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Biding My Time

So this was the post I intended to post yesterday before my melt-down.  Oh, the irony.  I still think it’s mostly true, and yesterday’s post just illustrates that this entire situation is a process, and I just need to take each day as it comes.

The most surprising aspect about my currently unemployed situation is that I’m not nearly as anxious about it as I would expect.

There certainly have been anxious moments, particularly right after my unemployed status became official and all I could think about was finding a job.  There was one complete melt-down, after a complete unhelpful ‘pep talk’ from a mentor followed by two job rejections in the span of literally five minutes.  Then I finally took to the kitchen floor and sobbed.  There have been days when all I can do is stare blankly at my computer, desperately searching my brain for new ideas on where to look for jobs.

These spells are few and far between, and have been pretty brief.  For the most part, I’m my usual cheerful self.  I’m not freaked out by the situation.  I really believe that something is going to work out, just not as fast as I want it to.

I credit this mindset to several factors.  First, there’s my belief that it’s not worth worrying over things beyond my control. This is an extremely helpful life philosophy, because it applies to almost every situation I’ve encountered.  As long as I do my best, I don’t (usually) sweat the results.  In this case, I know I’m networking and applying to numerous jobs.  I’m doing what I can, so there’s no point in causing stress- which, by the way, isn’t good for your health anyway.

Second, there’s my ability to feel sad without dwelling.  When my moments of despair set in, I allow myself to dwell a bit.  I owe it to myself- this is an unexpected and frankly upsetting life development.  It’s a part of the ‘grieving’ process after all, I need to allow my body to process things as it needs to. And when I do that, I find these moods pass pretty quickly and I’m back to myself.

Third, I’ve been really good about keeping up my exercise routine.  I’m going into this a bit more later, but while I haven’t been as good as when I have a work routine to keep me on track, I’ve still been pretty consistent and I think this has helped my body stay in balance.  Plus we all know exercise is a major stress reliever.

Fourth, I’ve taken the long view.  I’m not thrilled with being stuck at home all day.  Sometimes I beat myself up for not doing something useful with my time.  What that something useful might be, I don’t know, which is obviously the problem.  But there are a lot of people I know who would be productive somehow- getting uber involved with a volunteer group, starting some adventure they always wanted, or trying out some new job ideas.  But frankly, I’m not that kind of person with innovative ideas.  I have done some volunteer stuff, but I’m hesitant to get really involved and then just cut back drastically and suddenly when I FINALLY get a job.  Plus, a lot of stuff that you think you’d do if you didn’t have to work involve money. Seriously- think about it carefully.  Since I’m an extreme pragmatist when it comes to money- just ask my husband- I feel my job is more to avoid spending unnecessarily than anything.

But I figure that I’ll never have another time in my life with no responsibilities, aside from those to my husband and dogs.  So I’ve decided to just enjoy that while I can.  Most days I take long walks with my big dog.  I’ve been reading a lot, and admittedly watching more TV than I’d like.  I cook, and have tried out different fitness classes at the gym.  Most days I still get up early with my husband, but when I’m really sleepy I allow myself to sleep in because I can.  The only thing I regret is not getting involved in the presidential campaign- I really should have done that.  Oh well, it’s in the past now.

So I’m not super stir-crazy.  I’m not that frustrated with my inability to buy stuff- I’m not terribly into shopping anyway.

The only things that I do find extremely frustrating is the inability to make plans.  My best example is New Years Eve.  We’ve been invited to a bit of a soiree with some good friends of ours, but it carries a bit of a price tag.  If I were working, there’d be no hesitation.  But since I’m not, we’re not sure.  We can’t make any vacation plans until I finally line something up.  It looks like a house is still far off in the future, and there’s lots of restaurants we’d love to try but just can’t.  I miss DOING things because of no money.  Yes there are a lot of great things we can do for free, but there are also things that we can’t.  That may seem whiny and first-world problemish, but that’s what bothers me the most about my situation.

All in all, I think that’s a good place to be in.  I’m young, and still have a long career ahead of me.  A few months now will seem like nothing in the long run.

Right?

Scratch that

So everything I posted about everything being fine even though I’m unemployed?

Today is a bad day.  I was feeling anxious all morning, and finally just cried.  Pretty hard too, and the worst part is that I was driving! I made it back home fine, and actually ended up getting a grip relatively soon afterwards.  Why my body couldn’t wait until I got back to the apartment, who knows but that’s how it went down.

I just really want some sign that I’m making progress, but I haven’t had any call backs or interviews.  So I’m a bit of an emotional wreck today.

I’ve been stuck on my couch ever since, slowly getting my act together. I’ve resisted the urge to make grilled cheese.  I had my healthy lunch, with two Dunkers, hehe. 

I’m working towards getting outside to take my big guy for a walk, and then BodyPump tonight. 

These kinds of days are ok.  I know that. For someone used to succeeding at career/school, this is of course upsetting.  But it’s not the end of the world, and certainly not the worst thing that ever happened to me.  So I’ll allow a good cry, but I’m not going to wallow.

If only crying didn’t leave you feeling so tired!

Most Likely to Succeed

I was voted most likely to succeed in high school.  I can’t help put think how ironic that is lately.

I don’t feel embarrassed about being unemployed. In this economy, it’s very common at all income and education levels. Plus, given the circumstances surrounding my situation as well as the bad timing for policy work in DC, there’s not much more I can do about the situation. Here’s a tip though- if you want to try an exercise in futility, try looking for a new politically-related job in DC during the height of election season.

But it is still surprising. It’s gone on long enough now that I’m wavering between waiting to find that fantastic job and just taking a generally satisfying one. There’s still that uber-ambitious girl from high school that wants a high-powered, incredibly challenging job. That was why I took my short-lived position. Then there is my practical side- the one that knows my husband and I can’t subsist on one income for long. That knows we want to start a family somewhat soon, and it’d be nice to have a job that allows balance. The side that also really enjoys having time to work-out, have a regular sleeping routine, cooking my meals, actually seeing my husband and friends, walking my dogs. That bodes in favor of a stable job that may be interesting but not necessarily high-flying.

At this point, I’m willing to take whichever comes first, assuming it pays ok. And I’m ok with that.

Wow, that girl in the superlatives picture from my high school yearbook would not understand that last statement at all! Luckily I don’t have my high school yearbook, my best friend has had it for years and we have no idea where it went. Even if I did, I’m still fine with perhaps not living up to those expectations from that time.

Out of the Blue

I’m back.

I know a six month (at least, probably longer) hiatus is no way to keep readers.  But I have my reasons for not blogging anymore.

First, I got a new job.  And then, on my first day, I more or less lost that job.  It’s not quite as clear-cut as it sounds, but that’s the short of it.  The job did sorta drag on for a bit, and while that was happening I had a very long commute- one hour and ten minutes each way by Metro- and a busy work day that zapped my energy for blogging at the end of the day. So I just wasn’t up for it.  Then, when the official unemployment set in, I was too fazed by that to really want to blog.

Second, I simply lost interest in blogging.  I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself to be ‘a blogger.’  I’m not a huge Internet person- I don’t have Facebook, and while I have a Twitter account I don’t really get the point.  I was exasperated by the advice to write almost daily to generate interest- what if I didn’t have anything to write about? I was striving to be like my favorite fitness bloggers- but it’s just not me. My initial goal was to connect with other like-minded people in DC, but I’m not extroverted enough or motivated enough to put in the effort that a lot of the really good and popular bloggers do to reach that goal.  I also never take pictures except when on vacation- and even then my husband has taken on that role- so it was awkward to start taking pictures of stuff I honestly am not all that interested in documenting, like my fitness outfits.  Please note this is not a knock on people who do those things, because I love a lot of those blogs and rely heavily on them.  But it stifles me far too much.

Very recently, I received some fabulous advice from a friend about what to do with all the time on my hands while I try to secure a job.  She said that I should think about what made me happy as a kid, and try to pursue those things again as they probably would make me feel fulfilled.  To give proper credit, this idea came from a book she read called ‘The Happiness Project,’ which I will certainly be reading soon.

Talk about an inspiring idea.  I had already reclaimed some of my childhood passions, such as reading American history (I march to the beat of my own drummer), but there were other things I could also rediscover.

Like writing.  I LOVED writing as a youngster.  I even wrote three terrible novels in high school.  I still love writing, and I do enjoy writing about my fitness ways.  It is a big part of my life, and I like putting it out there.

So I decided to restart the blog.  I’ll be doing it on my terms, which I should have done before.  It’ll remain mostly about working out, but there may be other musings in there.  There may be times I write a lot, and there maybe times I’ll disappear (although I’ll try not to disappear for six-plus months again).  I didn’t see any point in starting up a whole new blog while I had a perfectly good venue here.

There you have it.  For those who keep checking in with me, I hope you like what you see.  And if no one does anymore, that’s fine.  I’m really doing this for me in the end.

Weird Wednesdays

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I’ve had an unexpected development with my extreme enthusiasm for tough strength training- I keep sitting out my Wednesday morning runs.  I’ve woken up each Wednesday to find that a pretty key area of my body is sore.  Last week, it was my quads from the stationary lunges and an intense spin class the following day.  This week, I have a sore hip flexor, I think from squats because this happened the last time I integrated squats into my routine.  That time, I didn’t pull back on my schedule though and tried to blow through it.  It wasn’t disastrous, but I think it remained sore longer than if I had just let it rest.

So for the last two weeks, I’ve skipped my runs on Wednesday.  In fact, I’ve ended up taking an out-right rest day, save for possibly a dog walk.

In the past, I haven’t liked taking a rest day smack in the middle of the week, when I need the energy surge that my morning exercise provides the most.  And while I was training for my half, I would totally feel guilty if this happened- as if that one run would make or break my training (I knew it wouldn’t, I was just in that mindset).

I was initially annoyed both Wednesdays, but I’m realizing how much I actually appreciate it.  For one thing, the sore areas certainly benefited- they were generally gone or minimized by Thursday so I could dive back into the swing of things without prolonging the discomfort.

More importantly, I’m really enjoying running again, both mentally and physically.  Granted, I haven’t been logging tons of mileage- my planned four miler this morning would have been the longest in a while, but I cut it to 2.5 miles after being up much of the night with a sick pup.

A shortened run is worth it to take care of this little man.

But the quality of my runs are greatly improved.  For about a month before my half marathon and the couple of runs immediately following it, I just was not on my game.  Luckily the race itself was a great run, but for all others I was constantly having some sort of leg ailment, mostly in my glutes, and I was just feeling tired and not thrilled to be on the road.

Ever since I’ve returned from vacation and started returning to my familiar morning paths, I’ve noticed a vast improvement.  My legs were a tad sore initially from using those muscles again, but they quickly fell back into habit.  I haven’t experienced the tightness and soreness, or the accompanying lethargy.  Each run just feels good.  Even this morning, I felt a little sleep deprived and knew I was going almost embarrassingly slow as a result.  But my body felt good- so I felt good, and just went with it.  It’s good to be back in that place.

Sure, I think part of it is that the sun is now up around 6 a.m. and my runs are primarily sunlit- always a helpful motivator.  But I really think my improved running experience stems more from allowing my muscles rest when needed, coupled with working them in other ways through spinning, strengthening and yoga.

Yes, I want to add on more mileage.  But without a major race on the horizon until September at the earliest, I’m going to do it oh-so-slowly in an attempt to maintain the running quality of my excursions now.  I may want to improve my pace, but at this point I’m actually really content with where I am if it means that  I continue to use the big grin emoticon on Daily Mile the vast majority of time.

I want most of my runs to feel this happy!

Right now, quality is far more important to me than any other running indicator.  And if more rest and lower mileage are the means of achieving that, then I’ll take it.

May Markers

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Given my inspiration to elevate my fitness regime and that we’re starting a new month, I felt it would be a good time to take all that energy and give it direction.  I have some goals for this month that I hope to achieve to keep my motivation, and to increase my body’s strength and endurance. Since April was pretty hectic for me, I didn’t really set any goals, but I feel like now is a good time to remedy that.

One caveat: I’m about to transition to a new job.  That’s partly why the end of March and April were so hectic- in addition to my first half marathon, my spring break and some other stuff, I was interviewing and then getting a security clearance for my new position (it’s with the federal government, nothing super fancy, clearances are pretty routine in this area).  I’m planning to go into this more later, but I’m anticipating longer work days, and definitely a longer commute, which may throw my work-out schedule off for a bit while I figure everything out.

Still, I want to have some goals to gauge potential progress.  I just won’t beat myself up if some of it is a casualty of the new lifestyle.  So, here’s my May Markers:

RunningRebuild my running base.  I want to build my endurance so that I’m regularly running 4-6 mile runs about 3 days a week, and then a longer run on the weekend of 7-8 miles.  Don’t ask me why I’ve settled on these numbers.  I just know I want to move beyond the 3-3.6 miles I’ve been trekking lately.  I also think running these distances regularly will help make training for my next half easier.

Strength Training: Keep mixing it up.  I’ve talked about this a lot the last few days, so I’ll just say that I plan to keep my muscles on their toes by changing my routine every week, and upping the intensity.  There are so many studies that say it’s good to modify your routine, otherwise your muscles adapt and don’t improve anymore. Also, you don’t get bored, which means you’re more likely to keep doing it.

Strength Training: Take core strengthening classes. My core is the one area of my body that I’m struggling to really improve.  I’m upping my planks, and adding new exercises, but I just don’t feel or see it.  I did really feel it in Pilates and at the end of my spin class today with some of the strengthening exercises we did.  I think it’s an area that I just do better when I have someone else telling me what to do and ‘watching’ me, making sure I don’t slack off on it.  I don’t do it purposely, but I do think I sometimes don’t hold proper form.  So I’m going to try to work this in more.

Cross-training:Expand my spinning and yoga class repertoire.Last weekend, I took a Pilates class.  This morning, I had a different spin instructor who incorporated new moves and some strength training in the end.  I’m finally ready (and brave enough) to try a full Vinyasa class.  I had been hunting around for new studios and classes to join in the spirit of keeping things fresh, but have been turned off by the addition fees.  I then realized that I have plenty of variety in the classes I already pay for- I just need to take advantage of them.

Personally: Just keep enjoying life.  It’s been a good last few months.  I’m planning to keep it that way.

Taking it Up a Notch

The end of the week and weekend got a little hectic and I wasn’t able to complete my review of last week’s workouts, namely my second set of weight training last week.  So before I move into this week, I wanted to briefly recap my last Monday and Friday sessions.  Partly this is because this was the session that really gave my strength training the jolt of life it had been desperately crying out for.  But also because I took the pictures, might as well post them!

For Monday, I focused on my lower body, with a little bit of core and arm work thrown in.  I had anticipated repeating this routine Wednesday.  But my plan to switch things up and challenge my muscles paid off- between this and my Tuesday morning spin class when I put in an above average effort, my quads were the most sore they have been in a very long time.  It hurt a bit to walk! So I decided it would be better to wait a few more days, and actually took Wednesday off all together for reasons I don’t really recall.  By Friday my legs felt good again, so I managed to squeeze in a repeat in the midst of a very eventful workday. 

So after a brief warm up and a plank to start, here were the exercises:

Stationary Lunge, starting position

Stationary Lunge, end position- front thigh should be more parallel to the floor

Hamstring Curls, start position

Hamstring Curls, end position

Side Plank, start position

Side Plank with Shoulder Press, end position

Now all of these exercises have been a part of my routine in other forms, but I changed them to give my muscles something to think about.  So instead of just alternating lunges, I did it all on one leg before switching and with 10 lbs dumbells in each hand.  I think this was the exercise that really got my quads burning- I had initially planned to incorporate bicep curls, but man this was much harder than anticipated on its own! I also added the chest press with 5 lbs dumbells to my hamstring curls, and the shoulder press with a 5 lbs weight to my side plank.  The last one was a move I haven’t done since last spring.  It’s a little easier now- but not much! My shoulders were also a little tender.

So these exercises really worked my body and totally reinvigorated my dedication to my strength training.  I’m going to post these in my strength training tab soon (hopefully).  I really recommend trying these for a great 30 minute or less work out.

In addition to this, my upper body work out and Tuesday spinning, I also managed to squeeze in a Power Hour yoga session on Monday, two short 3 mile runs and a Pilates class on Saturday, which I’m going to blog about later this week (again, hopefully).  I’m really getting back into the swing of things and seeking out new challenges for my body. Go me!