Naked toenails and other meandering analogies..

I feel somewhat sheepish when I say that this summer has been stressful because truly, it’s only been stressful in a totally first world privileged middle class housewife way.

Getting the house ready to sell, wrecking my van driving to Home Depot, trying to get things ready for an international move.  These are the problems of the lucky  and I am so very grateful. Truly I am.

Yet.  Even with a keen awareness of how good I have it,  at the end of of last week I felt empty. Dry. Completely exhausted to the point of feeling ill. I had zero tolerance for ANYthing. Anything.  Like the sound of a three year old’s incessant demands made me wish that I could cease to exist.  I had fallen deeply out of love with motherhood. Particularly the variety that involves mothering a small child. I can only compare it to the way that I feel when I am in the early stages of pregnancy.  In 100% pure survival mode. When I’m in that sick sick sick as a dog phase I have no reserves physically emotionally or mentally for anyone or thing else. I am merely surviving. Growing a baby. Puking and existing. It’s the best.  But at least then I knew that there was a really worthwhile cause for my lack of interaction with the planet and that I would feel better soon.  Last week I was decidedly not pregnant and I was most decidedly OVER> EVERYTHING

This next part is important. A few months ago I stopped taking all of my prescriptions. No more anti-depressants or ADD meds or sleep aids. I replaced them all with essential oils and nutritional supplements. I weaned very slowly and cautiously and it’s gone extremely well.  I will never say never about going back on regular meds but I will say that so far these have worked far better for me than those were working for me.  HOWEVER. Here’s the thing about ditching conventional medication, particularly of the “helping me not to be crazy and sad” kind and replacing them with essential oils and supplements…YOU MUST TREAT THE ESSENTIAL OILS AND SUPPLEMENTS THE SAME WAY THAT YOU TREAT THE MEDS. Which means ,taking them EVERY SINGLE DAY. ON A SCHEDULE.  Just because they aren’t pharmaceuticals does not mean that you can mess around with them. DO. NOT> DO. THAT. No. NOOOOO. For the love of sanity and safety please do not do that. 

I called Cindi one day last week and blurted out flatly. “I am so depressed.  SO depressed.  Like every breath takes monumental effort.”  Cindi who had answered her phone (which goes to prove that God exists and miracles happen every day to little people just like me) said, “oh no! why?!” to which I said, “I do not know. I just am”. To which she said, “Oh yeah. I’m so sorry honey.”  Which is why it was a great thing that I called Cindi because when you are so depressed that it is taking a ton of effort just to draw a breath, you just do NOT need to be explaining or justifying why especially when you have no idea why.

And then she let me swear and swear and swear  talk, and talk and talk and tell her what a terrible mother I was and how sad I was that my kids had me as a mother and stuff like that and by the end of the conversation I was laughing and thinking that maybe I wasn’t actually the WORST mother maybe just in the top 10. And drawing breath was so much easier. 

And most importantly I was able to have enough clarity to remember that I had skipped taking my supplements and my oil routine for two days and that I must NEVER EVER DO THAT EVER AGAIN.  And I also realized that I needed a break. I needed a change of scenery and to just. Do. Nothing. Except. Be. With. My. Family. For one, maybe two days. 

I know.

This sounds so self indulgent.

Considering I just posted about another fun and fabulous family getaway we went on. But as fun and exciting as that was, it was very short and it was certainly not a “do nothing” kind of getaway.  Not that this is a bad thing in and of itself, but I had actually forgotten the oil routine during that time and my hormones were super out of whack so by the time I got home I was all kinds of mental and messed up again. OMG. People. I know. I am a delicate flower. It’s a trial. I’m not even kidding.

Anyway, in the olden days people were sent away “to the shore” when “they had an attack of the nerves” and unlike how they used to bleed people and institutionalize them and such, I  feel like they had the right idea with this particular remedy. Because I am incredibly blessed, and because this was to be our very last opportunity for a summer hurrah, and because the Tractor Pull was in town and our roof was being replaced, my sweet husband heeded my Tainted Love refrain (“got to run away…I’ve got to get away”) and was able to orchestrate a last minute family vacation weekend.

He rented a house on Lake Michigan and told me to pack a bag.  And so I tossed everything I own and everything Ella owns into a suitcase-my packing problems discussed another time in another post  (everyone else packed themselves more judiciously) and we just went.

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And it was heaven. 

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Heaven. I say.  There was no agenda. No obligations. No driving people around. No Shopping. There was no cleaning. Nobody needed to be at any practices.  There was very little internet access.  There was just sand. Water. Sky. Trees.  Family.

I was with my kids and my husband and we just talked. A lot. And laughed. Even more. We laughed. And snacked. And laughed and laughed and laughed and snacked and laughed some more…

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There were about 200 steep steps to and from the beach house so we got in plenty of exercise and when Ella needed to go potty she gamely peed in a bucket on the beach and everything was just so chill and connected in all the right ways.

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The whole time we were there I felt like this: free and joyful. Even though Sunday was overcast the whole day  (and don’t my boys look intrepid taking on the fierce waves;) there was sunshine in my soul.

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I did so much thinking and praying and soul-searching as I ran and walked and floated and  lay and dug and played.

On my last day I observed my toenails as I floated on the lake. My pedicure which had been flawless when we arrived had been almost entirely worn away by the sand and the water. My nails looked pink and bare and unassuming and young.  My soul felt the same way.  I felt stripped of all the gunk I paint on, my daily armour against the world and as I lay bobbing in the water with nothing but the horizon in front of me, I felt fresh and clean, sanctified, new and vulnerable and brave and healthy and hopeful.  I felt like me.

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On Sunday night before I feel into a happy and restful sleep,  it struck me that it had been as flawless a day as days on Earth go. And so I wrote a list of things I/we had accomplished that day.

  • Run on the beach

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(These are actually Ella’s teeny footprints next to Aaron’s not as teeny ones)

  • Sandcastles

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  • Fresh peaches for breakfast

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  • Rap-off with the boys and Gracie

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(Gracie left this award next to my bed that night. The boys would disagree with her but she is a sweet daughter..)

  • Walk with Gracie (and even inveigled her to chat about to me about her crush)IMG_4699
  • Long uninterrupted chats with Aaron on the beach and floating in the dinghy boats

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  • Hot tubbing while watching the sun set over the lake with boys and Ella

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  • Badminton with boys and Gracie

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  • Charades with the whole family

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  • Cuddles with Ella

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  • Lots of laughs

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  • Finding pretty stones

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  • Watching the sunset together

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  • Sharing my favourite scene from The King of Queens with the kids.  Writhing in helpless, silent laughter as the scene unfolds and overcome with delight watching as they laugh as much as me as at the scene.  Sharing a sense of humour with my kids is my favourite surprise of motherhood.

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  • Reading and reading and reading some more.

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(Read this book. That’s an order. Life.changing.)

People. Call me unambitious but that right there is my idea of a productive day! It was so fulfilling and satisfying. It hit all the most important things.  Quality time and conversation with my family.  Time spent doing what each person loved. Being outdoors and appreciating nature, stimulation of the brain and body, laughter.  Water in many forms.

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My kids were kinder to each other, they shared advice and anecdotes with one another. They laughed.  Benj worked diligently to finish his Honours reading project during quiet moments without being reminded or admonished. He talked to me about the book which he found really thought provoking.

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I felt so serene and grounded and patient. I was happy to do things for my kids. It did not feel like a sacrifice to stop what I was doing to do what they wanted to do.  Yet at the end of it I did not feel drawn and exhausted and depleted like I usually do when I am derailed from my own plans repeatedly,  I felt full and happy and satisfied and restored. I fell back in love with being a mother. I found my three year old delightful and charming and not at all burdensome.

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(on the drive home, showing me the preztel turtles she made. Asking for suggestions for their names. She did not take me up on “Turdy”. )

I’m still trying to figure out what I could take from this perfect day to apply to the every day experience.

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As we drove away from the beach house, our cell phones regained connection. I uploaded some pictures, checked my email and facebook feed and immediately felt a bit of my serenity slipping away. I noticed the kids starting to bicker more. The easy, playful way we had been having with one another was giving way to tension, sarcasm, snapping.  Ok so idea number one…we all need WAY LESS EXPOSURE TO THE INTERNET. No surprise there.

But internet aside, with each  mile toward home as I pondered what I needed to do, what lay ahead in the week,  I felt like I was picking up one of the pebbles from the beach and placing it on a pouch carried on my shoulders. By the time we got home I felt burdened again. “Why can’t I feel the way I do on vacation?!” I wailed to Aaron. “I feel so stressed and overwhelmed already! Why?!”  He looked at me and simply said, “because you are allowing yourself to feel that way. I feel the same as I did earlier.”  Ok then Mr. Zen.

But really, is feeling stressed and overwhelmed sometimes a choice? A story we tell ourselves?  Do we feed ourselves a big bowl of You Are Stressed Pudding, gulping it down eagerly, burning our mouths, swallowing too quickly and then walking around feeling heavy with an ache in our stomachs and a lump in our throats?  I think Mr. Zen might have a point.  I don’t think anyone ever felt less stressed by complaining about how stressed they are.  And I do think I could definitely manage  my expectations better. Do I really need to do this and that and the other frilly thing? Are all 37 things on my to do list today worth trading my sanity for ? Is it worth trading being kind to my children and sweet to my husband to have everything checked off on my Very Important List?  Is each item critical or would someone in the family be better served if I just took a deep breath and Let It Go? 

I know that my ability to be in a place that I can analyze and prioritize this rationally and realistically does rest heavily on the state of my mental health so I don’t  for a moment want to suggest that everyone who is feeling stressed has brought it upon themselves and should just snap out of it.  But it did strike me that Aaron was right. Nothing had changed in the few hours between Naked Toenail Girl Who Felt At One with the Earth and the Water and Every Living Thing and  Shrieking Shrew Woman….. except for the location and my attitude.  

Yes some environments and circumstances are going to really encourage peace or unrest more than others, but I do think that I am a bit of the glutton for the Stress Story Pudding and that I put a lot of stuff on my to do list that is trivial and self indulgent rather than for the greater good. So I’m going to work on that. This is important as I’ve had a couple of Unrealistic Unmet Expectation Epic Meltdowns this week but in fairness it has been Back To School Week. Meltdowns happen. More on that later. (Remember how we were not supposed to be here for that!?)

In summary. Sometimes the soul just craves the simple.  I do like the look of painted toenails and there is certainly nothing wrong with a little colour but sometimes leaving them naked is healthier and frees up time to do things that make me even happier than glossy toes. Metaphorically speaking of course- when my toes aren’t wet they look pretty wretched unpainted. What is even up with that?

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(I took this picture of Ella’s little footprint to put on my phone screensaver. A not so subtle reminder of how fleeting  childhood is. I think it will help. )

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How I love those sweet naked little piggies…

Today (or last week but who is keeping track?)

Today I started out in a good hopeful mommy mood.  My first words were kind and loving. I took time to play with Ella, fully engaged.

I made a good plan for the day. I drank my water, I took my vitamins. I used my oils. All was well.

But today Ella was not “on”. Ella was off. Very off.

Ella has spent much of the day:

Lying on the floor

Peeing on the floor

Screaming from the floor

Eating bites of things and then spitting them back out. On my clean shirt. #rageinducing

Screaming some more

Peeing some more.

In between we have had very, very loud construction at the house.

4 other children whining/negotiating regarding their chores and paid jobs

4 other children fighting with each other regarding their chores

1 other child becoming hysterical upon discovering that everyone else had their middle school packet but she did not on account of the fact that we had not provided the school with proof of immunization on account of the fact that we WERE NOT PLANNING TO BE HERE WHEN SCHOOL STARTED

While I am on the phone to the Dr. asking them to fax proof of said immunization child is wailing to me about how she cannot go on with living if she has to wait a few more hours to discover which team she will be for her brief time at school.

I hang up and yell at wailing kid in front of people working on the house.  Classy stuff.

Ella is on the floor screaming.

A saw is shrieking intermittently.

A guy is at the door to tell me he is going to shut off my gas. WHAT??! (Frantic call to Aaron ensues, it was a mistake on the gas co’s part…but still….)

OK all of the above is where I abandoned my post the other shall we say Seriously out of Synch day where I considered it a literal miracle that we all saw bedtime physically unscathed and not incarcerated.

The day went on in that vein hence the fact that the above post was never published…. I’m not sure what day it was….several days have intervened between then and now. Some good some bad.  PMS has probably been a large contributor to the bad days but whatevs. I guess I wanted to show why sometimes I really do have good intentions but the post does not get posted.

Other stuff that has gone down this week includes…hang on..consulting my iphone pics.

Ah yes… 5 Things to Tell You About From Last Week

1. fresh commitment to improving my cooking skills and habits.

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The farmer’s market was gloriously inspiring this week.  I know this is going to sound so corny, but I looked at the vendors, at their hands all rough and grubby and felt so envious of their literal connection with the earth, with something so real, and genuine and pure as good, organic produce.  There is something about being outside that feeds my soul in a way that nothing else can simulate. No medication or food, music, therapy or meditation can ground me in the same way.   My attempts to garden have been met with mediocre results at best in the past and this is not the season (haha) of the year or my life to revisit that endeavor but I realized that I could do better about connecting with that good food by cooking. When I do cook in an intentional (rather than throwing it together as quickly as possible) I find it very rewarding and meditative. Chopping up vegetables is my favourite part…

Then we saw the one hundred foot journey over the weekend..and that spurred me on even more. 

And now..with all these good intentions, what should I make?

2. We did a lot of entertaining over the weekend. I had book club on the deck (by the way The Rosie Project is a great read). Gabe had some friends over for s’mores in the firepit and a sleepover

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and then we had a farewell get together to say goodbye to our dear friends Janelle and Madi who are leaving us for Washington state.  It was our first major goodbye. And I was not a fan.

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An exhausting yet fun weekend.

3. I’ve managed my stress not murdered anyone this week, solely thanks to keeping up with my running commitment.  I’ve been running mostly in the forest near my house this week. It’s an absolutely beautiful place no matter what time of day, and what season.  Here are a few pics I took the other evening.  Seeing that little deer was so life affirming. She was not afraid of me at all, even when I gasped loudly as I almost ran into her.  I had decided to stop and turn around just before I saw her. Something made me decide, very deliberately to continue for a couple more steps before I did, had I not, I would have missed her. I’m not sure why, but this made the experience feel all the more special.  She just observed me and kept on eating. I took several photos and talked to her for a few minutes until the mosquitoes feasting on me spurred me to continue moving.   My evening ran was so soothing after my terrible day (described at the beginning of this post). I came back a new woman. I felt calm, grounded, grateful and peaceful.

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A couple of days later I went at high noon. I left feeling energized, exhilarated and grateful. I remember thinking, “I have such a good life, I am so blessed” throughout that run. There are thousands of things I could and do complain about in my non-perfect life but while I was running on that day I realized how few of them really matter.  I felt so grateful to move my mostly pain-free body to beat of the music. To feel my feet falling on the soft and cushiony natural surface beneath, to see the incredible beauty all around me. To have a home to return to with people who make me crazy a good deal of the time but only because I am crazy about them.  I am so grateful to have people to really really care about. And who really, really care about me. Why do I ever drift away from running? Running or whatever my version is….shuffling, wuffling…it’s so important to my happiness, to making me feel like me.

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Today I noticed that running up and down the stairs did not feel like a slog anymore. I am still not running for speed or distance. I am running because I can, because it’s fun. I run when the music gets me going and stop when my body says to.  I am loving this approach.  Speaking of which, I am loving this article so.very.much

4. This week Ella started using the potty.  Pause for applause. I have photos but have resolved, for once,  to not be that mother. Apart from the above mentioned day from hades, we have had no accidents. I am very proud of her.  And yes, yes I know Ella is rather old for this venture but she has always been very very  consistent and  clear on her disdain for the idea of pottying, and I have never pushed my kids regarding this issue. Not because I’m a great mom but because I’m really lazy and I feel like if you can’t allow someone control of decisions regarding their own bladder and bowels then you are pretty much asking for trouble.  And I have enough trouble. Life is Trouble. Ella’s rationale was this:  Using potty meant that she was “Bigger”.  And  naturally being the smart girl she is, she wanted to remain Smaller due to the obvious perks it allows her in a family of 6 Biggers doting on her.  I’m not sure where her watershed  (haha punny?) moment was but with less than a month ‘til preschool starts (rollontheday) I was feeling particularly motivated to change her views on the matter one day last week. So.. upon taking off her morning diaper I said, ok, here we go, no more diaper or pull-up just tell me when you want to sit on potty. And she did.  And that was that. (Apart from the unfortunate incident on Out of Synch Day the next day). So far.  Knock wood, make sign of cross, spit on ground etc… (have just broken the number 1 Cardinal Rule of Parenting which is NEVER to mention when things are going well so I’m sure it’s all going to fall about momentarily.)

That same day Aaron took her to watch the boys high-school soccer   game. I suggested he take the potty with for use in the van so we could keep the momentum going. I received a text from  him that she was keen to set up her throne right behind the players bench. He felt that although everyone would probably have a very good laugh “many many years from now” he had decided against it. I applauded him on that decision.

She doesn’t even piddle in the bathtub.  She asks to get out and then does her business in the appropriate receptacle. This is why waiting ‘til kids are practically high school graduates works for me.

5. Speaking of high-school. Awkward segue yes, but really just coming full circle to the beginning of the post.  The kids will indeed be going to American school in 9 days. That was Not The Plan. But we are still waiting for a million visas/passports to come through.  Oh my good hell people. This stuff is such a pain. In our conservative estimation we will be here until early October.  Apart from my OMIGOODHELL moments here and there, I am mostly zen about this because..well it’s completely out of my control and also there is a lot to love about being here at this time of year. But I’m also frustrated that I can’t get my mitts on that new baby (BTW: warning: do NOT brag about getting to hold my sister’s baby in my presence unless you are in fact my sister or her husband or I will get angry, bitter and jealous and one never knows what might happen next…..)

Baby huffing aside,  I’m anxious to start the next phase of our lives.   I never do well in limbo. On the other hand, MY passport is supposedly in transit which has suddenly made things feel…very real. And I am unexpectedly terrified by that.  I have never wished more for a crystal ball than I do now.  Since I do not have a crystal ball I am trying to press forward with faith and view it all as a win-win. 

But why not let me take you on a little jaunt through my obsessions for a moment?

If we go and Aaron does not get a great job and cannot join us and we have to return, the kids will have had that experience of being up close and personal with family for a few months and exploring a new culture. Right?  Right.  But in reality life is so much more complex. What if they love it so much but we have to come back and they can’t stand it here?  They are perfectly happy here now in their blissful ignorance. On the other hand, what if they hate every second of it there and we spent all that money (ack) and then we have to return and now they are behind in school out of their social/sporting loops and and and and..they resent us forever for messing with their neat little world…eh that doesn’t worry me too much…they’ll survive. Kids resent their parents regardless, right?

Mostly I’m just worried about the money. Haha. As always. But really it is a lot of money. I also worry a lot about safety which is a harsh reality over there,  and I am absolutely dreading leaving my husband. I don’t do well without him. He’s the yin to my yang (or whatever the zen side to the crazy side is) and I really like him.  On the other hand once again,  I’m actually really excited for that poor guy to get a break and get in touch with himself for a change. He really needs it. I think it will be very good for him.

For the most part?  I am excited. Nervous and excited and terrified and resolved and unsure and calm and freaking out and and and….

I’m sure there is more about this last week to share but it’s getting late and I have to channel my inner farmer/chef now and make an incredible omelet with beautiful free range eggs and gorgeous farm fresh produce now….and then I need to go for a run.  SO I am going to hit publish on this one.

I started the day writing a whole other post by the way. But that one is going to take some time and work. It’s kind of a life changing one about some stuff I have been mentally, spiritually and emotionally wrestling with for a long time. But I want to do it right. I don’t say that to dangle a teaser in front of anyone I just put it there for posterity that There Is A Lot Going On Right Now in my head and heart and spirit apart from in my life.  I found it interesting how life sort of works in seasons. Seasons of stagnation/hibernation, seasons of rebirth/change.  Ok really hitting publish now..see if I don’t.

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(Ella last night watching a balloon floating away.  I love this girl…and you know what? I think this is the right reaction to watching a balloon floating away..I could learn something.)

Five ways I am making my foray back into fitness fun

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I’m 5 for 5 this August.

5 days, 5 workouts.  I’m so happy! It feels so good to be sweaty and out of breath.  I am doing everything in my power to make it fun so that I stick to it this time. And so far, so good!  I am having fun. I look forward to working out every day.  If you have fallen off the wagon and you can’t seem to re-motivate here are a few of the things that are working for me.

1. Get new shoes. 

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Running is not an expensive sport so invest in good shoes because truly it makes ALL the difference. You know the shin splints I was talking about in my last post? New shoes=goodbye shin-splints.  I got my shoes on clearance but they are good shoes. Count on spending at least $50 for decent running shoes on sale. Off sale you are looking at closer to $100 but my mantra in life is that “there is always a sale”.  $50 is still a lot of dough in my world but it’s less than $100.  I’m sorry. I know it’s painful to spend money on un-pretty shoes or to spend money at all… but not nearly as painful as shin-splints.  In the words of Nike (even though I wear Saucony these days)…Just Do It.

2. Consider splurging on a completely new workout outfit toorunningclothes 

This is a great time of year to shop for workout clothing. If you are struggling with motivation to return to a program this can really, really help to spur you on. When you hate the idea of working out you are going to doubly the idea of doing it in nasty old sweatpants and a huge old t-shirt from college.   I’m painfully frugal when it comes to buying clothing but I feel like getting nice quality running pants and a good bra is a great investment.   This doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. I got nice looking very comfy sweat wicking technical  Adidas workout pants at TJ Maxx for under $20.  I am a very tactile person. When I go shopping, I Touch All The Things. If I especially like the feeling of a particular fabric I am going to go out of my way to touch it. These pants have good quality nice touchable fabric and I look forward to wearing them.  PS: Every time I get all guilt stricken and stressed over spending under 20 bucks on myself for a pair of freaking running pants from TJ Maxx I consider the money I spend on soccer for my kids. Then I feel all angry and righteously indignant. Come on now.

PPS:  Can’t end this section without specifically imploring my female readers to at least find a decent sports bra.

If good running pants are nice a decent bra is critical.  Look running is tough enough. You don’t want to be thinking about/clutching/seeing your boobs hoving in and out of view when you run or hoping they don’t knock you or innocent bystanders out. True, a decent sports-bra can be upsettingly expensive.  But… what have a told you? There is always a good sale.  Find that sale and get yourself a solid over the shoulder boulder holder that can do the job quietly and effectively.  Close your eyes, fork over that cash, strap those girls down good and then forget about them.

3. Refresh your playlist.  People!  Music is second only to running shoes in being Everything.  If you are a natural, “born to run” blahblah runner then whatevs…go prancing forth in your funny little barefoot toe shoes with nothing but the sound of the wind and the twittering birds and your easy breathing in your ears and have a lovely time. If you are normal then you need music to drown out the sound of your ragged breathing. Hearing yourself breathing heavily is disconcerting and will make you feel tired even when you aren’t.  So! Music!  Do a little survey of your friends and family for their most motivating “get going” tunes and you might find a new power song.   It’s also fun to ask friends you grew up with to remind you of songs from your shared glory days…the blast from the past will be an excellent distraction.  Speaking of which..  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank AC/DC for Thunderstruck which has been a great motivator for me this week.  You’ve been….. thunderstruck…yeah yeah yeah (good luck getting that out of your head for the next day or two. You’re welcome)

4. Use your music as a training tool while you are getting started.  So now that you have your groovy playlist all ready to go consider really using it.  Here’s the thing. Right now the goal (for me anyway) is simply to get back into the saddle.   This means that you don’t want to be all  intense and mean to yourself while you are still a fragile flower who is easily deterred.  You need to ease yourself into it.  It’s all about making good associations with exercise until it can become a rewarding habit again.  So many people go all out the first day and then can’t walk again for a week or two and then the moment has passed. And whenever they think of working out they remember that time they couldn’t sit down on the toilet for a week without crying. Don’t be that person. 

You know how I love an analogy. Think of yourself as a dog.

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I took our dog to the vet yesterday. She’s only moderately dumb so of course at first she was not so keen to go inside. But from the second she walked in they were plying her with treats. 

“ Hey Shemly come on in! Here’s a treat!” “Stand on the scale! Treat!” “Come into the exam room! Treat!”  “ I’m going to hurt you now but first here’s a treat!”  “ More pain now…treat!”  She never wanted to leave. Once she was done with the vet himself the treats stopped abruptly but the fact remains that Shemly is now a vet addict. Even after the shots and an unfortunate incident with a grouchy little bitch who tried to bite her face off. (I love being able to say that without being profane.) Ah swearing..I’m sorrynotsorry  I do rather love it…… Ok wait..where was I? 

OK yeah so treat yourself like a dog.  Leave yourself wanting more. Keep the treats coming baby.  For me music is fun and motivating and rewarding. And so I’ve been using my playlist as a very lenient personal trainer.treat dispenser.  Here’s my highly technical training system:

I put on a song….when it gets to a speedy motivational bit..I run….for as long as it is speedy and motivational. When it moves to a slower bit or the speedy part has been going on for too long, I walk.  To be honest I do more running than walking this way because my playlist is pretty hyper. This is not necessarily good because I am a huge believer in the Jeff Galloway run:walk method for avoiding injuries especially when you are starting out.  But if I feel like I have been running too long I just compensate by walking a little more later.  Like I say, it’s all very technical. Yes I am a certified personal trainer actually, why do you ask? ;)

5.  Keep your expectations low and slow.

I know.  I know couch to 5K programs are much beloved of beginners and people who are trying to return to fitness so I won’t diss them for a minute. I’ve gone that way myself many times and indeed they have their place.  But that wasn’t appealing for me this time.  I’m a dog now. It’s got to be as fun as possible.  Plenty of time for goals and pressure later.  For the next month at least I am not timing myself. I am not measuring my distance. I mean, I know roughly how far I am going and I could probably go further without too much trouble but I’m not just yet.  I’m romancing this whole fitness thing remember. Slow and easy baby.  Let’s not scare anybody off.  I have several reasons for this. I have had a lifetime of pain this last year and so I’m pretty invested in staying healthy and pain free for as long as I possibly can.   I’m definitely not doing this for weight loss purposes either. I’m doing it because I CAN. I can finally move mostly without pain-what a gift! I’m doing it for a sense of reconnection to myself.  I’m doing it so I can be less Mommy Dearest. I’m doing it because the weather is awesome and the trail is beautiful and  time to myself is much, much needed.  I’m never out for longer than 30 mins.  And that’s been plenty. 

If running/walking isn’t your speed try  the Scientific 7 minute workout on for size.  No matter how much you hate it-you can do it for 7 minutes.   If running used to be your thing but it just seems tooooo haaaaard these days consider that Running 5 minutes a day can have a profound impact on your health.  So start with just 5 minutes. It totally counts.

Any fun tips to add?

Adding this to WFMW at we are that family because so far…this is working for me.