Monday, November 27, 2017

The Slacker's Guide to Creating New Habits (Like Running) and Breaking Sh*tty Ones

My son, Sam, was home from college for the weekend. He likes to come home because he misses me so much. Or, maybe it's because I feed him and provide him with a bed that has clean sheets (I think he told me has not yet changed his sheets on his college bed - I mean, it has only been three months since he got there so it's not like they're dirty or anything. It's not like there's B.O. and pieces of skin and drool all over them or anything).

Anyhow, I asked him if he was working out anymore. He used to go to the gym pretty regularly. He said, "No. It's just so hard to get over the hump mentally to get started again." And, I completely know what he means. The thing is, that's precisely why I never take a significant break from running or exercise. Because I'm afraid if I'm gone too long and I get out of the habit, it will be that much harder to start up again.

What I've learned is that there are two things in life that are really tough (well, there are many more, but these are just two of them): breaking bad habits and starting new, healthier habits.

Take drinking wine, for example. I am very much in the habit of nightly wine drinking, for better or for worse. I know it's become a habit - a way I reward myself. A glass while I cook dinner. A glass to accompany me when I watch "This Is Us" (although I probably get even more emotionally manipulated by that show when I'm drinking). I know I could stop my nightly drinking (but why would I want to?), but it's the breaking of the habit that is so hard.

If you're old enough, you remember that we didn't used to wear seat belts. Like, not ever. Then it became the law and the norm that you had to wear a seat belt. Buzz kill. There go all of the cross country road trips where we would lay down in the back of the station wagon on the old plaid blanket from the garage. Anyway, at first putting on a seat belt was such a pain in the ass. You had to make a conscious effort to do and you felt so restricted. But, now that it has become a habit? I do it so automatically I don't even know I do it. Bingo! That's the point of this post!

Running has become that way for me. Just part of my life and my routine. Kind of like drinking wine and brushing my teeth (not at the same time). I don't run everyday, but I do run about five days a week and don't feel like myself if I don't do it.

Thanksgiving Day run. 

So, how do you create a new habit or break a bad one? (I'm going to use the example of someone who wants to start drinking more water every day because their pee should be the color of Crystal Light Lemonade and it looks like Guinness, but you could apply this to running more, drinking less wine, cutting back on coffee or not eating sweets). I call this the "The Slacker's Guide" because it doesn't require a ton of imagination or creativity. Even your college kid can do it.

1. Keep the goal basic, manageable and simple. Don't go all crazy with ridiculous goals from the get go our you'll fail. Sorry, you just will. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Sorry I called you stupid.

Example: I'll drink at least 48 ounces of water per day.

2. Make one very small change. Lots of small changes over a long period of time equals one gigantic change. But, again, don't try to do it all at once.

Example: I will buy a 24 ounce Nathan water bottle and have it with me when I'm at work and when I'm driving. I will drink two bottles per day.

3. Tell people. This is always a tough one for me because I don't want to announce it to the world and then have people judge and criticize me if I don't do it, because that is wildly annoying. But, I do think letting a few people know holds you accountable.

Example: Hello mom. I am going to drink more water so that I pee a brighter and healthier color. Please call me out of I'm not doing it and I promise not to say "STFU Mom!"

4. Embrace the discomfort. Making change is hard and even if you are doing it for your health or some positive reason, it is still hard. So when it gets hard, don't fuck up. Just surrender to the suck of it and move forward. It will be an up and down journey.

ExampleGod. I am so fucking sick of drinking two 24 ounces bottles of water a day. I just can't do it anymore. Wait. Yes I can. Drinking all this water will be hard at times, but my skin looks better and I pee Crystal Light!

5. Commit to three weeks. Someone once said (probably George Washington or Beyonce) that creating a new habit or breaking an old one takes 21 days. So, assume it will get much easier beyond this point.

Example: I will drink 48 ounces per day for 21 days. <BASIC

I know this sounds simple. It actually is simple in theory. But putting it into action gets tough. The trick is to just make the decision to do these four things and to not be side-railed. Don't be like everyone else and wait until January 1st to create new habits or break old ones. There's no time like the present.

What's one habit you want to break or start?


Monday, November 13, 2017

13 Things We Probably Don't Agree On

If you thought I was going to discuss religion or politics - you would be mistaken! I won't touch those subjects with a ten foot pole. Or, my finger toe.

Morton's toes rule! So do pedicures, but clearly
I'm out of the loop on that one.
Over the years I've realized there are things I like and hate that seem to completely go against the grain of civilization. Maybe this is true for everyone, I don't know. But, sometimes I feel like an oddball with my preferences. Don't know what I'm talking about? Read on.

1. I cannot run with a hand held bottle. I know I should, but it just feels wrong to me, like it throws me off balance. And, I hate running with anything in my hands. I know if I continue doing trail races and eventually ultras, I should probably get the hang of it, but for now it's just not my thing. I always go for my Hydraquiver from Orange Mud.

2. I don't like or eat ice cream. The taste is okay, but not worth the calories to me. And, it also sometimes make me feel shitty. Maybe it's an aversion from when I drank a huge milk shake that resulted in my most embarrassing moment ever (see HERE). So, don't ask me to go to DQ or anything like that. I'd rather go to a wine bar.

3. I like Atloids, but I can't handle a whole one (that's what she said), so I suck on it for about 30 seconds and spit it out (that's what she said). This is usually done in my car where I keep the Altoids. Once a month I pick up the semi-sucked on mints from the floor and throw them away.

4. I can't stand Monty Python movies and I especially can't stand when people quote from the movie and try to do the accent.

5. I hate my bare feet on the floor. I have to have slippers on my feet in my house. Always.

I knitted these. JK, they came from Kohls.

6. When I'm running with someone they have to be on my right side. It's just how it is. That works out really well when we are on the road because I'm always on the inside and then I am not the one to get hit by the car first.

7. I hate rum. And, gin. So when I visit the Caribbean I don't do all those daiquiris, Mai-Tais etc. And any martini I have is vodka based.

8. I don't like Twitter and rarely use it. Just not my thing.

9. That book, A Man Called Ove? Didn't love it. I know this will make me very unpopular. People have extreme love for that book. In fact, people at my book club asked me, "Do you even have a heart?"

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by [Backman, Fredrik]

10. I don't understand all the hype about Nutella. Don't hit me.

11. When I go to Starbucks I always get straight coffee. Don't like the fancy drinks.

12. Please don't ask me to put pineapple on my pizza. I don't get it.

13. I don't spend any time in the bathroom when I poop. I'm in and out in about 2 minutes flat. I don't see any reason to hang out in there. I can think of better places to spend my time.

I could probably go on and on, but this is a good start.So, now it's your turn to tell me how much you disagree with me.

Tell me something you hate or love that most people would't agree with.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Guess What I Found on My Run? (No, It Wasn't a Dead Body)

First let's talk about yesterday.

Image result for shalane flanagan

Did anyone else turn into one giant crying goose bump as she ran into the finish? Or, was it just me? You know you really love running when you cannot get enough of watching someone with such perfect form and stride run. I could literally watch her for hours. What a race. What grit and determination.

Moving on.

So, I was running on Thursday minding my own business when I spotted something along the sidewalk. Like you, I am always spotting random stuff while I run, but I rarely stop to pick it up unless it's money. And, it never is. Usually I see lots of dental picks and empty Fireball bottles. Once I saw a live parakeet and a pair of underwear (not mine. Eww).

But on Thursday, this random item caught my eye. It looked like part of someone's journal, so I picked it up. And damn if it wasn't someone's diary from 1989! I stuck it in my pocket and within a few feet found two more clumps of pages from the same journal. I took those too. In total there were about 30 pages.

I could not wait to get home to read the juicy tidbits that were surely contained in these pages. I kept a journal and it was FULL of details about romantic crushes, nights out on the town, friendships gone bad and all kinds of other drama. I fully expected the same from these pages I found on the sidewalk.

As I walked in the door, I laid out the pages perfectly and in order. I made a steamy cup of coffee and sat down to read what I assumed would be a steamy collection of private and revealing memories. I honestly didn't feel the least bit guilty about reading this diary as clearly someone had thrown it out of their car for all of the world to see. Public information! They could have burned it. They could have eaten it. They could have buried it behind the shed in their backyard.

The handwriting looked like that of an adult, but I quickly learned that the thoughts were that of someone who was ten years old. Seems she was reciting her thoughts and her mom was writing them down. That should have been my first indication that there would be nothing juicy in those pages. The journal started in June 1989 when the family was travelling in Europe. There was talk of hotels, ducks and the weather.
Image result for boring
The family then return to Boulder and I assumed things would take a devious turn. The ten year old would have a crush on her teacher! She would steal a Snickers bar from the store! She would secretly start shaving her legs the day she got her period!

But, no. There were descriptions about violin lessons, walks to the park and thunderstorms. What a waste!

I learned that sometimes people keep journals just to document the basics, not for secrecy. Then the throw them out car windows because they are boring.

I guess I'll just keep looking for that dead body.

Did you keep a journal growing up? Do you keep one now? I have volumes from when I was 8 years old until I was about 30. Then I stopped.

Most interesting thing you've ever found on a run? Besides the parakeet, probably a man standing in the middle of the road staring right at me and peeing.

Have you ever run NYC? No, but I am determined to do it someday.


PS: No one guessed what was in the while bowl! It was TUNA FISH!