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).