Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mind Over Matter--10 Mile Marker

6am on Sunday morning is a time that not many of my friends, the 20-something-year-olds really ever see. 6am on a Sunday morning is the time that my alarm goes off to start the day. I told myself yesterday that I would run outside today on the lake path because the treadmill is starting to be get to me psychologically. I think after 3 months of running on one, upping my mileage and my pace, I have finally hit a wall at a 10 minute mile pace and 6 plus mile workouts. And although I try to convince myself otherwise, in the end you're still only running on a belt and not really going anywhere. The convenience of being in the gym though, so as to move from machine to weights to pool is infatuating. Anyways, Thursday's workout was less than fulfilling; I managed to accomplish one of my goals--to get Peter out of the fricken apartment and into the gym! But it wasn't as gratifying when he could only do 35 minutes of cardio before insisting that we go do weights. An hour of lifting later and we went to do some abs and stretches. I thought it was sweet when he tried to help with my sit-ups but after past working out experiences, it's not always the best for me when he tried to give me tips--honestly it really just pisses me off and I get an attitude about it. Well, not much has changed, so after 15 minutes I called it quits with him and we ended up going to Subway.

I swallowed the bitter taste in my mouth towards my shorter workout and decided tomorrow would be better....right. Well after a long morning of work, my least favorite class, and a meeting, I finally got to the gym at maybe 4:30? I was burnt out but pushed myself to shoot around for a little while with a friend before getting into a workout. Stupid me. I should have known that everyone and their uncle would want to workout at 5:30 on a Friday, because everyone is a health nut now right? Well that put a damper in my plans and my motivation levels. I was on the bike for 15 minutes, awaiting the use of a treadmill. Once on it I could only do 35 minutes before I decided I was too bored to keep going. Suddenly I noticed the pain in my knees and the fatigue of the day setting in, so I called it quits but not without feeling horribly self-defeated. And well, knowing me I couldn't give up like that so I hopped over to the elliptical and did a 30 minute cross country. After that I was really feeling tired but the "I'm ready to go home" feeling hadn't set in. So I opted for a hard ab workout. 100 full sit ups, 100 crunches, 100 side crunches with a 20lb weight, some leg lifts and planks later and I was done. It seems like after all of that I should have felt accomplished....but I didn't. I went home and sat my sweaty butt on the couch, watched the Ohio game and passed out.

Saturday morning. I can never sleep in. Even if I wanted to, I'm up at 6 but don't start work until 8:45. What the heck is wrong with me? Optimal time to shower, check email and do absolutely nothing. Me time. After an unproductive 4 hours at work and lunch I was less than willing to get back on the treadmill. I'm starting to have a love hate relationship with it. I love running. I hate that I'm not going anywhere and that everything is adjusted through buttons. Well so I ended up doing another run around of 25 minutes on the treadmill, 30 on the elliptical, 15 on the bike and my ab routine before I called it quits and hit the shower.

So maybe I'm being a little ridiculous because the fact of the matter is that I am working out, and I didn't punk out on any of the days, but for me and where I'm at, it wasn't fulfilling. I needed something more. So despite the fact that I have a huge portfolio due tomorrow at 11:30am that I have barely anything ready for, I promised myself I would do a long run tomorrow (today) outside.

6am on Sunday morning. My alarm goes off. The sun isn't up yet. Reset the alarm for 6:30.....

6:30 I am barely even awake and I go back and forth in my head about whether or not to get up. I deserve to stay in bed, but I promised myself.

6:38 I am out of bed and putting in my contacts. I grab a few layers of clothes, some gloves, keys and my phone and I run out the door before even thinking twice about my decision.

6:54 I am running down south Everett and on to the lake path. It was beyond beautiful. At this time the sun is just starting to rise and light up the skyline in front of me. I'm running to the same mix I made two weeks ago but it hasn't gotten boring yet; besides I'm too caught up in how amazing the waves look this morning. Sure it's cold and that sucks but one of my favorite parts of doing morning runs is starting out with your body completely numb from how cold it is and progressively getting feeling back as you run and warm up. It evokes a sense of accomplishment that is, to me, intoxicating.

The past few times I've run the lake path I always try to go just a bit farther than the last time. Well...this time I went a whole hell of a lot farther. Before you know it I was running past a sign that said "Welcome to McCormick Place" and I was like, 'hmm, I wonder how much further the 7.5 mile sign is?' (Oh right, so I started off at the 2.5 mile sign, that's the closest one to the 57th street entrance where I get on). Before you know it, oh hey, there' the Shedd and Soldier I'm far from home! But there was the sign and I couldn't help but take a picture of it, part because I wanted to stick it on my blog but also in part because of the accomplishment.

The run home was a little harder, mainly because I was so fricken thirsty! The water fountains haven't been turned on yet along the path and as much as I loved watching those waves on the way up, they were damn near torturous on the way home! But I made it, mind over matter, I reached the 57th street exit and walked myself home. The sun was finally all the way up and I was ready to start my day. Stretch it out, shower it off, and it's back out the door for the next part of my day....couldn't ask for more.

So part of taking care of myself in all of this is my decision to starting taking protein supplements. Being a vegetarian I am somewhat, or completely, deficient in protein, which my muscles need. And I have also decided that the reason why I wake up sore as hell everyday is because of this. Well so I bought some supplements from Trader Joes, but I was told by a good friend of mine that I don't wanna take that shit. haha Oh, and the reason why it tastes so bad, he says, is because I need a shaker to mix it not a spoon....huh no wonder it tasted like glue? :) Anyways I have gotten used to the taste of it now and my body is taking to it well. That doesn't go without saying that I still feel kind of more "intense" than I'd like drinking it. After buying the supplements online I couldn't help but think of the youtube video, New Haircut, which I pasted to the blog and if you haven't seen it, watch it. (Although I should warn that for some, it has a bit of crude humor to it).

And for now I should probably wrap up because I have a portfolio due in a little over 12 hours that I am no where near ready to turn in....and despite the title of this post being "Mind over matter" I don't think that attitude will get this project done. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Labels, Passion && Calluses

How many times a week do you say to yourself, "I'd rather be anywhere else than here right now..." If you're one of those people that just loves the heck out of everything you do every minute of every day....well congradu-fricken-lations! Haha. There are very few times a week I would say that I have these thoughts, but they do happen....kind of like right now. Currently I'm sitting in one of my grad classes, and since I'm doing a blog post, we can just assume that I am both bored and unengaged. I hate this class. I mean I have kind of checked out of this semester already so every class is miserable, but this class, this class makes me hate the field of social work. Without getting too much on my soapbox I'll say that this class is focused entirely around the DSM-IV and all of the potential disorders that a client can come to you with, and each week we go over one or more of them.

So here I am sitting in class, listening to my prof go on about personality disorder, what it looks like, how it affects the person and what types of interventions we can intill for them. Here's my thing though: I'm a social worker and a person who believes the best of people, so how am I supposed to go about giving someone a diagnosis that is not only socially stigmatized but also a life-altering influence. Being told you have any type of disorder changes the way in which you think about yourself, and unlike the flu or chicken pox, mental disorders don't go away with medicine. So my question is, what gives me, or anyone else the right to tell someone that they have "a problem" based on my assumptions of "symptoms" that I believe are present through a few sessions together in a contained environment? Furthermore, I just can't get passed the idea of why we need to marginalize and suppress rather than helping the individual self explore his or her strengths in their life so as to lead a more successful and happy life?

This is something I feel very strongly about and can get quite passionate about. Maybe that's why I haven't actually soaked up anything this prof has said in the past hour and a half. So instead I think about all of the things I need to accomplish this weekend and what I will do with the rest of my day. My google calendar is updated for next week and all of my email has been checked. All the while I realize this week has been a rough one and the weekend is probably going to be worse. I have a huge portfolio due on Monday and lets just say I am no where near close to starting it....whoooops!

I think part of the reason I have no time these days are because of the amount of time i dedicate to my workouts. If I didn't workout everyday for 2 or 2.5 hours I would have more time. But then I ask myself, what would I really even do with that time? It has become apparent that I have disconnected from my roles as a student and hell, I'm completely burnt out! Yet I need to finish final projects, wrap up hours at my internship, and search for my second year placement before school gets out. But my workouts always find time in all of that. I gapple with it though. Going to the gym after a long day of uncompleted "To-Dos" doesn't really even provoke anxiety in me anymore because I just tell myself "It'll get done"...even if that means pulling an all nighter. I think it bothers me more now at this point that I wouldn't work out and I would fall out of shape, thereby loosing steam and motivation....and when that hits, I feel like all these great feelings and upbeat attitude would disappear. I mean this is all a fear and it's kind of irrational (look at me social working myself haha) but what I do know is that I get more "me time" than more people I know. Even though I have to share the gym with a boat load of other people it's only me on that treadmill or's all me lifting those weights and doing those laps. No phone, no email, no drama...all me! How intoxicating does that sound?

This week Wednesday I got really caught up in this idea when I decided I had had enough of the hour treadmill runs, put on my under-armer and ran outside. I went from the gym to the lake path and back and it was amazing! I think I clocked in around 7 miles, the first mile and a half was rough because my pace was way too fast but after I got a good grip I was able to just go, and probably could have kept going if I didn't have a life to attend to.

For me I get so much out of running and because of that, I enjoy having time to myself. I spend a ridiculous amount of time working with and being around people. Do you ever just stop and think about how many hours a day you spend around others. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it but I can also feel myself getting frustrated by the end of the day, and I lash out by removing myself from situations. And as much as that doesn't always work for others around me, it's what I need. And I think sometimes we forget that. Being someone who strives to make everyone else happy before myself, this new insight is completely foreign to me but I'm adjusting. Much like the forming of calluses on my feet for every mile that I run, my life is forming calluses for me because things are never easy; you live and you learn, you fall down and get back up but you always remember those times that got you down, and that's what keeps me going.

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Extreme Case of the Mondays

It's Monday. Wanna know how I can tell? The day sucks and I come home feeling like absolute crap. Every Monday is just a nice smack in the face of all the things I didn't do over the weekend and how behind I am on everything. A nice warm cup of coffee with a side of apathy towards going to class and I'm in desperate need of some motivation and organization. So I do what I do best: To-Do Lists. Mondays are always synonymous with them, the only problem is that I get over ambitious and before you know it that list is in the double digits of things that "need" to get done. But lets be honest, by the time I actually get home, veg out and open up that list how many things do you think are actually gonna get done? Let me tell you, if you haven't figured it out yet, all of two, maybe three things will get done and the list will continue to grow throughout the week and the tasks will get put off until the next list is constructed.

So maybe you're reading this and asking yourself, "Well then why the hell is she wasting time writing this post?" Because procrastination makes the world go round, and that's the best I got for ya. But in truth, I have become a whole different person this year. I can't say I'm totally ashamed of it because all of my friends and colleagues have been doing it for quite some time now. "It" being procrastination. "It" being the cool thing to do, all the cool kids are doing it....Starting a paper the night before it's due, not going to class or going to class completely unprepared with no more than a "Meh" is something kind of uncharacteristic to me. But I'll take it. Because in exchange I feel like this "new person" is more motivated and a hell of a lot more independent that she used to be. And some people may take issue with that but for once, I'm doin' me.

In class today we talked about burnout and self care, which couldn't be any more appropriate for where I'm at right now. Last Thursday my friend and I skipped class so we could go out for dinner and drinks. Maybe that's not the best example of self care, probably more of burnout but you get my point. I rely a lot on my workouts these days to get me through the minutes and hours that are so draining but today was something different. After going going going all day I was hoping my internship would be quick and painless so I could just get to the gym and get my workout over with. That should be red flag number one. Workouts are therapeutic to me and today I did not even want to go. After two hours of children arguing, crying, yelling inappropriate things and fighting I was pushed to the limit. I must have chased half a dozen of them around the school trying to get them back in the room, consoled a few more from arguments and then definitely needed to exert physical restraint with two of the elementary school boys who were punching one another. Breathe in. Breathe out. PHHHHHHEW! Needless to say when I got to the gym I was a bit out of it and it really didn't help that everyone and their uncle was there. I mean it's freakin' spring break, why is everyone at the gym?! So I got changed, all the while thinking over and over again in my head how much I really never want to have children, when I get up to the rotunda and realize I need to wait at least 15 minutes for a machine. Any other day and I would be fine with it, but not today. Not today when I don't even want to be there in the first place and not today when if anyone even tries to have a conversation with me I'd probably knock them out.

So I waited for the machine. I sat on one of those disgusting blue mats and pseudo stretched while glaring at the individual running on the machine I was signed up for, somewhat hoping he could feel my death stare. At 6:15 I finally got on the machine, started it up and turned on some tunes. I set my pace at 5.6 as I searched longingly for the right first song to start this hour run off to. I settled on one but it just wasn't right so I scrolled on, running on the belt all the while. I got a mile and a little over a quarter in before I had to just call it quits. I played the mind game with myself for 15 minutes, convincing myself to just push, you don't even need to get in the pool tonight just do this run. I even went so far as to turn the t.v. on, which I never do anymore, to try and distract myself. So I turned off the machine, sprayed it down and went to the locker room.

I was soooooo mad at myself. I felt like one of those parents that has to pull their child out of a lesson because he or she is misbehaving so badly the instructor asks them to leave. Anger, frustration and overall fatigue washed over me as I left the building. And now I sit here on the couch still upset with myself but I have rationed slightly that doing a 3.5 hour workout yesterday is at least some grounds for a rest day. And maybe that sounds kind of crazy to some of you but let me put into perspective for you that working out for me is like whatever activity you need to do for yourself everyday--whether that's a cup of coffee, checking your email, or reading a book. I have to do it and I realize there are going to be off days but that's exactly how I So I swallow it down, like a jagged little pill and I tell myself tomorrow is another day. But the best part about's not Monday :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Work it Off; Sweat it Out

What have you done? Have you ever asked yourself this question? For me it's usually negatively associated with having made a mistake or doing something really stupid. When my mom used to say this to me every part of me would freeze and this awful feeling would creep over me like a paralyzing infestation. What did you do?

But these days I find myself asking this of myself in the sense that I am mentally checking in with myself, "What did you do?" One of the best feelings is coming home after a long day and thinking about all of the things you have accomplished. And since my day usually starts at 5am and goes until probably 11:30pm I have a lot to ponder. Not every day is a good one though, and sometimes it's hard not to want to think about everything that went wrong. In fact, about three months ago the martyr in me would prefer that. But things have changed so much in what seems like such a short amount of time.

It's March 20th. Eleven more days in this month and it's gone. Where did it go? Well so I started training in January and signed up for the marathon in February....what do I have to show for it?

First off, as of now, my running has improved immensely. I am now able to run for 90 minutes on the treadmill (and today I did an hour on the elliptical and another hour right afterward on the treadmill). I am extremely proud of my endurance, but even more impressed with the increase in pace. Getting up to a 6.0 pace was such a struggle, I used to only save it for the last 45 seconds of my run. Now? Now I can almost start my run at this pace. I am able to hold it for almost an hour, and that my friends is impressive. My bursts are now reaching speeds of 8.0-9.0! So in all of that, my mileage has increased steadily as well. Running for an hour is equivalent to just under 6 miles; running for an hour and a half is around 9.....groooovy! One worry I have about this is, surprise, not me burning out but rather whether I will be able to match this pace and mileage once I make the full transition outside. I went for a run a week ago today and it was great! I did over 4 miles and could have done more but I desperately needed to get in the gym before heading out for a much needed shopping trip that afternoon.

Speaking of shopping trip, that's the part I am really impressed with. After working my ass off for 7 days a week for at least 2 hours a day, I am finally seeing some results. I went to the Aurora shopping mall and came home with practically a whole new wardrobe. I've lost a significant amount of weight in all of this, and don't ask me how much because I'll tell you I don't know. I can't even begin to tell you how many people have given me awkward looks and asked how I don't know. Well my friends, the simple answer to that is that I haven't been checking. When I started this training I told myself I wasn't going to weigh myself to determine my success; rather I am going more by how I feel and trying to be healthy.

Anyways, like I was saying before I interrupted myself, I've lost quite a bit of weight in all of this. So much so that I just bought a pair of jeans that were...are you ready for this, an 8!!!! I haven't been an 8 since high school and they were even slightly loose! Take a moment and realize that if I were telling you this to your face I'd be jumping up and down with a huge smile on my face probably shouting, just a little. I didn't want anyone to miss out on this visual :)

Furthermore, as the shopping trip continued we went to New York & Co where I bought things in a size small (what?!) and four amazingly cute bras from Victoria Secret. If you don't know, I have not been able to buy "cute" bras for many years now. And when I say this I am referring to anything that isn't black, nude or white. But now, now I have one with hearts and rhinestones, electric blue and this TMI? I really don't care though because I was so excited I was fully prepared to wear them on the outside, but I was advised from a good friend that I would probably get some stares from that.

So these are my achievements and above all I feel great! My favorite part in all of this though is not related to how I look but rather to how I approach obstacles these days. I wrote a post earlier about how things have been rather difficult lately for me and they haven't exactly gotten any better. In fact last week I was up to my eyeballs in stress and was still expected to go into internship to work with kids. I asked myself if I felt like I could even emotionally handle myself around the kids with the mood I was in, and I contemplated not going in but because of how short handed we were, I had no choice. So what did I do? Well I took the bus home, walked into my apartment where I collapsed into my bed and just let the tears spill into my pillow. I cried my eyes out for a good 3 minutes before I picked myself up, sat down at my vanity to fix my makeup and walked back out the door to go to internship. After I was done for the day I felt great; the kids were a good mood booster but at the same time I feel like that one good cry was an amazing release. I took myself to the gym after internship for another release through a long run. I can't get over how great it is to just mentally check out for an hour. My legs are running on that treadmill, and I can feel my feet making contact with the belt but my thoughts are so far from that impact that before you know it 54 minutes have gone by.

Maybe this sounds kind of funny, and the more I think about it I might sound a little crazy. But everyone's gotta have their something. Something they love to do, something that drives them, something to get them to not do their homework...because let's be honest, there's always time for a run, it's just an hour right? All of the problems of your day will linger until you close them off and if that means taking an hour or so away from my life well then I'm going work it off and sweat it out.

Endorphin High; Adrenaline Rush

This post is supposed to do two things: 1) Relay how excited I am that I did a 3.5 hour workout today and 2) be a metaphoric representation of the levels of motivation I have to update my blog! I have been compiling topics I want to write on so the next post is gonna be a long one, since I'm just gonna combine it all together. Ok picking up the pace....ready...set....GO!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sammi's Hammies

When I was younger, one of the nicknames that was given to me was "Sammi's Hammies". Most of my life I was quite the chunk-ster and that was no exception to my thighs. My parents, and some of my close family members, found it to be quite humorous to tickle me and say over and over again, "I've got Sammi's Hammies, Sammi's Hammies..." Maybe I have painted a charming picture for you of this special moment of engagement between child and adult...but let me tell you was absolute torture! While I hate to admit it, I'm a pretty tickalish person so this interaction was probably funny to the one who looked on, but dreadful for the one with the Hammies!

Nearly two decades later and I still think about these memories, and I laugh about it now, as I reminisce about the days when chubby nicknames weren't taken as harshly. But as I've been training I've found that the part of me that gets cramped or soar the most is my hammies. As much as I have tried to stretch I feel like I hold myself a little differently and walk a little funny to avoid as much of the tension build up as possible in Sammi's Hammies.

I worry a little bit about getting hurt during my training and I fear not being able to run in the race I've worked so hard to prepare for. I should probably do some more research on things to do for soar muscles. And who knows, maybe I'm pushing too hard, but even still I'm enjoying the ride because even though my muscles are soar I feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing that the soarness will eventually turn into strength.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Restlessness. The one downside of being a busy person is not being able to sleep. My 5:30 am wake up call means I should not be typing a post on here at 2:58am because my body refuses to shut down. And I think it would be slightly immature to say that my cat, whose paw is currently laying on my keyboard, is the reason I'm up. She likes to cuddle, while simultaneously nuzzling with her claws out...ouch! I mean I guess that's what initially woke me up but I can't even begin to decide what's keeping me up....maybe it was the cup of coffee I had at 4:30pm....or maybe it's the stress of deadlines approaching (which thinking about over spring break kind of makes me a nut job)...or one of the 800 things I was ranting about in my last post. Either way my brain won't shut down. And I know around 9:30 I'll be regretting this, as I hope for an second wind in my workout, which will only prove to be a letdown as kick my butt on the elliptical, weights and the pool.

...So I guess I'll just lay here, marinating in my thoughts and creating "To-Do" lists in my head that I will no doubt disregard later not because I'm lazy but because my memory is starting to betray me. At the fine age of 22 I believe I am getting a case of "old-timers". At the same time though I swore to myself that I would deactivate my facebook for a while because I waste a lot of time that I don't have looking at it...and lets be honest, it's a little creepy to know everything that's going on in someone's life before they even tell you. Anyways that's my hodg-podge rant and I think I feel a wave of tired coming on so I'm gonna ride it. Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Til I Collapse

"Cause sometimes you feel tired,
feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse."

I had such a hard workout. But not hard in the sense that it was anything out of the usual routine: 1 hour run, 30 minute abs/stretches, 30 minute swim. Hard in the sense that my body was revolting against me, probably because I did a really bad job at eating breakfast today. So I forgot my spoon for my oatmeal and I was not about to use my hands after touching the computer keys and swiping people's cards. So that leaves me with some hard boiled eggs and the peanut butter sandwich...definitely not enough carbs there to do an hour run.

I was about 15 minutes in when I became acutely aware of the pain in my lower calf but I wasn't willing to give up. I fought through the hour run, increasing and decreasing speed as I felt bursts of energy and fatigue. The last 5 minutes of my run though I got a second wind. Em's "Til I Collapse" started playing in my headphones and I jacked my speed up to a 6.0 and finished the run feeling really accomplished, despite the psychological battle that was going on internally.

I'm thinking that this is going to happen to me a lot throughout my training. That little voice in your head that tells you to quit, but being able to work through it is what strength is all about.

I pushed through my abs and my swim was lagging, I could feel it. But I finished. I went home and passed out for 2 hours but it was all worth it to know that for once I had won the battle of mind versus body. And then I collapsed, only to rebuild tomorrow :)

Check In

March 9th. That's today's date. The last time I updated was February 24th...needless to say things have been craaaaaazy! I've had a lot of personal things piled on to all of the training and it's been utterly exhausting! I mean for one I feel like I've completely checked out of school, and many of my colleagues can speak to this fact as well, but this semester (the last one of undergrad...which actually involves me taking nearly all grad classes) has been completely disengaging and has stirred up a lot of questions within me about what my life is going to be like next year. As of right now I couldn't even tell you where I'm living, where I'm interning, or what I'll be doing next week Wednesday at 6:54 pm....ok that's a lie I'll be heading into a meeting, but even still the amount of anxiety that comes with the ambivalence is enough to through me off my equilibrium.

Running has definitely helped me feel more confident about myself, while at the same time boosting my ambition and motivation levels, which provides such a transition in the way I lead my life. But still there are external forces just outside my control that I take a huge impact on. I'm being really vague aren't I? Plain and simple I feel like I'm at a point in my life that every move I make from here on out will make a lasting imprint on my life. One of those decision is whether or not I want to return to Loyola next year to finish my masters. What would life look like if I went into the field with just a BSW and would I want to go back to get my MSW at any point? It's rough because of the economy and my financial situation it's not really feasible, but at the same time trying to pursue a career in social work is not really conducive without your masters. There is only further frustration in that I have not received one referral for an internship for next year and it's March. So what happens if I don't get placed in a school I want to be in, or what happens if I don't get placed in a school? Do I compromise the path I am on, while at the same time sidelining my hopes and goals?

Likewise, I'm not sure what will happen with Pete and I next year since he hasn't had a definite response from any of the med schools he's applied to. What would my life look like living away from him? Or what does it mean if he gets in somewhere in Chicago and this apartment, this area, becomes our permanent home for the next 4 years?

Try thinking about all of these things in one sitting, it's kind of like attempting to chug a whole gallon of milk at once, it makes you want to vomit.

But hopefully, all in due time, decisions will be made. Who's to say they will be the right ones but I can only hope for the best.

So I run :)