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My August Challenge (or Being Selfish To Be Happy)

Another month is here! I can’t believe July is over and it’s already my birthday month! And as always, a new month brings the recap of my last month’s challenge and announcing what my challenge will be this month.

Last month, I wanted to work on practicing more mindful breathing. More specifically, I set a reminder to work on breathing and staying calm at 2 of the times that I commonly feel like I want to binge eat. This was a challenge idea I got from therapy and I was curious to see how it would go for me. Doing things like this have been tough for me in the past because I get super focused and forget to do it. Or I get distracted by something else and forget. But having a reminder on my phone does help since I have to dismiss it to make it go away.

While I didn’t always do the 10 slow breaths that I planned on doing, this still was a successful challenge to me. If I was feeling like I wanted to binge, this alarm stopped me and made me think. It didn’t always stop it, but at least I was not in the trance that I’m used to being in when having an episode. I was more aware and even if I didn’t always make the right choice I knew it was my choice. Because this gave me so much more awareness, I will be doing this beyond just last month’s challenge. I think that the benefits will continue each month that I do it and it is a helpful thing for me to have.

But doing challenges beyond the month that they are for brings me to this month’s challenge. I really struggled to figure out what I wanted to do. I’ve added so much to my days between my happiness checklist and all the monthly challenges that I’ve continued to do. I’ve continued almost all the monthly challenges beyond the month that I did them for and that’s a lot of stuff for me to remember to do.

So this month’s challenge isn’t necessarily something I will be doing every day but instead something that I want to have as a focus for the month in general. I want to focus on figuring out what makes me happy and what I want to continue to do. I have to do so much out of obligation or responsibility and I want to make sure all the stuff I add to my life are for fun and not because I feel like I have to because I’ve been doing that for a while.

On my happiness checklist, most things are things that I want to keep on there. They do make me happy and when I haven’t done something for a while I’m reminded to do so. But the ones I’m thinking about taking off are the ones that I do every day and I don’t have to focus on doing. This mainly is about reading and eating disorder recovery research every day. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t read at least a little bit. I read every single night before bed and I read a lot in my down time too. And I do recovery research every day because I read 10 pages of a recovery book every day. While these things make me happy, I think maybe I should add 2 other things to my list that I don’t do every day so I can challenge myself to keep focusing on my happiness.

And with my monthly challenges, most of the time I want to continue doing them when the month is over. But I’ve been noticing that some things are either stressing me out or I’m not doing them. I need to start removing those reminders from my phone so they don’t remind me that I’m not doing something. It can make me mad when I get a reminder to do something that I know I won’t do. But my idea of wanting to try to be perfect has prevented me from just deleting those reminders. I’m going to go through them this month and figure out what I want to keep, what I want to delete, and what I might want to add.

And when I’m figuring out what I want to edit and add, I have to work on being very honest with myself and not worrying about not being perfect or caring what other people think. That’s not easy for me, but that’s why this is a good challenge for me. It’s my birthday month and I want to make this an amazing month! And I think focusing on exactly what makes me happy is the perfect way to make the month the best it can be!

Back Into The Running Groove (or Feeling Really Great About My Workouts)

This past week wasn’t my best week of workouts, but it was exactly what I needed to do. I’ve been feeling a bit down about my running progress lately and how often I’ve had to power walk instead of run. And having a not-so-great Peak Performance Week really brought me down. I tried to not let it get to me, but it really was making me feel like a bit of a failure in my workouts. Fortunately, I was able to do some stuff this week that really helped me feel like I am strong again and that I’m just in a plateau and not losing progress.

Monday’s workout was a 3G one and it was a power day. Not only was it a power day (which are normally my best running days), it was a switch day so I wasn’t on the treadmill for very long at once. Each section of the room had 3 blocks (so 9 blocks total) and I was able to start on the treadmill like I like to. Each treadmill block started with a 90 second push pace followed 30 second all out intervals. I was able to run all the push and all out paces without struggling too much. It felt really great and freeing to be running like that again. I never knew that I could miss running, but clearly I had been.

On the rower, we had the same pattern as the treadmill with the 90 second push pace followed by 30 second all out intervals. I didn’t do any spectacular rowing, but that wasn’t really my focus during the workout. I do my best rowing when we have a timed or distance event that I can work toward. This time, I was just focused on trying to row the entire time I was on the rower and not how far I was going or how high my wattage was.

And on the floor, we had a nice mix of things. Everything that we did was 7 reps and that helped to make things easy. We had squat swings, mountain climbers, lunges with hops, squat jacks, and roll outs. We also had pike to knee tucks on the ab dolly. Those are extremely tough for me to do because I still struggle with doing knee tucks with my toes on the ab dolly. But it’s almost too easy for me now to do them on my knees. It’s tough that I can’t find a good middle ground, but for now I’m doing what I can on my toes before switching to my knees. This time, I only could do 1 pike on my toes before I had to stop. So I did double the knee tucks to make up for it.

Wednesday’s workout was an endurance day where we didn’t switch between blocks. Those are the toughest ones for me for running, but I had extra motivation to try my best in that workout. Whitney used to be one of my regular coaches, but she doesn’t coach at the times I go to now. The last time I saw her was when we ran into each other at Disneyland. So when I got to class and realized that Whitney was coaching, I was super excited! I love all my coaches and I’m always sad when I don’t get to see someone regularly. So this was a special treat and motivated me to push myself harder.

The treadmill was 3 blocks and they were pretty tough for me. The first block started with a 4 minute progressive push pace where you are supposed to increase your pace every minute. I was able to go from 4.5mph to 4.6mph after the first minute, but I couldn’t go any faster after that. But to do 4 minutes of running is good for me since I haven’t really done that in a while. After the long push, we had a long base pace followed by a short push to all out pace. The next block had a shorter first push pace but a longer second push pace. And the last block had an even shorter first push pace and a longer push pace leading up to the all out. It was a lot of running, but again it felt really great to do it.

The floor was one long block that took up the second half of class. It was a mix of weights, strap work, body weight work, and rowing. For weights, we did lateral raises and squat rows. For straps we had high rows and chest presses. For body weight work we had push ups and running men. And for rowing we started with 400 meter rows that went up by 200 meters each time. It was tough because it felt like some of the work we did back to back was using the same muscles (squat rows to rows on the straps and chest presses to push ups), but I managed to make it through 2 full rounds. The goal was to do 3 full rounds, but I didn’t quite make it back to the rower for the last round.

And of course, since it’s a rare treat to have Whitney as my coach we had to get a selfie together after class. I was so gross and sweaty, but I still had a smile on my face from an awesome workout!

Friday’s workout was a run/row day. I was pretty excited for a run/row since I had been making so many improvements with my running. And this was going to be a challenge for me. The running segments were longer than they usually are for run/row days. The first round was .75 miles and the second round was .5 miles. I kept my speed stable at 4.5mph and was able to run the entire distance both times! It wasn’t easy to do .75 miles but I felt so accomplished once I finished it. And while I only made it half way through the run/row assignment (the rows I did were 250 meters and 500 meters), I think getting the running done as a full run was worth the extra time it took me.

The floor had 3 blocks and they were a good variety of things. The first block was all body weight work with squats, pop jacks, and sit ups. The second block was all weight work and we were encouraged to try to use the same weight for all the exercises. We had rows, squats, shoulder presses, deadlifts, and lunges. The weight I used was a challenge for most things, but it was too light for the deadlifts. I probably should have switched my weights up for that, but I was more focused on getting through the rounds and not how easy the weights were for that move. And the last block was a core blast that had knee tucks, leg lifts, and crunches.

And I was able to do a Saturday workout too! And the running theme continued this week (it’s like Orangetheory knew I needed a running focused week) with the 3G workout I had. The treadmill block was a 12 minutes for distance run. I know that in the past I could run for 12 minutes without stopping, but I wasn’t sure that was going to happen this time. I was very tired from not sleeping that well the night before and I was tired from the workout the day before.

My plan was to keep the speed at 4.5mph and go as long as I could run before needing to take a walking break. Ideally, I would have been able to run the entire thing but I was realistic and didn’t push myself to the point that I was hurting. I managed to run for about 4 minutes before I had to go down to a walk. My plan then was to walk for about 3 or 4 minutes and then start running again. But after my walking break I tried to run again and my body wasn’t able to do it. I did end up running for the last minute of the 12 minute run, but it was disappointing that I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to. Still, my distance wasn’t too bad considering how much walking I did.

Next I went to the rowers where we started with an 800 meter row followed by squats. Then the row went down to 600 meters and more squats. I had just started the 400 meter row when time was called to switch. I didn’t do any spectacular times on my row, but just like earlier in the week my focus was really more on just rowing without stopping and not going fast. And on the floor we had squats, tricep work on the straps, plank work, and toe reaches. It was a hard block but I tried to only take breaks in-between exercises and not in the middle of a set.

I thought that the class was only going to have one rotation around the room, but there was one more short rotation after that. Everything was 2 minutes long. On the treadmill it was a push to all out pace and I had to walk it. The rower was also a push to all out pace. And the floor was skaters and plank jacks. It was a tough workout, but when it was done I was pretty happy that I had another running day where I was pushing myself.

This was exactly the week that I needed in my workouts. It pushed me harder than I had been pushed before and it reminded me what I am able to do with running. I’ve been underestimating myself and letting my mind control what my body can do. But obviously I’m stronger than that and this past week proved that to me again.

Another Peak Performance Week (or Some PRs and Some Not-So-PRs)

Another Peak Performance Week is done and to be honest it didn’t quite go the way I thought it would. It seems like most of the time during that week I will PR or come really close to getting a PR on all the challenges. But this week didn’t have that in the cards for me and it’s not easy to accept that. I know so many of my posts about my workouts lately have been how I need to go easier on myself, and this week was another example of that.

Monday’s challenge was the 500 meter row. It was a 3G class and I started on the treadmill. But because I knew the rowing would be after my first treadmill block I took the treadmill pretty easy. Once I got to the rower, I knew that my PR going in to that workout was 1:53.7. My goal in my head was to get it under 1:50 flat. I went pretty hard and fast as soon as I started and fortunately I didn’t seem to gas out until the very end of the row. I tried to not look at the timer on the rower and just focus on the countdown for the meters. And when I got to the last 100 meters I went as hard as I could since I knew it would be done soon. When I got my 500 meters done, I took a look at the timer and was pretty surprised with myself.

I had a feeling I had gotten under 1:50, but I had no idea I had done it that quickly! That’s about 7.5 seconds faster than my old PR which was only done earlier this month! I was not expecting to have such a huge improvement in such a short time frame.

After the rower challenge was done, we were into a more normal 3G workout that had a strength focus. I pretty much overdid it with the rower and was still dealing with a bit of nausea so I walked everything on the treadmill. On the rower, besides having the challenge we had 200 meter sprints with 20 seconds of rest in-between and also a 3 minute row for distance (I didn’t do so great with that since it was at the end of class). And on the floor, we mainly did upper body work but there was a bit of ab work and some squats thrown in there too.

Wednesday’s challenge was the floor rep challenge. I have done this before but I hadn’t looked at what my previous rep counts were before this class. This class had 4 blocks on the treadmill and 4 blocks on the floor and I started on the treadmill. The first treadmill block I was able to do my normal running for the push paces and walking for my base paces. Next on the floor was some lunges, abs, and a 200 meter row. Then I headed back to the treadmill.

I knew that right after this treadmill block I’d be doing the floor challenge so I walked the 4 minutes I was on the treadmill. I didn’t want to get too tired before the floor work and I think most people were taking it easy for that same reason. Then I went to the floor where it was 4 minutes of continuous work. The challenge is that you count how many reps in those 4 minutes you do. It’s 1 minute of squats, 1 minute of push ups, 1 minute of pull ups on the straps, and 1 minute of sit ups.

Since I didn’t know what my old count was, I didn’t worry too much this time on what I wanted to get done. I did 95 reps total in those 4 minutes and felt pretty happy with myself. Then back to the treadmill where I did another 4 minutes of walking before going back to the floor to do the floor challenge again. This time, the exercises were reversed (so sit ups, pull ups, push ups, and squats). During the squats I knew I’d be close to 95 again so at the very end I did 2 really speedy squats and got my count up to 96. All I ever want to do is at least 1 better than what I did before and that’s exactly what I did. But after class I realized that I had done well over 100 reps the last time I had this challenge and I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to do better.

And Friday was the last day of Peak Performance Week and it was the mile challenge day. This is always what I look forward to and fear that I will struggle with. I don’t know how I got it in my head that the mile challenge is such a big deal, but that’s what I think of it. Since I knew I wanted to get it done first, I made sure that I started on the treadmill. I had been trying to plan out how fast I need to go for how long to get a PR. I already knew that I wasn’t going to try to run the entire thing but instead do intervals with really fast sprints.

As soon as we got started, I did my first sprint. I did 1 minute at 6mph followed by 1 minute at 5.5mph. I then walked for a minute to recover at 3.8mph (this is the same pattern I had when I PRed). This worked really well for 2 rounds and then things started to fall apart. I was already having a bad hip day and had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep the night before so my body wasn’t feeling so great. And after my second round I knew that I was overdoing it. I had to jump the rails to take a quick break. Since I didn’t stop my treadmill, this is totally cheating and I’m not happy about it.

For my third round, I reduced the run time and increased my walking because I knew the last round was coming up for me to finish my mile. And I knew that I’d be pretty close to what my old PR time was so I wanted to make sure I went as fast as I possibly could go. I don’t remember the exact speeds I went, but I think I was between 6-6.8mph for the last 90 seconds or so. And once I got my mile done, I stopped my treadmill.

This is exactly what my PR was from before. But since I jumped the rails to catch my breath, it doesn’t really count. But to know that I was able to tie myself isn’t too shabby. I haven’t been doing as much running lately as I had before the last Peak Performance Week and I was dealing with some physical issues this time. So I think to have expected to PR was almost unreasonable even though that’s exactly what I had hoped for.

After the mile challenge, we moved to the floor where we had some arm work and rowing. I was still working on catching my breath and wasn’t feeling so great so I was going pretty slow. But at that point, I didn’t really care what I was doing as long as I kept going in class. After the other group finished their mile challenge, my group was back on the treadmill. I knew I’d be walking because I was in pain and I was actually walking slower than I have in a long time. But I got it done and that’s what counts. We ended class with a block on the floor that included burpees, running man, back extensions, and ab work. I was exhausted after that class but I was glad I survived the 3 days of Peak Performance Week that I set out to do.

Saturday’s workout was back to a normal workout (Peak Performance Week is just Monday-Friday). It was 3G like it normally is on Saturdays for me and it was a mix of strength and power. Since I was still hurting a bit from Friday’s workout, I knew going into the workout that I’d be walking. But I was a bit disappointed when I saw the workout because it would have been a great one to work on my running.

We had 3 blocks at each station and we switched after the first 2 back to back. Every block was 4 minutes long and it was pretty much a 4 minute run for distance on the treadmill. The first block was increasing inclines, the second block was decreasing inclines, and the last block was at a flat incline. I would have loved to work on running for 4 minutes at a time, but my body wasn’t in any shape to run. I knew if I even tried that I would probably end up hurting myself. But I couldn’t just walk and not try for anything extra so I did increase my walking speed each time I was at the treadmill. I felt like this made up for having to walk extra slow the day before after the mile challenge.

On the floor, it was more leg and plank work than anything else and I decided to work on trying to be better with what weights I used. We started with lunges that had shoulder/arm work (front and lateral raises). Normally for lunges I use 15 or 20 pound weights and for those arm moves I use 12 pounds weights. But I decided to split the difference and use 15 pounds weights. It was tough to do the shoulder/arm moves, but since it was only 6 reps I was able to keep it up. It was nice to have something feel like it’s improving since I haven’t really felt that way on the treadmill. We also had decline mountain climbers, Spiderman planks, lateral lunges, and squats.

And on the rower we started with seeing how far we could go in a certain number of pulls on the rower. It started with 25 pulls and went down by 5 each round. Normally I can average 10 meters on each pull, but with the pain in my hips I wasn’t able to get as much power behind my rows as I normally can. I decided to not pay too much attention to the distance since I knew I wouldn’t be happy with what I saw. Another block was 200 meter sprints with froggers in-between each set. Again, I lacked the power I normally have so I didn’t look too much at my time for the row. And the last block was 150 meter sprints with squats in-between the sets. We were supposed to try to squat so low that we touched the rails of the rower, but I couldn’t get that low down. But I’m pretty certain my squats were lower than they probably ever have been.

This was not how I thought Peak Performance Week would go for me, but it wasn’t all bad news. I was able to work on being more patient with myself which is slowly happening for me. I did get some PRs and I learned how to push myself better. And that’s all I can ask for a Peak Performance Week. Now I just want to focus on seeing what gains and improvements I can have before the next challenge week!

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Working On Forgiveness (or Accepting Things As They Are)

Between my recent appointment with my therapist, working on the 12 week journey of “The Prosperous Heart”, the goal setting workshop I attended, and just me thinking things through; I’ve come to a lot of ideas about myself. One of them is how I need to work on mindfulness. I thought I had been working on that, but clearly based on what I’m discovering about myself that is still something I really need and want to work on. That’s a tough one for me to do, but obviously it’s important to me since it has come up for me so much lately.

But I’ve come to another conclusion about myself that I haven’t really had the chance to work on even though it has come up in almost all the same places as figuring out I need to work on mindfulness. And the thing I realized is that I need to work on forgiveness. This isn’t really about forgiving others (although there are a few people who I probably should work through my anger about). This is more about forgiving myself and that’s not an easy thing.

It’s funny how I came to this realization because this week’s chapter in “The Prosperous Heart” is all about forgiveness. I read the chapter after I thought that I wanted to work on it, so it really felt like fate to me. And it got me even more motivated on trying to work out what I want to forgive myself for.

As far as within the work I’m doing for “The Prosperous Heart” I have to be able to forgive myself for not remembering to write down every single expense that I have. I pretty much write down everything, but I realized this week that I had been forgetting to write down the quarters I spend for laundry each week. That’s not a huge deal, but I wanted to do everything right and forgetting to track some cash expenses isn’t part of that plan.

I’m also working on trying to forgive myself for not making the progress I should have been making in my weight loss. I’ve unfortunately gained some weight this past month and that really makes me mad. That progress was really tough to get and to lose it is so frustrating. I know that I can’t be perfect and always lose weight, but to gain weight is something that I still view as unacceptable and it’s not easy for me to realize that to slip up is normal. I want to be able to get back on track, but its hard.

And the latest thing that I’ve been trying to work on forgiving myself about is a bit tough to discuss. To make a long story short, I have come to realize that while I was taking the birth control pill it was changing my personality and repressing certain emotions. Since getting my IUD in I’ve come to find out more about who I really am and part of that is why I’ve been putting myself out there so much with online dating. But I’ve started to wonder that if I had switched from the pill to the IUD sooner (or never went on the pill), maybe my life would have been so different. Past relationships of mine might not have failed. Or a different relationship could have happened. It’s tough not to think about the what ifs, but I can’t help myself.

The dating one has been hitting me the hardest because I’ve been going over so much in my head lately with past relationships and what might have been if I hadn’t had the issues that I now know the pill was causing me to have. It’s so crazy to think that I didn’t realize that I wasn’t my full self for almost 15 years. I don’t want to keep looking back, and that’s why it’s so important to work on forgiveness. I know I don’t have anything to really forgive myself for with past relationships, but I want to forgive myself for the feelings that I’m having about them.

Just like with mindfulness, this is not going to be a fast process. It will take me a while to learn to forgive myself and to just accept things as they are. Hopefully moving forward I won’t be as hard on myself, but I know myself well enough to know that I probably will still be my harshest critic. That’s just who I am and maybe I need to forgive myself for feeling like I need to change that too?

I don’t know what has brought so much reflection on my life lately, but I have to think that it’s a really positive thing. These changes I’m hoping to make can only be for the better and hopefully I will see more positive changes in my life once I’m able to implement these more often.

A New/Old Challenge (or Using An Idea From Therapy This Month)

A new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning of another. Although technically my last monthly challenge is still going.

I set it to be my challenge last month to track all spending including cash. This is something that I’m doing for the 12 week journey for The Prosperous Heart. I had already started the tracking before the beginning of June, but I wanted to work really hard at it during the month. We are about halfway through the book’s plan so even though my monthly challenge has ended for it I’m still going to be tracking for another 6 weeks. It’s usually pretty easy for me to do my tracking since I do that for all credit card spending. But to remember to track cash was a bit tougher.

Most of the time with cash spending, I’m just keeping my receipts in my wallet and then writing them down later. But I’ve realized that I don’t always get receipts or I throw them out because of habit. I’ve been making a big effort to remember every time I get my wallet out to spend money. If I don’t get a receipt, I text what I spent to myself so I have it in my phone for when I get home to write it down. It took about a week to get used to it, but I’m now remembering to track everything including putting quarters in a meter or giving a friend money to pay for parking. I don’t know if I’ll keep up this cash tracking after I’m done with The Prosperous Heart, but it is good now for me to be hyperaware of all my spending.

When it came to my challenge for July, I was stumped for a while on what I wanted it to be. It’s not that I’m feeling unmotivated, it’s just that I don’t know what else I want to change in my life. The things I want to change are all big things and not right for a monthly challenge just yet. But as it seems each time, I got inspired just before the month started on what I wanted my challenge to be.

When I saw my therapist, a lot of what we discussed was me becoming even more mindful in life. I can be on autopilot at times and that is not a safe place for me to be. I need to stay aware and it’s not easy to remember that if I’m daydreaming or off thinking about something. I have that problem with a lot of things in my life, and what keeps me on track is to set alarms and reminders on my phone. I have so many reminders on my phone throughout the day that sometimes it’s laughable. But it really has helped me stay on track.

One of the ways my therapist has told me I can work on being more mindful is to work on my breathing. I was telling him that at times I can almost zone out while running and he said that it’s because of the rhythmic breathing. That’s the basis of meditation. So by working on more mindful breathing, I can get into that meditative state and hopefully be more mindful while doing it.

This challenge is very similar to the mindfulness one that I did last year. But it is good to repeat monthly challenges especially when I have new tools or ideas that can make that challenge better. I did pick up some ideas from my therapist that might work to make this mindfulness thing stick for me. I also have a new motivation because I have experienced this mindfulness/meditative state in other times in my day and just didn’t have the words to connect that that’s what I was doing. Now that I’m more aware of what it feels like when I get into that state, I think it will be easier to get into it when I try.

I’m doing a similar thing to my other challenges by setting a reminder for myself for this. This time, I picked a few times that I know can be tough for me and set a reminder to take a breathing break. My goal is to take that time and take about 10 rhythmic breaths to recenter myself and hopefully get myself more focused and aware of what I’m doing and what I want to do. I’m aware that this won’t stop me from binging, but that’s not the goal my therapist has for me. He wants me to be aware of when I am binging and accept that is what I am doing. If I’m going to do it, it has to be because I chose to do so and not that I’m unaware that I’m doing so.

I don’t know if this awareness will come within this month. It’s actually probably pretty unlikely that it will happen that quickly. But even if it makes some of my binges aware instead of feeling like I’m in a trance, I will consider that a huge step in the right direction for me. And I know that this challenge isn’t really just for this month. This challenge starts this month but it will likely be something that I will have to try to do for years if not the rest of my life. I want to work on mindfulness and I’ve tried to do it before, but this time feels different and I hope that the results are different too.

Another Weight Loss Challenge (or Getting Back On Track)

This past week, a new weight loss challenge got started at Orangetheory. This challenge is only for the month of June and there aren’t too many requirements for it. Mainly it’s a weigh in at the beginning and end of the month and I have to do a certain number of workouts (it’s either 15 or 16 but I know I’ll get that done). There will be a prize for the winners, but they haven’t announced what that will be yet.

I’ve done a couple of the weight loss challenges at Orangetheory and they are a fun challenge to do. I’ve placed in one of them, but usually I’m not able to do that because it’s based on a percentage of weight loss and I have more weight to work with. But I like that it’s a challenge with everyone supporting each other and that nobody is too competitive. Everyone is excited for everyone else and I am just as happy seeing someone else win as I was when I placed in second.

While my focus right now hasn’t been on weight loss, it should be again. I was trying to lose weight before my liver surgery and I didn’t do as well at that as I had hoped. And after finding out that my surgery was cancelled, I stopped stressing about losing weight and got focused on getting my life back to normal. It was important to get my life back (and I’m honestly so much happier now than I was before), but I need to focus back on my health again. And yes, I’m aware that losing weight can totally be related to getting my life back. It just hasn’t been that way in my mind recently.

I think that my exercising is pretty close to what I need it to be right now. I probably should be doing more on my days off from Orangetheory, but working out 4 times a week is pretty great. My trouble is (and pretty much always has been) food. I hate how hard dealing with food can be for me. I’ve said it before that I wished that my addiction issues were with something that I could avoid every day and not something I had to deal with 3 times a day. But that’s the hand I’ve been dealt and I just have to work with it.

I had lost quite a bit of weight around the time I found out I had the tumors and managed to keep most of it off. But it has slowly been creeping back up on me over the past month or so. I haven’t gained all of it back, so that is a victory for me. But I’m up about 10 pounds from where I was and I want to get back down to that and to continue to lose more. Ideally, I want to get to my goal weight/goal size and stay there. But I also know that this journey isn’t a linear one and can easily have lots of ups and downs. That’s how my journey has been for pretty much my entire life and I have no reason to believe that it would be any different now.

So while I’m doing this weight loss challenge this month at Orangetheory, my main goal isn’t necessarily to win. Winning would be awesome and I’d love it if that happened. But I can’t just compare myself to other people like that. What other people are able to do shouldn’t affect what I can do. And I just need to focus on myself and use this challenge as a personal one. If my personal challenge ends up winning, great. But if it doesn’t I don’t want that to affect how I feel about any weight loss that I have this month.

Hopefully, things will be able to get back on track this month and I will be back down to (or lower than) the weight I was before. I still have some big weight loss goals that I’m trying to accomplish and I know that I have to take baby steps to get there. The first step is to get back to where I was and keep going. I actually reset my weight tracking app to start at what I weigh now so I don’t have to see the recent weight gain. Seeing that gain was actually causing me to feel less motivated and even though the number is the same now, I feel much better about it. I feel like I’m starting fresh and able to kick some butt again.

Maybe in a month I’ll be sharing with you all that I placed in the weight loss challenge. That would be awesome. But to me, what would be even more awesome is if I could tell you all that I lost the weight I gained recently and am still continuing to lose. That is the best thing that I could hope for right now and I really want that to be true.

Celebrating At Orangetheory (or 3 Years Down)

I didn’t realize this going into this past week of workouts, but this week was my 3 year anniversary at Orangetheory! It’s so crazy to think how 3 years ago I had my first class that was so tough I could barely walk the next day. I’ve come so far in those 3 years and I’m just so grateful that I was given the opportunity 3 years ago to try a class. I never thought I could fall in love with a workout so much, but here I am 3 years later loving things more and more and wanting to push myself further and harder.

Monday’s workout was a 3G because it was a holiday. Holiday workouts are always like that, so I was prepared going into class that it would be a 3 group workout. I started on the treadmill and it essentially was a 15 minute run for distance. It really was more like run 1.5 miles, walk, and then run more; but I knew that I couldn’t do 1.5 miles in 15 minutes so I looked at it as 15 minutes for distance. I had never run for 15 minutes before, but I’ve done close to that so I figured I should go for it and see what happens.

I did the first 12 minutes at 4.5 mph and tried to kind of go into my head and just think about anything other than running. I went through my schedule in my head and did some blog post planning and just kept running. Then for the last 3 minutes I was bumping up the speed a little bit each minute just because I wanted to see how far I could get. I didn’t really have a real goal in my head for how far I wanted to go, but I figured 1.125 miles sounded nice to me. And of course because of how stubborn I am, I was able to do more than that and ran the entire 15 minutes without stopping! Sorry for the blurry picture, I was so out of breath at the end of the run!

Next, I went to the rower where we had a 2,000 meter row. We don’t have 2,000 meter rows that often, but I do have them when I do the Dri-Tri so I’ve done them a few times. I was not expecting to PR on the row since my PR was during the Dri-Tri when the rowing was first so I wasn’t tired. All I wanted to do was row the entire time without taking a break. And I wanted to see if I could be under 9 minutes. Those seemed like good goals considering I had just come off of a 15 minute run.

Again, I just tried to get into my head and think of anything other than the rower. I was daydreaming and just trying to keep a steady rhythm on the rower. It was tough not to go really hard at the beginning since I do that a lot on my sprint rowing. But I started slower than I’m used to and was able to stay pretty steady the entire time. I didn’t take a break, did it under 9 minutes, and I was only 12 seconds slower than my PR! That was totally unexpected!

The floor work that day was pretty varied and I focused more on form than anything else since I was so tired from the running and rowing. We had chest presses, deadlifts, pullovers, strap work, and plank work. By the time class was done, I was feeling on top of the world from all the awesome work I did!

Wednesday’s workout was a power day. Every block was 4.5 minutes long so I decided to challenge myself to run everything including my base paces. With the blocks being so short, I would only have to run for 4.5 minutes at a time before having a walking recovery. It would be more running than I’m used to, but the length of each run wouldn’t be too bad. I used my normal push pace speed to be my base pace and only increased the speed about .2 mph to be my push pace. That’s not as much of a difference as you are supposed to have, but I didn’t think I could do much more and still come back down to a run. It wasn’t easy to not have the walks that I’m used to, but this was a good test for me with intervals for 5K training. Maybe I can do 4 minutes running/1 minute walking next time?

The floor was also 4.5 minute blocks and each block had 2 moves in it so it went pretty quickly. We had lots of chest and plank work in those mini-blocks and we had rowing in the last block. It was a 100 meter row and I wanted to see if I could PR. I had thought that my PR at the time was 17.4 seconds so I wanted to beat that. I did the rows in 17.6 and 17.5 seconds and was a bit upset about that. But then when I looked at my rowing record tracking, it looks like my old PR was 17.6 seconds so it looks like I did PR after all! I’m not as good at tracking my rowing records as I am with my treadmill ones (mainly because I don’t always have my phone with me to take photos on the rower) but I’m working on getting better at that so I can focus on those records now too.

Friday’s workout was an endurance day where we didn’t switch between blocks. I didn’t try to do anything too crazy with my running since I had 2 very run heavy days already. The entire workout on the treadmill was basically 90 second pushes with bases in-between. The bases were between 30 seconds and 2 minutes and I did walk then for each one. I kept my pushes at my normal speed but worked really hard to sprint for the all out paces that we had (I got up to 6.7 mph). In the 29 minutes we were on the treadmill I got 1.95 miles done. So I was pretty much at my 2 miles in class target.

The floor work was in 2 blocks and the first block had chest presses and squats which I was able to do with 2 20 pound weights. We also had Spiderman planks and rowing. The rowing was 300 meters and all I wanted to do was be under a minute. My first attempt was 59.7 seconds and my second attempt was 59.2 seconds which was a new PR for me! I’m only able to take a few tenths of a second off of my rowing PRs which is tough for me since I’m used to huge PRs on  the treadmill. But any improvement is a good thing and I’m starting to get used to seeing only minor improvements. The second block was mainly strap work and abs which was a nice break and I was able to slow down my heart rate a bit and just focus on my form.

Saturday’s workout was a strength day and a 3G class. I had decided even before knowing it was a strength day that I would be walking. But it’s always easier for me to walk on strength days. It’s funny how I’m thinking of a day where I only walk as a recovery day compared to even a year ago where my recovery days were on the bike. It’s funny to me how much I’ve changed when I was so sure that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

The treadmill was pretty normal for a strength day. Lots of incline work and I just tried to increase my inclines a bit more than I’m used to. I was doing a lot of my work at 8-12% incline and kept my speed steady at 3.5 mph. I didn’t get my heart rate up as much as I would have liked, but again this was a recovery day and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do as much as I normally do.

After the treadmill my group went to the rower where we had increasing rows with bicep curls on the rower and lunges off of the rower. The first row was 300 meters and I had no goals in my head. I wasn’t even worried about getting it done in under a minute. It ended up being around 1:06 (I’m not totally sure) but that was fine with me. The bicep curls on the rower were a nice recovery and I was able to go really deep with my lunges because I could steady myself on the water tank of the rower. My next row was 350 meters and I don’t really remember what time I did that in. My last row was 400 meters and I had an idea in my head that I want to be able to do this in 1:30. That’s really fast considering not long ago I was doing 300 meters in 1:30. But since it was my last row I went all out and ended up being pretty close to my goal! Now I’ve got something to work toward and I’m excited to see how long it takes me to get those last few seconds off.

On the floor, we had a longer block that had a lot of things that I was able to do with 20 pounds weights (lunges, deadlifts, single arm thrusters) and we also had a bit of plank work. And on the floor we ended with a 3 minute core blast where we had regular crunches, static crunches, toe reaches, leg lifts, and a 1 minute plank hold. That 1 minute plank hold wasn’t too bad, but I think that’s because I’m used to the super long planks from my last monthly challenge. I’m so happy that I’m seeing the results from that challenge in my workouts.

Overall, another amazing 4 workout week for me. I didn’t know it was my OTF anniversary until Thursday, so I think it’s awesome that I was able to accomplish some great challenges and PRs not even knowing that I was celebrating my time at OTF. I’ve accomplished so much in the past 3 years, and even more in just the past year. And I can’t wait to see what my fitness journey will look like in the next 3 years!

Another Monthly Challenge Down (or The Prosperous Heart)

A new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the start to a new one! I’ll admit that last month’s challenge was much more challenging than I thought it would be, but I’m glad that I got through it.

I originally wanted to do the plank challenge to help connect myself to my body again. It’s been weird feeling so disconnected and I had high hopes that this would help bring things back to normal. And this challenge didn’t do that at all. Sometimes, it almost made things worse because I was comparing myself to how I could do planks 10 years ago and the lack of core strength that I have now.

But even with this challenge not doing that, I finally do feel more connected to my body again. It had nothing to do with the challenge, but through just getting back to life I feel more like me again. I think I needed this challenge to force me to work on connecting with my body again, it just wasn’t the thing that did it. But having something push me to work on it was good. I might try another one of the fitness challenges in the app, but I’m not as concerned about doing them as I was before. But I’m glad that I tried and that I made it through.

And for this month’s challenge, I’m actually going to do something that I started earlier this week. The membership of the Inside Acting Podcast has done some fun book club type things this year. At the beginning of the year we did the 12 week process of “The Artist’s Way”. I’m glad that I did it with the support of the membership because I’ve never been able to complete the entire 12 week journey before on my own. I didn’t love the entire process, but I learned a lot and I’m seeing changes in my life because of it.

And this past Sunday, we started our next book within the podcast membership. This time, we are doing another book by Julia Cameron, “The Prosperous Heart”.

There are a lot of the same concepts in both books, including the Morning Pages. I didn’t enjoy the Morning Pages before and I’m not going to stress myself out doing them this time. But this book is much more focused on money and financial things.

I’ve been tracking my budget for a while now using YNAB. Using a budgeting app has been really great for me. Even though I’m still struggling a bit financially, I feel much more in control of things and understand how to pay down my credit card debt now without feeling overwhelmed.

Part of this book is to track every single expense you have. This will be pretty simple for me since I’m already doing it, but I’m going more detailed now and that’s what my monthly challenge will be. I’m not only going to track what I do bank transfers for or when I use my credit card. I’m going to track every single penny that is spent.

A lot of times, I’ll get cash at the beginning of the week and plan on using that for random things. But before I know it the cash is gone and I don’t know where I spent it. Or I don’t know where all the quarters I got for laundry went when it seems like I just went to the bank to get a roll. Some people don’t spend as much when they use cash, but for me using cash has become mindless since I don’t track it in YNAB. I need to stop this because I want to track my money better. And using this as my monthly challenge is a great way for me to get into this habit.

More often than not, my monthly challenges become something I do all the time. So if I take this month to work on tracking my money better, I have a feeling that I will be able to continue to do this and hopefully it will only help me in my money management skills. I know that I’ve been doing a lot of great work with money, especially in the past year or so, but I need to do more and this might be the perfect thing for me to do.

1 Year Of Running (or A New Anniversary To Celebrate)

Earlier this month, I was talking to a friend of mine about my running adventures at Orangetheory and in my 5K races. In some ways, it seems like I’ve been doing my running for a long time. In other ways, it seems like I just started last month. And when my friend asked me how long I had been running, I had to think about it. I figured it was close to a year but wasn’t too sure. Fortunately, one of the benefits of this blog is being able to go back and look at when I posted certain things. And by going back to looking at that original running post, I realized my 1 year running anniversary is today!

I still remember that first class when I tried running. Running for 30 seconds seemed like it would be impossible, but I am so stubborn and when I was told to try it I knew I had to go for it. And it shocked me how easy those 30 seconds were for me. I was terrified that it would be painful to run since I was told that it could be with my hip issues. I think maybe I in disbelief about how easy those 30 second running spurts were. And that just got me into making some big plans with my running.

When I started running, things were coming very easily for me. Going from 30 seconds to 45 seconds or to a minute were pretty easy. I was able to get my speed up often without issues. I was on such a high about running and had some great ideas of what I wanted to be able to do. I hadn’t really run since I was a kid, so I had no idea how my body would react to anything and only based my ideas on how easy it was in the beginning.

After a little bit, I definitely hit a wall with my running progress. But I’m very lucky that I have so many running friends and I was able to turn to them for tips and advice. I worked on different stretching, increased my weights at Orangetheory to make me stronger, and planned out some interval training. I started to do my own interval work at Orangetheory instead of just following the coaches. But since all my coaches knew I was working on running, they were all very supportive and didn’t mind that I wasn’t following the standard workout.

Then I started to hit some huge milestones. I was able to run a 1/4 mile. I was able to run on inclines. I took a running class. I was able to run for 5 minutes without stopping. I ran for 10 minutes without stopping. I ran for a mile without stopping! I think running a mile without stopping is still something that shocks me and I’m so proud I hit that milestone.

I also started doing running on my own outside of my workouts. I got a running watch and did my own interval training work. I met up with friends to do running interval training and didn’t let me bug me that they were doing so much more than I could do. I focused on my own training and my own path and didn’t compare myself to others.

Even though I did all this work, I still questioned how my first attempt at a run/walk 5K would go. I had never done run/walk intervals for that long and I wasn’t sure my body would be able to take it. But I think between being stubborn and the adrenaline I get on race days, I was not only able to do it but I beat my big goal I had for how fast I wanted to do a 5K!

Then when I got to my second 5K as a run/walk, I was increasing my intervals and had hills to deal with. I hadn’t done as much running training as I had the first time (due to all my medical stuff) so I tried to not set any goals for myself. I knew the combination of all those differences meant that I might not be able to do better than my last time even though I was running more. That race was more of a struggle than the first one, mainly because of the hills. But I had to be flexible and willing to change my running plan. And by doing that (and probably again because I’m stubborn), I was able to PR at my race!

Now, I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my running. I’ve hit a few walls lately, but I think a lot of that has to do with other health issues. I’m running for pretty decent stretches at Orangetheory and I’m trying to plan what my goals are going to be coming up. I also may be meeting with a running coach soon to discuss a training plan and what may be possible for me in the long run (no pun intended). I’m also toying with the idea of trying to do a 10K for the first time, but that won’t be happening too soon since I need to do some training for that.

To think that I’ve come this far in just one year of running is insane to me! I never thought I’d be able to do most of what I’m doing now. And sometimes I do wish that I had tried running sooner because I’d be farther along now. But I can’t look back and wish I had done things differently. I can only work on moving forward and continuing to improve myself.

So here’s to my first full year of running! I never knew I’d get here, so I can’t even imagine where I’ll be when I’m celebrating my 2nd running anniversary!

It’s A Fitness Challenge (or Being Calm and Plank Time)

Last month, I set my monthly challenge to work on staying calm. That was a pretty easy challenge to do, but I had that be easy on purpose. I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to accomplish last month and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. Of course, I ended up not needing a simple challenge for the month and I was feeling like I didn’t really get that much done. I’ve really gotten used to pushing myself in my monthly challenges and last month didn’t push me. I didn’t know that my month was going to be the way it was, so I can’t be too upset. But that got me thinking about what would challenge me a lot in May.

As I mentioned yesterday, I realized in last week’s workouts how tough it was for me to hold a plank. I used to be great at doing a basic plank and could hold it for over a minute without any issues, but most of the time in workouts now they are planks with other movements too. It’s been a while since I’ve focused on holding a plank and it’s something that I just assumed I could still do. That’s not the case and I want to get back to having my core be as strong as possible.

There are a ton of 30 day plank challenges out there (even though May is 31 days, I can use a 30 day challenge and just repeat the last day). I’m going to be using an app I already had on my phone, but it seems like the set up is pretty similar to something I found online.

I don’t know if I’ll be doing the rest days, but it’s nice to know they are there in case I need it. I have a feeling that it’s going to seem really easy at the beginning but once it gets to doing them for a minute it’s going to be very tough and challenging for me. And that’s exactly what I want in a monthly challenge!

I think doing another physical monthly challenge will be good for me. Since I discovered I have the liver tumors, I’ve had some very mixed feelings about my body. I feel like my body has betrayed me because getting these tumors is such a rare thing. I’ve been working so hard on improving my body and my body decided to screw it all up. But I also feel so grateful for the strength I have now because I’ve been able to do at least 2 5Ks with the tumors in me (I have no clue how long I’ve had the tumors so maybe all my races have been with them). And by some miracle, my body has been able to shrink the tumors when nobody thought that would be possible.

Because I’ve had those mixed feelings, I need something that should be totally positive for my body and to help me reconnect with myself. It’s weird how disconnected I’ve felt lately and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced disconnection like this before. I had a similar feeling when I rapidly lost weight on the UCLA RFO diet, but this time it was even worse. I didn’t feel like I had any power over my body or what it was doing. I didn’t feel like I had control like you should have. And once I found out the tumors shrunk, that feeling continued because I don’t know what shrunk the tumors and I didn’t feel any different. How am I supposed to be connected to my body when I don’t feel the difference between a 10cm tumor inside of me versus it only being 4cm? I need to get back to feeling like myself again and I think doing a physical challenge will help me.

At the end of this month, I’m supposed to be able to hold a plank for 300 seconds. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to do that, but it will be interesting to see how close I can get to it. But if I can’t do it, that’s not what the priority of this challenge is for me. I need to reconnect to myself, feel strong again, and take control of my body in a healthy way. And hopefully by the end of this month I will be able to say that I accomplished that!

I know some of you have also been doing monthly challenges and I’d love to know what you are doing for May. And if you are doing a plank challenge, hopefully we can support each other.