Hills and Humility

Alex and I have a 10K coming up in September. Given that we’re moving to a new state between now and then, we’re not taking training too seriously. We picked the 10K distance instead of the half marathon for this very reason – we’re realistic about how much we’re willing to do when we have a lot of stress on our plates. 

With limited time in mind, I’ve decided that incorporating hill workouts into our routine will give us the most bang for our buck. We did our first one this week, and what a dose of humility! Five hill repeats totally kicked my butt, even with significant rest time between them.

We did five repeats of a 0.16 mile hill, with a walk down for recovery. The steepness ranges from 3% to 25%, with the majority of it falling between 11% and 15%. It’s a steep hill. And running up it fast (“fast”) made my lungs feel like they were going to explode. But they didn’t, and here I am to tell the tale. 

In addition to pushing through the physical challenge, I could feel the mental resistance creep up.

“This is too hard.”

“You’re never going to be better at this.”

“What’s the point?” 

Those voices were louder than I’d like them to be. And at the top of the fourth repeat, I told Alex I was done. But as we walked back to the bottom I thought, “I have one more in me and I can do this.” So one more we did. It was hard. The mental critic didn’t exactly get quieter. 

But then I reminded myself that I haven’t done that kind of workout before. And that I’m not going to get better at it by quitting. So next week, we’ll hit the hills again. And the week after that. And hopefully continue the trend when we move to Seattle. At some point, I’ll be able to go faster or further or not feel as much like I’m going to collapse afterwards. When that happens, I’ll push a little harder to find the next edge because the only way to quiet those voices is to keep at something. Eventually, I’ll be the one kicking the hill’s butt! 

Reflecting on my 27th Birthday

I turned 27 this week and as much as I’d like to be a cool cat that doesn’t care about birthdays, I really care about them! And like to celebrate them! 

Over the weekend, I celebrated with (most of) my very best friends where we did a chocolate tasting with Dandelion Chocolate. I recommend a visit if you are ever in the area! We learned about Dandelion a few years ago when we went to a beer and chocolate pairing event; they were making chocolate in a garage at the time! When they first opened their current storefront, I remember them selling out within the hour. It’s been really great to watch them grow as a business and it was a particularly delicious way to celebrate my birthday. 

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Despite all of us being huge chocolate fans, it was tough to finish the dessert PLUS the drink PLUS the chocolate from the tasting. But don’t worry, I packed it up and took it home for after dinner. 

On my actual birthday, I hung out with a friend all day and we worked on vision/inspiration/intention boards. I’m about to go through/am going through a big transition away from my comfort zone into a new city, very different living space, and graduate school. I’d like to go through the transition with intention and a vision, because it’s easy for me to get swept up in changes without really paying attention to how/who I want to be in that space. So I created four boards focusing on self-care, fitness/health, career, and Seattle/relationships. I am going to put them in my meditation space as a reminder for moments that feel overwhelming. 

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All that visioning made me work up an appetite, so Alex and I visited The Mill for pizza. We’re regulars there for toast and coffee in the mornings, and really wanted to check out the pizza before we moved to Seattle so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. The crust was probably the best I’ve ever had – crispy, chewy, cornmeal-y, and so freaking delicious. It was topped with summer squash and baby kale. Then we checked out the view at the top of Twin Peaks and of course, finished with ice cream. We went to Holy Gelato, which had 12 non-dairy flavors! Although I enjoy regular ice cream with some frequency, I’m always intrigued by non-dairy versions and these did not disappoint. 

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It was the perfect birthday weekend – good friends, good food, and good reflection and introspection. And now, it’s back to packing! Less than three weeks left!  

Summer Reading List

Summer is for lazy weekend mornings in bed with good coffee. Or afternoons in the park with a picnic. Or poolside with a cocktail. Wherever you are, you should have a good book with you. Here’s what I’ve been reading and loving lately:

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

This book explores the paths we see for ourselves when we’re young, and how the reality that unfolds doesn’t always match up. There’s also a fascinating exploration of the impact of economic class on friendships.

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This is Where I Leave You by Johnathan Trooper

This book was fun and real and moving, which isn’t always an easy combination to achieve. The author’s portrayal of family dynamics was hilariously spot on.

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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This book surprised me, which I always enjoy. I guess I didn’t read the description because I had no idea what it was about and it turns out it was about some pretty crazy stuff! I’m not going to ruin it for you in case you also want to be surprised, but it’s worth a read!

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Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

This book broke me open. I’m sad I got it from the library because I want to read it again and again and again. I recently had a moment with a stranger where she said, “I love Cheryl Strayed.” And I said, “She’s the best.” There was a pause and then the stranger said, “Yup, she really is. There’s no other way to describe her.”

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Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

This book has a surreal quality that I really enjoyed, particularly as it tackles big subjects like racial identity, family dynamics, and what it means to be honest.

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What are you reading this summer? 

3 Breaths

We are moving at the end of this month. Three weeks and change, to be exact. That’s pretty soon. I’ve started packing. I’ve started crying and packing, at the same time actually. I’m a pretty good multitasker. I learned how to cry and run during the Nike Women’s Marathon and now I know how to cry and pack. I’m really getting a resume boost from my emotions here. 

During this month of transition, it seemed fitting that my yoga teacher would issue a challenge to do one yoga pose a day for the entire month of August. Just one pose. For three breaths. She said it could be used as a launching pad for a home practice. 

I’m going to be developing my home practice considerably in Seattle; both my schedule and finances will likely not allow for classes multiple times per week. One pose a day for three breaths also seems like a good touchstone in this month that will likely have me revving high with excitement and nerves and stress (packing for an out of state move seems infinitely more daunting.) 

Then the question is, which pose? I felt moved to choose forward bend, uttanasana. And handily enough, it’s apparently indicated for anxiety and sinusitis, which has been rearing its ugly head lately. It’s not commonly one of my favorite poses, but it feels right so I’m going with it. 

I’m also looking for any moving tips – both practical and emotional – so if you have them, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

 

 

Links Worth Sharing: Confidence, Vegan Privilege, The Inner Lives of Zoo Animals, and more!

Confidence is a Feminist Issue from Fit is a Feminist Issue

“Confidence is a feminist issue because, as it turns out, there is a confidence gap.  Men are way more confident than women in all sorts of ways, and in a world where confidence takes people further than competence, that cashes out into all sorts of systemic advantages for men.”

Seaweed and Edamame Salad | Thoughts on Vegan Privilege from Farmers Market Vegan

Brilliant reflection on the intersection of a vegan lifestyle and privilege, plus a delicious recipe! “Equally important, however, is that in such a privileged position, I must also engage in actively combating the problematic aspects of the vegan movement, in part by constantly reminding myself that the privilege enabling my vegan lifestyle exists among the phenomena that I actively seek to combat. “

Six Months Ago I Recommitted to FItness and Here’s What Happened from Nerd Fitness

This article really inspired me to push myself and get more diligent about my workouts and heathy eating. It’s also a good reminder that no one, even someone that runs a fitness site, is “perfect” all the time. “If I had been focused on the prize (some arbitrary number of the scale), and I reached it just now, I could then say, “Mission accomplished! Now I can go back to doing what I was doing!” However, because I fell in love with the process, I really don’t feel like I’m racing towards a goal, but rather enjoying each and every workout, trying to figure out if I can set a new personal record each day.  There’s a starting line, but no finish line…I’m never asking “Are we there yet?!” I’m just enjoying each and every day.”

Zoo Animals and Their Discontents from The New York Times 

A fascinating look at the emotional lives of zoo animals. ” A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed — it turns out that common shore crabs feel and remember pain, zebra finches experience REM sleep, fruit-fly brothers cooperate, dolphins and elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, chimpanzees assist one another without expecting favors in return and dogs really do feel elation in their owners’ presence.”

Links Worth Sharing: Importance of Pride Celebrations, the Cost of Yoga, and more!

Introduction to Pride Week from A Practical Wedding

This is a great reminder on why Pride celebrations are still so important. “We still need hope. We need to connect with ever larger parts of the community—not to assimilate, but because it’s still in all of our best interests to note our commonality. Coming out—or just taking a stand—can be such a lonely place. Doing it together isn’t just a good idea for wedding tasks; it’s also for the work of making the personal not just political, but also less lonely. This week, let’s think about where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there.”

The Cost of Yoga, For What It’s Worth from Yoga Dork

I always appreciate reflections on the cost of goods or services, particularly when they seem outrageously expensive (as yoga sometimes does). “I have to wonder, is it possible for yoga, the one we teach, practice, dress ourselves up in, credit for our sanity, share on Instagram, to maintain its values and still make a living? Or is compromising our ideals the price we have to pay?”

Exercise and the ‘Good’ Bugs in Our Gut from The New York Times

After taking microbiology, I’m fascinated by the research on the effect of our microbiome on our health. “Being physically active may encourage beneficial germs to thrive in your gut, while inactivity could do the reverse, according to an innovative new study. The findings suggest that, in addition to its other health benefits, frequent exercise may influence our weight and overall health by altering the kinds of organisms that live inside of us.” 

Freedom Dreams and the Urgency of Decolonized Racial, Food, and Environmental Justice by Kalamazoo College

I’m thrilled to see more discussions like this taking place, and hope it can expand even further. “Even though neo-colonialist assaults glaringly persist in our communities, colonialism is rarely, if ever, discussed within mainstream discourses surrounding so called “food deserts.” Often, the problem of food “justice” is reduced to the lack of a “grocery store” presence, the need for people to learn to eat properly, or, at best, the need for an urban garden. While geographic access to food is critical, its presence isn’t nearly enough. Cost, relevance, ownership and conditioning are key factors in whether communities will be able to truly access the food. “

Turning an Inner Spark Into a Bonfire

At some point relatively recently, I realized I’m probably never going to be famous. At first, this was disappointing; a small part of me has always wanted to do something so awesome for the world that I’d end up with a memoir or a magazine cover. Maybe a library would be named after me! Maybe I’d start an institute! But recently, I’ve realized a) statistically speaking, this is probably not going to happen; b) it’s certainly not going to happen just because I want it to; and c) it’s actually quite liberating to let go of that expectation. 

I’ve been intermittently blogging for over 5 years. I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to fully commit, like so many of my favorite bloggers that I follow, and wanting to allow it to be a hobby that I engage in when the mood strikes. At some point I realized that my level of commitment to blogging was likely not going to net me a book deal or sponsors or invitations to conferences and I had a “what’s the point?” moment. I finally got to the very philosophically complex answer that I do it because I enjoy writing; and writing for a blog specifically helps me edit and choose words carefully, rather than the stream of consciousness that are often present when I journal. And when I cease to make blogging a regular part of my life, it doesn’t happen. The mood doesn’t strike, or it does, but I’m out of practice and I feel like my post will be terrible so I do something else instead. Hobbies require practice, too. 

All of this has led me to reflect on habits – both building them and how they can fall away. What surprises me most, sometimes, is how habits that feel fundamental can also slip away from us. Over the winter months, my healthy eating habits slipped a lot more than I would have expected. My running habit is proving to be a struggle to rebuild. My commitment to my budget has fallen to the wayside. 

I’ve known for a little while that I wanted to take some action to get back into the groove where I feel like my healthiest and best self. But there have been a lot of “I’ll start tomorrows” happening. In part, I’m glad to be taking careful time to consider what is valuable to me because I don’t want to get caught up putting energy into certain behavior because I feel like I “should” or because everyone else is doing it. But on the other hand, change happens in action, not in reflection, and it’s time to move forward. 

I’m reading Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization by David Frawley, and last night I was reading about tejas. In Ayurvedic theory, tejas is our inner radiance, the subtle energy of our inner fire. Tejas is linked to our digestion, courage, and clarity. I interpreted the passages on tejas to indicate that it helps us move toward action, both internally and externally. The practices used to develop tejas include silence, concentration and meditation, mantra, and self inquiry. Aside from whether you believe in the theories of Ayurveda and yoga, it makes logical sense to me that these practices would help increase focus so we can better correct our energies. The silence directive is particularly focused on not engaging in gossip or negative thinking, which I have definitely experienced as depleting. Concentration, meditation and mantra all require focus, which is vital toward accomplishment in any area of life. And lastly, self inquiry give us an opportunity to reflect on our actions and thoughts and ensure that we are engaging in those that build us up rather than tear us down. 

My biggest takeaway from the section on tejas is that these practices are habits that need to be built – hence the term “practice.” I know some people have an innate focus, but I don’t think I’m the only one that is prone to distraction and laziness and the “just one more episode” phenomenon. There are so many great blogs out there about building habits (two of my favorites are Zen Habits and Nerd Fitness), but I always thought to myself “that’s not for me – I’m great at building habits!”

Both my ego and my perfectionism have been the enemy of activity in the last year or so; I haven’t sought help or resources both because my ego said I didn’t need them, and my perfectionism told me that if I did need them, then what was the point? I should find something else to do. It turns out, it’s really easy to get good at watching TV or scrolling through Twitter or going on walks. Now, I’m ready for a challenge. I’m ready to fail and to start over. I’m ready to pay closer attention to the words that come out of my mouth and the thoughts that go through my head. I’m ready to accept that even if this path doesn’t lead to something extravagant, it’s worth it for all the things I can see along the way.