I just completed 12 weeks of training with my coach. I can’t believe it. These past 3 months have been great, and I’m not just saying that. Having accountability and a realistic plan for my schedule has made all the difference. Even though I can’t say I look forward to every workout (it’s still a chore sometimes), what I now think to myself is “how would I feel if I skipped it?”. More often than not I go ahead and get it done.
So you might be thinking that I’m going to post photos of my figure before I started training and now. No. Get that out of your head right now. This whole training thing isn’t about making my body look good (although that is a nice bonus). It’s about getting stronger and fitter.
So what is the Before and After then? Well, Cobra Strike and I have a room in our home that has some workout equipment and some weights. Over time it’s also become a dumping ground for laundry, cat food, chicken supplies, and whatever else doesn’t seem to have a home. Most people have a junk drawer, we have a junk room. I’ve kept enough space open to get on the treadmill as the need arises, but it really is an unpleasant place to be. So I’ve been lugging my weights and yoga mat and bike on the trainer to various rooms in our house to get my workouts done. But that is pretty silly when I have a room that just needs a little TLC.
So I present to you the Before & After of my workout room. It’s still a work in progress, but at least it is clean and functional now. At some point I will paint, but I haven’t decided on a color yet.
So you can see this is a basement gym. We’ve got a treadmill (folded in these photos) up against a wall that has a shelf running the length of it. It’s accumulated a lot of junk over the years: it’s where the cat likes to eat her food, there’s sewing stuff, old magazines, race medals that I haven’t bothered to hang, etc. Basically I just removed all the crap, cleaned it all up and voila! there was plenty of space to put my bike trainer, weights, and yoga mats.
Chalkboard for WODs
The space is cleaner, friendlier, and most importantly functional. As I use the space daily I will figure out a color. I’ve been pinning various ideas on my Pinterest board. Feel free to send me your suggestions. It’s a huge improvement already, although my cat Ruby isn’t too thrilled with the changes (hence the bowl of cat food on the floor).
So I’m happy to report that changes are happening in lots of positive ways.
Right now at my school January is Kindness Month. We are participating in the Great Kindness Challenge, which is a national endeavor the 3rd week of January. I work in a school for deaf and hard of hearing students, and we really want to emphasize this message, so we decided to make kindness the focus for the whole month. We’re doing daily and weekly activities throughout promoting kind acts toward each other. It’s been a lot of fun. I, along with helpful members of our Sunshine Committee made an awesome bulletin board promoting kindness at home, on the bus, inside and outside of school. We made gift-wrapped kindness boxes for each classroom filled with ideas of kind acts to complete daily, promoting an awareness of how we impact and treat each other. Students have been writing and drawing pictures for various staff and students, cleaning up the school yard, handing out stickers, complimenting each other and of course using their manners. Students also have been writing postcards to each other with little positive phrases and drawings. Awesome. We had a Hot Cocoa party on Friday, which was my personal fave to date. We (a few of the high school girls and I) read a story about sharing, and then we ate homemade snacks with our hot cocoa and marshmallows (or Fluff, which is the absolute best way to go back in time…as are snowsuits and mittens with a string trying them together so you don’t lose them). It was lovely to see every student on his or her best behavior, saying please and thank you, expressing gratitude for having such a nice little gathering of friends at the end of the week. Kindness Month is a school-wide effort and it’s been fantastic so far. I’ve been impressed seeing all the students getting into the effort: from the preschool all the way to the high school. We still have two plus weeks left and more to do – art projects, kindness games, staff appreciating the work of other staff. It’s put me in a pretty good mood I must say. I hope we can extend it for another month or two or twelve…
All of this leads me to thoughts of expressing gratitude in my own life and trying to bring some of that kind attitude to other areas, such as the car. Remembering my word of the year is patience, which applies not only to my training, but to driving on the road with other people. Not everyone out there is conspiring to make me late…or are they???
Speaking of training, I hit all 12 of my workouts this week (A+) – much better than my 75% (solid C) – last week. I even met up with my running group on Saturday for a lovely 4 mile jaunt around a local reservoir. It was 19*, but the sun was bright and there was a hot coffee and pumpkin spice muffin waiting for me at the end. I had never run at this location before, even though I drive by every single work day. I will be back for sure. There’s something so peaceful about running by a frozen lake in the winter. Getting outside for some fresh air and exercise plus a lovely breakfast with my running buddies is definitely hygge.
I am grateful for my job. Most of the time I complain about it, as do most employees, right? It’s not easy to work with teenagers day in and day out for 14 years. I mean parents get a break because their kids go through their teens in less than a decade. I’ve been stuck in adolescence angst for a good time longer than that. My gratitude attitude is that I can leave all those kids at the school house door. When I get home my dogs are always happy to see me and rarely bring me any drama. They don’t need the newest iPhone or have any problems on Snap Chat, and for that I am forever grateful. I wish I could say the same about my small flock of chickens, but those ladies are full of drama. They’re crabby when it’s cold, and when it’s hot, and when there’s a new girl, or if they don’t get to sit next to their fave on the roosting bar…but I put up with all of that because they give me delicious eggs. (And they don’t live in my house.)
I’m always grateful for Cobra Strike even though I don’t say it enough. I came home on Friday afternoon to homemade Beef Wellington in the oven. What!? Yes. That is just one of the thousands of sweet things that man does for me on the regular. He’s the best.
I’m also grateful for my family. My parents who do too much for very little recognition. In that circumstance it is easy to be taken for granted. I want them to know that they’re appreciated and loved. Parents, children, siblings…we’re supposed to drive each other crazy sometimes, right? It happens sometimes despite our best intentions. This week I was reminded of what it was like to be a kid – drinking hot cocoa my mom made me with a big dollop of Fluff – after coming in from playing in the snow. That is a happy memory for me, one that I enjoyed reliving while sitting on the floor drinking that steaming cup of chocolate and Fluff with my students on a Friday afternoon.
Not too long ago my mom gave me my grandmother’s gratitude journal. It is filled with so many regular, everyday observations, and here is one I find particularly fitting for this post:
At this sitting It’s unlikely I can pinpoint episodes that created specific gratitude in me. On the contrary, I feel a bit Pollyannish as I wrap my self in a “cloak” of contentment with where I am in my journey.
A friend of mine travelled to Copenhagen a few years ago and returned talking about something called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). I had never heard of it before but I loved the concept. And then I quickly forgot about it. Until today. I came across this article and the timing could not be more perfect. Here I am, freezing cold, cranky now that it’s January, the holidays are over, vacation is over, I’m back at work, and it’s still dark as I’m driving to said job. I may have missed a workout this week too. This concept of hygge flips that attitude about the long, cold, seemingly endless dreary days of winters on its head.
Quite simply hygge means coziness, and who doesn’t love a cozy atmosphere? But not just staying indoors by the fire with a hot cocoa, which is definitely hygge, because there’s a lot more to it. Finding the lovely in the winter, enjoying the snow rather than shaking our fists at it. Having the proper gear always helps. I have brand new snow tires (thanks mom and dad!), and good winter clothing to keep me warm – both for work and for exercise. So being warm when we’re outdoors helps our hygge because we need the little bit of sunshine to boost our spirits, but it also helps us to get out and socialize. Cobra Strike informed me yesterday that he volunteered us to help his school with a giant community project. I can’t think of anything more hygge than to give back to others in their time of need (and spend time with my main squeeze, obviously).
So how will I be flexing my hygge muscles this winter? In addition to the cups of hot cocoa by the fire with a dog in my lap, I’ll be adding more color and lights to my spaces. I’ll do as many of my workouts as possible outdoors. I’ll enjoy our hot tub and use my snow shoes and go out and visit friends. There’s lots of ways to bring more hygge into our lives and why not? It’s such a lovely concept. And winter is going to be here as long as it wants, so let’s make the best of it.
On to other topics…
The big question on my mind today: is there a nail polish or manicure that will withstand my weekly swim workouts? My nails are dry and cracked due to the season, and the chlorine isn’t helping that. Plus I’d love to add a little color – something pretty to look at when I take off my winter gloves… now that I’m thinking of adding more color, today seems like a good day to get a pedicure. Hygge is about pampering oneself too, I’m pretty sure.
Speaking of workouts, my week started off pretty well: 2 rides on the trainer, 1 swim, and a 3 mile run after school (plus all the strength exercises I have to do after my cardio), and then I got the stomach bug that has taken down everyone around me. So I missed a swim and a run. But I had a long chat with my coach and he’s “very happy with my results and dedication, by the way”, which is the feedback I’ve been needing. Right now we are building my base for training. So I’m not going to worry too much about missing a couple this week. I got 8 of the 12 workouts in and that’s pretty decent. Well it’s a solid C, which is very average, but that’s ok. It’s a long process and my word this year is “Patience”, so relax a little, Sally.
December was a whirlwind. But now that the holidays are over and the house has been tidied up (sort of), I think once again of my routine. I am one of those people who likes to pause and reflect and then plan for the next thing. Whatever I decide that to be. With that in mind I did a quick reflection, credit to Swimbikemom, and here is what I learned…
3 Things I Did Right in 2016:
I took a break to sort out my priorities. I believe some would call it a mid-life crisis. But it worked at a time over the summer when things were most definitely not working for me. I learned that this triathlon thing is not something I’m ready to give up on yet. I have to see where this adventure will take me.
I joined a running group. This was a big, scary thing that turned out to be a very nice complement to my exercise routine. The ladies I’ve met and run with have been friendly and welcoming and I can keep up with them! That was probably always the fear – that I was too slow. But when we’re all chatting away the miles seem to fly by!
I finally got myself a real-life coach. Best decision EVER. Yes it costs real money but that’s what is getting me off the couch. Would I be waking up at 4:30 to get to the pool before work??? Never. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 2 months. I need this right now and I’m looking at the money spent as a wise investment in myself.
3 Things I Must and Therefore Will Improve in 2017:
More meal planning, shopping and cooking. I let a lot of the cooking fall on Cobra Strike’s shoulders because he enjoys cooking. But he’s in grad school now and honestly we’ve had our fill of Tator Tots for a while, so I’m going to step in and do my part for the family. I don’t cook enough even though I do enjoy it.
Limit and/or eliminate booze. This is going to be difficult, but I really want to see what happens when I remove this variable from my diet. I know my weight will improve, so will my sleep, my workouts, my hot flashes (dear Lord please let it help my hot flashes)…This is something I have tried to do but have not completed for any stretch of time. Dry January is a popular thing now (so I’ve heard) so I’m going to give it a try. It’s only 31 days…
Consistency with my training. If I have my coach, no problem. If I’m by myself… Eeeek! This has been a huge challenge for me. I need accountability. Coach and I will be planning my race season soon. So far the only races I have lined up are a 5K in February and a 10K in March. The other thing I need to add to my support team is a Tri Club. I’m going to join the one here in the area and I’m going to volunteer at some races and join them for group rides and runs.
A short phrase or a word to focus on: Patience. This has been coming up for me a lot lately. Cobra Strike bought me a couple of books for Christmas. Joe Friel’s Triathlete’s Training Bible – he talks about the importance of training in moderation and being patient. I tend to get frustrated and lose my motivation with any kind of setback, so this reminder to be patient will help get through those tough times.
My mantra for this month is “What you want is what you will get”. And what that means to me is that I want to hit all my workouts for the week. I want to get up and get moving. If I tell myself “what’s one day? skip it!” then that’s what I’ll get – skipping workouts and zeroes where I should have workouts completed. Am I afraid? Or do I remind myself that I want this big, scary goal and I need to move toward that and away from my own limiting fear.
With that in mind I head into 2017. My expectations are realistic I think. My goals are achievable: consistency with my workouts, focusing on doing all I can to keep moving toward being a successful triathlete – eating well, resting, being patient with the process. I guess that is good advice for us all.
Let me know what has gone well for you or what you’d like to do this year, or your word or phrase. Or your favorite mocktail cuz I’ll be needing some of those.