“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end….”

Without being too cliché……I feel that it is no coincidence that this song came on my pandora this morning on my way to work:

Indeed

Indeed

And yes, I am at school before 7am….usually I’m at school by 6:15 (at the latest)…..

With a few minor hiccups in the last couple of days, I am sad to report that today is my last day at the school I’ve been teaching at.  (Read:  I haven’t been fired, my job just ended…the teacher was out on maternity leave)

Today has been a roller coaster of emotions – thus far.  I am sad and nervous and happy and confused.  ALL THE EMOTIONS.  FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS!

At this moment, I am waiting for a few of my students to come back to school and play Just Dance with me.  Yup – you read that correctly.  Some of my students are coming in – on their day off – to play a video game with me.  It’ll be nice to end the day on a positive note.

Elsewhere – I am just trying to maintain some semblance of positivity.  I didn’t workout yesterday – a much needed rest day – but am back to running 6 or 7 miles this afternoon.  Spin class tomorrow and running again on Sunday.

Lots going on – lots to be hopeful for…..I am lucky.  Not a day goes by where I don’t acknowledge that.

And I’m not talking about the Britney Spears album….because….well….as catchy as some of those songs are…..I just can’t with her…..I just……can’t.

“The Zone”, as I like to call it, can happen at any point – running, spinning, yoga, reading, writing, eating cake…..you know…the usual things.  There are many zones for people.  It’s that feeling you get when:

-you are truly focused on what you are doing

The Cake-centered Focus

-you block everything out and can actually FEEL good that you are making headway in something you’re working on

-you feel good all around

-nothing can distract you

In case you didn’t know….Chuck Palahniuk wrote “Fight Club”

It’s when I’m in MY zone that I feel amazing!  This happened to me during my run last night.

Surprisingly – I have been sleeping really well in the last few nights (unusual for me this time of year) and I have felt incredibly good all day.  Not sluggish or anything.  While I feel there is probably a different contributing factor to this…which I’ll talk about another day….I was up for a good run yesterday afternoon.

After practice – I took to my treadmill and made my way through 6 miles.  I probably could’ve kept going but I am trying to limit my running so I don’t overdo it.  I have had some issues with slight plantar fasciitis in my left foot and lately my left knee has been bothering me a bit.  Most likely from overuse – therefore I’ve decided to be an adult and not push myself to a breaking point.  I learned my lesson the hard way when I torn tendons in my left foot last year…..

But I digress……6 miles.  I got into my zone around 1.3 miles in.  I know this because I checked the treadmill.

So now you’re probably wondering, how did it feel for you?

You know how people talk about runner’s highs?  And those endorphins?  And all that jazz???

See that Quote?  Totes Magotes.

I do my best thinking during these runs when I am “in my zone”.  I feel the most accomplished.  Granted, yesterday I was on a treadmill but I still got the sense that I was accomplishing something.  I don’t think it always matters where you are when you’re doing it…just that you’re doing it.

I’ve been in the zone with writing before too….where hours will pass by and I’ll write 20 – 30 pages of whatever novel I’m working on at the time.  I love when that happens.

I get “lost” when I’m in the zone……

Questions for you:

When are you in the zone?

What are you doing when you are in your zone?

Do you even know what I’m talking about?? ha 🙂

Remember the time you went to workout and saw the lady with the 80’s fitness gear on….only to notice (and feel badly for) her boobs are hanging out….?

No?  Oh wait, that’s because it wasn’t you – it was me – and it happened yesterday.  :-/

Need a picture?  (it took so much of me to NOT take a picture of this lady)…..

Like these – only she wasn’t wearing a bra….and she didn’t fill it out quite like the people in this picture…..

Now – before you all go getting upset about me being judgmental…..that’s not the case.  I truly felt bad for her.  People were snickering at the gym.  I was just doin my thing on the treadmill.  If that’s what she wants to wear – more power to her for feeling confident enough to do it.

I did, however, start to make a list in my head of things people should probably NOT wear to the gym.

How many of you have seen people at the gym in jeans?  Or even sandals?  Don’t lie – you know you have….

Obviously, you should workout in whatever you feel most comfortable in….but that doesn’t mean it’s the best.  Workout clothes are designed to help your skin breathe.  All of those sports clothing manufacturers don’t employ people to think of new technology to help with clothing and comfort for nothing…..I’m just sayin’.

So here is my list of no-no’s for gym attire – at least – if you’re actually at the gym to WORK OUT…..

1.  I think this goes without saying but – Jeans.

First of all – it’s one thing to go to the gym for a quick 20 minutes and “pump some iron” and I can see the reasonability if you really don’t have time to change your clothes but if you are going to the gym between the hours of 6am and 8am or 4pm and 8pm on a weeknight…..you are probably not too jammed for time.

This chick didn’t even change her top OR shoes!

2.  Which leads me to my next no-no:  Dress shoes and/or sandals.

Now listen, there ARE some sandals that people can wear to run/cross train.  Heck, there are even sandals that can be worn when biking.  But really?  REALLY.  What is this all about?  You find sandals and/or dress shoes more comfortable than sneakers?  Don’t even get me started on the ladies who I’ve seen wandering around the gym in high heels.  Oh – it happens.

Ladies….WHY?!?!!

Here’s a combo of BOTH!

3.  Wearing anything that doesn’t breathe.

One would certainly hope that when you are heading to the gym, the goal is to sweat – even just a little.  The good thing is that there are plenty of lower cost breathable clothes out there (Thank you, Target!)  When I first started to workout – I didn’t like clothes that “stuck to me”.  I tended to wear a lot of cotton t-shirts and mesh shorts.  While there is nothing wrong with that outfit combo – I found a few issues with it:  1.  I am a heavy sweater (wool, in fact!) and because of this – my t-shirt would end up soaked.  If I wanted to lift after a run, I’d have to go change my shirt and/or I’d get cold really easily.  2.  The sweat lines were unsightly – let’s be real here, no one wants to see your sweat stains.  3.  I found myself rolling up my shirts or pulling down my shorts because everything was just a bit out of place.  As a result – I turned to tight fitting workout clothes that were incredibly breathable and it was AWESOMESAUCE!

Not Pictured: ME – plus I don’t look like ANY of these people in real life

4.  MAKEUP/BIG JEWELRY/HEAVY PERFUME

OHHHHHHH doggy.  Are you ready for this one?  This is listed under my pet peeves.  WOMEN or men (I don’t judge) who wear makeup to the gym.  WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING?!  First of all, it’s really bad for your skin to wear makeup and then sweat….do you know what that does to your pores??  Hellllllooooo blackheads.  Also….why?  Just……WHY?????  I think I basically make my point with these two pictures:

So now my questions for you are:

Did I miss anything?

What bothers you at the gym?

What would you have done with the lady in the 80’s gear?  I mean, no lie – I could see her boobies…..no lie.

 

Subject for discussion:  Working Out When You’re Tired

Question:  Yes or No?

Obviously there is some debate.  In my experience, I’ve found that I always feel better after a workout – even if I am tired.  But then there is the double edged sword – you could make yourself more tired and then not be able to do it the next.  OR there is always the possibility that you go to workout, even when you’re tired, and can’t work as hard as you’d like.

Thoughts???

People who know me well know that I don’t take many days off – I do better at scheduling them in now than I used to but there is something about having done a workout that gives me a sense of accomplishment that I can’t get anywhere else.

Some days, I am just incredibly tired.

Some days, I start to feel tired as the day winds down.

Some days, I am anxious to get in my workout.

Lately, it’s been the second of the three.  Thankfully.

When it’s the first of these three, I typically will not exercise that day.  Usually this occurs at the end of the day.

When it’s the second of these three, I typically go to the gym and tell myself “if I still don’t want to do this after 2 miles, I will stop”…..I usually don’t stop.

If it’s the last of these three, I am usually running somewhere after school or doing a double workout.

Yesterday….it was a combination of #2 – which led to #3.

It was my last full day at school yesterday so I was a bit emotionally drained.  It’s tough to stay “up” for the kids when you know you’re going to miss them so much.  Needless to say, I had a spin class to teach last night and I knew I’d have an hour or so to kill beforehand.

I decided I’d run BEFORE spin class.  And I did.  It took me nearly 3.5 miles to find my stride but I did 5.5 easy (Sunday I did 6 at an 8 min pace – which is fast for me these days).  I then felt SO good that I cranked it up during Spin class and kicked my own butt.  It felt good to sweat as much as I did.

Say what you want about sweating (which I admit, I do quite a lot of….don’t judge)….but it’s good for you, it means you’re fit, it also means you’re healthy, and above all else – I know I’ve kicked ass when I sweat.

By the end of the night – I felt accomplished.  Tired, yes…..but a helluva lot better about myself and that I am going to definitely reach my goals sooner rather than later.

Questions for all of you:

Do you still workout when you are tired?

Do you sweat when you workout?  If now, how do you know you got a good workout?

What do you do if you don’t workout?

Taking a detour from my typical workout post….just doing some reflection this Sunday…..

“I shall miss these things when it all rolls by…”~Dave Matthews Band

Quick question:  Who likes endings?

Here are my feelings about endings…..(in bullet point form…because it’s a bullet point kind of day)

Reasons Endings are Good:

  • They leave you feeling accomplished – like when you complete a project (ie, putting together that incredibly difficult piece of IKEA furniture with the single Allen Wrench they give you)
  • YUP

  • They create space for new beginnings – like when you finish training for a race and do that race, you are able to begin another training regimen OR just sit your but on the couch.  OR, give you opportunity to just relax.

  • How do I say this without seeming harsh….CLOSURE.

Things I dislike about Endings:

  • Sometimes, they come unexpectedly and you are not prepared for them….

  • Sometimes, we lose the things that are most dear to us….well, maybe not lose but they are no longer a daily occurance

So what am I getting at?

This week will be full of endings and beginnings.  This is my last week at the teaching job I’ve had since the beginning of the year.  I can not even begin to describe how bummed I am about it.  Don’t get me wrong – I am incredibly grateful and thankful for the experience and I have loved EVERY MOMENT of it – even the days that were trying (which there were really only about two of those).

In the last five months, my life has been incredibly hectic, insane, boring, trying, scary, happy, overwhelming, awesome, and (most of all) amazing.  While all of those were not emotions experienced at the same time – I can truly tell you I LOVE being a teacher.  I will miss my students.  I will miss the purpose that I had set forth every day.  Although it is an ending – I am hopeful for new beginnings and opportunities around the corner.

I am a firm believer in life figuring out a way to work itself out.  It always does.  One of my favorite axioms is:

My dad used to tell me that all the time when I was in high school and college.  He still, on occasion, reminds me of this.

Life is a constant series of endings and beginnings…..whether it’s with a job….relationships….friends….training regimen’s……etc.  We are all just trying our best…..

I am hopeful that my best puts me in a position where many beginnings arise from this ending.

 

It’s snowy and icy up here in the Northeast/Philly Area.  I went out for my Wawa coffee this morning and could not get my car back up the HUGE hill that I live on.  For now, it’s chillin’ at the bottom.  Dedicated for my morning coffee….that’s me 🙂

Speaking of dedication – I’d like to take a moment and reflect on this concept.

I recently read an OP/ED piece from The Washington Post Online about teaching and the dedication that many teachers have.  The title of the article is called, “I would love to teach but…”  If you have a moment – read it.  It’s long but it’s totally worth it.  The basic gist is that teachers are no longer allowed to teach anymore…and conversely, students aren’t willing to try….in turn….parents want their kids to receive a grade without the effort put in.  The whole concept boils down to the idea that “we can’t let these kids fail”.  Why not?  WHY NOT?!

Just to give some perspective about failure:

And yes, I am familiar with the concept of giving students the opportunity to improve – jesus, that’s all I want!  I want them to TRY.  I want them to WANT to succeed.  I want to help them build an innate desire to be the best they can be.  So many questions – in my mind – rise from this:  Why should I put the effort in for them if they don’t put the effort in for me?  Why do I even bother?  What is the point?  To these questions and many more – the simple reason is – I CARE.  And I care about the outcome of the youth of today.

So if we’re allowing them to learn mediocrity and teaching them that even if they don’t turn in a paper or don’t do their work they will still pass….we are basically teaching them that the real world is like this too.  W. T. F.  It’s not.

Listen.  I am not a pessimist.  In fact, my friend Paul would tell you that I am fortunate to not have experienced the worst of the worst.  And yet, even amongst some of the best students and smartest in many schools I’ve taught in – this concept of getting something for nothing still exists.

In case I’ve lost you – I do have a point to all of this……

If I were apply this same idea of mediocrity and complacency when it came to my desire to improve my well-being (i.e. my athletic ability and/or my body in general), would this work?  Everyone knows the answer is No.

You do not get six-pack abs by eating nachos, fries, and a variety of other unhealthy foods.  You do not get a toned body by sitting on the couch all day and maybe getting up to go to fridge/bathroom/etc.  You do not get a longer-life span* by willing it to happen.  And you sure as hell don’t get a perfect body(relatively speaking) without hard work.

All my life – I’ve struggled to maintain my body.  Some friends and family know the details behind that but in truth – I didn’t get ANYTHING without working for it.  I attribute my dedication and hard work to the lessons I learned in school.  If I wanted an A – I had to work for it.  If I got a B or a C or even, yes, a D….I NEVER ONCE got angry with my teacher.  How is what I did or didn’t do, my teachers fault?  I was the one taking the tests; I was the one writing the papers; I was the one studying or not studying; I was the one who did a half-assed job.  How was that my teachers fault?

And when you read these  inspiring quotes – do they only apply to education?  THEY APPLY TO EVERYTHING.

I feel as though many people are missing the concept of what real education is for.  Yes.  I love to teach Shakespeare (Billy is my man!), Chaucer, Steinbeck, Emerson, Thoreau, etc…..and I love to teach the concepts behind their writing.  But my main goal – right now – as a teacher – and I think always will be – is to teach kids to work hard, try, do their best, be kind, and take a moment to realize that they are in training for the rest of their lives.

I feel this way EVERY DAY when I run, swim, bike, do yoga, crossfit, or whatever other activity I get in to.  I am not training for tomorrow….or just for the series of races I’ve signed up for.  I am training to STAY healthy.  I am training to BE healthy.  I am training to BE successful.

I can only hope I am teaching my students the same thing.

Since my weeks and days typically end up to be busier than I anticipate, I have taken to several new habits but in the old styles I’ve done them….

For example……I still make my lunch for school…but I do it the night before.  When school started, I used to make it in the morning.

While that’s a pretty mundane example, I still realize that I am moreso a creature of habit.  I prefer schedules.  I prefer organization.  I crave order.  Mostly.

Totes Magotes

Because of this, I’ve changed up my workout regimen as well as my sleeping patterns.

On a good day – I am usually asleep by 9pm.  On a great day – I am asleep by 8:30pm.  On an exceptional day – I am asleep by 8pm.  All of these times are arbitrary based on my level of organization from earlier in the day.  So basically if I am not finished all my “stuff” – I am not in bed until after it is completed.

I used to feel as though it was necessary to do EVERYTHING all at once.  I’ve gotten a lot better at squeezing things in a various times.  For example, I love to get to school INCREDIBLY early – like 6:15 early (and as I write this I do realize I am just like my mother, who gets to school around the same time I do….different schools).  During the hour before most of the kids arrive, I like to enjoy the quiet.  I catch on any copying or grading or prep that I need to do.  This is essentially ME time.  Weird?  Maybe.  But I love sitting with my coffee, in the quiet, and planning out  my day.

Because I now coach in the afternoons – my workouts have been pushed back to start around 5pm instead of the usual 3:30pm.  I’ll be updating you all on any new playlists and revelations I’ve had during crossfit.  The first revelation I’ve had in the last few weeks – I have NO core strength and my hip flexors are weak as $h%t.

I am still running – not nearly as much as I was for the marathon.  I am also teaching spinning – which I still LOVE.

This was my latest playlist for classes this week:

Screen shot 2014-01-01 at 7.49.32 PM

My new favorite song is #10 – Hell and Back by The Airborne Toxic Event.  It’s on the Dallas Buyer’s Club Soundtrack.  I leave it for you to enjoy on this second day of the new year.