My Brain Says…but My Heart Says…!

One of my challenges from My Bucket List is to write a Business Plan for a Company I’ve Been Thinking About (#280). While I have not actually written a business plan for 214 Fitness, a mobile fitness company I started with my husband; I have had quite a few other challenges in getting its operation running smoothly.

I know that I am supposed to be using empowering words. Words that make me feel like a Rock Star! At least, Tanya Aliza stresses this in her Welcome to Unlimited Fan Page Profits! training. I am taking her training to learn how to set up a Face Book Fan Page for 214 Fitness. (I guess, I can mark off Take An Online Course To Better Myself (#272). Anyway, I have been working on this training for months. I have been working on a website for months. I have been working on brochures for months. Nothing seems to be coming together for me when it comes to setting up a profitable fitness business. It seems I have exceeded my creative mental capacity to design anything remotely pleasing to the eye or attractive enough to entice someone to sign on as a client.

Yesterday, my emotions got the best of me. I was feeling like a failure in the business arena, a failure as a wife-which goes in line of my failure as an athlete, a failure at financial independence, a failure at my full-time “real” job! Ultimately, I was feeling like a failure of LIFE

Being Challenged In Life Is Inevitable, Being Defeated Is Optional. – Roger Crawford

All I could think about was my inability to get this business running and make it successful. I have one client that I have had for seven months. I had another that was really inconsistent and rarely showed for training sessions. I had another that signed a contract and backed out at the last minute. All I get are excuses! Too many to list. Then I thought about my own inconsistencies: inadequate planning, taking on too much other task, helping others instead of focusing on my business and my own fitness, getting side tracked with home, life, social events. These are all valid excuses that makes this whole business adventure not seem worth the time of day. People offer to help but never come around to it.

The fact is my own insecurities get in the way.  I was never designed to be a great athlete…or athlete at all; for that matter. Hell, I didn’t even know there was  a such thing as organized recreational sports until I had children. I thought sports were only played for school teams. Maybe I did know but never realized it was a thing. I tried Track my Junior year in high school. I was awful! I was FAT! I had no skill. I certainly could not run! Ultimately, I was an embarrassed myself and the team! Who was I to think I could ever be part of a team? I had a coach (not surprising that I can’t remember her name) that didn’t really care if I was there or not. She witnessed my inabilities and rather than “coach” me to be good at something, she threw me in on the shot-put. By the way, I couldn’t throw either. I have never had upper body strength! I still cannot do a pull up; even if you put a gun to my head! When she didn’t have enough runners for an event, she threw me on the roster at the last minute. I did not know the difference between a 400 meter and 800 meter track run. There was no one-on-one coaching to help me improve or talks about how I could get better or what I needed to do to fix my weight to make it easier. What do you think I did to overcome this embarrassment? I did something even more embarrassing. Ridiculous actually! I started smoking so I would have an excuse not to join the team my senior year. I had smoked off and on since I was seven years old and it just seemed like the thing to do to cope with everything wrong in my life. However, it became one of the reasons I wanted to open 214 Fitness. I wanted an avenue for young teens and adults to get the training they needed to succeed in whatever sport they wanted to participate in. I want them to be able to choose a different outlet to cope with life and not turn to tobacco products, drugs, or alcohol.  I wanted to be the mentor and the motivator to help them become the best “THEM”!

Lately, I feel I can’t even do that for myself. I feel like I am suffocating most days; watching myself move forward while I am planted in one place. How can I truly help someone else? As least that is what the brain is saying…the heart says “You care way too much to give up on a dream. There are way too many people that need your help!” The brain tells me, “It’s embarrassing for your husband to weigh less than you.” My heart is telling me, “You are fine! You look great! You are beautiful inside and out!” Sometimes, it’s hard to truly feel what the heart is telling you. I have battled weight issues my entire life. I have dealt with name calling, sounds made as I walk down the passageway at school, notes left on lockers. Sadly, that stuff does not stop when you become an adult. I dealt with the same scenarios and some worse while I was stationed in the military. Those memories are why I fought so hard to lose weight when I was stationed in Puerto Rico. It seemed everyone around me was thin and beautiful. I just wanted to be thin and beautiful too. I married and got pregnant; well I got pregnant then got married. After our son was born we went to visit my husband’s family in Texas. His mother was thin and his sister was thinner. I felt like an over-inflated baboon around them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I never heard anything but kind words from them. I am fortunate to be a part of such an amazing, giving, and supportive family. But it did not stop me from feeling fat and insecure. That pressure did motivate me to lose weight. When I joined the military I was roughly 165 pounds. Probably more! I worked out morning, noon, and night. I watched every morsel of food I ate, counted every calorie. I dropped to 114 pounds. I felt so alive. I had so much energy. I loved myself. For the first time in my life, I really did love myself!

Recently, I had talked with my mother and she described her weight loss. She isn’t even trying to lose weight; it’s just happening. Just what I needed to hear at a time I am processing my “fat” talks. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy for her efforts (and a little worried that she is losing too much weight). But…I am instantly frustrated! Here I am fighting my entire body’s system to lose weight I have gained since retirement. I am fighting hypothyroidism that doesn’t want to correct itself. I am fighting my mental anguish over the lack of energy and motivation to do anything. I get nowhere. My brain says, “You’re a personal trainer! How can you expect people to want you to train them. You don’t even look like a trainer?!” I feel like I should be on a Fat-Farm! All I want is to look good, feel good, have energy to get through the day without an energy drink or a nap or two, or sometimes three. I want to feel strong and conditioned. What I really want is that feeling of love and happiness I had for myself in Puerto Rico. I felt amazing, energetic, unstoppable. I miss that feeling! But I can’t get it back.

I also have to assess there are things that I am not doing right to get where I need to be. Consistent training and nutrition! Yes, even personal trainers can get off track! I know that my workout routines have been greatly inconsistent since I have been battling pharyngitis, bronchitis, and allergies since Memorial Day. Then there was the high heart rate during runs that concerned my husband enough to insist I get my heart check out before starting to train again. While most of the symptoms are gone; the cough wants to become a permanent inhabitant of my body and my heart turned out to be extremely healthy (as I had told him). I am finally starting to be more consistent in training sessions. I hired a coach to help me get back on track. Dennis Welch of the Dennis Welch Endurance Project. I met Dennis when he lived here in Virginia. We ran in the same running group. Once that group broke off, he started his own. I was training for a marathon with another group and would see the workouts he would do at a local park. He was very intimidating…reminded me of my husband when he would do his workouts. Their concepts were very similar. Anyways, Dennis’ training sessions are brutal! I feel like I can’t even get through a quarter of the workout. I used to get frustrated when I would review them. I would think, “There is no way in hell I can do this! I don’t have that kind of strength or stamina. I am starting completely over. It has been years since I trained for a running event. How does he expect me to do all this within these limitations?” But every time, I go out I have to try to match the plan. That’s the perfectionist in me. Even if I know, It is way beyond my current ability I have to try!

For instance, on my Monday run (Aug 19), the plan as written was:

  • 20:00 warmup of tire pull or easy run, then
  • 10 x 800m at MRP in minutes and seconds, with equal rest recovery jog or walk between as needed.
  • So, to execute, let’s say that your MRP is equivalent to a 3 hour marathon, which would be 3:00:00. So you would then make the hour into minutes and the minutes into seconds. So in this case, you’d run your 800s in 3 minutes. If your MRP is equivalent to a 4 hour marathon, then you’d run your 800s in 4 minutes.

I could not even do a quarter of what was on the plan; partly due to family and schedule commitments. My 20 minute warmup ended at 15 minutes. My 800 meters at Marathon Race Pace (MRP) followed by an 800 meter recovery run/walk between sets was a disaster! Ultimately, I was to complete 800 meters in 5 minutes, jog or walk 800 meters in 5 minutes for 10 sets. I felt pretty good with the first 800 meters but the second set became a run/walk. I ended it at the second set because it was like I was pushing a bulldozer around the track. I felt defeated! So many emotions became too overwhelming to continue. I felt like I lost myself over these past few years and I can’t find me. In fact, during my workout, I could see a vision of me running in the distance ahead, the physical me is steadily dropping back until the vision of me is no longer visible. Now, I have left myself behind! I’m no where in sight. I don’t know where I went. I’m struggling to keep up! It’s all just too fast! Frustration, confusion, feeling lost. Those are the words I feel. Unaccomplished, unsuccessful, failure plague my inner being. I feel myself trying to claw myself out of a hole. The darkness is too great. I can’t see ahead!

Remember, I said that I was inconsistent in training and lacked nutritional value. I believe the nutritional value is the key to these emotions spiraling downward. These feelings stem from not being able to perform at a level I once was at. I can barely push this 159.6 pound body to get out of bed at 5:00 in the morning. When I finally jump out of bed at 5:15, I quickly throw on some clothes (that I did not take the time to lay out the night before), use the bathroom, get a drink of water, take my morning Synthroid for the hypothyroidism, and rush out the door no later than 5:24. Yes, it is just that specific! There is no time for breakfast in this scene! Plus, I have to wait 30 minutes before I can eat. Notice too, that I did not grab a lunchbox. So let’s continue…Leaving any later than 5:24 , I play hell getting a parking spot in the designated parking lot at work. I reach the parking lot by 5:45 most mornings in order to get a parking spot. If I find my timeline is off while driving, I rush as fast as I can to get back on schedule. I finally make it to the parking lot and it gives me time for a short nap before heading into work at 6:20. Still no breakfast. If I get so hungry that I start to shake, I will visit the Rusty Anchor for some breakfast. Nothing in that joint is healthy; unless you consider scrambled eggs with egg shells healthy. Lunchtime…takes way too long to arrive. All I want is to head to my car for another nap. Finally, 11:30 arrives and I head to my car for that short nap I had been waiting all morning for. Forget food! Sleep is way more important. Unfortunately, thirty minutes is never long enough. The alarm goes off at 11:59 and I head back to work. The afternoon drags on forever! Finally, 2:50pm and it’s time to leave the office for the day. I either visit a personal training client or head home. The choices then become workout, clean my much neglected house, or Uber my husband and friend to our next social engagement. It is usually a brewery, a concert, or a local restaurant. Sometimes, it’s all three. It never stops! Oftentimes, my husband will ask me if I ate anything that day. Of course, I lie and say yes so I avoid a confrontation. When he was deployed, my sons were his spies to make sure I ate. I have this aversion to food in the sence that I don’t like to take time to eat. It takes too much time when there are so many other things I need to do.

Honestly, I feel like I sabotage myself. My physical fitness, my weight, everything! I don’t know why. Maybe I don’t deserve to look and feel sexy. Maybe all those school kids were right, my father,…maybe…I’m just fat! Maybe that’s my destiny. Maybe, I had fooled myself all those years ago thinking I was anything of an athlete; a runner. Maybe the strides I made to get better was just a fluke. I wasn’t really supposed to be able to run 9:30 minute miles. Maybe, I wasn’t really supposed to run multiple half marathons, two full marathons, or even a 50K Ultra marathon. Actually, Dennis says there are some people that have not business running. Maybe, I’m one of them! After all, with all the training I put in, I still wasn’t running very fast. At least, that is what my brain wants me to think! My heart tells me that I was destined to be great! I was destined to influence, motivate, and encourage all those people that are just like me in their struggles. People are watching you even when you don’t know they are watching. People are imitating you, even when you are at your worst. People need other people to inspire to be like. Ok, maybe that is only me admiring the abilities of other and wanting to do the same! 

This week, I decided to make a change. Changes are never easy. I set my alarm at 4:30 so I can do a little strength training or maybe some yoga before getting dressed for work…I have not been successful at this yet. Just like Dennis’ workouts, I will keep trying until I get them right. I did manage to take time to hang out with my husband. Really hang out. We ran together…ok, we were in the same park running; just not side by side. We had dinner together…YES, I COOKED! We even watched some TV shows together. It made me realize just how much I missed hanging out with him and working out with him. That was a good win to this change process! Life takes on so much of us that sometimes we forget what is truly important. Sometimes, we let others dictate how we spend our time and we forget to take time for ourselves. Sometimes, we let the opinion of others dictate how we should feel about ourselves. We are all different. We all have different struggles. We all have those mental images of perfection we must battle. We are all perfectly beautiful in our own way. God made us all different for a reason. We are unique. Embrace what makes you unique!  

Success Is Due To Our Stretching To The Challenges Of Life. Failure Comes When We Shrink From Them. – John C. Maxwell

Words, Words, more words…

I have been reading a book that explains how to become a better writer. The book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Hardy, details what it takes to…well, the title explains it all. Yes, I am probably one of the few remaining nerds that still find satisfaction in rummaging through the library bookshelves to find the perfect book. I had to hurry out the door when the librarian told me I could check out 30 books at one time! Admittedly, I have checked out this book once before. Hence, as you will notice in the coming sentences, I never finished it. I think I even had to pay a late fee.

In any case, this particular book says I should write at least 30 minutes a day. It does not matter what the subject is, how the words are formed, or even if it just makes sense (or non-sense in my case). The idea is to write. Get the words out of your head and onto paper. It also says, “Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy. But it can also make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring.” The reason I have had such a hard time writing this year is exactly this reason! I felt words had abandoned me. It was no longer fun or witty; it felt like a job – a boring, everyday mundane job. I am sure most of you can relate because you probably have, well, a boring and mundane job! After all, not everyone can live their dream or even work their dream! I was dealing with this whole writing issue on top of the fiasco with the bathroom remodeling I told you about last month. If you forgot about that whole mess of a life, you should reach back to this story here, Some Challenges Are Not Planned. If there is any story that made me look and feel stupid, it was this one. Talk about putting your trust in people and having it trampled on – along with stealing your money! I do not think anything can make a human feel more stupid that that! 

Anyways, I have been practicing that concept of writing 30 minutes a day but what I wrote is not what I wanted to post. It goes back the above statement where your writing makes you seem humdrum and boring. I felt it was dry, brittle; kind of like the limbs on my lime tree right now. That is not my vision for this blog. I need a little more spice in my life and my reading.

Now, here it is, two days before the end of the month and I still have nothing to post. I reached out to some friends…ok, so it was only two friends, but who’s counting…about what I should write. No offense, Karen and Christine, but you are my wing-ladies and really my only sources of creativity at this point in life. Christine thought I should write about “Balancing Life”. Perfect idea since I have a huge disability with this! A.N.D. since I have not completed any Bucket List items this year, my sources are rather limited. Even though, I still have a gift certificate Christine got me for Christmas to drive a racecar on the Richmond racetrack. Umm, I need to mark that on the non-existent calendar I have for all things fun and adventurous.

Well, that was two days ago and still nothing to post! Yesterday, I spent the majority of my time in bed, with a horrible cough that made my insides feel like they were going to explode and a headache that made my head feel like it was on fire. After all, I have been battling bronchitis since Memorial Day! Should I mention that I was also up all night with these symptoms and a dog that was having pretty much the same kind of night?! It did not take much convincing to call my boss and tell him I would not be at work. 

Anyways, Christine’s ideas sounded like a good one; until I sat down to write. I will put that topic on hold for another day when words do not want to reveal themselves. Today, it is all about Words, words, and more WORDS! Today is really the last day of the month though!

What do you consider makes a good story? How do you write a good story? Where do your ideas come from? Do you really look at the present and past tense of a sentence, the preparatory and non-preparatory statements, or the conjunctions of a word? I learned all those things in Middle School but do not dare ask me to recall what all those things are today. I was good at recognizing them but age has taken hold and my memory does not serve me well. I think my brain freed up space for the less important things in life: cooking, cleaning, and managing a full time job and other people’s schedules. You know the drill ~ at least any adult should. I was excited when I read Chapter 3’s title, Shed High School Rules! Then I realized it was really talking about the paragraph structure and not necessarily the sentence structure. Guess there is going to be a lot of Googling in my future!

Wait! I just discovered Microsoft has this thing called Smart Lookup. If you’ve been reading my blog then you already know I’m computer illiterate. Honestly, I don’t know how my boss puts up with me…I the ability to crash Microsoft Excel better than any test dummy in a fake car. Sometimes, I crash it on every click of the mouse button! Anyways, if you turn on Smart Lookup and right-click on a word (literally), it will find things on the internet related to your “word”! This is how I discovered that Wikipedia defines morphology as “the study of word formation and structure.” You would think I was dissecting something as if I were actually in a science lab! Wow! There’s even a movie called “The Words” with actors and actresses I’ve never heard. Ok, before I continue down this rabbit hole, let’s just get to the point…not sure that I really had one but…

The point is…WORDS! Everybody has them! They may not sound the same from person to person. You know this first hand if you’ve ever said something that someone totally misconstrued what you said. They may not look the same when written on paper. Honestly, how many languages are there? I can barely speak proper English let alone trying to speak another. They may not have the same affect (or is it effect?) for each and every one of us.

Words provide different feelings for different people; whether spoken, unspoken, or written. Think about it! The word love when spoken may leave you feeling happy. When it’s displayed through an action, for instance a hug, may leave you feeling warm and cozy inside. Then when it’s in writing, may put you in tears; much like that fancy Romance novel you’ve been reading. At times, words may leave us speechless. Other times, we say more than we should. Remember that last argument with your spouse or significant other? Yeah, we’ve all been there, I’m sure! The point is, we all have words. It’s the way we use them that truly makes an impact on our audience. Ann also tells us “you’ve got to choose words well – and write with economy and style and honest empathy…”. Afterall, everybody has feelings…ok, maybe not, but Everybody Writes!

December – Merry and Bright

This December was probably the hardest year for me to get into the spirit of Christmas. For some reason, it seemed more stressful than most. I don’t know why that is. I love Christmas and the spirit around it. It is not about receiving gifts or even the giving of gifts. It is about watching the faces of loved ones when they open their gifts. It’s about experiencing their excitement and potentially making their wishes come true! I try to choose the perfect gift for each recipient. I think about their personalities, their interests and hobbies, and something they would love but would not spend the money on for themselves. I like to be unique but I also like it to represent our relationship. This year, I was at a complete blank. Enough talk about the gifts. It was the second week of December before we ever ventured out to get a tree. Let’s talk about the tree…

THE TREE. For me, the Christmas season only begins once we have a tree. Every year, I set the goal to find the biggest, fattest, most luscious tree on the lot. Every year, we go right after Thanksgiving. I try to choose a day that is cold but not too cold, a little wet but not pouring, and festive. We always go to the same place…every year! It’s a tradition. Tree picking day, is a festivity for me. I bake cookies with the boys, serve hot chocolate or eggnog with a little rum, and play Christmas music as we decorate the tree. At least, that’s how I remember when the boys were younger. Now, they are grown men and haven’t been home for those events in a few years.

Unfortunately, because I was having a hard time getting into the spirit of the season, I waited…and waited…and waited. Maybe it was hard because of how special they used to be and now I just don’t have that. I tried to share it with my nieces and a few of my friends children but I don’t think they were really into the idea of decorating a tree or maybe it was me that just wasn’t into it! The day came when we just had to get one no matter what. Both they boys were home, we had my husband’s cousin join us and even my son’s friend. The day was set to be perfect; except it was a little warm. We made our way to the tree farm. When we arrived the lot was almost bare. The trees were short and scrawny. I was extremely disappointed but I’m sure my husband was extremely happy.

You see, we joke every year about how I have no perception of size and matter. Usually, the tree does not fit in the house and Wes has to spend at least an hour cutting it down enough to get through the door and then more time trimming it so it will fit in the designated corner. TREEZILLA is what my sons call my trees. So not to have a Treezilla this year was kind of disheartening. The last one was thrown in the back yard and took years to deteriorate. I think I ended up throwing it in a fire pit.

After we got the tree, I had to decide what I was going to serve for dinner on Christmas Eve. I always do dinner Christmas Eve so that we can enjoy Christmas Day without too much hassle. Christmas Day is about enjoying each others company and leftovers from the night before. So what was I going to serve? Every year in October, my husband starts with the suggestion of serving a goose! This year he even had the boys chime in and then friend after friend would agree. No! NO! and NOO! At one point, he wanted to get two ducks and a goose so he could set them on the table and say DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE! So let’s talk about the dinner…

THE DINNER. I did surprise my husband with serving a goose. Not the ducks, just goose and ham. Of course, he was at the store when I picked it out. Darn the luck when I got to the register and realized it was going to cost me $70. It was too late to change my mind. He was with me. I just couldn’t endure seeing the disappointment on his face. So the night before Christmas Eve, I started preps. I knew the goose and ham were going to take a lot of attention so I prepared the green bean casserole and cheesy potatoes. I started the mashed potatoes too! Yep, those poor mashed potatoes~they didn’t have a chance from the start.

Originally, I was going to have Karen make them. I had already put her on cookie duty because I suck at baking. (Yes, we talked about baking cookies early while decorating the tree…those were store bought. I just put them in the oven with hopes of not burning them.) I told her I would go ahead and prepare them (mashed potatoes, that is, not cookies) so all I had to do was throw them in the oven just before the goose and ham were done. Well, apparently, I had too many irons in the fire because my mashed potatoes turned into paste. PASTE! I threw away 10 pounds of PASTE! It was late at night. I was frustrated and tired. But I had to go to the store for another 10 pounds of potatoes. I really wanted to scream! Why was it so important to do them the night before? They don’t take much time to make. I could have and should have waited. Before heading out, I was talking with Karen on the phone and told her my dilemma…so she offered to make them for me-even though she doesn’t like to cook. She likes to bake. I was so thankful at that very moment! I had dogs under my feet every where I turned, my feet hurt from standing all day, and I felt alone in this endeavor. Asking for help was out of the question. It’s always a disaster when I allow anyone in my kitchen to help. Christmas Day, when everyone gathered, I realized that I forgot to make the dinner rolls, I didn’t make the homemade cranberry sauce, and my sister-in-law brought green bean casserole instead of stuffing. All of my children’s friends were cancelling at the last minute. I had all this food! Food for about 30 people. It seemed to be a disaster. So I put on my happy face so we could enjoyed dinner. The goose, however, tasted like beef. I really wasn’t that bad. My brother-in-law just arrived home from Japan the day before, my sons were home, my sister-in-law and nieces were there. My friend, Karen and her boys came over! It could not have been any merrier for me. It was truly about spending time with family and friends.

NEW TRADITION. This year, I decided to start a new tradition. We would incorporate games right after dinner. Instead of sitting around a tv and watching movies or staring endlessly at each other, we would play games in which there would be prizes. The first game was a wrapped gift. I bought two gifts and included gift cards in them. I wrapped them and wrapped them. Apparently not good enough because neither one made it around the table a full turn. So the objective was for the person holding the gift to put on a Santa hat and oven mitts and try to unwrap the gift before the person next to them could roll doubles with two dice. Once doubles were rolled the gift and dice moved to the next person to repeat the process. Then we played Bingo. Once someone called “bingo” they could still continue to play but were not eligible for a prize. Each player received a gift for winning. This year was a gift card to a Taco Bell or Starbucks and small Visa card. Each gift was round $30 each. There was just enough gifts for each person to receive one. I believe everyone enjoyed the inauguration of the new tradition. Now, I have to decide what gifts will be for next year. Suggestions, please!

THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON. Once, I reset my mind and took all the pressure off myself to make everything perfect, everything was just that…PERFECT! I was able to witness the smile and glistening of my husband’s eyes when he realized a TV was being delivered for his game room. It was the only gift I could come up with that he would never expect. I watched the excitement of my nieces as they opened their gifts, especially since they thought I was going to make them wait until Christmas Day! Both my sister-in-laws seemed to love their gifts as well. My brother-in-laws were equally pleased. But it’s not about the gifts that made it so special. I enjoyed time spent with family and friends. I am fortunate to have loved ones around that wants to join us in celebrating such a wonderful time of year. To me, there is nothing more special that sharing moments with family and friends!

I hope you had yourself a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!