A Muse Amused

Recently it came to my attention the term “self care” is millennial in origin. Forgive me, I had no idea. I don’t really identify as millennial although I’m sure many would argue my point. You see, as a child of the mid-80s, growing up with older parents lent me a perspective of drive and self-sufficiency. Also, I was a middle child. It was hard! Millennial, aka Gen Y, alludes to traits of entitlement and laziness. Most certainly I am not. But, to be fair, I can’t change what year I was born or what catchy name it will be given so here we are. Written from the desk of a Millennial. You’re welcome.

I shall anoint an area of stress free zonage

The topic here is self care which can mean something different for everyone. Your idea of self care might be a glass of whiskey and a guitar (here’s looking at you, Dan). My idea shifts between a cup of coffee and a 35,000 word count book. Or a bubble bath. Basic. At one point I was referred to as a close friend’s muse. We must’ve missed the mark because a muse would never be this funny! Or would they? I take relaxation very seriously. So seriously, in fact, I don’t even know when I have time for it so when it does happen, it’s a very real luxury. Parents, please raise your hands and glasses high.

Inspiration for others I may lack – but I do know we don’t take care of ourselves well. I write this from my laptop, with my desktop computer set at full volume so I don’t miss emails, whilst (trying out my English lingo) juggling the phone and making calls, beside an empty refillable water cup. Nailing it, Kel! Essentially, I’m over-multitasked, dehydrated, and potentially deaf. Let’s not forget I’m a perfect candidate for carpal tunnel. Fantastic.

My home coffee station is self care at its finest

Self care is unplugging and self-exploring. But who has time for that?! You best make time, that’s all I can say. The chance of you suffering from a stress-induced ailment is so high. If you won’t take care of yourself, who will? Is this that millennial notion to believe others will always take care of me, my every whim will be catered to, and my protective bubble shall save me from my own mistakes? Good try.

Even the muse must find her own muse. Or else suffer the wrath of becoming amused. Ta-da. An amused muse. In taking this to a fundamental level, I can only hope I bring inspiration to more than who simply find me annoying and long-winded. I come by it honestly, trust me. Looking for your own muse? Well, sorry, I’m already obligated to another. But I can find you a lovely candidate! Kidding, this isn’t a muse delivery service. However, obligations extend beyond providing another inspiration. The obligation should foremost be to yourself. Do as the millennials do: practice self-care. And amuse yourself.

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I ask you –

Do you have a muse? What inspires you about them?

Self care: take it or leave it?

Are you a Millennial?

Magical Motivation

What if I told you there was a magic weight loss pill? Lies. All lies. Imagine if I told you that magic pill lives inside you. Truth be told…

Living for today

The philosopher in me likes to quote Sir Webster – Motivation is defined as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” Unfortunately for us all, motivation is an abstract concept, not a pill or drug to be ingested. Not even an idea to learn and accept. Damn the luck. Life without motivation is a proverbial half squat. You’re literally half-assing your life. Squats, even half, have a place (in life), but you’re not giving it even a good ol’ college try without motivation to complete the full squat. Maybe you have an injury and that’s your reason for being unable to do the full squat. I get it! But does it bode well for you if you’re fully recovered from said hypothetical injury and still only doing half squats? Herein lies the problem.

What does it take to motivate you to begin working on your self? Bribery? Gifts? A new wardrobe? Only you have the answer. I spend the majority of my day eliciting reasons for motivation from members and non-members. Why now? What has changed in your life to bring you here today? Do you have a support system? What results are you looking to obtain? (all actual questions I ask on repeat)

I can tell you I’ve heard it all. From “my wedding is in 3 months” to “my kids are unable to sit on my lap” to “I was recently diagnosed with (insert health condition)”. I share in every reason, every excuse and counter it with the motivational phrase that fits whatever particular puzzle each person is working through. It’s exhausting, let me tell you. But no matter what I say or do, I can only change so much. I can give you the key, the instructions, the time, and the space, but I can’t, as much as it pains me to say, actually MOTIVATE you. I failed the course on miracle-making.

The experts tout a few simple ways to be motivated:

Set a goal.

Get excited!

Commit publicly.

Think about it daily.

Find your WHY!

3 out of 4 isn’t bad! Here’s my advice: find something you love and do it! Think about how whatever it is makes you feel and dive in! It’s perfectly healthy to doubt your ability to complete something; however, don’t let that prevent you from trying. Ask why not instead of telling yourself I can’t. Whether it’s Free By Fifty or going to bed 1 hour earlier than usual, commit with your whole heart!

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I ask you –

What goals have you set for yourself?

Did you share those with anyone or keep them to yourself?

How do you self-motivate?

3 Short Stories

If you know anything about me to this point, you realize my ability to tell a truly short story is impossible. My insincerest apologies. You literally signed up for this. Sorry ’bout your bad luck.

First, the story of the 2 young Sailors I met. In Las Colinas, it’s been rare I meet other Naval personnel. Usually I encounter Army and Air Force. We’re all brothers and sisters in one way or another, but meeting fellow Sailors is a good kind of special feeling. In moving to the area, this couple blossomed under my questioning. Not the intrusive questioning. I’m not a monster. Once I shared I, too, am prior military, they became so animated…sharing how it’s been tough to find a small, quiet gym that feels like home. I knew these people were my calling. They needed to hear what makes Anytime Fitness different. By the end of the night, the handshake lingered and the seemingly uncertain couple I had first encountered at the door were all smiles.

Sailor traversing a flight deck

Next, a story of heartache. In the same day as the above, a wonderful woman approached me in the gym. She inquired about personal training, then relayed to me the story of a past incident with a trainer. She quietly shared her utter disappointment and palpable pain from what she’d been told: her working out 3x a week would never be enough to see the results she wanted and to follow this pamphlet of food guidelines though “no one ever does it”. My heart broke. I felt tears welling up. She looked defeated. Apologies flowed from my own lips. I asked would she ever be willing to try again with someone new, someone who would encourage her, make her a priority, share in her triumphs? She didn’t hesitate when she answered yes. You can’t knock down hope and faith. I offered her a few options and made plans to follow up. She left my office with a smile; I could tell a weight had been lifted.

Finally, a brief introduction to Apolo, head coach at Anytime Fitness Las Colinas. I believe his passion is some of the most incredible I will ever witness.

Coach Apolo

Apolo is a Marine Combat veteran which he rarely shares unless a special occasion arises. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Advanced Personal Training from Bryan University. Apolo is CPR certified and is an AF Functional Training Group Coach. But you know what he truly excels at doing? Forming relationships. He is a builder of things personal and tying it into what makes people tick. His clients share their stories of what he’s done for them, but his humbleness prevents me from being anything other than one-sided. He’ll tell you they did all the work; he simply encouraged them and provided the right tools. But really that’s a lot! Not to take away from their progress, but to be fair, Apolo has gone above and beyond in knowing what they need, how to push them, and to do this over and over again. Somehow he finds time to embark on his own fitness journey! Let it be a reminder: he did verbally commit to running the Marine Corps Marathon with me next year.

These connections are what we’re about. Restoring humanity one workout at a time, one conversation a day.

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I ask you –

Are your stories endless or do they glide to a stop?

Tell me a time you encountered someone who’d had a bad experience and how you tried to turn it around for them.

Will you commit to a marathon with me next year?

Halloween Whodunit / Fall!

Hocus Pocus: one of my most beloved movies

The goal in my house is whoever scares Mommy the most wins. Ugh. I hate this game. You see, I’m not really a likes-to-be-scared type of girl. But my Munchkin takes this game very seriously so I play along. Unwillingly.

Mantle decorations

Who can deny cooler weather and boots and leggings and pumpkin spice everything is awesome?! Basic. Get off me. From a fitness perspective, this is the time people start making their winter goals and trying not to let the holidays impact them too much. For me, it means PRs and an extra cup of coffee to warm up!

I love the change in gym dynamic during this time of year. There’s fun colors and a more relaxed feel, but also some heavy hitters in the weight training area. It’s not lost on me most people use the colder months to lift heavier and do a little less cardio. Even I was trained this way. However, if you want to PR your runs in the spring, it’s important not to neglect the cardio portion of your workout. Insert functional training!

I find functional training combines all my favorite activities: strength building + elevated heart rate. It saves time, too, since I’m not doing 2 separate workouts. Mainly, it holds my interest and keeps me engaged. Pounding away on the dreadmill has all the appeal of going head to head with a mountain lion. No thanks, I’ll pass. I don’t run fast enough for that crisis.

Now I realize I’ve digressed from cooler Fall to colder than snowflakes Winter, but somehow, each year, the transition is less than gradual. You wake up one day to the beautiful leaves changing. Next thing you know it’s an ice warning. What the….

Empty candy bowl = small favors

Typically I end up forgoing a training plan after my final fall race, but I know how important it is to keep up the work and maintain a mileage base for the first glimpses of Spring. So I challenge you each to create a goal for the fall/winter and stick with it. But make sure it’s actually challenging! Try something new: hike in the snow, walking lunges indoors with your kids, try a yoga session! Or come by here and see me and we’ll do a group training session together!

Whatever you decide, enjoy yourself and get through the cold(er) months with your sanity and hoodie intact. If you need some ideas, I’m always listening and will be updating you along the way with the new adventures I partake in!

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I ask you –

Favorite holiday?

Is Halloween your thing or no? Definitely not mine, but as a parent, things change.

Something new you’d like to try when it’s cold out?

Joy and the Rose’s of the World

Such sweet words

Maybe it’s strange to admit, but I feel awkward when others thank me. Especially for just doing my job. That being said, the card above overwhelmed me with joy.

First, it’s a card. A CARD! Someone took time out of their busy day to write and deliver a card. Many of you know I’m a card advocate. I may be single-handedly keeping the US Postal Service alive with the amount of cards I send. I was taught at a very young age cards should be sent regularly, most importantly after receiving a gift on any occasion. I have a drawer filled with blank cards for any moment when a card is necessary. Truth be told, my favorite time to send a card is when it’s least expected. Those bring about the best feelings to find a card just because in your mail box. Who doesn’t love receiving mail?! Hold the bills, please.

Second, what she wrote is so beautiful to me. Ms. Rose is a sweet soul with an easy smile and a kind word for those she meets. Often we don’t see or feel the impact we make on another’s life until much later (if at all). When we find ourselves struggling with life, work, a mood – these small gestures can mean so very much to our needy hearts.

Perhaps you feel you’re at a point in your life where you can’t make a difference or you feel there’s no difference to be made. I implore you to look around. An opportunity exists if only you open your eyes to the possibility. Open them wide! Ms. Rose may not have had any goals other than to get out of her house each day. But, in doing so, she arrived at my house. Not literally, though I can only imagine my face if she’d shown up on my doorstep. She diligently came inside each day with her mind made up: she wanted to be stronger. I won’t see her again for a few months, but I have no doubt her presence made me stronger.

At the end of the day, I will believe the difference I made was in knowing her.

_____________________

I ask you –

When was the last time you sent a card in the mail? Have you ever?

Do you struggle with accepting the words “thank you”?

Tell me about someone in your life that has made you feel stronger.

7 Years and Then Some

So I’ve been with Anytime Fitness for a long time. A long time. During this time, I’ve met a lot of people. Some I might could’ve lived without meeting, but there’s a reason for everything. From people coming into my office crying to others coming into my office waving around firearms, I believe I’ve seen it all. Please tell me I’ve seen it all; I can’t stand any more.

James is a retired 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper. He’s much older than he looks and has a sweet, boyish smile. But when he’s not smiling, it’s terrifying. James has the male equivalent of RBF. If you don’t know what this is, Google it. It’s completely worth knowing!

From the first time I met James, in Lawton, Oklahoma, I was overwhelmed by his gentle giant nature. He’s easily 6’3″ and a billion pounds. I imagine him jumping from a helicopter much like a train falling through the sky. A massive train. Hurtling at the ground. I don’t know what holds him together but it’s probably steel. He’ll tell you he’s had more concussions than people have had birthdays. Train. Sky. You get it by now.

“I’m falling apart, but I make it look good!” -JM

As many service members will tell you, the routine is ingrained in you. We’re regimented and controlled. What others see as chaos is, to us, just another day of normalcy. James may not wear a uniform anymore; however, his workouts are daily and deliberate. He lifts weights heavier than me. Like heavier than my whole person.

James didn’t quite encourage my healthy habits. He was notorious for bringing me cookies and never eating a single one. I looked forward to seeing him, but I also rued the days he would come in. I sure ate all those cookies though!

In terms of our friendship, James and I laugh like we’ve known each other our whole lives. We’ve shared crazy stories, laughed at even crazier things, and navigated the transition back to civilian life post-military. It’s friendships like these that remind me I’m where I’m supposed to be. Surrounded by others with the same values…those who believe a healthy body starts with a healthy mind… encourages me to keep trying. On days I don’t feel like putting in the work, it only takes a second to conjure a thought of a ginormous train falling from the sky above to remind me to get my ass in gear. I’d rather be a train than a bug James stomps on.

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I ask you –

Name a friend you’ve known nearly your whole life! Exactly how long is that?

Thoughts on trains falling from the sky?

Remember the movie Operation Dumbo Drop?

Marine Corps Marathon / Next on the Agenda

The 44th annual Marine Corp Marathon (MCM) will be held on October 27, 2019 in Arlington, VA. As I’m sure many of my readers had no idea, this might possibly be the largest and most inspiring marathon one ever runs. I have plans to run the MCM; don’t rush me! MCM is the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money, instead celebrating the honor, courage, and commitment of all finishers. Navy Shout-Out: Honor, Courage, Commitment.

Everyone, please welcome Cheryl

Now meet Cheryl. Cheryl has been running for many years. The 44th MCM will be her first marathon in quite some time. As I watch her diligently train on the treadmill several times a week, I’m reminded it’s time to get my own rear in gear and commit to my next race. It’s called a race no matter if you’re racing as an elite competitor or against yourself. To be clear, I’m the latter. Oh you thought I was elite? Why thank you! Cheryl is a hero of mine. From afar, I admire her persistence and dedication. Not being able to run outside in this dangerous Texas heat can be a huge deterrent to runners. Waving my own hand around. And dreadmill running can suck at times. But the show…errr, run…must go on! Cheryl and many other incredible men and women I know personally will be leading the way at the MCM in quests for their own PR (personal record) and sense of accomplishment. There’s nothing crazy about chasing your aspirations as long as you feel your heart explode with thankfulness at the finish line. I’m so proud of you all – training in this brutal heat, making plans to attend as a first time MCM participant, and proving your strength can be uplifting for others.

Cheryl laughing at me taking her photo

Since I enjoy committing myself to outlandish things on this blog (ahem, the tattoo is still happening, people), what better way to prove to myself and the whopping 3 people who read this (am I right?) that I’m ready to begin training is to make this announcement:

I HAVE FOUND MY NEXT RACE!

The Texas Double is hosted in Dallas, TX on 12/21 and 12/22 at 7am. Combined, it’s the marathon distance (26.2 miles); each race is a half marathon (13.1 miles for the mathematically challenged). So, no, I’m not running a marathon. Yet. However, the distance I will cover is a marathon’s worth. Do I get extra points for this? Why not?!

Shortly I will begin training. I’ll probably be a little grumpy for awhile. I’m sorry everyone. Do you know what it takes to get up at 4am and run?! Do you?! But we do it because we love it and because we’re stronger mentally when we run. We. The collective of runners and all people who put one foot in front of the other each day. Unsurprisingly, it was difficult to locate a training plan incorporating long runs on both Saturday and Sunday. Most often, long runs are planned for a weekend day (singular) because normal people only run one half or full marathon a weekend. Therefore, training plans are designed with this in mind. I had to do some serious modifications to the plan for the Texas Double to train for a half each day. There goes my weekend plans for 17 weeks.

I’m looking forward to running again. My extended break is over and although I won’t be pounding the pavement until it cools off outdoors, I know my trusty treadmill will encourage me in the way only she knows – by not stopping. There will be days when I ask myself why I’m doing this, as well as days when I forget to “trust the plan”. Please feel free to provide encouragement and cookies. Mainly the cookies. I also enjoy your stories!

___________________

I ask you this –

What’s next on your adventure journey? Humor me!

Do you have any music suggestions?

Leave a comment with supportive remarks for Cheryl!

Connection of Compassion

Compassion can be found anywhere

Recently, I had a powerful conversation with a very important woman in my life. The discussion centered on self-compassion and finding forgiveness. We also touched upon the saying “no one sin is worse than another”. Not to worry, I won’t be delving into religion on this blog, because religion starts wars and I’m not much for confrontation.

As life is not black and white, I’m truly a master of shockery here, aren’t I?, it is more than fitting we find the connection between our emotional selves and our physical selves. There will be times when your world is turned upside down and finding time for yourself is a puzzle of a million pieces. Lately it’s been like this for me, too. At one point I realized I couldn’t remember the last meal I’d eaten, but I knew for sure it was more than 24 hours ago. You see, it’s too easy for me to fall into a pattern of forgetting to take care of myself. One more task leads to another…another…and here we start a cycle of behavior. Will you catch me saying no I can’t take on another task? Of course not; and that’s my downfall.

I want to work out today. I’ve had this great leg workout planned for days and bouncing between two clubs, both Las Colinas and Roanoke, has been hard mentally. My mind drifts to all the things I need to be doing: paperwork, update something, call people, etc. Juggling tasks comes easy. Adding myself in there does not. So here I am, tea and almonds beside me, snacking to alleviate the hunger issue and typing to enjoy me time. Writing is obviously me time. And I get paid to do it. Win!

one of THOSE weeks

Compassion is finding forgiveness and understanding not only in others but also in yourself. Bad days happen. Here is where it gets a little gray. How do we forgive ourselves for not completing the proverbial self to-do list? I really don’t have that answer. Pardon me for letting you down. Truthfully, I’m still finding it out on my own. Today’s fantastically planned leg workout may not happen. I have to accept that and make plans for tomorrow or the next day or even Monday. Practice compassion, Kel. The woman I mentioned above said it will come easier the more I practice forgiving myself. Today…I may have to accept not getting it all done. That workout will still be waiting for me tomorrow. Anytime Fitness is 24/7 for me. There’s a constant in this life we can always count on: change.

_____________________

I ask you –

Do you struggle making time for yourself?

What often gets pushed off your own to-do list?

Advice for those of us struggling to make time for ourselves?

Music and Curse Words (maybe together…maybe not)

All the best medical journals swear by cursing. See what I did there. Hilarious, Kel! But I’m serious. Did you know there are health benefits to cursing? Although I can’t advocate cursing in a professional atmosphere, there is a time and place to successfully incorporate cursing into your life. If you so choose. I do choose!

Perhaps surprisingly cursing may be responsible for pain relief: a very real aspect of creative language. According to some medical professionals, swearing activates the fight or flight reflex which dulls our pain receptors. However, before you go around swearing up a storm, there is one caveat to the pain relief effects. Those who swear regularly become desensitized to the words used; therefore, true pain relief benefits are mostly noticed in those who don’t curse much, if at all. Well d**n. I still believe in mind over matter though so I will continue to believe this works and use curse words strategically in my conversations. Not to worry, boss, I am a well-controlled curser.

Next topic: Music.

Dreams

Researchers have found listening to fast-paced music can increase a runner’s ability to complete a run. Music also benefits brain receptors in those dealing with depression and stress and sleep issues. There’s even music therapy as a tool for pain management! Music is literally the soundtrack of our very lives. Haha see, I did it again! Think back to any moment in your life. Most likely you’ll be able to correlate a particular song, beat, or tune to that event. There’s a reason break up playlists exist. Turn on the radio and you can quickly identify an event in your life that corresponds to a song. A previous co-worker describes it as a “jukebox in her head”. It rotates not by how many quarters you insert, but by what’s going on at the moment.

Interestingly, a name does exist for when a song is on repeat in your mind. Earworms. Yes, that’s the fancy word for it; no, I did not make it up. The scientific term is Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI). Some believe it is essentially our brain singing. Don’t tell me you don’t think that isn’t cool. Related, the most common type of personality to get earworms are those who exhibit neurotic and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Joke’s on you!

What my mind looks like – jumbled pages of music

So where does all this leave us? With this gem –

Listening to music with curse words in it or songs that make us curse (not in an aggressive way) must be the next big hit! 3rd time in a blog post – Kel, wow! Soon enough I’ll have some extra letters behind my name and this will be my starring role! I invented the premise behind all health and wellness by giving the advice of listening to songs that make us swear. Ta-Da!

According to my co-workers and members, these songs are easiest to get stuck in your jukebox, just based on one line: remember to sing these as you read through so we don’t suffer alone

I would walk 500 miles!

What is love?

Shot through the heart!

_____________________________

I ask you this –

Are you plagued by earworms?

Do you overall enjoy faster or slower-paced music?

Cursing – yes or no?

Why Do I Need That?

Clearly not my bag – it’s not large enough

What’s in your gym bag? Please tell me you read that line in the Capital One commercial voice. The must haves. The essentials. The stuff. Ugh. All the stuff. Do you really need anything in your bag? Do you need a bag at all? In short, yes, but there’s much more to it.

An often overlooked first tip is finding the right gym bag. Breathable materials allow odors to mix with fresh air preventing the mildew-y smell of nightmares. And if your bag is washable then problem solved! Manager tip: place a few dryer sheets in the bottom of your bag to keep it smelling nice. Adjustable shoulder straps, as well as number of pockets, are also good to examine.

Basic gym bag essentials range from the common…hello, deodorant….to the indulgent…roller ball, anyone? I’m not judging. There were times in the Navy when I had to choose between sleep or a shower. It seemed my division was much more cooperative when I’d slept so that should answer your question. Here’s a rundown of the most useful items to bring to the gym –

  • Towel – NECESSITY. PLEASE!
  • Flip Flops – do I really have to explain why shower shoes are necessary?
  • Dry Shampoo – because a Hollywood shower in a gym bathroom is rude
  • Hand Sanitizer – did you know your hands harbor more bacteria than a public toilet seat?
  • Hair Thingies – this is a scientific term, trust me
  • Deodorant – travel size is available, but regular size is cheaper
  • Face Wipes – an effective substitute for a shower
  • Socks – for some reason, dry feet have the power to make or break your entire day
  • Snacks – munchkin will be 25 yrs old, moved out, and have her own family and I’ll still carry around snacks because you just never know
  • Water Bottle – ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! Go green, people. You’re always telling me you recycle, so why do I keep finding plastic bottles in the regular trashcans versus the blue recycling container? Hmmmm

Obviously this is a short list. SHORT?! It can be as extravagant or as minimal as you desire.

This is my bag!

As you can see in the photo above, I have many of the items from the list. There’s also unmentionables and random sticky notes for stuff I was trying to remember. You just never know when a good idea will hit!

I think of a gym bag much like a diaper bag. There will be times when it’s not necessary. Then there will be other times when you wish there was a department store inside it. I envision a Mary Poppins-style scenario. Umbrella, anyone?

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I ask you –

What’s in your bag?

Name one thing at the gym you can’t live without.

Advice for a gym bag carrier?