I need to yell more

Today I got called out for wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’d been a lot nicer had I been called out for great form on ring rows, but no. When the strength and conditioning coach repeatedly adjusts my shoulder placement, (during multiple classes) I usually curse my structural imbalances. However, it turns out my skeletal make-up may not singularly be to blame.

Multiple times in the past year, by multiple friends and acquaintances, I’ve been told to “give myself a break.” I continued to hear it over and over through a life transition. To me, there were no excuses not to be as great as I could be at all times, or excuses to lower my progress expectations in work, fitness or relationships. Because they were just that, excuses.

I think I’ve always struggled with a little bit of high functioning anxiety, meaning I could be exploding internally over missing an order of a table cloth and clips for a trade show booth in the middle of an open office concept, but no one would know. I’m calm, chill and overall easy going, they say. My top strength in the StrengthFinder test is harmony, for crying out loud.

But what my body is starting to say about that, is LIES.

For the first time ever, within this past year I saw a sports massage therapist. It was painful. My body was in knots, especially around my jaw and neck area. Turns out I clench my jaw a lot. Recommendation from that appointment: I need to yell more.

Stress continued to show up in a lot of the common areas, lack of sleep, weird appetite, tired workouts and less than successful runs. But everyone is struggling with this, everyone is “stressed out” ALL THE TIME. Right? Right…?

Yet I realized even more so today, it’s one thing to tell people I’m stressed out, but it’s another for someone to tell or ask me if I am stressed based on the constant positioning of my body. It actually hits really hard, because then it means I really am or was stressed, I wasn’t just saying it because things felt out of place.

It also really means, I’ve been hurting my body and that just sucks. I’m less stressed out than I have been in the last 12-14 months, but the wear is still there.

Have I increased my massage appointments? Definitely. I know about meditation and gentle yoga, but what makes those mindful practices stick? What makes them a routine? Looking for other good ways to give the anxious mind (and shoulders!) a rest.

 

***This is not an official medical diagnosis, but it’s worth noting the habits that are making your body less than what it can be. (Like sitting at a desk all day hovered over a keyboard – also a factor, but can also cause stress.)

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Spotting the Stage

Lately, I’ve been trying to invest more time in things I’ve been neglecting. Photography, writing, (this blog). At some point during the day today I felt inspired by the rustic romanticism of my family’s ’76 Ford pickup. Complete with a Circle D flatbed parked by the barbed wire, I determined the lighting right before sunset should be perfect to practice some “picnic style” shots.

Not totally prepared, I was able to come up with a streaky wine glass and and old bottle of wine, with a catchy label, nonetheless.

Overall, I’m fairly pleased with these! The glass isn’t perfect, the color of the wine isn’t perfect, and ideally I would’ve change the angle of the truck, BUT it was fun practice and it was a perfect summer evening.

Speaking of…

Naturally, I had my phone with me. I took a couple of snapshots, but of course wasn’t getting the quality I was getting on my camera. And then I thought, how easy would it be to post a great photo to the square world (insta!) about how I’m closing out my weekend with a great outdoor view, enjoying a glass of wine out on the prairie.

So I did post a photo to my story with a poll and asked my followers if it was a “perfect evening” OR “staged, but still cool.” My friends and followers are so clever, they’ve voted 100 percent for staged. 😀

A great evening and a good reminder that there is so much on social media being staged and played as real life.

Beets – You Bet!

It’s farmer’s market season! Not only does that mean a bountiful selection of local goods and produce, but colorful photo opportunities filled with imperfections. These beauties were roasted with sweet potatoes and gobbled right up!

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#RealTalk post – Where do you feel prettiest?

This post has been hard for me to write, not because I don’t want to share my struggles, but because I don’t want to come off as offensive. In the StrengthFinder test, my top strength is Harmony (aka, avoid conflict). But I don’t want to not be heard in the slight chance I may offend someone. And if I get comfortable enough being offensive, maybe I’ll have a whole series of struggle posts! So here goes:

Sometimes we need to talk about the ugly, or the less attractive side of life. I’m guilty as much as the next person of only posting the good things happening on social media. Beautiful running scenery, accomplishments, or inspiring quotes tend to fill my Instagram feed.

But I need (and want) to share when times are hard or frustrating or when I’m simply lacking confidence, which is unfortunately, a lot.

I want to talk about feeling pretty. No, I didn’t knock my head too hard in a Soul Cycle class like Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty, but her struggles are so relatable. A girl, just asking for some shoes that fit, without telling the whole world how deceptively long or large her feet are. I cannot count the number of times a department store has not carried my size or that I’ve had to try on the men’s version at a running store – things that bring my self-pretty meter down. To my fault, I also don’t like pink. But that’s a decision I make, not because an industry has set a standard for an acceptable range of women’s sizes.

There’s also the perceived standard or pretty – or perhaps one I haven’t been able to get past yet – the hair, the makeup, the clothes and the heels. I’ve been fancied up a few times in my life, received the most wonderful compliments, and still felt utterly ridiculous. I still awe at my fashionable friends with their fabulous hair, heels and make-up. It truly is an art (looking at you, CB).

Feeling empowered and pretty is in the eye of the beholder and if the above things help you feel that when, that’s fabulous! I have personally struggled to feel empowered this way. Like the last time I had my nails done for a work event, it was weird. I was recently on a non-date date (this was established beforehand), but still felt the need to put on my beauty mask, and it felt just like that – a mask.

I want to talk about feeling pretty in different ways, because I recently took a series of selfies in the mountains that felt very raw to me. The only downfall of traveling alone really is your camera roll is full of selfies. I had climbed to the top of my “Pocahontas rock” feeling very free and proceeded to take said selfies. Trying to grasp the enormity of the landscape behind me, I realized I had taken several photos with my sunglasses on. So I tried one without:

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I’m a little windblown, sunburn and perhaps a little worn down from the race the day before. No brow pencil, no mascara and what face coverage I do have on is purely for the SPF. But this friends, epitomized and captured the true me, where and how I feel prettiest, where I feel the best and how I am the most empowered. But it’s also one I haven’t posted yet, because it didn’t seem like it would be the most attractive photo to the rest of the world. There was no great caption “I’ve been hiking for miles” or “just took a break from my bike!” Nope, it was just me, with my camera bag, climbing to the top of a rock. And that should be enough.

Coming down from the mountains though, I’ve struggled once again, to be enough. When I’m active and feeling strong, I am enough. But when women’s street wear won’t fit my shoulders or cut in weird places because I just don’t have curves, then my pretty confidence scale slides. Learning to love myself for all that I am and capable of is something I have to work on daily.

HOWEVER, the takeaway from this rant may be 1) quit whining, millennial, or 2) – I really hope it’s this one – that you capture those moments where YOU ARE YOU and share those with the world because you felt on top of the world and all that you knew in that moment was true to yourself.

Spring Photo Play

It’s been a hot second since I’ve taken a photo on a REAL camera. The macro lens and natural light of the evening was perfect for play time. An extra PLUS for orange!

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Mom is great at using antiques throughout her flower beds for extra rustic flair. And I just love the texture and lighting here:

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Celebrate Unexpected Strength

When I started training for Spartan Races (all the way back in 2016) I didn’t know much about strength training. I knew it was important as a runner to incorporate strength into the routine, but apart from a few things I had learned in group classes, I was a little stuck on how to move up in weight and when, not to mention being terrified of having bad form.

I started increasing my strength training with the goal of becoming stronger to complete obstacles at Spartan Races. After some advanced instruction on barbell lifts (shout out to Renee and Jordan!) I was hooked. In the beginning, I didn’t really care about the specific amount I could lift, as long as it was serving the end goal. However, the more I worked on it, the more I cared and the more I started to eye specific goals, especially on deadlift. And it was in this process I realized the joy in celebrating the unexpected strength wins along the way.

Through this winter and spring, I’ve thankfully experience another round of unexpected wins. First Coach Coleen talked me into wall walks and headstands, things I never expected to do (although I never expected to be able to climb a rope most of my life!) While scary at first, it was so fun after I got the hang of it.

I also periodically go to yoga, of which I should definitely go to more often. A few months ago in a class, we reached the part where we can work on a specific pose. This is not why I go to yoga. I go to stretch out the kinks and tightness that running causes, but I humored myself and took a shot at “crow” pose, which I almost barely completed! Wow! Again, never really thought I’d get past downward dog or warrior 2. This too made me curious about other things I might be able to accomplish.

Last Thursday evening, I attended a yoga class where again, we arrived at the part of the class to work on – you guessed it – crow pose.* There was only one other person in class, so what did I have to lose by going for it and potentially falling on my face? It took me at least three solid tries, but I did it! I held crow pose! Two thumbs up from the instructor confirmed my accomplishment – so I know it was legit. 😉 Knowing and celebrating my strength win in class, motivated me to attempt a handstand the next day, something Coleen knew I was strong enough to do, but yet again I was terrified of landing in a heap on the ground. And you know what, even a few hours after a long trail run, I knocked out two handstands like I’d been doing it for months!

While none of these movements have ever been on my radar to accomplish (until recently), they are nonetheless HUGE accomplishments in my mind.  Whether physical or mental, I encourage you to not only celebrate the unexpected strength you build, but to become strong in unexpected ways.

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Near the end of my Friday long run, I was climbing one of the “sisters” on the Wyco trail loop. I never turn around because I’m so concerned with moving up as fast as I can. But on this day, it was nice to turn around and see where I’d been and how far I’d come.

*I should note, yogis are not always working on crow. This just happened to be coincidental for me.

Long Runs on Fridays?

When I first began working with my running coach Coleen in the fall, we reviewed the typical structure of her running programming, where she encouraged flexibility, you know, if life happened. Over coffee I remember her specifically making a remark that it was ok to do a long run on Friday, just that when we started the back-to-back long runs, the next run was still on Saturday.

I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes to myself thinking that I’d never be able to do a long run on Friday. My schedule just doesn’t allow it. But noted. (Plus I’m all about the plan, stick to the plan.)

Injury happened after my first weekend of back-to-back’s in February, then there was a long hiatus until about a couple of weeks ago, where they crept back up in the plan.

Perfect! I thought. I had planned to go to Boulder and what better way to spend a weekend just exploring the trails AND getting my runs in.

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Mesa Trail on Thursday afternoon

I hit the road for Boulder that Thursday well aware that the weekend weather was less than ideal. I arrived early afternoon and my hosts encouraged me to go ahead and get a run in before the weather turned the next few days. It was absolutely gorgeous, and ironically, the first time I’ve run in short sleeves this year. I checked one long run (er, power hike – not immune to altitude I guess!) off my plan and reevaluated for the next day. Since I’d completed one long run that day, I was technically due for the second on Friday, when it would be snowing. 

Thankfully, the snow wouldn’t be starting until mid-morning which would give me plenty of time time to run (power hike) up to Mt. Sanitas. And I did. The snowfall made for a perfect and picturesque trail run.

And it was official. Running long on Friday, folks.

 

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Fridays are for long runs, too

Fast forward to present day, where I’ve just completed another long run on the local trails ON A FRIDAY. The weather was beautiful and my new scheduled allowed, so why not? Plus, it will be raining all weekend says the weatherman.

In short, one day your sticking to the plan, because it’s what you know and what works.

Then one day, you’re spending too much time in the Boulder Bookstore in the section with titles like “Take a Leap of Faith” or “You Do You” and then you’re doing your long runs on Friday. And it’s kind of excellent.

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Snow was hitting me in face in Boulder, but I couldn’t be that mad.