Monday Mindfulness: Be Here Now

Back in 2010, when I was still racing bicycles competitively, I attended a cycling workshop hosted by professional cyclist Giana Roberge. During one of the clinics, we were working on some pretty intense drills to work on building our stamina during power moves such as time trials and climbing, where you need to be throttling it at your absolute max for a long time. To red-line your power output like that is just as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. The entire time you are fighting with your brain to keep mashing the pedals, while your whole body seems to be screaming that you need to stop. One of the things Giana suggested to help keep us motivated during this time was to identify a manta or phrase that we could repeat to ourselves during the effort that was inspiring and could distract us and keep us focused to push our limits. Her suggested phrase was, “be here now.” All that exists in this moment, right now, is for the pedal to get one more powerful turn, for my lungs to get in one more good suck of air, for me to pull myself out of the saddle just one more time. Do not think about the discomfort, about how I could be just sitting at home watching Netflix right now, or what I plan on doing when I get home, or anything that could distract me from giving it my all right now. Be here now, in this moment, giving it everything, because that is all that matters.

Six years later, and I am still repeating that phrase to myself, although it’s morphed to take on new meanings and manifestations since being on the bike. I say it to myself before I go into an important meeting, to focus on the content I have prepared and to not guess or predict what my client’s reactions will be. I say it to myself in between reading my toddler bedtime stories and tucking her into bed, so I can savor the short moment of one of the “good parts” of parenthood and not rush off to continue my own activities for the evening. Most recently, I say it to myself when I start planning to-do lists and big, overachieving projects I know I don’t really have the time or energy to initiate let alone actually complete.

Often I have felt in a goal-achieving funk. In the past couple years I’ve had to deal with a lot of Life Stuff that has taken up a good chunk of my time I used to spend working on my hobbies and goals. I feel like I haven’t had the focus or energy to put into the big, hairy goals I want to make happen next in my life. The other day I was looking for a book when I stumbled across some of my old planners from several years ago. Out of curiosity, I opened a couple to see what my long-term goals were back in the day. Out of habit, I always jot down my current 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals in the back pages of my planner, just for inspiration and visualization on days when I feel a little demotivated. Imagine my surprise when I realized that almost every 1- or 5- year goal I had written down – run a marathon, complete my family (2 kids!), work as a professional consultant, live in a big city, buy a “forever” home – I’ve done. These things just seemed to happen in my life at the time that seemed right, there was no “project plan” or obvious hard work or muscling it up that occurred to manifest these things. At some point I realized it was something I wanted to do, I wrote it down, and just kept working hard on the stuff I knew how to do. And magic happened, and I didn’t even realize it, because I was so focused on my plans for the future; I almost missed the “now.”

That’s not to say I didn’t work or plan for these things. But from the moment I dreamed up a goal, I had absolutely no plan or idea how I would make it work. It’s just something I knew I wanted. Then when time was right and opportunities presented themselves, I figured it out. But all the while, I was still planning and organizing the future, without stopping to look at the current. I forgot to “be here now.” And it stressed me out, making me feel like I cannot get it together and I did not have enough focus to make things happen. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I just was too focused on making it happen rather than allowing it to happen, trusting that if I continued to work and act in a way that made me the person I wanted to be, the things I wanted to experience would come along shortly. Time and again, things have worked out for me when I least expected them to, and I can trust in that pattern.

Life has taken me on some really crazy detours, but they have always brought me around to the place I’m meant to be in the end. I’m starting to let go of my control-freak nature and just allow and trust things to go where they need to go as long as I’m doing what I feel like I need to do. Some would say this is sort of “let go and let God sort it out” sort of thinking. I see it as reducing the amount of crap I keep thinking about that I can’t control anyway, which frees up some brain space for just the crap that is in this moment. To “be here now” and let go of all of the stress, worries, and fears that Later might bring. Letting go of that control is sort of scary at first, like I’m just going to tailspin into the Land of No Forward Progress and Complacency, as if that’s a real thing. But the opposite is true. When I can truly let go and enjoy the moment, I feel as if the possibilities are endless. I have the capacity to do anything, without all of the weight of worry and control on my back. To “be here now” is such a feeling of freedom in this moment.

A Day in the Life

I’ve seen these posts from other blogs, and I love them. I can’t remember if I’ve done one of these “day in the life” posts before, so here you go! Edit: yes, I did a Day in the Life post a couple years ago. Time flies!

5:00 – alarm goes off. I scroll through social media for a good 20 minutes until I feel like I’m ready to get out of bed.

5:20 – shower and dress for work

5:45 – head downstairs to meditate and write an entry in my gratitude journal. Because I totally do this every day. And by “every day” I mean once in a while when I remember that I want to meditate and journal every day. And today I nailed it.

6:10 – start breakfast. Squish wakes up and keeps me company. We eat breakfast together

6:30 – I clean up breakfast and do the dishes from last night. We play Lego trucks for a bit.

6:45 – pack my stuff for work

7:00 – time to commute to Silicon Valley!

7:20 – Starbucks stop

8:10 – pull into the parking lot, and there’s an open charging station, yay!

8:45 – coffee #2

10:00 – unplug my fully-charged car and park closer to the building

11:00 – meetings meetings meetings

12:00 – more meetings, but they catered in Greek food for lunch! I ate this x2


2:30 – la Croix break!


4:00 – heading into my last meeting of the day. I won’t make it home in time to pick up Squish from preschool, so I text Hulk to save me.

4:40 – fly out of the office to try and get home in time for CrossFit

6:00 – get home, change, slam down food, jump back in the car and head to the gym

6:30 – CROSSFIT YAY!


7:30 – peel myself off the ground and head home

7:50 – arrive at home. Hulk made the kids popcorn and they’re watching a movie. I join them for a bit; it’s the first time I’ve seen Buttercup today

8:15 – I jump in the shower while Hulk wrangles the kids to bed

8:30 – doing some housework crosses my mind, but I’m too tired to peel myself off the couch. Dishes can wait, I suppose. Hulk and I catch up on our days.

9:00: I’m done. Good night!
Go make it a great day!

Cool Mom

Since I dropped 10 lbs on my Whole30, I treated myself to a new pair of pants that fit me yesterday. Look at me dipping my toe into the distressed jeans look. I’m not a regular mom, I’m like a cool mom.

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Also, yesterday was Dairy Reintro day, which I celebrated with a Pumpkin Spice Latte (full-fat milk, duh. Go big or go home).

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I also had a kale salad with feta cheese and mashed potatoes with butter in my lunch. The potatoes are poking out from under the massive pile of BBQ pulled pork my hot bar box was rocking. Plus roasted veggies and garilic mushrooms. I may have had to close my eyes and put down my fork a couple of times in this meal just to truly savor the awesomeness. Once again, hats off to you Whole Foods hot bar.

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Of course, after all of the dairy it was probably not the best day to go skinny jeans shopping. Bloat-city, man. So dairy reintro was a success in that now I’m sure I will start billowing like a balloon after consuming a latte. Knowledge is power, my friends. I might take a couple days then try a dairy day that doesn’t include 12 oz of milk in one sitting, just butter and cheese. I can survive without milk, but it would be nice to be able to cook Home Chef meals with the butter and the cream in the sauce on occasion if I can determine it doesn’t affect me that much.

On the lighter side of life, is it too early to request a Mother’s Day gift?

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Photo cred to @cely524

Darn skippy, kids. I’m a gosh darn genius.

Go make it a great day!

But First, Coffee

Just so you know, I now offer a free service. 


According to my sister, I have a superhuman ability to find a quality Starbucks or coffee shop anywhere. I don’t care where you are; I will find coffee for you. It’s my gift to humanity.
Saturday we took the kids to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park to meet up Amanda and her husband for a day of gettin’ our learn on. Squish was super interested in the exhibits (especially the Earthquake interactive display) until he discovered that there were interactive iPads with games on them at every turn. Then he just played games instead of, like, looking at the exhibits. At least I think he’s learning.


Buttercup was a lot more interested than I thought she would be. We made it in time to see them feed the Penguins, and she sat still in my lap through the entire presentation, watching them gobble fish from the biologist (Squish was long gone into iPad Land at that point). Then we checked out the huge aquarium and she was just mesmerized with the giant reef exhibit.


Then Sunday I went to CrossFit. Yay! At our gym Sundays are for hero WODs, so the suck factor is always at full-throttle.

“Donny”

For time, sets of 21-15-9-9-15-21 reps:

  • Deadlift (men=100kg, women=70kg)
  • Burpees

I scaled the weight on the deadlifts down to 50kg (110 lbs) because I recall 70 is my 10-rep max, and this workout requires, like, 90 reps. So, nope.

I started out trying to pace at sets of 5 deadlifts, which worked out okay for approximately 2 minutes. I hit the “pain cave” hard and fast, and it was one of those workouts where I about started crying because when I go that hard I get super emotional (It’s no wonder that they call it “barbell therapy”!), but I didn’t cry, my hands didn’t rip, and I was done in 17:11.

That’s it for now, go make it a great day!

Reading About It Is the Same as Doing It, Right?

Hello, and Happy Friday!

It’s been a week since I visited the gym, and I’m starting to have those weird, jumpy energy bursts that indicate it’s really time to blow some steam off at the gym. I didn’t intend on skipping so many days, and I took Olive on a hike Tuesday morning, but I’m starting to feel that pent-up-energy feeling when it’s been too long since I’ve really worked out. I’ve been trying to catch up on sleep so I’ve been skipping the morning classes, and we’ve had a lot of last-minute plans in the evenings so I haven’t been hitting up the evening classes. I miss my CrossFit! But I’ve slept in for two mornings in a row now, and we have no plans the next few nights (fingers crossed!) so I think I’ll be able to pick up our regularly scheduled body-pummeling soon.

In the meantime, reading about fitness is the same as doing it, right?

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I’ve had this book on my Amazon book wish list for a while, and just found out the library has a copy! I’m only about three chapters into it, and my mind is already exploding with the awesomeness. I’ll probably end up buying a copy when I have to return this one to the library, I want to make so many notes in it. Tons of great info about what the body does when it’s exercising, what types of exercise inflict certain system responses, and how your body fuels itself for efforts. Brain. Full.

And even if I’m chilling out this week, my Jawbone app gave me this notification the other day:

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I’ve taken 5 million steps with my Jawbone this year. That sounds like a lot.

That’s all for now, go make it a great day!

Cravings, Sleep, and Stress

Hello, all of you awesome and rad people.

So, today I am dragging and so, so crave-y (I’ve had to pull my hand back from the candy jar a couple of times already, reminding myself that although I’m not on a Whole30, I’m on a Whole30 Reset and candy still isn’t a good idea right now). And I think I know the culprit: Hello, Life Stress! Things have been really hectic this week, and I’m not sleeping enough and the gym visits have taken a back seat to the bigger priorities of survival.

Fortunately, as I was dreaming of “I should bake all the Christmas cookies this year! Maybe tonight!” I was able to recognize that I am under-slept and haven’t had all of the time I need to recharge myself lately. It reminded me of this PaleoFX presentation called “Stress and Cravings: Why Changing Your Food Isn’t Enough” (yes, presented by my current girl crush Melissa Hartwig) about the cycle of stress > eat sugar > more stress > eat more sugar. My cravings aren’t because my body is deprived of sugar or because I even really want it, but because I’m tired and frazzled and looking for a quick fix of happy. And as I recall, giving into my cravings has rarely if ever worked out for me.

So the game plan is to make sure I’m still eating enough healthy food, reach out to friends and family for support as needed, and seize any opportunity I can to take a break, whether it’s take a short walk and listen to some music, curl up with the kids on the couch and watch a movie together, or forget about finishing the dinner dishes and go to bed with a book and a cup of tea instead. In fact, I’m really letting go of a lot of housework because I just don’t have the space for it right now (this is SO not the time to drop by if dust bunnies and food dried and stuck to various pieces of furniture gross you out). I’ll keep everyone fed and dressed, but beyond that the new motto is “messy but happy.” Because sanity > washing windows.

That’s all for now, go make it a great day!

Day 1 of Food Freedom

#allthepeanutbutter. That is all.

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So today I’m reintroducing some foods from the forbidden Legume group, in particular peanuts and hummus. I’ve never been a big bean eater, so I’m not worrying about the magical fruit for now, sticking with things I do enjoy eating to check and see how the fit in with my newfound awesomeness.

I’m also really, really trying hard to eat breakfast even on early mornings. My latest find is “stuff in a jar,” where I dump frozen veggies, olive oil, and whatever cooked meat I have left in the fridge in a mason jar and eat it in the car on my commute. The mason jar is way more manageable for car-eating than a plastic container since it fits in my cup holder! #winning

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Yesterday it was California Blend and pulled pork. This morning it was carrots, guacamole, and sliced chicken apple sausage. Breakfast power!

Side note, we did NOT share a bottle of wine last night. By the time the kids were in bed and house prepped for tomorrow, I was perfectly content to celebrate my success by breaking out a new-to-me flavor of La Croix (orange!) and hanging out with Hulk on the couch while watching the aquarium and catching up on our days. Maybe this weekend? The beauty is that the decision can always be made again tomorrow!

That’s all for now, go make it a great day!

September Whole30+ Recap

First off, we have to celebrate with the most awesome Whole30 picture ever.

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Aww yeah.

This Whole30 for me has been the most interesting and informative by far. In total I’ve completed 4 Whole30s since my first one in January 2013, and each one has been such a unique experience. But this one has totally exceeded my expectations not in the typical things (I don’t think I lost that much weight and my skin is still being all weird), but in terms of my mental state and attitude about food, I feel like such a different person now.

This round, it got super personal for me. I don’t want to get into the details since this is not the proper place for it, but we’ve all had those moments when Life Stuff gets hurled your way and puts you in a position that you never thought you’d ever be in. I found myself in a sort of “crisis mode,” prioritizing my family’s and my own emotional well-being. For the first time, I could not turn to the comfort of food or beer to help me cope. In the past I would have used it as an excuse to dive into pizza and cookies to help numb me out to what was happening around me. Instead, I adapted my schedule so the whole family could go to the gym together, coupling some quality time with healthy movement. I took Olive (and sometimes Squish) on All The Hikes. I became a Bedtime Routine fanatic with my kids, getting into a solid rhythm of jammies-books-songs-sippy cup-snuggles-sleep (maybe), followed by my own routine of book before a reasonable bedtime. And whenever I found myself craving because I needed “something,” I would stop everything and make myself a solid, delicious Whole30 meal, even if it was a can of tuna, a can of pureed sweet potatoes, and a jar of olives, because sometimes (to quote Melissa Hartwig) “good enough is good enough.” I replaced food with taking care of myself and others who needed me.

Normally by Day 28, I am dying to dive back into all of the foods I had to put aside – pizza and Safeway sheet cake and breakfast sandwiches and all of the other good, carby, sweet, bready things that will eventually make me feel like crap. But this time, I am not very interested in them. I mean, yeah, sometimes I think about which beer I’m going to drink first when I’m ready for it, but I’m not ready to run to the taps just yet. A huge reason is from reading “Food Freedom Forever” (more on that in another post!), but also I’m really trying to work the program this time. I’m not thinking of it as a diet, I want to just feel better with my normal habits and routines, not just constantly thinking, “I shouldn’t be eating this because it makes me feel like crap later but I want to feel good now so where’s my fork.”

So what’s changed? What has this Whole30 done for me? Here’s the list of my noticeable improvements so far:

  • SLEEP! I’m tired consistently in the evening around 8-9pm, fall asleep, and stay asleep until I wake up. Yay!
  • Cravings – I’m not dancing around the Sugar Dragon nearly as hard as before. I can look at a jar of candy and not obsess about it. It’s just candy, for Pete’s sake.
  • Pants – my pants are looser, meaning I do not have to go out and buy bigger pants like I was on the edge of doing before.
  • Energy – I have consistent energy all day, and don’t come home from work and collapse on the bed unable to do anything. I bounce into the post-Mom’s-home chaos and am able to meet everyone’s enthusiasm that I’m now available to talk and cuddle and fill sippy cups and make dinner and play Family/Paw Patrol for the millionth time.
  • Athletic Performance – I had so many PR’s at the gym this month! I have been feeling fabulous and loving the workouts, and I think I’ve dialed in a good pre- and post-workout snack template for me. More about that later.
  • Mood/Temper – this has been the most noticeable by far. I was getting really frazzled, short-tempered, and snappy. I couldn’t handle trying to do two things at once in the way that you always have to do everything in a house with small humans, with things as simple as Squish trying to talk to me about his day while I made dinner. I needed EVERYONE TO LEAVE ME ALONE, ALL THE TIME. I was not a pleasant person to be around. Now, I have so much more mental and emotional space to show love and be gracious even with Buttercup having another “accident” on the rug because she’s running around without a diaper on again while Olive’s barking at the neighbors and going nuts on the screen door and Squish is trying to feed me my lines for how my Paw Patrol character is supposed to react to his character in his imaginary Family-Paw-Patrol role-playing game he thinks I’m playing with him, while I’m “ruining” dinner because I didn’t read the Home Chef directions all the way and totally messed up the balsamic reduction. I can just deal, give hugs and gentle direction as needed, and still get the sh*t done.

I’ve also discovered things that do/don’t work for me that I didn’t realize was a thing before:

  • I need more than 3 meals a day, especially when I’m training a lot. I just do. My stomach just can’t hold that much food at breakfast, and I need a midmorning snack to make it to lunch, on top of me pre- and post-workout snacks. Just a couple hard boiled eggs, and Epic bar, or in a pinch some fruit and nuts work just fine. I just make sure it has at least protein and/or fat in it, or I just get hungrier if it’s only carbs.
  • When I don’t get enough to eat, I get fatigued and cranky. It’s a hit-by-a-truck, batteries-fully-drained kind of tired. And I get really impatient. This was happening constantly until I realized I needed another meal in the day to get me through. Once I started eating a mini-meal in the morning I perked back up again.
  • I love Rx Bars, but they do not love me. We needn’t go into the details here, just trust me. I’m going to have to stick with Epic bars as packaged emergency food for now on.
  • I still hate weekly meal prep, but I like batch cooking for the next day or two. Throwing in an extra tray of veggies to roast with what I’m already making with dinner is easy. Grilling some extra chicken when the grill is still hot from our weekend lunch BBQ is NBD.
  • It’s totally okay if the last four nights of dinners consisted of chicken apple sausage and frozen veggies with olive oil. Because it’s still compliant, it’s still tasty, and when you’ve got a million other things going on that’s totally good enough.

I am overjoyed at how well I’ve been able to tackle this round of Whole30, and how I’m still motivated and pumped to see a solid reintroduction round through. So I shall toast with a glass of wine tonight (maybe, if I feel like it), and start on my reinto tomorrow! Mmm, peanut butter.

That’s all for now, go make it a great day!

Olympic Lifting, Volume 1

Last Thursday I felt like doing something different workout-wise, so I decided to switch my normal CrossFit class to attend the Olympic Lifting class at the gym. Spoiler alert, it was SO FUN!

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No, really, it was fun. And OMG I just keep laughing at that All-Drug Olympics gif.

We started with high hang squat snatches, focusing on pulling the bar up (squat snatch: pick the bar up overhead with a wide grip and land in a full squat). The program was for 5×3 at 60-70% max rep, but since I don’t really have a max rep I just worked up from a PVC pipe to a junior bar to the women’s bar and eventually loaded the 2.5kg plates to give it some weight. This way I could focus on the form instead of “you want me to lift THAT over my head?!?” My biggest problem so far is keeping the bar close to me. I tend to swing it out front and try to muscle it up overhead instead of pulling strong and getting under the bar when I turn my wrists under it. To be honest, snatches kinda scare me. The wide arm position is not one I’m used to, and it seems contrary to self-preservation to willingly dive UNDER a huge weight overhead. But the more reps at a low weight I do, the better I can dial in my form and get more comfortable with the movement. There is a lot to think about!

Next we moved on to high hang squat cleans, which I like a lot better. With a clean you grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width, and catch it at your shoulders in a front rack position, so it’s not going OVER MY HEAD OMG WHY DO YOU DO THAT. I started with just the bar for this one since I was warmed up from the snatches and I feel more comfortable with cleans. I did maybe 8×3 working up to 25kg, just focusing on form and keeping the bar close. My cue for this was to keep my chest up and open (like a ballerina!) when I pull and catch the bar, I tend to throw the bar in front of me and I have to jump out really far to catch it; if I keep the bar close and my chest open, the bar path is more straight up-and-down and I don’t have to jump so far to get under it.

Finally we wrapped up with split jerks, which I really like to do but don’t work nearly enough. I started at 5×3 with the 25kg that was already on my bar since I’m pretty comfortable with overhead movements. I’m just not used to jumping into the split stance, and my coach had to remind me almost every set to get my front foot forward more. By my last set, I was starting to fatigue and my form was getting sloppy, so I was glad to wrap it up …

With some front squats! Since I wasn’t resting between sets very long I blasted through the workout so my coach had me do “the squat of my choice” for a cash-out. I chose front squats to work my front rack position a bit more. I loaded up 35kg and did 5×3 until I couldn’t feel my legs and Hulk was done with his class. Then I ate a can of tuna (protein!) and collapsed in a heap.

Now that I understand the structure and pacing of an oly class, I’m pumped to work on light technique work in the garage gym on my own.

Perform the following. Rest as needed between sets:

  • High hang squat snatch, 5×3 @ 60-70% max
  • High hang squat clean, 5×3 @ 60-70% max
  • Split jerk, 5×3 @ 60-70% max

Cash out:

  • The squat of your choice, 5×3 @ a reasonably heavy weigh

That’s it for now, go make it a great day!