Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy to Be Alive...

It's funny the things you remember.  I was out riding my bike, and it was seriously cold.  I remember my itchy wool cycling socks (mainly because I never bothered to change them in the flurry of activity.) I remember the sound of the nurse's voice, and that it was somewhere around one...or maybe two in the afternoon when I got the call.  I remember hearing my dad's ringtone, and thinking I'd call him back in a few minutes, after I finished my ride.  But instead, I de-clipped, pulled into a park, and called his number back.  A woman named Claudia answered and said that she was a nurse, and she was with my parents, whom she just watched roll their car across the interstate three times. I remember that the world stopped.  She put them on the phone.  Dad, predictably, said "We're going to be ok. I think." And Mom babbled incoherently.  She was the one about whom we worried. 

I met them at the hospital.  I dug all their belongings out from the three feet of mud that was on the inside of their car.  Dad had an earful of mud, and Mom had a cut on her foot that required a few stitches.  And they were fine. Really, beautifully fine. I have a whole theology about the hand of God now. 

That was five years ago. New Year's Eve Eve, 2008.  We still celebrate every year.

But maybe it changed us all in some way, to know that in the blink of an eye, all things could've turned out wildly different. Priorities shifted, and "stuff"--whatever it was that seemed so important-- ceased to matter.  What we clung to was what made us  happy, what made memories, what filled our breaths with as much life as possible. 

A lot of people make New Year's Resolutions. ( I set intentions).  But on New Year's Eve Eve, I remind myself what it means to be alive, and I promise anew to celebrate that life with all I have. Life is fleeting and unpredictable, but I remind myself that when my life is spent, I want to be too. I say special prayers of thanksgiving on this day, not just that my parents' story turned out unexpectedly and miraculously well, and not just that we have something to celebrate.  But also that we do, celebrate.  We celebrate wildly and boldly.  We do it by living fully. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mischief Managed...

My mom passed a lot of great things on to me: enthusiasm, creativity, Wadsworth curves.  She tried to pass a love of having all the things organized on to me.  That one didn't take.  Well, to be truthful, I love all the things being organized.  I just don't have any idea how to make that fairy tale a reality.

So this year, perhaps I gave my mom the thing she has always secretly wanted: I asked her (begged her, pleaded, made the sad puppy dog face... ok, no not really... she seemed at least a little bit delighted by the prospect) to help me clean and organize.  She smiled, made a plan, and marched off in search of plastic containers.  And she pulled out everything from my kitchen.  No cubbard, cabinet or other hidey hole for my mess went untouched. Even the countertops were stripped of their adornments  clutter.  Even my refrigerator was decrumbed, and de-leftovered. (And umm... degrossed. I kind of deserve a bless her heart award?) Bonus: I found a lot of things I didn't know I had--cuts down on my grocery shopping "necessities"! And then she managed my bathroom area, which was way beyond making me crazy.  Meanwhile, my dad, who doesn't love organizing, but doesn't mind deep cleaning make my sinks and floors and stove sparkle.  (And, I sent them out unattended and they home with plush bath mats and those super fabulous gel mats for the kitchen. WIN!)

Turns out maybe they gave me the gift I've always wanted: to be able to really rest in my space, and to know where my stuff is.  But maybe the bigger gift is that suddenly I feel unsqashed and creative and relaxed.  Now that I can see all my spices and know what I actually have, I am dying to cook.  It's admittedly been a while-- and maybe that's why I didn't.  I don't like to cook in a mess.  I'm optimisic that once I finish holidaying I will be ready to cook.  (And wow, now I even have refrigerator space  in which to keep things.)

I am still pondering my New Years' Intentions (I don't really do resolutions), and they often fall into shapes of a word.  One of them I think will be Breathe.  (I'm also considering write and create and simplify.)  For me, breathing means being comfortable not only in my skin (cheers, 2013... made a good start on that one!) but also being comfortable in my space.  It means, at least partly, a place for everything and everything in its place. I think "breathe" is a starting place for my other intentions, and I think the progess that happened the last few days is a good start on "breathe".

Look ma, Mischief Managed!

For Bella the Wonder-dog, "Breathe" means her new (pink, no less) Thundershirt, which has made her a completely new dog.  She's cool, calm, and collected.  Score one for the grandparents!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Public Figure

When I was ordained I took vows: That I trusted in Christ, that I believed the scriptures, that I accepted the doctrines of the Reformed Tradition, etc.  Those are the ones that I said outloud.  But it turns out that I took some others that I shouldn't have.  I seem to have vowed that I would forget my gender all together, and be as vanilla as I could. I began wearing pants and suits and skirts down to my ankles--and all quite baggy.  If I wore makeup, it was very soft and neutral.  My hair was a long, frizzy mess that was anything but spunky.  I have always had a thing for fun shoes, but other than that, I wore very few things with any personality at all.

Preachers of the PC (USA) variety very often wear a robe when they preach--so that helped even more.  I did finally get a "girl" robe-- that was a little more tailored for my shape than was my previous one-size-fits-all-get-et-done robe.  But still, I was able to hide sufficiently.  Being a preacher's kid turned preacher, I just always always wanted to be afforded the same luxuries that were given to my dad: to just preach, without having to defend my calling.  But I worked so hard at being  a preacher who happened to be female, that I forgot that I was indeed a female preacher. (You know, aside from lovely stoles and coordinating, liturgically appropriate footwear!)

Fast forward five years and a lifetime. I've lost 57 lbs from my heaviest weight, and gained a spunkiness that I thought I'd lost forever. I've found a desire to be real and authentic, and to stand in my own (admittedly fun) shoes as I walk through life. I've cut my hair quite short, and I am starting to wear clothes that fit my shape. Most days, I make it out of the house with my hair (mostly) done and makeup on my face.  I don't wear tennis shoes to work anymore.

But tonight, all my notions about living fully into my identity as a fun, fearless, fabulous female pastor were taxed.  I was doing a wedding at the church, and every Southern girl knows that a wedding that occurs after 5 p.m. requires a bit of formality. It just felt all wrong to wear my official go to preacher garb suit-- which now fits me about as well as a trash bag.   I guess I could've found something equally as dowdy, but I just couldn't make myself do it.  Especially after talking to some fun church ladies and learning that they were planning on wearing cocktail attire.  I took stock of who was likely to be in attendance, and realized that it would be a fun crowd. I consulted my wonderful group of clergy women friends, and posed the question: What's a girl to do? The communal wisdom was that I should "Wear the dress and cut a rug!" and "have the fun" and "wear it and own it" and "wear spikey heals and great earrings and pearls".  Or as one said, "Would be rude not to wear it and rock it."  (And this is why every girl pastor needs a group of girl pastors to ask serious questions...they rock.)

So I did. It was conservative and tasteful with no body parts hanging out, but it was form fitting-- a had a just-shy-of-conservative slit up the side. (And worth noting: the dress was the one I wore to my senior high prom.)  And I wore dangly, sparkly earrings and red lipstick, and strappy sandals to show off my sparkly red toenail polish. I felt a little strange, but I felt good in my body.

There are parts of my body that I still don't love.  I still have a pooch and jiggly arm fat that keeps waving after the rest of me stops.  But I also have collarbones, and muscles, and a waist,  and ankles.  I'm not yet where I want to be, but tonight, that wasn't my thought. Tonight, I wasn't a girl trying to hide.  Once the service was done, and the robe came off, I was just Kim: the girl lucky enough be to comfortable in her own skin and have fun with people she loves.

I always knew being a preacher would make me a public figure.  I just never knew there'd come a point where I didn't mind having a figure... in public.

Friday, December 20, 2013


My body is showing signs of overexertion (again...thanks, body.) I pulled a muscle (or twelve?) in my back, and strained my shoulder.  And some other TMI-ish sorts of things.  Long story short, I'm grounded from the gym until further notice. And making friends with ice and Advil and heating pads. 

But come four thirty or so, my body is ramped up and ready to conquer the world.  Or, at least the gym.  This time last year, I was about to beg for days off from the gym so I could get everything done. Now, I don't know what to do with myself.  I'm antsy and I miss it. I want to be with those who have become my people. I want to come home completely spent and crawl into bed. I eat better when I go to the gym and don't crave sugar. I'm nicer and more productive.  The truth is that on many days, the gym is the thing I most look forward to. 

I was off from the gym for two and a half weeks due to illness.  At least my body understood that, and I didn't have the energy to fight.  But I feel perfectly well, so I'm having to fight to do what's best for me.  Silly voices in my head are saying dumb things like "If you go to the gym early enough, He-who-trains will never know." 

Who is this person who is fighting to go to the gym, and threatening to do it even though I know my body is saying no? Apparently, the gym has become part of who I am.  I never thought I'd see the day when a few days off from the gym would feel like more of a curse than a blessing. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Year...

Funny how some dates stick in your head. Sometimes random ones, sometimes significant.  Some of them are dividing lines that will one day mark off your life in chapters.  November 20, 2012 was a Tuesay-- three days after my birthday.  Ordinary to everyone else.  But it was the day my life began to change, the day when I admitted to myself that I wasn't who or how I wanted to be, the day when I realized I wanted so much more.

It was the day that I not only made a commitment to myself, but I got some help to make sure I knew the victory of success. I've made commitments in this area before, but when the things got tough, I quit. On November 20, I started an amazing and wild and frustrating journey toward being healthy.  Looking back, the other times proved to be false starts, but this one took.  Here's my post from That Day I started working with a trainer.  I committed myself to at least showing up, for at least three months.   I've never looked back.

In a year, I've:

  • made my health a priority. I say no to other things so I can go to the gym.  I don't eat something simply because it's offered or because it's the polite thing to do. 
  • dropped 35 pounds and 4 sizes 
  • gained confidence.  My shoulders still slouch, but it's not because I'm trying to hide myself.  The confidence I've found has spilled onto everything else.
  • learned to eat what my body needs for fuel, and how to healthfully indulge cravings without sabotaging my progress
  • fought a 6-month hormonally induced plateau, and known the grand feeling of perseverance
  • managed not to kill He-who-trains, and most days, even thank him for pushing me.  I've learned (mostly anyway) to check my ego and to actually let him teach me.
  • Rehabbed my knee that's been problematic for now half of my life.  I've gone from crying when I walked to running and squatting.  (As a reward, I get to do leg days that increase my vocabulary. Still trying to decide if this is progress!)
  • learned my way around the gym, and built a community of friends there. I'm no longer intimidated.  I can't lift as much as the fellas, but I know that I have a place in the gym.
  • quit being as camera shy.  I used to really hate having my picture taken.  Now I will sometimes even pose.  And maybe even smile. 
  • stopped needing my inhaler. I think I've used it once in the last year, and that was from a chemical smell, not exercise.
  • gotten off the diet hamster-wheel.  I don't try every fad that comes along.  I quit wasting my money on gimmicky equipment or the "right" waterbottle. I don't ferociusly rip out workout plans from magazines. 
Seems to me, fitness experts and life coaches and generally smart people are all about goals.  I can see value in that.  So here are some of mine for the coming year, both big and small (and in no particular order)
  • Be able to do a pull-up. (Or lots.) I've never ever been able to do one.
  • Reach a goal weight of 135 lbs. Or less.  But that's a starting point.
  • Return to cooking at home regularly, using healthy and whole foods. 
  • Master the concept of intensity. Be able to leave it all at the gym on a regular basis.
  • Get to the point that my form is so consistently good that all He-who-trains can say is "those are perfect."
  • Run a 5k in 24 minutes.  Pick out a half marathon, and begin training for it.
  • Learn to stand up straight-- even if it means focusing a lot of attention on my weak back muscles. 
  • Be more faithful in blogging my journey.  One day I'm going to want to remember. 

Has the year been everything I hoped? No.  I only lost about half of what I expected to in a year.  It was a struggle, and some of that was on me.  I wasn't ready to wear a bikini at the beach.  But still, the year has probably been the most life changing one I've ever known.  My date of birth is November 17, 1981. The date I decided it mattered was November 20, 2012.  So... a cupcake in celebration! Maybe that's the biggest change of all: last year, it wouldn't have been a virtual cupcake.

And... just for fun.  Here's a truly horrifying "Before" (near my heaviest I think, in 2009) and much more fun "After" (taken last weekend.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Going Streaking

Hmmm... bet that title got your attention.  Rest assured--that's not what I'm about to do.  It's kind of cold for that, anyway.

I had a minor freakout this morning as I looked at the calendar, trying to schedule two lunch dates and a visit.  There just aren't any holes in my calendar.  It's overwhelming-- the "stuff" of this time of year.

Being a preacher means this is my manic season.  I've never fared especially well, though last year I did better than other years. I just started my quest to a healthier life (yeah, that was a brilliantly timed plan.) I only missed one or two workouts.  I didn't go nuts on food.  I made better choices.   I survived until I had an open house-- and when I didn't throw the leftovers away, I found myself grazing on them.  One thing led to another.  I said yes when I should've said no.  I was exhausted and craving sugar to comfort my stressed brain.  By the first of the year, I was knocked-down sick for over a week.   Maybe it was two? Last Advent was an exercise in wagon-falling-off, and I just felt a little miserable.

I did it to myself.  Frustratingly, I know better. Every year I make commitments to myself to take extra care of my body and spirit, but I don't follow through.  I get sick-- every. single. year.

This year, I recognize that I have a lot going on. I'm smart enough to see that I can't change most of it.  But I'm also determined that I'm not going to have to spend all of January recovering from a poorly handled December.  I'm not going to make hard and fast commitments (except one--getting there! Patience already!) to doing or not doing.  But here are my aims:

  • Practice saying no.  Hard for a people pleaser to do, but a good discipline some times.
  • Quit eating out-- or at least drastically reduce it.  It's a little about the money, and the health aspects, but it's more about the opportunity to eat good food that feeds more than my stomach.  I'm tired of restaurants right now anyway.  It will be inconvenient, and I'll have to do some planning and preparation.  But I'll be happier in the end.
  • Go streaking.  (This one I'm making a commitment, not an aim.) I was reading Runner's World and it talked about a trend that's become a tradition to many. (I guess along the lines of No-Shave November, but having mountain man legs never appealed to me, so I'm not sure.) It's the Holiday Streak.  The idea is that every day, Thanksgiving through New Years, you pledge to run (or walk) at least one mile every day. I saw this several years ago, and wanted to, but got too busy. I think I've actually considered it for several years in a row, but always drop the ball and never get around to starting it. I almost skipped over it again, but this year, it seems important.  I don't think it will be about trying to sneak in some exercise-- after all, I am in a differenct place this year, and the gym is just part of my life.  Going is a given, and I'll make it fit. But I want to do this as a matter of mindset, of reminding myself that I'm worth it--that my self care impacts not only me, but those I love, and not only now, but in the future too.  I may not be doing a lot of runs because of the leg workouts I'm doing, but the way I figure it, even a slow mile could be a gift.  (Maybe I'll make them intentionally slow?) That's twenty minutes of time just for me.  (Making that a rule: no email checking, text reading or call answering during that time.) That's a mile of looking around and breathing fresh air and making my doggie smile.   I think I'm going to document each day with a picture on my blog.  Getting pedicures or reading books by the fire is more than I can do to take care of myself right now, but I am worth twenty minutes a day.  I'm going streaking! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Get up, Trinity!"

"What will the Pudgy Parson have to say about this workout?" I'm pretty sure he was sneering in an I-told-you-so way, but I was too busy trying to keep my lunch inside my body.  And also trying to resist the urge to kick him...hard.  But seeing as I was in no position to run away, namely because I ceased to have control over my legs, I just made my aforementioned Passing-a-cactus face and did my best to ignore him. Also the lunch thing was keeping me busy.

 I knew it was going to be bad.  Any time he-who-trains wants to make a point, he makes a point. My ability to use my limbs in the next three days is not a concern. He will neither push me, nor let me push myself to the point of injury--he's watching closely.  But he sure isn't going to let me hang out in my comfort zone either.  This is why I pay him the big bucks.

  He's tolerated my running. He has said relatively little when he learned how many of his running rules I was breaking, and how often.  I (stupidly) kept telling him how well my knees were doing, that I wasn't having to ice or Advil, that I kept signing up for 5ks (and wasn't planning on stopping.)  I also (again, stupidly) let him read my blog on intensity. And I asked him for this, to give me more, because what I was doing wasn't enough. (Really, really, stupid...)

But apparently, if my knees were fine to run, they were also strong enough to squat.  And we're not talking the half-squats that most gym-goers do (yup, got that lecture.) We're talkin bad dance moves low.  And we're not talking just squats, because a leg party just wouldn't be complete without also doing the leg press, and lots and lots of set-your-legs-on-fire calf work.

I survived the He-who-trains-death-by-squats leg day... for 22 minutes. I'm not positive I will be able to get off the couch tomorrow-- which is unfortunate since, being a preacher, people notice if I don't show up on Sundays.  On the downside, I thought I might actually die.  On the upside, I "got" to practice intensity.  And my knees were fine.  Apparently, this is what I've been working toward for the last year--because this is what leg days are supposed to look like.  Funny, I thought I was working toward being a 135lb She-Ra, but you know, having quads as big as a linebacker's is good too.

There's a scene in the move, The Matrix,  where the female protagonist, Trinity, is being chased by agents. She falls down and looks at the door, and says, "Get up, Trinity.  Just Get Up!" Some times you have to say that to yourself.  Sometimes outloud.   Today, that scene played in my mind over and over.  It will play again tomorrow as I try to walk. It will play next time I do that workout.  It will play until I don't need it anymore.   But, then again, when will I ever not need that scene? Isn't life just an exercise in getting up, of looking inside and drawing out just a little more than you thought you had?

I wish I had more than 22 minutes in me.  I'm disappointed.  But it's been a long time since I've worked that hard in the gym-- and having done so felt good.  I left it all in the gym (except my lunch, which I kept with me.)  I needed the reminder.  I won't need it again soon.

Get up, Trinity.  Just Get UP!

P.S. Assuming I can still walk, one day I'm gonna be able to wear this shirt... sadly, I might actually wear it. In public. With Spandex.


He-who-trains is all about the mental imagery when he wants to make a memorable point. He lectured me about intensity for a while, but apparently I wasn't getting it.  Until he came up to me and said... well, uh... what he said isn't entirely appropriate since he's a little crass, but the idea was "I want you working so hard that your face looks like you're *passing* a cactus."  I can't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure he made some equally graphic sound effects to go with his demonstration face. Ok, ok... file that under TMI.

Graphic though it was, I've not forgotten.  Of course, no one else at the gym has either.  There's never a day that someone doesn't reference cactus passing.  Some days, I'm really afraid that the universal parent wisdom is true, and that my face my actually get stuck that way. That would be truly unfortunate. The cactus passing face isn't pretty.

But what's less pretty is the being face of mediocrity. I've kinda been all about the comfort-zone, and maybe didn't realize that applied to more than just the gym. It's been my path: do what's safe, easy and known. I'm the mild salsa kinda person because anything with too much sizzle can't be good.  I've been thinking about intensity a lot lately.  I was at a writer's retreat a few weeks ago, and one of our phrases was "Bring the heat!" Of course, that's easier to apply to words than it is to life. 

He-who-trains has ruined cacti for me. But had he not given me this overly graphic image, I would've probably pranced along (ok, to be fair, I don't think I've ever pranced...but I could start) in my comfort zone-- which is decidedly not where progress happens.  Or as the graphic floating the interwebs puts it:

The problem is that this is true.  About everything. 

It's true about weight loss.  It's true about becoming the person you want to be.  It's true about living as passionately and creatively as you imagine yourself living. 

People, for the most part, are comfort zone dwellers.  We make decisions based solely on maintaining homeostastis, and not causing waves, or throwing a proverbial wrench in any works, or not fixing what's not broken. We keep the same style of clothes we've worn for decades (and label ourselves "classic", even though "retro" might be a better fit.) We keep the same job--even if we wake up growling every single day for years.  We do things that no longer suit us, just because someone expects us to.  As a pastor, I see it in the church. We hold on, franctically, to the way things have always been, and seek to "maintain" at all costs.  We're afraid to want something badly enough to have to truly pour our blood, sweat and fears into it.

There's a line that says "What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." I'm tired of comfortable, wheel-spinning, insanity.  I choose intensity.  Even if I have to make a really ugly face.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

So this happened...

This was my senior prom. I was a size 12.

Since then, I gained four dress sizes and fifty pounds. (Seriously? How did I not notice? Or have the energy to do something?)

Thirteen years later, the dress is a little big.

Guess I'll have to find something else to wear on my cruise...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Witches and Promises

Since being finally cleared to run a few months ago, I've started running a lot.  My knee is cooperating, with surprisingly little ice or Advil-- and it's cheaper than any vice worth having.  Double plus, it's cheaper than therapy.  But running has sort of become my escape.  It's my time to think and listen to bad teenybopper music (which I pretend makes me hip.  But maybe "hip" people have a better word for that? I wouldn't know...) Running is one of those things that's Saving My Life right now.

But it also reminds me that in some (many?) ways, I am my father's daughter. My dad is super competitive-- whether in his racecar (yeah, he took up being a racecar driver at age 62... that's how he rolls) or on his bike, he's gonna make sure he does whatever he can to make sure that he isn't passed.  Usually running is a solo activity, which works fine for me.  But a church member has invited me to be her partner in crime, and we've taken to doing 5K's together.  Her husband even waits at the finish line, and cheers for me as loudly as he cheers for her.  He takes pictures of me huffing and puffing across the finish line. That's kinda awesome.   But even though I do the races for the fun of doing them, not because I want to win (umm... definitely still a ways away from that being a reasonable goal!), I still don't like to be passed. I still run a little faster than I probably should.

Someone told me to pick a person that is just a little faster than I am, and work to pass them.  A few weeks ago, I did a race called "Night of the Ghoul" and the whole time, I followed a witch that I just couldn't pass. No really.  A witch.  In a tutu...

The whole time, I was thinking "Just beat the witch. BEAT the witch!" but I never did.  And she was several age brackets older than I am, as if being beaten by a witch in a tutu wasn't bad enough.

She was at yesterday's race too (though perfectly normal and not witchy.)  She's actually pretty nice.  But she was just ahead of me again.  And again, unpassable. I talked to my church friend, and realized that my friend wanted to beat the witch's time too. They are in the same age bracket, and the witch has now twice beaten her as well.  So my friend and I made a pact-- that we were going to work hard enough and get fast enough that both of us beat the witch.  It's nothing personal, but being beaten by people in tutus is not acceptable.

Yesterday was a hard race.  It was COLD.  I walked from my house to the greenway to get warmed up.  I dressed well, but it was cold.  I had a hard time breathing, and for the first time in a year and a half, I had shin splints.  All I could think about were those months when it hurt to even walk, but I wouldn't stay off them. (I wrote about the race where I almost crawled here) I kept pushing and pushing.  I had to be taught how to help them heal-- and it invovled giving up some of my favorite cute shoes.  It was almost worth it to be able to walk without crying.

When I started running again, I made a promise-- I wasn't going to hurt myself.  If my knee was fussy, I'd walk or wait for another day. If something felt off, I was going to take it slow and do only as much as I could without hurting something.  I guess we make promises so that we have something on which to hold when things are hard.  As everyone and their brother and dog was passing me yesterday, I wanted to run through the pain.  I wanted to be bad and tough.  I still wanted to beat the witch.  But I remembered my promise-- and I fought hard to keep it.  Today it's ice and Advil-- and despite it being a gorgeous blue sky day, no running.

Maybe it is indeed possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Or maybe I realize I'll never be able to beat the witch if I'm hurt ;-)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Movin on UP!

So... two three things.

He-who-trains said, tactfully, "You spend too much time sitting on your [butt]." Well, duh.  I'm a pastor-- pretty well qualifies as a sedentary job.  You know, except for those times when I'm running around screaming (or trying not too) or those times when I'm doubling as a fire fighter.  But mostly sedentary. I should've known better than to ask "What do you want me to do about it?" Of course, he had a solution: Don't sit down. All day.  I thought he was kidding-- he was not. So he threw down the gauntlet.  I made it all day Monday and today (except for lunch). I'm standing at my kitchen counter as I write this. Yesterday I had a meeting and thought it'd be weird to stand-- but maybe I can do that later.  I'm definitely more tired than I would be at the end of a sitting day. I suppose I'm burning more calories.  Interestingly, though, I feel like I'm thinking more clearly. I'm more creative.  (And I'm sure I'm making people confused as they walk by and see me standing.)

Maybe those things (at least the serious ones) are related to food.  Since returning from my writer's retreat, I've been trying to mimic my eating there.  I'm eating a lot of spinach, both in green smoothies and in large salads. I'm trying to eat from the rainbow, and even eating grapefruit.  I don't hate it as much as I once did...  I've completely dropped dairy (except for the creamer in my coffee-- and that can't have much lactose.) I miss the yogurt and cottage cheese and milk, but my stomach bothers me less, and I feel like I have more energy.  I'm going to drop gluten soon.  I long ago realized that white bread was a trigger food that made me want more and more-- and made me crave sugar, but I'm also wondering if maybe I'd feel better if I dropped it all together. I'm eating an actual breakfast of eggs and meat, and that's progress because I've never liked breakfast... at least not at breakfast time. I'm interested to see what my body does with some of these changes.

In a complete show of nerdiness, I joined the UP movement.  UP is a wearable fitness tracker that looks like a small wristband.  It tracks steps, and gives me more data than I ever wanted to know about myself. It can tell me exactly how long I was deeply asleep and how long I was lightly asleep and how many times I woke up during the night. It watches my sleep cycles and I can set an alarm to wake me-- only it will wake me up when I am sleeping lightly instead of soundly--and do it within a 20 minute window of my requested wakeup time.  It has the capabilities of syncing with popular apps like Gym-pact and Runkeeper, and with wireless scales like those by Withings.  One of the things I love most is its food tracker.  Finally-- an app that I can scan labels of foods I eat, and it compiles them.  It also has an extensive database of non-barcoded items. I can see my entire day by steps and nutrtional information and sleep.  I'm one of those people who was well motivated by incentive charts-- and couldn't stand to have a box that didn't get a star in it. So setting a goal of 10,000 steps (more later) will make sure I hit 10,000 steps...even if I'm on a treadmill at 10 p.m.  It's nerdy I know. But, maybe that's ok, if it makes keeping track fun.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Body Spirit Connection

"I will feed you things that nourish your creativity.  I will feed you really healthy things, but they'll be delicious, so I hope you won't mind too much." I'm at a writer's workshop at Whidbey Island, and that's what the chef said to us as we started the week.

She's done just that-- beautiful displays of food that is mostly locally grown, and whole.  Nothing is processed. A lot of things I've never heard of, but have been surprised at how wonderful they taste. Things I would've never eaten on my own.

I've been thinking a lot about what she said about foods that nourish creativity.  I'm not sure what that means exactly. I've read in other places that too much sugar can dull creativity, because it increases dopamine levels, which in turn acts as a numbing agent.  It's that "food coma" effect we all sort of know. Here's an article if you're interested:  Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist's Way and The Write Diet, suggests that food can become a distraction to our creativity. She says, "Food is a seditive. We use it to block our feelings of discomfort. We use it to block our feelings, period. Rather than buckle down and accomplish the difficult piece of work that looms just ahead, we scoop up a snack and tell ourselves it can wait until tomorrow." 

I'm not sure how much of this is food related, but I do feel clearer and more articulate. I wake up with words, and a powerful need to write-- which though I love words, is not something I've felt in a long time. I have dreams that speak powerfully. Perhaps it is as much the environment.  Perhaps its the quiet or time set aside to just write, but I wonder if a little bit of it has to do with the food. I wonder if maybe not the specific food I've been eating, but the way I've been eating, is functioning as a seditive or creative blocker.

I've been thinking about going Paleo anyway-- trying to get over this blasted hump of a plateau.  But now I'm thinking more about it, maybe in a different way. These last few days, my skin somehow looks better (or maybe the lighting here is bad?) and I feel better. I feel more aware of my body, and less sluggish.  I guess this is silly, but I feel somehow more whole and connected?  If I do, in fact, want to write, I need to adopt a lifestyle that will help me do that, but not at the expense of my other fitness and life goals.  I'm going to talk to He-who-trains when I get back and see what he thinks.  Will I still be able to lift and run if I adopt this lifestyle? Will I have enough energy and be able to take in enough protein? Even if Paleo isn't right for me, maybe I can find a way to incorporate more whole foods into my life. 

How much does intake foodwise affect outgo productivity wise? I'm curious to see what comes out of this experiment. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Worship with your Whole Body

When I was in Africa, I learned what it was like to worship with my whole body--clapping and dancing and singing and praying.  I would go home sore and exhausted, but having worshipped in a very lovely sort of way.  And as a seminarian who was questioning everything and stressed out to the point of breaking, I also Found God in Spandex as I trained for a triathlon. (I think that was my first published piece.) So the idea made perfect sense to me when I read a colleague's blog "Worship in Running Shoes".  The idea was to find a way to worship as she was running. Her playlist rocks (and definitely jazzed up my itunes account.) Then a fellow RevGal undertook the challenge here.  Her playlist rocks too.

So, it's been a hard day for a lot of reasons and I'm supposed to be doing 1,000 things but just really want to clear my head with a run, so this seems like the next best thing.  You know, procrastination helps relieve stress.

Here's the gauntlet that was thrown by Shelli (who was linked above.)
  Heads up, though; all of these songs are secular, or Christian-y (Christian-ish?). What I'm saying is if you're looking for the WOW Worship running mix, this is not for you. But I think as Christians we should be intentional about identifying the sacred in what might not be overtly called "godly". My criteria is pretty simple: (1) You have to be able to run to it. (2) It has to have the capacity to point you to God, even if you have to be a little creative. (3) No references to pimpin', guns, or anything that may sound like making out with Jesus (Ewwww, yuck, no! This is not the place to come for your Jesus is my Boyfriend fix.) You'll have to put your imaginations into it, and your hearts . . . and your feet, but here goes . . . - 

Alright, here's my whole body worship. (Side note-- my running, worshipping colleagues are much more hip than I am.  Painful realization: I listen to music that is both old and slow--but sometimes that's how my running feels.)

Prelude—We didn’t start the Fire—Billy Joel
Call to Worship—There is a Meeting Here Tonight  Cantus
Confession Sin Wagon
Assurance of Pardon Closer to FIne
 Prayer for Illumination—Walking on Sunshine

Born to Fly
Learning to Fly-- Petty
Graceland—Paul Simon
Ants Marching—Dave Matthews
Don’t Stop Believing-- Journey

Affirmation of Faith  How Sweet it is to be Loved by You—James Taylor
Prayers—Prayin for Daylight—Rascall Flatts
Offering – Fight Like a Girl -- Bombshel
Benediction  Send Me on My Way—Rusted Root

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The "Don't Be Stupid" Plan

I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. It's my bar of chocolate. Give it to me now. (Verucca Salt, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

If I ever have to pick another trainer, I'm picking one who is not also my friend, one that I look in the eyes and say "I did everything you said.  I have no idea why I blew out my knees." I'd pick one I could lie to.  When he-who-trains gave me more specific instructions on running (don't pick up the pace, don't do hills, don't decrease your recovery time or increase your total time, don't go above 60-70% of what you can do, do keep it easy, etc) I'm sure he already knew that I was going to fight him on it. Before I could get in many argumentative words, he (rightfully) said "That's what you always do.  You feel good for five minutes and then you want to do as much as you can as hard as you can. You do it when you've been sick too. You only think of right now.  But your goal is to be healthy." I didn't tell him that I've pretty much already broken all of those things or that I was planning on doing a 5k in the fall, but that was pre-getting busted, so we'll just chalk that up to momentary, overexcited brain cramp.

I have a life's-short-so-make-it-count philosophy. When I'm committed to something (though that part doesn't always happen quickly), I want it done yesterday.  Radical short haircut. Painting the bedroom walls. Buying a new car.  Or, you know. Losing 90 lbs. Running a marathon.

I'm still fighting this stress induced/wacky hormones plateau, and maybe it's making me lose my brain. I'm getting so frustrated, that it wouldn't take much for me to get stupid. (Or maybe I already have?) I am always fighting the need for harder and more... and maybe a little bit of go until you have nothing left. I've regressed to the point where I'm having a hard time listening to my body.  I don't want to rest or heal. I'm back to scowling when He-who-trains tells me to take it easy. (Which is maybe why I have a nagging shoulder thing. I spent two weeks scowling instead of resting.)

But what is it I really want? Is it as "simple" as being in a lovely 135lb body? Is it as common as being able to wear the clothes I want to wear? No, it isn't.  What I want is bigger than that.  I want to be feel fantastic.  I want to be free to do what my heart wants to do without any lip from my body. I want to be healthy and strong through all my life stages.

So today was supposed to be a running day.  And I'm only "supposed" to get two a week.   And I was looking forward to it.  But my body said "Don't. Nuhuh. Sit your behind down and quit gettin on my last nerve." (And He-who-trains gave me The Look. Twice.)  I did some catching up for work. I've got on cozy pjs and will quickly fall asleep to Grays Anatomy on Netflix.  Even though I've made the commitment before and broken it, I'm gonna try again.  Long term health, not short term fun.  I'm signing back up for the "Don't Be Stupid" plan.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


When I started working with He-who-trains, I made a hard promise. I would give up running for 8 weeks so that I could strengthen my legs enough that my knees didn't hurt.  That was 10 months ago. We made a deal--he'd be my trainer, but I wanted him to train me to be a runner.  

And I've been putting in my gym time.  I didn't much want to lift, but after some convincing, I began to like it.  I've smiled at how "the people" at the gym have become "my people."  But I've still wanted to run.  Until today, He-who-trains has had a no running decree--and has made enough (joking?) threats that I didn't push it.  I nagged, begged, whined, and made puppy dog eyes, and he finally gave his, at least stopped making threats against my well-being.

Of course, he gave specific instructions.  One lap walking, one lap running for an hour or until my knee started hurting. Five miles later, I say Boo-yah! It wasn't fast or pretty, but boo-yah nonetheless. I'm not naive enough to believe that I'll suddenly become a runner and have no more problems.  I know I'm going to have to take it slow.  And ice, lots of ice.  And might as well buy stock in glucosamine and advil, but that's ok. 

I'm itching to run right now.   To be tired in that way, that somehow different from weight-lifting tired.  To have the time alone to not think-- because running for me is sort of like playing pool-- it demands enough of me that I can't think about other things. I won't give up my gym time, as I don't want to degrade the muscle I've worked hard to build, but this is a nice addition.  I'm pretty sure that my pace tonight disqualifies my time as a "run", but that's ok too.  I can start with a jalk.

At the four mile mark, when I was feeling really good, the Indigo Girls came on my ipod. They sang "Closer to Fine", and my head and heart joined them.  For tonight, anyway, that's my song. 

Kim 1, Knees 0.  Booyah! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Remember who you are...

He-who-trains once told me about getting up from Christmas dinner (after eating everything he wanted, apparently including a good sized bit of pineapple upside down cake) and going to the gym for two hours. My initial reaction was "Why in the world would you do that? That's just ridiculous. What's wrong with you?" But what he said has stuck with me.  "I needed to remind myself who I was, and what I was about."

Today I understood. My afternoon tasks went long, and I was rushed and overwhelmed.  I didn't have time for my usual pre-workout routine.  And I'm stressed about a writing deadline that looms. (Which, of course, explains why I'm blogging.) Everything told me that today was a "Well, the world just got the best of me but I'll do better tomorrow" sort of day. It wouldn't have been the end of the world if I missed one workout, but coupled with the other one workouts I've missed lately, I realized I was starting a nasty habit.  So I slammed a protein shake, threw on gym clothes and ran out the door before I could change my mind, and rationalize more butt sitting. It was actually a good workout, but even if it wasn't, it was the best thing I could've done today.  It cleared out some of the stuff weighing on my brain which enabled me to be a little more productive.  It gave me a few minutes with "my people" where I could laugh and cut up and be a person away from the church. But more than that, I reminded myself who I was and what I was about.

I've been guilty of forgetting lately. If I let myself forget enough, I'll quickly turn into the apathetic person I once was. That person was 90 lbs overweight, too tired to do anything, plagued by asthma and bad knees, and had a crappy sense of self-esteem.

But I am not that person any more, so it's worth remembering who I am.

I am not someone whose priorities will be set by a nagging to-do list.  I am not someone who will let self care slide so that I can be more or do more.  I am someone whose health matters. I am someone who has goals and will achieve them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Too much of nothing

"Too much of nothing
Can make a man a liar,
It can cause one man to sleep on nails
It can cause others to eat fire.
Ev'rybody's doin' somethin',
I heard it in a dream,
But when there's too much of nothing,
It just makes a fella mean." (Bob Dylan)

What is there to say when nothing happens? I've not lost a pound in five months. (Ok, to be fair, I am shrinking.  I wear size M shirts for the first time in probably a decade. People are noticing.  A dimple that I never knew I had is showing up when I smile just the right way. But the scale is resolutely refusing to move.) Frustrated doesn't even come close to describing it.  And any honest way of describing how I feel wouldn't be appropriate to write here. He-who-trains has tried what feels like bajillions of things to make my body snap out of this.  But there is an ugly truth that neither of us really wants to accept.

I'm stressed out.  And yeah, I got the Cortisol-is-nasty-business lecture several months ago. I did the research to see how it really affects the body. He-who-trains warned me that I may not be able to lose weight until I get the stress under control. But what I don't know is what to do about it.  Work stress isn't going away in the forseeable future.  I've been burning the candle at both ends lately, because I'm spending so much time putting out fires that I can't get my job done.  Nevermind that I'm on a writing deadline (though thankfully, that deadline is fast approaching, so at least that stress will clear off soon.) 

But here's my part in this.  My own commitment to self care is waning the last few weeks.  Due to sickness, and busyness that has gotten out of control, I've missed more workouts than I've made the last two weeks.  I've eaten later than I should, and not as well as I could have. I've not had a true day off in weeks.  

And my attitude is crap.  People tell me I look great, and I immediately say something about being stuck. Thoughts of "it doesn't seem to matter what I do, so I might as well eat what I want" are actually getting room in my head. I managed to resist the pizza we had at church the other night, but it was a genuine struggle for the first time in months. The truth is that at least some part of me has begun to doubt that I can do this. (The other part of me wants to eat mass quantities of Oreos.) And at some point, that must become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

I said some words to my session the other night that have stepped on my toes all week. I said, "You want better than this, so choose better.  Make it better."  I want better than whiny and doubtful. I want better than sick and always keyed up.  I want better than this body. I want better than to feel like I'm being conquered instead of doing the conquering.  But if I want better, then I have to be committed to making it better.  I have to put on my big girl pants and grow up and handle my stuff. 

I feel like Scarlett O'Hara as she angrily faced a hopeless past and decided that she was done being the victim.  She shook her fist at the sky and said, "With God as my witness, I shall never go hungry again."  And she took the steps that made that true. 

I can't eliminate the stress yet, but I can learn how to handle it.  I can't make my body stop throwing a temper tantrum, but I can fix my attitude on the situation.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What's Saving Your Life?

Well, since fellow RevGal  (and generally awesome sort) MaryAnn McKibben Dana threw out the question, and since I've been thinking a lot about it anyway, and also because I've been needing (I mean, seriously, needing) to write something (anything, really), I thought this would be a good exercise.

Preacher and writer Barbara Brown Taylor often poses the question, "What's saving your life right now?" It's an open-ended question, leaving room for both the mundane and the big. It's been a hellish few weeks (months?) in lots of ways, but in some other ways, surprisingly affirming and grace-filled.  It's been an eyes-wide-open time, and a just-hunker-down-and-do-the-best-you-can time.  It's simultaneously been exhausting and refreshing. And it's been a time where I'm sort of acutely aware that I'm being held, and that things both beyond and bigger than me are saving my life.

In no particular order, here are my life preservers.

Writing I've not been blogging, but I have been writing. Not big or impressive things, but I'm reflecting on life these days. I'm writing something every day.  And I'm finding that my creativity is beginning to flow again.  (The Artist's Way has been pretty helpful at various places, and I'm picking that back up again.  Additionally, the author has written another book that I'm digging right now, The Write Diet, but that's a post for another day.) Writing is both discipline and gift for me right now.  A looming workshop sponsored by the Collegeville Institute is giving me a project about which to think.

Short, Sassy Hair Seriously. In the heat of summer, it's awesome. But more than that, I feel like a slightly sleeker, classier, less frizzy version of myself. It's forcing me to get up and to actually make the effort to fix my hair-- a new thing for this former step-out-of-the-shower-and-go curly girl.  And once I've made that effort, it seems silly not to make the effort on the rest of me.  I'm dressing better, and look a little more like a professional and a little less like a muppet. And oddly, I stand up straighter.

Strong Women I've been gifted, especially lately, with a lot of strong women who are becoming a community for me. The local ones are the ones who show up with fun things just to make me smile, who offer to off my detractors, and who love me anyway. They also make me snort unattractively on a regular basis. But there's also a profound sense of community with a group of writing Sherevs.

Paul Simon Every year when my family went from Tennessee to Florida, we listened to Paul Simon's Graceland. It's kind of become music for the journey (whatever the journey is...).  And it's on repeat as I go about my day.

The Gym It's become about community as much as it was ever about working out.  I've been too exhausted to focus on pushing myself as hard as I should (though I'm ready again... starts today.) but just being there with the same people who have the same goals and struggles has been a huge help. Besides, it's an outlet-- which I guess keeps me from being so mean.

Purple Fingers and Toes I guess this is dumb, but it makes me wildly happy.  Since becoming a pastor, I've chosen sedate and professional colors--or at least made certain to remove my wild polish before Sundays.  I was in need of some pampering on Friday, so I got a rare mani/pedi. The color that grabbed my attention was BRIGHT purple. So I did it.  And on Sunday, when I needed a little oomph in my life, the purple polish made me smile.  But it's more than that.  It's a letting go of the need to appear to be a certain way.  It's an embracing of who I am, instead of worrying about what people will think.

Real Friends Who know, and get it--who get me.  Who will ask if I'm alright, and not accept crap answers. Who challenge me to stand strongly, but who wrap me into a hug when I'm not strong enough to stand at all.  Who defend me if I need it, who push me if I'm not pushing myself.

Bella My 5 year old, 40 lb mutt lapdog.  She has this wonderfully joyful personality--and whether or not people agree that this is possible, she totally smiles.  She makes me smile.  And she makes me get out of the house and walk and breathe. We have entire conversations (ok, I do most of the talking, but she always nods in agreement... before slyly trying to drink my coffee.) And she rocks as a guard dog.

Text messaging Some of my techy church folks are super texters, and they get that I'm sort of in a place.  Yet they want to love me and support me.  So they send me rockstar texts before I preach or at random other times.

Hammock Napping Sunshine, gentle rocking--maybe a book.  Nuff said.

Grilling So let me just say it.  In all this revamping I'm doing, I've become a grill master. Porkchops, shrimp, chicken, steaks and maybe a fish if I get really brave. Love the smell of charcoal, and cooking outside without having to heat up my kitchen.  But more than that, I love that I did something new and wound up loving it.

I'm sure that while this is an expansive list, it's not exhaustive. A lot of things are saving my life right now.  And I'm able to notice and appreciate them, small and trivial though they may be.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Vacation Re-vamp

Note to self: Do not ever, under any circumstances, discuss upcoming beach vacation with your trainer.  (Unless, of course, you've been plateaued for weeks and you actually want to lose weight.)  But definitely don't expect that you can talk to him and do vacation as you've always done it.  "I know you're going to want to drink", He-who-trains said. "Yes, and your point would be? It's the beach. It's a week without responsibilities.  Everyone else will be.  It's the BEACH, for crying outloud." That's what I thought.  What I said was, "Probably so."  Which, of course, led He-who-trains to say, "You can have a light beer. Or two ounces of a blush wine, before or with dinner.  No fruity drinks." First of all, I can't politely express my feelings over beer-- and I cannot imagine that making it "light" would improve its taste any.  I'm cool with the wine part, but does he know exactly how much two ounces isn't?  But seriously, No fruity drinks?? Now, I'm not a girly-girl by any stretch of the imagination-- and  I like a good old man drink (Jack and Coke, White Russian, etc) as much as the next non girly-girl.  But I love a good, brightly colored, multi-alcoholed, umbrella bearing, fruity drink the size of my face.  Not for the alcohol content-- I'm getting too old to find feeling like crap appealing-- but I like the taste-- and the exoticness-- and the way it makes me long to put my toes in the sand.

I tried to suck it up.  I told He-who-trains that I could follow his stingy alcohol policies.  But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I'd be tempted if I didn't come  up with a reasonable alternative. So I did some research. First I looked at drinks I might actually order.  For a 3oz (and let's be honest, drinks the size of my face are probably not 3 ounces...) Rum Runner, there are 140 calories and 36 grams of carbohydrates. (Meaning the at least twelve ounces that I've probably actually drunk in one sitting comes in at 560 calories and 144 grams of carbohydrates.  That's a little over a third of my daily calories, and almost 1.5 times my daily allotment of carbohydrates.)  Ok, so at least I can understand the "No Fruity Drinks" decree.  And wow--how many times have I ordered the drink without knowing how bad it was?  Shudder.

Ok, so I thought maybe I could do a girl beer-- which has another less polite name.  But we're talking Mike's Hard Lemonade or Seagrams coolers or Smirnoff Ice or something.  I found a Smirnoff Peach Belini cooler that looked pretty good.  But alas. One bottle has 220 calories and 36 grams of carbohydrates. I could actually eat two whole delightfully delicious Reese's cups (the regular size ones, NOT the minis!)  for less than that, plus with the Reese's I'd get some protein.

I tried the Daily's "Alcohol is in it. Just freeze and squeeze" pouches, which look lovely and fruity and come in wonderful flavors like "Blue Hawaiian." I almost bought every flavor they had.  They're kind of like Capri Sun for grownups-- and bonus for the packaging that lets you take them even into "No glass allowed" territory like pools and beaches.  In one pouch-- a serving-- there are as much as 280 calories and around 50 grams of carbohydrates.  Ok. No Dice.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. I headed to the local ABC store as I remembered the new "Skinny Girl" alcohol that all the girl mags rave about.  I saw "Skinny Girl Mojito" and since I love Mojitos in the summer, that seemed like a good bet. A 1.5 oz serving has only 32 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates. Best I can tell, a traditional mojito contains anywhere from 170-230 calories.  And of course, I don't make them with club soda. (BLECH!) So to add (I'm guessing) 4 oz of Ginger Ale adds at least another 40 calories, and 32 grams of carbohydrates.

So, I grabbed some mint out of my yard, and added it to the Skinny Girl mojito, and then added two ounces of diet ginger ale... and voila! A 32 calorie, zero carbohydrate icy glass of heaven.  Or at least a workable compromise.  Is it as good as a "real" mojito? No. But I can have some fun and not worry that I'll sabotage myself by drinking my calories.

Of course, that only handles one of He-who-trains vacation decrees.  When I explained to him that we eat pancakes every day (and this is probably the only time of year I eat them, but wow I look forward to them), he "compromised".  On ONE day, I could have (2) 2in pancakes.  He clearly didn't understand the family love of pancakes.  We've kicked people out of the family for not eating pancakes.  No really.
So.  Next challenge:  Find a workable, non cardboard tasting, low-carb option for pancakes.  But who am I kidding? Pancakes are really just an excuse to eat peanut butter.  And I can do that with a spoon!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Taking it to the next level

He-who-trains is to trying to kill me. Again.

Of course, I'm grateful, because I know he is trying to help me break out of this (nasty, awful, growl-inducing, whine worthy) plateau.  This latest "Force-Kim's-body-to-quit-pitching-a-tempter-tantrum" program involves two days of a whole-body workout, which is considerably amped up from the one or two muscle group workouts I was doing. But that's not the most fun part of my gym week. Because for the other three days, I'm on the bike.  The idea of sitting on my butt and having some time to think sounded lovely, but of course that's not what He-who-trains had in mind.  So it's thirty seconds of a hard sprint, and a minute of soft pedal recovery, for twenty cycles. I was pretty excited when he first told me about it, because hey! You can do anything for thirty seconds, right? And besides, it sounded a lot easier than the four minute sprints and two minutes of recovery that I've done for forty-five minutes. Or three minute sprints and two minute recovery that I'd do for ninety minutes. But let me be honest. When you're only sprinting for thirty seconds, you're supposed to be able to exert a lot more power and speed.  That thirty seconds, short though it sounds, is probably the closest thing to hell I've ever experienced.

I've gotten to the point where I'm talking to myself. I learned the "put-your-head-down-and-shut-out-the-world-and-push-as-hard-as-you-can" lesson several months ago. I've learned how to go to "that place"and dig deep to find reserves of strength and energy.  But now it's not enough. Because every single time the clock tells me it's time to sprint again, I want to quit.  I want to cheat and go a little easier -- or "accidentally" forget that it's time to sprint. So every single sprint requires a pep talk, which goes something like this. "You want the body more than you want to be comfortable. You want to be healthy. Fight for what you want.  Get mad. Use it. Dontgiveupdontgiveupdontyoudarequitonthisyoukeepgoingitsonlythirtysecondsgogogogo."

Every now and then, someone out of the group who has become my community will get on the bike next to me. As I get tired, they will begin to cheer me on.  That rocks to have people like that.  But it's funny, because while I'm vaguely aware of what they're doing, I can't really hear them. My head is down, I'm blasting my music as loud as it will go, and I'm making the ugliest face you've ever seen.  I'm in a place far away.  He-who-trains is always talking to me about taking it to the next level in the gym.  The next level, I'm realizing, is the place where I've learned to push myself to give it all that I have--not because someone is cheering me on, but because this is the thing I want for me. The thing I want most.

I saw this shirt the other day while I was shopping, and I should've gotten it.  Because when I look in the mirror, that's the question I ask myself. (Yeah, yeah-- I'm sure this is meant as a snarky, trash-talk thing-- but there's no one in the gym that I need to trash talk to. I don't care what "they" are doing!) When I leave the gym, dripping with sweat and too tired to move, I have to answer that person in the mirror. I always want to answer "Yeah, that's all I had. It wasn't easy, but I'm willing to work for what I want. I did it for me."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spend It

"When you get to the last set, if you feel like you have anything left, I want you to give it everything you have.  You leave everything in the gym."  That's what He-who-trains said yesterday, as he was taking me through my new, total body (i.e. "You'll be so sore you can't move tomorrow, and so tired, you'll go to bed before the sun sets") weight lifting program.

The last several months, I've been doing workouts that have target 2-3 muscle groups.  For compound motions (the ones that involve more than one joint moving), I've generally been doing 6 reps.  But yesterday, He-who-trains instructed me to move up to 12 reps (or 20 on a few exercises.)  My body had gotten pretty comfortable with the "old" way of doing things, but He-who-trains reminded me that that's what the body does.  It adapts.  In order to change, it continually needs to be challenged and kept off balance.  And challenged it was.  By time I finished my warm up rotation, my muscles were already quivering-- and I knew that after another four rotations, I was going to be toast.  On the last rotation, everything was a struggle.  It was a struggle, sometimes, to even move the weight to the starting position. But I wasn't going to quit.  I knew that I still had it in me, even if I had to dig pretty deep to find it.

He-who-trains happened to be standing behind me on one of these last exercises and saw me fighting to finish.  He said, "Get mad, Kim.  Get mad." I was tired enough that I may be making this last part up, but what I heard is "Use it. Use your anger to push you through." In a slow motion nanosecond as I held the weight, I saw my frustration at not losing for the last ten weeks.  I saw my anger at my body for throwing a temper fit.  I saw my need to conquer.   In the end, I was one rep short of my goal.  But I knew I had given everything I had to give.  I know that next time, I'll push until I make it.  I now know the meaning of the saying on my well-worn Tae Kwon Do shirt: Go Hard or Go Home.

But in a world that says, "Play it safe" and "Take it easy" and "Don't overdo it" and "Save some for later" that seems counterintuitive.  You never know what you may need to do the rest of the day-- doesn't it make some sense to reserve some energy? That's what we do with our finances, the love we have to give, our wisdom and even our very selves.  We save some, just in case we need it.

Several years ago, I had a preaching professor quote this from Annie Dillard.

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
 She was talking about writing sermons, about saving that "brilliant" illustration for later, but the quote has always stuck with me--because it applies to so much.

Whatever it is I have-- whatever gifts and passions and energies I have-- I want to use them all, boldly and fearlessly, without regard for what I might need later. Newspaper columnest Erma Bombeck said, "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say 'I used everything you gave me.'"

I've learned a lot of life lessons in the gym, and here's a new one for the list:  Spend it.  Energy and fire do no good sitting in reserve.  Use them to fuel your drive to achieve.