Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Running out of steam…

Facebook’s “this time last year” feature keeps reminding me that I really should be on a beach somewhere by now. 

It me, last year this time.

For the last five Decembers, I’ve spent time at the ocean – either in Florida or the Caribbean or Bonaire.  While I spent my epic diving vacation pennies for the year already on Cozumel (and I am taking my sweet time editing those photos or I’d have posted about it already… sigh…), and I certain haven’t been short on the traveling, it feels like something is missing when it’s December 10th and I have been nowhere near a beach.

I’m spoiled, I realize this.  But my mood has been a smidgen more melancholy and I’ve been affected by the seasons changing because of it.  It’s still over 100 days until our next trip.  We’ve discussed a long weekend in Florida in February simply to eat as many Publix sandwiches and squeeze in as many dives as possible (priority in exactly that order), but either way, it’s a while until we get to blow bubbles.

Fishies, I’m coming for you in APRIL!

We’re trying to make the best of it by taking a long weekend popup trip to Fredricksburg, and I’m excited to try out some cold weather camping.  We plan to ride bikes all over the Texas hill country, hit up some of the wineries in the area, and check out the Christmas festivities in town.  And, of course, all the normal camping fun – reading, games, and maybe I’ll even break out the paints?  Anything could happen!

I plan to take a complete and total social media detox those days.  I’ve been a little too wrapped up in it lately and my sanity can definitely use the radio silence.  I KNOW I need this when I start negotiating with myself that I’ll just log on to post pictures and then log off.  Nope. If I’m struggling with this, it’s imperative that I disconnect fully.  I really just need everything (besides my lovely husband) in my life to shut the eff up for a while.  Time to cut the cord.

It me this December, hopefully

I have a few days off solo before camping.  I plan to sleep, to ride bikes to places to take pretty pictures, to start running a little longer and more often but only if it sounds fun, to practice my music, to edit a few photos, possibly go shopping and/or clean out my closet, and possibly, maybe, crack open my book to edit, or maybe just lay in bed and read.  I’m not sure which of these I will actually get to, but I’m really excited to find out!

I feel as if I’m writing this post simply for posterity, because I can barely put words together about things right now (not a good sign for book editing).   As for the usual weekly banter, one bike, run, swim, and weights session per week continues to be what I’ve been able to negotiate with myself as offseason activity.  It’s enough to keep competent at everything but not to improve.  Which is TOOOOTALLY fine.  There’s a time and a place for that and it’s 2019 for the most part, maybe a little more running before then because I’m signed up for a half marathon in like 5.5 weeks I want to complete without dying, but I have no ambitious goals.

Real talk: I’m super unmotivated on the diet side of things.  I’ve probably put on 1-2 lbs legit (not water weight) since Waco and I still haven’t yet calmed the eff down with the staying up late and indulging in holiday cocktails (holiday cocktails = whiskey in a glass, just in December!).  I haven’t really been tracking my food.  I haven’t been eating massive quantities, but I also haven’t really been watching myself at all.  I’m a little cranky that I feel kind of puffy but I also can’t be arsed to care too much.  It might be easier once I’m done with work for the year, but I highly doubt it unless I keep myself super busy because the kitchen is like RIGHT THERE, YO.

Gratuitous Iguana in the tree shot because holidays.

I sound rather grumpy about this whole thing, even to myself, but honestly, I’m just kind of… tired.  And sort of in awe that I’m tired when I am doing so little right now, but I suppose it’s just indicative of what a year it’s been overall.  Despite my ennui right now, I am really looking forward to my 19 day vacation and all the amazing things it will entail.  I just am too lethargic to do the dance of joy about it yet.

Long winters nap, I will be in you soon.  And then, hopefully, I will wake up at some point.

On taking up space in the world…

As my mind quiets as we delve further into offseason, I keep finding more tendrils to unravel, though it’s all probably the same ball of twine, twisted up in different ways.  Last week I fretted about where I might practice my music.  Upon reading my blog and many times after, my husband replied consistently, over and over, “I don’t mind you practicing in the living room at all.” 

Next song I need to learn… I can ride my bike with no handlebars… no handlebars… no handlebars… (though it’s not really a piano song)

I continued to try to give him an out. “That’s kind of you to say.  You don’t right now, but you WILL if I want to do it more often. And what about the singing?  That can’t be pleasing to the ears listening to me try to get a tune right over and over…”

I’m starting to get over the piano conundrum.  I can practice with the volume low enough it feels like background and when Zliten ducks out of the living room for five minutes, I usually take the moment to play a bit.  But… the singing… the anxiety level ratchets up a few notches when *I’m* the instrument (without great volume control).  However, even after much prodding, I still continued to get nothing but support, so on Friday night, we set up my headphones so I could hear music and also still hear myself sing.  It sounded absolutely terrible and crackly processed through the computer, but when I took one ear partway off… IRL, I actually sounded… decent?  Good, maybe even?  The setup definitely helped me keep pitch and with practice, I think this song might be less out of my vocal range than I expected.

But, every five minutes, I had to keep asking him, “Are you over this yet?  I’m sure this has to be annoying as a cat wailing…”.  I continued to get empathetic “No, you’re fine” responses, but I still quit after five songs, even though I was enjoying myself.  I’ll practice on the piano for 10 minutes and quit because Zliten’s decided to sit back on the couch and I’m not alone in the room anymore.  My first instinct is that this music is a terrible imposition, not because it really is, but because I am incredibly self conscious about it even if I’m kind of impressed with myself at how quickly I’ve picked it up again.

This is all a metaphor for the tenebrous grasp I have on self-confidence right now.  I’m in this place where I think I’m actually pretty fly for a white (gal) at various and sundry things in my life, but when the situation switches from an internal to an external locus of judgement, my confidence falls flat.  It’s the weirdest feeling to have this dichotomy of thinking you’re awesome but also everyone else is going to think you’re absolute rubbish.  I suppose it’s an improvement on complete unworthiness, but this HAS to be a stepping stone to something better, because it’s weird and awkward.  Keeping this awesome secret identity from the world is definitely causing some of my mental friction lately.

Feels like maybe there’s a cape under there somewhere, I just haven’t found how to show it to the world yet…

This weird double life is the feeling that I could probably write an awesome book but no one would read it.  It’s the feeling that I could build a smart and useful business but I would have no patrons anyway.  It’s the feeling that I could create something wonderful and no one else in the world would give a flying fig.  It’s the misunderstood, tortured artist syndrome.  The world doesn’t understand me, but it’s because I’m bad at sharing and I don’t give it the chance.

Marianne Williamson says this:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

My logic circuits get super pissed off at the first part of this quote.  OF COURSE YOU ARE NOT AFRAID OF GREATNESS! THAT IS ALL YOU WANT IN THE WORLD, WOMAN.  And then I take a look at all the things I’ve *really wanted* in my life that I’ve abandoned or half-assed.  I am totally afraid of the light.  Something in me both wants to shine brightly and is immensely afraid of doing just that.  What makes me tell myself that I’m good, talented, and worthy at a thing in my own mind, but that light has an impermeable barrier enacted five millimeters from my own skin? What in the actual eff is my problem here?

From my few moments of feeling unbridled self confidence and unlimited possibilities before Cozumel 70.3

If I’m being truly honest, I’m in the habit of playing small when things get uncomfortable, and I have a great fear about taking up too much space in the world.  I have moments where I think, “oh gosh, what if I’m being too much right now” and I shrink in the consideration of the world around me.  It’s weird, because I can easily and truthfully say to myself, “I don’t care what people think” and in the same breath check to see if I got any more likes on my last Instagram post or hesitate to speak up in a conversation because I don’t want to sound stupid. 

I think the proper sentiment may be that I have a higher tolerance of being weird among strangers in public.  I have a greater understanding of how people really are absorbed in their own head most times, and they don’t really have any opinion about what I look like running around in wet spandex or doing a silly dance in the middle of a department store.  When it comes to people I know, it sort of does.  And then, when the people are familiar and it’s a subject that makes me feel vulnerable (art, writing, music, something subjectively creative), it’s like walking the highwire for me.  And we’re back to the marked difference for me between the stage (where I’m okay) vs where I can see people’s eyeballs (total paralyzing fear).

Unfortunately, I don’t have answers on this one.  It’s definitely something deep seeded in me, I’ve been dumbing myself down since my pre-teen years when I didn’t want to appear too smart in school.  I don’t really have a course of action besides keeping an eye out for when I act and feel this way and keep pushing myself to do things that stretch my comfort zone.  Singing and playing music in front of my husband and not feeling as if I’m imposing deeply on his life is a good start.

Finding fall, and other transitions…

The opportunity to indulge in a four-day break was incredible last weekend.

Thiiiiiiiiiis thankful! 🙂

However, it was just enough to sort of *start* the healing process from the sheer stress of the last few months, so I’m really longing for that nineteen day break beginning at 6pm on Thursday, December 13th.  This really came into focus when I spend DAYS freaking out about something that actually happened two weeks previous, but I had NO recollection of it.  When my memory gets this fallible, I require some time to defrag the hard drive which is my mind. 

Things get weird for me this time of year.  I tend to have some sort of minor mental breakdown, due to the combination of the lack of daylight, end of the year work stress, and since I usually save a lot of time off for December, the lack of downtime.  This year has honestly been fairly innocuous, thanks to not being an idiot and trying for a late season marathon anymore (with all the other stress, let’s heap MORE TRAINING ON IT! YEAH!), but in years previous, I have done ridiculousness like put my fist through a wall before because an errant electronic device wasn’t cooperating (spoiler alert: it wasn’t about that at all).  My frayed nerves right now are actually probably below par for the course.

An actual picture of my brain in November.  Just kidding, that’s our holiday lights through a set of those “christmas lights” fractal glasses.  But the feels-like is just about right.

I’m about a month’s distance from the last race of the year.  I’ve spent it in the company of a LOT of whiskey.  I built a sturdy ship over the previous months, and I have had great fun wrecking it.  Thankfully, it feels like we’ve moved past that phase and my body and mind are just in sleep-all-the-sleeps mode right now.  If I thought my mind was quiet last week, you can hear a pin drop in my mental echo chamber this week.  I’ve realized there is a time and a place to worry about all the shit I was fretting about and that’s not right here and right now.  If I want to be a useful human being ready to pursue goals with vim and vigor at some point, I need to be rested and refreshed and that takes letting go for a while.  Like, really let go instead of pretending.

I’ve found a nice cadence of activity.  It’s worked out to an average of one short swim, one 5k-5 mile run, a 2+ hour weekend bike adventure, and a little lifting every week.  I was hoping to focus more on the heavy stuff, but my body has made it clear that it’s not ready to be back in the gym doing that 2-3 times a week so I’m listening.  This relaxed, easy, whatever-whenever schedule has worked out to about 5-6 hours a week so far, which is PERFECT for offseason.  Everything feels good and joyful and restorative, both to my body and soul, but it doesn’t feel like TRAINING, which is exactly what I need right now.

Finding fall (narrator: fall was found).

This weekend’s bike adventure was an especially fun one.  We set out on two wheels, with our good cameras (aka, not just our cell phones), searching for FALL.  In years past, I don’t know what I’ve been typically doing around this date, focusing head-down on running, I guess, but I can tell you I’ll do my best not to let another season go by like this without exploring and capturing it.  The logistics and execution of this ride at times were tedious – every few minutes, I would to call out to Zliten that I was stopping RIGHT NOW, I’d spend a few minutes taking pictures in various modes and at various angles, and then I’d go find him and catch up.  He rode almost two more miles than I did overall.  This is nothing I would ever do during a serious training ride, but I think the results were worth it!

Turning back the clock a few days, I set out for my first run since Waco on Thanksgiving.  For reasons I detailed here, it was not an official trot, but I aimed to cover the same amount of miles (five) as fast or slow as I felt like, and cut it short if I wasn’t feeling it.  Thankfully, my easy pace has stayed approximately the same (10:45/mile), and we both ended it feeling like we *could* have gone a little longer (with some nutrition, we ran on zero fuel or water before or during), but it felt like enough.  I thinking the exact same thing as Zliten turned to me and said, “can we do that again next week?”.  Yes, yes we can (and actually already have).

While I’ve spent the last month embodying the drinking habits of college frat boy with the liquor tastes of an aging upper middle class white male (mildly expensive bottles of whisky, on the rocks), I have been watching my business with the food intake, for the most part.  I can pinpoint maybe one or two days in the last month where I ate like a jerk, but typically, my appetite has been in line or just a little below my calorie burn.  I’m pretty proud of this trendweight entry for someone who is not actively trying to lose weight:

Over the last two weeks, I’ve lost 1 lb.  That’s still trending down, even over Thanksgiving, during offseason.  I even hit my goal weight for the year (165) on the nose over the weekend (extremely dehydrated, but still…).  Calling this one in the bag is almost a done deal, it’s close enough to taste it. 

I think one of the key things I’ve learned this year – which is helping me right now even if I had one day over the weekend in which my food intake could be entirely described with one word (pizza) is to deal with not being FULL very often.  For me, there’s a vast chasm between being satisfied and the actual sensation where my mind pushes against eating more food.  On the satiety scale, 5 is no longer hungry and 7 is full.  For ME, it feels like about 12 actual integers between those two.  If I am careful, I’m fine on about 1500-1600 calories more days of the week than not, and that’s enough to keep the line pointed very shallowly down.  I can just as easily eat the same quality of food in higher quantities (to the point where I feel, not uncomfortably so, but just full), not feel any differently, and have the line point slightly up.  Full is an occasional indulgence.  No longer hungry has to be the norm.

I also feel like my appetite has hit a small thermocline at this weight I’m at now.  I am satisfied with significantly less than my husband who weighs 15-20 lbs more than I do, whereas even earlier this year, I’d find it hard to not eat exactly the same thing as he did day in day out even if I knew my metabolism burned 3-500 less.  I’m sure it frustrates him to no end right now when we eat lunch and I’m fine and he’s like, “where’s the other half?”. 

However, it’s working for me and I’ll keep at it.  It would be an immense triumph to actually get to January and be ready to set my next (and maybe final) weight loss goal of 150 lbs.  That knowledge in and of itself may be enough to stave off the normal crap-tastic holiday eating.

Hopefully when we take these DOWN, I’ll be at the same or less on the scale than when we put them UP.

I am admittedly still avoiding my book.  Knowing what I’m stressed about is half the battle, but I’m not quite ready to tackle the other half yet.  It still gives me anxiety and I’m unashamed that I’m going to avoid that battle for a little while longer until I’m feeling a little more mental fortitude. 

I have been extremely productive in my procrastinating though!  I’ve been pretty deep into photography lately.  It’s a wonderful hobby in that I can gather a whole bunch of source material over an afternoon or a week of adventures, and the editing?  I can do that sitting on the couch watching TV at my leisure.  I feel like I’m improving and finding different tricks each set of photos I edit.  I’m finding more photographic opportunities than just diving and vacations, just a random bike ride or putting up holiday lights or a particularly cool moon is excuse enough now to drag out my camera.  I’m not great yet, by any stretch, but I think I’m at least getting better than your average person snapping shots and slapping an insta filter on them.  Onward and upward!

For various reasons, music has snapped back into focus in my life.  I’ve found myself really into it the last few months, not just putting it on as background as I have in years past to get into flow or to take my mind off a particularly hard run, but more.  I’ve been looking up lyrics to songs that tweak my fancy and thinking on what significance they have, and listening to music LOUD to feel things (my new headphones are awesome).  It’s not just a backdrop, it seems like it MEANS something, if that makes any sense.

Maybe finally inspired by living in the Music Capital of the World?

I had an urge to pick up the guitar recently.  I’ve never played guitar.  I picked up my cheapo ukulele and learned some chords but it sounds crappy and I’m awkward at it.  Many years ago I played piano and I have a keyboard sitting in my dining room I haven’t touched in years, except to play Heart and Soul on it a few times (the only thing I could remember).  I figured this would be a much better use of my time as I can actually read music, so I found a song that seemed easy and repetitive, and I actually learned it by heart in about an hour total of tinkering over the break.  I’m pretty good at patterns.

Now the hard part.  I like playing music, but I LOVE to sing.  My next challenge is that I need to learn how to proverbially pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time.  I want to learn how to accompany myself.  This should be interesting.  I assure you, because part of the motivation behind this is to overcome mental self-confidence road blocks, I’ll embarrass myself with it by sharing on the internet when I’m ready.  You can look forward to the nonsense coming soon.

I also realized I had been reluctant to undertake this as a hobby because it’s quite imposing on the house.  Photo editing is silent, for the most part.  Writing my book is the next step up – I have to remove myself from the living room, but I don’t make any noise.  Video creation makes noise and takes a mild level of quiet on the set, but it’s shut away in another room.  The piano is in a common space.  I can turn the volume way, way down, but it’s not really conducive to practicing because I can barely hear it and definitely can’t FEEL it.  I can solve this with headphones, but I don’t know what to do about the singing.  I can whisper to get the cadence right but I’m not a quiet singer so that’s always going to be rather disruptive and probably the part of the music I’m most self conscious about. 

I’ll have some time alone over the break to practice, but if I want to actually get into this, I’ll need to find some quiet where I won’t disturb my husband playing and screeching over and over until I get it right (or at least less wrong).  Then again, this might just be a fun distraction to learn one song, post it on the internet, check that item off my bucket list, and move on to other things.  Hopefully that would be my book, but maybe I’ll take up underwater basket weaving and become the champion of the world at it.  Who knows?

All I know for sure is that I have eleven more workdays left.  I can do this.  A long winter’s nap is so close, I can taste it (but hopefully not too much tasting, lest trendweight get upset with me).

The quiet

After last week’s mental meanderings, and the return to some physical activity over the last seven days, I feel a little more… even-keeled.

A friend told me this outfit was Daphne and Velma all in one and I think that might be the highest compliment ever.

There’s many reasons that I throw words on this page.  It’s a historical reference of my life that I often use in lieu of my failing memory.  What did we do for our sixth anniversary?  How did I train for that half marathon I notched a personal record back in the day?  AR.com answers all those questions for me even when my brain cannot.

However, one of the most beautiful and wonderful things this blog can do is be my therapist.  I started last week VERY VERY confused as to what was going on in my brain, and through three days of massaging a piece of writing, I figured out why my mind was lashing out.  While I don’t have all the answers yet, I at least know what was REALLY causing me strife.  As they say, knowing is half the battle, because when I know the full shape of the problem, I can actually formulate stabs at a solution instead of just generally freaking out and trying to prove my self-worth in other, completely unrelated ways, while not getting to the heart of the matter.

If I want to be an author, I’m going to have to amass an audience (it’s just how it’s done these days, apparently).  If I want to have the guts to create a community, I’m going to have to believe in myself 100%, that the ware which is myself is worth hawking tirelessly from the rooftops, even through the perils of disregard and rejection.  I’m closer now to feeling that self-worth than I’ve ever been, and I think part of the anxiety is that I’m so scared of losing it, as right now it feels terrifyingly fleeting.  I’d gotten used to being self-deprecating, and it’s honestly EASIER for me to be just imperfect enough that I don’t feel like maybe I’m destined for any level of greatness.  Just… decentness.  It’s comfortable to live on this side of the mediocre.

Obviously, I still need to learn the HOW of the marketing stuff.  I tried to dip my toe into that over the last few years and just like editing my book, I’ve found a huge mental block.  I’ve got some decisions to make (do I stick with AR.com or actually register a new site that’s got more focus), but I think I’d be more receptive to the ideas that made me overly uncomfortable previously.

And I’m not even squidding about how much this has been octupi-ing my thoughts…

While I’ve often been frustrated at my lack of progress in specific things over the last few years, there’s no doubt in the big picture that I’ve transformed.  Spring 2016 was when everything shook apart and I realized I needed to diversify myself as a human.  Within that next year I collected three certifications (personal trainer, sports nutrition, triathlon coach).  I’ve learned a lot about investment, business development, and have a list of about a million things I could start up should I find myself unemployed (though, obviously, that’s not the plan). 

Then, I started to nurture my creative and performer identities.  I started painting again, I wrote a freaking novel, I’ve gotten really into photography and photo editing and have even taken a crack at video.   At work, I’ve found myself as the co-host for live steams and giving presentations at the all-hands company meetings as well as other official video.  I get to do things that push me in the public speaking regard about 3-4 times per month and I relish the opportunity to improve (and it’s also a bit of an adrenaline rush).

For someone focused on only work and triathlon previously, that’s a lot of personal growth in 2.5 years.  That period of time also included completing my first Ironman, three half Ironman races, two six hour bike races, two half marathons, and at about two dozen races of other distances.  Beyond my job and training, I have to give myself credit for spending ANY time on diversification, though I couldn’t imagine my life without it now. 

And thus, cue the low level of anxiety that stretches me to always want to be better, always wanting more.

However, I’ve felt more quiet in the last few days than I have in a long time.  Figuring shit out helped, but also, I’ve been able to return to activity, which has made me feel like my normal version of a human. 

Actual weights on bar not pictured, but rest assured, they are tiny.

The only thing that I’m doing with any seriousness or schedule is lifting, and even that’s very loosely reigned in.  I’m starting with 2xweek until my body says that 3xweek is reasonable (read: not sore two days later – I’m guessing not this week but next).  I’m doing a nice, long, full body, lighter weight lift hitting all the main muscle groups each day (e.g. squatting and benching 65lbs, dead lifting 85 lbs, rowing and overhead pressing the 45 lb bar only).  Once these numbers start to approach where I was at earlier in the year, I’ll start lowering the reps and splitting things up a little more.  When I add the third day in, it will be kettlebells (lighter stuff), like what I was doing in the last few months.

Besides that, the plan is: some run, bike, swim, or other cardio a few times a week.  As long (within reason) or short as I feel like.  At whatever intensity feels good.  And if curling up with a book or going out with friends or drinking whiskey or playing video games sounds better on any given day, I’ll do that instead (as long as it’s not ALL given days).

I swam on Thursday and it felt like coming home.  Sure, I was slow and clunky and my goggles kept leaking, but it felt absolutely wonderful to glide back and forth across the pool.  There’s something about the silence and focus when it’s just you and the water (and some tunes), and maybe that’s why I was going into a bit of a tizzy over the last few weeks – the lack of time in my own head enforced by the circumstances of sport.  I had been accustomed to some 3-4 hour stretches on the bike/run over the summer with just me and my grey matter, and I suppose I missed that.

Saturday, I had grand plans for a bike adventure.  I wanted to go somewhere pretty and take pictures and have lunch and in my head we would set out in the morning and spend the day on bikes.  Reality set in – we stayed up late playing video games the night before and started riding after noon.  We decided to take off from the house instead of driving the bikes somewhere and I didn’t want to tax my knee *too* much with crazy hills, so we just rolled a fairly normal suburban loop with a lunch stop at Little Deli.  My legs told me that the mildly rolling 600 ft of elevation gained in 21 miles in 90 minutes was perfect for right now, more would be overreaching.

This week is a short work week, which means in theory I will have more time to play, but I know the siren song of the couch will be strong once I’m off work.  If I had to put together a loose plan it would be:

  • Lift #1 Monday
  • Swim Tuesday
  • Lift #2 Wednesday
  • Run on Thanksgiving morning
  • Bike adventure sometime over the weekend

I’m a little anxious both TO get back to running and actually ABOUT getting back to running.  It’s the one sport for me in which absence doesn’t make the legs grow fonder.  If I take too much time off running, I usually end up paying a price.  I don’t want to put too much pressure on my knee trying to replicate the paces from a few months ago.  I also don’t want to mentally flip out if I find 11-12 minute miles difficult after a minor injury and almost a month off. 

I decided that doing an official Turkey Trot under these circumstances seemed like an idiot decision, so I’m running out my door on Thursday instead.  I don’t know if I’m going to go one mile and then turn back or finish all five.  I do know that running around my neighborhood means I’ll go at a pace and distance which feel comfortable, instead of getting swept up in the chaos of a race.  My body has been pretty clear that all the good efforts have been used up for a while, and I’m happy to remove any excuse to try to push the issue.

Speaking of turkeys, Thanksgiving is in just a few days, and that means that the holidays are in full swing.  For many reasons, I’m excited.  For my diet, I’m terrified.  This has been my most successful year in almost a decade in terms of weight loss – and of even more import – figuring out the mystery behind making the scale move in the right direction.  For so many years I was using incorrect metrics and had too much faith in the calorie burning effect of training.  If my goal is to maintain my weight, the only distance in which I can eat intuitively, as much as I want, is Ironman (11-15+ hours per week of training).  Under any other conditions, especially offseason, I need to watch my shit lest my nice new size 9 juniors jeans will start to shrink.

Since I’ve been focused on taper tantrums and post-race blues, I haven’t shared (or cared) much about metrics, so here’s a bit of catch up.

The first part of September was flat (training volume up, had to eat to fuel those efforts).  November (offseason, little to no activity) has some rollers, but both still *slightly* trended down.  Late September and October, even with 10 days in Cozumel, was a huge success because taper (5-6 hours a week) is honestly my optimal training volume to lose weight.

The other nice feather in my cap is that I set 165 as my interim weight loss goal for the year.  Over the summer, when things slowed down, I said I’d be happy with 170 but I’ve surpassed that, and I’m so close to my original goal, y’all!

Since Waco, I’ve not made much progress, though I haven’t expected to.  Trendweight is also reminding me that in the last 3.5 years I’ve been tracking, I’m 10 lbs lower than any recorded weight in history.  That doesn’t suck.

I expect things to get a little easier now that I’m moving around again.  Last week, without any hassle, I hit 5.5 hours of activity.  I expect that will stay constant through the holiday season.  I need to keep committed to how I’ve been eating all year and absolutely track my calories and weight daily to keep that line from reversing course (I can’t really deal with the diet quality tracking right now, that will be something I get back to after the new year).  If my trendweight looks exactly the same as it does now on January 1st, I’m fine with that.  If it’s back to where I was in the summer, I’ll be pissed. I love me some peppermint bark and mulled wine and all, but nothing is worth erasing months of hard fought progress.  Moderation is key.

For now, I’ll be encouraging and enjoying the silence.  The quiet ease of this time of year.  Sleeping in and staying up late.  Everything moving a little slower, including me. 

I need to learn how to fail

The last two weeks have been a trial of patience.  I have been empty and in the winter without something to ACHIEVE and it’s taken me to some weird places.

Oh my gosh I’ve never missed the gym so much in my life…

Typically, I have coping mechanisms for that, but with coach’s orders to not engage in physical activity more intense than walking, I couldn’t go chase my tail for a few hours and reach that blessed state of blissfully spent.  I had a brief respite after hours of riding back to back roller coasters on Saturday, and it was like balm to a wound – THIS was the feeling I was missing!  Obviously, I hadn’t really *achieved* anything besides getting strapped into a seat and whirled around, trusting that metal harnesses would save me from certain death, but the aftereffects of the adrenaline rush rivaled those of a race or great speed workout.  Brain chemicals are wacky, man.

Fifteen days have passed since Waco.  It feels like an eternity, but I’ve made it through the required waiting period without either breaking down and sneaking in a sweet, sweet endorphin hit or going *completely* insane.  Last night, I got to go lift and I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more excited to go push a bar with very little weight up and down over and over.  It’s time to start tracking my food again and eat at least 80% healthy food again, and I’m oddly stoked about it.  In both cases, I need to make sure I don’t take this new, shiny mega-maniacal drive I’ve found and completely overdo it as is my typical tendency when I find some enthusiasm about a thing.  A thousand miles an hour or collapsed on the floor are the only two states I find myself in lately.

This offseason break has been VERY different than others.  Usually, I’m mostly fine doing nothing for two weeks.  Honestly, it usually takes me a kick in the pants to get back to it, contrasted this time with counting the hours until the embargo on gym-related activities were lifted.  I’ve never felt so much difficulty turning OFF, and though I stuck to it in terms of athletics, wanting to be ON seeped out in many other different facets of my life.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to put my finger on what are these heckin’ things in my head?  I mean, feelings, obviously, but why do I care so much about bizarre things ALL OF A SUDDEN? 

Over the last few sessions, I had this odd compulsion to WIN at at Dungeons&Dragons, a cooperative storytelling game, aka – a game that doesn’t really have a true victory condition. I thought I had been REALLY clever at some things, and instead multiple times, I either mildly or spectacularly fucked things up after spending all sorts of time preparing and it really affected me for a moment.  What the-?  All of a sudden this really fun thing became about being great at it, and then when I wasn’t, it kind of stung instead of being HILARIOUS (which it absolutely was).

Feeling the feelings again sucks sometimes. I’m really, really rusty at it.  When nothing needed a feeling it was much easier than when everything has a dice roll at being a feeling whether it is deserving or not.

The feelings go up, the feelings go down…

It was really fun when those feelings were confidence, courage, power, elation, and worthiness, when I was building up my race persona before Cozumel.  It’s decidedly less fun when they are shame, inadequacy, disappointment, and despair (and especially less fun when THERE’S NOTHING REALLY WRONG AND YOU’RE JUST BEING DRAMATIC).  With the peaks come the valleys, I know.  It’s inevitable, but that when you’re used to riding the flats for a long time, the rolling hills feel like mountains.

As a perpetual student of psychology, I tend to step outside of my head a LOT into that overhead third person over-the-shoulder view.  It’s entirely obvious that that the gross overreaction in my head isn’t about a game at all, and even in the moment when I’m experiencing these things, I know I’m projecting.  I’ve spent the last few months under extremely high stress conditions at work.  Tapering for a big race is crazy-making already, tapering twice in a row was enough to endanger a non-consensual trip to the funny farm.  Pressure makes diamonds, and under pressure I do thrive, but one can’t push on forever without consequences.  The cracks from 2018 have finally let the light in, which I am ultimately grateful for, but I need to be careful they don’t cause me to crumble.

This is complicated by the fact that I actually kind of like myself right now.  Weird sentiment, I know.  Bear with me.  Minor fumbles aside, I’ve had quite the banner year – my first triathlon season gracing the podium multiple times, hitting personal records that have stood for many years, qualifying for Nationals, losing a noticeable amount of weight for the first time in forever, my first brand ambassadorship, success at work.  Great, right?  But what’s clanking around in my brainpan right now isn’t pride in my accomplishments, it’s that evil villainess voice shouting loudly at me – HEY DUMMY GOOD FOR YOU THAT YOU DID SOMETHING GREAT NOW YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO LOSE DON’T SCREW IT UP (you’re going to screw it up you’re going to screw it up you’re going to screw it up).

As the reigning queen of Ye Olde Village of Self-Sabotage, this is not an unfounded fear.  I’m hoping that this is the moment, the year, the age that I break that cycle, but I’m already doing stupid crap to the contrary.  Case in point, falling on my knee and twisting my ankle, which turned out okay THIS time because it’s almost all the way better two weeks later, but I could have EASILY broken something and derailed my spring season.  I haven’t gained any weight, frankly, I’ve seen some new lows on the scale this month, but I’m not doing myself any favors with the lack of tracking and any attention to diet quality lately.  I’m hobby hopping instead of actually pursuing excellence at things I care about which means I’m avoiding the uncomfortable nature of having to actually TRY at something beyond the jack-of-all-trades level. 

I’m shying away from delving into the dark place true mastery of a craft demands, when that’s all my little heart desires.  Screw you very much, brain.

My brain personified, being eely, eely annoying.

I want to be an author with a published book.  It’s been a dream of mine since I was sixteen, probably even longer, and I’m the closest I’ve ever been in my life.  However, I’ve spent months ignoring my completed first draft.  Thinking about editing it actively pains me.  I realize now that my Pavlovian block here has very little to do with my perceived capability as a weaver of words, or the work necessary to arrange approximately 90,000 of them into a state of coherence.  I live for that stuff.  It’s the other parts that I didn’t really think about when I wrote some sentences and saved the draft for the first time fourteen months ago.

The truth is, I’m sharing a real and raw story about myself and seeking approval.  I do the first part all the time on this blog, but it’s because I know no one really reads this that I know in real life (minus a few of you… hello!) and I’ve convinced myself I don’t care about the paltry few hundred views very few comments compared to the alternative.  I hit a big mental block when I considered trying to promote AR.com and see if I could make it popular as an exercise to learn about marketing.  Not because I care what the world at large thinks, but because I didn’t find myself very comfortable sharing that stuff with the people represented on Facebook, collections of coworkers, family, friends, people I knew from high school, etc.  I’m great at the stage, but I’m terrible when I have to look people in the eyeballs.  Instagram feels like a stage.  Facebook feels like eyeballs.

I knew I would also hit that same conditioned response about my book, which is a HUGE issue.  As an unknown author, I need to leverage every avenue I can to build an audience if I really want to have a go at this thing.   I need to believe in myself and my product wholeheartedly and have ZERO shame or hesitation shouting about it from the rooftops.

Which feels just about like… this… right now.

In the last two months, some switch flipped where I got brave and shared some things in a similar vein of what I’m sharing in my novel on the Book of Face, and at first I got a lot of positive responses!  That was awesome!  Then, I think I pushed it a little far and continued to write stories and I think people were like, “ugh, we get it, you are having insecurities about triathlon, and you lost some weight this year and you’re using big words GOSH”.  I’m trying to pull back on the sharing a little bit –  simply because I think I’ve proved my point to myself that I am worthy of self-promotion and also brave enough to open up to people I encounter in real life instead of being an enigma, and I don’t want to continue gilding the lily too often.

The truth was that I got to the point where I was having fun with it.  The likes and the comments were actually making my day instead of being WHATEVS, someone noticed me on the internet, and then, the LACK of them on some posts were making me feel like I failed somehow.  From that third person perspective, I know this is stupid, it feels like regression to care about public opinion.  Not everything I write is going to resonate with everyone.  But there I was, feeling like I might as well take my ball and go home if not enough people wanted to play my game with me. 

Let’s lay it all bare and dig further.  I’m honestly terrified I’ll write this book and maybe it will be well-written, interesting, witty, and amazing, but I’ll fail every charisma check trying to promote it.  I can’t care this much about what people think about ME, but the product of my work, when I’ve actually dedicated myself to it, that has the potential to actually crush me and I’m worried that being that vulnerable could actually hurt my heart.

Just like the lionfish could hurt my body if I touch it.

The romance of taking the leap, going into the dark place, being brave is so alluring to me, but the problem is… it doesn’t always come up roses.  Just being confident and courageous isn’t going to finally lead to all my dreams coming true all of a sudden.  It does mean the OPPORTUNITY to pursue my dreams instead of being frozen with fear and forced into inaction, which is a step in the right direction.  I may find that I’ll never have the skill to have award winning photographs, and maybe no publisher will ever touch my writing with a ten foot pole, and maybe first place in my age group twice in 2018 is the best I’ll ever do in triathlon.  I have to accept that just because I’m willing something into existence doesn’t mean it’s inevitable.  I’m not a wizard even though I play one on the internet sometimes.

The one thing I know is that there’s something about this anxiety from which I don’t want to run.  I can solve this easily – stop caring.  I’m pretty sure I can quit anytime I want – log out of social media, stop looking for avenues to share my photos and writing and other creative work, stop actively searching out things that grow my comfort zone, give myself permission to just… exist – for a while, or forever.  The problem is I don’t think I want it to go away.  It feels like there’s something worthwhile underneath all these growing pains, so instead of turning it off I’m going to see it through and follow this where it goes.

One thing has become clear to me: I am not accustomed to failure, and it’s darn uncomfortable.  Let’s be clear, I’m not perfect, I don’t do everything right, but WHEN I fail, most often it’s because I blow it off or don’t really put much effort into it.  Bright student, lacks initiative.  Then I can truthfully say, “well, if I *really* wanted it and dedicated the time, I could totally do it”.  To further protect my psyche, the dark place in my brain keeps me from actually trying hard because I’m terrified beyond belief that my highest capability at said thing isn’t enough.

I need to spend some time there, actually leaping with every fiber of my leg muscles, and still falling flat on my face enough times to desensitize myself to the experience.  I’ve spent a lifetime this year convincing myself that I was enough, and now I’m pretty much there.  I kind of think that I’m worthy, finally, but it feels very fragile to say it still, I can whisper it but not *too* loud.  The next step is shouting it out and convincing the world because this is the lot I’ve chosen in this life.  The challenge is to maintain that confidence while having the courage to willingly put myself in these positions where someone will tell me that no, indeed, I am NOT enough for this particular opportunity.  And then, I need to pick myself up, spend a minimal amount of time licking my wounds, and throw myself off the next chasm of opportunity with reckless abandon.

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