The challenge with challenges

A few weeks ago, Doug sent around an email explaining to the team about the 75 Hard challenge that he started this past Monday. In case you missed it, the challenge is that for 75 days in a row, you do the following things:

Workout for 45 minutes twice a day, once outside.

Follow a nutrition plan with no cheat days

No alcohol

Drink a bucket of water

Take a progress picture

Read 10 pages of personal development material per day.

If you forget any of these, you start over again.

My first thought when I read this was…..

No.

The immediate hole I poked in it was the workouts. Aside from the time constraint because of my commute to work, there was also the hard cold fact that I’d hate my life for the next two and a half months. I’m willing to suffer through some workouts, but probably not 90 minutes everyday…

Then there was the fact that this challenge falls during my 20 year college reunion that I’m headed to in late September and I’m certain that we’ll do the middle aged version of the State Street Stagger at some point that weekend (the one that has us going out at 7 and getting home at 10).

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am in a place now where I’m ready for a sprint. Doug writes about that all of the time – in our training and nutrition approach we go through sprints and jogs. I’m ready to buckle down and do a bit of a sprint.

I often think about challenges like this as all or nothing, and I can get ridiculously competitive with myself and with other people. To a fault. One of the greatest gifts of aging is letting go of certain things.

And in the days leading up to this challenge, I embraced the fact that I didn’t have to do a challenge that had the potential to wreck my already well-abused body with overuse. I’m already prone to overuse injuries and I can’t afford another one. I know myself and I know what’s right for me, even if I struggle to practice it.

So I took a note out of Frank Sinatra’s book and decided that I would do the 75 day challenge – but I’d do it my way.

The only substitution I made is with my workouts – I’ve committed to two workouts a day, for 30 minutes each, one outside. I also added a box for taking my supplements, something that I’ve been trying to do everyday. I customized these 75 days to something that is challenging for me, but that also includes behavior changes that matter to me.

It is so freeing to realize that we don’t have to be beholden other people’s standards. You can modify the couch to 5K program and still run a 5k. You can still run a half-marathon if you miss a few training days. You can still make gains if you miss one workout a week. For those of you doing the MyZone challenge at the gym, you can compete against yourself to workout harder and earn more MEPS than you earned last month.

It’s certainly a balance, but you can fit these types of challenges around your needs. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

I’ll let you know where I’m at with my 75Firm challenge next week. :-)

Finding and recognizing your blessings

And this isn’t even all of us.

And this isn’t even all of us.

I walked over and knelt beside his casket.

I find this tradition odd, but coming from a big family, familiar. You kneel in front of an open casket to pay your final respects. I find it impossible to really think or pray in those moments – looking over at my loved one who doesn’t really look like themselves any more – words often escape me.

I’d planned my trip to Cleveland in April, not long after burying my dad’s oldest brother. I wanted to spend time with my dad’s sister and her husband and all of my cousins in Ohio. As I see mortality set in to the generation ahead of me, I find myself desperate to squeeze in more time with them – fearful each time I leave that this was the last time I’d see them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it in time to visit with my Uncle John, as he passed before I arrived in Cleveland.

And so I was here for a funeral instead of a visit.

My Uncle John was a big man with a booming voice who filled a room with his presence. Sheila’s strongest memory of him is when he threw a chicken wing at her from across the room at my brother’s rehearsal dinner.

Don’t worry, I said. It means he likes you.

And he did.

He loved me for who I was. All of my family does. And for that, I’ll always be grateful beyond words.

There has been a lot of loss for me and my family in the past year or so. This is the fifth family member I’ve lost in the past year and a half, and it’s the third time since October that my dad’s family has gathered for a funeral.

But even so, the word I keep coming back to this morning is blessed.

I am blessed with family I consider to be friends.

On Friday, after my Uncle’s funeral, we gathered for a day long party at my cousins. We laughed. We played games. We swam. We told stories. Later in the evening my dad and his remaining siblings played the guitar and sang before giving it up to my brother and cousin who did the same.

My niece snuggled next to me as we sat in front of the fire and I looked around, determined to soak it all in - the smell of the fire, the sounds of my cousin family - the warm summer night.

My first cousins are not distant people to me. I mean sure, if I counted all of my cousins – my dad had over 100 first cousins and my mom almost as many – I don’t even know all of them. But my first cousins were my first friends. They were my early baby sitters. They snuck me my first beers and egged me to play the guitar at a family reunion years ago.

They came to my wedding.

They all love me for who I am.

I have said before that if there is a cost to aging, then loss is the price of admission. And it becomes harder and harder to watch my family grow smaller.

But during the funeral, as we once again mourned my uncle to the words of “On Eagles Wings” I looked around at the next generations – mine and beyond – and thought about how blessed I am.

Loss is the toughest when you’ve loved with the entirety of your heart.

So I settle in with the loss – with the shrinking of a family – and try to think of the good fortune I have. That I have the blessing of having loved, and being so completely loved, by so many people.

What if we stopped talking about food as good or bad?

A few weeks ago, Sheila and I were out to dinner.

One of my favorite things is to try new restaurants and new atmospheres. I can’t really cook all that well, but I’ve become a bit of a foodie and Maine has no shortage of great restaurants to try.

On this particular night we found a good spot in Falmouth and settled in for our meals, when I ordered a Cobb salad.

I’m trying to be good, I’d said to Sheila, who hadn’t asked.

We continued on with our meal, and enjoyed a nice conversation before strolling out to the car, walking slowly and enjoying the warm summer night., We got into the car and before she started the engine, she stopped for a minute and looked at me.

This image by my friend and wild life photographer Joe Chandler doesn’t have anything to do with food - but it’s awfully adorable.

This image by my friend and wild life photographer Joe Chandler doesn’t have anything to do with food - but it’s awfully adorable.

“You know, when you say that you’re trying to be good with your food, it makes me feel like my choices are bad.”

Ohhhhhh suh-nap.

Upon reflection, I realized that I was doing this all of the time. How many of us have this same dichotomous view of food? Broccoli is good, pasta is bad. Grilled chicken is good, ice cream is bad. It’s a great way to make you and the people around you feel awful.

I try so hard to pay attention to language. I try to remind clients every day to not minimize their achievements.

I only did three sets.

No, you did three sets.

It’s just one pushup.

No, it’s one pushup.

The thing about food though, is that I don’t think half of us pay attention to the way we talk about it. It’s not just saying that food is good or bad – I’ve also caught myself saying– upon eating a bowl of ice cream or chocolate snack at work, “good thing I worked out today.”

Or, “I’m going to need to workout now that I’ve eaten this.”

No.

We don’t need to earn our food, and we don’t need to punish ourselves for the food we do eat. We also don’t need to talk about our food in a way that shames other people.

I had a conversation with a client last week who was out to breakfast with her friends. One of those friends was on a diet and the way she talked about her food and what she was going to order affected everyone else at the table.

She didn’t just turn down the toast with her eggs – she turned down the toast and offered the commentary that toast had so many carbs.

“It’s a restaurant you go to once a summer,” the client said. “And I was absolutely ordering the stuffed French toast - I’d been looking forward to it. But her commentary affected everyone else at the table and made the whole experience less enjoyable.”

We don’t know what someone else’s struggles are. We don’t know what someone else’s situation is. But when we make unsolicited commentary on everything we eat, it can have unintended results.

Ever since Sheila’s comment to me about “being good,” I’ve caught myself saying that phrase a hundred times. And each time now, I remind myself that my language matters.

Language always matters.

F*** the scale

Pardon my inference of profanity there.

But seriously.

I’ve been in a sprint mode these past four weeks with my fitness and nutrition. Not only am I coaching several clients in an online nutrition program* - I’ve been really focusing on my own anchor habits - eating slowly, eating until I’m 80% full, and hitting at least 100 grams of protein every day.

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I’ve been tracking my food, increasing my workouts, and yesterday I came in to the gym feeling pretty darn good about myself.

Then I got on the scale we have.

Before I go on about how I almost put a stick of dynamite on the scale and launched it into a 50th anniversary trip to the moon:

I am and have always been fairly lean and I’ve never struggled with my weight. But I still have my own goals with fitness, and I certainly still have body image struggles. I’d love to say that I’m immune, but I’m just not.

So yesterday……

The scale said I’d gained two pounds of fat and lost a pound of muscle.

I was seething.

The string of expletives that came out of my mouth would have caused my mother to slap my face for a month. (Sorry Mom, that I said all of the things).

I mean if the scale didn’t cost thousands of dollars, I’d have taken it out to the parking lot and driven Doug’s F150 over it. Then I’d have take a sledge hammer to it, danced a fing polka with a three ton moose on it, before throwing the ever loving piece of **** on I95 for all of the summer traffic to drive over.

Until December.

Because what the *^%*&?

It was really hard not to let the results ruin my day.

But then, as I was sitting in my corner in the gym lobby (no really, there’s a sign, I have my own corner), stewing on my scale results - I put my elbows on the bar and my head in my hands.

This process takes work. I know this process takes work.

And I’m not talking about the work it takes to get my nutrition on point or my workouts in for the week. That takes work too.

I’m talking about the work it takes every damn day to shift your perspective.

It is a daily practice to work on your mindset.

Accepting yourself, loving your body, and loving who you are is as much a daily practice as brushing your teeth.

It’s all good and fine for me to run over a scale with my car. And if your curious, I did that with the old scale from the gym - and yes - I also used a sledge hammer on said scale and it was very cathartic.



But it takes daily reminders and practices for me to love and accept myself for who I am now, and not who I will be when I lose more body fat or add more muscle. It’s a daily commitment and a daily job to love ourselves.

And dammit, it’s hard. Really really hard.

But it’s a daily practice, and we have to hold one another accountable to the process. So I’ll hold you accountable, and the next time you see me….

Maybe check to see that I haven’t started a dumpster fire with the scale.

I mean, just in case.


*I’m going to open a few additional spots in my program beginning in August. Shoot me an email at kim@kimlloydfitness if you want more information.

My five rules for adult hood

Today I decided to take a page out of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project - and list some of my rules for adulthood. Her rules are a little more set in stone, but as of July 2019, I’m sticking with these five for starters.

Please forgive any errors, as I’ve misplaced my progressives…..

1. Remember where I put my progressives

It is a weird, weird thing to have 20/20 vision your entire life, only to have the world gradually turn blurry. My parents both had reading glasses by the time they were 45 so it stood to reason the same would happen for me. I first realized the blurriness when I was snuggling Rooney and had to move my head further away for his nose to be in focus.

Now I’m playing trombone every time someone hands me a sheet of paper with a font less than 12pt.

Why does anyone need to print in a font less than 12 pt?

Also, I guess this isn’t so much a rule as it as a wish. And a need for a second pair of progressives….

1.5. Never pass up a chance to pee

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If you take nothing else from this post, remember this rule. It should actually be the first rule, but I’m not rearranging the order of my rules now, so I made this rule number one point five.

Because these are my rules dammit. (Sorry Mom, that I said dammit).

Pelvic floor health be damned (I’m swearing a lot here Mom, sorry), this lesson was never so important as during my many years traveling in vans and buses as both a player and a coach.

You think you don’t have to pee when everyone else does at that rest stop in rural New Mexico, but you can be damn sure you’ll have to go when you’re stuck in a traffic jam.

Or when the plane takes off and there’s turbulence and then the flight attendant is in the aisle and you spend most of the flight trying to decide when you should pee and whether or not to disrupt the sleeping man next to you….

3. Be kind, (but especially with coffee….)

Yesterday, I bought a coffee for the woman behind me at Starbucks. I’ve taken great pleasure in paying coffee forward at least once a month, and the range of reactions is fascinating. The very first time I paid for the drink of the lady in line behind me, she just stared at me suspiciously.

“Why are you buying my coffee?”

Because there’s not enough kindness in this world.

4. Take time to watch the fireflies.

Last night, after a long day at work I was climbing the stairs when Sheila called to me to come and look out our front window. There was a firefly, bouncing its way up and down the window, and behind it, about a dozen more. We shut off the lights and watched the dozens of fireflies in the field outside our house.

One of the great things about where we live is an abundance of fireflies and a very clear sky with bright stars.

Take time to watch the fireflies.

5. Give five hugs a day. (Or just one to start with)

This is a new rule and one that I think came from the book itself. Or a podcast. With a quick google search, hugs apparently can lower the risk of heart disease and your stress levels. Also according to the google, we need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth….but I’m going to start with at least one. And yes, my dog counts. (So I put on my progressives so I can better see his nose and I hug him).

You never know when someone’s hug tank is running low - so ask permission first, but give out more hugs.

Bonus rule - be silly.

I learned this one from my dad very early on. Have fun with words, read Dr. Seuss as an adult, watch cartoons, get down on the floor to play with kids, keep a chicken puppet named Weezy in your office drawer (third one down if you’re curious), but whatever you do, be silly and don’t take yourself too seriously.