A Review of…January…Kind Of?

Are we supposed to start a month by our first words being, “Rabbit, rabbit,” or something? I’ve heard that somewhere, so if you’re superstitious, I hope you remembered to say it…

I’ve been bad and haven’t finished a book in a few weeks. I’ve mentioned before how I go through phases. When I do read, it’s the only thing that I can do, but when I’m not in that mode, I get distracted. There simply does not seem to be enough hours in the day sometimes when it comes to extracurricular activities. I’ve been trying to focus much of my attention and energy on writing, which has been better in the past few weeks, but I am feeling the itch of getting lost in a good book.

My problem is that by the end of a long work day, I’m tired and don’t have much energy to expend on things in which I have to focus. Starting my day at 5:00 AM always makes me feel energized and able to take on the day, but it cuts down on the hours I have at night because I need my sleep.

My problem is that I am a giant procrastinator when it comes to doing things other than browsing the Internet or sitting in front of the television. It’s jut so easy! In some ways, I am diligent and disciplined, especially for my workout routine, but I’m unfortunately not quite there yet when it comes to reading and writing. I know that in order to be successful, I have to work at it extremely hard, but the hours and the days get away from you and all of a sudden you realize you haven’t been very productive in some facets of life.

A new month always brings a new sense of hope. I’m actually not certain where January went. In some ways, it feels like Christmas and New Year were a lifetime ago, but then I wonder how it’s already February. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the snow all seems to be falling at once now after we’ve had nothing at all for so long. I mean, the day after Christmas I was running outside with my jacket around my waist!

I’m trying to reflect back on January and though I know I have a lot to be grateful for, I’m struggling to remember the specifics. The winter in general tends to do this to people. Just from the number of days in the month, I know that February is going to pass by even faster, so now is the time to pay attention to how I spend my free time.

At the very least, I’m happy to be able to say that I have kept up with my blogging! Even for this though, I feel as though I have only done the regularly scheduled posts that I typically do- Meals on Monday, Rave Review Tuesdays, and Workout Wednesdays- but I haven’t contributed any extra, fun material lately. I hope my blog hasn’t been boring, but I will try and make more of an effort to post more than those allotted topics.

For the reading, I am making my way through two interesting nonfiction books on writing, the one on screenwriting that I discussed and another on writing in general that I read a bit from college. They are pretty inspiring and enlightening, but they also say a lot of what I should already know- in order to be a good writer, you have to write.

I always had a romantic view of creative outlets, like writing, thinking that people could simply rely on pure talent to succeed. To be fair, I don’t think I can be entirely blamed for this perception based on what our culture sees as “quality” entertainment, but the more I grow up, experience, and observe, I’ve noticed how hard people have to work in order to pursue any of their passions. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

There will always be excuses not to do something, and it’s much harder to actually get yourself to do things, but that just means it will be worth that much more in the long term. The expression that the journey is far more important than the end result rings truer the more I experience in this world. No one is made by successes and failures on their own, but by the processes taken to reach them.

Now let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is…or so they say.

For Exercise, Attitude Is Key

It took a few days, but it appears that I have caught up on my sleep. I felt fine throughout the day, except for my workouts where I felt weaker and drowsy. Part of this lack of motivation might stem from needing to freshen up my workouts, which is on the agenda for this weekend.

Last Thursday, I swam my fastest mile ever in just over 42-minutes. That sounds really slow, but a mile in my pool is 36 laps, back and forth equalling one. Swimming is a long process and can be boring, but I just kept going through storyline plots in my head. It also helped (time and focus) that I incorporated some sprints into my routine. It’s amazing how out of breath you can feel from swimming. I also had two kickball games, the first we won by a run and the second we lost by eight runs. I can’t say that felt spectacular but it was a fun season!

On Friday, I ran through another routine, starting with a quick barbell circuit of squat presses, bench presses, and deadliest among other moves. After, I moved on to three different kettlebell circuits. These are good because they work on both a cardio and strength level. When I get home, I went out for a quick two-mile run, anticipating that I wouldn’t have time on Saturday, before dropping some family off at the airport. It was good to get that extra workout in because it was Halloween and you better believe I indulged in some chocolate!

Saturday was a sister birthday celebration because we were born 9 days (and 3 years apart). We started with a shopping trip at Target to finalize Halloween costumes before making it in for a pretty intense Yoga class. It wasn’t an intensive workout, but it left me feeling a bit sweaty and much more alert and relaxed. I could have fallen asleep on that mat at the end (which is ironic because that’s how I slept that night and it wasn’t as easy).

Even though it was one of the meager forced trips, on Sunday, as I mentioned, I was able to go through a dumbbell circuit that included body strength moves in-between, followed by a measly 15 minutes on the Elliptical and a quick walk in the freezing cold. I didn’t feel better or worse for having gone and had I felt truly awful, I would have skipped it. However, sometimes there are just days where motivation is low, especially when weather is poor, and just the art of keeping to routine will make a huge difference to your approach.

Monday, I did my medicine ball routine. I couldn’t muster up the energy to do Burpees or work through my sets with my usual power. Sometimes, to get through certain moves that are trickier, it is good to envision yourself doing them and talking yourself up. In this case, I knew I would struggle through the rest of my workout if I did them, so I felt I was justified in skipping. It’s not as though I skipped out on an entire workout! I finished up with a 35 minute swim where I didn’t keep track of laps. My mom and I ended the night with a run/walk combination in the dark and it wasn’t that late!

On Tuesday, I did an hour of Yoga before going out for a four mile run that was a bit of a struggle, but finished strong. For me, my best mileage comes from the middle to end when I’m feeling my strongest. After all this time, it can still take my body awhile to adjust to running and not feel like it’s death. I’ve learned that if I stick through the first mile or so, I will usually get myself into a good rhythm and it won’t feel quite as burdensome. Quality music and a positive attitude will always help!

Today, I felt much stronger and revitalized, so I went through my barbell strength routine, a body strength/core combination workout, and finished up with five minutes of jump rope and five minutes of box jumps interval style. For my strength routine, I’m noticing that I am able to go up in a lot of weight. I’ve been rotating between four sets of ten and three sets of twelve, depending on the day, and they seem like the magical numbers. If I were to do lesser amount of moves in each routine, I would up my number of sets, which might be on tap for this next workout plan, in addition to more ab work and Yoga. I haven’t decided yet!

Tomorrow, I will write that post I promised about my excitement for November. Exciting things to come!

Everything Happens for a Reason, Right?

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? I do, with the condition that people be active, hard-working participants of their life. There are some events that will happen to us no matter what we do, good or bad, and then there are the ones based off of choices and actions that occur through a combination of circumstances we don’t always understand or recognize.

Up until this quarter-life crisis of sorts, my life has seemed to fall into place before me. I went the usual trajectory of education up through graduating college, working hard, gaining accomplishments, and growing into an individual who knows her own learning style and confidence. A seasonal job opportunity came together right out of college, then another regular position fell into place after just a bit of search and a touch of curiosity that set me en route in that direction.

That year, an opportunity presented itself to me that, due to my previous dedication to academics and interest in teaching, led me towards receiving my Master’s degree. At that time, I was still hesitant and uncertain if this was what I wanted to pursue as a career, but it was a one year, fully-funded program, and you just don’t turn down an experience like that. It was not for nothing, as they say, because I learned more about myself in terms of resilience, flexibility, patience, and resolve. I grew as a professional and as a student in search of constant learning, whether in the physical realm of classes or life experiences. I also met a great group of people who I worked with in my classes, our tiny bunch socializing and working, and one of the reasons I was able to get through the toughest times of the program.

It would have been easy to continue down the path of education. I am not saying this in terms of the job search because I cannot attest to that, but the focus of my search for stability and professional endeavors would have been far clearer had I stayed that path. It is with a flurry of self-doubt and fear that I decided not to be a teacher, at least at this time in my life. I enjoyed it for the most part. It was challenging, but rewarding, and is more than an admirable profession for one to pursue. The difficulty is, at least at that level of education, one’s primary passion must lie in teaching. Mine is writing, and teaching was an adjunct, not the way to start a career.

It was through a period of difficulty, with tremendous support and guidance from my family and friends, especially my parents and siblings, that I realized that I owed it to myself to pursue other endeavors, as difficult as it may feel. I am doing that now, though the path is unclear and scary, even more so than when I started. As many will find and agree, the job search is not an easy thing to overcome. I have found that I am either over-qualified or under-qualified and people, which is the most frustrating situation to find yourself.

I write this now because I am scared, but also because I know that in some way, with a lot of effort, patience, and flexibility, it will be okay. My belief that everything happens for a reason has been tested greatly in these past months as I struggle to find my professional self, but when difficult challenges arise, it is all about how you handle yourself.

Everyday, I strive to be productive. I still write, read, and learn, knowing that improvement and growth are what makes life worthwhile. This stage of my life is not going the way I expected, or as smooth as some of the others have come together, but my belief is that this is part of it all. I continue working out and taking care of myself and the other parts of me that I want to foster outside of work, such as cooking.

So yes, I do believe that everything happens for a reason, though it will not always- in fact, rarely- be the way you expected. Don’t give up, but work hard and play harder. I’ve realized that I can’t live with the perspective that my life is somehow on hold and will continue once I get my next job. Life doesn’t wait in this way and neither will I.

Do you believe in fate?

Good Sweat, Bad Sweat, What’s the Diff?

As I’m sure you know by now, exercise is my main stress reliever. This past week, I’ve been incorporating more core work into my routine as well as some intervals. I haven’t been as organized when it comes to scheduling, but rather focused on doing what I feel like on that day.

This week I had two runs that felt a bit on the painful side. Today, I was going to run at the track, but I chose the time when school gets out so it would have been a crowded, jammed mess- and that’s just the parking situation. Instead, I ran around my neighborhood, up and down and up and down even more hills. Then I went on a nice long walk with my friend Molly. When I went with my mom to walk the dog around the block, very short, it was growing cooler outside, which is very exciting. I love throwing on a sweatshirt and Yoga pants. Though it is kind of a pain to be cold in the morning when you leave for the day and hot and sweaty when you’re heading home or out and about. All about the layers!

I also started today off by meeting my friend Nouha at the gym to do a quick couple of minutes on the bike, followed by an intensive body strength and core workout that worked up a nice sweat and burn. This included jumping jacks (250 total!), prison squats which we affectionately entitled “Pipers,” alternating lunges, alternating standing kickbacks, push-ups (no more modified for me!), mermaid raises, leg lifts, hip lifts, sit ups, and everyone’s favorite, Russian Twists. We did five sets of ten reps. After, I did a 3.1 run that was hot and sweaty because I didn’t realize how warm it was until I was already on my way.

Yesterday, I worked the polls all day and didn’t have time for a workout. This was the perfect time for me to take my rest day because on Monday, I was feeling a bit off and weaker than usual. On Monday, Nouha and I did a strength workout using dumbbells, four sets of twelve reps. I followed this up with a few minutes on the bike and elliptical because my body wasn’t feeling any high intensity intervals. Finishing off with a strong core workout left me ready to relax and recover.

On Sunday, I pushed myself through four miles on my hilly route. My legs and lungs weren’t feeling as strong as they usually are, but I made it to the end, up a very steep hill that left me clutching my side for breath. My allergies were definitely in effect, but didn’t hurt me until the point I stopped running and started to walk. After a long recovery period, I did some Yoga moves before bed.

I found myself arriving to the gym just in time for the storm to roll in on Saturday. I heard the thunder looming, but the minute I stepped through the doors, the rain started pouring. Lucky me for once! I performed a strength workout using the barbells, nervous about clutching a large metal sticks with thunder and lightning striking outside, but I’m probably just paranoid. Before the gym closed, I finished off my workout with a quick ten minute sprint session on the Elliptical. I believe I mentioned I took a short break from swimming while the pool was being renovated, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

My scheduled rest day had been on Friday because it was so hot! That Thursday, I had a nice long run just as the sun was going down for the day, so I wasn’t quite as drippy or gross. I’ve learned that there is a good sweat and a bad sweat. The good comes from hard work, the bad from heat and humidity.

My fitness goals for fall is to extend the length of my runs, despite any hills, and to be able to perform my push-ups all the way touching the ground. TBC!

I’m Running Out of Clever Titles for Workout Wednesdays

(And yet, I’m still able to fit a pun in there!)

Lately, I’ve been doing my regular workouts too late in the day and I feel as though I’ve fallen off schedule. This keeps me up later at night because I have so much energy, but at least it’s getting done. In the summer it can be hard because it’s so hot outside, but also so nice so it’s hard to get the motivation to go to a gym.

Last Tuesday’s workout was a nice run, but incredibly sweaty run around my neighborhood. Even though it was a bit more humid than I prefer, I found the perfect time to go when the sun is still shining, but not as bright.

Wednesday I had a strength workout with the barbells, performing each exercise three times with sets of ten. Lately, I’ve been doing Tabata intervals on the bike, which means cycling 20 seconds as fast as you can and resting for 10. This high intensity cardio only lasted about five minutes as it is more tiring than it seems. I coupled it with a couple minutes of jump rope.

On Thursday, I did a very brief body strength workout consisting of deep squats, lunges, push ups, and . After, I went to Zumba with my friend Nouha, which was a good workout and something fun to add in with my other workouts.

The weekend did not include a lot of regular exercise sessions. I only got a barbell strength workout in as well as another cycling Tabata session before starting my weekend. I was far too busy on Saturday having brunch with my sister, sweating my way through Harry Potter trivia, and spending time with my family. I should have been more proactive on Sunday, but it was technically a day I was going to run and by the time I could have gone without it being so humid, I was off to spend another evening with my family. Instead, I played a brief game of kickball with my cousins, which is far more important than a run anyways.

Feeling a little guilty, but more itching to get back to it, I did a barbell strength workout on Monday, again with three sets of ten before going to the track to run. My legs were so sore from my strength workout (I don’t usually run on the same day as I use weights) that I was only able to run a little over two miles and walk another two. It felt good to get moving again though.

Last night I forced myself to leave the comforts of my own pool and head back to the gym so I could swim longer laps. I could definitely tell the difference, so it’s something I need to remember when I’m trying to motivate myself in the future. I also took my dog on a long walk that he wasn’t very happy about, but in fairness, the heat affects him more than me, so he took awhile to recover. I also had the pool to help refresh me.

Finally, tonight, I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it because I spent this very hot day swimming in my own pool with my cousins Erin and Mikey, then had dinner with my friends Lauren and Andrea. It was difficult dragging myself to the gym so late, after delicious ice cream, but I made it and did a kettle bell strength workout. This time, I performed three different circuits, choosing four exercises and doing three sets of twelve before moving on to the next circuit. After, I did a quick abs workout before another Tabata cycling session.

I may have gone reluctantly, but my body will be happy tomorrow when I run and don’t have to worry about getting a strength workout in with weights! No matter how I feel beforehand, I always become invigorated, energized, and focused after a quality workout.

The key is taking that first step!
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