Monday, January 25, 2010

Believing in the Unimaginable

Okay so today I am going for the obvious metaphor - the Saints overtime win against America's quarterback, Brett Favre, and his team du jour, the Vikings. As a New Orleans native, seeing the Saints not just win consecutive games but actually make it to the Super Bowl, a feat that I am still trying to process, is a very vivid reminder of the power of BELIEF.

As a kid growing up in the New Orleans area, the Saints were always part of the culture. We weren't die-hard fans with season tickets, but they were the home team and we cheered them on. Yes, even when doing so felt like a lesson in futility. I mean, the Saints were baaaaad. They were real bad. People used to call them the "A'ints." Fans wore paper bags over the heads at games so no one would know they were a fan. But to be honest, having a really bad football team was kind of fun in a way. They weren't good, but they were our team. Misery loves company, right?

And then, in the early nineties, magic started to happen. The Saints won. And then they won again. And then somehow, they were in the playoffs. On the school bus each morning, the airwaves were clogged with renditions on, "When the Saints Go Marching In," and people chanted the mantra, "I Believe." Everyone had "WHO DAT Fever". A friend of mine even broke out his mom's craft supplies and paint-penned a t-shirt, carefully painting a gold checkmark each time the Saints won a game. It was an incredible time.

Well, as you can guess, eventually they stopped winning, and things went back to normal. We stopped expecting them to win and started expecting them to lose. The Saints were the home team, nothing more.

That was twenty years ago. Now, over the past few seasons, the Saints have developed into a strong football team, and last night earned the privilege of playing in the Super Bowl. After screaming at the television for two hours and alternating between hiding my face with a pillow and sitting about three inches from the television screen, a field goal cemented what I never thought I would see happen. I mean, I said I believed, but honestly, the concept of the Saints going to the Super Bowl was, well, unbelievable. But it happened. My sister called me, hysterical, and it took about three minutes of us just screaming into the phone before actual words were uttered.

The parallels to personal wellness are pretty clear. I hear every day, and sometimes think myself, about things we can't do. They can't give up sugar. They can't workout in the morning. They can't get their husband to support them. They can't pass up wedding cake/birthday cake/German chocolate cake/whatever cake. They can't eat just one chip, and they can't even imagine just not even eating any chips at all. "Oh I just can't do that," they say. "That is just not going to happen."

Well, okay.

I once thought I couldn't give up sugar; I thought it was completely unrealistic to imagine myself never again eating processed sugar. But I have. It wasn't easy, but I did it.

I once thought I couldn't fit in a second workout at lunch. Too busy. But I do now, at least four days a week, and it has catapulted me to my next level of fitness.

It was never that I couldn't; I just had not yet.

Seeing the Saints make it to the Super Bowl has reminded me that just about anything can happen. So if you plan to tell me this week that you "can't" not have pizza with everyone else or you "can't" make time for some cardio or you "can't" pass up your co-worker's special whatever, think again. Because dude, if the SAINTS can go to the SUPER BOWL, you can put down the chips.


Monday, January 18, 2010

My Head Is Swimming And Soon So Will I...Be

I am pretty sure the title of this entry is rabid with grammatical mishaps. Moving on...

Okay, so I just signed up for my first triathlon, after being first politely encouraged, then pointedly asked, and finally badgered about why I had not yet done one. No reason, really. Unlike tri-fitness, endurance stuff doesn't scare me. Tri-fitness was something that I had never tried, something that I was actually pretty bad at, and a major challenge to my default settings. On the other hand, doing a triathlon looks like a lot of fun! I like each of the events individually, am competent in each, and there really is just no good reason not to do it.

So I am going to do it. I have roughly 10 weeks to get ready so I am already have a head start on procrastinating. Awesome!

A wonderful colleague of mine, one of the polite encouragers who regularly competes in endurance events, sent me her training schedule to help get me started. I opened up the document and began trying to figure out how I was going to fit this into my day. Well, okay, how I was going to fit it into my day without changing any of the other stuff I do. I googled "triathlon training programs," and found, filled with advice and sample programs for first-timers. But as I calculated the logistics of training, I started thinking maybe there was more to a triathlon than borrowing a wet suit and showing up with a bike.

I mean, I run daily. I bike daily. I used to swim 4 or 5 days a week until I got so wrapped up in tri-fit training that I ran out of hours in the day. But I only regularly run 3 miles, I bike indoors, and I swim pretty leisurely. Any swimming I've done in a lake has been with the sole intention of getting away from someone who had just announced plans to dunk me under the water, and while I do some intense bike intervals, there's a big difference between air-conditioned intervals and 15 miles of actual hills in actual humidity. So while I started my research thinking my biggest weakness in this training schedule would be over-confidence, I started to feel that confidence turn to anxiety as I added up the hours in the day and realized that most of them are already spoken for.

Now I am worried I will just not have enough time.

Pshaw. I'll find time. I love to run, I love to bike, and I love to swim. I've been craving chlorine for weeks now, and my suit, goggles, and cap are still in my gym bag from last summer. I just need to map out a plan. I've gone to work with my Speedo on under my clothes, changing in the car like a super hero on the way to the pool, and returning an hour later with wet hair and smelling faintly of chlorine. I've dedicated a drawer in my office to workout clothes and towels just in case a meeting gets cancelled unexpectedly and I can make it to Pilates or the weight room after all. Last week I said crazy was back...and I think things are about to get crazy!

In the meantime, I am entertaining any and all suggestions for first-time triathlon training, as well as manipulating the space-time continuum.

And....we're off! Race ya!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Losing My Religion

I was in church last week (yes, Dad, I went to church) thinking about the turkey breast I had in the oven at home and trying to remember whether I had put the meat thermometer in it or not, when I heard the minister drive down my alley. It was the sermon and I'll admit it, I had tuned out a little. I was hungry. I needed to go to Target and get flash cards for my personal trainer studies. I wanted to go get my jammies back on and watch HGTV.

But he was making some good points. The topic was recognizing the difference between being "spiritual" and being "religious," how people define those terms for themselves, and how we act in response to those definitions. The nitty and gritty of it was that the difference between being spiritual and being religious came down to how disciplined you are willing to be to actualize your beliefs into your life, i.e. not be a hypocrite. In short, saying you are "spiritual but not religious," is an easy way to explain that you enjoy having a spiritual life but aren't all crazy-preacher-on-the-street about it, it's also kind of a cop-out. I know I feel that way about wellness.

There have been times in my life when I have been "spritual" about wellness and manifested it by making healthier choices, going for a morning run, doing a split weight routine three days a week, and choosing low-fat frozen yogurt on my Chocolate Thunder From Down Under instead of real ice cream. Then there have been times when I have been "religious." I challenged myself to take the hilly running route, I lifted heavy and pushed the reps beyond what felt comfortable, I ate clean all of the time and never missed a workout. There have also been times when I've been an outright heathen. That would be Mardi Gras.

And there have been times when I have been the crazy preacher on the street. Some would say that would be every day but they have no idea just how crazy I can get about this stuff.

So I was sitting there, perked up a little and assuming the turkey would be fine, and I realized that I missed being the crazy preacher on the street. I spend so much time coaching people through the baby steps of getting well that I started taking baby steps myself. I had gotten spiritual and realized I wanted to be religious again.

I don't want to just run, I want to run up rocky hills in the rain. I don't want to weight train, I want to weightLIFT. I don't want to just preach to people about a healthy diet, I want to live my own message every day to the power of 150. Thinking about the distinction between those two words reminded me that I can, I have, I should, and that the hour I had just passed sitting on my butt in church could have been spent working out. I mean, can't we at least do walking lunges down the aisle for communion?

Eventually church was over and I did end up spending the rest of the day in my jammies watching HGTV and preparing all of my clean eats for the week and welcoming myself back to the world of wellness evangelism. Don't worry, I'm not going to thump your head with a Bible...I'm one of those wishy-washy church goers myself. But I might thump you with a tupperware full of spinach cuz crazy is back baby.


Monday, January 4, 2010


Did I miss a week? I think I missed a week. I think I forgot to update this blog last Monday, which would make the first time in two years that I completely skipped a week. Sure, I've been late from time to time but I've never just completely blown it off. But last week I did.

And I don't feel bad about it. Weird.

I think that may be a sign of how 2010 might be. 2009 was an intense year; I fought some internal battles, won some external battles, stretched my limits, and had a few epiphanies. This year, I'd like to do all of the above to the power of 150. 2009 was awesome from a wellness perspective, and I anticipate that 2010 will be just the same, but hopefully with fewer sinus infections.

Goals? Yeah, I have some. Mostly maintenance from a body perspective, albeit with a few upgrades. Steady progress in the physical prowess department with a sprint triathlon scheduled for April and goals to increase my upper body strength so I can bench more and pull myself over the wall at the Women's Tri-Fitness Fall Challenge in November. But my main focus will be in empire-building. It's high time I start practicing what I preach and get certified. It's a goal I have had for far too long and I'm tired of talking about it. Finding time to study for all of the required exams will be challenging, but I'll find a way.

I had my first workout with Captain Awesome this morning after a week and a half of recovering from the one-two punch of traveling between Florida allergies to Louisiana allergies and back to Florida allergies in the span of a week. Translation: hell on earth. It was great to be back in the gym (kudos on the renovations, Steve, they look great so far) and even better to finally move my body again. Bike intervals, elliptical, a nice 3 mile run in the freezing cold morning air, and some chest, bicep, and hamstring work that woke up my system and reminded these old lazy bones that we're back in business. Everyone was in a good mood, there was great energy from the New Resolutioners, and it felt like coming home.

I have a great outlook on 2010, I just have a butterfly feeling like things are going to be outrageously great. I hope you'll join me in making 2010 the year that we not only elevate our own personal states of wellness, but uncover layers of happiness that we didn't even know existed. Cheers!

Now enough of this belly-rubbing. Get out there and move those lazy bones.