Catching my breath.

When you wake up not sure what day it is, I think that’s a sure sign you’re about to recover from a drunken stupor.  However, in my case it’s a sure sign that I’ve definitely overdone the piling of my plate.

Call me a glutton for punishment.  At the end of the day I actually think I love what I’m doing.  I don’t know how much I will love doing it once October 5 rolls around, at which time one more thing will be added to my plate, which may tip it over completely because it pertains directly to grad school.  However, right now I’m surviving.

So I decided to take a job as a tutor at a nearby college.  This is where I had completed all my science prerequisites for grad school.  This is where I also, somewhat on a whim, decided to enroll into the culinary program because I figured it would give me something challenging yet not too science-y to do as I complete the last few quarters of grad school.  And it’s related to the whole nutrition/wellness/healthy interventions thing I’m hoping to focus on when I’m set free from academia.

My former Anatomy and Physiology professor caught wind of my presence on campus and the next thing I knew, I was hired as a peer tutor to lead guided study groups for her classes.  The first few weeks have been a bear, as I’m trying to get used to office dynamics (politics) while reacquainting myself with the human body.  I am a little surprised that it has all come back with relative ease.

However, I’m still trying to figure out the office dynamics part, which will likely never happen because unlike the “me” of my 20s when I cared about what people think, the “me” of my 40s doesn’t really care.  Or really, I probably just don’t have time.  Along with A&P, I also do math drop ins, and I have a handful of appointments related to everything from Biomedical Terminology to Developmental Psychology.  Granted, I do think the drop ins and appointments have more to do with showing students study techniques and ways they can organize the giant heap of information they have to learn.  At least I hope so because I don’t have that much brain capacity.

In addition to all of this, I was unexpectedly hired to teach Bodypump at a nearby gym, an opportunity I jumped at immediately because in all my 9+ years of teaching group fitness classes, I have never taught any Les Mills program within such close proximity to my house.  The only problem is, the times they need me conflict with the tutoring gig, except for every other Saturday.  I’ll take it.

So in a nutshell, this is my current laundry list.  And I am only writing this all out to remind myself to not do this ever again:

  1. Grad school (online/independent study)- Advanced research study with children and weight perception/diabetes prevention.  With a group, thankfully.
  2. Tutoring – A&P guided study groups, math drop ins, appointments.
  3. Culinary Arts – Intro to Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management (online).
  4. Group Fitness – Bodypump and Bodyjam.  Nothing more.  Nope.  Just say NO.  Seriously.  Even though it’s fun and the participants are awesome.
  5. Marathon training – Chicago Marathon, 10/8.
  6. Grad school – Research Methods in Nutrition, begins 10/5.
  7. Parenting – which I am trying not to suck at.
  8. Oh yeah, ACSM personal training certification, which is totally on the back burner even though I’ve been “attending” (sleeping through) the weekly webinar.

Somewhere in the mix is my husband, injured so he hasn’t been running with me.  But he gladly does the laundry, makes me coffee, and carries all 200 pounds of textbooks, gym gear, and/or culinary tools out to the car for me, depending on where I’m heading off to.  Next semester that list will be reduced by more than 150%.  Seriously.

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A different perspective.

There used to be a time when I felt like I had to exercise every single day.  Yoga did not count because the kind of yoga I practiced wasn’t intense enough.  Every single day I had to do something so intense that I had to hurt the next day.

It was difficult for me to type that because it sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it comes from the old “calories in, calories out” mentality I once had in which I convinced myself I could eat myself out of house and home and still be okay as long as I kept track of the calories and burned more than what I consumed.  That works, but only to a certain extent.  If I worked hard enough, the number on the scale would be a favorable one, but I found after a while the number refused to move because there is only so much a petite woman of barely 5-foot stature can lose.  I was basically that dreaded term “skinny fat”.  Obviously eating the right kinds of food made the biggest difference.

A splash of purple at the Springbrook Forest Preserve.So there are now days in which I intentionally do nothing.  In fact, there are many “rest days” in which I don’t do a single thing, exercise-wise, and I’m in better shape than I was 5 years ago when I insisted on my torturous regimen of endless workouts.  However, I sometimes fall into a lazy stupor and tell myself I need to get out of the house and do something.

Last Saturday I decided to wait until the golden hour and headed to the forest preserve.  This is a trail I normally run with my husband, though I hated it even when I was an avid runner.  I always seem to find myself running here on the hottest of days, and at a 5.5 mile loop, the bathrooms are usually too far away when I need them the most.  On Saturday I decided to grab my camera and take a leisurely stroll in the hopes of capturing some warm light as the sun started to set.  I thought I might gain a different perspective on a path I often travel if I were to see it in a different light.

It was a beautiful, relaxing evening, to say the very least.  I was only there for a half hour, which was long enough to clear my mind and take a few shots of the wild flowers alongside the trail.  I’ve had many positive experiences running this trail, but for some reason the negative thoughts are the first to enter my mind the minute I pull into the parking lot.  This evening gave me a fresh perspective that I will hopefully keep with me for the duration of this training season.

A splash of color along the Springbrook Forest Preserve.

Mileage.

In the last seven years of teaching group fitness classes, I’ve amassed a few certifications and licenses:  Bodypump, Bodyflow, Bodyattack, CXWorx, Zumba, Insanity, and PoundFit.  The only three I don’t teach regularly are Bodyattack, Zumba, and Insanity.  I’m not a huge fan of cardio; PoundFit is about as cardio as I get.  So even though I’ve had many opportunities to teach these classes, I often hesitate long enough so that someone else who absolutely loves teaching those formats can have a go at it.  I don’t want to be a class hog, after all.

Obviously marathon training involves a great deal of cardio, however, I’ve come to the realization that the temporary bout of insanity brought on by cabin fever around the frigid months of January to February is the reason why I tend to find myself at the start line of a marathon the following fall.   It sounds like such a great idea at the time:  the warm wind in my hair, the sound of pavement beneath my feet, the chance to be one with nature.  But then there is the training schedule, and so many miles.  So many miles.

Yet, as the first week of marathon training was underway, where was I?  Sitting in this very spot starting a new blog because I couldn’t do much else.  I’ve had injuries before that involved broken toes, sprained ankles, a random ache and pain that is easily foam rolled away.  However, this thing going on with my back was maddening because I could not pinpoint what it was.  I immediately looked up the anatomy of the back to try and find what muscle was affected, perhaps so I could attempt to fix it somehow.  But the following day I was rendered immobile, literally.  The only remedy was to sit and wait.  And wait some more.  As much as I welcome the idea of sitting and doing nothing, being forced to do so was starting to gnaw at me.

Tomorrow I’m back teaching Bodypump, which will be the true test to see how the back holds up.  With my husband there, I won’t be tempted to go over the top, even though I am so incredibly antsy at this point.  If anything, I suppose I should give myself some credit for following doctor’s orders, and also for showing restraint every time a friend mentioned another race.  I could have easily signed us up for half a dozen races between now and December.

But lesson learned:  Let the body heal itself.  Rest.  Recover.  Because being sidelined, even for a few days, really stinks.