Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adventure Awaits

Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps in a funny little twist of fate, it arrived exactly two months before I am scheduled to depart for Paris. It also arrived not a moment too soon, on a day when I was feeling a little down about the state of my life: the lack of progress in my career, the lack of prospects in my romantic life, the final nails in the coffins of some relationships with family and friends. It arrived just when I needed to be reminded that, while my life does contain some crap (whose doesn't?), something wondrous also lies just over the horizon.

My new banner. I'm going to hang it in my office at work.

A few months ago a friend emailed me after reading one of my blog posts that was more or less an expanded version of the sentiments expressed above: that I am unhappy with the state of some of my affairs. He's a good friend from college who sometimes knows my inner workings better than I do, and he saw past my complaints about feeling frustrated and asked a simple question: what would make me happy? I immediately envisioned all the things I want for myself: a skyrocketing career with a clearly drawn path, a stable and loving long-term relationship, a vibrant social life. Easy.

And then he told me to throw it out, to accept that the vision I've had for myself for the last 2o-something years is only that: a vision. To embrace the idea that my lived reality may not ever match that vision. To truly grieve the departure of that vision. And finally, to redefine  happiness for myself in a way that aligns with my real life.

I didn't want to hear any of that then. I still wanted that vision for myself, and in many ways, I still do. But I am starting to grapple with the idea that what I have always envisioned for myself may not come to be. My career may always just be "good enough." I may not ever find another long-term partner to share my life with. I may always stumble through periodic social doldrums. 

I may have to accept that in all of that, I can still find happiness. Even if my career isn't meteoric, I still genuinely like most of my coworkers and appreciate having a flexible schedule that allows me to pursue my hobbies and better health. While I don't have a romantic relationship, I'm not letting that hold me back from doing so many of the things I want to do, including travel and try new restaurants and generally enjoy life. And I'm joining new social groups and making new friends, so that when there is a big lag in my social calendar, I have plenty of people to turn to.

I still don't want to let the old vision go, and I'm certainly not ready to grieve it completely. But perhaps by slowly, gently loosening my grip on it, I can create a little room for a different vision of happiness to creep in.

Perhaps I can find happiness in knowing that, if I slowly embrace this new vision of happiness, a new kind of adventure awaits as well.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Week 12 Update

This week was rough. I ate out 5 days out of 7, which explains my dismal diet (but oh, the roast leg of lamb at Cipollina was certainly delicious!), and then I missed both my classes at the gym. Plus, Sunday was my roller derby league's first scrimmage - I'm still restricted to spectatorship, so no skating or practice for me - and then I nearly bailed on the last practice on Thursday. I was warming up and my legs just felt weak. My shins were cramping in the first five minutes, and my back was aching way earlier than normal. I nearly left, and then a friend convinced me to stay. I'm so glad she did, because even though it wasn't my best practice - I really did feel weak and slightly off balance most of the time - in the last 10 minutes I had a breakthrough: I finally did a crossover. I think. Maybe. (And if the video in that link looked so easy to you, then you probably don't have what my trainer likes to call "chronically tight muscles" that limit the range of motion in your hips, and I hate you. Just sayin'.)

There's a pretty good chance I'll forget how to do these crossovers between now and my next practice on Sunday and I'll have to figure it out all over again. But I felt really good having done them for a few short minutes, and it motivated me to stick out the next practice when I'm feeling tired and weak.

Week 12
Total weight loss: 5 1/2 pounds (gained back 1 pound with all the brunching, lunching, and dinnering out)
Number of workouts: 1 (1 roller derby practice - yup, really, that's it)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 2

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ring of Fire (and the Week 11 Update)

So, as many of you advised me to do, I got over it. I stayed away from derby practice on Sunday to give my hip a little more time to heal (apparently I did a little number on it), but last night I sucked it up and got back to it. I had more moments of frustration - those damn turnaround stops are my nemesis! - but I stuck it out and I'm glad I did. It was, once again, fun as hell.

Before all the usual stuff, I'll leave you with a song I've been playing on repeat nearly endlessly: a gorgeous acoustic cover of "Ring of Fire" by Jenny Owen Youngs.

(I understand some of you Mac users can't use the player above. If that's the case, then go here.)

Week 11
Total weight loss: 6 1/2 pounds (another 1 1/2 pounds this week - yay!)
Number of workouts: 4 (1 roller derby practice, 2 circuit training sessions at the gym, and 1 day of roller skating for an hour)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 5

Friday, February 10, 2012

Quitting Time (and the Week 10 Update)

I walked out of roller derby practice yesterday. I'd reached my mental limit and had enough, so I took off my skates and left. I was tired before I arrived and had been experiencing a weird pain in my right knee, elbow and wrist all day long. I didn't really want to be there in the first place, and it didn't help things when the trainers changed the warm up and had us do an exercise that highlighted all the weak spots in my legs (it's amazing how skating around the track in the opposite direction, and having to reverse all your normal steps, can make you feel like you're starting from scratch). So I was already feeling down on myself 5 minutes into practice.

Then they gave us a drill that required a fair amount of flexibility and agility and balance, let us run through it twice, and then told us to do it all over again, but this time while we kept an arm around a partner. This doesn't sound so bad, except for the following things: 1) if you're lacking in things like flexibility, agility, and balance, and you feel weak, you're probably not going to do so well on this drill; 2) if, on top of all that, you've only done the drill twice in your entire life, you're definitely not going to do very well on it; 3) if you're partnered up with someone, you're now additionally limited by their flexibility, agility and balance; and 4) if you've got your arm around a partner, it's pretty likely that if you fall, you're going to take her down with you.

So I did the drill with my partner, and in addition to feeling weak and off-balance and awkward, I was also afraid of taking her down with me, so I sucked at it extra bad. The whole thing left me feeling like crap about my skill level. Then they moved us to the next drill, which involved some blocking, and for whatever reason the girl we were trying to block was clearly from a higher skill level. She blew right past us the first time, which was pretty demoralizing. The second time I blocked her, but then shifted my balance to block her second attempt and fell on my left hip and shoulder. I got back up, but I felt like shit.

I felt clumsy and awkward and like I couldn't make my body do the things I wanted it to do. Basic things, like shifting weight and turning corners, were eluding me. My joints and muscles were too tight to make the moves I needed to make. I got back in line to do the drill again, but I was already holding back tears. I was so frustrated and so demoralized that I just didn't want to be there anymore. As my turn approached I saw that I'd be up against a girl who's way worse than I am - there was almost no way I wouldn't be able to block her. It would've been an easy win.

I didn't care. In my head I was already done. I told the girl behind me in line to take my spot, that I was done for the night. I skated off the track and went to take off my gear. I started crying as I pulled everything off and stuffed it in my bag - slow, quiet tears running down my cheeks. I cried the whole drive home. I just felt so frustrated with the whole situation and my body.

I know I shouldn't expect myself to have mastered these drills after only 3 weeks. I know that I'm going to need to stretch and build up strength and flexibility outside of practices if I really want to get better. And I know that I probably should've stuck it out last night. But I hit a wall that I couldn't break through, and I just needed to walk away.

Week 10
Total weight loss: 5 pounds (That's another 1/2 a pound overall this week, but I discovered I gained some with all the traveling last week, so I had some making up to do)
Number of workouts: 4 (1 1/2 roller derby practices, 1 circuit training session at the gym, and 1 day of 30 minutes on the elliptical)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 5

Friday, February 3, 2012

Week 9 Update

Ugh - I spent 3 days traveling for work this week, and it was brutal for my diet. On Tuesday, my coworkers and I ate lunch at Allen's Family Style Meals. It's exactly what it sounds like: you sit down at a table and they just start serving you food, family-style. Platters of fried chicken, roast beef, stewed okra, pickled beets, macaroni and cheese, turnip greens, rolls, buttered potatoes, potato salad, cream gravy, beans, sweet potatoes, green beans, creamed corn, peas, and - of course - peach cobbler. Cart after cart of food rolled out of the kitchen, and as soon as a bowl or platter was empty it was replaced with a new one. The fried chicken was some of the very best I've ever had - really.

I brought my gym bag so I could work out while I was traveling, but of course I never got around to it. The days were long and I was so exhausted in the evenings that I just went to bed. And there was no way I was getting up early to work out. But, we did go on a short hike one day, and I made a point of getting back in town early enough to make it to my Thursday roller derby practice, so I did get a little bit of exercise.

Without further ado...

Week 9
Total weight loss: 4.5 pounds (maybe - I haven't weighed myself, so I'm betting I haven't lost any more weight and hoping I haven't gained any)
Number of workouts: 3 (2 roller derby practices, 1 1-mile hike)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 2