Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hulk Smash Juice & Other Powerful Things

Excuses. We all have them. What’s key is whether or not we choose to make them. The strongest people in my life never wield excuses. Sometimes I find myself getting into a habit of making excuses and frankly, being whiny. Then I choose to snap out of it. There are a million excuses for not eating well, for not fitting in exercise, for not getting enough sleep. The problem with excuses is that some see them as stop signs. I see them as choices. So you have a valid excuse? That doesn't mean you have to use it. You can circumvent it and achieve what you want anyway.

Someone very near and dear to me is battling aplastic anemia, a disorder that literally wipes her out. It doesn’t stop her though; she doesn’t have to let it because she chooses instead to be her attitude. She says that she is tougher than most healthy people out there and you know what? She is.

My mom went through breast cancer twice when I was a small child and she handled it similarly. My mom does not like gyms; I haven’t managed to drag her into one for a single workout since I became a gym fanatic. However, when she was diagnosed with cancer she made the choice to get in the best shape of her life, going to step aerobics classes daily at a gym. She stood up and was tougher, stronger, and fitter than she ever had been in her life. She didn’t make an excuse; she made a choice to be her best.

I am nowhere near as strong as these two women. I make excuses. When I go a month without a satisfying workout I excuse it with the fact that I’m not training for competition. When I eat too much or eat things I shouldn't I excuse it as a stress outlet. Making excuses makes you your own worst enemy. Making excuses is the most effective way to guarantee that you will not reach your fitness goals.

I gave up recently. I was in a funk because I was about to graduate and receive my B.A. in Accounting (I’m a person who doesn’t like change). I wasn’t even finding satisfaction in working out, no more endorphin highs. I also gave up on diet and largely ate whatever I wanted. I had an excuse. I’d found out that I apparently don’t deal with the stress of school as well as I’d thought and was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism. It was nice to have an explanation for why I was tired all the time and why my metabolism was slow, but I made the mistake of making it into an excuse. I should have made it into an incentive to be better. As I’ve said I’m not the strongest person in my life. I’m weak. I need baby steps to circumvent my excuses. One little change by one little change to be what I’m capable of.

I've allowed life to intimidate me lately. I began an accelerated MBA program and the first quarter is a very heavy class load essentially meant to serve as a refresher for an entire undergraduate business degree… in 8 weeks. After about a day of intimidation I made a choice to not allow it. How can I simply ban intimidation from my new career as an MBA Candidate? Simple. Jogging.


Jogging and I have been lifetime enemies. I was the runner on two triathlon teams in 8th and 9th grade, but I speed-walked half of both. I ran track in high school, but I called the 300 meter hurdles my “long distance event.” I glare at treadmills. I am happy to sweat it out at a more than respectable speed on a StepMill or an Elliptical for 45-60 minutes, but I am not a runner. I’m slow. I get out of breath quickly. I can’t multitask while I’m doing it. I don’t like it.

Therefore, if I can beat (translation: befriend) jogging I can be more powerful than an MBA. If I wield a powerful mental state I cannot be intimidated by an intense class. On the fourth day of my MBA I was able to restart my old routine of an early am workout. So I ran before I lifted. I looped around campus. I was out of breath, it was hard, and I only had time for15 minutes, but it was fun. I ran up and down stairs. I saw the sun and the freshness of bright green grass and old growth trees. It is a powerful feeling to travel the same walkways light of foot and spirit that you normally traverse laden down by a backpack, cooler, gym bag, and raincoat. Today, I went to campus just to jog and lasted a whole 50 minutes. I made nature my playground and fit in 14 sets of stair sprints for fun. It was the best cardio only day I've had in a long time.

In class we again spoke about Jim Collins, whose book Built to Last I already integrate into my fitness philosophy. We spoke of installing mechanisms in our lives to automate adherence to our core values without the necessity of motivation. Taken in tandem with some of the attributes of meaningful work my jogging is more empowering than I thought.

To me jogging reflects my core values, permits autonomy, provides a challenge, and connects one with nature. These are four of the attributes of meaningful work. Weightlifting only meets the first two for me. By making each training session begin with a non-negotiable outdoor jog I am able to ensure that my training is meaningful, rather than unsatisfying as it has been lately. Jogging provides a challenge and connects me with nature. After my first two days of being out on the brick and pavement in my toe shoes my calf muscles were so tight that I was inclined to take an elevator down a single flight of stairs. I love feeling that 'battle scar' though, just as I have long loved DOMS. They are signs of progress. It is my goal to work my way up to being capable of an hour long jog that I enjoy. If I can do that I can certainly handle an MBA.

 My diet has also been weak lately, but baby steps can help me there too:

I love bagels, but bagels are a carb heavy muscle definition killer. Solution? P28, the high protein bagel (28 grams of protein per bagel) that meets my goals and my cravings. I really like them and just ordered our second case.

Getting enough protein without getting sick of meat, fish, or protein powder is tough for me. That’s why I love nonfat Greek yogurt. Not all brands are created equal. Fage and the Costco house brand Kirkland Signature both have 23-24 grams of protein per 130-140 calorie 8 oz. serving. Other brands have as little as a third of that protein portion so watch those labels. This is a great protein source because you can keep it varied by mixing in fruit, a few tablespoons of granola, nuts, dried fruit, honey, or other things I haven’t thought of. It is also very portable (and a nice and quiet to eat in class) meal.

Getting enough vegetables is a challenge for me. I don’t eat them with breakfast or my second meal so if my third meal (lunch) is not veg heavy I come up short for the day. We were lucky to receive a beastly blender recently for an early wedding gift and thus Hulk Smash Juice was born. The name came from my son’s recent Avengers inspired obsession with Hulk. My son happily drinks it too and says that it is going to give him big muscles to Hulk smash with.

1” round fresh pineapple, halved.
Half a lime, halved
3 big handfuls of fresh spinach
2 trays ice cubes
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons honey or to taste
The whole family can drink it with breakfast and before you know it you’ll all be hulk-smashing together…or just on your way to successfully meeting your daily veg quotas ;)

I am not, nor do I need to be, the strongest person in my life. I simply need to be stronger than my excuses and the little things are what will get me there.

What excuses do you make in your own life? What baby steps will allow you to circumvent your excuses and reach your goals? What little changes can you make to believe that the sky is the limit?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, honestly I didnt read through your whole post, but i read far enough to see hypothyroidism and jogging very close to each other so I thought i should share this article on the effects of slow running. its a well sourced article. summary: there is a DIRECT correlation between jogging and hypothyroidism in women (it has to do with reproducing i think). I'm not saying it applies to you, but if you have always ran, then maybe you should stop for a few weeks and get retested like the woman in the article. If you have never ran and are just starting maybe you should reconsider? or at least try sprinting instead....