Week 3: Attitudes & Exercise

A reward for trying to do things you always thought you couldn’t do? Taking pictures with cute firefighters!

I’m a big nerd. I’m not naturally inclined to sports or physical activities. There’s a joke that occasionally shows up in my social media about having Celtic genes means that when you exercise, your genes protect you from the marauding Englis by keeping you plump as a partridge if you are running. Pretty much me!

But, I have learned a lot about myself, the expectations I have for myself, and what I really can do in the last ten years, and these lessons are what I want to take forward with me in the future.

1. I Am Capable. I started running when I was 29. It was kind of a self dare to see if I could do it. I have vivid childhood memories of my elementary school gym teacher screaming at me while we ran the mile for the Presidential Fitness rest because I was so slow and I have that thing where your skin is so pale that when you run, you turn red and people think you’re dying!

I never thought I was made for running, but I wanted to challenge that belief. It was hard. I had to run from one light pole, walk to the next, and run to the third when I started. I couldn’t believe it later that summer when I ran my first full mile! I had a good friend who patiently practiced with me, though she was faster and fitter. She ran with me in my first few 5Ks. I’ve run in a 5K almost every year of my 30s! I’m not fast, but the point is that I can do it!

2. I Don’t Have to Be The Best. I’m a pretty competitive person, and I do like a challenge. But I’m never going to be a competitive athlete and I am okay with that now. I had a hard time realizing that I could do sports and fitness activities just for the joy of moving and having a body that works. That was one of the biggest benefits of going though the first phase of my chronic illness before I was diagnosed and didn’t have the simple joy of health! Now, I know that the reward for fitness is just doing it and having the blessing of a body that holds me up, moves, stretches, and breathes!

3. I Don’t Have to Be All or Nothing. I can skip a day, a week, or longer depending on what’s happening and where my priorities are without giving myself a guild trip anymore. It’s my choice to workout or not. No one is able to do everything all the time, and I have lots of things that I want to do and that I love to do. Yes, yoga and running are on that list, but I do them when I have time, and when they’re a priority. My life is full and varied and I am happy with my body because it functions.

4. I’m Not Afraid to Exercise In Front of Other People Anymore. I don’t know where this quirk in my personality came from, but I was very secretive about exercising when I was younger. I didn’t want to go to the gym with my friends. I didn’t like taking a class with anyone that I actually knew. I was embarrassed of just the way I moved and felt in my skin, and didn’t want others to see my awkward flailing! Think if a human danced like a Muppet and you’re pretty close to my typical level of gracefulness.

But it’s no fun to hide and avoid things in life. I’m really tired of all that nonsense. So, I’m no longer afraid of moving in front of people. I’m embracing my fully nerdy self and doing things with my friends! I’m even doing yoga with my husband.

5. Finally, I’m embracing my beautiful body as it is. I’m wearing what I want to wear when I am doing regular life, when I’m working out, when I’m at the beach. I’m so pale that I glow in the dark. I have a squishy body with great curves. I realize that my double chin isn’t hideous when I hang out with my niece who has the same chin! I’m just deciding that I’m having fun being me.

I read a meditation last year that rocked me to my core and changed a lot for me in this last area. And the idea was so simple: I am not my body.

I am not my body.

I am the spirit, the essential core, that resides in this body. My body is my shell, like a turtle or a crab. It’s my protection and my vehicle. It’s how I do my mission, whatever the mission is. And that idea is pretty freeing. I may be judged by my body, but that’s not a judgment of who or what I really am. Whatever I really am will outlast this physical body.

Whether you love or hate the shell you’re currently residing in, take care of it. That’s the most important thing I hope that my experience can impart to you. Health is a gift. We’re so lucky to have whatever health we’re given and it might not last. So move for the joy of it. Let other people move with you. No one actually does care if you dance like a Muppet!

Week 2: The Health Challenge

NOTE: My personal health journey has been a roller coaster, and I’m going to share more about that in a later post because I think it’s important for you to know where I’m coming from.

Years, probably, have been spent in my life worrying about health, weight, food, all the things we consider to be essential to the experience of being a woman in our culture. I wish I could say that I didn’t worry about these things. I know a lot of it comes down to vanity, and not much of it is meaningful. I’m working on it.

This year, I am trying to focus on the meaningful side of health. My challenge is based on taking better care of myself because I want to know that I have the energy and capacity to be able to focus on other areas of my life. I don’t want to waste time on sick days, injury recovery, or low energy and shakiness because I’ve forgotten to take care of myself. These things are hard for me.

Creating this month’s challenge, I started by setting some tangible goals for WHAT I wanted to accomplish:

  • To manage my chronic illness consistently and proactively.
  • To increase my energy levels.
  • To build strength.
  • To work towards a healthy BMI.

Next, I worked on laying out the strategy:

  • I set a why as the first half of my strategy because I have to be doing something for a reason, other than the outcome, otherwise I fall off the wagon before I’ve reached my goal.
    My WHY: I have struggled with my health for almost a decade and I’m on an upswing. I know what it’s like to feel terrible all the time, and I refuse to go back to that! I am working on my wellness so that I don’t have to constantly think about my wellness.
  • The second half of the strategy is the how. This is where I set the tasks I’m going to complete in order to achieve the goals.
    My HOW: To manage my chronic illness consistently and proactively, I need to take the supplements that I know help me on a regular basis, I need to regularly sleep well for 8-9 hours a night, and I need to manage my stress levels. For strength building, I’m doing yoga because it’s low impact. I decided that working on a pose that I’ve always wanted to do that builds core strength and another that builds arm strength would be my “goal” and that I’ll have to do yoga consistently in order to do those. To increase my energy levels, on top of managing my stress and sleep, I’m going to also go to the gym to do low impact workouts on my non-yoga days. And all of these things combined with my healthy eating habits (what I worked on last year) should lead towards the healthy BMI.

Next, I needed a plan for my challenge—the steps I’ll take to meet my goal. I worked on taking each of the strategy items, assigning specific tasks and then scheduling WHERE and WHEN I would do them. For example: I’ll do yoga on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at my house in the living room. I also picked out accountability partners to keep me on track. Knowing WHO I can lean on when I need motivation to keep going is a huge key to meeting this challenge.

Now, I’m in the implementation phase. I have to actually DO the things in order to meet the goal. While I do each step, I’ve set specific check-in times to refine what I’m doing based on TRACKING my progress, EVALUATING whether it’s working, and then ADJUSTING as needed.

I have a Google Doc* that I built and attached as a link to my calendar on the days that I’ve set aside time to track my progress. As I move forward, I’ll provide updates to see if this all works, to share what I’ve learned and whether this plan is worth carrying over into the next decade!

*Want a Google Doc of your own? I can send you a copy. Just send me an email to let me know you’d like one.

Welcome to 40 by Design

I’ve got exactly 40 weeks until i turn 40…

It’s January 2020, and here I am, looking at my planner and realizing that it’s showtime in this thing we call LIFE. What I mean is: 40 is what I’ve been waiting for. It’s the age that I’ve imagined that I’d have it all together, and come into my own…

I design customer/client experiences for a living. And my life isn’t all that messy or anything, but I definitely thought I’d have my shit together before now, you know? By 40, I should have this adulting thing down!

I decided that I’m going to do something different this year. Not exactly a resolution, more like a project. A LIFE DESIGN PROJECT. For 40 weeks, leading up to my birthday, I’m going to examine 40 different aspects of my life and the lives of women I admire, and make adjustments for maximum living.

Why do this?

  • Because I want to do something to honor this milestone—something to celebrate it. I want to bring more JOY into this year!
  • Because the more I work on improving aspects of businesses and brands, the more I see the connections you can make to improving your life. I like this idea, and I want a way to explore the concept.
  • Because it’s a creative project, and I’m a big giant nerd! I’m not sure what this will look like in the end, I’m just jumping in and seeing what happens, and that’s exciting because all my other projects are results-oriented. This is just for the doing!

I’m going to share things I’m working on (including organizing my closet, trying to do a better job at managing my household, fun things I want to try, and other goals I’m working towards); I’m going to share personal stories; and I’m going to explore deep issues. I invite you to follow along with me.

Before I get started, let’s answer a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
    Because I did the research—there aren’t many interesting resources that discuss the topic of being a woman about to turn 40. I don’t care about “Anti-Aging Techniques to Keep You Looking Young” or “40 Things Women Over 40 Shouldn’t Ever Wear”. I’m interested in growth, depth, and insight. Maybe this will be a resource for other women looking for the same kind of thing.
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
    Cooking, Style, Decorating, Art, Managing My Schedule, Health, Being a Woman Business Owner, Being a Woman, Deep Soul Stuff…cats…
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
    I want to connect with you if you’re a woman working to find her way in the world with intention. I want to connect with you if you care about character, grace, being a good person while doing great things…and how to manage all of that without going flippin’ crazy!
  • If you blog successfully throughout the 40 weeks, what would you hope to have accomplished?
    I hope that this will be a record of an amazing journey. I hope that I step into my 40s with a well-designed life that suits exactly me!

NOTE: My blog probably won’t be for everyone and that’s okay. I’m learning that you can’t make everyone happy, and this is ultimately for me. I’m exploring my life, so the topics I cover and my opinions are by no way anything you have to agree with me about. If you don’t agree, I invite you to stay anyway if you like. Or, you can stop reading and write your own blog! What we’ll agree upon now is this: negative, mean-spirited comments will be erased and ignored.

So, that’s the plan. 40 Weeks to evaluate, revise, and redesign my life. I’m happy you’re here to follow along!