Friday, November 17, 2017

Sometimes it Sucks a Little

Right now is a perfect storm of dropping temperatures, short daylight, tired body, and a trash diet. I used to hate myself around this time. I'd push myself to do useless workouts when my body was fried. I'd look at every extra pound of weight with anguish and disgust. I'd beat myself up for not wanting to freeze in the dark.

I realize now that this happens every year around this time. I gain a little weight, but it doesn't mean I'm going to keep gaining weight forever until I don't fit in my house anymore. My training may be spotty, but it doesn't mean it'll trickle away to nothing. I'll get used to training when it's cold and dark. I'm familiar with the pattern now.

It's hard to avoid obsessing over the day-to-day, to instead focus on the big picture. If I have a lousy swim, my first thought is, "oh no, I'll never have a good swim again!" If I don't have enough time to do a long run, my first thought is, "I'll never get the mileage I need!" But that kind of thinking does nothing. Even if it was true (which it's not), it still would accomplish nothing.

"Oh no, it's going to be winter forever!"

There's the daily goals: Do X miles or go for X time. The weekly goals: Do all these workouts and don't die. The longer term goals: Train and crush this race. But the ultimate goal is to be happier and healthier, to feel strong and accomplished. Exercising on broken legs is not healthy. Feeling guilty for eating too much does not make me happy. And I can't feel accomplished if I'm always feeling disappointed in myself.

You have to remember the big picture, the point of it all. What I'm doing now is what works for me. I chose fitness because it checked off a ton of boxes. If crocheting checked off all the same boxes, I'd do that instead. Unfortunately there's no medal for making a mean sweater. No rush of endorphins as all your best friends scream at you. Well OK, I don't know that much about crocheting. Are there medals?!

It's easy to get caught up though. My training is a big part of my identity now. Missing a workout can feel like losing a piece of yourself. It's especially hard if you came into fitness from a place of anger, or unhappiness, or lack of self-worth. During a slump, your mind starts racing, thinking, "oh no, I'm going to slide right back into that cesspool of misery!"

And once I become miserable is when
the questionable dating choices begin..

Relax. No road is smooth and perfect. Every climb has dips and setbacks. I can vomit up a cheesy cliche about keeping your eyes on the peak, but I think that's dumb. I'm not going to climb if I don't enjoy climbing. I will say though that resting is nice. I like to work hard, and I like to relax. Yes, I'd like to reach the top of the mountain, but I'm not in a rush. I feel satisfaction in watching it grow closer. And I'm in no hurry to have to find a bigger gnarlier mountain!

I've been counting calories for 4 years this month. After the initial precipitous drop, it's been pretty stable, fluctuating by about 5 pounds here and there. Last fall it jumped up by 10 because I ate an absurd amount of ice cream. But I quit ice cream and quickly lost that extra weight. Halo Top doesn't hammer my gut quite as badly. At the time, I was horrified by my quickly increasing waistline. But now I know that I can easily reset.

I've been training regularly for almost that whole time. At first it was just running and lifting. Now it includes swimming and biking. That too rises and dips based on a bunch of different things. But motivation isn't one of those things. It's in my blood now; there's no taking it out. If I flake on exercise, it's because I have to. Because I'm so broken that even my penchant for bad decisions can't get me up. I'm scheduled for Ironman Lake Placid next July. That means I have to - and will - train a LOT leading up to that.

One thing I'll say though is that I feel stronger now in general than I did last year. I almost ruined myself by running too much after Ironman Mont Tremblant, but I luckily wised up. This time last year I was suffering from overtraining syndrome, and that was a dark sh*tty time. I remind myself of that, so that I don't make the same mistake again. It taught me that exercise isn't enough for its own sake, it has to fit your goal.

That goal is happiness. That goal is health. That goal is to feel proud of myself.

And running in the winter isn't ALL bad.

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