Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Checking In - September!

What an interesting month it's been! (Such a useful word, "Interesting.")I've had the opportunity to learn a lot about "over-goaling" this month and I'm actually spending a few days re-assessing. Far from being a sign of failure, I've learned this year that those times are crucial to success. I took on too many goals and put too much pressure on myself to excel at all of them all the time, and it's okay to acknowledge that and correct it. Forward motion is progress and sometimes that forward motion is pitching a fit and declaring that there's just no way that all of this can get done right now and, if fact, declaring Bill the Cat to be my spirit animal!! (Pant, pant, sigh, gasp.)


But where's that leave me?

Well, the "good books" and "good movies" challenges are back-burnered right now. With work on the Babylon 5 book heating up already, I found myself overwhelmed and teary at the prospect of doing those things to mark a title off an arbitrary list. I'll get to them, but right now isn't the season for that. I've seen plenty of movies and read plenty of books, but not the ones on "the list" and that's just dandy.

Zone cleaning is sort of in the same boat - it's not a struggle to keep up with my morning and evening routines, but much of anything beyond that is proving to be monumental. I keep the book with the zones out and I read my daily challenge each day and sometimes it gets done and sometimes something else gets done. You know what? The house is still standing and remains in better order than it used to be.

The budgeting challenge hits full-force this month. As I wrote over Labor Day weekend, we had car repair bills that turned into "we can't resurrect her this time," which meant a certain amount of yike! We're mobile again and just fine, but those were not expenses were were prepared for. It's going to be a tough end of the year on that score, no doubt about it, but it'll all work out and hey - we're doing all of this so that soon (on the cosmic scale, anyway), money won't be the issue that it is now. Delayed gratification. Can't say as I like it too much.

Now to report of the 5K challenge, which I've folded into the first-stage-of-wrapping-up "You Gonna Finish That?" Challenge. This was designed to make me hard-core accountable for a number of habits, including diet, exercise, and self-care. (Remember what I said about too many goals?) I used SparkPeople as my diet and exercise tracker which I liked since it had exercise videos and recipes that linked directly to the tracker. I don't like tracking, although I'll admit it's useful to see patterns (I eat too many carbs, for example. Mostly "good" carbs, like whole grains and the carbs found in fruit, but still - that was eye-opening). I made sacrifices in terms of sweets, made sure to drink at least two liters of water per day (yep, I know where every bathroom is throughout my college campus), aimed for hard exercise at least three times a week, and have tried to get more sleep. 

Right at a month in, I can report that, while I still don't like tracking, knowing that I have to do it has made it easier to say "no" to some bad choices. While I'm trying to not give the scale too much authority (I still stink at that, by the way), I'm down four pounds. I've also logged 13 run/walk workouts this month for a total of 31-and-a-touch miles, with 22 of those miles being at a jobble or better. For someone who was staggering around a church parking lot seven months ago, that ain't too shabby! So I'm going to keep this challenge going another month and let's see what we see.

What I really want to add in now is more attention spent on taking better care of me - teaching is not a job that lends itself to being left at the office and researching and writing a book isn't exactly a side job, so my twin goals here are to (a) make the office more pleasant and (b) not be so hard on myself with deadlines that I set and that I know to be ridiculous. I had a small writing project that nearly drove me around the bend that I should have been able to handle with ease, but when added to the several other regular gigs I've got going on (which includes two blogs, a weekly movie show that involves watching and research before the cameras begin rolling, and a regular column over at the pop culture site BiffBamPop), I was perilously close to the non-whimsical version of "crazy." So I reached the conclusion that normal people would've gotten to a long time ago and I'm not taking on more work during this time. Let me keep working on spinning the plates I've already got up on sticks!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Moving Into Fall!

As in, actually "moving" into fall - I had my first actual timed 5K earlier this month and I just wanted to do my best. It was a challenging course and remember - my 5K back in April was that super-fun Color Run which was untimed. I was nervous. I'm not exactly sure why - I knew I could finish the course - even if I had to walk it, I'd finish it - but I wanted to do well. Ensley came out to cheer me on, as did a few other friends and I met some friends at the race. I just wanted to not be all the way at the tail end. I had a goal - finish in 40 minutes, which I thought was pretty realistic, given the times I'd been clocking on my shorter morning runs and the number of big ol, honking hills on the course.

Final time? 35:50. (And the crowd goes wild!)

Seriously. That's an average of 11:33 a mile for 3.1 miles. Oh, to many experienced runners, it's a nothing sort of time, but I'm not them and I was thrilled to the gills at that. Even won a third place medal for my age group. (I won't tell you how many people were in my age group, but yeah, it was three.) So, woo-hoo, me! And yes, I've already signed up for my next one, at which I might be chased by banjo players. Such is life in my hometown.

Due to starting on the next book project - go here to read about that - my book and movie challenges are being ignored right now. I hope to get back to them, but to everything there is a season, and right now, 'tis the season to watch and notate.

On the "You Gonna Finish That?" Challenge - I've done very well for three weeks. We took Sunday as an "off" day (my first in that time) and I ate joyously, which meant I totally overloaded on carbs and sweets, so the scale was not my friend after that. Oh, well - I'm starting to see these things differently. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do far more often than I'm not and - over time - that'll matter. It also doesn't help that I overdid it with some yard work over the weekend and haven't run since then. 'Sfunny - I actually miss not running, but I was far too sore to do that to myself. It's better to take a few days off than to stubbornly injure myself and need to take a much longer time off!

So more good than bad to report. I'll check back in at the end of the month. Today's the first day of fall and Ma Nature wasn't fooling around with the change of seasons today. Personally, I love fall - the crisp air, the colors - but it was a bit of a sudden change!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Checking In - August!

It was just about a week ago that I checked in here regarding progress on the 2014 January resolutions, so I'll be brief on those:

Zone Cleaning Challenge - well, I've got my morning and evening routines down, but adding in the weekly zones is still hit & miss for me.  Now that the semester has started and is finding a routine of its own, this comes back to the forefront.
5K Challenge - who would have thought that I'd find out I actually enjoy jobbling? I have my first "real" (as in timed) 5K race this coming Saturday. I'm nervous, since of course I want to do well, but it's an excited kind of nervous. I'll be doing something that I couldn't have done when I first set these challenges and that has to be viewed as progress of the good kind.
"Good Book" Challenge - Just under the wire, I managed to finish Faulkner's Light in August before I ran out of month. I really, really enjoyed this and I found myself wondering what Faulkner's reaction to the events in Ferguson, MO would be if he were still around to talk with us about Southern mythology, class, and race - always race.
"Good Film" Challenge - Saw several good films this month; none were on my list. Well, it doesn't make me a bad person.
Budgeting Challenge - Doing well enough on this that we enjoyed a weekend away for Labor Day. That probably blew the budget (or perhaps the car repairs will - like Moses, our loyal Bonnie Bonneville didn't make it up the mountain to the Promised Land, but unlike Moses, her damage may be fleeting), but it was a sorely-needed trip and I regret nothing!

I think I "over-goaled" here trying to do everything at once, so I cut myself several breaks as I focused on one good habit at a time instead of trying to overhaul so many aspects of my life at once. But now that a few habits have, in fact, become habits, FryDaddy and I agreed it was time to tackle the elephant.


See, I like food. I like white-tablecloth restaurants and I like fried chicken eaten on a tailgate. My comfort food is Southern - pimento cheese, Barefoot's homemade mac 'n' cheese, sweet tea, Krispy Kreme, and so on. I've been known to say (to a good friend, not on a job interview), "You gonna finish that?" while gesturing with my fork. I grew up one of those people who was picky enough of an eater that it seemed I could eat whatever I wanted with no problem. Well, like eight-tracks, those days are gone. Yes, I'm a runner, but I'm a baby runner, and I simply don't burn enough calories to eat like that.

Add to that the fact that my job involves a lot of sitting and typing, and the problem begins to emerge.

Add to that the fact that I deal with stress by eating and the problem comes into focus. 

Add to that the fact that I also do a movie show for local cable, and prep work for that involves sitting and researching the films and sitting in a dark theater to watch the films, which for me as a kid, meant treats like buttered popcorn and candy (maybe a Slushie), and I don't need a nutritionist to tell me what's what.

Oh, I've tried all this before; I've even bought the books and the hype. The result is the same - I'll lose five pounds, then reward myself with a Blizzard. So I've roped in FryDaddy this time to help me. Really, it's not a matter of me not knowing what a portion size is or not realizing that fried is less good for me than broiled, it's a matter of putting theory into practice.

I'm trying to be sensible - no cabbage soup, no "only eat tomatoes for three days," or any of that nonsense - and I know that this will take time, but dammit, I don't want it to. Sigh. Patience may be a virtue, but it's not one of my virtues!

Today has been all about getting ready - I'm eating a few things that will shortly be on the "verboten for now" list (Mickey D's really does have the best fries, you know) and I've done a massive grocery run. No kidding, this one's going to be hard, but for the next month, my plan is to limit my refined carbs (no rice or pasta as a side dish with dinner and no stuffed baked potatoes as dinner), no sweets beyond a touch of good dark chocolate or something similar (au revoir, Fuzzy Peach!), and (gulp!) no movie treats. Let them catch me sneaking in grapes and baby carrots. Let's see where I am in a month. I won't lie - the scale has power over me, but so does my wardrobe, and I'm tired of putting something on and offering up a muttered prayer that the button will fasten.

Deep breath. Here goes - and yes, I'm gonna finish that.