A Case of Winter Snark: Five-Step Recovery Program

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.”

Related post …

Seven Silent Monsters

Spinning Toward the Rush

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.

 

Deep Feeling Procrastination

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.

 

Twisted Hues

Having a blast at the Color Run’s post-race color fest. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lott

Yesterday, at 8:38 a.m., I participated in my first Color Run. While the race encourages people to live healthier, this 5k promotes diversity, creativity and community and not speed, competition or athleticism.

I ran the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor course with my second cousin Jennifer and her sister Katie. Thousands danced to Top 40 hits waiting for their wave in the race to begin. Dressed in mostly white, racers were blasted in a rainbow of non-toxic, paint powder after completing each kilometer. At the finish line, racers experienced a post-race party with beautiful hues of powder.

Prior to race day, preparations focused mostly on creative aspects not training runs. On the eve of race day, we gathered at Jennifer’s apartment to transform ourselves into the Twisted Hues. The team name represents our ideology that all colors are beautiful and that our inner warriors carry us through even the toughest of life challenges. Twisted Hues is hopeful that more family members and friends will join the team roster at future, active events that promote healthy living, unity, peace, and charity.

Twisted Hues (L to R) include my cousin Jennifer, her sister Katie, and my cousin Meghan, who created our look for the event.                       Photo Credit: kateschannel

Twisted Hues’ race style was mostly created around the idea my cousin Meghan had. She inspired and taught each of us to make rainbow-colored tutus. She planned to take part in the Color Run event. But, unfortunately, at the last moment was not able to join us at the start line. Her contribution to the Twisted Hues resulted in boosting our self-confidence as well as plenty of style kudos from fellow Color Runners.

What a finish. Katie, Jennifer and I enjoy watching all the beautiful hues. Photo credit: Jennifer Lott

I believe the next event the Twisted Hues will be signing on for is the second annual Run and Play for Ariana Mae at the Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, Mich. The event begins with a 5k run and one-mile walk, followed by a Candyland Scavenger Hunt. The event supports the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) Program. Proceeds from this year’s event will fund the addition of a new play structure at Fitzgerald Park in memory of Ariana Mae. To learn more about the event, register, or make a donation visit www.arianasrun.com.

Get Moving! Forward is a Pace …

Two of the 5ks I am running this summer are quickly approaching. While my training runs have been a bit sporadic, my mental game is on, consistent and positive. I consider any preparation (biking, walking the dog, chasing children, etc.) to be a step forward.

My first run is the Mathes 5k/1 Mile Fun Walk, which happens Saturday, June 16 at Stony Creek Metro Park (West Branch Picnic Area “C”). Sue Mathes, one of my amazingly strong and smart girlfriends, organized the event, which is in its 2nd year, to raise awareness and support for the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA). Her husband, Thom, was diagnosed with three brain tumors in January 2011.

To read more about the Mathes’ story, make a donation to Team Mathes or register to run, click here.

To keep me motivated to continue training as well as signing up races, a longtime college friend and Western Herald alum  — Lisa Brady — shared a couple of quotes with me this morning. The first she read on a sign during one of her races last year. It said …

 Forward is a pace

Lisa signed up to run a 5k with me at the 2012 Heart of Detroit Run/Walk on June 24 at Comerica Park. She will join me as well as my cousins Joe Duris (another runner who inspires me) and Jennifer Lott (a strong, positive, forward moving young lady), my Aunt Kate (I was named after her), and a longtime high school friend, Kelly Pelt (we were tennis partners). All of us are running as Kate’s A-Team; and we are one of 10 teams running to raise awareness and support for Kids on the Go (KOTG), a non-profit pediatrics program I advocate for.

KOTG, an affiliate of St. John Providence Health, provides physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to Detroit-area children with special needs during the summer months at no cost to the families. Both of my children receive services through this pediatric program.

Through participation in the 2012 Heart of Detroit Run/Walk, KOTG and I, are looking to raise $5,000. To support our efforts

1. Donate via check. This is the preferred way to donate because KOTG receives 100-percent of your donation, which is tax deductible. The company organizing the race collects a processing fee for all donations made online.

To donate by check, make it payable to Kids on the Go and mail it to:

Kids on the Go

C/O Kristy Schena

21229 River Road

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI  48236

2. Link to the following fundraising page for KOTG and Make a Donation Now.

In closing, I need to share the second quote Lisa sent me this morning, which I love …

DFL > DNF > DNS

The translation …

Dead F-ing Last is greater than Did Not Finish, which is greater than Did Not Start

Related previous posts …

College Life Replays: Print Journalism Lesson #1 — Go For It

Fit Trail Interval Training

Running For a Purpose

5 in 30

 

So, What’s Your Excuse?

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.

So, what’s your excuse?

Related Posts . . .

Fit Trail Interval Training

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Do Shopping Marathons Qualify as Exercise


My Love Affairs with Technology: The XBox Kinect

Where would you be without technology advances? I would probably be lounging on my couch watching subpar television.

As 2012 moves into its fifth day, I am feeling the love for a number of  technology advances. But, the devotion I have for my new XBox Kinect has penetrated deep into my heart. The other three — Kindle, social media, and my-time entertainment — will just have take  numbers. Perhaps, I will give them blog space later in the week.

My connection with the XBox Kinect all began on Christmas Eve when Santa plugged the device into my family’s entertainment system. He had good intentions. The XBox Kinect was requested to promote active family bonding and to rekindle the passion I once had for daily exercise.

Kinect Adventures  and Your Shape programs are just two of the four Santa left for us to try. Each time a session ends with either, I want more. Every muscle in my body feels my inability to just turn off the box and watch a movie.

I can truly appreciate why Microsoft had to post the following question/suggestion every 10 minutes or so, “Feel tired or sore? Take a break.” But, a permanent break from this new love, would probably result in posts about hiding in some closet while eating Hershey’s Special Dark bars.

Sweat Ideology

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.

My outdoor gym is waiting for me

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.

Fit Trail Interval Training

My view from Fit Trail start

The bright blue skies beckoned me. Scorching temperatures and increasing humidity did not deter me. Today, I began using the Fit Trail at Stony Creek Metro Park for the interval training portion of my summer fitness program. It includes 32 stations that blend a mix of exercises to improve balance, flexibility and strength. All of these stops are set against the natural surroundings of the park grounds, which include the beach, shady woodland trails, meadows and a six-mile, black-top trail.

This morning I spent time acquainting myself with the directional flow of the trail, the three trail options available to me and with the exercises at each of the stops. I brought my camera along to provide you with a visual of this beautiful park and the Fit Trail. But, as I began jogging the trail, I soon realized the photographs taken would also help me remember station order as well as exercises; and would be great motivation for those stops I thought to be above my current fitness level.

32 Fit Stations
Body-tuck challenge for another day in longer exercise shorts

Stony’s Fit Trail, which begins and ends at Eastwood Beach, offers three different trail or course options: short, middle and full. I love options. The short will be perfect for those sessions when time is tight, middle is what I did this morning, and full is a challenge for me to meet by the end of summer. Another bonus to the Fit Trail is the breeze off the lake and shade from all those gorgeous trees. This made training bearable today despite the dense heat.

Shady woodland trails

Until the snow flies, the Fit Trail is going to be my place for weekly interval training sessions. My home fitness center in the basement just doesn’t motivate me enough to get the job done. Summer in Michigan offers so many outdoor fitness options that are only feasible for such a short time.

My outdoor gym for the summer

Reality Check

Up until September, I was an avid viewer of The Biggest Loser. My interest sparked when contestants from Southeastern Michigan celebrated tremendous successes on the show. The Biggest Loser does extend a powerful, positive message: anyone can make lasting positive lifestyle changes given the right environment, support and resources. Also, the celebrity personal trainers, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, appear to have a proven track records. Their exercise DVDs have been among my best fitness aids because they have helped me realize visible, lasting results.

With that being said, I also think the show encourages at-home viewers to develop unrealistic fitness and weight management expectations. For example, most of us do not have the luxury of leaving professional, parental, marital, social, and household responsibilities to focus exclusively on weight and fitness management for extended periods of time. Next, devoting all wakeful hours to exercise is not a consistent reality and it is unhealthy. Finally, it is unnerving to watch the weigh-ins at the end of each episode. With self-esteem hanging out for all to see, each contestant steps onto the scale for the moment of triumph or defeat. Smiles deflate, shoulders slump and words of disappointment come forth when losses don’t match expectations. I can relate to this. There have been objectives — some too grandiose — I have set for myself. Along the way, I encountered challenges and experienced frustration that zapped my confidence. But, I think contestants should be encouraged to stand proud for all pounds lost. A loss is a loss. Plus, it’s unrealistic for at-home viewers to expect losses comparable to what they see on The Biggest Loser.