately go bankrupt and I might not be in my fourth decade of starting over. I can’t even consider it to be and adventure. Adventures are more fun. Sure, they have their challenges to overcome and hurdles along the way, and maybe they’re even a bit more grueling than every day life, but you look forward to overcoming all the bad parts of an adventure because you know your goal is just ahead.

Sure, that sounds like the description of a thousand weight loss/fitness/lifestyle ‘journeys’, but here’s the thing–I know what’s ahead. I know all the steps. I’ve been there, done that, and having to start over yet again, especially after once having my goal within my reach, it’s fucking hell. It’s hard work and pain and denial and suffering. There will be tears. Oh yes, there will be tears. Loss of confidence. Frustration. Anger. Self-hate. Self-doubt. Crushing defeat. It’s damn near impossible to to make that sound like an adventure. Sounds to me like a litany of reasons not to even start.

This brings me back to my blog. The title of my blog is “Focus on the Negative”. It comes from the musical Waitress. Great musical, gorgeous music. During the song I take my title from, the lead is waiting for the results of a pregnancy test and her friends are encouraging her to focus on the negative, meaning, to hope for a negative result saying she’s not pregnant. My negative is a little different. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a cynic. I do not have a positive outlook on life. My mind doesn’t go straight to the worst case scenario, but it’s not exactly trying to see the bright side of things. I’m not sure how to do that. I grew up with a negative family. It’s who we are. I’m not sure I can change, but I’m pretty sure I need to try. I don’t think I can do this if I’m always telling myself I’m going to fail.

That seems like a good place to stop, right? Very profound ending. Plus, my dog is getting pissed because he’s trying to sleep and I’m over here making noise on the computer, so I guess it’s time to go.

Till the sun don’t shine. (Also from Waitress. Seriously, amazing musical. Go listen.)

Well, shit.

Consider this an accountability blog. Or a blathering blog. Or a bit of both, really. The point is, I need to figure some shit out, and the best way to do that anymore seems to be on a public forum. This might be where the accountability comes in.

(As far as formatting goes, there’s going to be some trial and error. I’ve never tried anything like this before and trying to set up a site on a tablet is a truly terrible idea, so bear with me while I figure it out.)

Let me begin with the summarized version of my life story. Fat. Always have been. Came close once to coming within sixty pounds of my goal weight, so I was halfway there, then bought a bakery. You can imagine how well that went. So, here I am, starting over. Again.

What’s different this time? As you might have guessed from the tag line, my reluctant goal is to run a marathon. But why stop there. My overall goal is the Dopey Challenge. If you’re unfamiliar with Disney races, and I assume most of you are, they’re races where people throw away a ridiculous amount of money to spend a weekend running through the theme parks. I’ve done this four(?) times now? I’m old, my memory is going. A friend and I always do the Princess weekend, which involves the Fairytale Challenge—the 10k followed by a half marathon the next day. This is how we celebrate our birthdays. Fun, right?

Next year, she turns forty and wants to do the Dopey. The Dopey involves four races over four days—5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. Fucking crazy. Over the past few years, I’ve done the Princess races with no training and ended up demoralized physically and emotionally, with my confidence eviscerated by my misery. Seriously, I don’t recommend doing anything like this without training. You’ll just hate yourself in the end, and it’s not worth it. She, on the other hand, will be running the Houston marathon for the third time this year, so she’ll be fine. In order not to embarrass myself yet again, I’ve got to get my shit together and start running. I’ve got the gear, I’ve got a training calendar, I’ve got the planner, I’ve got my confidence journal (should really crack that bitch open), I just need to set foot out the door.

Starting next Tuesday.