Self-sabotage, my old friend.

To be human is to practice the art of self-sabotage to some degree or another; whether we acknowledge it or not, everyone does it. Some of us, like myself, are well practiced at self-sabotage. Maybe even a master. I mean, if you’re going to do it, do it right! Go big or go home! (I’m a fan of using ridiculous mantras to justify my life choices…especially the bad ones.)

This past fall I started dental school. It’s a pretty big deal and a goal I’ve worked towards for a total of twelve years total. There were some diversions and a span of a few years where I did not think this was going to happen. To be honest, I could have made things much easier on myself and taken a more direct route. But, like I said, I’m a master of self-sabotage. Now that I’ve made it, for all intents and purposes my goal of being a dentist is as good as accomplished (minus four years of intense schooling that leaves VERY little time for anything else), I thought I had moved beyond the habit of self-sabotage. Silly me!

School started in August. It’s been six months (I’m on spring break now hence the random blogging); in that time I’ve grown quite a bit. The first semester was a lesson in adaptation; it took a hot minute to feel comfortable in my class of (mostly) very pretty and privileged (mostly) 22 year olds. I’ve learned how to manage my expectations of myself while balancing 25 credits a semester with 2-3 hours of commuting a day and the demands of managing a four-kid-household. I’ve realized that C’s really do get degrees and are okay (once you’re actually in your program) as long as you’re learning everything you need to know to be successful. Like I said, I’ve grown quite a bit… I’ve also grown a bit physically too.

Before mid-August I was running quite regularly, doing fun runs every few weeks. When school started my activity level declined dramatically. Along with not running much I was sitting, literally just sitting, eight to ten hours a day five days a week. I manged a fun 5k with my nine-year-old and a random 10k race in October but on a day-to-day basis…pretty much nothing.

sitting and studying

When I’m not in school sitting I’m at home sitting and studying. So. Much. Studying!

Just before Thanksgiving I discovered that my blood pressure had gotten high. For a weekend it was very high. I was both shocked and panicked (which probably just made my blood pressure even higher).  How did this happen? I’m healthy, I’m a runner!!! Well, I was a runner. But still, it hadn’t been that long!

I took stock of the situation and realized I had also managed to tack on close to fifteen pounds of extra weight. (I know that’s not really That much but I’m a small person, even five pounds on my five foot two self is notable). One of the sets of scrubs I had bought at the beginning of the school year didn’t even fit anymore. Yikes! This didn’t happen all at once, it was a slow, steady creep to an overweight and unhealthy me. I had this idea that I was a fit, healthy person but obviously my self-perception was inaccurate. High blood pressure has wreaked havoc on the women in my family lately. I was motivated to do better, I started getting up even earlier than I already was to run a couple miles on my handy-dandy treadmill a few times a week.

And it was helping. My blood pressure went down to borderline high instead of Yikes high. My monthly mileage has been close to 40 again. I felt pretty decent, like I was building better habits and being healthy…But my weight was not really moving. Sure it would go down for a day or two but it always creeped back up. What the actual F was going on here?

I was starting to get frustrated…Until one day, just after an early and gross two miles on the treadmill, it hit me…Self-Sabotage!

Here I was pushing myself to get up and run, working hard to get back to a state of good health, but at the same time I was eating whatever was convenient and drinking a good (heavy) craft beer or two at least four times a week. And I was using the more regular running to justify it. I’d tell myself it was a treat… you know, for all that hard work. (eye roll!) It was one or two steps forward, one or two steps back which equals not moving at all! As soon as I saw it I was irritated with myself. What’s the point of missing sleep and working to get back in shape if I was just going to pull the rug out from under my feet and end up back where I started at the end of the day?

self sabotage

Self sabotage at its finest! 

Now that I’ve caught myself employing the old self-sabotage tactics I’ve been a little more conscientious about what, when, and why I’m eating and drinking. Awareness is half the battle.

knowing-is-half-the-battle-215704

Awareness = knowing. Now all I need are some lasers.

Time will tell exactly how effective my new found awareness of my own negative tendencies will be in getting back to a fit and healthy state. Either way this has been a good reminder of the importance of consistent good habits and self-awareness (not my strongest suits). You can’t sit back and coast on yesterday’s success; reaching one goal, even a big one, does not mean you can just stop working. (Mantras again.)

Here’s to health, well-being, and regular running!

 

Advertisements

Sabotage

It takes a certain amount of tenacity to be a runner. Running, especially distance running, is a mental as well as a physical game.
There are some amazing stories about people who overcome great challenges to run.
I am not one of those people; this is not one of those stories.
The only thing I have to overcome is my own tendency to self sabotage.
But I am very good at self sabotage.

March is usually when I start to run more, to go from the sporadic whenever-the-weather-allows running of winter to regularly running three to four times a week. This year I did a 5K early in the month and then wanted to spend the rest of March on the couch buried in blankets with a mug of ice cream…and maybe another of coffee…and definitely a third of vodka…and some pizza…or maybe pizza rolls….
And while I didn’t totally give into those urges I did make a lot of excuses not to run.
Two weeks ago my post winter/pre spring inertia was at it’s peak. I wasn’t working and didn’t have much going on that week, yet I only ran one time the entire (Thursday to Thursday) week.
Each day I told myself I should run, tried to convince myself that I wanted to run…and then I didn’t.
Coincidentally the whole week I was in a slightly bad, irritated mood.
These are the times I really should be running but find it hard to get myself out there and do it. I know a run will make me feel better, more calm, more focused, happier but I still resist.
See, self-sabotage.

By Thursday I had had it with myself.
Enough of this ridiculous self-induced crabbiness, it was time to break out of the haze of laziness and go for a run….but I just didn’t have time that day.
No, really, I had stuff going on and legitimately did not have time.
I did, however, make a plan and set some goals to get myself back on track. 
Right now I’m just aiming to get in at least ten miles a week. See, I told you, not very inspirational.
I’m just striving for consistency for starters.

I decided my weeks would go from Friday morning to Friday morning to kind of match my week on/week off work schedule. On my non-working weeks this really shouldn’t be a problem. On my work weeks I’ll have to put some effort into meeting even this small goal. It’s one of downsides of working third shift.
Last week, a work week, I met my goal….but just barely.
I ran that Friday morning and then Tuesday evening. Wednesday evening I really wanted to run. It was sunny and warm. I really wanted to run.
But I was averaging five hours of sleep a day for the 6th day in a row. I was just too tired.
So instead I resolved to run right after work Thursday morning. For some additional motivation I decided I’d go to my favorite State Park.
I used to go to this park at least twice a week for a couple years. I run faster there, even when I’m tired, and still end up feeling refreshed and renewed.
Running there is like coming home after a long trip; it had been quite a while.
When Thursday morning rolled around it was NOT warm and sunny. It was 33 and overcast with a chance of rain. A few weeks ago thirty-three would’ve been warm. When it was sixty degrees and sunny just days ago thirty-three is cold.
On top of that I had sunny & warm in my head when I grabbed running gear the night before. Instead of my usual cool weather layers, hat, gloves, & whatnot I had long shorts, a long sleeve tee, & my unlined water resistant jacket.
At this point my resolve was waivering.
I told myself I could go home, put on warm clothes, and run around there but I knew that wouldn’t happen.
I thought about going to the store first and buying a pair of sweatpants but I’d likely end up wandering around the store until I was out of time.
Then I said No to the excuses and overcame my usual self-sabotaging tendencies.
I told myself to suck it up & run.
And I did.
And it was ….cold and almost miserable.
Less than half a mile in the paved path suddenly looked like this: 

image

Holy icy running, Batman!

Just after the mile & a half mark it started to drizzle.
But I did it, four miles of it.
Somehow it still ended up being a little faster & a little more satisfying than my usual run.
There’s nothing quite like coming home.