Confessions of a fitness blogger


 

Bless me, St. Sebastian, oh patron saint of runners and athletes.  Bestow upon me your wisdom and hear my confession, the confession of a sinner who skips workouts, who doesn’t review his goals often enough, and yet who tidies his corner of the blogosphere for the sake of appearance,  and tries to always be shown putting the best training shoe forward.  Forgive me for being so undifferentiated in my writing, so full of echo and reblog, and yet at times so empty and vapid and lacking of opinion and direction.  Bestow upon me your sweet, sweaty grace for writing as though from a position that it was all so effortless, for it is not; that it was easy to decide and that with some small motivation, you too will get on your training shoes and get out the door.  Hear me, and let me speak my confession and opine strongly at last on my own fitness, health, weight and blogging – and how I, as a mere mortal on this trodden earth, am a regular if not total failure at most of it.

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How to lift yourself up from a setback in your goals


Writing a blog can be an interesting thing – you have the ability to say whatever you want, but you also have an almost self-imposed responsibility to write something meaningful, and to do that often.  This post is one of those posts – it’s meaningful to me and as such I wanted it to be just right. I have wanted to write this post for some time – I’ve frankly been thinking about it for months, and have even started it on more than one occasion.  I had even thought about posting it right around July 1, because that’s half way through the year, it’s time to re-evaluate your goals, right?  It’s probably the single biggest reason that I’ve been quiet on this blog for the last little while – wanting to get this post out, and get it right – because this is a bit of catharsis.  It’s about something we all face – something that looms large for each of us in some aspect of our lives, namely what to do when you fall off your goals.  How to handle it.   Most importantly, how to recover from it and get back on track?

So what happened?

It turns out that the biggest reason I didn’t start this post is because I didn’t want to face that very re-evaluation.  That same goal-oriented drive in me would somehow look at everything as a huge failure, and that I had not accomplished what I had set out to do. I still haven’t and am now in the very real position of having to re-evaluate what my goals were, what I accomplished, what held me back, what kind of future I want to shape for myself, and most importantly what my new goals need to be to achieve that. This is the beginning of a long and somewhat scary process, as I have been working hard for years on achieving goals, and maintaining what I have achieved. The fact that I have had to put some things behind me, to make conscious choices to abandon things that I held for so long. Some of the goals I set over two years ago, and am now forced to simply put them aside, for various reasons. It’s hard. It’s hurtful. It’s painful, to be frank. Never did I imagine I would have to put goals aside – re-frame, perhaps, but just abandon? No. The biggest, the hardest one, was not playing in the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy this summer. The confluence of events, the total number of things that happened to cause me to cancel going were disappointing at the very least. My mixed doubles partner had to back out to care for a relative. And then at the end of June, I was seconded to Calgary, Alberta, to help my employer respond to the massive flooding there; I ended up losing the last five weeks of training, and didn’t head back to Vancouver until the same week I was due to fly to the World Masters Games. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I had been working towards this for the better part of the past 12 months, and it had been a true goal of mine for the past two years. In the end, the decision was practically entirely economic – it would have been the most expensive two games of singles in recorded history. I may have been able to gather up a doubles and a mixed partner – may have. That’s a pretty big risk to take.  Coupled with my reduced training and heavy work schedule, I just didn’t feel that it was the right choice for me to make.

But that’s not all…

When I failed at that, I turtled on my goals.  I didn’t want to see them.  And then I realized – it had been forever since I had looked at them in the first place.  I knew them all, had them all memorized, but there is something important, something very visceral, about reading them over on a regular basis. So, I began the process of reviewing all my other goals. There are many goals that I just haven’t hit yet this year. I’ve looked at the goals that I set out, way back at the beginning of the year, and I can honestly say that I’ve only actually started on or achieved about 35% of them. I have 4.5 months to go in the remainder of 2013. My biggest setback was the World Masters Games in Turin, sure, but there are many others that I haven’t been able to complete. There are many that I haven’t even started. That’s the re-evaluation that gets so deeply under my skin, the part that I’ve let myself down on the most, the part that hurts the worst. There are many reasons for it, of course – and ultimately none of them are legitimate. They are truly all BS. In my mind they were all great reasons to stay on my ass. They are the same things we tell ourselves, time and again, as we try to work harder, move more, get faster, and whatever. Forget the crap, I ignored my own mind over mattress. I did suffer from a minor ankle problem over the past month, but that has resolved and I’m back to running. Essentially, I got into my own head. And while on several levels 2013 hasn’t been a great year for me, when I look back and assess everything, this year has also been pretty darned good – and I have a lot of things to be thankful for. So I have to process and deal with the stuff that I perceived negatively, and focus on the things that were good. And I have to renew a commitment to my goals.

What are you going to do, boy?

So that leaves me here, in mid-August, disappointed with many things, and doing a re-evaluation and a re-commitment to myself. I can never ever lose sight of the fact that I’m doing this – I’m even blogging about it – for myself, for me to push forward and to think out loud. To motivate me, and maybe a friend or two along the way. To remember my journey, not as an interesting cocktail story, but as a journey. To remember the good and remember the painful. To help exorcise whatever demons are plaguing my desire to go out. Do I really have the drive and spirit to run right now? No. Do I do it anyway? Yes. Heck, I’m going to get up an hour early on vacation, while my kids are still asleep, and go for a gerbil run tomorrow morning before we go off to a theme park. And I’m going to do the same thing every morning for the next three, and I HATE treadmills. I’m going to reframe. To look back again at my goals, and to be honest about the goals that I’ve kept, and more importantly I’m going to give myself permission to scratch some goals off as they are now time-barred, and to start the ones that I haven’t yet started. And I’m going to add one or two along the way, just for good measure, to keep myself on track, and to be honest with myself. So, here are my updated goals for 2013 – and I tell you in advance it is WAY harder to post about how you’ve failed and what you have to do to get back on track than it is to post about how you are going to do, or how well you’ve been doing in the first place. And I’m going to do something I neglected to do a lot in the last few months – I’m going to review them, regularly. So, here goes, whether I’m happy with my progress or not:

Goal

Timeline

Notes

Complete the 200 situps challenge Complete by September 30, 2013 I started this at the end of last year and have to start it again as I let it slide.
Weight training 3 times per week – hand weights Start by September 1, 2013 Again, I started this at the end of 2012 and haven’t kept up with it. Time to start again.
Complete the 100 pushups challenge Completed by December 31, 2013 I still hate pushups. I hate this program even more. But I’m determined to complete it.
Swim 20 lengths once per week Starting August 26, 2013 Once I have returned home from vacation I will begin this in earnest.
Bike 50km per week in good weather Starting April – May, 2013, and ongoing This goal I have been successful in keeping – biking to work, nearly every day in Calgary, and continuing my riding.
Play in 6 badminton tournaments in the next season. Starting September 1, 2013 I am going to actively compete in the sport I love, as often as I can.
Return to my original goal weight October 31, 2013 I have crept up slightly in weight and can trim down some. I wish to return to my original goal weight from 2010, by Hallowe’en.
Take a yoga class (for runners) Fall 2013 I took two of these last year. I will sign up for the next one and begin in September.
Health and diet maintenance Listen to what my body is saying, and seek help when I need it I won’t be reluctant to seek massage or physio, if I need to, as I have been in the past. I will sleep more, and continue to eat clean.

That’s it. Basically, trim down, bulk up, and focus on my badminton and staying injury free.  I am fully cognizant of the fact that there is no one on this earth that can be harder on me than me – I am a superstar if the sport is getting into your own head and breaking your own dishes.  That said, I know that at this stage I still have time to get back on track for my goals for 2013. Not only that, but I have time to make this year better than last, and better than the one before. I can complete a good number of my goals and keep myself focused and moving down the road. Ultimately, any time is a good time to get back on track. So maybe it’s time to look at your goals, and what you’ve accomplished this year? How have you done compared to your goals? When is the last time you looked at them? Maybe it’s time!

Choosing how you get fit


challenge-and-change.jpgIf you’ve come to this blog and read anything, you have probably figured out that I got fit by doing two (I always say “do two things”), but how I chose them is a fascinating discussion.  It requires a little bit of background.

When I was young, I was lucky enough to try out many sports until I found one that I loved – I found badminton.  While not the most popular sport for your average Canadian kid, I really enjoyed it, more than football and certainly more than hockey.  It was fast, it required strength, agility and hand-eye co-ordination, and there was both individual competition and a team/squad spirit.  It really pinged a lot of bells for me.  Part of my training when I was a kid was running – badminton requires a lot of endurance and a good cardio-vascular capacity, and as running and speed were integral to the sport, we ran.  We ran quite a bit, through drills, through sprints, and through distance runs.

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When will soon be now?


Photo credit: The Telegraph

I often get asked for some advice on starting, and it occurred again recently.  I get asked about tips, I get asked for techniques, and I get asked for general “how do I get off the couch” and “how do I make time” advice.  On this most recent occasion, I made some of the usual recommendations – recommending them over to peruse my blog, recommending some resources on the Internet that are conveniently referred to on my blog, and recommending other blogs for inspiration that, serendipitously, you can get to from my blog.  Aside from all the self-promotion, I did answer the person’s question, but probably not in the fashion they were expecting. Continue reading