Thursday, September 30, 2004

The deal this morning was run 8, walk 5 and run 8. It was really hard! I suppose doing this running thing is all about learning to pace oneself. On Saturday when I'm scheduled to do the 25 minute run I'll have to really be careful to figure out when I'm pushing to hard.

At home I have all these typed mantras taped up onto walls and mirrors and doors. Some are cryptic, but they all are motivational phrases to remind me of why I wanted to improve my life, not just physically. Otherwise, I find that at the moment when I'm trying to decide whether to exercise or to do it "later", whether to cook dinner or snack for a few hours straight, that I completely forget what my motivation is about. So having some of these phrases posted makes me able to remember my own reasoning and goals.

Here are some of the phrases:

"Choose to be an athlete."
"Live your own aesthetic."
"Inhabit your body."
"Remember how the world comes alive." (this one's about the feeling I get during & after exercise)
"Eat clean to lose, exercise to maintain."
"Show up for your life."
"Act from compassion and clarity."
"Today, take the first step."
"Be mindful and keep your heart wide."
"A sure path to failure is to try and please everybody."

Last week my mom came to my apartment and I'm sure she thought I'd gone looney with all these slips of paper posted everywhere. But it works for me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Today I ran with two cans of Alpo in my hands. No, really.

I noticed on my evening walk last night that one of the scary loose dogs (the chow mix) had broken his back leg and was limping around looking for food. He looked to be in pain. So I went to the corner store and bought a couple cans of dog food, found him again and fed him. I also stopped the Park police and asked them to call Animal Control for him today. I hated doing that, but I can't take the chow in, and I doubt anyone else will and he seemed to be in an awful lot of pain.

So I bought a few extra cans with the intention of feeding him this morning. The schedule today was run 5 minutes, walk 3, run 5, walk 3, and run 5. I did this around the park, but never found the limping dog. However, a juvenile doberman found me, and tagged along with me for the last 15 minutes or so of my workout. It was actually a lot of fun to have a running/walking partner. So lucky little guy got all the Alpo at the end.

I'll get some dry food after work and look around again for the chow. Now that I have a few friends for my morning exercise sessions, and they have turned out to be friendly loose dogs and not scary loose dogs, I'm looking forward to who shows up next time.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Yesterday I finished out Week 4 of the Couch to 5k plan with a lovely morning walk/run around a lakeside neighborhood near my parent's home.

This week, the plan calls for three days of running/walking that increases the time actually spent running so that by the third day I'm supposed to run for 25 minutes straight. Ack!

I have a good attitude about it and I'm just going to do my best. I have been wondering about nutrition lately, though. I signed up for Weight Watchers last week, and so far, am finding myself pretty hungry.

I already feel that on my walk/runs that I go through periods of feeling energized and periods of feeling weak, and I attribute those feelings to drops in blood sugar, so am a bit worried that I should be eating more since I'm regularly exercising. I asked the Weight Watchers leader about this but apparently the program doesn't address "activity points" until the third week of the program cycle. I'll just have to listen to my body and sneak in my peanut butter and jelly as I see fit.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Went for my second run today at 6 a.m. It doesn't get light around here until after 7. Ran around the city park that's a block from my house. The run went fine. I think I hunch my shoulders a bit because they felt sore, but otherwise I felt strong and capable. I'm sort of doing a slow shuffle at this point, but I'm going to concentrate on building up my stamina before I flip out about technique.

Today's scary loose dog count: 6

The reason this little city park is so full of dogs is that people dump them here regularly. Most of them are big dogs -- there was a rottweiler and a doberman and some sort of chow loose this morning -- and I'm thinking people just get tired of providing the care and space that a big dog needs. I suppose I could try and jog elsewhere, but the park perimiter is well-lighted. Anyways, none of the dogs bothered me, mostly because I gave them plenty of space.

I have a clean, relaxed feeling in my body now. I suppose this feeling is one of the benefits of running with the dogs.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

This is a pictorial review of what I ate yesterday (not pictured, 2 handfuls of potato chips, an extra bran muffin and several Werther's candies):

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Some Nighttime Angst

This morning I picked up with Week 4 of the Couch to 5K , after more than a month of inactivity. After reading about some of the pre-dawn running exploits of other bloggers, I decided that I too am capable of running in the dark.

Apparently, this was a monumental decision as I tossed and turned all night with anxiety. I don't think that reaction had much to do with any significant fear of dogs or strangers, but more so with a struggle over questions of my own motivation and my emotional resistance to any kind of change.

First, motivation: I have a history of saying "yes" to things when I really mean "no." So much so that I am often confused about my own actual desires. I often do things based on what I "should" do or influenced by what I perceived to be others' expectations. For example, signing up for committees at work, joining the neighborhood gardening club, joining the local singles outdoor club, attending church.

I also continue to do things long after the enjoyment is gone. For example, my dance group. I probably should have quit two years ago but I had a horrible time giving myself permission to do so and instead rationalized away my own dissatisfaction with the group.

I've come to the realization that I'm somewhat of a dilettante in many aspects of my life, that I'm destined to be mediocre in lots of different areas -- I'll take up crocheting or knitting or decoupage for the length of one project and never do it again. I'll take up ballroom dancing, or conga drumming, or kayaking or block walking for the local historical society for the span of one summer or one year or two and then lose interest.

And I always feel massively guilty when this happens -- I beat myself up for quitting. I think, "If only I had more discipline, if only I were a better person, I wouldn't lose interest and quit." I think that somewhere along the line in the narrow corridors of my very literal mind I believe that once I commit to an activity or a skill that I am now bound to continue it for life. And when that doesn't happen, when I finally move on, I feel like a monumental failure. A scatter-brained quitter.

So sometimes I do things because I want to, but then feel bad when I quit, and other times I do things that I don't want to do because they are things I "should" do if I were the best version of myself. It boils down to a basic inability to follow my own gut instincts.

So I think all that tossing and turning last night was because I was fearful that if I start a jogging program that I will now have to run for the rest of my life and, what's more, be perfect at it and really, really love it. And if I hate it, well then, I've disappointed the miserable little catty audience that lives in my brain. So wouldn't it just be better to give up before I even start?

Second, emotional resistance to change: If I make this one change in my life, if I make a daily commitment to act differently in terms of my eating and exercising habits, then the floodgates will open and all hell will break lose. At least, that's what my fearful little brain whispers in the middle of the night. If I break new ground and change certain habits then… then … then … I'll quit my job! I'll go wild and move to Mexico like I sorta think I want to! I'll get angry at my dad and tell him off! The world will forsake me because I'm too pushy and self-centered and completely irresponsible!

Ok. So these are the things a little jogging brings forth to my mind.

The jog itself was fine. There was a thrilling little chill in the air. Autumn! I passed the juniper by the Montessori school and breathed in the scent, one of my favorites. I jogged 3 minutes, walked 90 seconds, jogged 5 minutes, walked 2.5 minutes, twice in about 20 minutes. There was only one stray dog and just a few people walking to bus stops. They all nodded at me in a friendly way. I survived, and no chasms opened at my feet.

Tomorrow: a pictorial review of today's meals. The digicam has been unleashed!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I haven't been exercising consistently at all the last two months and this has seemed to sap my mental and physical energy.

I quit my dance group, and broke up with my boyfriend. Both those things were the absolutely right decisions, but nevertheless, I am a bit lost. I didn't realize how much those two things dictated my social life. Without them, I pretty much have little to do in the evenings.

At first, the timing of the international sports world helped. As in, I sat happily on my couch for two weeks watching the Olympics.

Then, a sisterly financial crisis helped take my mind off my loneliness as lots of saintly hand-holding was required.

While that crisis is nowhere near resolved, the urgency of the situation has faded.

So now I must face the fact of my essential aloneness. I am not one of those people who have trouble being alone. I like very much to be on my own and even crave it. But when that's the only option, when I'm not provided a choice like my very own lifestyle menu, then this aloneness loses it's appeal. I find myself a bit bored in the evenings.

The two good female friends I have in town have been very busy the last few months with a new boyfriend and a new job, so I haven't seen as much of them. Also, while I still like not owning a car, it does cut into my ability to hang out with people, at least in the far-flung place that is a typical Texas city.

I've been watching more TV than I like. That's my main complaint. I also haven't gotten on my bike or walked or tried to run in weeks. Yesterday, I had to use my bike to get to some doctor's appointments and I was caught off guard by the absolutely buoyant mood in which that relatively brief and recreational ride put me.

And too, the recent heart surgery performed on former President Clinton really held my attention for several days. I began to worry about my own heart.

I recognize that I need to find a new physical outlet for myself. I've thought -- of all things -- that I'd like to learn longbow archery, but I haven't yet found a place in town that teaches classes. I'd also like to take a single-scull rowing class in Austin, but finding a way to get myself to Austin three weekends in a row hasn't materialized yet. I could gladly Greyhound and stay at the youth hostel, but even that combination might strain my budget. I'd prefer to camp, but the only park in Austin city limits that allows camping isn't serviced by the local bus system.

Am thinking of joining Weight Watchers. Something like this is almost blasphemy for me, since I'm so strongly anti-diet. But the new Core plan doesn't seem to be about self-flagellation and obsessive food restriction. I think the real reason I'm considering it is so that I can get out of the house and have a structured "project" on which I can focus my energy. And also, I think I've realized that I'm tired of all the constant background chatter in my head, the chatter than blathers constantly about my body, even in the midst of what I consider to be a very strong body image and a grounded self-esteem. I just want to get the whole weight-loss thing over with, instead of thinking and thinking about it and vacillating and getting mad at myself all the time for allowing so much of my mental time to be consumed by this one topic. Somehow I'm convinced that once I am at a different weight that I'll suddenly have the time and inclination to agitate on behalf of world political issues, like genocide or the war or genetically modified crops or who knows. As if worrying about weight loss is keeping me from, you know, making a difference.

So. I won't know until next paycheck if I can afford the Weight Watchers meeting package I want to buy. But I am leaning towards it -- if anything, because it will give me something to do.

Am waiting for the weather to change. It's still in the high 90s, but from past experience I know my energy level exponentially rises when the heat finally dissipates and we have a few months of blessed mild temperatures. I'm looking forward to the Fall with the fervent, faithful expectations of a true believer in the energizing power of a Texas cold front.