This is a trap I fall into once in a while…giving myself permission to take “rest days” I haven’t really earned, because I haven’t really been kicking my butt in my workouts. Rest days are there to help our bodies regenerate and grow, AFTER we’ve given them the stress of a hard, sweaty workout. That’s when we build all those new capillaries and our muscle fibers repair themselves and grow stronger in the process. Rest is a very necessary part of the fitness equation. It just works best when we use it the right way.
Happy Friday and best wishes for a hard, sweaty workout today – or a rest day, if that’s in your plan. See you next week.
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A solid TREADMILL RUN (it was raining and I just don’t like running in cold rain when I can avoid it). A one-mile warmup, followed by three 800-meter repeats at fast tempo pace, followed by about two miles at my goal marathon pace, followed by a quick cool down and stretch. Total of 5.75 miles.
After a couple of busy-busy days (and, full disclosure, not getting my planned workout in yesterday – yikes), I thought it best to do a Throwback Thursday post on the basics of planning our workouts. Yesterday was a doozy: late to bed last night (meeting of my regional professional speakers’ association), early to rise today (photo shoot for my new Wellness Playbook website, which will be live soon soon soon), and lots of rain and driving and running around. That meant I needed to rest yesterday – and I need to plan for today. That is all.
So in that spirit, I offer up a post from May 2014 on the importance of planning your workouts. Simply put: when you plan your workouts and healthy meals (and especially when you write down what you intend to do), you follow the plan.
Planning Workouts 101: We interrupt this blog for an important message
[Originally published on May 21, 2014]
It’s Wednesday of Planning Workouts 101 week at Every48, and this post was originally supposed to be about pairing your workouts up with activities you want to do (such as listening to your favorite music only when you go for your power walk) to make them something you’re looking forward to doing.
But then on Monday morning, I suddenly, finally had a decent 7-mile run pop out, after weeks of feeling lethargic, and wanted to share what I think is going on around here. So I’ll write about the magic of “pairing” tomorrow.
Here’s what happened to me in the last 48 hours:
Sunday: Ate really healthy meals. Monday: Lots of energy.
Coincidence? No. I do not think this is a coincidence.
It’s not been a major major theme of Every48 so far in 2014, but it’s starting to bubble up to the surface more and more often: the absolutely undeniable link between solid nutrition that fuels our bodies, and sustaining an energy level that makes it possible to, say, run 7 miles first thing on a Monday morning. You know what I’m saying?
Have you ever seen an unhealthy-looking person sitting behind the wheel of a fancy sports car? (I know, that image just screams “midlife crisis,” but I do know some people who just love awesome cars – and who, in a lifestyle choice that has always puzzled me, don’t really take great care of themselves.) What is going on there?
We know how to take care of our cars. We learn it early (or we don’t, and blow out the engine on our first car at age 24 because we didn’t replace the oil cap when we tried to change the oil ourselves, causing $4000 worth of damage, which at that age feels like it’s going to take a break-in at Fort Knox to pay for the damages – but I digress).
We know what to do for regular maintenance. Gas. Oil changes. Fluid top-offs. Air in the tires. Belts checked. Air filter replaced every so often. Tune-ups at 50,000 miles and 100,000 miles. Et cetera. We know we’re riding on a machine that costs a pretty penny to fix if it croaks, so we care about it.
But when it comes to our bodies, sometimes I think we miss the memo. Exercise alone cannot “fix” poor nutrition – even though it can mask poor nutrition for some lucky folks among us who can just exercise a little more to lose weight. Good nutrition – and by that I mean the Michael Pollan variety (eat food, not too much, mostly plants) – does incredible things for our bodies. In my case, I finally got a shot of adrenaline that translated into a super workout on Monday.
This is an important topic, one that I want to make sure gets addressed a lot this year at Every48. It’s not “just” about exercise. It’s about a whole vision of health, where we take breaks from work regularly, keep moving throughout the day, have healthy foods conveniently available to us for snacks and meals (that means the candy jar goes out the door and the fruit bowl comes in the door, for example), and we have a reasonable amount of time to spend with our families, and we get enough sleep on a regular basis. That’s good health. Exercise is a big part of that puzzle. And so is nutrition. It’s not an add-on. It’s a “whoa, I have the energy to exercise because I ate well yesterday and slept decently too.” It’s a system.
Back in the saddle, indeed! Best wishes for your own great day of nutrition and a super workout too.
[And back to real time: October 23, 2014]
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: An unplanned (ahem) REST DAY. I shall remedy the situation today.
Maybe it’s the fact that we’re now clearly into the fall season in Seattle, when it’s completely dark outside when I wake up. But something is making me awfully nostalgic for the winter last year when I started the Every48 blog.
What I wanted to do with this blog was to be accountable to myself for staying active at least once every 48 hours of the year. Simple stuff. And as the year begins to feel like it’s winding its way into the holiday season, it’s a great time to revisit some of those earliest thoughts from January on what makes me get out there.
This repost is especially poignant today because I’m in a new place, professionally speaking, from where I was a year ago. Moving ahead now means being ultra-focused every day, and that means sometimes making decisions before they’re “perfect” (whatever that means). It means having the knowledge and confidence to just move ahead. It works in fitness, and it works in life.
If you wait for perfect
[Originally published on January 24, 2014]
It’s Friday Meme Day at Every48 – my chance to bring you the best of the week’s exercise-related memes from my Facebook feed.
And here we are with today’s entry.
If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.
Do you have a mantra, a saying, or just a word that gets you going for your #every48 workout? I’d love to hear about them and maybe even do a graphic mashup of them for a future post. Email, Facebook, or tweet them to me and I’ll put them all together for a future post on how our minds shape our destinies. Because, as the Seattle Seahawks have so aptly shown us this week, they do.
We become what we think we can become.
And we act on our thoughts. Once you believe in something, you act in a way that will make that happen.
Part of my work involves working with people who are dedicating themselves to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Sometimes I’ll have a conversation with someone at the start of that journey who will identify a physical limitation they believe will keep them from being able to attain their goal. Whether it’s a past injury, surgery, an issue regarding the person’s age or gender, or whatever the perceived limitation is, invariably it’s something the person has no control over changing. Yet they focus on that, instead of focusing on what they are in control of: how much they eat, the quality of those meals, and the amount of time they spend exercising strenuously during any given week. Here’s what I tell them:
“I completely understand that you have a physical limitation that you have no control over. By the way, did you know that Russell Wilson is too short to be an NFL quarterback?”
This story would have worked better if I had told it to you in September of 2012 instead of today. We saw Wilson play live at Wisconsin before this whole crazy Super-Bowl-in-his-second-year thing happened (Madison, Wisconsin is my husband’s hometown, and we happened to catch the Wisconsin-UNLV game, Wilson’s first with the Badgers, at Camp Randall Stadium in September 2011).
But believe it or not, there really was a time when very few people in Seattle really understood what was going on at quarterback for the Seahawks when Wilson was drafted. It took a while for everyone else – the coaches, the scouts, the fans – to see the thing that Wilson saw very early on. He couldn’t control his height.
But he could control just about everything else.
His attitude. His discipline. His self-care routine. His nutrition. His practice habits. His film time. Everything else besides the fact that he was under 5’11” was under his control. I don’t think he walks around wishing he was 6’5″. I think there’s a good chance that he walks around thinking about how to see that passing lane a little better…or how to sense a blitz coming faster…or what to do when it’s 4th-and-7 and if you can get the other team to commit an offside penalty by using a double count, you’ve got a free play, so why not tell your receivers to run vertical routes and throw it to the end zone?
Perfect will never happen. Get out there and do what you can do today anyway. And send me your workout mantras for a future awesome exercise-themed meme.
[And back to real time: October 22, 2014}
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A much-deserved REST DAY after a Sunday long run and a Monday spin class.
No question: The Workout of the Week this week was all about showing up.
I hadn’t run 15 miles in one stretch since the Boston Marathon. I’d had a summer of icky knee weirdness that turned out to be lazy quadriceps muscles that needed a boost. Finally, there was a nice half-marathon in Victoria two weekends ago that felt “right” – even though the race itself felt hard since I was trying to actually race the thing and not just do a training run.
But an actual training run? With a mile pace around 90 seconds to two minutes slower per mile than my goal marathon pace? It had been a while.
What I’m starting to love about workouts is that they’re teaching me so much about how to just show up in life, in every area, no matter what. It’s definitely hard sometimes. Sleeping in sounds so good (especially now that we’re firmly into the Seattle fall, where it’s dark dark dark deep into the morning, and I’m the kind of person who wakes up with the sun). Putting things off. Saying “I’ll do that tomorrow.”
One of the people in my life whom I trust calls her personal to-do list that doesn’t ever seem to get done the “Stack of Shame.” In her case, she’s a professional speaker who gets audience feedback forms at every engagement, and then has to sift through them to follow up on Every. Single. One. And when it doesn’t get done immediately, there you go: the pile sits on her work desk. The Stack of Shame.
Every time something should get done that doesn’t get done immediately in my life, it gets added to that mental pile in my head: the virtual Stack of Shame. And the bigger that stack gets, the more the inertia sets in. It’s harder and harder to just get going.
So doing my long run was a big deal this week, because I knew it was Number One on my training to-do list. You cannot “phone in” a marathon (well, you can, but it’s going to be a long and painful slog to the finish line). I’ve run marathons both ways: having trained well, and having…not. Let me be the first to tell you right here and now: running a marathon after you’ve trained well is exponentially more fun. Like, to the power of a zillion.
It goes for everything else, too. Once you have a practice of just showing up, in your Sunday finest (or whatever passes for that for whatever it is you’re showing up for), you get into the practice of just showing up. And from there, your body and mind can take over.
I did not want to get out the door on Sunday morning. Fifteen miles is no slouchy run. It’s a big ‘un. But I got out there, and took the first step. Within a mile, I was feeling way better. Within two miles, I was singing happily with my iPod. And I knew I was going to get to fifteen miles, just by showing up in my Sunday finest (the best little running capris, pink running shirt, and snazzy running shoes you ever-did-see) and taking the first step.
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A super-duper SPIN class in the morning with my favorite instructor. It was a recovery workout for me since I’d run long the day before, but my instructor still has a way of making us get just a little bit more out of every workout.
Ah, there’s that nifty Nike slogan again. Thing is, it’s basically 100% right.
I’m training for a marathon to end 2014 and yesterday I ran a 15-miler on a morning when I really wanted to stay in bed. My coach said, do it slower than you want to for the first 12 miles, then pick it up for the last three miles if you feel like it. I felt like it. By the time I got to mile 2, I was happy again. It was a good day to run in Seattle (actually a little warmer and sunnier than ideal, by the time I was done), but the important thing was, it got done.
Strive for actions, not outcomes.
That’s my mantra going into this last stretch of 2014. An attendee at a talk I gave a few weeks ago asked about the importance of goal-setting. I responded that I now strive for taking actions and rewarding myself for them – not striving for an outcome and only being satisfied with that particular outcome. It changes the psychology a little bit there. The power is in our hands completely to take an action. So, we either do it – or we don’t.
Yes, I could have stayed inside yesterday. But there was that voice in my head (you have voices in your head, too, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one) that said, “Hey, you’re only a couple of months out from that race you want to run, so don’t you want to train so you have a good chance to run well?” Yep, I do want that. And I’ve done both things: trained for a marathon and run well, and trained sort of halfheartedly and run sort of halfheartedly. Running well is WAY more fun, let me tell you.
So, for the last two and a half months of 2014, let’s have some fun.
You read it here first.
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: 15 miles RUNNING at an easy pace, with a little bit more speed mixed in for the last three miles. Done just in time to watch the Seahawks-Rams game from the middle of the second quarter onward.
On this October Friday morning, here’s a thought that has kept many of us in the game just long enough to realize that staying in the game is the game:
The best research out there on long-term weight loss tells us that those of us who reach our weight goal and maintain it for the long term tried more than once to lose weight. That makes perfect sense to me; we were learning as we went along. But somewhere along the road, we gave up. Then, further on down that road, we came back to it. This is normal.
But it’s also normal to say, you know what? I’m going to stay in the game. That’s what it takes to finally make your dreams come true. I still remember in my first month of Weight Watchers meetings, thinking to myself “I will not quit, no matter what.” Did I lose weight every single week? Not even close. Was I always thrilled to be there? Nope. Was I sometimes jealous of friends who seemed to not have weight problems? Of course.
The key to everything good that’s happened in my life in the last six years is that I stopped giving up. I showed up and did what I could do. Sometimes that plan worked out awesomely, and sometimes it was a little more on the “meh” side, but the bottom line is that I made a conscious decision that giving up was no longer an option.
It’s a variation on the “no safety nets” rule that many entrepreneurs follow. If you have a safety net, there’s the potential that you won’t have the kind of intensity and focus that you need in order to really build your business. There will always be the “safe thing” to do. And it can keep you from having the creativity to figure out how to make things work. Having a safety net makes a lot of sense in some situations (if your family depends on your income, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend risking your life savings, for example). But the safety net of saying “Well, I’ll give this fitness program a few weeks and see how it goes” and then dropping off…or that weight-loss program…or that graduate degree…Well, I think it just doesn’t get us anywhere.
What gets us from there to here, and beyond, is showing up, not giving up. And that’s the thought I want to leave you with this Friday morning. Have a great workout today. See you next week.
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: Nothing strenuous, but an hour in my community garden spent taking down tomato plants and beginning to get my plot ready for winter. A blissful hour to start the day outdoors.
Sometimes, especially when I’ve had, say, a situation or two to solve on the previous day, or week (or worse: when it feels like everything is hitting the fan), I have a hard time remembering how much progress I’ve made in my health. That’s when I play the “One Year Ago” game.
It’s pretty simple. Ask yourself one simple question: Where were you a year ago? Take notes. Pay attention. Realize how much you’ve accomplished and grown. That makes moving forward with today’s challenges much easier, because in your heart, you know you can do it, because you’ve already done it before.
We sometimes forget how much we change and grow, because it all happens so gradually. One time I played the game with a friend who realized that even though she was still in the process of losing a significant amount of weight, she was thirty pounds lighter than she had been one year earlier, and she had forgotten to give herself credit for that amazing achievement.
So in the spirit of looking back, today’s Throwback Thursday post is the one that launched Every48 last year. Things are better today, almost ten months later, even when things go a little haywire. Today’s a day when remembering that is helping me. My wish for you today is that it helps you as well.
Every 48 hours, a workout. For a year.
[Originally published on December 28, 2013.]
I’m here to test a theory and to document the effort. I think exercise is medicine. I’m not the only one – it’s a movement spearheaded by the American College of Sports Medicine (http://exerciseismedicine.org/) to encourage all health professionals to review every patient’s personal exercise program as part of their routine medical care, because we’re seeing more and more evidence every day that regular, vigorous exercise is a game-changer for health as we age. A bunch of scientific literature has led us down this path – summarized nicely in books like Younger Next Year and its spinoff titles (I’m a fan – they’re fun reads). And I’m slightly obsessed with thinking about what comes next, for all of us on this particular journey.
I’m a modest weight-loss success story, as these things go – no extreme before-and-after photos here, just thirty to forty less pounds (depending on, ahem, my activity level) on this body than were there five years ago. And it’s a big thirty to forty pounds – my BMI hovers around 22 now (down from 28, solidly in the “overweight” range) and my clothing sizes look about right for my height. I’m not skin and bones and never will be – but I’m healthy, way healthier than I was when this all started a few years ago.
So, what’s next?
What’s next is that even though my weight has stayed off pretty much this whole time, I’ve been in a mental rut for the past couple of years. Been there, done that, got the marathon PR (personal record) and the half-marathon PR (a speeeeeeedy one for this former turtle) – and then got on the Rut-Go-Round and somehow lost my mojo to improve as an athlete and really nail my most comfortable year-round weight. Except when I’m at my leanest (I call it “race weight” because that’s when 5K’s fly by), I feel like I’m always slightly “off,” eating just a little more here or there, not being active enough, letting the head get cloudy now and then with sedentary turtle-like behaviors. Like watching TV late at night and being amazed when a munchie suddenly jumps into my mouth. Hmmmm.
Then I remembered: everything in my life in the last five years has gone its best when I was really active. Not “Olympic athlete” active (that level of activity isn’t healthy – the Olympians would be the first to tell you that). Not “PR in every race” active. But, solidly, at least four days a week of cardiovascular activity – the stuff that makes your heart beat fast enough that you can’t say more than a few words at a time – for an hour, give or take.
So, here we are.
It’s December 26, 2013 and it’s time to ring in the New Year with a plan. This is #every48. Every 48 hours for the next year of my life, I will commit to doing at least one hour of vigorous cardio activity. I’ll log it here. And at the end of the year, we’ll see where we are: weight, health, marathons (yes, there’s a big goal still stalking me in that category), all of the important blood tests and other markers of health – and the one nobody can measure except ourselves: true wellness.
I’ll be here to tell the tale. What happens on the days when I’m tired? When I can’t get to the gym and it’s raining? When I don’t “feel like it”? That doesn’t matter. Every 48 hours, minimum, I’ll be moving hard for an hour.
How about you?
[And back to real time: October 16, 2014.]
Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A fabulous RUN on the treadmill, early. I was done by 8:40 a.m., and my goal for the remainder of this year is to get as many workouts in before 8 a.m. as I can, because it makes all the difference in my day. (Treadmill note: it was raining outside and I needed to do a speed workout. I am not ashamed to admit that I can’t stand running in the rain. Blech.) Anyway, I digress. The workout was 6 repeats of 800 meters at a solid tempo pace for my upcoming December marathon – five miles total distance with warmup, cool down, and 2-minute walking breaks in between each 800-meter repeat. Total time: 50 minutes. What it gave me yesterday: great energy to get through the day.