Toe Drama, Part 1 (In which I tell a story of toe problems)

If I uttered the phrase “ingrown toenail” to you, I’m guessing you wouldn’t shudder in fear and dread.

Me? I hear that phrase and kind of want to throw up.

Let me back up.

If you are someone who’s been around reading my random thoughts for any length of time, you know there are certain lessons I keep learning over and over (and if you’re new, welcome! What’s up? Nice to see ya!)

One of the lessons I can’t seem to hold onto is that life has a way of throwing up obstacles and challenges just as I think, “Look at me! I’m all good!” The piece I can’t seem to let sit in my gut has to do with recognizing these obstacles and challenges AS my life, not interruptions of it.

So, just as I was building back up from my tendinitis, starting to feel like I was truly on the road to recovery, lifting up some heavy shit and eyeing a 300lb back squat by the end of 2014, I got an ingrown toenail.

It was late July and it wasn’t a big deal. I googled home remedies and thought it might improve. It didn’t. The first week in August, two weeks before we left on a European cruise vacation that we had saved and scrimped and worked hard for and dreamed about for, literally, YEARS, I decided action was needed. There was no way I could traipse around Spain, France and Italy and drink in our trip of a lifetime with this bum toe.

I went to a podiatrist and, though he was a little brusque, he efficiently hacked up my toe (not the medical terminology, which I believe is “partial nail avulsion”) and sent me on my way with instructions. And for a time, things were pretty normal, as ingrown toenails go. I had a bandage on my toe for a day or so, and then I downgraded to a big ole Band-Aid.

The trip was relatively unaffected, although we affectionately called it: Europe, 2014: Don’t Step on Mom’s Toe! Because it was high season in Europe and everywhere we went my toe was in direct peril of being tread upon, usually by my own tightly packed-in family. At any given moment, you might hear me hiss, “Don’t step on my toe!”

Despite the warnings and the nickname of our vacation, my toe STILL got stepped on multiple times. Usually by my own kids. Ouch.

But, you guys, THIS:

europe vacation cruise gelato

Please take me back. At least just for one gelato. (Also you can click the image to see it full size and admire this beautiful scenery. And please take me back.)

So in the grand scheme of this amazing and possibly life-changing trip, the occasional toe pain wasn’t really figural. I avoided swimming because of it, but you know. The cruise was packed and the pool was tiny, so the idea of swimming in that pool with all those bodies was a little gross to me anyway.

When we got home and back to reality, though, it was clear that something wasn’t quite right about the toe. It had been about a month and it just wasn’t healing. If anything, it had gotten far worse, with the skin all round the toe starting to deteriorate. (eeeewwwwww)

I went back to the podiatrist the first week in September and he mercilessly hacked up my toe again. This time, I was less inclined to refer to him as “brusque” and more inclined to see that the guy was kind of a jerk. He was bullish–he barely talked to me for two seconds before he started digging into the VERY SENSITIVE area in my toe with a metal tool. At which time I am not ashamed to say that I screamed and practically leapt off the chair. And at that point I was shaking all over and asked him to please numb it up and not touch it again until he had done so.

Which he did. And then he hacked off another big chunk of my toenail and said it should heal up nicely from here. He prescribed me more oral antibiotics and sent me on my way.

Yeah, uh, the healing part? Not so much.

I tried to ignore it, because when it was all covered up by bandages, I could forget about it. Sort of. And, you know, it was early September and still warm enough to wear flip flops all the time, so for a week or so, I was like, what toe problem?

Oh, that pain in my toe? That’s nothing. (*cries in the corner from the pain*) I mean, if I could just get a shoe on my foot, I could go work out, right?

But then. Then it got even worse. The raw mess part of my skin crept ever lower, beneath the bandage, threatening to branch out from the toe.

This all seemed rather unbelievable to me. I was a normal, healthy person and I had been on repeated antibiotics courses. What was the deal with this toe? Surely if I gave it a couple more days all would be well. I mean, it was an ingrown toenail, for Pete’s sake!

Uh, no. I could barely stand the pain.

So I went back to the jerky guy, despite my hesitation at his lack of…well, anything resembling empathy.

When he came bustling in the room I was VERY clear with him. He was not to come at me with his metal tools. In fact, he was not to touch my toe before looking at it and talking to me about it. It was extremely sensitive. I told him straight out that I was afraid he was going to hurt me again.

He didn’t care. He grabbed his metal tool and dug in.

I screamed, “DON’T TOUCH IT!” Seriously. I felt like such a lunatic, but this guy was a barbarian. I was now full out shaking. He apologized. He said he thought if he could just clip the edge, he could take a closer look.

I took a deep breath, but before I even consented, he clipped into it with his metal clippers and this time, I didn’t practically leap out of the chair, I actually leapt out of the chair on one foot. I could barely control my shaking, and the toe was bleeding where he had clipped it. It was all I could do not to cry and I am actually having a mini-trauma while typing about it.

“I’m done here. Give me my records.”

He tried to sweet talk me then, told me he was going to take the whole toenail off and that would solve it.

“Nope, you are never touching me again. Do you hear me?” I looked at his nurse, “Do YOU hear me? He is not to touch me again.”

I wish I could say I stormed out of there, but it was more like a wounded hobble. I did have my records, though, so that was a win.

I went to another doctor the next day, knowing it was pretty serious at this point. The pain was so intense.

When I arrived at the new doctor, I was terrified, you guys. I will tell you straight up that I started crying as soon as I sat down in the chair. Like I had podiatry chair PTSD or something.

The nurse was so nice to me as I explained to her what had happened so far. When she unwrapped my toe she had this look of mild shock on her face. I feel like if she had some Xanax on hand, she probably would have given it to me. And, frankly, I would not have turned her down. She promised me that no one would touch it.

The doctor was amazing–Dr. Charlot-Hicks in New Haven, should you ever need a podiatrist. She took one look at it and said, “We’re just going to numb you up right away, before we do anything else.” I literally (and I do mean literally) wept with gratitude. It wasn’t my finest moment.

She did take the whole toenail off that day, and wanted to admit me to the hospital for IV antibiotics. I convinced her to hold off, what with my husband being in Detroit and all. There was this super strong oral antibiotic that she ordered for me instead.

Unfortunately, after three days on it, I started having chills and running a fever. When I called her office to let them know, they were all, “Go to the hospital. Go directly to the hospital. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.”

So what started off as a minor blip–“just” an ingrown toenail–had turned into something that was completely putting my life on hold. At least that’s how I viewed it at the moment. As if I stopped living my life when I got admitted. In fact, the five days I spent there taught me a lot…but let’s talk about that another day.

To be continued in Toe Problems, Part 2…In which I make an Important Point with this very long story. And possibly share some disgusting pictures (but way at the bottom so you don’t have to look unless you want to).

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Dear me, shut up and stay focused.

Allow me to begin this long overdue post with what I have come to affectionately refer to as “The Saddest Photo Ever Taken of Me.”

Tough Mudder

My awesome Tough Mudder teammates, getting pumped.

Wait, why is this sad? These are some badass women, getting ready to crush the Tough Mudder. And I’m not even in this picture, am I? What gives?

Maybe you caught it, but just in case, let’s take a closer look.

Oh. There I am. Pathetic.

Oh. There I am. Pathetic.

Yep, that’s me. Sidelined at the Tough Mudder and, to be completely honest, fighting back tears but trying to look supportive and excited for my friends. Because they really did kick ass.

As for me, I kicked no ass whatsoever on that August day in Vermont thanks to my injured Achilles (officially diagnosed: Achilles tendinitis). I kept wearing the boot for a week or so following my last post, and then got the clear to gradually stop sporting that sexy look and just move into a long, long, LONG journey of modified workouts, physical therapy, and slow improvement.

But I won’t say “I couldn’t run the Tough Mudder.” I will instead tell you, “I chose not to run the Tough Mudder.” Why is this distinction important to me? Because I’m a grown ass woman, and no one said “You can’t do it, Stephanie.”

Several people, whose opinions I value because of their expertise (eg, my trainers and physical therapists) advised me not to run the Mudder because, well, dicking around with an Achilles injury is a super shitty idea, and I chose to take this oh-so-wise advice seriously. (Look at me! Taking sound advice and listening to my body! Woohoo!)

I’d like to say that I was proud of my decision and it wasn’t a big deal to miss the Mudder because I knew it was the right thing to do, but that would be a bold-faced lie.

I’d like to say that I was super psyched to go to Vermont anyway and support my girls, but that would be another big fat stinking not-so-true statement.

Going there and not being able to participate, putting on my happy encouraging face, go girls go!, etc etc, was really effing hard.

Standing there in the background, watching them hold hands and get psyched up, and then take off on the course, well, it sucked.

It sucked so much ass that I had to go to the ladies’ room and take about 15 minutes to compose myself. (Not to mention the fact that their heat left around 9:20 and Tough Mudder folks did not see fit to start serving beer til 11am. A big WTF? to that.)

I wish I had a different story to tell about that day.

A selfless story that paints me as somewhat saintlike in my acceptance of being left out/left behind instead of someone who spent five hours wandering around alone and feeling sorry for herself while they ran the course.

An uplifting story that shows me cheering triumphantly as I watched my friends cross the finish line instead of swallowing over a huge lump in my throat, silently, as they hugged each other in victory and relief, having formed a bond that can only come from facing the challenges they had faced together on that course.

A bond that, even though I was technically “there,” I wasn’t a part of.

But apparently, I am not selfless, and so far, this is not that uplifting of a story.

Shit.

While I’m detailing depressing things, I may as well let you know that I also bowed out of dance crew for the October performance. This, also, makes me want to cry a little.

Ok, a lot.

Ok, I have already cried several times over this decision.

Dance crew is something I do purely for my own personal joy and happiness and nothing else, so taking a break from it and missing a performance so I can heal is just…crappy. Miserable. Sucky.

I’m also only working out 3x a week at the gym, with no jumping or explosive movements (buh-bye, box jumps, high knees, tabata rounds, jump squats…I could go on, but I’ll stop there because I think you get the picture).

So, in a matter of 2 months, I’ve gone from crushing 4-5 workouts a week, plus 1-2 dance rehearsals, to 3 workouts a week with my feet firmly planted on the floor.

I’m still putting up heavy weights, but my metabolic is significantly curtailed. And given my work to develop a healthier relationship with food by working towards intuitive eating (another long, painful process), this whole thing feels like a backslide.

My clothes are too tight.

I know I’m losing my explosive power.

I worry that when I am fully healed, I’ll be starting over, re-conquering fears of jumping on a wooden box, re-building the stamina to do 12+ burpees in a 20 second interval, re-starting my journey to do a set of 25 perfect pushups. (With this injury, just being in the plank position has been painful because of the flexion required of my ankle to hold a plank. I’ve been doing pushups one-legged on a box and it’s not going well.)

So now that I’ve gotten the bitching, the whining, the self-pity and the worrying out of the way, what now?

What she said.

What she said.

It’s time to shut the hell up, and just keep working. Do the best I can to stay focused on what I CAN do the progress I CAN make during this recovery period.

OK, maybe I will have to start over with pushups, and maybe I didn’t kick a bit of ass on Mt. Snow on August 10. Maybe my jeans are too tight and maybe I’ll have to build back up to jumping on a box when the time comes.

Who cares? Really, why would I let this bring me down? I’ll admit that I did for awhile. A pretty long while. A long while in which I alternated between pretending I didn’t care (I did), beating myself up, and throwing pity parties for myself at which I was the only attendee.

But now it’s time to just move on and adjust my expectations and my focus. It is what it is, and I have to find ways to be awesome in my current context and capabilities.

I have to see this not as a backslide, but as another opportunity to become the most kickass version of Steph that I can possibly be.

Another way to learn the lesson that being awesome IS NOT AFFECTED BY WHAT SIZE PANTS I WEAR. (*note, I am not yelling at you, I am yelling at me. In case that was unclear.*)

Right now, I have to focus on setting goals related to where I am and what I can do right now with what I have…and what I can do is keep lifting heavy shit.

For example, last week I squatted 200. I wasn’t even up to 200 yet in my plan, but I had that number in my mind as kind of a goal and I just wanted to see if I can do it. Damned if I didn’t duck under that bar and squat 200 THREE TIMES. Like a boss.

And it’s pretty awesome, when someone annoys me at work or some rude person at the airport cuts past me in the boarding line (I remember you, man in Detroit…) to just look at them and think to myself, “Go ahead, be a jerk. I could totally squat you.” It really helps, and I recommend this strategy to be able to deal with assholes with utter serenity.

So where do I go from here?

Well, I may not be selfless, and I will likely have some more moments of self-pity here and there. I may not be society’s vision of what  fit person should look like, and I may not be able to do a set of pain-free mountain climbers. At least not today.

But I am strong, inside and out.

Injury or no, I’m going to find a way to keep moving forward. It may not be the path I choose or prefer, but I’ll just create a new path and keep working to be the awesomest version of myself that I can be.

As awesome as these two little turkey are, every day:

Random picture of my awesome and badass kids to end this post.

Random picture of my awesome and badass kids to end this post.

 

Boot of shame/badassery.

I have been a very naughty girl.

I ignored an injured ankle for a coupla weeks and I got a big ole fat swollen cankle that I could barely walk on. (sad face)

I went to the ortho walk-in and they gave me the boot. I was appropriately shamed at not having seen the line between “I can safely push through this” and “Oh snap, I’m injured.”

The boot is heavy. The boot is clunky. The boot is most decidedly un-sexy and un-cool. My daughter stubbed her toe on the boot and cried, then yelled at me for putting my “stupid boot in her way!”

I promptly set about the business of being lame. I was in a boot, for God’s sake! How effing lame is that?!?

Got my lame face on!

Got my lame face on!

I schlumped/clunked/booted around noisily. And slowly. For like two days.

I was grouchy. I yelled a lot. I had no heavy things to lift.

Then, I got tired of being lame, got into my workout gear, put on the goddamned boot, and went to my workout.

And that’s when the BOOT OF SHAME became the BOOT OF BADASSERY.

With some slight modifications, I kicked the usual ass at my workout. I benched a new PR (110 for 5 reps), did some pull-ups and good mornings, and even got in a little metabolic work…with my feet firmly planted on the ground, of course.

Suck it, boot!

Suck it, boot!

So yeah, no boot-related excuses for me.

And I feel soooooo much better now.

More weight.

So, back in the day when I was a high school English teacher, I taught The Crucible. My students and I were always fascinated by the consummate badass Giles Corey.

The quick and dirty on old Giles is that his wife was hanged for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. And then he was accused…and as you probably know, once you were accused of being a witch in Salem during that time, you were basically screwed. So Giles refused to plead at all; he just kept his mouth shut. The Puritan law stated that a person who didn’t plead couldn’t be tried, so their “just” solution to this was to press the person.

In case you haven’t been pressed lately, this meant they would lay you down, completely naked, place a board over your body, and proceed to pile up a bunch of heavy ass rocks on you until you entered a plea. Or died, I guess. Um…yeah. It’s horrible.

Giles was in his seventies. This old dude suffered the pressing torture for over 2 days, and every time they asked him to enter a plea, he only replied “More weight.” In fact, in true badass Braveheart fashion, he yelled out those two words one final time just before he died.

As in, “Suck on that, Puritan douchebags!”

In The Crucible‘s fictionalized historical account of the witch trials, Giles is emotionally weighted down long before his untimely pressing. He is burdened by guilt after mentioning his wife reading strange books during her “trial” for witchcraft. Not surprisingly, she was hanged, and he feels responsible.

This may be one of those times when you ask yourself, “Where the hell is she going with this?”

Answer: SOMEWHERE.

Here’s the thing: I think of Giles often when I’m in the gym. As I’m loading up the bar for my next lift, I’ll say to myself, “More weight.” There’s something totally empowering about it. (I also like to imagine I have a really badass gaze going when I’m thinking this…but in reality, I’m probably lucky there’s no mirrors in that part of the gym.)

But there’s way more to this than badassery. I imagine Giles feeling freed with every additional pound of rock they dropped on him. The physical burden of all those rocks might have lightened the emotional burden of what he was going through, somehow lessening his sadness and guilt. At least, I like to think that when I lift.

Of course I’m not fighting against the injustices of Puritan society in one last act of defiance like he was. I’m just working out.

But still…when life’s burdens get heavy, it helps to duck under that bar, put something tangibly heavy on my back and make it my bitch.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s one of the most important reasons I love lifting so much.

You will laugh at my Buddy the Elf reference.

You will laugh at my Buddy the Elf reference.

No matter what kind of burden I’m carrying in my heart when I walk into the gym, loading up the bar and lifting the crap out of some heavy weights makes a world of difference. It takes away the powerlessness I sometimes feel in the face of sadness, disappointment, fear or anger.

So right now, some people I care about are struggling with some majorly heavy emotional burdens. One of them is my friend and workout partner, who is dealing with serious health issues that have kept her out of the gym for a couple of weeks.

The first day that I showed up knowing 1) that she wouldn’t be there and 2) why she wouldn’t be there, I realized almost immediately that I had radically underestimated the power of a lifting partner as awesome as her. I had taken for granted the strength I drew from having her there next to me, working the same lifts, encouraging me when I struggled and congratulating me when I had a win. I missed her and her general awesomeness, and I felt weak.

I faced the bar alone on this particular morning, and again I was glad there was no mirror because yeah, I cried a little. I cried at the sheer powerlessness I felt. My friend wasn’t there and there was nothing I could to help her. There was nothing I could say that would ease her burden or change what she was going through.

I wanted my partner back so we could get into our regular workout groove and her life would be just as it had been, with all that hard stuff having just been a bad dream she had before the alarm clock went off.

More than anything, I wished that I could duck under the metaphorical bar next to her and help her shoulder the hefty weight of all she was dealing with.

But yeah, there was no “metaphorical bar.” This is life, and the only bar I had was the actual one in front of me at the gym that morning. And it looked really friggin heavy. Like, too heavy for me in my sad and somewhat pathetic state.

So I did what I usually do in these kinds of situations. I told myself to shut up. I put on my badass face (I think) and said to myself, “More weight.”

And I lifted the crap out of it.

Yes, my friend’s burden is still heavy, and that weighs on me, too, as someone who cares about her. We all have our emotional weight to carry around, and some days it is almost too much to bear.

But the act of lifting that heavy physical burden, of fighting through the weakness and powerlessness and pushing that iron up high…well, it helps. In some way, it lightens the load on my heart, and makes me stronger inside and out.

More weight? Bring it on.

Apples to oranges, and silencing the evil voice.

They say comparison is the thief of joy. (Who are “they,” anyway? And where do “they” come up with all these clever sayings? I digress…already. Typical.)

The point is, I agree. (Well, somewhat…but more on that later.) I agree in theory, but, as with most of “their” clever sayings, this one is so much easier to say and think about than to actually believe and live into it.

I KNOW…I know, I know, I know that I’m not supposed to compare myself to others. My rational, logical brain repeats the phrase to me regularly in an annoying old schoolmarm voice.

But there’s another voice, too. An insidious, evil little bitch of a voice in my head that sometimes just won’t shut the hell up.

“You’re the fattest person in the room. No one is going to like you here,” she whispers into my ear at a party.

“That Tuff Girl can do dead hang pull ups! You’ll never be able to do those. You’re too heavy. You’ll ALWAYS be too heavy,” she scoffs during a workout.

“Look how ‘together’ that other mom is! She’s not running around from one place to the next like a crazy person, always five minutes late. SHE didn’t forget to turn in the money for the teacher’s gift. SHE sent in the permission slip on time,” she taunts me when I arrive, breathless and with metaphorically windblown hair to a school function.

(I told you she was an evil bitch.)

So yes, in all these instances, comparison IS stealing my joy by shifting my focus to negative and spotlighting the things I see as my weaknesses instead of strengths.

And today’s message has a story, of course. If you’ve been hanging around the FFG FB page, you might have noticed some new photos. I did something that terrified me and signed up for fitness shoot, and the pictures came back yesterday. I shared a few over there and will be doing some updating around here with the rest of them.

As I reviewed the photos, I got super excited. I saw progress in those photos. I saw confidence and empowerment and general badassery in myself. I was proud.

Two of my amazing friends also did the photo shoot and I was absolutely bowled over by their photos. Strong, confident, kickass women who I am so very lucky to call my friends.

But I did it, guys. I did that thing that I am not supposed to do. I compared. I compared my pictures to my friend Samantha’s, and in doing so, I lost some of the initial joy I felt at seeing my own pics.

Me and Samm push press Me and Samm planks

Me: Wow, Samantha looks amazing!

Evil Bitch Voice in My Head: Better than you! Who were you kidding taking these pictures in the first place, fat girl?

Me: Shut up. We’ve both worked hard to make the progress we’ve made. We both deserve to feel awesome about these pictures.

Evil Bitch Voice in My Head: OK, sweetheart. You keep telling yourself that. But I’ll be HONEST…nobody wants to see your pictures when they could look at someone like Samantha.

Sigh.

And on goes the battle. I fight this battle every day, sometimes every minute. And it’s a hard battle, for sure, with casualties on my heart that are tough to overcome.

But I’m not giving up on it. I’m going to keep fighting until I silence that noxious little bitch for good.

And here’s something else I’m working toward: a type of comparison that ADDS joy instead of stealing it…because there are some kinds of comparisons that can do that, which is why I only somewhat agree with the statement I opened this post with.

What I mean by that (incredibly convoluted) idea is this: when I compare who I am today with who I used to be, I can draw confidence, strength and joy from how far I’ve come, instead of a cancerous focus on how far I still have to go.

Comparisons like this one:

very heavy me StephLowRes-13This comparison shows the difference three years makes. My guesstimate would be about 45lbs of fat lost (including, apparently, an entire chin), and a ton of muscle and self-confidence gained.

But beyond that piece, more subtle–but to me, far more important–differences shine through in my posture, my expression, and my attitude in each picture.

The first one shows me leaning forward a little, with my shoulders raised up a little bit…clearly uncomfortable with having my picture taken. My smile seems to be trying to overcompensate for my utter lack of confidence. I distinctly remember having this photo taken, and the discomfort I felt at that moment about the way I looked. I hated being in pictures. I hated being in my body, and it showed.

In fact, at one point I showed that old photo to my friend Samantha. I also distinctly remember her response when she saw it: “That is not the same person I know today. I don’t know who that person is.”

Compared to this new picture, she is absolutely right. It is me, but a completely different version of me who had no idea how awesome she was and could be.

By contrast, the current photo shows my unwavering gaze, my firm, confident posture–chest out, shoulders back–and how at-home I feel with some heavy weights in my hands (those are 25# apiece).

THIS is the me of today. THIS is the kind of comparison I need to be making, and the kind of comparison I am going to keep bringing myself back to, no matter how hard it is.

So take THAT, evil bitch voice in my head! You are going down.

——————–

*Special thanks to Samantha for letting me share her pictures and talk about how amazing she looks in a very public forum. I continue to be so grateful to have you in my life for so many reasons. Heart.

*All fitness shoot photos (ie, all the pics here except for my hideous “before” shot) are credited to the very amazing Eric Brushett. Any weird stretching or photographic wonkiness should be entirely blamed upon my amateurish attempts to create collages, and not Eric’s mad photography skills.

Put on the suit.

Fun fact: I am a huge Avengers fan. So when I title a post “Put on the suit,” there’s really no excuse for me NOT to include this photo:

avengers

Oh, hello.

But this post isn’t necessarily about superheroes. Well it sort of is. But anyway, on with it.

So it’s been a crazy week. (“What else is new, Steph?” you ask.) The school play is tomorrow night so we’ve been running to dress rehearsals, and preparing for shows tonight and Saturday night. But before we GET to Saturday night, we also have a big children’s event at church on Saturday morning, followed by lacrosse practice, then my son’s birthday party on Sunday.

Not to mention the fact that I have family members arriving tonight at 6pm to go over to the school with us to see the play, and the house is a mess and I have no conceivable time between now and 6pm when I could actually clean it. Well, I guess I could be doing it now but I’m pretty sure my husband and kids wouldn’t appreciate my running the vacuum at 5:03am. So yeah, dirty house + impending company=more stress.

My blood pressure just rose writing those two paragraphs.

But in the midst of this week, I had a very cool epiphany on Tuesday.

Tuesday was a kind of “meh” day. After a school delay because of MORE WINTER WEATHER (I can’t even talk about it) I worked from home for most of the day. I also had to miss my date with the iron at 6am because of the aforementioned weather.

I had a ton of work to do but couldn’t seem to get focused.

I tried to focus on cleaning up around the house but still felt so “off.” So I told myself I was too busy (not) working to clean.

I accomplished very little that day except eating a bunch of crap that was in my house for no good reason. You know, just because it was there and I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so stressed and unproductive. So obviously, eating some shitty food was the right answer.

sarcasmI tried to cut my losses by planning a work out date with Mr. Badass at 6pm. But I couldn’t find a sitter.

General malaise ensued. More food was eaten. I figured it was a wasted day and got on with it.

Then I decided to stop being an asshole and signed myself up for the 7pm class to do the ole “kid switcheroo” as my husband came out of the 6pm class.

At 6:20, I (rather reluctantly, in full disclosure) went upstairs to get ready for my 7pm tabata workout.

Again, full disclosure, I tried to think of some excuses that would make it okay for me not to go.

And then it happened.

I pulled on my sports bra and workout gear, and I immediately felt better.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was somehow true. As soon as I was in those black pants with my sweet ass blue training sneaks on, I felt like myself again.

The bad day was left behind. The crappy food. The sense of general wrongness.

I was ready to go kick some ass. (And I did.)

For me on Tuesday, those workout clothes were my equivalent of Ironman putting on the suit.

Ironman

It felt wrong to choose a photo that did NOT include RDJ’s face.

So what’s your suit? Put it on, and kick some ass.

***update: At 7am, I managed to clean up my house a touch, with the help of a handsome husband. I wouldn’t call it “clean and pretty,” but at least  it is “vaguely presentable.”***

Tightrope

Oh, life balance. Why do you elude me?

This is not me...because I am not a mannequin. But I do wish I had a purse like that.

This is not me…because I am not a mannequin. But I do wish I had a purse like that.

Because seriously, I am trying. This journey to badassery is just one piece of the somewhat absurd juggling act I call my life.

I’ve been trying to determine what it looks like to me to create balance with respect to my fitness journey, especially in the last few months following a little eye opening ” incident” I had.

Let me take you back to October…Sunday, October 14, to be exact.

I was at dance crew rehearsal, just shy of a week short of our first performance. I was definitely anxious about the performance, what with all my monumental “fat girl on the stage” fears.

As we were talking about expectations for the day of the performance–when to arrive, how everything would flow, etc.–Karin mentioned that we shouldn’t train on the day of the show. And then I did something I’m not proud of.

I kinda flipped out.

In my head, I frantically ran through my week’s schedule, trying to figure out when I would fit in a fifth training session if not Saturday morning, and coming up with nothing. The resulting panic I started to experience, and the way I behaved because of it, kind of embarrasses me now.

In a shrill voice, I questioned Karin. “Why? Why can’t I train in the morning? It’s hours and hours before the show! Why can’t I? When will I work out otherwise?”

Even as I sit here typing, recalling the way I interrogated my beloved trainer and friend in such a crazy and desperate way, I’m cringing.

I went on to alternate between anger and mounting panic for the rest of the rehearsal. I didn’t have any fun at rehearsal that night, which is just plain stupid, because dance crew rehearsal is my one thing that I do just for me because it brings me joy. That night, I wasted it.

This, my friends, is not indicative of balance.

Must...stay...on...

Must…stay…on…

Yes, I want and need to be committed to a consistent training schedule. But panicking, freaking out, and generally acting like a big fat crazyass because one week I trained four times instead of five? Not cool.

Balance in all aspects of my life is a huge issue for me. I am passionate about so many things, but struggle to find that perfect mix. And, as you may already have realized if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I ask a lot of myself, so that kinda adds to the pressure.

On any given day, there are a gazillion and one demands and questions vying for attention in my oft-addled brain. Here’s a sample, just off the top of my head:

  • Am I eating too much? Am I eating enough? Am I eating the right foods? I know they’re not the right foods, but why the hell are nachos and Oreos so delicious? I mean, really?
  • Why is my house such a disaster? Will I ever be able to keep it regularly clean? Or possibly afford a housekeeper?
  • How can I be a better mom/wife/sister/friend/daughter/member of my church community/co-worker/human being? Am I raising good kids? Am I making a difference for my family/in the community/in the world?
  • Seriously, why does my daughter throw her shit all over the house? (Oh, I think I just answered my second question…)
  • I wish I didn’t have so many commitments.
  • I wish I didn’t have so many pets. Wait, that’s a lie. I really do like my pets, but GOD, there are just so MANY of them!
  • Maybe I’ll ask my co-worker to train me in Photoshop. That would be a good skill.
  • Shit, I have to make a dentist appointment. I freakin hate the dentist.
  • Oh, that reminds me that my son needs braces. Better get those in the budget.
  • Did I turn the damned crock pot on this morning?
  • Did I pay the cable bill yet? Didn’t we say we were going to drop to basic and get rid of our land line? Are we still doing that?
  • Did I work out hard enough today? I felt like I was dying, and I kinda still do, but now I’m wondering if I could have done more.
  • How can I better support my husband at his new job?
  • Speaking of my husband, we haven’t had a date night in like forever. I wonder if I can get a sitter this weekend. Oh, wait, we can’t this weekend. Next weekend? Nope, not gonna work either. UGH!
  • Oh, hell, the hamper is overflowing again.
  • Am I stunting my children’s social lives by not making more playdates? Should I examine the possibility that I don’t make more playdates simply because of my utter loathing of the word “playdate”? Oh, God, I’m a terrible mother.
  • I should call my dad today.
  • I should call my mom today.
  • How can I be more organized? How can I teach my kids to be more organized?
  • Maybe I should start a Pinterest page for the Fit Fat Girl.
  • Maybe I’ll just watch Castle now.
  • Maybe I’ll clean up a little.
  • No, I really should be working!
  • Sonofabitch, I forgot to send the wrapped shoe box with a hole cut in the top for my daughter’s class Valentines. Along with additional materials for her to decorate it with. Why was that supposed to be in TODAY when Valentine’s Day is more than a week from now?!? Now she also needs 2 bags of mini marshmallows and “a hundred of something” by Friday. BLURG!
  • MUST. FINISH. BLOG.

I definitely could have gone on for awhile, but I’ll spare you more of my madness. I’m pretty sure you get the point, and it’s definitely NOT that I have ADD. What I do have is a set of overly high expectations for myself and a very full plate…just like most of the awesome women I know. (Holla if you feel me!)

So this journey to badassery is a lifestyle–a lifestyle of doing the best I can with what I have where I am. And the fitness piece of the journey is just one aspect for me–a very important aspect, but just one.

If there are weeks when I can only work out four times, it’s not going to make or break anything. It just is.

If there are weeks when my nutrition is not optimal because of life madness or bad choices, ok. I’ll pick up and move on.

If the house isn’t “drop-by visitor ready” at every moment, so be it. (Please don’t drop by. Like, ever. I need at least 1 hours’ notice before any visitors arrive.)

This is life, peeps. And I’ve gotta make sure I’m actually LIVING it, not just enslaving myself to some absurd set of standards I’ve created in my head.

Balance, Daniel-san.

So going back to my no-workout-on-performance-day freakout…in the end, it was no big thang that I missed a workout on the day of the performance. (Duh, the outcome any reasonable person could have expected.)

In fact, by the end of the day, I had no recollection of even being concerned about missing a workout. I was on a total high from the performance itself…and the amazing unexpected outcome was my six-year-old daughter’s undying admiration after seeing me out on that dance floor. She was absolutely amazed and awed, and couldn’t believe that her mom was so cool (and neither could I, to be honest!) THAT was way better than any workout.

So I may forget stuff, I may not always have time for everything I want to do, and sometimes I may have to change my expectations.

I may teeter and stumble along this tightrope walk that I call my life’s journey.

I am far from perfect.

But as I struggle to meet all of my obligations, check off my to-dos, and work towards my goals, I must remember to enjoy it.

I can’t get caught up in the details when life offers me a chance to just live.

And I’m pretty sure THAT’s my definition of balance.

Yup.

Yup.