Winter Games

Being a lifelong New Englander I have always enjoyed winter activities. Back when I was a kid I loved playing outside. We were always sledding, skating, skiing, even riding our bikes in the snow. Snowsuits, boots, hat hair, and mittens connected by yarn were a few of my favorite things (and still are). As was coming in from the cold to a steaming mug of hot chocolate with melty Fluff. (Nowadays I’ll take that hot cocoa with a shot of peppermint schnapps thank you.) I loved being a kid in the winter. There was so much to do. And the snow! I still get excited about the prospect of snow, and the possibility of a snow day off from school. And c’mon you winter haters – even you have to admit that coming in from the cold to a toasty fire and a hot drink is pretty sweet.

And to this day I still enjoy winter activities. I snowboard – Level: Novice. Green circles for me, thanks. My husband got me into it. And I wish I could keep up with him out there. He’s so good he makes it look easy. And it is anything but. Even though it’s difficult for me, I get out there every year and play on the mountain. That’s the thing about being outside in the winter – I better be having fun. Otherwise I’m just cold, then cranky. I also have snowshoes so I can hike with the puppydogs. I am not averse to bundling up to do a run or bootcamp exercise outside either. It helps immensely that I have two German Shepherds who would play outside from dawn to dusk if I let them.

045

snowboard3

Today I went ice skating for the first time in over twenty years. At first I thought I wouldn’t remember how to do it. I’d fall on my face and/or break my ass. None of those things happened. I hugged the railing for all of 30 feet then I was off! Skating. I was with a few of my favorite family members and the time flew by just chatting and skating laps. I definitely want to do that again. Although, I had to rent skates, and now my feet feel raw and sore. I should invest in a decent pair of ice skates. What I thought would be a fun activity (possibly) turned into a fair workout. I got my sweat on.

So the moral of today’s post is that it is possible to find fun outdoor activities in the winter time. And this comes from someone whose favorite thing is couch surfing – Level: Expert. And the secondary moral is that if I’m going to get out there and get fit for life then I better enjoy myself. If it’s not fun then why would I do it? I do plenty of un-fun stuff all week (hello dishes, litterbox, commuting, house cleaning, blah blah blah), so if I’m adding in one more thing to do, on my already too-long To-Do list, then it better be enjoyable. And I say the same to you. Find something that you like and then go do it. As for me, I’m gonna keep running and playing… and hopefully a little less couch-surfing.

I think I hear that hot toddy calling me,

Karen

An Ah-Ha Moment

What does it mean to be healthy? I mean everyone has a different definition depending on where they are in their own lives. If I took a poll of people I know – friends, family members, co-workers – each one would probably give me a generic definition then a more specific one depending on their own unique circumstances. Since this is my blog I get the floor, so to speak, to share what health means to me.

I guess I’ve been pretty fortunate, health-wise. I don’t have a chronic disease, not even allergies, really. So it’s been pretty easy to take my health for granted. It’s always been there. But I know people who live with various chronic conditions and I can see that it’s not always easy. Someone I am very close to battled breast cancer, and lived to tell the tale thankfully. So losing sight of my current healthy body is not an option for me. I’ve been very lucky – so far.

Ok, so I’m not struggling with any chronic disease, broken bone, or illness. I am able to get up off the couch any time I please. So…why does it seem so difficult? Why do I make progress only to stop before reaching my goal? I can’t say that it’s because of a health problem. Is it a confidence problem? Lack of will? Fear of failure? Fear of success?

comfort zone

All my life I’ve been very happy in my comfort zone. Hey, it’s been doing me fine all these years. I can eat, drink, exercise, do whatever I want with little repercussion. That won’t last, though. And I’m worried that I don’t have what it takes to get me to my goal next year of completing that race series. I don’t worry that my body won’t be able to do it, I worry that I won’t have the will or determination to see it through. That I’ll curl up in my comfort zone rather than challenge myself to do the thing I think I cannot do.

Ever since I started this blog (like a whole week or two ago) I have vacillated between feeling really excited and proud, and then terrified and vulnerable. I mean anyone can read this. Anyone. People who actually know me. And complete strangers. I am putting myself out there in a very honest way and that scares the crap out of me. But ultimately I’m sitting here trying to figure out my own sh*t just like everyone else. This happens to be the venue in which I want to express myself.

So hey! Guess what? This is what it feels like to leave your comfort zone! Ah-ha! It’s really scary here in-between comfort and big change. But I’m out here now, so I should just keep moving forward, right? I want to because I’ve got a goal. A really huge one. I want to do it for myself, because I don’t think I can see it through, and I need to prove myself wrong. And I want to do it for all those people who can’t. People dealing with chemo, or surgery, or… fear. I want to do it for them too.

run while u can

I better run,

Karen

From Bootcamp to Boozeface

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone is having a lovely day. I certainly am. I spent last night with the husband’s side of the family, and I have to say that I totally lucked out in the in-law department. They are fabulously generous and lovely people all. We spent the evening at my sisters-in-law’s, eating, drinking, and general merry-making, while watching the newest addition on the webcam (our little nephew couldn’t be with us unfortunately). I just love technology. And I am beyond thrilled to be an auntie once again.

Today we’ll spend with my side of the family. Fortunately festivities don’t get going ’til later in the afternoon. So that means I had the whole morning to relax, open the gift from the hubs (a gorgeous necklace from our pal Carol of www.littlecatmetals.com), eat, bake, and wrap gifts. Oh, and sneak in a workout. Yes I did.

I thought about going for a run, then decided to do a bootcamp workout from www.shrinkingjeans.net/bootcamp. I’ve done this workout in the past and been sore for days. It’s an ass-kicker, at least for a couch potato like me. While I kicked bootay outside, Long Dong Silver (my husband’s preferred nickname) rocked out to his new Clash box set (his gift from yours truly.)

Week 1 Day 1 starts with sprints, then moves on to lunges with kicks, push-ups, squats, side planks, more squats, and tricep dips. I remember doing this workout a while back and feeling sore in muscles I didn’t know I had. I love that feeling.

040

Here are my fellow bootcampers. They especially loved the sprinting. And they seemed to enjoy challenging me by sticking their nose or dirty toys in my face as I struggled to maintain my balance. They’re supportive that way. Sure, it’s easy to balance when you have 4 legs. Show-offs.

I have to admit I’m proud of myself for getting out there and moving today. It was a gift I gave myself, I guess. Considering that the past few days has been all egg nog and scotcheroos, I think it was the least I could do (at least before the diabetic coma sets in.) Now I think I may even have time to sneak in a nap before the next wave of flying wrapping paper, noshing, and booze-facing (is that even a word? It’s definitely a thing I know, because it’s a common occurrence around these parts.) I hear my couch calling…

Here’s to everything in moderation. And happy holidays everyone.

Karen

Gratitude

115

Today my heart is full. Our little nephew was born this morning – 4 weeks early, but healthy. I’m thankful for that and that his mom is healthy too. Now that little muffin is a pretty sweet gift. My brother-in-law has been over the moon during the whole pregnancy, so I am very happy his family is doing fine. I just love holding babies, and then returning them to their rightful owners.

I’m also grateful to have my health. I am what some might call middle-aged (not to my face though, please), although I definitely don’t feel that way. I am thankful every day that I can walk, run, jump, and lift weights, even though I don’t always do any of those things. The only significant health problem I can think of is my couch potato-itis, which really seems to be more of a mental disorder than a physical issue.

On that note I did make it to the gym this morning. I had just read Marc Parent’s “Newbie Chronicles” in this month’s Runner’s World magazine. If you haven’t read it, the story is about running every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. He finds a way to get out there even if it’s for 1 mile. And I thought to myself – well I can get out there for 1 mile too (always happy to take the easy way out). I started out thinking of doing just 1 mile, but the funny thing about working out is that once I’m there I’m happy to stay. So I did 2 miles. Then I did some ab work and planks (2 minutes, thankyouverymuch), stretched and went on my merry way. What was supposed to be a quick 20 minutes at the gym turned into a full hour. And then if you count the last minute shopping (I do, of course), which is a competitive sport this close to Christmas, then I got in a full body workout today. In the rain. And that reminds me that I need to get myself a pair of waterproof running kicks asap.

I’m also grateful for my husband. He cooked me dinner while I reflected on the day. He is a fine cook, funny, interesting, and he keeps me from spinning into outer orbit, which may or may not happen from time to time. I dunno, you’d have to ask him. But he’s busy, so don’t bother him now…

So I consider myself very lucky. Today has been a good day. A new nephew to cuddle, gifts for my loved ones, a full belly, and another step toward a fitter me. No complaints. Not even about the wet feet.

116

Cheers!

Karen

What’s my motivation here?

I’m not a fitness expert. I’m not an expert at anything. Complaining, procrastinating, maybe that. But I read a lot, and I soak in the advice from all those fitness experts. They make lists about how to stay motivated and give lots of tips of things to change in your routine. Some of that stuff makes sense: plan your workouts a week in advance, make them non-negotiable parts of your day, change up your routine to avoid boredom, sign up for a race, make a new playlist, reward yourself with some new workout swag, etc., etc. Yes, I’ve tried all of that. My Outlook calendar still has “crosstraining” every Saturday through infinity, although I cannot remember the last time I actually did one. I’ve signed up and paid for races that I never ran. Yup. And I rationalized it by telling myself that I contributed to a good cause. Does it make me feel bad to fail to live up to my own expectations? Yup.

I don’t want to feel bad. My inner couch potato says (in her oh-so-soothing voice) “if you don’t sign up for anything or commit then you cannot possibly fail”. Thanks for stating the obvious. While that happens to be true, it is not what I want. My inner couch potato may be very sweet and convincing, but I’m starting to figure out that she is not my friend.

Last week I wrote that my goal was to work out 3 times this week. (Actually I wrote that on Wednesday. Derp. Procrastinate much?) So how did I do, you ask? Well, interested reader, I made it to the gym yesterday and took the dog for a “run” today. And I cleaned the house, which I think should count as a workout, considering that it took me 2 hours and I scrubbed floors. Ok, so maybe that isn’t technically a workout, but I wasn’t sitting on the couch. That has to count for something, right?

003

So here is my “running” partner, Dio. The D-Man, D-Rocket, I could go on and on. He’s got lots of nicknames, is what I’m saying. And he’s not a good running partner, either. I love him to pieces (just ask my husband), but he’s not good on the road. He’s gotta stop every 10 feet to smell some dead thing or another. So today, knowing I need to get in a workout, decide to work with what I’ve got. It’s 60 degrees in Massachusetts (which is just so wrong, and a topic for another expert), so it’s muddy and mild and just perfect for a dog. How could I deny him that experience?? So while he’s filling his giant nose with the aroma of fox urine and squirrel skat, I am doing squats and lunges, and donkey kicks. Do I look like a complete nut out there? Most likely, but I live on a long country road with neighbors who mostly ignore me, and I figure the fog obscured me from anyone who happened to look out their window. (I hope). It ended up being a decent workout that way. He had fun. I had fun. And if anybody saw us, welp, I gotta ginormous dog with me, you really wanna start something?? I didn’t think so.

So I partially succeeded. I did two workouts out of three. Two and three-quarters. So what is my motivation here? What’s it gonna take to get me off the couch for good? I wish I had the answer to that. No expert can tell me. I’ve gotta sort this out myself. I guess maybe the first thing would be to do the opposite of what that sweet inner couch potato voice tells me.

adventurous bird

Maybe, just maybe, if I can quiet my inner couch potato, I’ll hear the adventurous bird. She might tell me to stop thinking so much and just go have fun. And that would be exactly what I want a friend to say.

Cheep, cheep!
Karen

The Importance of Setting a Goal

With Christmas right around the corner, I’m not looking to make any huge changes to my workout routine, in that I’m not jumping into a half-marathon training regimen just yet. I’m enjoying the holidays, and I’ve got the Christmas spirit in abundance this year. It helps that my tree’s been up since the beginning of December, most of my shopping is done, there is snow on the ground around these parts, and I’ve got family coming in to town soon. I love this time of year, but I try not to be annoying about it.

Now the holiday season can make for tricky planning regarding my workouts. I don’t like to run in the dark or drive in the snow, preferring to snuggle up on my couch with a good movie and a dog on my lap. Add to this a relatively hectic work schedule, holiday parties, Christmas shopping, and cookie-baking, and I’m finding it difficult to fit in a workout this week month.

My plan for the rest of December is move around as much as possible. Last week I made a goal to get to the gym 3 times, and I did that. Unfortunately I did not make any goals for this week, so I haven’t gotten any workouts done…yet. It is only Wednesday after all.

I’ve been pretty loosey-goosey with my workouts and my personal exercise goals since, like, forever. I mean if I’m only accountable to myself and I don’t seem to mind, then what’s the problem?? The problem is that I’m allowing my inner couch potato to win, and where will that lead me? Right down the road to muscle loss, frailty, health problems, weight gain, crankiness, etc. etc. My intention is to avoid all of that, but my inner couch potato is strong (I know that’s an oxymoron). How about hugely influential, and I need to find ways to get around her.
Hence the setting of goals..

I’ve got pinboards full of inspirational stuff like this. Why? Because couch potatoes love Pinterest, of course.
So my goal for the next 2 weeks is get to the gym or workout at least 3 times each week. That is totally doable, especially considering that I’ll be on vacation as of Friday afternoon at 3:00. And now I have you, my pretty little blog, to help me stay accountable.

Gotta run,
Karen

Confronting my inner couch potato

This is a big step for me. As you can see from the name of my blog I have a fairly influential inner couch potato. There’s a lot that gets thought about and talked about and complained about, but not much gets done. See, I’m 43, and I come from a long line of couch potatoes (sorry mom and dad). They’re lovable and generous and wonderful fleshy lumps of goodness. And I am grateful every day to have such a wonderful family in my life.  But I can feel myself becoming more lumpy and fleshy with every passing year. I’m ready to make a change. Get the couch-shaped imprint off my ass.

I started “running” a few years ago. More of a slow jog/walk, but I was out there on a semi-regular basis. ImageAnd I felt great. I enjoyed it. It was fun. I ran some 5Ks. I loved the running plans, and the feeling of accomplishment when I pushed myself to do things I didn’t think were possible. It lit a fire in me. And then…the fire would go out. I’d lose my mojo, my motivation. Get lazy, tired, busy, insert excuse here… And then I’d get sick of feeling that way so I’d start up again. This cycle has continued for 3 years. And every time it happens I say “this is the time that I’ll stick with it”. And it doesn’t happen. It hasn’t happened yet.

Right now I’m in one of those down-cycles, eating and drinking and couch-surfing. With January right around the corner I’m thinking it’s time for a change. I want 2014 to be the year I kick ass. Of course I say this every year, so why should this year be any different? Well, I’m not getting any younger, and I know it’s just a matter of time before my body starts to break down. So if I want to be healthy then I have to move. I have to get off the couch and never look back.

My challenge is great. And so is my aspiration. I have to find a way to stay motivated all year. Signing up for 1 or 2 races won’t cut it. I’ve got my eye on something much bigger than that: a local running club offers a race series of approximately 14 races of about 81 miles from April to November. It starts with an 8 miler, sprinkles in a bunch of 5Ks, 10Ks, and 8 Ks through the summer, and culminates with a killer half-marathon in the fall. I’ve wanted to do this ever since I learned about it, and have chickened out every year. One year I actually got the nerve to sign up and only finished 2 races. Race series fail. Insert sad face here.

So this year I’ve decided it’s time to confront my inner couch potato. And the best way to do that is to be accountable. Being accountable to myself by keeping a journal and making resolutions hasn’t worked. Telling my family and friends hasn’t worked. I need to do the thing that scares me, which is to start a blog and tell everyone (or no one, depending on who reads this) my plan. So here I am: imperfect and flawed and scared and excited. I look forward to this journey and I hope you will support me along the way.