Because You Do…

I’ve made some pretty significant changes in my life over the past few years.  It was important to me to improve my health and the health of my family.

And I am often met with the well-intentioned question:

“How do you do that??”

Because I do.

It is not really a smart butt answer.  It is the truth.

If you want to make a change in your life, you have to DO something to make that happen.  It would be great if we wanted to change something and BOOM it happened.

But then again, given some of the things we have wanted to change on a whim, maybe that is not such a good idea…

The truth still is that if you want to change something, you have to DO something.  If I want to be healthier, I have to exercise, which means I have to DO something by showing up to CrossFit and doing something while I am there.  Not really just doing something, but working my tail end off.  I cannot just show up and expect something to happen; I have to be an active participant.

If I want to make smarter food decisions, I have to put down the boxes of processed food and pick up healthier choices.  I have cook meals each week from scratch.  And I have to prepare things ahead of time.  I have to DO something.

And if you want to change something, you have to commit to DO something.

The change will not be automatic, it will not always be easy, and there will be times when you will fall down.

Get up, brush yourself off, and keep doing something to move yourself in the right direction.

And at some point, someone will ask:

“How do you do that??”

Because you do.

Follow ALL of the Steps

It takes a series of steps to get from point A to point B.  That is also one of the hardest things for people to remember – that this is a process.  We do not immediately go from thought to finished product without some work in between those two; or quite frankly, quite a bit of work.

Still, one of the questions I get far too often is, “Do we have to follow all of the steps in order?”

“Yes, that is why I wrote them in that order.  And no skipping steps either.”

“You mean I have to do all of this?  Why can’t I just…”

“Negative.  Do all of the steps in order.  No other way around it.  Put in the work.”

In my classroom, I share my journey in CrossFit with my students, especially since it is so relevant to this particular question.  I explain to them that when I signed up for CrossFit, I did not walk in and immediately start lifting heavy weights.  I had to put in the work.  I had to do all of the things to build strength – some of which I DID NOT enjoy – so that I could do what I do today.  I have to continue to work to continue to improve, and keep doing the things that are my least favorite.  And this means doing all of the steps in order.

Students have to learn to be patient with the groundwork of learning.  Sure, they may not think that doing things such as writing in journals or following sentence patterns is a relevant part of the process.   They may not like critical reading and annotation.  There are days that they don’t like following directions.   But they have to put in the work, even the parts they deem yucky, to be able to produce a meaningful finished product that draws all of those skills together, and one in which they have invested the necessary time and thought to complete.

It is the same with any kind of learning or project or process in the adult world. There has to be groundwork. There are steps that must be followed in order so that the project can be completed.  Some of the steps will not seem very relevant, and some will not be in the least bit enjoyable, but they are ALL a part of the process.  Putting in the work is essential, but it must be the kind of work that produces not just any product, but a quality product.

This process is a journey – one which requires time, energy, work, and personal investment.  Enjoy it, learn from it, and be sure to stop and look at how far you have come.

It will be well worth it.

Put in the Work

It is an every day battle in my classroom.  When I give an assignment, more than one student will spend less than five minutes on it and then come up to my desk and demand to know, “Is this good?”  The answer is normally a resounding no, because the student has clearly not put in the work.  It continues with the response of the student, “But I did it.”

Sigh…

Undoubtedly, they are a little unclear on the concept.  Just because you spent five whole minutes on it does not make it quality work; it is simply putting in minimal time.  It is putting in the work that makes all of the difference.

Let’s face it – we live in a world of instant gratification.  ATM’s will spit out money any time of the day and night, pizza places will deliver at your whim, and if all else fails…google it…on any number of electronic devices at your fingertips.  Working, really working, for something seems to have become a bit of a foreign concept.

But anything worth doing is worth putting in the work.  And I mean real work.

January is coming, and with it will be a slew of new resolutions to lose weight, exercise, become more organized, and so forth.  Some of those resolutions will be done with in less than a week because there are no instantaneous results for those, and people who tell you there can be are simply selling something.  Learning and change require you to put in the work.  You cannot expect to put in minimal work and get maximum results.  That is the stuff of infomercials.

I’ve spent two years in Crossfit, and am pretty good about being there three to five days a week.  I run a few days a week as well.    I put in the work.  And I am seeing results – PR’s on lifts, much better times on my runs, and all sorts of little improvements here and there.  And is the work worth it?  Absolutely.

My son’s classes have started to really put some demands on him, and he is truly having to be organized and put in some real time studying – sometimes six and seven hours a night.  It is a struggle for him to keep all of the plates spinning sometimes, but he is putting in the work.  He, too, is seeing the results in his grades.  Is the work worth it to him?  Absolutely.

Nothing comes easily.  It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes dedication, determination.  It sometimes means starting all over and trying again.

It takes work.

But anything worth doing is worth putting in the work.

In and Out of the Valley of Death…Or Surviving the Santa Hustle

Into the Valley of Death has been the way I’ve been describing the registration for my first half marathon in three years.  So to complete the circle, or description, or whatever you want to call it, I am adding more words from Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

When the race officials finally let my corral go – I was in the slowpoke corral – my plan was to just keep running as much as I could.  I listened to people all around me talk about whatever strategy they were using, but it all amounted to the same thing – we had 13.1 miles to complete and we had to keep going.

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

Actually, I had heard that there were at least a thousand registered for this race, so that meant there were a thousand of us crazy enough to be doing this.  What on earth were we thinking??

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

The course was set.  There were cookies along the way – but seriously who eats cookies in the middle of a half marathon?  Some of the course conditions were not fantastic, and who in the heck put a hill on the island?  Wait, I guess that is questioning.  Just run.

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

The first half of the race was pretty good, and other than a quick potty stop, my times were good.  Mile seven was not bad.  Mile eight was not terrible.  But mile nine is where runners go to die.  I really thought someone had moved the ten mile marker because mile nine was three miles long.  But mile ten finally rolled around, and I began to see the light…

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

This was more like Gulf to the right of them, people in strange costumes to the left.  I saw so much interesting stuff – some guy in a spandex Santa suit, a guy running in a kilt, some reindeer and elf costumes that could not have been very functional, and some costumes that had nothing to do with Christmas at all.  Interesting…

Then they rode back, but not

Not the six hundred.

And when the last three miles rolled around, I know I was walking more than I wanted.  Gone was the run as much as you can strategy…or at least the distance was quite a bit less.  But I rounded the last corner, and there it was – the finish line.  I pulled it together and ran.

They that had fought so well

Came thro’ the jaws of Death

Back from the mouth of Hell,

Oh.  Good.  Heavens.  The finish line was the most beautiful sight.  It meant the end, but it also meant that my hard work for FOREVER had finally paid off. I crossed the finish line.  I was not dead. I PR’d my last half marathon by and hour and a minute.  And there were also cookies – but not the ones with icing and sprinkles that I had hoped for.

When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

All the world wondered.

Honor the charge they made,

Honor the Light Brigade,

Noble six hundred.

I got a medal!!!!

Into the Valley of Death…But I Hear They Have Cookies

This was my Facebook post about a month ago, along with the information for the half marathon I had registered to run.  I’ve been training for what feels like FOREVER, and now, the start line approaches.

This is my first half marathon since December of 2011.  And getting back to this point has been a process.

You see, I started shortly before I turned 40.  I woke up and realized that I hated going to the gym, that I hated not being able to see any results, and I wanted something that was less hassle.  And, irrationally, I had been told that I should not run so that seemed like the perfect option.

So I limped along at a very slow pace, not realizing how much progress I was not making.  Getting down under a 17 minute mile was a big accomplishment for me, and although I was slow, I knew I was faster than everyone on the couch.  I kept working, got a little faster, slowly ran some races, and then…all of my motivation packed up and left me.

After a big time out to recover from donating a kidney, I slowly ran a ten miler just to show that I could, and then all of my running came to a screeching halt.

I was so done.

But earlier this year, after a year of Crossfit training, I was ready to run again – and run I have.  Any rational person would not be checking their weather app to see if the heat index is below 100 before they go run, but that was me all summer long, which as we know on the Gulf Coast, runs through November.

It was hot.  It was humid.  It was yucky.  I was frustrated.  I whined to my coach.

But I kept going.

And now, it all comes to this.

At 8am tomorrow morning, I will be at the start line with hundreds of people dressed like Santa to run 13.1 miles together.

Can’t wait!  This is going to be awesome!!

And I hear they have cookies…

Two Years of Crossfit

I knew my two cousins owned a Crossfit.  And I knew that I had to do something different than what I had been doing.  I had lost the will to run and was getting nowhere.  They said on Facebook that the first class was free, so I thought I would try.  Most importantly, I had secured the promise that they would not hurt me.  They were absolutely true to their word.

They did not hurt me.  They sent in another coach.

And despite every fiber of my being screaming in pain, I absolutely loved it.

Two years later, I am still there.

And I still love it.

In the two years I have been there, I have done more than I ever envisioned myself doing.  Never pictured myself lifting weights, throwing wall balls at a target, flipping tires, throwing myself on the ground to do burpees, or becoming part of an amazingly supportive community of friends; yet, here I am.  I love the challenge, the variation of the routine, and the personal investment of the coaches in each member.  I feel very strong.

I’ve also found the love of running again.  This fall, I have run a ten miler, a 5K, and yesterday, did a half marathon relay with my workout buddy.  We each ran our half, and both of us set PR’s.  I had been in a holding pattern of terrible, and finally have been able to push past the awful after training with Crossfit.

I am blessed and grateful, and am looking forward to another year of Crossfit.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Want pizza without feeling weighed down by the crust? Here’s an easy solution:

You will need:

2 I lb bags of frozen cauliflower

2 eggs

Italian seasoning

Cook the cauliflower until it is soft enough to smash with a fork, or cut with a pie crust mixer. Before smashing the cauliflower, squeeze out at much water as possible.  Then, mash the cauliflower.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Then add eggs and Italian seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Spread out the mixture on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and shape into the desired size. This will make a large, rectangular pizza crust, or you can make two round ones.  Then, bake the crust for 18-22 minutes at 425 degrees.  The crust should be brown around the edges.

Then, top your pizza with sauce, cheese, and any other toppings that you would like. Bake until the cheese is melted.

Cut and enjoy.