The Growth Inside of One Year

The Growth Inside of One Year

It has been one year since I decided to get on the roads and trails to get back to running. The choice to make running a priority and habit again has led to growth and adventures that I did not expect to come across through the determination to overcome my aliments and run again.  

A few months have gone by since I last recorded about my journey to a better total lifestyle and those days have passed by in a blur. The moment the second quarter of this year came into focus my life switched gears and the need to adjust was centered in front of me. The need for an adjustment was bought on while working toward the goals that I committed to in the beginning of this year and the steps I have taken to get closer to those goals. 

I found no time to throw away and more time had to be given to what is of top priority for me. Each week I considered what was working and what could be done differently for the progress of the change I want to see and live in daily. Giving up was not an option (and it still isn’t one now). I looked at everything as a whole and changed what is considered a priority or simply urgent to me. Doing this has allowed me to continue to keep doing the necessary activities that life requires and the ones I desire to do also efficiently.

During this spring and summer, I found my way around new trails ranging from easy to difficult terrain. I traveled through forest and across sand, up and down steep elevations, in wet and cool temperatures and when the sun was shining bright. When I stared this journey last year, I didn’t think I would cross into hiking as much as I have, but I welcome the change, I welcome a mind to evolve at any point and embrace what is happening now and adjust if it is not where I want to be or what I want to do. I am better than the January version of myself, not someone else, and that is satisfying.

In the last year I have not only found my way back to running and enjoying the benefits of it, but I have also taken on other activities of total health and made them important routines for my life. I am finding ways to strengthen my body, increase my endurance, and eat well for my health and enjoyment. Becoming disciplined in my physical health compliments my mental and emotional health. My health journey has also spilled over into my career and other life adventures and commitments and allowed me to have a new perspective on those ventures. I am understanding and accepting that I must adjust and move forward in all of my life positions.

Has it been easy? No, it has not. There have been easier days and weeks as there has been difficult days and weeks. Working through doubts, criticism, pain, and other health issues has been a struggle but the encouragement from others, self-affirmations, days without pain, and the end in mind has made the easy days a breeze and the hard days better. The days I say not today, today I am going to rest are present too and they make me able to continue toward the change I want to live in. I don’t forget to enjoy the moments of success as they come and remember what I am capable of as I move into the difficult moments. 

I have adjusted a lot this year and I predicted going forward I will still have to finds ways to maneuver the unexpected. Why do we adjust to what is going on around us anyway? Most of the time if we don’t adjust, we have to leave the situation completely. We probably adjust to the circumstances we are in more than we realize. If you ever arrive at an airline check-in to a line of a couple of hundred people long ahead of you, you know when the need for an adjustment is front and center on your path. You likely begin to think and move to fill the need of the adjustment. You may have to skip getting in line for your favorite drink or food and settle for filling your container at the water faucet. You may even need to wait to use the airplane lavatory if time is limited. The other option may be to pay more and be moved to the front of the check-in line, but you adjust to the circumstance.

The dreams and goals we have will settle into us until we reach them or let go of the idea of them. This year of commitment and new challenges has helped me to see what I want for my life and the person I want to continue to become. As you take on your own journey and all that it has to offer you, remember to enjoy your accomplishments, work through the difficult days, and rest.

Conquer

Conquer

Welcome to a new year with me. Though it does not feel like a typical beginning of a new year I have set forth goals and milestones to reach. I haven’t done this out of feeling the need to become a new person or to set a resolution to forget in a few weeks. I am continuing a lifestyle. A day-to-day commitment to remember and act on the memory of what I desire to achieve each day. I am committed to building and keeping the lifestyle I want. 

I used to get caught up in the sparkle of a new year and make list of what I would do and how I would be. The truth is, only about one of my good intentions would actually make it off the paper. I am not sure of the exact year I stopped being so absurd in my plans and became more honest with myself about how to take the steps that were realistic for me to get the results I wanted in life, but it is a better way for me.

This year some of the things I am focusing on include strength, endurance, and being able to conquer what I set out to do each month. I want to become stronger in my physical body, but I see no limits to wellness and will also work on strengthening my total being. I can visualize my body taking on the movements and distances that will bring strength and endurance to every muscles and organ that is affected. Although I can see these things in my mind, I do not believe they will happen without action and commitment. If there isn’t a plan or guide to follow and a get up and do attitude the strength will not enter my body and the endurance will not show up. 

I can envision steps and goals being conquer day by day. Fitness and social goals, intellectual and spiritual ambitions are lined up in my mind ready to be swiped off the list and noted as accomplished. I feel empowered by seeing these things happen in my mind.  The empowerment feeling is a motivating force for me. It gives me the energy to get out of the blocks and run toward the path that leads to an end I desire. The good feeling about what is ahead and the change I envision will remain a picture in my mind and not a reality unless there is a plan and execution. There will not be a conquering without a beginning and a follow through for each step I have planned.

I encourage you to be excited about your life, your desires and the change you envision for yourself. There is usually a spark of excitement and energy in the beginning of anything new. As time goes by the excitement and energy that was present in the beginning can fade or completely disappear. When this occurs, it is helpful to evaluate the kind of change you have set to accomplish and see if it is still in line with what you truly desire. If they don’t line up, make your needed adjustments. If they line up the same, then you may want to consider why you aren’t acting on those desires. It can then get into a lack of planning and follow through, lack of inspiration or motivation, or the will to do is absent. Self-reflect and find out what is holding you back.

If you have started this year with a plan to continue or begin your total wellness lifestyle and adjust as your life changes you are likely on the path that will keep you from extreme pitfalls that can accompany some resolutions and vows to become this or that. As you go from week to week determine the action that is needed for the steps you want to take towards your goals. Remember whatever you desire or see yourself having or doing only happens with action.

Getting Beyond Your Limits

Getting Beyond Your Limits

I am going for another round of daily leg workouts to fire up my muscles again. I really like doing a vigorous routine of side shuffles, jumping squats, forward lunge, and jumping jacks in combination for about twenty minutes and then finish with a brisk walk for 10 to 20 minutes. I go for a high number of reps during each set when I am not using weights to keep the workout in resemblance of a HIIT routine. It is difficult and I definitely take a ten second break to breathe during the moments I feel like I am not going to make it through another set, maybe even 15 seconds. The walk keeps me from getting stiff afterwards and gets me to my 30-minute minimum of daily exercise.

Doing these kinds of vigorous routines and switching up the type of exercise I choose to include throughout each month has been beneficial for the building of muscles and keeping the motivation when I think about passing on the strength training. My flexibility and balance are increasing as I perform the various movements required for the different types of cardio and weightlifting, I am doing. I feel my body being healed and I am doing the things I once felt were beyond my limits.

It is amazing what the body is capable of doing and becoming. We may sit around suffering from one complication to the next and not be aware that exercise can change those complications we wake up to everyday. Becoming stronger can change or eliminate the pain we have in different parts of our body. Sometimes we see exercise or diet being pushed on us as a way to look good or to get back into a piece of clothing from five years ago and ignore the real reason to get moving. 

The more important part of exercise is the healing of the body and mind that can take place with each day that we give our bodies a chance. Whether it is by way of a short hike, a long run, or weight machines however you choose must be right for you and where you are in your relationship with exercise and better health.

I encourage you today to get to know your body and understand why you feel certain pains or limits. How do you feel about your body and health? Ask yourself why you feel the way you do about your body, about exercise and your total health. I hope the clarity you find will bring the change and motivation you desire into your journey. 

Familiar vs New

Familiar vs New

Ten days into the month and I am keeping the pace. This month I will do 6 to 8 miles for my longer runs and 2 miles for my recovery days. There are several routes I will add to my list this month. I like to have a mixture of hills and flat terrain, and I will still include a familiar route that has several rolling hills. Some good things can happen on familiar routes.

On a path I know, like the one with the rolling hills, I can run without thinking about what is coming or which way I should go. I know the general distance I must go and the amount of time that must lapse before I reach my set goal. Although the route is familiar it is still a challenge. I can barely keep my pace while traveling up these steep hills and they seem to never top off quick enough. I used to slow all the way down to a walk at about halfway up a couple of the hills, but now I keep running. It is a slower run as I push my aching thighs to continue, and I will take that for now. 

Maneuvering this route, a couple of times a month has created a few fans for me on the sidelines. Along the way there is a blue house which is fenced in, but the gate is usually open when I pass by and there are three young boys who call out to me and wave. I have even grabbed a runaway ball for them and made sure they made it back across the street after retrieving it. Hearing their laughter and voices alarms me of the next hill on my route. Their house is right at the beginning of the second hill I run up and it may be the steepest. 

At the top of that hill there isn’t a downslope, it curves right into another incline. Since there is a dogwalker’s house midway through I call it the Doghouse hill. At this point on my route I am occasionally greeted by a lady sometimes she is in her car or headed into to her home. Normally she nods or smiles, and I often see people passing by or in their cars doing this, so I wasn’t expecting to be remembered until the day she did something unusual. I was rounding the curve at the top of the hill and headed into the next just as I passed her house and she yells out “you are getting stronger”. I smiled through my mask as I waved at her and ran on. A few seconds later I looked down at my legs and thought I am getting stronger. 

I needed those words in my ear that day. Before I stepped off my porch that morning, I had decided to run right through the Blue House hill or hill number 2 and on to the connecting Doghouse hill or hill number 3. Even if I had to catch my breath for a couple of seconds on the downslope, I was going to make that day my first time completing both hills without walking. It is great to find new routes to challenge the muscles and it is also rewarding to go on a familiar path. I am looking forward to doing both during this month.

A Ride for a Lifetime

A Ride for a Lifetime

Every day of August was not a day with a physical activity planned and conquered. I had days that I used to recover and days that I let rush by without getting a workout in. I wanted to make a habit of being okay with strength training and running to make it a part of my present and future and that has been a success. 

For the month of September I want to focus on building the lifetime physical health image that is in my mind. I think of physical health as something that must done for a lifetime just like eating and sleeping. It can appear as more of an option or accessory to life instead of a necessity. I look at it like the food a body must have to survive, if one type of food can no longer be ingested you switch to one that can and chose not to be hungry. You eat for a lifetime out of necessity and exercise has to be looked at the same way if you want to have a total body wellness.

I realize my lifetime image will change as my endurance, strength, and age change, but it must continue from day to day and month to month. Waking up each day with a set time to run and a set distance to go will give me the power to build this lifelong image with a routine in place until it becomes an actually routine.  I’ll keep a voice in my mind to shout an encouragement to me if a sudden modification needs to happen for any reason. It will tell me to adjust, but don’t give up, don’t abandon your wellness and I will listen. I don’t ever want to be in the place of doing nothing because I cannot do exactly what I desire to do. 

I have found my way out of reserve and into a better lifestyle. The work of August has given me a momentum to reach new physical goals that will shake up mind and please my spirit, I am ready for the ride.

The End of a Thing

The End of a Thing

The end of a thing will set the scene for what is next. As the month of August bows and prepares for an exit, I am headed into a new season, one that I can enter into with an accomplishment that is open for growth. I can confidently say another 30-day goal is reachable and something I will take on as a part of my choice to improve my health lifestyle.   

I opted for a 30-day challenge to start off to avoid feeling pressured by time. It is easy to choose a yearlong goal and say how many miles you will run, how much weight you will lose or the amount of muscles you will gain, but the doing is the difficult part. If you think there is more time to reach a goal, you may put off getting started or wait until the last few months to act and over work the body or start an extreme weight loss regimen. Choosing a weekly or monthly goal or doing a quarterly check-in with yourself may provide insight into your progress and help to determine what you really want for yourself.

Running without trying to break a record and doing strength building exercises without trying to compete with a me from the past gave me a chance to commit to a new beginning without limits or minimums. I only looked to finish the miles I planned for the day or the amount of time I agreed to at the start of my strength training. There was not a picture of an athlete, friend, or neighbor hanging in my mind to compete with; only the present me, the contract, and a healthier lifestyle.

In the journey to get back something I love, something I would do on any waking day I found a start to reclaiming a healthier lifestyle. A lifestyle I placed in the background and did not give great importance to. Every day I am making a choice to live better for my health and reaping the benefits that affect the other parts of my life. I changed my routine to get what I love back into my life. I pushed aside the excuses and reasons why I should not, and l decided I would. I looked pass the thought of the physical pain I knew would come and embraced the pain of change I felt. 

I feel great, my body is shaping into a physique I have not seen in a while and I feel no pressure to become a size. I will continue on the journey.

Getting My Run Back

Getting My Run Back

Heading into the third week of executing the contract I made with myself, I looked at the calendar and half the month was behind me. I had done some things to get acquainted with giving my body the daily exercise it deserved. Running was at the top of my list and the other cardio I included offered the right portion of different I needed to spark a fire in my muscles. I could feel the effects of the various squats, lunges, and balancing moves in my fibers. It was satisfying to feel stronger, but I had another feeling going on too.

As I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt a burst of excitement and I smiled as the words “I am really doing this” entered my mind. I almost got a bit goofy. Here I was opening the door that had merely been cracked opened for more than a year and the crack hadn’t been large enough for me to get through. Day after day I would watch people run up hill, downhill and around the parks all from my car window. Why not just go and run? I wanted to, I wanted to take a chance. I didn’t budge and was not planning to. 

I had developed anemia from having low iron and it was extremely paralyzing to think of being out on a trail or miles away from home and not be able to catch my breath. I thought I would be out there waiting for someone to find me. I tried indoor running and exercises, but any vigorous movement for more than a few minutes would send me to the coolest part of the house to catch my breath. Defeated, I took my pills and waited for a change in the numbers.

Months later my iron replenished, but my habit of running was lost on some path I couldn’t find and nowhere near my doorstep. Running has been a safe place for my thoughts and a release for any doubts or stress that would land on my shoulders. The moment I let “the run” slip from my reach I also allowed that place of release to disappear. 

I gained 20 lbs. during this setback and I saw a rippling effect in the making. Knowledge of this uninviting future pushed me to start the scattered exercise routine; you know the one day this week workout or maybe a brisk walk on my break kind of day. It wasn’t working and I was ready for more. Then came the month of August peaking from below July and like a concerned friend I told myself “it’s a perfect time to get your run and back”. 

Preparation

Preparation

My body was still adjusting to the change in routine. At the start of the week I noticed one of my knees had a strange feeling in it after logging 4miles. It wasn’t there while I was running or during other exercises, but post workout I could feel the difference while walking around indoors. The jiggly feeling in my knee nearly psyched me out of doing anything at all. Then I remembered the pain and stiffness from the first week of resting too long after a long run and I wasn’t signing up to walk around with that type pain haunting my steps. 

Although the discomfort in my knee was not painful, and it would come and go I couldn’t ignore it. If I was going to get stronger and healthier, I also needed to include proper before and after care of my body. I couldn’t allow one health concern be reason to put my body at risk for a real injury, so I took some care action. 

I checked my gear and to be sure I had the right shoes for the distance and impact. The running shoes I was using had also become the ones I would leave at the door and throw on to go wherever. I switch them up with another pair that were tucked away in the garage and the switch up made a huge difference. I could feel the cushioning and a solid support in theses old but new shoes, and they did not weigh me down. They were not the only change up, I also decided to wear a brace to help reduce the movement of my knee and the area around it while causally going up and down the stairs in the house.

Research, learning and doing without worrying myself out of progress are what carried me through the second week of real commitment to self. I thought my takeaway this week would be the connection to the outdoor scenery or the music that helped to boost my effort, but it was the knowledge of preparation. Having the best tools for the hour is just as important as having the will to do the work for the type of improvement I want to see.

The First Contracted Run

The First Contracted Run

August was approaching and I thought, why not start this month with a contract with yourself to renew your love of running and to commit to daily exercise. It sounded good in my head, so I agreed with my thoughts. It would at least give me a chance to get out of the sporadic exercise routine I had fallen into over the last year. I went from running or some form of daily exercise to a couple days a week. This fall off had affected my health and my mental being. My cholesterol was up in January and I really did not want it to worsen or any other health issues popping up. I had been looking at my mushy arms for months and was longing to get some lost muscle back into my body. I figured since I have always enjoyed running and being outside that this would be the way to get to a better place physically and mentally. 

I went for it, 5 miles that is. August 1st rolled up quickly. It was on a Saturday and I set out to do a 5mile run. It was mid-morning by the time I laced up my shoes and pulled on my mask. By this time the number of cyclists and other pedestrians out on the trail had grown to a moderate number, but I was up for the challenge of maneuvering the path and any obstacles.

As my feet hit the ground and bounced up again, I tried to think light and push off my toes without planting my weight into the ground. I think I was over focused. I worked to power through my moment of feeling tired and wanting to stop and lie down right on the path. My lungs did not quickly agree with my new actions, but I ignored the pain and pushed through. Eventually my breathing improved even with the impairment of the mask I was sporting, and the tired feeling left. I had made it over the beginners’ hump and after a fair amount of wind, sun and sweat I was breezing through my run.

Some time passed and I caught myself smiling and daydreaming (enough to nearly smash into another runner) as I approached the stop lights right off the trial. I realized I was a few steps from reaching my 5-mile mark and my home. A feeling came over me that made me believe I could actually do this for 30 days and maybe even something more difficult. Those thoughts were tested immediately after the pain set in the following morning.