Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Challenge Yourself

     It's easier to go to the gym and hang out on the elliptical while reading the latest fashion magazine than really make yourself sweat. I'm often the kind of person to screw around for 30 minutes or so doing exercises that are technically "working out" then head on home. Hey, it burns calories, right?
    But if you're looking to get in shape or reach some fitness goal, that's not always the best method. In the past week, I think my workouts have challenged me more than the last month's workouts combined.  My week of work started with a half marathon in the moutains. Before I started, I promised myself that I wouldn't walk. By mile 11, my legs were throbbing. Running up the hills felt like the fitness equivalent of running into a cement wall. But I couldn't walk. I had promised myself. Before you start an endeavor, set a goal. Hold yourself accountable.
     However, making promises to yourself can give you a little bit of leeway. After all, if you made a promise to yourself, you just might find it in your heart to let yourself out of that promise. Try making yourself accountable to others instead. I had to do just that when I ran the last 5 miles of my dad's 100 mile race. Yes, 100 miles.
     Assuming that he'd be exhausted, I hadn't trained much. Big mistake. Getting it into his mind that he would beat his time from last year, he took off ahead of me. Running race pace at 10,000 feet was not something I had bargained for. On my own, I would have stopped, laughed it off and walked home. But my dad, exhausted from running for 28 hours, wanted to race, and I sure as hell wasn't going to hold him back. Instead, I put my head down, held onto his water and his food, and ran. Was it horrible? Yes. Did I throw up as I crossed the finish line? Yes. But my dad was counting on me and somehow, I finished that 5 miles. When someone else is counting on you to get there, you'll have an easier time finding the strength to go on.
     Whether you make a deal with yourself or with someone else, set goals. Be accountable. Don't go into a workout or a race without a plan for the end result. When you've got a finish line to cross, you'll find the power to make it there.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Best Olympic Moment: Appreciation

     Like any sane American, I am obsessed with the 2012 Olympics. I keep tabs on my favorite athletes online, watch the NBC nightly re-caps, and cheer along with the fans louder than most people actually in the stadium. And while I love watching Missy Franklin get a gold or Gabby Douglas finish a breath-taking bar routine, the part of the games that gets me every time is when these athletes give their shining moment to someone else.
     When you see a gold-medalist run for the stadium to find their mom or when teammates fall into each other's arms rather than raise their arms in individual victory, those are the moments worth celebrating. And yes, the moments where I cry like a baby. But in that moment, these athletes aren't saying, "I did it," or "I beat you." They are saying, "Thank you," or "I did this because of you." Those are the moments worth celebrating. Here are just a few of my favorite Olympic moments. And yes, each and every one of them is a hug.

     The Olympics aren't all about the athletes. They are about a team; a team of mothers, fathers, friends, and countries that are behind the few out there to compete. That's something worth celebrating.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Clear It Out


     For those who have ever single-handedly organized and executed a garage sale, you understand me when I say it’s a monumental feat. First, you have to sort through all of your junk, decide what you don’t want to keep, organize it, price it, carry it where it needs to be, and then sell it. I was more tired after that week of garage sale preparation than I was the week of finals.
     Why would one voluntarily put themselves through such agony? To clear out and make space. When you let your life get cluttered, it can overwhelm you. And yes, there are some metaphorical undertones in what I’m saying here. Don’t let things, material or mental, pile up. Take care of them. Figure out what you want to hold on to and if you don’t need it, let it go. Creating space for new shoes, new thoughts, or new friends will put you in an excellent mood. After you take a good, solid nap and count your money, that is.