Posts Tagged ‘routine’


Anyone who subscribed to Confessions of a CrossFit Fattie some time ago will know it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted.

Why?

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From chARiTyelise at etsy.com.

That big motivator of most things bad, fear.  I didn’t want to talk about what was going on. But now that I’m feeling a bit better, it’s time to ‘fess up.

Almost a year ago I was feeling the best I had in years. Well enough to go for a week to Tampa by myself to visit my mom. I was great about staying on my CrossFit workout while I was there.

And then I crashed. It took me two weeks after I came back to do much of anything except sleep. I assumed that I’d gotten those bad habits conquered, what with my regular visits to the physical therapist extraordinaire and my consistent workouts.

But I was wrong.

I hadn’t factored in what would happen when I started trying to resume a “normal” life, one with work in it. I participated in NaNoWriMo, and the writing started to take priority over the workouts. I’m fine, I thought, like any backslider. It’s just a glitch; I’ll get better.

And then November ended, and with it NaNo, and I’d completed the fifty-thousand words. And I looked upon it and found it good. I really thought I could go back to my old ways of spending nonstop hours at the computer without harming myself.

I started picking up more freelancing work. I started planning an AWA-style workshop for the new year. It didn’t happen. I kept doing the freelance copyediting1 and writing because it was fun, and it had been so long, but for the gigs with Thomson Reuters, since I’d been consistently earning any money. And I was doing work I enjoyed.

I’d hated becoming the unreliable employee that illness had made me into. I was able to be reliable as a volunteer at DailySource.org because it was a telecommuting job. I didn’t have to get dressed and drive; I just had to have enough energy to make it through my shifts and organize my work around my down times.

Now I was taking on more responsibility, and what was the mistake? The same one I’d made my entire life — that I could escape the consequences of ignoring my duties to my health. I’d think about it tomorrow.

As the new year came, I left the routine of regular workouts, becoming more and more sporadic. Not surprisingly, I started feeling worse. I was annoyed that I was losing what definition I’d gained in my arms and legs. But I kept telling myself that the occasional workout that I was getting in was going to help me maintain until I had time for more.

Yeah, right. That’s worked so well for me in the past.

And the migraines started getting worse again. And I had to be responsible, take care of the clients who expected their work to be done on time and well. So that became a priority. The excuse I’d tried to tell other people not to use, “I don’t have time,” was returning to my vocabulary, even though I knew that it was a lie. I didn’t have the time NOT to work out, because failing to do so ate into the rest of my life, taking time away to be sick or alternate between insomnia and hypersomnia. And sleepy editors are sloppy editors, so I’d be waiting for that window of time when everything was working to work.

Then I had a couple of weeks of something I hadn’t done in years, not since I’d figured out my food sensitivities and sworn off corn and dairy and kicked my Coca-Cola habit. I went on an eating binge.

cupcake tier

Cupcake tier from The Cake Shop.

That’s my oldtime modus operandi for weight gain. It had been years, truly, years since I’d last been a bitchy binger. “Bring me baked goods,” I demanded of my husband in a take-no-prisoners way. He did. I’d eat a six-pack of cupcakes and want more. I put on ten pounds in a week. Turns out one of my drugs had pooped out on me (okay, that’s not the technical term, but it captures what I mean), and it took me while to figure it out. The first thing you look for is something new, not something old, when your behavior goes wonky.  But now I’ve figured out that the first thing to think about if I get bingey is to consider any drugs that work on neurochemicals, but particularly antidepressants. It was the Wellbutrin that my brain had started to ignore, and the first thing my body did was say, “Send me sugar.” Turns out the brain’s its own sweet tooth, using a disproportionate amount of glucose, which I learned from a TED Talk2:

I don’t want one of those nasty things in my brain, although if you told me it was the only thing between me and a daily migraine, I’d seriously consider it.

At any rate, the next clue was complete lack of energy and motivation, accompanied by showers of weeping eyes. No good reason, just started crying anytime I wasn’t distracted. So I went to my friendly pill prescriber and spent the  next three months getting titrated up to an effective dose of Viibryd. It’s new, and I almost said, “No, thanks,” when she told me about it, because I didn’t want a new thing on the market. No one knows what’s wrong with it yet. All I knew right away was that it made me queasy and gave me the worst smelling flatulence I’d had in my life. Powerful bastards, too: the farting would wake me up at night as if a cannon had been shot out of my…well, you know. And I put on another ten pounds of fluff eating starchy stuff to combat the constant nausea.

About the time I finally started to feel normal again, I was knocked down by an allergic reaction to the bloody stuff.  Itchy everywhere, including my throat and mouth, which is a bad sign. I develop drug allergies every so often, and this one was acting suspiciously like the one that gave me blisters all over the inside of my mouth. Because of the depression symptoms, I’d started counseling right around the same time, and that helped me get through the tsunami of helplessness and hopelessness that attacked me.

Now that’s cleared my system, and a new/old drug seems to be working. I’m slowly working my way back up from zero, starting out at the exact same weight I was when I started this blog. But unlike days past, I refuse to stop. I refuse to let the bad juju win. I’m back to more healthy eating (no more Mr. Gutsquirm) and, ooo-rah, working out.

And life, with its odd synchronicities, sent me a client whose wife is a CrossFit instructor at the box closest to me. I pass it every time I go to a physical therapy appointment. As soon as it cools down, I’m going to gut up with my big gut and go workout in public. Then I can talk more authoritatively about putting yourself out there. Time to stop denying the importance of the social structure, time to stop assuming they’re all going to judge me, time to overcome inertia. (Or maybe just defy gravity — whatever it is that’s keeping you away from health..)

1. Every time I mention copyediting, I cringe to think that someone will read my blog and think “Who the hell is she to call herself a copyeditor?” My errors on my blog are evidence that everyone needs a copyeditor, even a copyeditor. Oh, and “copyeditor” and “copy editor” are both used by the people calling themselves that. I won’t bore you with the details. If you want me to bid on copyediting work for you, please contact  Amy at amy@indiereader.com and tell her you’d like me to work on your project.
2. I’m hooked on TED Talks. Awesome info in twenty minutes or less.


We’ve all heard the saying “Talk is cheap.” I would agree “Talk is cheap” in the same sense as the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” So, yes, saying “I want to CrossFit” is not the same as doing it.

But otherwise, I’m not so sure that talk is cheap, not in the sense of “Sticks and stones may break your bones/ But words will never hurt you.” Part of keeping yourself motivated is a part of sticking to any plan to change your life, whether it is weight loss, weight maintenance or a fitness regime, CrossFit or something else.

When you are down, what resonates in your memory? The time you broke your nose or the things you have repeated to yourself, either because someone actually said that bad thing to you or that was the implied message from another’s actions? Those wounds, and the way they reinflict injury on you over and over as you repeat them, are quite costly.

Those things that you say to yourself are referred to by psychologists as “self-talk.” We’ve all seen cheesy versions of trying to fix self-talk, where people listen to self-help tapes and repeat “I am fabulous,” etc.

But just because it can be made to look silly, it doesn’t mean that the idea of changing the way you talk to yourself is invalid. There is one pastor/psychologist who has a ministry, Theophostic Prayer, built on the idea that in childhood we all learn to believe lies about ourselves, and that those lies keep us from accomplishing what we should in our lives. If Christianity isn’t your thing, then take a whiff of Buddhist thought from Daniel Goleman’s Destructive Emotions, where the Dalai Lama comments on teaching children positive self-talk as a way to deal with teasing:

From the Buddhist perspective, what is being done here is to skillfully divert the focus away from the strong emotion so that the mind can first be brought to a neutral state.

No matter your religion or philosophy, ethnicity or nationality, self-talk is a part of the way your brain works. It’s a way we regulate ourselves, and how it works depends on various factors, including your level of self-esteem:

Depending on your level of self-esteem, self-talk can be either positive or negative. Folks who suffer from low self-esteem spend more time planning and going over what was already said. For those with higher self-esteem, self-talk is more positive and congratulatory. They are not preoccupied with thinking about what they should have said.

I, for one, spend way too much time reviewing conversations for things I could have/should have said differently and looking, at times, for cues to how someone is viewing me. I used to have more active negative self-talk than I do now, but it persists. Last night I had a meltdown because I’m adjusting to a higher dosage of blood pressure medication and had to miss my workout for a second day in a row.

The meltdown was because my perception was that I had failed because I had to take two days off in a row. Self-talk took the form of “You can’t stick with anything” and “You’re going to fail at CrossFit because you are not athletic” and “You might as well give up because no matter what you do, it won’t be good enough” and “You’re doomed to suffer the consequences of your previous mistakes and can’t recover.” My wonderful husband gave me substitutes, telling me how proud he was of me, that it wasn’t about the blips, that blips were just how life is, that we were in it for the long haul, and that I had turned a corner in my thinking about fitness. My beautiful daughter chimed in later, telling me much the same, and helping me figure out a way around the problems the new blood pressure med had caused.

See, my blood pressure in the evening had been fluctuating wildly, from 86/60 to 186/102. Yeah. Scared the crap out of me. But the drug is an extended release type, and we started thinking that since it didn’t seem to be giving me problems until the evening, I should probably move my workout to the morning.

This solution might seem obvious, but I  have never been a morning person, so this was a novel concept for me. Yet, this morning I managed to walk my happy ass out to the garage and get the workout done with no blood pressure issues. And, as a bonus, it was relatively cool; we’ve been having to push workouts to later and later in the day because it’s been running way over 100 degrees midday and it is only beginning to cool off near sunset.

So, back to the self-talk issue: I had to get myself to begin thinking about the workout as a long-term commitment that I could do, that I have overcome other issues in my life (soda addiction, for a minor example), and that the blips were not the end.

Toni Bernhard had a similar experience, which she relates in a post called “Have You Listened to Your Self-Talk Lately?,” turning the do-unto-others adage into “treat yourself as you would have others treat you”:

When I noticed that I was speaking harshly or unkindly to myself, I stopped and reflected on how I’d never talk to others that way. Then I worked on speaking more gently to myself. After several months of determined practice, that inner critic gave way to a more compassionate voice. I’d become my own friend. “Isn’t Buddhism wonderful?” I thought.

Then I got sick and that “new me” unraveled. In 2001, I contracted a viral infection while on a trip to Paris. In fact, because I’m mostly house-bound and often bed-bound, it has cost me dearly in many ways.

The first few years after becoming sick, I blamed myself for not recovering–as if not regaining my health were a failure of will, somehow, or a deficit of character. This is a common reaction for people to have toward their illness. (It’s not surprising, given the barrage of advertising claims that suggest we can stay forever young and illness free, but if illness does strike, it’s easily fixed with the right prescription drug.)

Wow. She’s in my head! Compassion for yourself? What a lovely thought, but not as easy as it sounds.

Margaret Moore has some suggestions, first for identifying negative self-talk (to see her descriptions of each of these, go to her post “How Do You Spot Negative Self-Talk“), which I’ve recast in slightly different language:

You know you’re engaging in negative self-talk if you’re

  1. Saying defeatist things like “I can’t ever X” or “I am [bad thing]“
  2. Jumping to generalizations instead of staying with the specific like “I will always be defeated by health issues” rather than “I’m having trouble today with my blood pressure”
  3. Getting into the habit of name calling, like “Loser!”
  4. Adopting what others have said about you (or what you believe they’ve said about you), like “She’s unreliable” or, the ancient interpretation regarding always being chosen last for any team as a kid, “She can’t do it.”

Moore goes onto talk about “7 Ways to Leave Negative Self-Talk Behind,” after noting about a particular woman that:

[N]egative self-talk was causing stress, and limiting her thinking and potential.

Not just potential for thought, but potential for action. So here are her seven suggestions (again, I’ve paraphrased it somewhat):

  1. Keep track of your thoughts.
  2. Say stop when you notice negative self-talk
  3. Use gentler, kinder words.
  4. Ask  “What else am I feeling?” or “What is really going on here?”
  5. Separate what happened from what you thought about it.
  6. Affirm yourself.
  7. Broaden your thinking.

Polly Campbell talks about positive self-talk specifically in regard to meeting your fitness goals in her post “Positive self-talk can help you win the race — or the day“:

[A]n analysis of 32 different studies of self talk in sports, indicates that the specific words we use when talking to ourselves also play a role in how well we perform.

Positive self talk usually consists of words or brief phrases which inspire, motivate, or remind us to focus and keep moving. Phrases like, “Keep your head down,” “Let’s go now,” “Breathe,” help us focus our attention and trigger the ideal (hopefully) response and action for the task at hand.

So, CrossFatties and others trying to change your lives, here’s my take-away:

  1. You can do it, no matter how old or fat you are. Just keep plugging away at it and remember that there will be short-term setbacks that don’t mean you can’t do it or that you’re a failure. Keep telling yourself that until you believe it.
  2. Focus on the positive results you are getting overall, not on the momentary difficulties: More energy, stronger body, better coordination or whatever results you are seeing.
  3. Change is hard, so congratulate yourself for making a big change by working out and watching what you eat.
  4. There are always potholes, stumps and hills on any road you take, so take the one that does you the most good in the long run.

The way you talk to yourself affects how you act and what you believe yourself to be. So talk to yourself in a way that makes you act the way you want and be the person you’d like to be.


As you’ve probably figured out already, I’m terrified of going back to where I was six weeks ago. Yesterday was the first day I haven’t posted something since I started this blog. Why? Because I had a small migraine plus what I think is probably a sinus infection. I stayed in bed most of the day and didn’t even look at the computer, which I’m fairly compulsive about.

So today, I still feel pretty rotten, but earlier in the day I thought I was better. I’m now back to running a low-grade temperature, but the idea of blowing off my workout two days in a row has me freaked. But I’m coughing every time I open my mouth to talk. So what to do?

Ahh, the Internet. What did we do before all the answers were at our fingertips? Here are some guidelines I found about exercising when you’re sick.

The Mayo Clinic’s Edward R. Laskowski, an M.D. specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, has this to say:

As a rule of thumb for exercise and illness:
  • Proceed with your workout if your signs and symptoms are “above the neck” — such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat. Be prepared to reduce the intensity of your workout if needed, however.
  • Postpone your workout if your signs and symptoms are “below the neck” — such as chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach. Likewise, don’t exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches.

Thank you, Dr. Laskowski. Hacking cough? Check. Fever? Well, low grade. Okay. No workout for me today.
Guess I’ll go see my internist tomorrow, get some antibiotics, and maybe, just maybe, by tomorrow evening I’ll be up to doing some CrossFit. And if not then, well, dammit, I’ll do it the day after. I’m in it for the long haul, so I can’t let myself think that this little setback is the end.

The Los Angeles Times has a great article on immunity, exercise and illness, and gives this advice for avoiding my predicament:

To reduce the risk of illness while following a regular exercise plan:

  • Get plenty of sleep: Adequate rest helps your body recover.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
  • Eat well (of course): Opt for a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables.

I was doing all that; no one is completely immune to the various bugs that want to use us as hosts. At least it’s not a zombie virus.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go have some hot tea. Even if it is 99 degrees out there. That’s what air conditioning is for, despite the fact that’s not exactly what Willis Haviland Carrier had in mind when inventing it (he and other early engineers in the field were more interested in industrial rather than personal applications. I can’t imagine living in South Texas before 1902.)  But, Willis, honey, you still did us a favor. Bless you.


Cindy, you’re a heartless bitch.

If you don’t do CrossFit, you may not be aware of the fact that certain sets of exercises are named after women. I don’t know the real story behind that, but after doing my first Cindy, I think probably divorced CrossFit coaches named the worst workouts after women who’d treated them badlly.

Or maybe they named them for women they wanted to show off for. Whatever. The speculation portion is now ended.

My husband/coach innocently asked, “You want to try Cindy? Sure.” How did the idea pop into my head? He had the Cindy requirements printed out at his desk: 5 pullups, 10 pushups and 15 squats. I knew what my modifications were: 5 ring rows, 10 knee pushups and 15 squats to a box (my Achilles tendon is griping so I had to go back up to the 19.75″ high plyo box; when I dropped the almost 2″ to the next lower box, my unstable footing was exposed).

So I saw the sheet and thought to myself, “Oh, I can do that.” It was the AMRAP part I underestimated: As Many Rounds As Possible. In a particular period of time. 20 minutes, to be exact.

Now I understand the saying “I was working out for 6 hours and looked up. Two minutes had passed.” I’d heard that, so really tried not to look at the time tick-tick-ticking away. I was sure I’d hit at least the halfway mark before I finally peeked. 13:30 left on the clock. [Insert Valley Girl "Oh. My. God." here.]

About that point, Coach Gary says, “I’m so glad you decided to do this so I didn’t have to push you.” I inwardly cursed myself. Later, it occurred to me that maybe he’d planted the Cindy requirements to lure me in. He insists they were only there because he did a Cindy last week. Hmm. My accusation would not stand up in court, but …

Anyway, he made my daugher and son-in-law do the Cindy, too, after I’d finished. It’s only their fourth or fifth day of CrossFit, so I got a lot of sarcastic, “Thanks, mom” for instigating the pain.

The next day, Gary says, “You know, I thought it was about time to start changing things up, so I’m glad you started the Cindy.”

I reply with a grunt/grumble, and then ask, “So what have you got in store for us today?”

He replies, “A quarter Murph.”

I wonder what that is, and get the terrifying reply, “You’ll see.”  A few minutes later, he adds, “A Murph is a Hero WOD.” [Insert Valley Girl "Oh. My. God." here.] Hero WODs are notoriously difficult, and named for fallen soldiers. The Murph is named for Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL team leader who died during a recon mission in Afghanistan and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Of course, we weren’t aware of that part at the time, and were focused on what seemed to us to be a daunting task; now that I know the background, I have a little more perspective that what I was doing was nothing beside what the hero the WOD is named for did. Talk about motivation and feeling bad about fearing a little hard exercise.

So we did a quarter Murph and everyone is sore. A quarter Murph, it turns out, is a quarter-mile run, 25 pullups (ring rows in my case), 50 pushups (knee pushups  for moi), 75 squats (with 19.75″ plyo box to keep me from falling back on my butt) and another quarter-mile run.

Damn. But I can’t whine about it; Gary did a full Murph after that and has the blisters to prove it. So I’m just icing the new pains I’ve found and wondering what’s in store next. But, I have to say, I do feel a sense of accomplishment. The first time I did a quarter-mile walk/run, the amount of walking pretty much equaled the running. The first walk/run of the quarter Murph I managed to run almost all of it. For a 50-year-old morbidly obese woman, that ain’t too bad.


Let me start out with what this post is *not* about. It’s not about weight loss or diets, even though I’m planning on seeing some weight loss as a side effect of CrossFit, just as you would with any fitness program that will help you build muscle.

Instead, this is about what my husband/coach keeps telling me to focus on: “Feeding the machine.” It seems to be a healthier focus for me; not looking at what I can’t have, but focusing on what the body needs in order to function well. This focus works in tandem with focusing on fitness, rather than weight loss. I know you “can’t outrun the fork,” but I dislike that phrase as I have usually heard it as an excuse to blow off the exercise component of weight loss.

I’d begun looking at the issue of nutrition more in connection with my various illnesses. What they all have in common is serotonin, or the lack thereof. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that affects sleep, moods, anxiety, food intake, sexual behavior, heart and blood function, gut function and the immune system.  If your serotonin production is out of whack, you’ll have health problems.

One of the major factors can be your body’s ability to process folate. Not only is folic acid deficiency a fairly widespread nutrional problem, there’s a fairly common genetic defect that will keep you from being able to get enough folate, one of the B vitamins, which is a building block for serotonin. From what my docs have told me, the over-the counter (OTC) stuff won’t do you much good (whether because of the low dose or the problems with regulating the quality of OTC vitamins, I don’t know) and can even be harmful. But there are prescription versions which are formulated so that your body can use it directly when you lack the gene to break down enough into usable form.

The one I use is Deplin, and some of my illnesses got better as soon as I was put on it a few years back. The test for the genetic defect is pricey; Deplin is generally not going to hurt you in the short term and you’ll know pretty quickly if it’s working or not. When I told my mom about it, she asked her doctor, who hadn’t heard about the new research about folate, and decided there was no harm in trying it. Mom could tell immediately that her overall mood stabilized.

Then I figured out my food sensitivities, and got much more careful about what I ate to avoid GI symptoms. Now my fabulous pain doctor, Robert Nett, has me taking riboflavin, vitamin D and magnesium, other pieces of my nutrition puzzle.

Your nutrition puzzle is probably different. I encourage you to look into what vitamins you may need, though.

But supplements aren’t the answer to everything. I remember reading years ago, but can’t recall which of the countless diet books I read it in, that the most powerful drugs you put in your body are the foods you choose to eat. Of course, it’s hard to decide what’s the best food when the scientists keep arguing over whether eggs and salt are really that bad, and whether antioxidants are really that good. All they seem to agree on is that the current USDA food pyramid sucks.

So here are my observations: If drugs don’t work the same on everyone (for example, Zyrtec works for me, Claritin doesn’t do a thing, but it’s the reverse for my daughter), why should we think foods will be any different. You can eat corn, perhaps, but I can’t without regretting it later. That probably applies to overall dietary strategy as well as to the specifics, so I’m not going to get into an argument over which of the specific diet plans is best — what works for one person may not work for another. And, to paraphrase what Chris Kesser at “The Healthy Skeptic” says,  don’t be a food fascist (more about the Paleo Diet later).

That being said, there are some things we do know:

If you apply those simple rules to what you eat, your body will have more of what it needs when you work out. You can’t get fit without managing the quality of your food. A great take on this is the post called “Hold my beer while I PR this clean and jerk” in “Blood on the Bar.”  In it, Dr. Joseph Doughty puts it pretty simply: “Eat more good than bad and you get the results.”

CrossFit recommends that you “eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.” CrossFitters tend to advocate one of two diets: Barry Sear’s “The Zone Diet” and Loren Cordain’s “The Paleo Diet.” I’ll address them soon; what I want to leave you with is this: What are you eating? Do you know? If not, try logging it, either by hand or using an electronic tool like MyPlate. You’ll get a better idea of exactly what you’re eating, and then you can think about whether you need to make some changes.


Ever since I started this program of exercise and general goal of consistency, I’ve had a wolf named Failure nipping at my heels. I can hear in his barks and howls the memory of times past where I’ve been very gung ho about something, almost to the point of obsession, and then, all of a sudden, the interest fades and I’m done.

In addition, when the interest has been in some type of exercise, I’ve been plagued by what my family has dubbed the 3-week rule. And now, on the 20th day since I started doing CrossFit, I’m freaking out.

It started during yesterday’s workout. During the squats, my left knee was giving me trouble, and it got progressively worse with each round. “It’s unstable,” said my husband-coach.  “Let’s try a different stance.” He says it’s mostly a matter of my knees not being quite strong enough yet.

We tried a few things ; nothing seemed to make it better.  Approximately a year and a half ago, I had significant pain in my left knee with walking that was exacerbated by stairs. My doctor had me go in for an MRI; turned out I had a cyst on the back of my kneecap that was rubbing against the top of my shinbone. I went off to physical therapy, and the therapist told me she had a similar cyst in the past and would “try to pop it.” I now envision a big zit in my knee.

I wasn’t able to complete the PT because of the migraines; couldn’t drive, couldn’t predict when I was going to need to sit in the dark, but when I did leave the bedroom, it was better. I’m guessing it was because there was little to no aggravation on my knee because I was next door to being an invalid.

And now it hurts. A lot. I iced it last night after the workout, and it was better for a little while. It ached when I went to bed and it ached when I woke up. It hurt after I took some Naproxen. It hurt more by the time I’d been walking around doing errands. And now I’m getting ready to workout, and, frankly, I’m scared. I’m scared I won’t be able to work out; I’m scared I’ll be injured more by the time I’m done.

Gary (husband et coach) has some ideas about how to alleviate some of the pressure; we’re going to set up the plyo box in front of the pullup bar and I’m hold on to a 100 lb. exercise band to take some of the weight off my knees. Got my fingers crossed, but I’m still on the verge of tears just thinking about it. I’d blame menopause, but I think I’d be emotional (at least to some degree) about the situation regardless. By the time I was done yesterday, I was frustrated and angry about the whole thing.

But it’s back to accepting imperfection. If I have a bad day, well, that’s not the end of CrossFit for me. I’ve always heard that it takes six weeks to make a habit, and I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to make it to that magic number. Gary says that I need to relax and mentally prepare for when I miss a day: to trust that it won’t be anything but a small bump on the road. When it happens, I’ll just pick myself up and get back on that wagon. And if, please don’t let it happen, but, if I do screw up my knee and have to stay off it, Gary’s already thinking about the other things I can do to let it heal.

Fall off the wagon? It’s my damn wagon, and if I fall off it, well, I can stop it and get back on. Listen up, self. That’s the way it is and the way it’s going to be. Imperfection does not equal failure; a day off doesn’t mean you have to take the rest of your life off.

So, Jodi, go do your damn work out.


We’re in San Antonio, so it’s not surprising that we’re Spurs fans. Even after they fall apart at the end of their best season *ever.* (The only thing that makes me feel better is that the Lakers are also out of the running; I think that makes us look a little better than if we were the only major upset.)

Anyway, in years past, there was a player on another team that my daughter dubbed “Whiny Wallace.” I don’t remember which team he played for, whether that was his first or last name, how he spelled it, or what season it was, but I do remember that he would gripe to the referees, the camera, the stadium, his coach — I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him whip out his cell and cry to his momma, who was probably the only one who would have cared.

At any rate, today was my turn to be Whiny Wallace. I hurt. I had a headache of the regular kind, but was worried about it turning into a migraine. I didn’t sleep well last night. It was hot. So I called Coach Husband, who was at work, kind of hoping he’d let me off the hook. I basically said all of the above to him, and the conversation continued:

Hubby: Just make sure you hydrate well first.

Me: [almost audible whine] But what about my headache?

Hubby: You’ll feel better after you work out.

Me: [almost a bitch-out] Have you ever worked out with a headache?

Hubby: Sure. Lots of times.

Me: [considering whether this was actually a possibility, and deciding it was]: And did it feel better after?

Hubby: Sure.

Me: [whining evident in my voice] But I still don’t want to.

Hubby: [wisely, silence]

Me: What will you give me to work out?

Hubby: [laughs]

Me: [now whining like my daughter's chihuahua-pug mix (don't ask; he's evidently the product of a mad scientist's failed experiment)] Tell me something to motivate me. Tell me I’ve been wonderful.

Hubby: [again, wisely] You are doing great. You’re doing wonderful. You’ve improved.

Me: [slightly astonished by the multiple rephrasings; I wouldn't have been surprised by a verbatim repetition of what I said] Okay. I guess. [not done whining, but down a notch]

Hubby: Just worry about getting it done today. Some days are like that. Don’t worry about increasing your intensity; just concentrate on your form.

Me: [Still not convinced and still a little whiny] Okay.

I hung up, cranked up the exercise mix, and got Billy Joel’s Second Wind. Someone has a sense of humor, I thought: The lyrics begin with “You’re having a hard time and lately you don’t feel so good.” I reluctantly got on the treadmill, set it to my blazing speed of 2.5 mph, and began walking my ten-minute sentence.

Five rounds of eight reps each of overhead presses (hyperlite bar only), situps, squats with my helper box (that I pretty much took a pause on between going up and down), and shrugs with the 10 lb. medicine ball, I was done. Took me a total of 25 min. and 45 seconds, a full minute and a half longer than yesterday, but I did it, damn it.

And then I saw this video, which put my whines in perspective:

So, goodbye again, Whiny Wallace. I’m afraid I’ll probably see you again, but I hope it’s a while from now.


Consistency is defined by Webster’s New World College Dictionary as “conformity with previous practice.”  The dictionary also provides some synonyms: “steadiness, persistence, sameness.”  For an exercise (or weight loss, for that matter) program to work, you must be consistent. Not my forte.

Consistency meant a lot of things to me that the dictionary doesn’t cover. I’d have subconsciously defined it more as “boring” or “inflexible” for most of my life, which tells you more about me than about the word. I would not have said, if asked, that  consistency had negative connotations, but I have treated its existence in my life as largely a bad thing.

I can come up with lots of reasons for why I have felt that way, but they do not excuse the lack of consistency in many areas of my life. One is that I was a military brat; the reality of that life, even more in my childhood than now, was constant change. No one stays; everyone moves. The parent serving in the military is often gone. It was just the way it was, and shaped my view of reality. Even now, some 37 years after the last time I moved (with the exception of two academic years at Baylor University), I still get an itch to change locations about every three years.

I also hate, with a purple passion, the merest shadow of something external controlling me. My mother often tells the story that the first time I went to school, when she tried to walk me in, I refused her assistance, saying “I can do it by myself.” So it’s a deeply entrenched, possibly genetic, tendency. I was almost always late to everything in my life until about 10 years ago, when my shrink explained to me that tardiness was a metamessage to others that their time wasn’t important. That was an eye-opener; it may seem obvious to anyone else, but I just never looked at it that way before. My feeling was “I won’t get worked up if they don’t show up on the dot, why do they?”

But, in a way, I suppose that was not far from the underlying message I was trying to give: “You can’t control me.” Or “The clock can’t control me.” Don’t tie me down, damn it.

I’m also a bit (okay, a lot) ADD (I know, ADHD is the more commonly used term, but I’m not particularly hyperactive, and I prefer the in-between version which is more inclusive), and, therefore, easily distractable unless it’s something I am engrossed in, and then I get into hyperfocus mode. At that point, a tornado could sweep within 10 feet of me and I’d probably not notice.

But if it’s something I’m not particularly interested in,  I tend to be in the middle of some task and then notice “Oooh, shiny,”  and leave the task unfinished to pursue the new and attractive. And then abandon it for the next cool thing that crosses my path.

Or there’s simply the “bored now” response, as in vampire Willow.

So I resisted routine. Over and over again. “How’s that working for you?” “Not so hot, actually.”

Now I’ve finally figured out that routines, the key to consistency, are the key to getting better. First, it was just taking meds regularly. I’d forget and miss dosages (probably how my son came into being) of pretty much anything ever prescribed until a little over 10 years ago, when the consequences of missing a dose of whatever became immediately apparent and painful. And then I added taking Metamucil to the repertoire of daily routine — easy enough, just take drugs with the orange goo.

But that wasn’t enough for me to consider consistency in my overall day: my sleep patterns changed from day to day, eating at odd times, and exercise? Puh-leeze.

Now I find that, gee whiz, the experts might have a point. Sleep problems are associated with various health issues, notably fibromyalgia and migraines, and they all recommend a consistent sleep/wake pattern. What? Naw, they can’t mean me. Studies on weight loss have suggested that people who regularly track what they eat will begin to cut back on their eating simply because they’re paying attention.

And, of course, exercise. One of the posts on CrossFit’s website posed the question to coaches: What do you tell your overweight clients? The best tip, and something my husband emphasized as well, was “encourage them to be consistent.” That’s an overall concept CrossFit has preached, but it is particularly important with someone like me, whose obesity puts them at an increased risk of injury. Gary, the hubby, has also emphasized keeping a log of my exercise to track my progress — another thing requiring the dreaded consistency.

I’m not going to even begin to talk about my housekeeping, or, rather, the lack thereof.

So I’m finally seeing consistency not as boring, but as a foundation for variations. Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert cannot be charged with being uncreative, yet they each wrote variations on their own or other’s work. I think I can live with aspiring to be like them.