For two weeks I have battled a case of winter snark. Despite an appearance of happiness, peace and goodwill my inner voice continues to have more snark as the winter days linger on. Last night, the snark would not shut up. I was trying to fall asleep. It kept listing one complaint after another. Finally, I demanded silence.
While I am not anywhere close to being snark-free, I stopped living in denial last night. I admitted to having winter snark and signed myself up for a self-imposed, five-step recovery program.
1. Listen to my favorite music when and wherever possible. Blink 182, Foo Fighters, Korn, Rob Zombie and Journey are among the artists who help take me to happier places.
2. Girlfriend time puts winter snark in its place: out in the cold where it belongs. Without fuel, the snark does not have energy to thrive.
3. Exercise is my number-one defense against any kind of snark: winter, cleaning, marital, parenting, alcohol shortage, etc. Fitness is a natural outlet for all negativity to escape. Too bad this doesn’t work while I’m driving. Sign language isn’t enough.
4. Writing is my second line of defense. Again, it is another method I use to relieve stress. Once I write it, it’s no longer a burden. I may still need to resolve a problem. But, I no longer feel it clouding my thoughts. Somehow, I achieve clarity on the direction I should take.
5. Attack action item list, which is always growing. After crossing items off, I felt accomplishment, not dread from excuses for not “doing.”
Next week is it folks. The onslaught of holiday fun amps up in a big way. Feasting on turkey at Thanksgiving dinner, holiday parades and tree-lighting ceremonies, parties, family time, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all advancing toward me at a lightening-speed pace. But, that’s not all. Issa and Riff each have holiday-themed activities and projecting coming up at school. This is all good. It’s what I — and many others call — organized chaos.
In preparation for weeks of indulging, gift, giving, baking, decorating and partying I went for my first spinning class, this morning. Exercise is a regular segment to my daily routine. But, I admit to being a bit lazy through most of this fall. This class is just what my fitness program needed: a challenge.
Let me tell you. A spinning class is not biking the Macomb Orchard Trail or Stony Creek Metro Park. It’s biking, cardio, strength and interval training all mixed up. For weeks, I searched for something to keep me motivated to work out regularly. This class is it. I’ll be back each week for the entire winter.
Remember that ’80s song, Deep Feeling Fascination from Human League? Whenever I am in procrastination mode — like now — that song plays in my head; nonstop.
Keep feeling [procrastination]. Passion burning. Love so strong. Keep feeling [procrastination]. Looking learning. Moving on.
— Human League
Here I sit in my writer’s chair. The elliptical machine in my home gym is lonely; waiting for my motivation to fire me up. What is it about cold, autumn mornings?
At the start of the school year, I did so well. After putting both kids on the bus, I would go for either a bike ride, run or walk. I still go walking. But, only if a friend wants to join. That way I get my social fix along with my fitness.
But, now, six weeks in, I no longer have the spark. I would rather sit typing while nursing steaming hot cups of caffeinated goodness. Then, at day end, I feel weak and undisciplined for not pushing myself to get off my butt.
I think I know what the problem is. I give myself too many outs. For instance, I spent too long lingering on Facebook, checking e-mails and looking at the LOFT online sale for clothing and accessories I don’t need. Had I jumped on the elliptical instead of Facebook, I would be humming from a good cardio boost and a hot shower.
But, now, I have less than 20 minutes to ready myself for a meeting with the Green Committee from the school PTO at Panera. So, I have given myself a valid excuse, “I don’t have time.”
To console myself, I keep saying it was too cold outside at 8 am to walk, run or bike. Plus, it’s still too confining to work out in my home gym. There isn’t snow or ice on the ground. I’ll just do my workout later. Yeah, right.
BTW, that sale at LOFT offers an extra 50-percent off at checkout. So, my procrastination was not a complete waste.
I have the perfect mix of emotions fueling my post today. My daughter, Issa, refused to get dressed. Then, she went into meltdown-mode when she missed the bus. Consequently, she was tardy for school. Don’t you just wish there was a re-start or rewind button for mornings like this?
Anyway, one can assume I have my fair share of these tumultuous daily beginnings. If you read previous posts you’ll discover I write frequently about writing and my reasons for doing so.
Like exercise, I find writing to be an outlet for stress and negativity. I do all I can to minimize both. Once I put words on a page, I feel calmness. Perhaps it’s the acknowledgement of my feelings and reality that helps. Also, I believe writing enables me validate whatever I am experiencing. It’s just me and my words. There are not outside voices talking at me or trying to influence my feelings.
What about you? Does writing help you de-stress or rid you of toxic energy?
I have excuses for everything. They are at the ready for missed workouts, disconnect with family and friends, not walking the dog, serving chicken nuggets for dinner, or any occasion. I catch myself firing them off whenever I fall short of meeting my expectations.
At the school bus stop, Friday morning, one of my girlfriends commented on having finished her workout already. All of us other moms congratulated her motivation and commitment to fitness. But, I also heard myself rambling down my list of excuses. Not only was I excusing myself from morning workouts, I was excusing myself from workouts at any time of day.
Part of me wanted to hear my friends tell me my excuses were valid. Thankfully, they are no-excuse-girlfriends. They didn’t let me off the hook. So, that’s when I decided it was time to stop with the excuses; not just on missing workouts. But, on all other areas where I know improvement is required.
Perhaps part of the adjustment required is creating realistic expectations. For example, I whined about being too sleepy to work out before my children wake up. They wake up at 6:30 am. Instead of whining about why not, I decided to work out at 8:30/9:00 am, which is after my oldest gets on the bus. That I way, I accomplish my daily fitness goal before I become distracted with other high-priority responsibilities. So far, I’ve made two consecutive workouts this week.
I also have alternative workout plans to eliminate weather-, television-, or hunger-related excuses. It’s a given that scheduling conflicts will mess with my plan to workout every single morning at 8:30 am. So, rather than give myself an out, I have my answers ready to ensure I stay on track. Changes to workout locations, programs and times are not difficult. Plus, mixing up the routine a bit is beneficial.
I had a falling out with my exercise regimen. For nearly two years I stayed the course of mixing up various cardio work outs with interval strength training. The results: less stress, fewer inches, more energy and volumes of blog post ideas.
But, something happened in the midst of summer. I was catching grasshoppers with Issa, star gazing with my husband and drinking root beer flavored vodka on the rocks. The hiatus was only meant for a week.
After a week went by, I still wasn’t feeling the love for a good sweat. Oh well, I thought. Two weeks away isn’t so bad. Then, two weeks turned into three, then four, then … you get the picture … I dumped my exercise.
Since the bust up, I developed a sweat ideology. I noticed an increase in moodiness, stress, inches, and preference for the couch instead of a walk around the block.
Also, I noted more difficulty in coming up with blog post ideas. When I sweat ideas formulate in my brain. As I walk, run, cycle or kick box my mind shuts out the immediate and the detail. My heart beat quickens with my pace and with each big-picture thought.
When my running shoes collect dust and my elliptical is still, ideas I feel at the fringe of being do not have the energy to come forth. They stay locked away. Sometimes they fade. Other times they just wait patiently for me to get out of my chair and step away from my laptop.
Do shoppingmarathons qualify as exercise? I think so. Just like 5k training, they require planning, goals, motivation, comfortable shoes, strategy, selectivity, focus, competition, stamina, strength, resilience, aggression, and great eye candy.
Planning makes it easier to focus and get down to business. Without a workout plan, I spend way too much time deciding which exercises to do. The same is true with shopping marathons. Planning where I’m shopping and what I’m shopping for saves me. Important note: plan flexibility is required for deviation, detours, and impulsive behavior — for 5k training sessions and shopping marathons — especially when one lives north of the “D”.
Motivation is a direct link to making work outs and shopping marathons successful. Something clicks in my head. It pushes me to kick-ass on the elliptical or 5k course. When I have my shopping groove on, I wake up feeling a rush of adrenaline in my veins. I know achievement is at hand.
Comfortable shoes are critical for sprinting and getting to all the must-have deals before my competition does. Shopping marathons are not for the weak and feeble. Proper foot attire is necessary for speed walking, standing for long hours, kicking competitive shoppers in the shins — just kidding — and avoiding fashion faux pas.
Strategy is different from a plan. I define strategy as a methodology for ensuring plan success. When I play tennis, it involves opponent assessment, shot placement, and skill inventory. Shopping marathons require store layout assessment, merchandise knowledge, wish list prioritization, time management, competitive shopper analysis, personal shopper recruitment, checkout line comparison, and exit preparation.
Selectivity or prioritization enables me to complete timely workouts and saves me from overworking muscle groups. This ideology saves time and money during shopping marathons.
Focus means unwavering drive to achieve or acquire. Having met my winter goal of running five miles in 30 minutes on my elliptical, I am now on task to win some 5ks. All of my work outs are centered around achieving this goal. During a shopping marathon, I am focused on acquiring items from my ever-changing wishlist. I do my best not to exit the store until my list is maxed out. But, my children often cause my memory to fail. This means I forget stuff and repeat visits to fave stores are necessary.
Competition is a healthy part of any fitness regimen or shopping marathon. It is expected. A competitive exercise program makes fitness fun. Hesitation to grab one-of-a-kind treasures is sure to kill a shopping marathon before it even gets started.
Stamina builds over time. For example, I was huffing and puffing after five minutes on my elliptical 10 years ago. On Monday, I ran a practice 5k in 30 minutes. At Parisian’s Mother’s Day sale, I entered the store at 10 am and exited at 3:30 pm. I could have lasted another five hours.
Strength also gains when exercise is consistent, practiced and frequent. Shopping marathons are labor intensive and may require heavy lifting.
Resilience is especially important during Zumba classes. For a visual think Elaine from Seinfeld. Shopping marathons — especially ones involving bathing suits — require a tough, resilient attitude. I keep looking and trying stuff on. In the end, I usually find something dazzling. If not, I try again on a different day or after a few spicy rum lemonades.
Aggression fuels my workouts. I translate daily stress into lengthy walks around my neighborhood, positive interval training, and tough-as-nails cardio-kickboxing sessions. Stress and aggression need healthy outlets. Blocking competitive shoppers, keeping a place in the checkout line, and asking for store assistance all take some finesse.
Great eye candy makes any workout better. I burn hundreds of extra calories on the elliptical while watching movies starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio. Whatever works, right? Shopping marathons are all about great eye candy. The more the merrier. After taking a few moments to take in all the must-have goodies, my mind clears and I am on-task to accomplish my mission.
After I put my son on the school bus, I head to Graceful Moves in Shelby Township, Mich. for a one-hour Zumba class. I am a newbie to this Latin-dance, aerobic-exercise craze. But, I can already see and feel why it’s a hit.
The instructor, Sheryl, is amazing to watch and follow. Most of the ladies in my class have been taking Zumba from her for two years. That says a lot about their commitment to staying fit and to having a blast at 9:00 am each Wednesday.
One of the components I love most about this class is the mix of music we dance to. There is truly a beat for just about any person who loves to dance. We mixed it up mostly to Latin music. But, we also pretend to be Jennifer Beals from Flashdance, Lady Gaga and Fergie from Black-Eyed Peas for a few numbers.
A long-time friend for high school inspired me to try Zumba; and I am so glad she did. You should check out her Zumba posts at her blog, Tickling My Fancy. My Wednesday mornings are now something I look forward to and I am having a blast. Here’s to Zumba addiction.