Sunday, December 16, 2012

Move/make: Week 12

Another off week. Not a lot of working out, and not a lot of eating actual meals. Instead, I spent the week getting caught up on a lot of things at work and at home, and figuring out how to simplify my life. Deactivating your Facebook does wonders for productivity, I learned.

This weekend was one of my busiest in a long time, but I am on top of things. Back next week. Feeling pretty motivated to end the year strong.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Move/make: Week 11

Today's weight: 180.6 pounds.


Moving on.

Monday: Spin class (1 hour)
Tuesday: Spin class (1 hour)
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Spin class (2 hours)

Thoughts on food:
Not a good week, in terms of eating at home and eating healthy. Had a dinner-and-drinks night with some girlfriends, and a lot of skipped lunches, thanks to a hectic week at work. To the end this week on a high note, though, I'm eating homemade lobster rolls for dinner tonight. Doesn't get better than that, I think.

Already went grocery shopping for next week. I am actually craving fruits and vegetables, so next week  should be better. And, I have been continuing to make good on my goal of only going out to eat if I'm with someone. I love nothing better than sharing a good meal with someone. Of course, I should get better about making those meals myself. But until then, going out to eat with a friend, my roommate, or my boyfriend is something that nourishes my spirit as much as anything.

Overall reflections:
I let a rough week at work get in the way of workouts, but I did make it through a two-hour spin class (40+ miles) this morning with a good friend of mine, so I feel like I've ended the week strongly (which seems just as important as starting the week well). That's the most I've biked in one distance -- and even though it was on a stationary bike, I still feel good about it.

My gym won't have anymore fitness classes until mid-January, so my workouts will have to get more creative. I am looking forward to my upcoming time off work for the holidays -- it means I'll actually be able to run outdoors for a while.

  • Cut down on eating out so much (back to two times a week, tops).
  • Don't let the fact that gym classes are over for a month stop me from working out.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Move/make: Week 10

An off week. A few workouts, but not as many as I would have liked. I ate better than I normally do (lots of fresh vegetables, finally). Not a whole lot of thoughts about any of this, except that I'm looking forward to the fresh start a new week brings.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Think/act: Being thankful

November is nearly over, and since I've seen many people make a list of the things they are thankful for, I thought I'd make one of my own. I try to show gratitude and find the beauty in things every day, but I sometimes get bogged down in work/life. I thought this would be a good way to reflect on the things that matter most. Plus, it gives me an excuse to make a list. I love lists.

Right now, I am thankful for:

1. My loved ones. Whether it's family or friends, people I've known for years or only a short time, they are the foundation of who I am. I am lucky enough to know some beautiful and talented people who constantly inspire me. As Chris McCandless once realized (in what is probably the most heartbreaking revelation of the whole book), "happiness is only real when shared."

2. My health. I don't have health insurance, and I am so thankful that the few health problems I've had are manageable and don't currently require any doctor visits.

3. My boyfriend. His infinite patience and gentle spirit floor me. He is a constant reminder that life is incredible right now, and that it's OK to slow down enough to appreciate it.

4. My roommate. I'm certain he's the sole reason I survived grad school and my exams. His deranged sense of humor matches my own to a T, and his endless intelligence always drives me to pursue my own academic goals. 

5. Running. I can say, without a doubt, that it has changed my life. It's changed the way I think about my own body, and about my strength. It's helped me learn to mediate. It's helped me learn to push myself farther than I ever though possible. It's helped me appreciate who I am and who I can become. I've written about my relationship to running many, many times here, so I won't go on.

6. Spin class/cycling. I never though I'd like anything as much as I like running, but spin class/long-distance cycling are close. I feel strong in a different way, and the teachers I've had have been so encouraging.

7. My cat. And really, all animals. They've taught me humility and compassion, and remind me that I am not the center of the universe. 

8. My music/vinyl. Besides running and good people, there's nothing that makes me happier than a good record. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to snag a limited-edition copy of Joe Strummer's final performance in 2002. Listening to it reminds me of how important music was to me in high school -- and how important, though in a different sense, music is to me now.

9. Feminism. Without feminism/women's studies, I know I would not be who I am now. Feminism completely changed the way I see the world. It's changed the way I view politics, gender roles, power dynamics, race, sexuality, and so much more. And, as I continue to learn more about feminist theory, I hope to continue to become more progressive and inclusive in my own beliefs.

10. Literature. It's tied with music, without a doubt. Reading is my oldest and dearest hobby. Like feminism, it's affected the way I see the world and people different from me. And the best books and short stories push me to keep working at my own writing.

11. Grace and forgiveness of others. Without that, I'd be alone. I'm flawed and stubborn, but my loved ones forgive me and love me anyway. I might be more thankful for that than for anything else.

Week 9: Move/make

Today's weight: 174.0 pounds.

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Spin class (1 hour)
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Ran 40 minutes
Friday through Sunday: Off

Thoughts on food:
Survived my first vegetarian Thanksgiving. Was able to find plenty to eat and, more importantly, got to spend several meals with loved ones. I can't think of a better way to eat.

Overall reflections:
For only getting two workouts in last week, I'm feeling all right. The holidays were relaxing and fun, and exactly what I needed after a rough week at work. Last week, I saw my best friend's new baby, and spent some quality time with my favorite people. Everything else just doesn't matter right now.

I read a blog post last week about letting yourself eat at Thanksgiving, and it resonated with me. I've always found those articles on "how to stay healthy over the holidays" and "the right foods to eat to stay on track at Thanksgiving"  ridiculous. It's one or two days of special meals, tops. Their tone of constant-vigilance is exhausting. If you gain a pound or two, who cares? It's not the end of the world. I'd rather enjoy myself and my family's excellent cooking, and worry about eating healthy and working out on the 360 days of the year that are not meal-based holidays. It also frustrates me that they are always geared toward women. If you're healthy, and your family and friends are healthy, isn't that enough?

So, as far as last week goes, I'm not feeling guilty at all.

Even though I'm not feeling guilty, I do like working out, and I feel good when I do it often. So, for this week, I want to:
  • Work out four times. 
  • Check out a yoga class (if it fits my work schedule).
  • Cook two meals.
  • Reflect on what I'm thankful for.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week 8: Move/make

Today's weight: 175.0 pounds.

Monday: Spin class (1 hour)
Tuesday: Ran 40 minutes
Wednesday: Spin class (1 hour)
Thursday-Sunday: Off'

Thoughts on food:
I have been on an restaurant-food binge. Vegan pitas, seared tuna steaks, fancy sushi rolls. Everything I've eaten has been delicious, high-quality food from local restaurants. But there's been a lot of eating out. Cooking? Not so much.

Overall reflections:
I think I'm making a new resolution: If I'm going to eat out, I have to go to a locally-owned restaurant, and not a chain. I hate most chain food, anyway, especially when I live within half an hour of towns with amazing mom-and-pop restaurants.

Also, this last week of workouts? Whoops! I had plans every night after work Wednesday through Friday, and was out of town all weekend. Those workouts just fell to the wayside.

I have kept up with spin class, and have been running on the treadmill -- I made good on two of last week's goals. I did not run outdoors, even though it was a beautiful weekend, and I didn't cook (surprise).

So, for this week:
  • Get back to working out at least four days this week.
  • Stop eating out so damn much.
  • Cook some simple meals (I planned meals for this week, and already stuck with it for today, so I feel good about that).

Other than that, I'm not going to worry too much. It's a holiday weekend, which means being even more busy, and my best friend just gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Life's too nice to worry about much.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Move/make: Weeks 6 and 7, Take 2

Today's weight: 177.6.


Week 6:
Monday: Spin class (1 hour)
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Elliptical (30 minutes)
Thursday: Off
Friday: Ran 30 minutes
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

Week 7:
Monday: Spin class (50 minutes)
Tuesday: Spin class (50 minutes)
Wednesday: Ran 40 minutes
Thursday: Met w/ personal trainer
Friday: Off
Saturday: Ran 30 minutes
Sunday: Off

Thoughts on food:
Last week was my busiest so far at work. I worked late or through lunch almost every day, grabbing snacks when I could. My diet has been awful -- it's always the first thing I neglect. I met with a nutritionist and found out two suprising things: I'm eating way fewer calories than I thought, and nearly 50 percent of those calories are from fat. So, this week's project? Eat better. It's almost certainly why I'm not losing weight very quickly -- my body is malnourished.

The funny thing is, I don't eat meat, I don't smoke, and I rarely drink. I don't eat fast food, and I stopped buying things like chips and cookies to keep in the house. I even gave up Diet Coke. Because the worst things I eat now are cheeses and nuts, I (mistakenly) assumed my diet wasn't so bad. So, it was an eye-opening meeting. And I shudder to think how unhealthy I would be if I was doing all of the above things.

Overall reflections:
I am so happy to have discovered spin class. The days are shorter, and it's dark by the time I get home from work. That means I can't run outside anymore -- the first time I haven't been able to do that since I started running. I've been pretty down about it, but spin class looks like the thing that'll get me through the winter. I love it!

My meeting with a personal trainer was good, too. I learned what I need to work on, and I wasn't overwhelmed or intimidated. She was very nice. After the holidays, I want to keep meeting with her. It's expensive, but my girlfriend assures that the money she spent on a personal trainer was some of the best money she ever spent.

I accomplished everything off of last week's list except for cooking. My job was so, so exhausting these last two weeks, and I learned that I totally neglect healthy eating when I'm stressed at work. So, for this week:
  • Keep going to spin class.
  • Continue to make peace with the treadmill (I learned last week that a good iPod playlist makes all the difference).
  • In general, embrace the fact that I can't run outside anymore during the week, and take advantage of weekends, when I can go outdoors. 
  • Buy and make some (very) easy meals -- I'm talking frozen veggies and salmon filets. That easy. I hate frozen food, but it's got to be better than bread and cheese five days straight. Right?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Move/make: Weeks 3-5, Take 2

Today's weight: 172.2.

Week 3
Mostly took the week off to travel. No workouts worth writing down.

Week 4:
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Walked 3 miles
Wednesday: Ran 25 minutes
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Ran 35 minutes
Sunday: Ran a charity 5K (33 minutes)

Week 5:
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Ran 22 minutes
Wednesday: Ran 30 minutes
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Ran 40 minutes
Sunday: Ran 20 minutes

Thoughts on food:
Ate a lot of Indian food these last couple of weeks. Learned that it's hard to be a vegetarian in small-town Arkansas. Finally started cooking for myself in a real way that I am actually excited about. Made grilled brie sandwiches with wilted spinach/sauteed garlic for lunch today. Delicious.

This upcoming week is the first one where I've planned a meal for every day that I actually want to eat (and don't just feel like I should eat, like a salad).

Overall reflections:
A busy couple of weeks of work-travel-work meant I was pretty burned out on running/eating/work/life. Throw in some random heel pain, severe depression, and lack of sunlight, and I didn't do much for a week or so. But I bought new running shoes (again), got some sleep, and finally sorted out some things. My heel pain is gone, and I also beat my PR for a 5K. I'm feeling better.

Tonight I'm going to a spin class for the first time ever. I get free gym classes as part of my employee gym membership, so I'm trying to take advantage of them. Hoping these classes will keep me from tiring of running. I just haven't been feeling it lately. I'm always careful to pay attention to when I'm not as excited about running. I want to protect it and keep it as something I look forward to, something that sustains me. I don't want it to ever be a chore.

These last couple of weeks reminded me that life is always a work-in-progress. I've been feeling a little worse for the wear. I am trying to remember to be gentle to myself, to take it easy when I need to. I am trying to be more vocal about who/what I am grateful for. I am trying to remember how much my loved ones sustain me. I am trying to remember how much running sustains me. I am trying. I suppose that's what matters, on tougher days. On better days, it's the doing that counts.

  • Go to a couple of gym classes. This will help with cross-training and keeping me interested in working out during these shorter, drearier fall days.
  • Set up a time to meet with a personal trainer and nutritionist (also free, courtesy of my gym membership).
  • Cook the meals I said I'd cook (mostly fancy hot sandwiches and fish tacos). 
  • Get at least one shorter, tempo run in.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Think/act: Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Look/hear: Neil Young

Neil Young is awesome. I grew up listening to him and CSNY, thanks to my dad, and have always loved him.

I've been listening to this song a lot lately. His music is perfect for cool autumn nights.

Move/make: Week 3, Take 2

Today's weight: 175.0.

Monday: Hill sprints (11)
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Tempo run (2 miles in 22 minutes)
Thursday: Ran 30 minutes
Friday: Hill sprints (10)
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Ran 35 minutes

Thoughts on food:
My original goal was to go out to eat twice. I went out to eat four times, but two of those times were Indian food, which is healthy and delicious. The other two times were beer and bread-based snacks -- not so healthy, but good cold-weather comfort food.

I spent tonight making quinoa, oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs. I've got a rough idea of meal plans for the week. I've been drinking kombucha and kefir, which has made my stomach feel much better. And I've been eating a lot of chia seeds, and taking vitamins. I'm still feeling good, despite my new addiction to dark chocolate bars with cayenne pepper and cinnamon in them (amazing).

I had a Diet Coke today -- my first since last Sunday. It tasted OK, but I don't need another one for a while.

Overall reflections:
Had a rough run today (don't know what it is about Sundays), but I am getting faster overall. An 11-minute mile is probably nothing to write home about, but it's a minute faster than my previous average. I want to get down to a consistent 10-minute mile, or I'm going to be miserable running longer races. I'm happy to see the speed training is making a difference, even after only doing it for a couple of weeks.
I've always thought I was a slow runner (and I am), so it's been nice to chip away at my times.

I'm also happy that I worked out five days last week.

I met two out of my three goals from last week. I'm traveling at the end of this week, and the next couple of days are shaping up to be very busy. Because of that, I want to:
  • Work out only three (but ideally four) days this week.
  • Keep taking my vitamins, especially since I'll be traveling and run down.
  • Eat healthy, home-made meals for all meals but one.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Move/make: Week 2/Take 2

Today's weight: 172.6.

Monday: Hill sprints (10)
Tuesday: Ran 25 minutes
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Hill sprints (10)
Friday: Off
Saturday: Ran 38 minutes
Sunday: Ran 38 minutes

Thoughts on food:
My eating wasn't as great this week as last week, but I have been eating lunches at home, and eating real food. I've been making food on Sundays for work, which has been helping. Tonight, I made cold oatmeal/Greek yogurt/Chia seed mixes for breakfasts, and I made Greek quinoa salad for lunches. I'm trying to make at least one recipe a week. It's not a lot, but enough to get me cooking and not be overwhelmed. I have a serious mental block when it comes to the kitchen, so I'm feeling pretty good about these baby steps.

Overall reflections:
I'm feeling good. Today, I had a Diet Coke and it didn't taste good. And lately, when I eat bread or carbs, I just feel bloated and weird. I don't buy snacks at the grocery store anymore, either. I'm definitely over snacking/eating junk every day. This is a first for me.

I've been working out a lot (these hill sprints are kicking my ass). I feel good. I have a lot more energy, and my emotions are much more even-keel.Today's run was pretty rough, but I also went right after I got out of bed and had only eaten two Oreos on my way out the door. My body is definitely not OK with junk anymore.

I'm looking forward to runs getting easier again. I think continuing to mix up the kinds of running I'm doing will help.

I made good on my goals from last week. I worked out five days this last week, did speed work twice, and fairly burned myself out on junk food.

For this coming week, I want to:
  • Not have any soda or bottled juice at all. I have a weakness for chai with soy milk and pumpkin syrup (I make it myself and bring it to work), so I'll still have that. It makes my mornings better.
  • Do speed work twice -- either hill sprints or shorter, tempo runs.
  • Only go out to eat twice.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Think/act: Solitude

Alone time is important to me. I don't always do a good job of allowing myself downtime to read, or walk, or relax. I also don't always do a good job of balancing solitude with spending time with loved ones.

But lately, I've been feeling more balanced. This morning, I woke up before my boyfriend, and took a three-mile walk outside, near a lake. I brought music and enjoyed the sunshine. I was awake, and everything felt possible.

I've been reading more, too. The stack above is what I keep by my bed. There are books I'm working on, books I want to get to soon, and things I like to keep near. There are short stories, longer fiction, a book about running, and a book about being vegan. I also keep a notebook for quotes, and another one for my own writing. In grad school, it was hard to find time to read anything not related to coursework. When I graduated, I promised myself I'd finally get back to reading for fun. Which is, of course, also reading for work, because I'm always researching, always learning, always thinking about future dissertation topics.

Since I study modern American literature, my to-read list skews heavily toward that. I know I need to branch out a bit more, and read the writers who've influenced my favorite writers. I know I need to keep reading feminist and composition theory. But my list is so long, I don't stress about it now. I'm just enjoying being able to read all the things I love that my grad program didn't value.

It's these little things -- walking in the morning, reading Lorrie Moore without feeling guilty for not reading for class -- that keep me happiest when I'm alone.

Move/make: Week 1/Take 2

Today's weight: 179.6.

Monday: Ran 39 minutes
Tuesday: Biked 6.5 miles
Wednesday: Hill sprints (10 in 25 minutes)
Thursday: Ran 31 minutes
Friday: Off
Saturday: Ran a 5K in 34 minutes (a new PR!)
Sunday: Walked 3 miles

Thoughts on food: 
After taking some strong medicine with the potential for long-term side effects, I did a three-day raw food cleanse. For three days, I ate nothing but raw veggies, smoothies with kale/spinach/fruit/flax seed, and raw "cookies" that I made. In addition to (hopefully) flushing residual chemicals out of my body, it was enough to get me over some pretty intense addictions to Diet Coke and junk food.

That was about a week and a half ago. Since then, I've been doing much better, food-wise. I've been making simple meals at home (baked potatoes, tuna, salads, protein smoothies). I've also been taking calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, magnesium and glucosamine chondroitin. I've had a Diet Coke three times since then, and I don't want chips or cookies.

Tonight, I made tuna salad, a homemade salad dressing out of blood oranges, and hard-boiled eggs for easy lunches. I live close enough to work that I can bike home for lunch, if I have some easy foods ready to go when I get there.

Overall reflections:
Taking time away from blogging and to-do-listing was the best thing I could have done. I feel healthier, happier and refreshed. I'm motivated to vary my workouts, and I have a lot more energy. It's a wonder what eating real food and treating your body kindly does. My skin looks better, and I don't want to snack all day long on crappy food.

I've turned a major corner, definitely, in my health. The 5K I ran this weekend was the fastest I've ever done -- and I was more out of practice than I have been for past races. Doing speed training and actually taking care of my diet certainly made a huge difference.

Before I got sick, I was training for a 10K. There's another one in October I thought about doing, but that would only give me a month to get ready for it. Instead, I'm going to slow down, and focus on strength and speed work instead. I've got my eye on running a 10K by spring, and a half marathon a year from now (something on my lifelong wish list).

It's been nearly a month since I wrote this. I've been working hard to balance work, loved ones, my own alone time, and my health. The only thing I haven't done much about is the creativity portion, but I've got little ideas and projects I want to work on -- some related to writing, some not.

The number on the scale? The one thing I'm not excited about. But I feel good, I'm happy, and I feel like I'm on the right track. I'm enjoying working out. I'm enjoying being outdoors in the sunshine and cool weather. That's all that matters.

  • Keep going. Work out at least four times a week, if not five.
  • Work in hills/speed work one day a week.
  • Keep eating real food. Not diet food. Not soda. Not candy.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Think/act: bell hooks

"There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few."

bell hooks, “Educating Women: A Feminist Agenda”

Why I love bell hooks, why feminism that isn't intersectional and inclusive is bullshit, why education has to be accessible to everyone, etc.

And really, this sums up all my feelings about why academia, in general, has failed and continues to fail us. Progressive ideas are worthless unless they can be accessed and enacted by everyone. I know I spent most of last semester talking about arbitrary power dynamics in my teaching class, but honestly, how can collapsing them not be the first thing that has to happen for everyone to be happy, healthy and free?

Look/hear: Get happy

I started a new job this week. The pay is good, and I'll be advising several hundred (!) students who need me, but I've already got a legal pad filled with notes from training, and an ever-growing to-do list.

Needless to say, this weekend feels much-earned. I had dinner with friends tonight. Tomorrow, I'll go to my hometown to see friends from high school, eat breakfast, and go to an annual rummage sale. I'll spend the evening with my best friend. Sunday includes breakfast with my boyfriend's beloved grandfather, and my first run coming off major illness.

When I'm feeling overwhelmed -- when all those good things waiting at the end of the week seem far off -- I like to listen to music. Even if it's just a song between the car and my desk, it's usually enough to lift my spirits.

Some of my never-fail, all-time-favorite happy songs are:

The Clash, "Revolution Rock"
I've owned multiple copies of this on CD and vinyl. I never get tired of it. It's the album that's stayed in rotation the longest (I think I was 14 when I got it), and this song, in particular, always cheers me up.  I finally re-uploaded a bunch of music that got corrupted on my iPod, so I can listen to this again.


Desmond Dekker, "Peace of Mind"
Someone else I've loved since high school. It doesn't matter that he's singing about trouble and misery. His voice always makes me feel better.

Steve Earle, "Steve's Last Ramble"
I have a lot of good feelings about this one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Move/make: Hiatus

Ongoing illness means I haven't been working out much these last weeks, and won't be able to work out for at least another week.

I'm not going to sweat it too much (for once). My birthday is coming up soon, and I want to enjoy the things I have accomplished. I know when I'm able, I'll work out. But right now, I physically cannot.

When I can (and when my new running shoes have arrived in the mail), I want to:
  • Keep running, but make sure it's always enjoyable. I was training for a 10K that would have been this last week, but sickness kept me out of it. I was starting to get burned out, too -- feeling the pressure to meet a deadline my body was probably not ready for anyway. The next 10K is in October, so I have a couple of months to go at a more sustainable pace.
  • Because I don't have to push distance running so hard, I want to mix in interval training and hill work, to help my speed and coordination when I run. 
  • Do upper-body work. I was good at this last fall, but let it go to focus only on running. I know I've started to plateau anyway, and strengthening my upper body is imperative if I'm going to run a mud 5K next summer.
I'm using this down time to check in with myself, and make sure that working out doesn't lose the enjoyment it has always had.

I'm also finally cooking for myself.

Think/act: Letting go

I haven't kept up on things. Blog things. Fitness things. Food things. A lot of things.

But this is about letting go. And not making excuses the whole way. Not looking back.

I've been tightly-wound my entire life. My mom loves to tell the story of an infant-me, stacking my blocks again and again, throwing a tantrum if the stack wasn't perfect. For anyone who knows me, it makes sense. The thing is, that compulsion has been my worst enemy, but it's also gotten me through some difficult times.

So, it's not about letting go of that part of myself entirely. What I want to do is learn to let go of the things that don't matter, to make sure my compulsions serve a purpose beyond make-work. I want to channel my relentlessness into the important things only. Do I really need to tackle cleaning the apartment with as much zest as I did my last semester of school? Of course not.

In other words, I'll never stop making to-do lists, but I want them to be less overwhelming, more enjoyable. I want to live my life with intention. I want to spend time on the things that matter and spend less time on the things that don't. I don't want to over-complicate needlessly, get myself overwhelmed before I've even began.

I'm writing this now because I'm at a strange time in my life. Grad school is behind me (for now). I'm not teaching this year (and I have mixed feelings on what I'm doing instead). I'm in a serious and good and important relationship. Real "adulthood," it feels like, is finally here. That's OK with me (most of the time). But I want to make sure I'm spending my soon-to-be limited time on what's important. I've frittered away a month of unemployment doing absolutely nothing. I needed it.

But now it's time to shake off my weird malaise about Change, and move forward.

I've been thinking this past month about what's really important to me, and this is what I want to focus on:
  • Relationships. My schedule this summer let me spend time with loved ones in a way I've never been able to before. I've always known how important my friends and family were to me, but this summer showed me how sustaining something like a weekly "date" with my best friend can be.
  • Solitude. I suppose it seems counter-intuitive, given the last point, but I also realize how important it is to take care of myself and spend time alone. There were weeks this summer where I was barely home. I missed my cat, my roommate, and my own time. I want to have a better balance.
  • Creativity. I want to get better at writing. I've never pushed myself too hard -- I constantly refine old pieces, but they still all sound the same. I've got a style, but I don't work that hard at it. I need to kill my darlings. But even if it's not writing, I need to do something to channel my energies that grad school usually absorbed -- whether it's making things, writing down my thoughts, debating politics. I need to keep myself mentally entertained.
  • Health. I had a pretty successful summer, in terms of health. But there were also some rough patches. My poor eating habits caught up to me, and I'm sick in about five different ways. I'm currently on a work-out hiatus thanks to some heavy-duty medication that gives me joint pain, double vision, and the risk of blowing out my tendons. As soon as I'm able to work out again, I plan on going at it with a renewed energy. I want to. Especially because, in two days, I won't have any health insurance.
I guess it's that simple. It's never that simple, of course, but I like distilling things to their basic ideas. It makes it easier for me to remember what's important.

And to let go of the rest.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Move/make: Week 19

Weight (as of Tuesday afternoon): 172.0.

Monday: Ran 30 minutes, walked 30 minutes
Tuesday: Helped friends move (ran boxes up two flights of stairs for three hours)
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Ran 55 minutes
Friday: Ran 30 minutes
Saturday: Ran 25 minutes
Sunday: Hiked four hours at a state park 

Thoughts on food:
Better than the last couple of weeks. I've been going out to eat less, and eating more fruit and smoothies. I still haven't cooked much, though I have baked a lot. I figured out the secret to cookies that stay chewy for days (something I've never been able to accomplish until now), so I'm feeling good. I found two simple, meat-free recipes I want to try. I've got a shopping list and I'm headed to the store shortly. I'm craving simple, home-cooked meals and lots of fresh fruit. This might be the first time this has happened in a while. 

Overall reflections:
I'm feeling much better than I was last time I wrote. I deep-cleaned the house, got caught up on laundry, and started tackling that to-do list. I still have a lot of things on my mind about jobs/money, but I'm slowly getting on top of everything else. Working out has helped a lot (as always). I'm on schedule to run a 10K for my birthday, too, so I'm feeling good. My weekends have slowed down some, too. I'm trying not to overbook myself, and it seems to be helping.

I know I have to listen to my moods, and go easy on myself when I'm feeling overwhelmed.  What helps most is just knowing I'm accomplishing a little bit each day. 

  • Grocery shop and make the two recipes I found (Greek salad with quinoa and huevos rancheros with avocado and black beans). 
  • Stay on target for the 10K (that means running an hour this week).
  • Keep making progress on that to-do list.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Move/make: Weeks 17 and 18

Weight (as of Tuesday morning): 175.6.

No idea. Not enough, and I didn't keep track. On the plus side, I'm keeping up (barely) with my 10k training schedule. I have to successfully run 55 minutes without stopping this week, but I plan on doing that tomorrow. 

Thoughts on food:
Terrible, until the middle of last week or so. Yesterday (Monday), I started eating healthier than I have in months. The last two weeks, not so much. I don't even remember if I went out or what I ate. I think my weight reflects all this pretty well. I just didn't care.

Overall reflections:
I'm depressed, though I didn't really realize it until this morning. I wrapped up my summer job last week, and am waiting to hear on a fall job. A fall job that comes with its own set of emotions and thoughts to work through (another thing on my to-do list, of course).

I have a long to-do list, no job, and plenty of time to tackle all these things. But I can't bring myself to do any of it. I couldn't even bring myself to keep up with this blog until just now.

Honestly, I'm not sure what to do. I'm not sure how to dig myself out and get back on track. I can't keep up on cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, exercising, job hunting, finances. I overdrew my checking account. I'm late to everything. I can't finish anything, so I don't start much. My usual self-care tricks (taking a day off, running, watching a good TV show) aren't working. I just don't know.

Sometimes, the trick is to stay busy. But sometimes, I can say too busy. I've overbooked myself this summer. I've had weekend after weekend where I had literally five or six places to go in a couple of days. I've never been good at being on time, but I've also just taken on too much. I am not good at finding a balance.

When I finished graduate school, I immediately had to jump into a summer job (and then another summer job). I haven't really processed anything until now. I feel aimless, I've got nothing waiting for me in the fall. I haven't slowed down to think about any of it until now, and it's hitting me hard.

I don't know what to do.

I didn't do any of the things from Week 16, of course. Not one.

I said I wanted to move forward in my last post. I haven't.

I'm not sure what my goals for this week will be, other than surviving. I'm letting myself off the hook this time. I'm not making any new goals, adding any more pressure. I just need to get in front of some things in my life. That's all I want. This blog -- this project -- was the one thing that gave me some kind of structure, that encouraged me to take care of myself. And right now? It's not doing that for me. I'm not doing that for me.

I'll try this all again next week.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Think/act: The volume of the soul

“You are not your bra-size, nor are you the width of your waist, nor are you the slenderness of your calves. You are not your hair color, your skin color, nor are you a shade of lipstick. Your shoe-size is of no consequence. You are not defined by the amount of attention you get from males, females, or any combination thereof. You are not the number of sit-ups you can do, nor are you the number of calories in a day. You are not your mustache. You are not the hair on your legs. You are not a little red dress. You are no amalgam of these things.

You are the content of your character. You are the ambitions that drive you. You are the goals that you set. You are the things that you laugh at and the words that you say. You are the thoughts you think and the things you wonder. You are beautiful and desirable not for the clique you attend, but for the spark of life within you that compels you to make your life a full and meaningful one. You are beautiful not for the shape of the vessel, but for the volume of the soul it carries.”


Always relevant. Though the sentiment applies to anyone, no matter how they identify.

Original source unknown. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Move/make: Week 16

Weight (as of Monday morning): 171.8 pounds. 

Monday: Biked 20 miles
Tuesday: Ran 45 minutes
Wednesday: Ran 40 minutes
Thursday: Off
Friday: Hiked 30 minutes
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Ran 45 minutes 

Thoughts on food:
Still eating gradually healthier. I am trying to swap out Diet Coke for iced chai and Arnold Palmers. So far, I've made it one day without soda. Not that all the sugar in chai and iced tea/lemonade is healthy. It just seems better than the toxic chemicals in soda.

Otherwise, my eating has been pretty unbalanced. Not junk food, per se, but a lot of cheese, crackers, soy milk and strawberries. Not exactly healthy. I have no energy, and I'm training for a 10K at the end of August. Go figure. 

Overall reflections:
There are parts of my life that are very, very good right now. But I also have a huge mental block about two things in my life: eating/cooking, and finding a job for the fall. Those two things are really sapping my energy. And, of course, I need energy to overcome those speed bumps.

Running, as always, has been keeping me relatively calm and happy. We've had heat wave after heat wave, but I've been managing to keep going. 

Given how I've been feeling, I owe it to myself to actually make good on some goals this week:
  • Do something other than running. Go to the gym and swim or lift weights at least once. It will keep me from burning out before the 10K.
  • Find two easy dishes to make for meals this week.
  • Go grocery shopping and make those meals.
  • Apply for jobs.
If I can do those four things, I'll be tremendously happy. And it will make my busy weekends feel better, because I won't have those things hanging over me. I owe it to my own mental health.

A bonus if I can finally get down below 170 pounds, but I'm not going to stress it. I need to start eating better, once and for all, first and foremost.

I'd like this week to be the last week I have to keep writing the same list of goals. I want to move forward!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Look/hear: Lucinda Williams

I love this woman. I love how bold and brave and vulnerable and broken-hearted her songs can be.

"Can't Let Go"


"Where Is My Love?" (bonus points for mentioning flannel shirts)


Think/act: Acceptance

I've been more active than I have been in quite a while, and I've been thinking a lot about body acceptance.

As a teenager, I was always self-conscious of my legs. I hated wearing shorts, because even at my skinniest, I had huge leg muscles. Even on the hottest summer days, I'd usually be in jeans. In college, there would be days where I felt so fat, and so unattractive, that I couldn't even get dressed and go to class. Paralyzed, I'd put pajamas back on, and get back in bed. 

I realize how ludicrous that sounds. I missed class because I felt "fat." And that was about 30 pounds ago.

Thirty pounds ago, I had disordered eating patterns. Thirty pounds ago, I couldn't even put on an outfit to leave the house.

After college, I realized that it was silly not to wear shorts, to be miserable because of something as superficial as clothing, or body shape. Especially when, by all accounts, I wasn't overweight. My legs were strong and healthy. There was nothing wrong with me. By then, I understood that bodies change. Mine had changed a lot. I had gained a good amount of weight -- I was probably at my heaviest when I first went back to graduate school. But I could get dressed, usually with minimal problems. I could wear shorts. I could leave the house. I wasn't crazy about how I looked. In fact, I was pretty unhappy with how much weight I gained. But I didn't linger on it.

Then, in graduate school, I started studying feminist theory, and thinking a lot about the ways women, in particular, are expected to look. The pressure that young girls feel to be thin, or pretty, or "perfect." The ways women pin their hopes and summer plans on fitting into the perfect pair of jeans, or bikini.

I thought of all the time and energy wasted on such a pointless thing. Imagine I had all the time back that I spent worrying about my clothes, my body. I could have been so much more productive. I could have experienced more life right then and there, instead of thinking I only deserved to live and be comfortable once I lost X pounds.

Think what would happen if every woman (and man) struggling with self-acceptance was able to trust that s/he was beautiful, and strong, and just fine. I read this blog post today, and it damn near broke my heart. A woman who has worked as hard as she has to get fit and strong has earned the right to wear running shorts, and look beautiful doing it. Shit, anyone should be able to. The idea that some people can wear some clothes, and others can't, is beyond upsetting to me. Who defines what beauty is?

Running has helped me with my own acceptance. Whereas before I'd wear shorts mostly out of necessity, I wear them now because I am proud of the muscles in my legs. A lot of hard work, sweat, and even tears have gone into those muscles. I've run in the rain. I've run in the snow. I've run during heat waves. I've run through shin splints, numbness, cracking joints, and other weird foot "things." I've run through heartbreak and depression. More than once, I've gotten up at 5:30 a.m. to run with a bunch of strangers.

Even so,  I'm not perfect. I still have days where I feel like nothing fits right, or where I wonder how I gained all this weight. But those days are farther and farther apart. I can go months without feeling bad about my body.

Last week's heat wave was my most recent test. I was determined to keep up with running, despite the heat. I usually run in shorts, a jogging bra, and a tank top, but even the tank top was too much last week. Before now, I have never run in just a jogging bra. I feel vulnerable, and I'm self-conscious about my stomach. But, dammit, it was hotter than hell, and I wanted to run. So I took off my tank top. After all, it was so hot that no one else was out anyway. And the few people I came across just expressed disbelief that I was crazy enough to be running in the first place. No one told me to put a shirt back on. No one made fun of me.

And you know what? After a minute or so, I was so distracted by the sun and heat, that I couldn't even think about what I might have looked like.

I feel like, of all the runs I've done since last May, I earned those six miles.

I only wish I could have felt like this sooner in life. And that everyone else could feel the same.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Move/make: Week 15

Weight (as of Monday afternoon): 172.2 pounds. 

Monday: Ran 30 minutes
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Ran 37 minutes (Fourth of July 5K)
Thursday: Off
Friday: Ran 37 minutes
Saturday: Ran 37 minutes
Sunday: Off 

Thoughts on food:
A little healthier than last week. I've been eating more fruit, less take-out. I had grilled fish and vegetables for the Fourth, and I even helped cook. Ate out twice (Thai and Chinese). Overall, not too bad. 

Overall reflections:
Last week was terribly hot all week (upper 90s and low 100s), so it was hard to get outdoors very much. My runs on Friday and Saturday took a while, since I stopped every 10 minutes or so to drink water and rest in the shade. Even so, they took a lot out of me. But being in constant air-conditioning meant that I couldn't stomach being stuck inside at the gym, either. 

Thanks to the holiday, I had a long weekend that I got to spend with some of my favorite people. My weekends have been great this summer. 

The only thing I did from last week's goals was to run the 5K successfully. I didn't stop once, because I knew I wouldn't be able to get going again. It was hotter than hot at 8 a.m. I did fit in a long bike ride (20 miles), but I did that today, so it doesn't count toward last week.

For the rest of this week, I want to:
  • Work out a total of 5 days.
  • Go to the gym at least once.
  • FINALLY tackle the two major things on my to-do list: Finish my CV and apply for jobs.  
  • Do a 25-mile bike ride for charity.
This weekend will be busy again, and though that's a good thing, it means I need to be good about getting things done this week.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Move/make: Week 14

Weight (as of Monday morning): 171.4 pounds.

Monday: Ran 20 minutes
Tuesday: Ran 20 minutes
Wednesday: Ran 40 minutes
Thursday: Does chasing a 2-year-old up and down inflatable slides and ladders for an hour count? It sure felt like it.
Friday: Biked 10 miles
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Hiked 30 minutes

Thoughts on food:
This last week was more of the same. But I went grocery shopping today, and am running a 5K on Wednesday, so I'm making a more conscious effort to eat healthier this week. The few times I went out to eat were healthy, though -- salads and healthy pizzas. I also finally cleaned out my fridge. Sometimes I get this mental food block, especially when there's nothing but expired eggs and wilting spinach in the fridge.

Overall reflections:
I know I wanted to get a variety of workouts in, but I since I decided to do a 5K this week, I've been focused on running. I wanted to make sure I could run a 5K without feeling too exhausted, and I think I'll be all right.

Overall, I'm feeling good. Last weekend was a whirlwind: I saw my best friend and her son, reconnected with an old friend on her birthday, had lunch with another friend, went to another friend's baby shower, went to Cave of the Mounds in Wisconsin, went for a bike ride in my hometown, and visited my grandparents. All in four days! I have a five-day weekend coming up that's promising to be similarly busy. I feel very lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life that I can spend time with. When my last relationship ended, I swore I'd do better at cultivating friendships. I'm happy I made good on that promise.

For the rest of this week, I want to:
  • Successfully run that Fourth of July 5K.
  • Go for another long bike ride.
  • Go to the gym at least once.
  • Tackle two major things on my to-do list: Finish my CV and apply for jobs. 
Since this weekend will be so busy, I'll be happy to just do those things.  Anything else will be a bonus.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Move/make: Week 13

Today's weight (a couple of days late): 175.0 pounds.

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Ran 37 minutes
Wednesday: Biked 15 miles
Thursday: Swam 40 minutes
Friday: Played frisbee 30 minutes
Saturday: Walked all over Madison all day
Sunday: Short run/walk, frisbee

Thoughts on food:
So, so bad. A lot of Diet Coke, Clif bars, and crackers and cheese. Some fruit, but not a lot. The fridge is a disaster I've been avoiding. I also went out to eat way too much (Chinese food, twice; pizza buffet, which was pretty awful; fried fish, twice; Thai food; ice cream).

So, pretty bad.  

Overall reflections: 
A combination of needing to buckle down with training for some upcoming races this July, and not having any money, will help with not eating out as much. I have a lunch date planned with a friend from my newspaper days this Friday, but other than that, things should be OK.

I made good on my goal of varying my workouts. My roommate and I have been playing frisbee, which has been fun. Swimming laps wore me out -- in a good way -- and I want to go back to the pool soon. The only thing I need to stick with is weight-training, something I'm notoriously bad about keeping up with. The upcoming heat wave this week will give me plenty of opportunity to hit the gym, though.

I also saw a neurologist yesterday. He poked my foot and leg with tiny needles. It was terrible.

Overall, I'm feeling good about these workouts, despite the crappy diet I've had.

By this Sunday, I want to:
  • Only go out to eat twice
  • Weight-train two separate times
  • Go for one long bike ride
  • Go for two 5K runs
  • Swim or play frisbee again
I also need to clean my fridge and apartment, and go grocery shopping.

Look/hear: Hayes Carll

I've been on an alt-country kick lately, thanks mostly to my roommate and his amazing music collection. There's been a lot of Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and this guy, Hayes Carll.

"It's A Shame"
This song kills me. It's so beautiful and heartbroken and resigned. I have listened too it way too much. An unhealthy amount.

It's music that makes me think of summer, bittersweet feelings, and wide-open cornfields. It makes me think of driving at night, of being sun-sick from hiking all day. I've got all these feelings, see.

I get to see Hayes Carll in a couple of weeks, too. So excited. I am a sucker for flannel, broke-down songs, and anyone who sings about Arkansas (he does, a lot).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer 2012 Goals

Summer has officially started. It's finally started to sink in that I graduated. Summer classes are starting. It's warm and sunny every day. While running today, I realized that I have a lot of things I want to accomplish this summer.

Within this past month, I have already accomplished a lot. I graduated with a master's degree. I trained for and started a grueling new job. I interviewed and was offered a different job. I quit that first job. I started running again. I started long-distance biking. I've been meat-free for exactly six months. I've done a lot, and it feels pretty damn good. 

But, of course, there's so much more I want to do.

In May, I made a list of my life goals, but those are very long-term. I want to gather together my goals for this summer, get them all in one place, and hold myself accountable. Some things have to get done, some things should get done, and some things would make my life more enjoyable if I did them.

I plan on checking in with myself throughout the summer, to see how I'm doing (and making adjustments to these goals as necessary).

  • Make sure my workouts are varied -- I need to make swimming, biking, and weight-training priorities this summer.
  • Sign up for and complete a 5K, a 10K, and a 50-mile bike ride.
  • Get my weight into the 160s.
  • Edit and send out an article (that I've been sitting on for months) for publication.
  • Finish putting together my CV.
  • Find steady teaching jobs for the fall.
Everything else:
  • If I don't end up working a second job this summer, I'll have a lot of free time in August. I want to use that to plan at least one substantial (but cheap) trip, either camping somewhere around here or going to visit my sister.
  • Pay off my credit card.
  • Read at least 10 books.
  • Work on my quote journal.
  • Get another tattoo (I have an idea for a small and larger one, depending on how much I can afford).
It's going to be one hell of a summer, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited to see how much of this I'll be able to accomplish -- ideally, all of it!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Look/hear: Summer music

This summer promises a particularly excellent lineup of concerts. Thanks to my new job, I'll actually be able to see almost all of the ones I had hoped to get to -- and there are about nine of them. There are few things I love more than seeing a good show with friends. 

Deer Tick, "Ashamed"
I saw these guys the other weekend, and they put on an excellent show. They played almost all of my favorites from "War Elephant" (their first album) and "Divine Providence" (their latest album). They even covered The Replacements' "Kiss Me on the Bus." Perfect.

Reigning Sound, "Call Me #1"
iTunes tells me that I've played this song close to 60 times since the EP came out this spring. I can't get enough of Greg Cartwright and his various projects -- and this song, in particular. I'm going to see Reigning Sound this weekend.

Father John Misty, "Only Son of  Ladies Man"
J. Tillman is clearly in the middle of a serious nervous breakdown, but it sounds so, so beautiful. Planning on seeing him this summer -- before he loses it completely. I'm hoping to see some of those dance moves in person. And that bass player -- I just can't.


Sebadoh, "Rebound"
As if this summer wasn't going to be amazing enough, I bought tickets to see these guys in August. This is probably the show I'm most excited about. "Bakesale" has got to be one of the most perfect albums ever.

Move/make: Weeks 11 and 12

Today's weight: 172.3 pounds.

Workouts (last week):
Monday: Biked 30 miles
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off
Friday: Biked 5 miles, walked one hour
Saturday: Biked 3 miles, weights for 45 minutes (legs and abs)
Sunday: Off

Workouts (this week):
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Ran 35 minutes
Thursday: Ran 37 minutes
Friday: Ran 20 minutes
Saturday: Ran 37 minutes
Sunday: Off

Thoughts on food:
These last two weeks have been a whirlwind. I finished my job training last week, and started teaching this week. Because of that, I haven't eaten as well as I probably should be, but I've only gone out to eat once a week. I'm making sure I stay on top of grocery shopping.

Rather than focusing on cooking, which is clearly not happening, I think a more realistic goal for me is to make sure the snacks and small meals I eat throughout the day are healthy and filling -- veggie burgers, fresh fruit, a protein-filled breakfast. I'm happy to keep the no-eating-out rule, though. It's saving me money that I can spend on better groceries.

Overall reflections:
I stuck to about half of the goals I posted last time. I went grocery shopping, I finally saw a podiatrist, and I went to the gym and lifted weights.

I didn't work out as often as I wanted last week, but I more than made up for it this week. I got the green-light to start running again this Wednesday, and have gone for a run every day since then. I am so, so happy that I can do this. I still have another appointment with a neurologist (for a nerve conduction test, since it's a nerve problem in my foot), but my podiatrist said I can start running again as long as my foot doesn't get worse or start hurting (it's just been numb, but not painful).

I didn't fit in another long bike ride, so that's a goal for next week.

Between my last post and this one, I also quit my first teaching job, and am starting a job this Monday that is more in line with what I actually want as a career. It will allow me to stay in the town I live in, rather than driving all over northern Illinois. It pays just as well as the old one, and I won't have to work with little kids. I'm nervous, for a whole other slew of reasons, but I'm happy to leave that other, grueling job behind.

These last two weeks have been insane, but I'm feeling much better than I was before. I'm also starting to see a difference from working out. My muscles are stronger and more defined, and I have a lot more endurance. My weight seems to be steadily going down, too. The cross-training definitely helped. Going forward, I want to make sure I have more variety in my workouts, rather than just running or biking. 

I binged on running this week -- I was just so glad to be able to do it again. But now I have a job that gives me more free time during the day to hit the gym and the pool -- things I couldn't always do before.

Because of that, I want to do the following things next week, for some variety:
  • Go to the pool at least once
  • Go to the gym and lift weights at least twice
  • Go for a long (25-mile or more) bike ride
  • Go for a run
I also need to make an appointment to see the neurologist.

As for my long-term summer goals, I sat down and listed them all out here. That way, I can use this space for my short-term, week-to-week check-ins, and have a running list in one place of my overall goals for the summer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Think/act: Little things

I'm well into my third week of job training. The days are 9- to 10- hours long, with short lunch breaks. I'm tired. I'm behind on the rest of my life. I'm worried about what my future holds. I've only had a day off here and there.

Tonight, I finally went grocery shopping after more than two weeks without any decent food in the house. I was going to go for a bike ride after, but decided to take the night off. I had a productive day -- I managed to get a lot of things done on top of my 10 hours of training -- so I thought I'd finally relax. I don't think I've done that since April, literally.

I made a veggie "chicken" sandwich with spinach and tomato on top, and ate it with sweet tea and salted caramel gelato (so good). I watched two episodes of Treme. Now, I'm listening to Centro-matic's last album while cleaning up.

If there's one good thing that's come out of this frustrating job, it's that I appreciate these kinds of things in a way I probably haven't in a while. A decent meal, an excellent TV show, and an amazing album.

The opening of Treme. If you've watched The Wire, the style will look familiar. One of the best new shows I've seen. It manages to be frustrating and heartbreaking and exuberant, all at once.

Move/make: Week 10

Today's weight: 175.0 pounds.

Workouts (last week):
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off (traveling)
Wednesday: Biked 10 miles
Thursday: Biked 10 miles
Friday: Off
Saturday: Swam 1 hour
Sunday: Off
Thoughts on food:
I was in Florida all last week for training. I stuck with my goal of going grocery shopping (although even that was expensive, probably because we were in Orlando, a stone's throw from Orlando Studios). Our group went out to dinner once -- I had beer (Yuengling!) and fish tacos. I'm impressed we didn't go out more often. The rest of the week I ate a lot of peanut butter, hummus, tuna salad, apples, cherry tomatoes, and Diet Coke. Maybe not totally balanced, but not entirely unhealthy, either. The Diet Coke has got to go, though.

Overall reflections: 
I didn't work out four days last week, but I did fit in three days of workouts while traveling, so I feel good about that. Working out on an exercise bike might be one of my least favorite things to do. It's so ... tedious. But I had my iPod, and lots of pent-up energy/frustration from long days of training, so it wasn't so bad. I will always choose working out outside, though, when I can.

On Saturday, our last night in Florida, we went to Cocoa Beach and swam at sunset. The sky was a beautiful lavender, the beach was fairly empty, and there weren't many boats in the ocean. I love seeing where the ocean meets the sky. I always feel like I'm on the edge of the earth. There is something about water that is soothing to me. It helped melt away a lot of the stress I'd been feeling. And it helped me make peace with my feelings about Florida. All of us drove back to the hotel feeling tired, but happy, I think. I love the ocean.

Like the week before, this week's workouts definitely helped keep me relatively sane. This job has been taking it out of me. I realized last night that I haven't had any down time for going on two months now. I went from wrapping up coursework, to turning in grades, to graduating, to diving headfirst into job training. I've had a day off here or there, but nothing substantial. Didn't even have a long weekend for Memorial Day. And my days off are mostly spent thinking about (or getting caught up on) all the other things I let slide during the busy part of the semester. I'm training this week until 7 p.m. each night, and I've spent many nights so far feeling depressed. Working out is helping me manage the anxiety I'm feeling (and there's a lot of it). I'm worried about money, the summer, my future, having no insurance. There are a lot of things weighing on me now.

I feel really good that I stuck to my goals while traveling. This week (well, until Sunday, when I blog again), I want to:
  • Go grocery shopping (I've had no food since I got home on Sunday ... I've been living on ramen and iced tea, which is not helping my crankiness. I need fresh fruit and vegetables!). 
  • Work out three more times (in keeping with my more-days-on-than-off rule).
  • Make at least two of those days weight-lifting days.
  • Continue biking (I have a new bike, I sold my old one to recoup some costs, and I've set my sights on a 50-mile ride in July). 
  • Call my doctor and make an appointment to look at my foot (I still haven't done this!). 
And, as always, get into the 160s by sometime this summer.  

As far as my mental health, goes, for now, I just have to take things a day at a time. I'm working on some other things (second jobs, etc.) that might make things a little better. For now, though, I'm stuck in this frustrating limbo.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Move/make: Week 9

Today's weight: 180.0 pounds.

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Biked 5 miles, weights for 45 minutes (abs, legs)
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Biked 3 miles, weights for 30 minutes (abs, back, chest, arms)
Friday: Off
Saturday: Biked 10 miles
Sunday: Off 

Thoughts on food:
I honestly haven't thought a lot about food lately. I've been eating out less, and making healthier decisions when I do go out. I've been eating a lot of fresh fruit, which has been good. As usual, though, I've been terrible with cooking. 

Overall reflections:
It's been three weeks since I gave this much thought. Between finishing final assignments, turning in grades, graduating, cleaning out my office, and then immediately starting a new job, I haven't had much time to breathe. Eating well/working out fell by the wayside for a while, especially because my training schedule has meant that I've been busy until 7 p.m. every weekday. My mental health has not been the greatest, and I'm still dealing with some unresolved physical health problems. I'm not going to beat myself, though. I'm just going to move forward.

I'm leaving for Florida tomorrow (more training), but I don't want to keep making excuses for myself. This week was the first week I started really working out again, and it felt good. I've been stressed about this summer job, and working out has helped me feel better. So, I want to make sure I remember that and don't neglect taking care of myself. Lifting weights, in particular, has helped take my mind off the fact that I can't run. 

This week is going to be strange. I'll be traveling through Sunday, but the hotel I'm staying in has a kitchenette and pool/gym (I believe).

So, even though I'm on the road, my goals are: work out at least four days this week, and avoid eating fast food. I'll have a rental car, so I plan on going grocery shopping when I arrive, and stocking up on healthy food for the hotel room. It will also help me save money, since eating out is expensive.

Working out/running/biking has been an antidepressant/therapy session for me many, many times. I know I'll have ups and downs, probably for the rest of my life, but I want to make sure I don't neglect things for too long. I owe it to myself.

  • Continue lifting weights at least once a week (if not more).
  • Have more workout days than off days each week.
  • Continue training for long bike rides (I have a new bike coming that's actually suited for long rides, as the current one I have really isn't). 
  • Call my doctor and make an appointment to look at my foot.
  • Get into the 160s by sometime this summer.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Life Goals

An ever-changing list of my life goals:
  • Hike/trail run in the Ozarks. 
  • Hike/trail run in Washington or Oregon. 
  • Run the Big Sur Half Marathon.
  • Learn to play the banjo.
  • Bike 100 miles in one trip. 
  • Find a job that allows me to combine teaching, tutoring and feminist theory. 
  • Get published.
  • Get a Ph.D.
  • Volunteer regularly at an animal shelter.
  • Volunteer or work for a women's shelter or Planned Parenthood.
And, no less important, the things that will always be ongoing:
  • Find the beauty in something, big or small, every day. 
  • Give back more than I take. 
  • Show gratitude to the people who love and take care of me. 
  • Be honest.
  • Work hard.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Move/make: Week 6

Today's weight: 176.4 pounds.

Monday: Bike 5 miles, walk 1.5 hours
Tuesday: Bike 3 miles, walk 1 hour
Wednesday: Bike 26 miles
Thursday: Off
Friday: Bike 12 miles
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

Thoughts on food:
I only went out to eat twice, which is one more time than my goal, but still better than before. My eating habits have been better overall, minus a junk-food binge yesterday that ended with food poisoning. Needless to say, I am cured of my junk-food cravings for now. I can't even think about food.

Overall reflections:
My foot is still numb. I got sick of staying off of it, and went for a couple of long walks at the beginning of the week. I plan on staying off of it until my doctor's appointment this coming Friday, though, since I really need it to get better before I don't have insurance. My summer job also requires me to be on my feet a lot. Hooray.

My long bike ride on Wednesday was incredible; I'm looking forward to more of those as soon as I'm feeling better. Reading Born to Run hasn't been helping my running restlessness, though. I see people running while out on my bike, and I get a pang. I've even been dreaming about running. I know it's already doing a number on my joints and foot, but I still miss the way it feels. I'm so desperate to fix my foot, I've been considering these abominations. These shoes bum me out whenever I see them on someone, but if they work, who knows?

I ended up using my car quite a bit last week, because it rained off and on almost every day. I did get a long bike ride in, like I wanted to.

For this week, I just need to survive finals. My goals are to eat healthy, get a lot of rest, and go on at least a couple of shorter rides. But my focus now is writing papers, grading papers, and graduating (!).

Look/hear: We're gonna see a movie called "Gunga Din"

One of my all-time favorite songs is "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," by Bob Dylan -- though I first discovered it by way of The Byrds. The lyrics don't make much sense, but there's something about it that makes me happy every time I hear it. It's a good sing-along song, too.

My absolute favorite version is the one The Byrds did with Earl Scruggs, because I am a sucker for banjo.

There are two versions of the lyrics. The first version is what The Byrds covered, but apparently they got some of the lyrics wrong. When Dylan wrote a second version of the song a couple of years later, he added a line that called out Roger McGuinn by name.

This is the Swell Season covering that other version. So sweet.


And here's The Byrds' album version, off of "Sweetheart of the Rodeo."

 Any time I need to be cheered up, I listen to some version of this song.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Move/make: Week 5

Today's weight: 178.8 pounds.

Monday: Bike 7.5 miles
Tuesday: Bike 3 miles
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Bike 5.5 miles
Friday: Bike 2 miles
Saturday: Bike 20 miles
Sunday: Bike 10 miles

Thoughts on food:
I've eaten healthier since Thursday, including a vegetarian burrito and a seitan pita. I feel so much better. I've also discovered Clif bars (I usually eat Luna bars or Larabars). They've got more protein than the others, which I desperately need if I'm going to keep going on longer bike rides. I went out to eat a couple of times this week, twice with friends, and once by myself. This time of the semester always gets busy, though -- I need to make sure I'm making sandwiches to bring to campus.

Overall reflections:
After my mid-week reflections on Wednesday, I realized I needed to kick my butt into gear. I also went to the doctor on Friday and found out I can't run for at least two weeks. I wasn't expecting to feel as strongly as I did, but I really felt heartbroken -- running has been therapy for me. It's helped me through some dark times, and there's nothing that compares to it. I was also training for a 10K at the end of May. Because of my summer job, I won't be able to run many races, since I'll work every weekend. I'm worried that I may not get a race in before my job starts.

I decided to ride my bike more, though. My long ride yesterday was incredible -- I was worn out but not over-taxed. I wasn't even sore this morning. I've had a bike for as long as I can remember, but I've never really wanted to go on longer rides. I think I've always felt too out of shape. Thanks to running, though, those 20 miles weren't so hard. While I'm resting my foot, I'm going to keep riding. On off days, I'll go to the gym and lift weights -- something I need to do anyway.

Biking feels freeing in a different way than running does. I like running because you don't need anything other than a good pair of shoes. You can walk out your door and go as far as your legs can take you. It's empowering. Biking is nice because you don't feel stuck in a car -- I biked out to Target this morning to pick up some things I needed. It felt great. I wasn't crabby, like I've been feeling. I just felt ... happy. I wanted to keep riding, but I have work to do today.

Don't use my car at all next week; bike to campus and to run errands. Try and squeeze in another 20-mile ride at some point next week. On my off days, hit the gym.

My long-term biking goal is to ride to my parent's house (35 miles one way) and back. I want to do this by the end of May.

Food-wise, only go out to eat once next week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Think/act: There's a name for that?

It is really satisfying to find a name for the theory I've been interested in all along.

Critical pedagogy.

I've had a couple of semesters of composition and teaching theory under my belt, and Paulo Freire's name has come up from time to time, but I've never read anything by him, or any of the other major names in this field. I'd never even heard the term "critical pedagogy" until now.

Maybe it's something that everyone but me was aware of. Maybe it speaks to the conservative nature of my program that we haven't been exposed to this -- after all, it's got Marxism, postmodernism, feminism and social action, things that rarely come up in my schooling. What a shame. The idealist in me thinks of how powerful a theory like this can be. This isn't just applying a Marxist reading to a given text, or looking at the gender issues at work in Faulkner. It's practical! Think of how we could empower our students, and transform the face of the modern university (which is in steady decline).

Though I've only read a little bit on it this morning, critical pedagogy makes so much sense to me. This is exactly what I want to do as a teacher: empower my students to think critically and take control of their own learning, and challenge that teacher/student power dynamic in the classroom. I'm not sure why this isn't just called "pedagogy," though, since empowerment seems like the most important thing for any student to succeed.

I've only just begun teaching, of course, and I realize that I'll be working toward to these goals for the rest of my career. And I haven't even touched that social justice aspect, though I want to.

It's probably the Type A part of me that likes to organize, list and label, but I find it immensely rewarding to come across a theory that so elegantly summarizes the things that are most important to me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Think/act: Clearing my head

Last week, I was lucky enough to give a talk at a teaching conference. I spent two days at a beautiful mansion-turned-conference-center, talking with other English instructors about different ideas to try out in the classroom. I spoke on ways we might reduce gender differences in class discussion. Both of my supervisors were there, along with a crowd from various local colleges and universities. I spoke in an intimidating, book-lined library.

The weather was beautiful: upper 70s and sunny the whole time. The conference atmosphere was very laid back, and we were encouraged to explore and socialize. I walked around the grounds with a group of people from my university the first night I arrived, and later went on a late-night walk with some of my friends and people from a local community college. The night walk was especially wonderful. We borrowed a couple of flashlights from the front desk. The sky was clear, the moon was bright, and we could hear owls and coyotes. We passed around a flask, and a couple of people had beer bottles in their pockets. Everything was relaxed and easy. Later that night, after everyone had gone to bed, I roamed around the grounds some more, walking down to the main house (we stayed in a guest house on the property) to get water and explore some more. I stood outside for a while, looked up at the stars.

The next day, after giving my talk, I took a solo hike out to see some of the incredible statues the original owner had sprinkled throughout the expansive grounds. I spent an hour exploring. I brought my iPod but chose to leave it off, and instead tried to focus on how beautiful my surroundings were. Everything couple of yards or so, a cloud of butterflies would lift off the ground and flutter around me, only to settle further down the road. It was warm enough that I rolled up my sleeves. It was unreal.

The room I stayed in was gorgeous, too. It was a room for three people, but I only shared it with one friend from my department. We each had our own bedroom area. There was exposed brick, bright windows, and a screened-in porch. I brought a rocking chair outside and sat under a huge tree, getting some reading done for my feminist theory class.

The food and company was great, too. There were four of us from my teaching cohort who stayed in the rooms next to each other. We left the doors to our rooms open most of the time, and moved back and forth, talking and drinking beer in the evening. We vented about teaching, and dating, and so many other things. We bounced ideas off of each other on the long car ride back home.

I spent a lot of time clearing my mind and sorting things out. I've often felt like I didn't know what I wanted to focus on in school. I've often wondered how everything -- all my interests -- might come together. I've often felt like I don't know anything, don't really have an emphasis. I like literature, sure, but was never sure how that might fit into everything else I do. Being at this conference made me realize I want to pursue teaching and tutoring methods that are influenced by feminist theory and good examples of writing, and that I've already started to do those things. It made me realize that I might even be good at those things. I love what I do, but until now, I've often wondered how the different elements of my academic life might come together. What will I do when I graduate? What are my goals?

Though I don't have all the answers, I was able to better appreciate what my strengths are. Getting good feedback on my presentation helped, and it was also great to hear what other people in my field are doing. The conference was inspiring and rejuvenating. I also remembered how important being outdoors is to me. I don't know that I could live in a big city for long. I'd much rather look outside and see mountains, forests, trees older than anything else around. If I could get paid to teach and tutor writing and literature somewhere out west or in the South, I'd be happy.

I wanted to write this all down so that I can remember how lucky I am to be surrounded by good people, even when I am often unhappy with the larger program. To remember that I do have an emphasis within my studies -- feminist pedagogy. And to remember how beautiful things -- especially the natural world -- can be.

Look/hear: Wanderlust

With graduation looming nearer, I've been feeling unmoored. I don't know what my future holds. I'm not looking forward to my summer job. I don't know what I'll be doing in the fall.

What I really want to do is pack up and leave for the summer -- get lost in a forest out in Oregon or Washington, or hike through the Ozarks in Arkansas. I want to go alone.

The music I've been listening to makes me think of traveling solo, of getting lost in wild places. It makes me think of weird, unreal experiences in staggeringly gorgeous landscapes. The vibe is a little witchy, a little mournful.

Father John Misty, "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings"
Spooky psych rock from J. Tillman. Makes me want to lay in a clearing in the woods, lonesome and delirious with exhaustion.

Damien Jurado, "Arkansas"
This song makes me miss my sister and the Ozarks something fierce. 

Dolorean, "Heather Remind Me How This Ends"
Another beautiful and lonely song, perfect for falling asleep outside.

My musical tastes always go in phases. Right now it's a mix of alt-country, folk and pysch. Songs that remind me of summer, of sickening heat, of leaving, of being lonely. Thanks to my roommate, I've gotten a lot of new, great stuff lately (Centro-Matic, J. Tillman, various Woody Guthrie tributes, and a lot more). This music feels right to me now. It helps placate that wanderlust ... a bit.

I also want to fit in as much fun as possible before my summer job starts, so I may end up seeing Father John Misty and Damien Jurado in the upcoming weeks.