Adjusted Reality

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

Month: October 2022

Chutes and ladders

This week has been frustrating, not gonna lie.

Since I no longer take selfies for some reason have a very tired one from Germany

Mondays always start with rosy intentions. I enjoyed my personal trainer appointment at lunch and had a kickass workout, had great food intake right around 1200 calories without going nuts, did all my recovery, and slept amazingly. I woke up the next day and rode the trainer. My weight was trending in a nice direction. Everything was going so well!

We were hosting an anniversary celebration that day at work, but we planned to have one small piece of cake and bow out of any other festivities. Instead, in the early afternoon I had to take Joel home because he had a kidney stone (ouch!!) and ended up at urgent care and we had a bit of a pity party together. I also got my consultation for the minor surgery I’m having in a few days, and the instructions said to stop alcohol for 7 days beforehand. Since that’s kind of forever for me, I had one last unplanned evening of whiskey, and of course now I’m eating my nerves a bit – which is more than 1200 calories per day. I’m hanging out at 1515/day average, though a few of those days I wasn’t as diligent at tracking my random snacks right away, so it’s probably higher.

And of course, because my body is a drama queen, I had the highest weight yesterday since like, January and then my lowest weight since travel after I worked out today.

And here’s the whine to go with the slightly-too-much-cheese this week: my tracked calories haven’t exceeded what My Fitness Pal thinks I should be eating daily with my activity (not even close). I just know that what seems to work for every other damn body on the planet doesn’t work for me. I lost weight last time when I stopped getting hung up on what I thought was fair and followed the metrics. The truth is I have to do more to lose weight than the average able-bodied human being and it is absolutely NOT FAIR. And yet, I still need to do it anyway because I am unhappy right now with my athletic capabilities/injuries and also how I look in my clothes.

I’ve been walking a bit more this week since Joel (for good reason) hasn’t really wanted to get on the bike and the company and weather during some mild activity has been pleasant. It’s not burning as many calories as other efforts, but it’s helping establish a habit and the goal is to eventually ADD these to my training, not have them BE my training. But we’ll get there. Since my Garmin calendar doesn’t show walks, here’s this week!

It’s spookywalk season! Joel said this ghost just needed a hug.
  • Monday: 30 min chest and shoulders trainer session, 30 mins elliptical
  • Tuesday: 30 min bike trainer
  • Wednesday: 30 min leg workout
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: 1.5h walk
  • Saturday: 40 min walk
  • Sunday: 1h bike, quick 20 min back/bicep workout

It’s not nothing, it’s just… not what I had planned.

So, yeah, I didn’t make it to the pool this week. I *almost* switched the elliptical for a swim Monday, but it was cold and rainy, and I couldn’t be arsed. “I’ll do it later in the week.” SPOILER: she did not do it later in the week. Next week is definitely not the week for it either, but soon after I need to figure out where this fits in my schedule as it’s good for switching up cardio, loosening up my tight legs, and my sanity.

I love swimming, I just hate the logistics of a 20 min workout taking 1 hour and also leaving my house is hard.

However, all is not lost. Let me give myself some props to end this missive:

I have rolled every day! I think it’s working, I’m feeling the tension and layers of knots in my calves, hammies, and IT bands slowly unravel. Rolling spots on my body that used to feel like I was bruising or injuring myself now just feels mildly uncomfortable or even satisfying. I still need to work stretching into my life as well, but baby steps.

These habits are still going well: tracking food, weighing myself, using the massage boots, icing, doing some physical activity 5x week, returning to weights 2x week, meditating, doing some sort of hobby most days, and now rolling. I was doing almost none of this when I returned from Europe. I have to admit that in 6 weeks, this is pretty solid work.

I also did this while losing a boss I really enjoyed working with and assuming more responsibility. In the face of this, over the last 6 weeks, I’ve been able to work back towards a fairly contiguous 40h week with some wiggle room and I even have time to actually get some deep work done. My triumph last week was that even through a very unpredictable and interrupted week (I think I lost the totality of an entire workday to one life circumstance or another), I was able to get all my work done, even including three tasks that included significant thought, not just execution.

Requisite picture of something tall I climbed in Germany as a metaphor. I need to keep plodding and not get distracted halfway up the stairs.

I know it’s a slow path and I just need to stay the course. Next week, due to the fact I have to go get put to sleep and poked a bit (how’s that for describing minor surgery as awkwardly as possible?) my goals are a little bit modified:

  1. Recover as needed. Take the ENTIRETY of the surgery day off even if you feel “fine”, and the next day too if needed. Eat good healthy food if you can stand it, but remember you have (lower calorie) comfort food on standby if the healthy stuff sounds nauseating.
  2. Get back to every habit as quickly as possible while adhering to goal #1. Don’t let a day or two of abnormality screw with the good habits you’ve been building.
  3. The end of the week has some social stuff. Again, don’t let this screw with your good habits. Plan for a larger meal with friends before the theater but don’t go crazy. Stop by the Halloween party for a bit to say hi and catch up with people but stick to lower calorie drinks and not too many, and ignore the food.

Next week, we’ll get back to building, with this one, I just don’t want to backslide. It’s all about chutes and ladders right now and I need to stay on the up and up.

October is for habits

It’s spooky season, y’all!

Our neighborhood is always hyped for Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorites, though my enthusiasm for it changed over the pandemic. I used to love dressing up and going to parties to walking around and looking at spooky decorations. Now that the parties are back, I’m like ehhhh… probably mostly because nothing fits and I’m not looking forward to putting anything on my body that draws attention but… whatever. I’ll figure something out and endure and also probably enjoy myself in spite of that.

Normally, I love this time of year for many other reasons that aren’t quite hitting the same. It’s usually a break after a long race (this year, my whole summer was the break after a long race). Or some years, this month finally gets cooler (nope) and I can go for happy fun runs (also nope) and enjoy bikes outside (the two we’ve gone on, allergies have just about slain Joel so we’ve stayed inside). It’s just one of those times where the universe is reminding me that 2022 is just different than other years, and it’s okay.

I didn’t get to go here for 24 days in previous years so that’s fine

What October has been about is building habits, which the process of is also something I nerdily love in my psychology brain. It’s fascinating how when you repeatedly do something, it goes from using active to passive memory in a few weeks. I’m finally at the point where the first week’s habits are almost unconscious now, it is just what I do, and the rest are getting there.

I have successfully tracked my food every day since I set the goal. Most days, I’m tracking as I eat and using it to monitor my calories, not just for posterity after the fact, so that’s good.

  • Week 1: 1550/day average
  • Week 2: 1430/day average
  • Week 3: 1540/day average

Low days are around 1200-1400, high days are around 1600-1800. This is okay for now, especially now that I’m getting back to doing some training, though I’d like to be skewing more towards that week 2 range. Oddly enough, I had fewer drinks that week than normal, so perhaps that’s the difference I need. (grrr, I love my happy brown relax-y juice aka whiskey)

I hired not one but two “personal chefs” this week haha

One thing I’ve done to put this on easy mode is I’m now getting 6 meals a week from Snap Kitchen, and 4 meals a week from Factor starting next week. This leaves me 4 lunches/dinners per week to improvise, which is fine for a break. We can grill or cook something, get the occasional meal out, or just throw something mildly trashy but low enough calorie in the air fryer to satisfy the “bar food” craving (sometimes 2 eggrolls are a satisfying dinner if I just want some junk food). I was weirdly scared about getting on a meal service (I fear commitment?) and now I’m on two. I’ll let you know how this goes!

Some training has started. Don’t get too excited, it’s not much.

It’s not 2018-19, but it’s not nothing

However, this is a good start, and I’m happy that I’m establishing consistency over the last two weeks. Please pretend there is an elliptical on Monday that happened, but I forgot to record, a walk on Wednesday that recorded but doesn’t show up on the calendar, and a bike or walk today (that I haven’t done yet but I’m intending, I swear!). I truly intend to get to the pool; I just haven’t been able to work it into my habits yet. I cannot WAIT to be able to run again, but I also know that I have work to do before I can run like I used to. For now, cycling, weights, and walking is better than the alternative, which is nothing, and burning an extra 1500 calories/week isn’t nothing.

And, after two months, I bit the bullet and put my feet on the scale. It wasn’t as bad as I feared, but it also wasn’t great.

I didn’t have to get on the scale to realize that I gained weight in Europe (and after), so it was no surprise when it was confirmed. I’m guessing it was worse a few weeks ago, so I’m glad I waited for the inflammation to settle and some controlled eating to stabilize things. With one week of data, I don’t know what the correlation of calories in vs out yet is – if my weight is the same in 2 weeks, I’ll know I need to up the workouts, reduce the calories, or a little bit of both.

Outside of the pursuit of being slightly less unfluffy – or perhaps supporting it – I’m meditating about 5-6 mornings/week. While I can’t always get my brain to stop thinking, or conversely, I fall asleep during it, it’s highly superior to grabbing my phone with one eye open in bed. I’ve found that sometimes Saturday/Sunday morning I’ll just feel super awake and excited to get up if I’ve slept well and skip it, but it’s the first thing I do every weekday morning at least.

My good recovery habits have been fair to middling. I’m back in the massage boots almost every day – when I work from home, I try to do my first hour in them or end my day with them while I watch TV, read, or edit photos (or write blog posts, just like I am now!). The good news is that in the last 3 weeks they’ve gone from stupid painful to feeling good. I am icing almost daily… but probably not all the right spots. I’m sitting on the ice pack (while using the massage boots) to ice my piriformis but not icing my calves/hammies. I really don’t have an excuse, as all I need to do is sit on the couch with ice on them. I’m stretching maybe 1-2x week and same with rolling, which is better than not doing it but I could be doing better for myself doing it on the daily. I’ve asked Joel to remind me when he takes his nightly medication and that will be my cue to go do at least one of those per evening if I haven’t already.

So, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day… and I’ll just be continuing on. Next week’s goals will be to just build consistency and be a little bit better at the things I’m doing now.

  1. Swim once for cardio next week. Figure out where this fits in my schedule and make it happen. Keep the rest of the training momentum and fill out my cardio 5x week with cycling and walking. Stick with weights 2-3x week, seeing the squat witch 1-2x week.
  2. Work the average calories down to around 1400/day from 1550/day without hurting people.
  3. Recover better. Stretch AND roll (not OR) 3x week minimum. Ice my legs, not just my back.

I feel a temporary grasp on these good habits, and now I just need to continue transferring them from conscious efforts to things that are simply part of my day.

Kerrville and everything after

I suppose I should update for posterity on Kerrville, even if I don’t really wanna. 😛

My lead up was sub-par, and this was the understatement of the year. I swam once on the Wednesday before the race in the lake (after not at all for about 6 weeks), and remembered how just fine, so that checked that box. I intended to ride my race bike outside but didn’t. I ran a few 1-mile tests and my calf kept cramping, so I just rested it and hoped for some race day magic. I had no expectations here. I was just interested in playing triathlon and seeing what the day handed me.

Nothing was notable about the day before, the drive and camper setup and packet pickup went fine, we forgot the sheets again and ended up buying too much crap at Walmart. If anything was out of the ordinary, it was dinner – shrimp risotto spinach salad, which took 2.5 hours because the restaurant was slammed – but it was an excuse to catch up with Matt, the only angst it caused was getting to bed a little later than normal.

Sleep was fine – not the best but not the worst, and after coffee, an english muffin, and poopin’ like 6 times, I felt adequately ready to do this thing.

Predictive picture of the sh!tshow to come

My swim wasn’t fast, but it also was just fine. I ended up starting in the back of my age group and passing a lot of people, and I think I was passed by one person ahead of me. I emerged from the water feeling refreshed and good. Looking at my time and the bikes still in transition, I was in the mix.

The bike was actually pretty great. While I hadn’t been riding much, I spent a crap ton of time on my feet in Europe, which meant my legs felt pretty sturdy and strong if not super trained to hammer a bike. I remembered how to maneuver on DeathStar just fine (mostly…) and though I’m not accustomed to the pain of really racing and I’m def off my form, I finished over 18.5 mph, which was also still in the mix of my age group podium.

The run was an unknown, and likely to be stacked against me at my current weight/level of training, but I was ready to be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, I was also surprised by the stupid bottle cage that was on the back of my bike because I hadn’t ridden it outside since May and raked my right inner thigh over it. This produced a very large (and still weeks later very painful) bruise. At the time though, I though “hmmm, that’s going to hurt later”, and took off to see what the run course had for me. I jogged, not feeling great, calves a little tight, but hoped they would loosen up. SPOILER ALERT: they. would. not. First hill, about a quarter mile in, I felt rice crispies happen in my right calf (some sort of snap, crackle or pop). It was very jolting.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.png
Usually, I take a post-race picture with my medal. This race, I took one of my bruise.

I thought I tore something, but I was also hoping that it would just work itself out. I walked around, I stretched, I asked if there was ice at the aid station (sadly no) and found that running was out of the question and my best speed was about a 30 min/mile limp. If I was in the back half of the race, I might have just finished anyway. However, my pride is not such right now that I was willing to potentially do irreparable damage to finish a friggin’ sprint triathlon I was participating in just “see what I could do”. So, for the first time in 13 years of sport, I walked off a racecourse. I went to medical; they checked me out and ruled out an Achillies rupture and gave me ice.

Fast forward to my chiropractor appointment, there was nothing acutely wrong after she stretched, poked, and prodded. I have a medial quad/hammy imbalance made worse by a month of travel and an angry piriformis. My calves are fine, that is just where the funk is manifesting. Dr’s orders: 3 weeks no walking beyond what I need to do day to day, 4-6 weeks no running, and lots of stretching, rolling, and icing. I need to resume some balance strength work to re-activate the muscles that decided to go to sleep in Europe, I’m encouraged to do all the swimming, and some careful biking (with good form).

I was not a happy camper race weekend as you might imagine, but I think it could possibly have been one of the best outcomes in the grand scheme of things. I have been really cavalier with my health and training since the pandemic. I had to think really damn hard that weekend about whether I still cared about being a triathlete, and the fact that I was REALLY upset when I walked off the course that day means that I do.

I re-read “Calm the F#$% Down” (a sports psychology book) while camping and it set my head straight and reminded me of a few things. My ability to focus is ENTIRELY broken right now and it’s screwing me over in all facets of life. I get stuck on internal/broad (plotting and scheming) way too much. I’m working on alternating between internal/external/broad/narrow with some exercises. Reaching for my phone to log onto work with one eye open first thing in the morning is a bad habit I need to break. Instead, I need to start with some meditation. Yeah, I know, I am side eying myself saying the M word but it’s amazing how much better I feel when I cycle my breath through my body for 5 minutes before I really wake up even if I can’t get my brain to shut up during it and maybe that will come eventually. There are many other things, but these are the ones I can put into practice immediately.

I gave myself the week after the race to be grumpy about it and wallow a bit as an athlete, and I got over it fairly quickly, I’m just ready to do the things to not have that happen ever again. I tend to be the most motivated to make changes when I’m fed up, and hell yes, I’m fed up right now. But, as Joel reminds me as the sanity to my megmaniacalness, I need to make slow, gradual, and deliberate change instead of everything (everywhere?) all at once. So, I’m starting to incorporate 2 good habits per week, until I get back to being a little closer to the 2018-19ish me.

Week 1:

  1. Track my food and work on my consumption not being one of an arsehole
  2. Start meditating again.

Not that any of this was a surprise to anyone but my goldfish brain, but tracking my food reminded me that I’m eating too much for my calorie burn left to my own devices, so I’m endeavoring not to do that anymore. Also, waking up after cycling my breath through my body for 5 minutes makes me feel like a much more amazing human in the morning. Yeah, even if I can’t get my brain to shut up sometimes (or sometimes I fall back asleep during it) and maybe that will come eventually.

Week 2:

  1. Start training (lightly) again
  2. Try to do more of my 9 good habits

In January, I started a to do list with 9 things I’d like to do each day that make me a good sturdy happy human: stretch, roll, ice, boots, meditate, training, do a hobby for 30 mins, play 3 songs on guitar, track food. I’m back to using that to do app and while some days I get 3, and some days I get 9, I’m trying to do most things more days than not. It’s lead me to a nice morning routine where I wake up after meditation, ride the trainer for 30 mins (with some actual gusto!), occasionally pick up some weights, and then do my first hour of work on the couch with my massage boots and icing what needs icing. That hits a few things on that list. I am exclusively biking (either indoors or out) right now because I need to earn the right to run again and swimming takes leaving the house not to go to work, which is not quite in my repertoire of things to do right now, and that’s okay.

This upcoming week, I need to do the scary one (I guess it’s October so it’s spooky season):

  1. Start weighing again (and not hating myself for whatever number is on the scale)
  2. Reunite with the squat witch

I can’t measure progress without metrics, and I need to measure progress to stay motivated. So, it’s time to start the second parameter of this (both input AND output) with the scale. I think I’ve given it enough time to “settle” after travel and the race, and wherever I’m at right now, I’m at, and that’s okay (she says, cavalierly, before actually seeing a number). Also, we have 2 personal trainer appointments scheduled, and I’m ready to have the squat witch wreck/fix my meatbag.

I keep trying to coerce 2022 to be 2018, and it’s just not cooperating yet, but I do have 3 months left for it to move in that direction. Hopefully restarting good habits will be the shove the year needs to get going.

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