Never Too Old to Learn

Around mid-February, I became involved in a “group project”, if you will. Typically held 2x/month, we would meet and discuss very important subjects related to life, military, and anything else that came up. Our host served as a mediator of sorts, but there was no syllabus nor direction to our meetings. Throughout the past 6 months, give or take, we battled our group being involuntarily disbanded, technology issues once reunited, and an assortment of other small decisions impacting our ability to meet in person vs remotely. Shaky at best.

Looks different under bright lights

Now we’ve come to the end of our project. We tacked on a few extra months because the world went crazy. The question was posed what will we each do with the time we’ve spent devoted to attending? Suddenly we all have 90 mins back in our life – decisions, decisions. Perhaps I’ll write more or include an extra workout per week or solve world peace. The options are unlimited! Each of us has our own answer, but I think I might continue to make this date with myself. It’s already on my calendar. I could work; who does that? This time has already been carved out and I’m my best project anyway.

Now the sappy stuff. Without this project, I feel confident I would have eventually gotten to where I needed to be, but it wouldn’t have happened as efficiently. I certainly wouldn’t have made new friends. Although they may balk at my use of the word “friend”, I consider them such. Believe me, it’s almost impossible to share very intimate and uncomfortable details of my life with strangers and not consider them friends at the end.

K, a seat just for you

Dear K – Thank you for being raw and unapologetic. From day 1, your candor was refreshing. I will never know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but you wear them so well. The work you’ve done in your life, the self reflection you employ, and the take-no-shit attitude you developed drove our group forward. The path your life has taken put you in this moment, I believe, for many reasons. Your heart is so big. The rescuer in me wants to take away the pain you experienced, the unfairness of giving many years to the military that eventually took so much, but you are strong and brave and I am honored to have met you.

DW, this sign led you here

Dear DW – Thank you for having the courage to join us. I have met many strong individuals, but you represent this project for those who often don’t come forward. There’s a deep appreciation of your work in recovery and the lessons you’ve shared with us. I’ve heard your stories of overcoming loss and navigating anger. These experiences paved the way for my own self-understanding. When you speak, I know I’m not alone. I have appreciated from afar what you stand up for, the grace you give your children, and the listening ear you provide to us. We began as strangers; I will never forget you.

Because of the two of you, I owe you each so much of me. My heart will continue to heal, my soul can sleep in safety, and the uniforms we served in will stand up for what we, and others, deserve. We are not victims; we are survivors.

In a turn of events, there will be no asking of you, my dear readers, for feedback on this post. I welcome your comments, but I choose to honor some amazing individuals in this moment. There is no question I have met some of the bravest our country has ever seen. For this, I am truly thankful.

Employment Perks

It’s nearing the end of my third week at the new germ-sharing factory (kidding!) so I felt as if even if you didn’t ask, you really must want to know how it’s going. Right?

First, the wildlife are rampant! I haven’t whipped out my trusty camera to take photos because base, but daily I see a jackrabbit – could it be the same one? – and once I saw a huge bull frog. Obviously I know we have many varied species of creatures wandering the plains of Texas so I’m not too surprised to see things. I did stare in shock though.

When I laugh, this is how my coworkers look at me, too

With any new employment opportunity, there’s always going to be a rather slow start. However, in my experience, a slow starts equates to for-effing-ever with every known hiccup that could happen. Ridiculous! My paperwork wasn’t correct, my credentials were invisible, the website wouldn’t allow me to change my password, AND everyone who can help me has vacated the building in favor of teleworking. For the love…

So I did what I do best. I wait. Hahaha, jokes. I have zero patience. Correction: I did what I do best; I winged it! Here’s what happens when I inevitable wing anything: it works out. Which really isn’t good news because it encourages me to wing it again next time and it continues to work. I’m an expert winger. Since I work for the high flying Air Force, “winging it” seems appropriate, do you agree?

This sums it up

Truthfully, the atmosphere is relaxed and I can wear whatever I want. Those pesky limits do exist. Pretty sure cookies are on the agenda soon – can never start too early making friends before secret Santa season. Though nice, the other employees are a hardship to my return to Keto. I wasn’t there 6 hours before a cake appeared on my desk. Day 2 included donuts. I’m such a sucker. Now I’ve figured out not to open whatever box appears and wait for a higher ranking official with a self-described sweet tooth to whisk it away behind closed doors and then I’m safe.

Occasionally I succumb. Whenever the phone stops ringing.

__________________

I ask you –

Name your favorite employee perk!

Are you also the one who has all the problems when it comes to getting started?

Thoughts on ‘winging it’?

“Fail Until You Don’t” – that’s what Bobby Bones says

Perhaps this would appropriately be titled “How things don’t work out”… but it would give you a sense of negativity and an unappreciative mood. Definitely not what I’m going for.

Working on a professional image – first, fingernails

Let’s just say: I didn’t see that coming! Funny how things work out in their own way, in their own time, with more than a little nudge from above.

The employment opportunity I firmly believed was for me was not to be. I don’t know why. I’m qualified, available, driven, funny!, and personable. So why not me? Again, I don’t know. It was rather disappointing at first. Then I was blindsided by a different opportunity – the interview was swift, they stayed in touch, and the offer was a no brainier. It’s almost surreal.

You see, unexpected doesn’t even come close to the magnitude I’m describing. Within the government and federal employment system, there is some sort of unknown, magical, subjective algorithm which decides what resumes to ‘hit’. Needless to say, I’ve submitted hundreds, read that again in numerical form, 100’s, of applications within the past 5+ years and never received a hit. Never. Then suddenly I landed on someone’s desk – this time not the President’s and not for “inflammatory” writings – I’ll post about this soon, you don’t want to miss it! – and they thought I was a perfect match. Ha!

Everyone starts somewhere. Barring the ability to retire in 16 years (hey, that military service came in handy!, the ability to continue to support my family and ensuing shoe/running habits, as well as be a part of a new-to-me organization, I best go brush up on my Air Force lingo. I have multiple programs to oversee. No one wants to look like an idiot on their first day. The third, maybe, but not the first.

Would they mind if I arrived with my trusty foam roller?

I’m sure there will be jokes: here comes the Navy girl on an Air Force base. But I have a way of chameleonizing (like that word? It’s my very own!) and I know this opportunity could be my best work to date. Wish me luck! Here I go!

_______________________________

I ask you –

Are some things just meant to be?

Thoughts on perseverance? Is it just a lesson in futility until one sticks?

Rhetorical question: will they think I’m funny? Of course they will, Kel!!

Marine Corps Marathon Recap and Reevaluation

My apologies there’s no photos for this post – since I didn’t personally attend the marathon myself, I would have had to use stock photos and those just aren’t as much fun!

After conversing with several people who ran the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), I’m toggling between keeping my commitment to running it as my first (read: potentially only) marathon. As much as I love people, 50,000 of them makes my heart race. Even if I was to start and stay in the back of the pack, the chance of being exceptionally close to any runner is still high. Though course support is definitely what the MCM has in full force, my decision is based on other factors, as well.

Location, travel, training, and weather have me questioning the MCM. I can only imagine how beautiful the DC area is in the Fall and I love traveling so those aren’t my concerns. The training plan is a little iffy, but the weather I have to train in is highest on my list and the sheer amount of other runners is numero dos. It may seem silly to worry about these things; however, when you pour your time and money into an activity you always hope for the best outcome. Control freak much?

Training through the summer is limited in my own situation. The notorious Texas heat translates to a lot of indoor treadmill running which, in my opinion, doesn’t mimic outdoor running well. I can definitely tell a difference when I’ve trained primarily on a treadmill vs. outdoors. Also, and I know I keep circling back to it, I have no desire to run within arm’s distance of hundreds of people for 26.2 miles. That’s a big no thanks from me. So what’s my other options?

Option A: Find a new marathon. Not a bad idea. Although I loved the idea of the MCM because it’s a veteran’s support community, there are tons of other marathons available. By being a little more choosy on what marathon to participate in, I can decide what fits my training cycle best, too. I could find a local (Texas) marathon in the Spring – I’d already looked at a few of them before. Or…

Option B: Run the MCM. Surely I can recruit at least one other person to run with me that day. Perhaps someone who has already completed it and would like to voluntold themselves to be my pacer/motivator/conversationalist. Also someone who won’t allow me to take a hard turn to port when the going gets tough. Anyone? No? That’s ok because the beauty in being voluntold is it’s not really an option! Standby for heavy rolls. Side note: it took 3 tries to get that verbiage correct and I know 95% of my readers have no Navy experience but for the 5% who do – please appreciate my intent!

The bright side is there’s still plenty of time to decide. Unless I want to go with a marathon in Spring 2020. But I committed to writing then. So writing I must. Training will continue, but I don’t know for what race. The show must go on!

______________________

I ask you –

What races are on your horizon?

Are you Option A or Option B?

Any volunteers?!

“When did this happen?” and other things we wonder

Juggling life feels exactly like this

Let me set the scene:

PRT (physical readiness test for all you non-Navy people) next week so I should probably start running today. Right? Ummm no.

Swimsuit season begins tomorrow so Monday should be a good time to have the body I want to achieve. Right? Again, no.

Are you getting the drift or do I need to input more examples of how this never works? Honestly, I don’t get it. In our society of instant potatoes (that’s what I call our propensity to have everything we want immediately) why do we wait so long to make changes to ourselves? Why do we wait until the doctor says we have heart disease to realize our weight, lifestyle, and choices are out of control?

I think it’s because we don’t notice the small changes day to day. For example, you mowed the grass last weekend. Each day it’s been slowly growing back to its prior form. But you won’t notice until next Friday when you drive by. The grass didn’t grow overnight. It gradually made its way to shin-length. Same with our health. But the more you “let it go”, the more it goes. I’m a free agent – I cannot be controlled!

So when did this happen? Today. Yesterday. It keeps happening! But we’re busy people and we don’t realize it until it is too late. Except it’s never too late!

What is wrong with starting today? NOTHING! I post regularly about making changes immediately. We both know if you say tomorrow then something will come up and tomorrow will be pushed further into the future. Today looks like the only choice to me. Do it.

“candy wrapper dreams”

A very lovely lady in my life likes to use the phrase “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in!” Her advanced age brings about a certain wisdom and truth that can only come from living as healthily and happily as possible. Do you wonder what you’ll be like as you age? All the time! Will I be an angry old lady because I didn’t live the life meant for me or will I be teaching the millenial alternative to step aerobics at age 95? Time will tell. Days progress and march forward like tiny ants on their way to the candy wrapper dreams are made of.

What else do we commonly wonder?

_______________________

I ask you –

What have you been putting off getting started?

What instant expectations do you subscribe to?

Do you believe in the power of today?

Military Fitness Evaluations

And on this Veteran’s Day, let’s talk about fitness and the military!

Not to be confused with a FITREP, otherwise known as a performance evaluation of the officer variety. If you care to know. Please note I had to do quite a bit of research for this post due to the fact I have only limited knowledge of fitness evaluations in each branch of the military besides the US Navy.

Oh the days of old

It’s interesting and long overdue in my opinion the military is finally updating their standards of fitness. From sit ups (harmful and ill-advised) to treadmill running (not ideal, but sometimes necessary), there has been a shift in standard (read: old school) training to functional fitness.

NOFFS: Navy Operational Fitness and Fueling System. I was offered extensive training and for the better part of 2 years trained other Sailors using this curriculum. The levels and stages of NOFFS prepare Sailors for functional and operational fitness whether on surface ships or submarines.

Changes are being realized within the Navy’s Physical Readiness Test (PRT), i.e. perhaps planks are a more accurate representation of core strength and rowing is a great alternative to cardio conditioning. Testing is ongoing regarding the feasibility, due to limited space most often, of changes to the (PRT). I eagerly await the final outcome of these measures.

The US Army is also on board with updates to their physical requirements. The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) requires soldiers to complete a 2 mile run, 2 minutes of push-ups, and 2 minutes of sit-ups. In October 2020, however, soldiers will be required to complete a six event series titled the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). Parts of this new curriculum will include the Leg Tuck, a Standing Power Throw, and a 3 Rep Max Deadlift, among other exercises. The physical toll of moving gear and their own person across vast lengths is now emphasized and soldiers are being trained to protect, and strengthen, their bodies overall.

Gives new meaning to parasailing

The US Marine Corps is hanging on to their Physical Fitness Test (PFT) which includes pull-ups/push-ups, sit-ups, and a 3 mile run. (Push-ups can be completed as an alternate to dead hang pull-ups.) 2020 is an important year, though, because in January, Marines can replace the sit-ups with planks, previously discussed as a much more effective and safe option. Interestingly, Marines also have a Combat Fitness Test (CFT): 3 exercises of varying difficulty that test an individual’s functional fitness.

Lastly, let’s look at the US Coast Guard. For the Physical Fitness Test (PFT), it includes 60 seconds of push-ups, 60 seconds of sit-ups, 1.5 mile run, the Sit and Reach, and a Swim qualification event. I’ve not seen any updates to the USCG’s PFT, but have no doubt they will eventually begin to modify their requirements.

Under da sea

It is understandable there may be very little interest in what our military branches are doing for fitness. The real importance can be found in what civilians are able to do to train like the military. Functional fitness is well-rounded and encompasses all levels of fitness. This is what we embody at Anytime Fitness: functional fitness. We want you to do your daily tasks with ease whether it be climbing endless ladder wells to reach the top deck of a destroyer or swimming in the open ocean while practicing rescue operations. You may never do any of these things, but you can train for them regardless. Why? Because you climb stairs to get to your desk and many of the same movements you use while swimming translate to reaching above your head to get to the canned vegetables in your pantry.

Need I say more?

_______________________

I ask you –

What does functional fitness look like to you?

Who is the strongest of the military branches?

If you didn’t answer Navy to the question above, we can’t be friends anymore. šŸ™‚

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 Associateā€™s Degree in Advanced Personal Training from Bryan University. Apolo is CPR certiļ¬ed 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.

___________________________

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?

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.

______________

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?

Restart / Addressing Fear

How often does fear hold you back? Fear of the known, fear of the unknown, fear within ourselves.

I love this:

I won’t forget the first time I read the above from A. A. Milne. My best friend had sent me a letter in boot camp and she included that quote. I cried my eyes out. At the time, I was grasping for anything to make me feel like the days weren’t so loud. There was so much noise night and day, inside my head, in every room, even outside was a constant barrage of voices. Endless is the best way to describe it. As someone who enjoys alone time, I was struggling. Reading her words calmed my soul. On the days I couldn’t remember what anything except Navy indoctrination was, I held tight to what she had written. Spoiler Alert: I survived.

Interestingly (or not), I began this post yesterday before I ever knew how today would feel. Granted I do write when the mood hits me and not as a job with a deadline, but somehow my heart always finds what I’m needing when I need it. Much like when your body is starving for a certain nutrient, it tells you what is needed. Side note: during a certain time of the month I crave peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Mainly the peanut butter. I do not like peanut butter. Point made.

(pause in this writing while multiple four-letter words spill from my lips because I pressed the back arrow and nothing had been saved so all original writing below this paragraph was lost) sigh

Had to take a break to settle my mind

Let me recap what you didn’t read:

It seems I have an issue with victimizing myself. Wow, it sounds even worse in written form. As one with rescuer tendencies, my knack of swooping in to take pain, pressure, or hurt from another has done me very few favors. I’m hindering my own ability to be a well-rounded friend, spouse, and mother. What lessons are learned if I fix it before it becomes a problem? How will my munchkin learn important life skills if I’m always ready to save her? Same of every relationship. Conflict is inevitable; suffering is a choice. In this grand triangle of thought, the persecutor removes power from a person who then becomes the victim. The rescuer saves the day by restoring peace and placing power back into the hands of the victim which encourages the persecutor to continue doing what he/she has done before because there are no consequences.

It would serve us well to remember this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” My own reactions to another’s choices are simply my own. I can’t be MADE to feel anything; what I feel is an emotional reaction.

And, finally, probably the same question you, my loyal dear reader, ask every time you embark on this blog, what does this have to do with fitness?

I don’t know; I just like to ramble. Kidding! Let me tie this back into fear. What makes us uncomfortable we shy away from. Something that causes us physical, emotional, or mental pain is not readily accepted. Deciding to make a change is incredibly difficult. But to obtain the changes we want to see in our lives, we have to accept difficulty and trust that it will lead us down the right path.

Health isn’t just a set of numbers on a scale or a score on a test. It’s our emotional well-being, our soul searching, our desire to make a change no one else can see.

___________________

I ask you –

What role do you play in the triangle?

Have you ever desired to make a change?

Share your favorite quote!

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!