Like most cyclists, I have a yearly distance goal. It’s ranged over the years from 4000-7000 km. This year it’s 5500 km.
I’ve got 785.5 km to go. In normal times that would be perfectly reasonably even going into the fall months because of Zwift and weekend gravel rides.
But I’ve also just had total knee replacement surgery. Another friend who also had the same surgery got back on his bike at 8 weeks. It’s never reasonable though to look at someone else’s progress and make that your own standard. Isn’t there something about comparison being the thief of joy?
I started to do the math. There’s 18 weeks left in 2022.. Suppose I’m like him and riding on Zwift at 8 weeks. That gives me ten weeks to meet my annual mileage goal. That’s about 80 km a week. Say 4 easy 20 km rides a week. I could even do that slowly, just spinning, no pressure on the pedals.
Still, though it might have doable, it also might not be.. This isn’t a year for distance goals. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, fine. I have big picture goals about mobility and long term bike fitness. That matters in ways that arbitrary numbers on the bike computer just don’t.
I do have one immediate goal though–getting upstairs on crutches to the shower! I can shower if I can keep the incision covering dry with a plastic bag taped on and use a hand held shower. Sarah just bought one to install.
That’s our weekend mission.
Next week it’s my hope to be sleeping upstairs and have the bike back on the trainer downstairs. I’ll be using the bike purely for range of motion purposes. It’s likely going to be awhile before I can make a complete rotation on the trainer.
Anyway, I’m blathering. Thanks pain drugs. The point is just to say, I’m giving up distance goals and sticking to sensible short term functional fitness while my knee heals.
Note: this post is shamelessly stolen from Nat’s Stop Doing list posts (here and here). In just about everything (as far as I can tell), Nat is a role model for us all. In case clicking those links is just too much for you, here are her lists:
glorifying being busy
beating yourself up over missed workouts
apologizing for being a hot mess
What wise and prescient advice this is. But wait, there’s more.
letting expectations get away with yourself
comparing yourself to others
…and think before taking a new thing on
Why yes, Nat, these are very fine things to stop doing as soon as possible. These lists are great in that they are self-caring, non-self-shaming, aspirational but also doable in everyday ways. Reading her lists made me think about what’s going on in my life right now. What would a positive (as it were), useful, inspiring and practical Stop Doing list look like for me? Well, here goes nothing…
Apologizing so much: I’ve already started this project, but old habits die hard. Apologizing, for me, is all about insecurity about my own judgment, needs and boundaries. Getting clearer with myself about what I’m doing and what I’m taking responsibility for helps me feel less in need for forgiveness (or permission) from outside sources.
Buying clothes that don’t fit: It still surprises me how hard this is. Having spent years, nay decades, wearing clothes that were too close-fitting or not wearing things I bought that were too close-fitting, I am finally done. This year I’ve ordered XXL, 1X and 2X items because they feel comfortable and fit me. I even bought a pair of white jeans, in my size, that I actually wear. Imagine that.
Saying yes or maybe to things I don’t want to/am definitely not going to do: This one’s on all of our lists all the time, but it bears repeating. Even in cases where I *know* that I’m not going to do X, I’m not always clear to others or myself about my never doing X.
Mowing the lawn is a good example. Every summer, I tell my neighbors in our 3-condo house that I’ll do the lawn. Which I almost never do. I end up feeling foolish and embarrassed and beholden when my upstairs neighbor ends up doing it. Or I do it half-heartedly, late and poorly. Enough already. I can come up with other solutions when I share responsibility, or just say “no” when it’s not my responsibility. This is obviously a work in progress.
Suffering and fretting over things in isolation instead of *asking someone for help*: I help other people all the time. Doing favors or lending a hand is fun for me. I like being around others and feeling good about accomplishing goals together. Perhaps, just perhaps, other people might not mind helping me out with stuff that’s hard to do by myself, or just flat-out hard to do. One thing, though: they won’t necessarily know what I need unless I ask them. Okay. Working on that.
I’m going to stop here, because I think this list is enough for now. See, I’m stopping doing something… 🙂
Readers, what’s something you want to stop doing that you’re working on or thinking about? I’d love to hear from you. Please don’t stop commenting– we love to know what’s going on with all of you!
So, Team, here we are at the end of August, being our marvellous selves.
We had BIG plans for the summer and we got some of them done.
We managed to do some cool stuff that wasn’t on our lists.
We also dealt with unexpected (and likely very challenging) stuff.
While we *could* sit here and list all of the things that didn’t go as planned, the stuff we hoped to get to but never did, the obstacles we faced, I’m going to vote no on that sort of deliberate review for us right now.
I am especially voting no on anything that might lead us to be harsh to ourselves about the whole thing.
(Yes, there’s a time and a place to review what went awry and to adjust future plans accordingly but it doesn’t have to be right now. And there might be a time and a place to decide to make different choices and take different actions but there is never a time when we have to be hard on ourselves about that sort of stuff.)
Instead, I’m inviting us to view our summer highlight reels – the fun stuff, the shiny bits, the hard work that paid off, the times we relaxed, the summer-specific moments and memories that feel great when we roll them around in our minds.
Take a minute when you can and sink into those highlights.
Relive how you felt, the sensory details, the work and the fun.
Give yourself the chance to celebrate the effort you put in, the good choices you made, the fun that happened even if things didn’t go according to plan.
I know that the end of summer can bring a sort of melancholy and, obviously, it’s totally ok to feel however you feel about the change in season, but you don’t have to get mired in that feeling.
You can be present for your melancholy moments AND you can enjoy the memories of the highlights of your summer. You don’t have to choose.
You can have some regrets about things undone AND be happy about the fun you had. this isn’t an either/or situation.
However, given the human brain’s negativity bias, we might have to consciously choose to fully remember the highlights of summer as the season comes to an end.
So, Team, here are some stars for your efforts to celebrate the good and create your summer highlight reel.
And, truth be told, summer doesn’t officially end until sometime in September. So, once you have that mental highlight reel in place, you can spend a little time planning another adventure or two even as your schedule moves into Autumn mode.
Go on, I dare you to add more fun to your next few weeks.
PS – If a mental highlight reel isn’t enough for you, create an album of photos on your phone, make a list, create a visual journal, doodle some memories, or make a video for future you to watch.
PPS – My summer highlight reel includes swimming with Trudy and Michelle, sitting on my patio in the evening, a backyard fire with a small group of friends, getting my tiny spiral garden planted, a couple of day trips with Steve, and watching Khalee sniff the same patch of flowers each day on our walk.
A bunch of the FIFI bloggers are in 222 workouts in 2022 FB groups. I’ve been doing this for several years now, and I’ve really enjoyed the support, workout ideas and role modeling my fellow members provide. Each year I’ve squeaked out my final workouts during Christmas vacation. Hey, just in time delivery is still delivery, right?
I tell you, this year–2022– has been a tough one. For a number of reasons (some serious, others minor but persistent), it’s been hard to move consistently and very much. Summer is always a time of increased active fun for me, and I’ve enjoyed kayaking, cycling, swimming, dog walking, and yoga. It’s still August, so the party’s not over yet. I’m also on sabbatical this fall (YAY!), so I’ll be traveling and doing more activities (mainly cycling and kayaking, but I’m flexible) through the rest of the year.
Right. Even though as of today, I’m at 113 workouts (of 222), it’s possible to make it across that finish line, even if I have to enlist my family to do a micro-triathlon with me on December 31…
But should I push through? If so, why?
A week or so ago, I wrote a blog post about the idea of “pointless goals”, and applying them to fitness goals and physical practice. There’s nothing magical about 10,000 steps, running 26.2 miles or cycling 100 miles or swimming or meditating 365 days in a row, bench pressing your body weight (or twice that, or more), or any other physical activity goal we set. But, as one of the bloggers pointed out (thanks, Mina!), these goals may provide structure for helping us attain or maintain practices for our well-being. That makes a lot of sense to me.
I meditate every day and use the Ten Percent Happier App for guided meditations *and* to keep track of my current streak. When I miss a day (which happens occasionally), it resets me to day one. But then I get a little electronic phone confetti with days three, five, ten, and so on. So I get rewards for starting over even after I’ve lost my streak. I love the phone confetti.
The fact that I am now 109 workouts (whatever that means to me) short of my 222 for the year is helping me focus on scheduling and squeezing in some extra walks (with dogs or humans), yoga mat time, bike rides, swims, etc. The 222 goal is not *why* I do them, but 222 being in the mix adds a little push. For me. YMMV.
So, will I or won’t I (finish up my 222 workout goals in 2022)? I think I will. It means I’ve got to get a wiggle on, but I’m feeling like some wiggling is what I want to do. Because, when it comes down to it…
How about you, dear readers? Are you in the throes of some process which may or may not be approaching one of your fitness or practice goals? Did you see the movie Madagascar? I’d like to know…
In the article Casey Johnston, a personal trainer, interrogates everyone’s favorite fitness goal. She’s got a lot to say but here’s part of it.
“Why did it have to be pull-ups? The world of strength is so big, with so many things to do. Why and how did the zeitgeist land on pull-ups as the number one glossy, sexy fitness goal? Of all the “strong” things to do with one’s body, a pull-up is… about the hardest one. This makes them difficult as someone’s strength training entree. I don’t want to discourage, but I also want to appropriately couch. This ultimately does not really matter, because by the time I can get out “Wow, that’s cool, although pull-ups are harder than you might think—” people’s eyes are already understandably glazing over.”
I love the reaction on our Facebook page. Here’s a sample of the comments:
“When I watch a movie and someone is being chased and they come across a wall that they have to pull themselves over, I think ‘that’s where they’ll get me’ 😆”
“Pull-ups were the one thing we were consistently tested on in elementary school and I have no idea why. They never actually worked with us on HOW to do them, or how to get better at them. What a strange measure of strength for seven-year-olds.”
“I try them on a semi regular basis as though this workout will be the one where I can suddenly do a pull up. I do not train to be able to do them. Apparently I’m hoping for magic.”
What do you think about pull-ups? Do you train for them? Are they a goal? Why? Why do you think they’re everyone’s favorite fitness goal?
Me, I do assisted pull-ups sometimes either on the gravitron machine or with bands. So if a monster is chasing me and I have to get up and over a wall, they’ll need to be some help available if I’m going to make it.
I can do 5 minute practices of a pattern that I already know or I can practice one specific technique for 5 minutes but my brain refuses to believe that 5 minutes of learning a new pattern will add up to me being able to do it.
I have it a good try for the first 10 days of my plan, though.
I would practice a few moves one day and really feel like I was getting it. But, by the next afternoon, it was like I had wiped my mind clear of the previous movements entirely. It was taking me almost the whole five minutes to remind myself of what I had been doing the day before and it was so awkward and frustrating that I was getting really discouraged.
I know, of course, that learning takes time and that I have to be patient with myself and with the process.
BUT, on the other hand, I know what I am like and I know what my brain is like. And, I know that that specific kind of frustration can lead to me unconsciously putting something aside for later – and not a specific time later but that murky ambiguous time that I refer to as the ‘the not-now.’*
Change in Plans
In order to protect my pattern practice from falling into the not-now, I had to course-correct.
I changed my daily practices to focus on patterns I already knew, cycling through them one at a time.
As for learning Yoo-Sin, here’s what happened:
Luckily, we went back to having classes in person so I had the chance to work with Ms. Reid and Mr. Dyer a couple of times. That really helped. It’s great to have two very different people to work with – they both help me to understand different parts of the movements and understand how to bring the pieces together.
And, at home, I dedicated longer periods of time to learning my new pattern so I had time to get into more of the movements in each practice.
I started by writing out the 68 movements in my own words so I could reference them more easily. I’m sure official instructions will never include phrases like “X punch down, X knives up, then sneaky punch” but I make it work.
Then I broke the movements into sections that made sense to me – separating sections when I had to change directions or when a set of similar movements were completed and another set was starting.
I worked on the first section until the movements had a bit of flow to them and then moved to the next section, adding a little bit at a time. This is what I was hoping to do with my 5 minute practices but 5 minutes wasn’t long enough to make things stick.
I could feel that I was starting to grasp my pattern** but I couldn’t always bring my knowledge with me to class. It always takes a while before my home practice shows up at class with me but at least my brain was more willing to focus on the details of the in-class practice because the movements were at least vaguely familiar. That let me retain more information about the details of the pattern because I had a mental ‘container’ to put them in.
Let’s Call It A Success
I’m going to call my February plan a success even though I had to change it part way through. (Hmm, does it count as changing it if part of the plan was that I could change it if I wanted? Ha! )
Trying to work for 5 minutes a day wasn’t a direct path to learning my pattern but it did set me on the right path. Realizing that 5 minutes a day wasn’t going to work led me to find something that would and now I am doing pretty well with my pattern overall.
I’m pretty confident with the first 50 of the 68 movements and I am feeling ok about the last 18. And I’d be feeling more confident about that last 18 if I could magically face the right direction for each movement instead of having to remind myself each time.
When I started this plan for practice I wasn’t sure if I *could* learn my pattern in a month but apparently, the answer is yes – as long as I was working with my inclinations instead of against them.
I think I just coached myself into a corner with that last bit, hey? 😉
*Long before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I would tell people that, for me, time only came in two forms ‘now’ and ‘not-now’ and if I put something into the not-now it might never resurface. It took me years to find out that dividing time like that is common among people with ADHD. I don’t know how many people use the definite article though – ‘the not-now’ has a certain gravitas to it that works for me.
** I have a very specific feeling when I know a pattern is starting to come together. It’s not exactly visual but it is the mental equivalent of watching film develop or watching something move toward you through fog – I can ‘see’ it there, recognize its shape, even if I can’t quite identify/describe it yet.
I was expecting it to take two months to see any improvement but I am delighted to say that despite a hectic January, with weird, rainy weather that included at least a week where I had to reduce my exercise instead of intensifying it, I have officially nudged myself a little closer to Good.
I started as Fair to Average and now, I am Average to Good. It’s a small nudge but a nudge all the same.
I shall award myself a gold star.
I know that this number isn’t a definitive description of my fitness level overall but it is measuring one aspect in a tangible way.
And, I improved the number in a short period of time by slightly increasing the intensity of my exercise.
This is encouraging and it bodes well for making bigger changes over time.
When I look at my heart rate numbers and see that a greater percentage of my workout is in my target range, it feels good.
Having my efforts recorded and made visible brings me back to try again the next day.
And, interestingly, I’m bringing the lessons from Adriene’s ‘Move’ series into this part of my fitness practice as well. I have been paying closer attention to how I feel when I am working a bit harder and to what movements make the biggest difference in my heart rate. Both of these things add a certain element of playfulness and experimentation to my exercise sessions, which I really appreciate.
Oh, and my additional efforts are also adding a little mystery to my practice. For no apparent reason, my Fitbit has started registering some of my walks as sessions on an elliptical machine (I don’t have an elliptical machine) and it has been registering my TKD practice as swimming. Go figure!
Anyway, I’ll post again next month to let you know whether I have moved another point to the good.
Speaking of good, here’s Khalee after one of our ‘elliptical’ walks.
I’m fairly confident about the patterns I have learned for previous black belt tests.* And I feel good about one of the three I need to learn for this test but I haven’t yet fully grasped the second pattern that I need to learn.
So, I am taking my own advice from my Go Team! posts and creating a plan for a small, specific practice to really get this pattern, Yoo Sin, into my brain and into my muscle memory:
I’m going to practice Yoo Sin for at least 5 minutes a day, every day, from now until the end of February, or until I can perform it without hesitation, whichever comes first.
This is what Yoo Sin looks like:
I have been through the whole pattern step-by-step a couple of times with guided instruction but at this point I can only get about 1/3 of the way through the pattern without stopping to check the next move.
I’m not sure if 5 minutes of daily practice will get me where I want to go with the pattern in a month but it will definitely move me in the right direction.
And, as I know from my own Go Team! pep talks, I can reassess and do some course correction at any point in the process.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
For the record, this isn’t the only TKD practice I will do in February, it’s just how I plan to add this pattern to my repertoire.
*If you aren’t familiar with how things work in the martial arts, getting your black belt is not your end point, it’s the point at which you know enough of the basics to start deepening and strengthening your practice. I earned my first degree black belt in 2014. I learned 3 new patterns for my second degree belt in 2016, another 3 new patterns for my third degree belt in 2019, and I have to learn 3 new patterns for my 4th degree test. This is on top of the 9 patterns that I learned for the various belts leading to my first degree black belt.
I have said a lot so far about adjusting your practices to meet your needs. I’ve invited you to change or drop anything that doesn’t serve you or that makes you avoid your planned sessions. And I fully stand behind those statements. If you have discovered that you hate the activities that you had hoped would lead you to your goals, then I think it is perfectly fine to adjust them or ditch them.
And, I also think that it is ok to go ahead and grumble through activities or parts of activities that you hate if they aren’t causing you distress/if they don’t make you avoid your practice.
You don’t have to love every part of your workout. You don’t have to be excited to sit in meditation. You don’t need to make every wellness activity into a party.
It’s possible to take actions that will move you toward something that is important to you without making them fun or appealing. You can just do them and check them off your list. Finding fun approaches can make it easier to take those actions but progress does not always require passion.*
I like finding the fun as much as the next person and I often need to make things extra appealing so my ADHD brain can be convinced to do them. Sometimes, however, it’s easier and more straightforward to just trudge ahead through the task at hand. There’s a time and place for both/either, and you can choose the one that serves you best in the moment.
Tangential anecdote that I probably shared before but I am going to share again anyway: Even though I am strongly pro-fun, I have a long history of resisting the idea that everything has to be fun. When I was a Girl Guide in the 80s, one of the Guide laws (at the time) was ‘A Guide smiles and sings, even under difficulty.’ and I HATED that idea. It was bad enough that I might be facing difficulty but the idea that I would have to pretend everything was ok and smile and sing through it? I WAS NOT HAVING IT. I appreciate the sentiment behind it, that a positive attitude can be really helpful in many situations but my super-charged-idea-generating brain immediately presented (and still presents) me with multiple ways that that phrasing could be used against me. I decided that while I would say the law aloud as written, in my head I would consider the law to be ‘If you can’t smile, then just try not to throw up.’ That version worked much better for me, and still does. One of the lessons you can draw from this anecdote is that, yes, I have always been like this. 😉
And you don’t HAVE to have a good attitude while you trudge your activities, either. Sure, a positive attitude can be useful in many situations. And you’ll want to choose who you grumble to/with but you can be, to borrow a local expression, ‘as crooked as sin’ (translation: extremely cranky) and still finish your workout. Stubbornness and being crooked as sin can get you through the hard parts of your practice just as much as smiling and singing will get you through other parts.
As you know, my whole coaching schtick is about being kind to yourself while you reshape the bits of your life that cause you unwanted friction. Part of being kind to yourself is recognizing that your life won’t be perfect and you will react differently to various ups and downs – sometimes you will smile and sing under difficulty, sometimes you will make changes so the situation is easier or more palatable, and sometimes you will decide to forge ahead even when you are as crooked as sin and cursing the whole time.
You already have lots of bits and pieces of your life that you do because they need to be done or they serve you well in some way. You don’t worry about your attitude toward a lot of those things because it is kind of beside the point.
Take flossing your teeth, for example. It’s a task that needs to be done but you don’t need to do it perfectly every time. You don’t need to be happy about it and you don’t need to make it fun, you just need to find a way to make sure it happens. Whether that involves creating an enjoyable environment for flossing or cursing your way through the process is your business, you can do whatever works for you in that moment.
Your practices for well-being work the same way.
If you find yourself dreading or avoiding your practice, make adjustments, ditch something, or make it more fun. If you just hate or lack enthusiasm for some parts, you don’t have to learn to love them, you can just do them and curse the whole time.
Today, I am inviting you to go ahead and grumble about anything you don’t like about the process of building your habits. Just be kind to yourself about your grumbling.
Not enjoying every part doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you and it doesn’t necessarily mean that your practice is wrong for you, it just means that you don’t enjoy everything equally. You’ll know the difference between dreading and disliking and you can choose your path accordingingly.
And, as always, here’s your gold star to celebrate your efforts today, whether you are smiling, singing, cursing, or just trying not to throw up while you do them.
This is the eraser on my whiteboard and even though she is smiling, she doesn’t think that you have to smile. In fact, she just glad you are showing up for yourself in whatever form you are choosing today. And she is in favour of cursing the whole time if that’s what serves you best.
*This kind of reminds me of this writing advice from A.J. Liebling: “The only way to write is well and how you do it is your own damn business.” It’s your own damn business how you approach your practices as long as they serve you well.
About the Go Team! posts:
For the second year in a row, I’ll be posting a Go Team! message every day in January to encourage us as we build new habits or maintain existing ones. It’s cumbersome to try to include every possibility in every sentence so please assume that I am offering you kindness, understanding, and encouragement for your efforts right now. You matter, your needs matter, and your efforts count, no matter where you are applying them. You are doing the best you can, with the resources you have, in all kinds of difficult situations and I wish you ease. ⭐💚 PS – Some of the posts for this year may be similar to posts from last year but I think we can roll with it.
I have picked a word for the year – spaciousness – but I hadn’t really settled on a fitness goal until this weekend when I found a new category of information in my Fitbit.
In my average week, I’m moving a fair bit. I take the dog for a walk or two each day, I usually have two TKD classes in a week, I do a bit of yoga and some stretches and a bit of strength training.
Lately though, I have come to realize that I am not really moving the metaphorical needle on my fitness level. I’m maintaining what I have but my efforts are not particularly focused and I’m not feeling any sort of expansion in my capacity.
Part of this is due to my issues with my toes/heel/calf/knee, of course, and luckily that situation is improving steadily. And, up until now, I have been juggling about three things more than I had capacity for at any given time – I could manage to hold most things in the air most of the time but that was it.*
However, some combination of ADHD and personality also factors into this. I never really know when and how to push myself, it’s tricky for me to judge my capacity and energy levels at any given time, and I am never sure if and what I should measure.
I’ve been keeping an eye on my resting heart rate over time but since I don’t wear my Fitbit when I sleep, apparently that’s not a very accurate measurement.
And I check off the box for daily movement but my effort levels vary from day to day. I’m not criticizing myself for that but it does mean that I am maintaining rather than expanding my capacity.
However, this weekend, I accidentally nudged a different part of my Fitbit screen and discovered that I can get more information about my cardio fitness above and beyond just my heart rate.
This puts my numbers in context. I LOVE context!
Fair to average isn’t bad but I’m sure with a little more focused effort, I could get to good and maybe even beyond.
So, in a move that is probably startlingly obvious to anyone who doesn’t live in a ADHD time/pattern soup, I looked up how long it takes to improve cardio fitness and what kinds of exercises will help me see a little progress ASAP. (I know that you can’t rush results but I also know what my brain needs.)
So, now I know that I need to make some of my workouts HIIT workouts and, in about two months, I should see myself inching toward that next blue bar.
In the meantime, I going to try not to check this screen every day hoping for a magical shift. I’ll post about it once a month though, just to keep myself on track.
PS – I undoubtedly knew some or all of this before. And I may have put some pieces together before. If you had asked me, I probably could have told you that improving cardio fitness is a good idea and that things like HIIT would help. However, when I want to take things on for myself, I always need to have proper context in order to hold on to or apply the information I have. For some reason this chart gave me the right container for the information and let me make a plan. The new level of ADHD meds I started in early December are probably helping this whole process, too.
*Yes, I know that is not an idea situation to be in but I knew it would be relatively short-lived and the effort to juggle was far less than the effort to adjust all my other routines so I just got help where and when I could, took breaks whenever possible, and just juggled the heck out things the rest of the time. And, finally, as of mid-December, a few things finished up and I was back within my capacity and mostly in charge of my schedule. YAY!