the spaz of fitness has arrived


In Uncategorized on January 24, 2013 at 12:10 am

As someone frequently failed by mind-body coordination, I often overlook the abiding connection between the mental, the physical, and the emotional. When I plot my training regimen, I weigh the stress of each workout– evenly spacing upper and lower body, scattering core work, trying not to overburden or neglect any muscle group. When I wake more sore than anticipated, when the DOMS takes too long to fade, and when unplanned tweaks and twinges appear, I wonder why– I planned, I scheduled, I rested– why does my body rebel?

What I often forget is the other factors that tax our bodies… mental and emotional stress– the hour of sleep missed one night, or the impending deadline in class. For example– the recent decline in my lifts. I did make sure to get my butt to the gym and follow my Westside training template, but my schedule became a lot more hectic. I spent more nights out with friends– took in more empty calories, and didn’t refuel with good ones when I should. I slept less, and (much to my dismay) had a few holiday family blowups– which have thankfully since been resolved. Regardless, I took none of these things into consideration when planning my daily lifts and when anticipating my daily performance. It’s quite possibly that all that stress plus the travel was enough to upset my body and keep it performing well below its potential.

Conversely… and thankfully, I’ve found a better rhythm these past few weeks. I’ve since PR’d my deadlift 3 rep max as well as my floor press 3 rep max. At the same time, my 5k rowing time has continued to improve. Because of that month of backsliding, I’m not nearly where I’d like to be. My cleans are still well below my former max, my pull-ups are creeping back up but still not where they used to be, but it’s nice to see my numbers moving in a positive direction again. 

I don’t want to get too sappy on you guys, but I think I’m finding my rhythm again because I feel… at peace lately. My students are wonderful, engaged, and inquisitive. My classes are challenging, but at least thus far I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I have delightful, supportive friends who make sure I don’t spend all my time holed up in my basement (which has spent far too much of the past 3 days in the 50 degree rage… though thankfully, I have a much more powerful heater now). I’m also learning to treat myself better. 

I’ll readily admit that I have lazy days at the gym. I have awful, unproductive days at work where I spend more time reading blogs than articles– days when the only things I write are facebook statuses bemoaning my lack of writing. However, as a WOD-addict and a grad student, I’m also a glutton for self-flagellation. The more behind and stressed out I feel, the more I feel like I’m failing, the more destructive I become. When I’m frustrated by my lack of progress at the gym, I train past the point of pain, past productive muscle breakdown and into a zone of just exhaustion for the sake of venting physical fury. When I’m trying to write for a deadline, I’ll attach myself to a desk and abstain from food and rest and uncaffeinated drinks for too long. I become angry with myself for being “not good enough,” and I become monomaniacal about trying to “fix” it/me.

This semester (the few weeks of it we’ve had), I’ve been better about that. If I have a bad workout, I finish up and tell myself I’ll do better with rest, recovery, and a clear mind next time. If something stressful or unexpected (like no heat in single-digit weather) happens, I figure it out with a level head. I’ve been better about foam rolling and stretching and doing mobility work. I’ve been taking walks just because I feel like it… letting myself forget deadlines for just brief periods of time. I’ve even called and caught up with old friends with whom I’d lost touch. It’s strange, but I owe this a lot to a new presence in my life. Blogging about my relationship status feels a little too “high school,” but I can’t get through this post without mentioning that a good (fantastic, phenomenal, just freaking incredible) friend and I decided that, despite the trials of long-distance, we should be more-than-friends. I’m superstitious and nervous and terrified of so many things that could go wrong, so I don’t want to say too much, but really I’d been so convinced that I was an emotional wreck that I’d decided just to be broken forever. As it turns out, there are some people whose jagged edges fit yours… and make you feel   whole again. I don’t totally know what it means that it took someone to care about me for me to care about me again. But I’m so grateful for it. I’m grateful for someone who not only puts up with and tolerates my oddities, but embraces them, and knows how to reassure me through them– someone who will debate with me the merits of different literary eras (sorry, babe, I still want to set fire to all things Joyce), someone who understands that sometimes I need to be melodramatic about the fact that I failed to lift some amount of weight some amount of times, and someone who will remind me that I matter, even if I failed to lift that weight or meet this deadline.. even if today all the words are ugly and all the iron is too heavy. 

Growing up, I wanted to think that I could do everything alone. That I could always stand alone… that I would hold myself up on my own. And I can– I can support myself, I will take care of myself… but it is so much easier to do so, to be good to myself when someone cares

So that reminds me of my friend George (of Civilized Caveman) who so often tells his readers never to underestimate how they can change someone’s life with small kindnesses. You never know what an impact you can make with a gentle word, or a smile… how you can uplift someone just by taking a few minutes out of your day and addressing her as a human being– seeing her, listening to her, treating her as a person who is worthy of respect and consideration.

I don’t wanna jinx it now (*knock on wood*), but I’m beginning to feel balanced… Nothing’s perfect, and I don’t expect things to be. This semester will eventually become more stressful… frustrations and insecurities will creep back in in strange ways… I’m sure something else in this apartment will ambush me in good time, but hopefully I’ll be able to field them with a measure of grace… 

The Jomad’s journey continues, and though I still can’t see the road ahead, I walk with optimism. Thank you all for your company. Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to take care of yourselves.

Much love,



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