Impostor

Ever heard of impostor syndrome? Wikipedia describes this as, “a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.'”

Now, first of all, I don’t necessarily consider myself to be “high achieving” – by any means. If anything, I’m on the low end of mild achievement. I have a job that I am pretty good at performing. I tend to be a quick learner. I can house, clothe, and feed myself and my children. Sometimes I drink too often and spend too much money. Mostly I am a responsible adult. I would consider myself a pretty average individual. That being said, I regularly feel like I’m a really irresponsible adult just pretending to be responsible and somehow magically getting away with it.

…I kind of forget where I was going with this.

AH! Yes!

Running.

Those of you who have been following me for a while already know: I occasionally participate in self-indulgence on the Instagrams. I snap a selfie post-workout and share it with the World Wide Web in an effort to feel like I’m entertaining people – but mostly just entertain myself. …and when I snap a selfie and begin adding all my little hashtags (as one does), there is one hashtag that I hesitate on every. single. time.

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#runner

I’ve been running since 2012. And by running I mean: jogging while stopping to walk every 1-5 minutes depending on how often I recently have been “running” and my current weight and/or fitness level.

Every time I type in #runner, I feel like a total impostor.

Who do I think I am?! I’ve never run more than 5 miles at a time! I’ve never finished a 5k in less than 40 minutes! I can count on one hand how many times I’ve slogged jogged a full mile without stopping!

Runner. PAH! Right. Sure.

…but then, I realize, this whole run/walk thing? This is a legit training method lots and lots and lots of, not just people, but professional athletes use. People who, like, get paid to run. …are they not runners?

I guess it depends on your school of thought.

But today I vow to stop hesitating before writing #runner on those self-indulgent photos I share with the world. The fact of the matter is: I run. Sometimes I run a lot. Sometimes I run a little. Most of the time it is slow and some of the time it is slower. This Sunday I will run in a 5k “race” and I will come in close-to-last because I’ll likely have to stop to walk a lot and will probably end up walking a large majority of the last mile. Does it make the event (one I’ve participated in for four years now) any less fun and the route any less enjoyable? Of course not!

If you run, you are a #runner, dammit! Even if you run in short bursts at slow speeds! That’s my opinion, anyway.

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She lives!

Hello, Friends. It’s been a while. I’ve been thinking about making my triumphant return to blogging for months now.. I even drafted a post back in January that never got finished. The last few days, though, I’ve been especially itching to write.

It’s been a rough year, folks. The things most important to me that I’ve been working hard for over the last several months (and some things for years) have begun blowing up in my face one by one, week after week. Exercise has been a true solace, but some even bigger explosions this past week threw me off my routine and schedule and as life becomes more stressful I find myself bringing focus in on my body. This is certainly a pattern; things get stressful and my body image tanks. Is this because I think if I can’t control the outside world I can at least control my body? I’m sure that’s part of it. This manifests in what I do to my hair, the type of clothes I wear, and how I do my makeup; in 3 months I’ve gone from long blonde hair to a brunette pixie cut and while I’m not unhappy with my haircut or color choice, I am already bored with it and ready for my hair to be long again and the darker color to fade out a bit.

It’s a constant battle between controlling the change in my life and needing familiarity.

And as I hunt for familiarity, I find myself leaning back towards the all-too-familiar landscape of dieting and searching out exercise plans in order to shrink my body. It is a familiar punishment. A way to control my world by “controlling” my body.

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to recenter, paying more attention to the body positivity advocates I follow, reading back through stories and articles that spoke to me in the past, trying to focus more on how food choices and regular exercise affect my mental health rather than how they change my body aesthetic. But mostly, I’m trying so hard to be patient both with myself and for the dust to settle from all these life explosions happening day after day. And it’s really tough. I am terribly impatient even in the best of times – but during times of turmoil? Oh, boy… any inkling of patience just flies out the window.

Basically this all boils down to: I’m struggling. I’m highly anxious, I’m sinking deep into a depressive period, and there is very little light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe by starting to write again, I can keep my head above water long enough until a piece of driftwood floats by.

Shrug

 

 

Well F*ck

So, I know you guys probably didn’t realize this, but it’s December. Actually, it’s late enough in December that you could basically just say it’s almost January.

Here in Virginia we’ve had a very mild winter …until the last couple weeks. As those of you who are semi-regular followers know, my main mode of exercise has been walking and hiking with the occasional short run here and there. Well, there’s not been much walking happening for about two weeks now. I’m lucky if I can hit 10,000 steps each day and, boy, do I feel the affect it’s having on my mood and generally well-being.

Yes, there are other options. Let’s talk a little bit about some of those other options for a moment… I’ve been writing “start strength training” as one of my goals on my little weekly planner calendar thingie every. single. week. for about 3 months now. I haven’t done any strength training other than a squat occasionally (usually to pick something up off the floor.) Maybe some ab thingies. Maybe a yoga here and there. I’m not into it right now even though in the back of my head I’m super into the awesome things it does to and for my body – and because of that I keep flirting with beating myself up until I force myself to start lifting heavy things again. This is problematic for several reasons, but mainly: by doing this I’m definitely not honoring my promise to myself last month to be okay with feeling kind of “blah” during the deep winter we’re coming into and practicing self-care surrounding that.

On top of the general blahs, I’ve been insanely busy with my day job on top of the usual craziness going on during the holidays. This has lead to some pretty intense mental and emotional burnout. There have been several days that I’m going 100mph all day long and then get ready for bed and, in that moment of quiet, realize I’m completely overwhelmed and am not taking care of myself emotionally which then leads to anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of everything from silent weeping to full-on hysterical bawling. That’s certainly not a great mental state to be in.

Thankfully, I know that this pace at work will start to slow as we start January and I’ll have a little more time to breathe. Until then I just have to do the best I can with what I have – and for a few more weeks, that’s going to be very little. So, even though exercise is definitely great for managing stress and boosting all those happy chemicals in your brain, getting all stressed trying to squeeze it in when I’m already mentally overloaded is not going to be beneficial. And, I’m sorry, but there’s just not going to be any 3-5 miles of walking happening when the high temps are only hitting the mid-20s. That’s just miserable. Maybe the weather will warm back up to the 40s and  50s, though, and I can get some fresh and air and sunshine now and again. Once I’m through my busy season at work and through the Christmas holiday, I’ll think about investing some time into my mother-in-law’s treadmill and take advantage of some of the awesome YouTube channels out there like Yoga With Adriene and FitnessBlender.

Meanwhile, my #1 priority is to renew that promise to myself and focus on self-care. Winter solstice is nearly upon us, and that means the daylight hours will start stretching longer. I know by the end of February I’ll begin to feel much more myself. Until then, I just have to be kind and gentle to myself; no more flirting with self-hate or shame to motivate physical activities I’m just not interested in doing right now.

GAh!

Gosh, you guys. I am infinitely sorry for being so very inconsistent in my blogging. …I’ve been pretty consistent in my healthy habits, though, so that excuses it, right? I thought so, too!

Last post I lamented about my shin splints – well, three weeks later, I’m happy to say I’m all healed up! I ran a couple days last week and felt good. I’ve kept up with my walks and some occasional calisthenics. …but now it is cold, friends. And dark. And this past weekend, for the first time in a couple months, I did not hit my 10,000 step goal due to Hibernation Mode. It’s okay, though. One of my most favorite Body Image Badasses in the whole-wide-world, Sarah Vance, made a little most about this on her Facebook page yesterday:

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“75% not into it” is a perfect description of how I feel about basically everything lately. But, as Sarah says about herself, I know if I don’t continue to go out and do things, I won’t feel like me. I’ll sink into a pretty nasty depression funk and will have a hard time crawling out of it until spring is well underway.

So, how am I honoring my hibernation needs while not completely giving myself over to the depression they tend to cause? I make out-of-the-house socialization a priority at least one day each week. This usually comes in the form of going and playing trivia at a local brewery with a couple friends. Despite the cold, I’m still trying to walk 3-5 miles every day, and I’m making my sleep-schedule a top priority. Sunday afternoons have become dedicated to sweatpants and curling up wherever with a good book or magazine. Upping my vitamin D supplement has been a huge help so far this autumn, too.

The fact is, I’m just not going to be feeling up to much until there are more daylight hours and warmer temperatures. And that’s a-okay. I’m looking forward to the holidays and spending some extra time with my family.

The Difference

Today was a very busy day for me at work and while that’s generally a good thing (and it generally was good today), it afforded me little time to think about/plan for eating. Some of you may think, “Perfect!” But not so, my friends. Not so. Lack of thought and/or planning generally ends in a binge for me. And, sure enough, the moment I walked in the door at home this evening I began thinking about what sort of leftover Halloween candy I could begin shoving in my mouth.

I was starving, a little stressed, and my body was desperate for quick energy. And while I did eat a couple pieces of chocolate the moment I walked into my kitchen, I also took a moment to think about what lead me there.

I already know tonight is going to end up a bit of an emotional eating night for me. My last update, I talked about falling out of love with strength training/weight lifting and how I would just proudly wear my Cardio Queen crown and enjoy the movement and my regular physical activity. Well, just as what almost-always happens when I pile on lots of various cardio-focused activities: I’ve developed terrible, terrible shin splints. Adding 2 miles of running three days a week to my existing walking routine of anywhere from 3-6 miles/day was too much too soon for my lower legs. Add that to a pair of new running shoes that were not a great fit for my forefoot strike and heavier body weight? Disaster.

I’ll have to stop running for at least 2 weeks. Right as we come into November. 5 days before Daylight Savings Time ends. Smack in the middle of a struggle with SAD. This is obviously a little upsetting for me.

Will tiny candy bars heal my shin splints? No. Will they give me a little bit of an endorphin boost, release some much-needed serotonin? Absolutely! And so I shall eat them – after consuming a nutritious, well-balanced dinner to prevent over-eating them. And I shall enjoy them. And it will be good.

Non-Weight Lifters Anonymous

Hi. My name is Jess and I’ve fallen completely out of love with weight lifting, strength training, “toning”, whatever-the-heck YOU like to call it.

The idea of doing squats and deadlifts and push-ups and presses and rows and curls and lunges and… all of it… is entirely unappealing. I don’t know what happened, folks. I don’t know where it began. I think part of it started after canceling my gym membership in order to save some money (since I wasn’t going very often anyway!), perhaps the idea of moving heavy things around my basement just wasn’t quite as appealing. When I began this whole “week 1” of purposeful weight loss back in June and set a training guideline for myself (moderate to heavy lifting 3 times a week! running 3 times a week! all the sleep! all the protein!) I may have inevitably set myself for failure. It was too large a commitment. It’s what lead me to giving up not-quite-a-year earlier. It was not sustainable.

Here I’ve been beating myself up inside my head for “abandoning” strength training, worrying myself silly over loss of muscle mass as I cut calories, and even concern for my future bone density, when, really, my main goal at this point in my life is regular, consistent, sustainable physical activity. I take at least two walks a day 6 days a week. I am currently two weeks in to a run training program that has me doing short runs 3 days a week. I go hiking and/or trail running one day a week. I walk between 10,000 and 15,000 steps every day. My estimated TDEE is 3,200 calories which allows me to still eat all kinds of delicious food including dessert and alcohol “splurges” here and there while maintaining a caloric deficit. My pants are even starting to fit better! Yet, here I’ve been the last several weeks forcing myself to do a strength-based workout here and there when it doesn’t give me anywhere near the same endorphin boost resulting in  the warm and fuzzy feeling that a long walk, a quick run, or a hike through the woods does. For me, the most important part of a sustainable exercise program during the colder, darker months is that mental health benefit – and right now, cardio of all shapes and sizes is what gives me that. And even still, I’m having more days where I’m struggling… which is an even better reason not to force myself to participate in exercise I don’t 100% enjoy.

So, for now I’ll be a bit of a cardio queen.

Indulgence

I have spent the last couple days indulging the hell out of my depression and today has probably been the worst of all. I’m reaching the point where a piece of me is enjoying the familiarity of sadness and ennui and actively battling against taking the proper steps to work through and out of this growing pit.

Coming down with that tiniest bit of a cold last week combined with the rainy weather this week has me completely off my daily walks even though I have access to a treadmill and a YouTube playlist full of yoga, cardio, and strength training videos. Sleep has also either eluded me (insomnia) or I’ve neglected to make it a priority (fear-of-insomnia) all week this week.

I keep justifying these poor self-care choices by telling myself, “At least you’re not smoking!”

Well, yes, at least there’s that.

…oh, yes, by the way… I quit smoking. 27 days ago, in fact. It’s going really well! I’m really fucking proud of myself! I’m all buying into the process of it… the mantras… the implementation intentions… all of it. It’s hard and I still have cravings here and there… mostly when I’m feeling like this or drinking heavily or both… but, overall, I’m really happy with my decision to quit.

Okay, okay, great. So, that’s really super. But continuing to honor my commitment to myself to quit smoking does not justify being crappy to myself otherwise.

My plan is to go for a long walk despite the rain later today and maybe, like, go to bed at a decent hour even though it is a Friday night and Friday nights are generally reserved for alcohol and staying up too late… but… yeah… also, like, maybe get up in the morning and maybe walk some more or hike a trail or some such physical activity type thing. Despite the rain. Despite. The. Rain. 

Writing this out has really helped. I’m feeling a little less sorry for myself. Thank you, Reader, for indulging my down-ness so that I might process and move past it.