Friday, August 29, 2014

What fills your bucket?

So, I turned 39 this week. There, I said it. We will have a moment of silence as I reflect on the fact that I will shortly be leaving my 30's (aka: the best decade of my life thus far).___________________________________________________________________
Now let us move on.

Can we just talk about this for a minute:

 I guess if getting older has taught me one thing it is this: to work to reach my own potential, not the potential I wish I had. 

I am mediocre at a lot of things. I am not trying to be humble when I say that. It is instead simply the truth. I have tried many, many things in my 39 years. Sometimes I am good at them, mostly I am just okay. I got good grades in school but was not valedictorian by any means. I sang in my high school concert choir, but was never considered worthy of a solo. I have written a couple of novels. One even reached the top 50 best-seller list for its genre on Amazon. But I know I will never write a New York Times Best Seller. Again, not trying out a false humility. I am just being honest here. And I am fine with all of that.

I run. I like to run. I enjoy the community of runners. I do not run fast, or all that far for that matter. I will likely never qualify for Boston or run an ultra marathon. Nor do I really care to. I do not win races or earn sponsors. I do, however, try. And for my efforts sometimes I am met with a reward of some sort, a PR, a runner's high,  eating lots of bread without any hint of guilt. And I am satisfied with that. Sure, there are times when I wish I could run sub 7 minute miles--heck, I'd like to regularly run sub 8 minute miles. But that is not the point of running. That is not why I do what I do. I do what I do to strive for my own potential. To fill my bucket of joy. And if I'm constantly measuring that against what fills someone else's bucket I will never find happiness. There comes a time when we have to be satisfied with what is in our bucket and stop wishing for more.

I have a dear, sweet friend who has dieted and obsessed over every morsel of food she eats for the last 20 years. Once when I asked her why she replied that she didn't want to end of up looking like her mother (who looks just fine in my opinion). I was saddened. She has been sacrificing joy out of fear of comparison. (Not that food is joy, but I really do see a desperation in her that has to hamper her ability to fill her bucket with joy.) I wish I could express to her the need to celebrate her healthy body today instead of living in a future that hasn't happened yet. I figure the only guarantee I have is today. I'd better like what I have, who I am, what I'm doing today or else I have nothing--an empty bucket.

It's hard not to be competitive in this world we live in. With social media--media in general--it is nearly impossible not to compare every aspect of our lives with what we see from others'. But the truth is, as cliche as it sounds, comparison really is the thief of joy. Most of what we see is illusion anyway. What I'd like to know is how would our lives change if in order to pick up one admirable trait from another person we had to pick up every other trait as well? By that I mean what if in order to have the six-pack abs of that swim-suit model, we had to go through the years of adolescent torment she endured for being seven inches taller than everybody in her 8th grade class. What if in order to have the generous nature of our neighbor, we had to go through twenty years of financial hardship she suffered when her husband lost his job and walked out on the family? What if in order to run as fast as that first-place finisher, we had to grow up in the same abusive house she did, spending our nights running in order to escape a volatile home? Do not wish for what you do not have.

My point is this: We each have been endowed with our own gifts that have been sifted through our own experience and refined by the work we have done to improve them. They are unique to just us--only us. There is no use in comparing any aspect of our lives with those of others'. The only potential we can reach is our own. And there is no such thing as perfection, just progress.

The end.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top of Utah Half Marathon

I'm kinda embarrassed to show you this picture. But I can make fun of myself, so here goes. . .

What the heck am I doing with my hands? My daughter snapped this picture as I crossed the finish line at the Top of Utah Half Marathon. I didn't know she was there. I didn't know anyone was there. Needless to say, I was pleasently surprised. In fact, the entire race was filled with pleasent surprises.

If you will remember, the night before the race was wet, cold, miserable. Packet pick up took place at a park, where the finish line would be the next day. The staff and volunteers were set up under a pavilion, but for the most part, the entire affair took place under a slow and steady drizzle of cold rain. To be honest, I wasn't excited about the race the next morning and was really bummed about racing in the rain.

I met up with my sister for the packet pickup, then we went to a little carb-loading party with a few of her friends. We snarfed down plates of pasta before ditching the party to go watch my niece perform a drill team routine at her high school football half time--in the rain. It was miserable. I was excited to head back to our Cache Valley vacation home for a good night of sleep.

I woke up before my 4:30 a.m. alarm, brushed my teeth, slapped on some mascara, and dressed in some Old Navy compression capris and an Under Armor t-shirt.

Breakfast was cinnimon swirl toast and half a banana, washed down with 12 ounces of Coke Zero--I swear by this breakfast before every race. Then we bundled up and headed out just in time to catch the 5:45 a.m. bus to the start.

The Top of Utah people put on a good race. Everything was organized and ran smoothly. There were plenty of port-a-potties at the start, finish, and along the route. 

We started 7 miles up Blacksmith Fork canyon in Hyrum, Utah. I was worried about the cold and rain from the night before, but thankfully we woke up to clearing skies!

My sister was pacing the race for a friend, so my sis-in-law Janelle and I ditched her at the starting line. I had gone with a goal if beating 2 hours but secretly hoped to break 1:56. With how cold it was, I didn't know if that would be possible. So, Janelle and I started out at a comfortable pace. It rained between miles 2 and 3, but then steadily cleared as we moved down the canyon. I was still comfortable at mile 7, but knew it was time for fuel. I packed some Clif Bloks and breath mints and carried my own water in a Nathan handheld.

I had been running with Janelle, chatting and enjoying the race to this point. But around mile 8, Janelle started having trouble with her back. I didn't want to push her, but, you know, I had a goal. So I struck out on my own. I had been warned that between miles 10 and 12 the road has an uphill grade. But to be honest I didn't really feel any hills, the grade was so slight. At mile 11 I checked my Garmin and realized I was well within my goal time. My handheld had run out if water so at mile 12 I took a cup and walked a few paces while I drank. I have to say that felt soooo good. 

Regardless of how good the break felt, mile 12 felt endless. I could see the finish line for about a full half mile! What the...? I finally crossed at 1:54--can't remember the seconds. I grabbed my medal and headed toward the food tent for some water. That's when I saw my family. I thought they were all still sleeping. I was so happy to see them and wanted to hang out at the finish for a while, but I was freezing! So as soon as Janelle and Mindy came through, I was ready to go.

I never like my finishline photos, but I like this memory with my girls.

Later that afternoon I was sitting with my husband and had the craziest thought ever. I actually said to him, "I clearly remember taking the bus up the canyon to the start, but I can't remember how we got back down." I guess I was a little tired.

All in all, it was a great race for me. I'm happy with my time and can't wait to crush it at the Big Cottonwood Half in September!

Friday, August 22, 2014

I can't believe I'm doing this...

The half marathon I've been planning on all summer is tomorrow! The problem with planning for a race (as opposed to signing last minute like I usually do) is that you have time to set goals and form expectations.

Yep. I have done just that. I've been planning on a PR all summer and, until yesterday, felt prepared. Then I heard the weather report.

See that thunder cloud? That means rain. Now, I don't exactly live in a rain forest. Rain here in the great state of Utah usually feels more like a spritz than a shower. But this time if year, aka monsoon season in the desert, when the forecast calls for rain you'd better be prepared for a flash flood.

I don't love running in "weather." A gentle rain would be fine, but a thunderstorm? Not so much. So I'm packing, but I feel really unprepared.

Hurry! I need your help! What do I need to pack for a race in the rain? Rain jacket or poncho? 
Any tips to keep a runner comfy and dry? 
What should I expect racing in the rain?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

All it takes is 15 minutes...

We all know that sagging feeling between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (at least that's when my energy seems to drop off). And we've all adopted our own ways, for better or for worse, to pep ourselves up mid-day. I've learned that for me nothing works better than physical activity. Whether it's some yoga stretches or a quick 1-mile sprint around the block, sometimes all it takes is 10 or 15 minutes to wake up and re-energize.

Lately I've been liking high intensity interval training (hiit). It's pretty simple; just set a timer and work HARD for 50 seconds and rest for 10. 
This workout is simple; nothing complicated here. Just set a timer and go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Three Important Tips for Monitoring Intake

There was a time in my life when I weighed myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I don't know why exactly; It was just a habit. But at times I did feel like a slave to the scale. If I saw one, I had to step on it. After my first pregnancy that all stopped. I just quit weighing myself. I fell out of the habit partially due to the fact that weighing myself brought on unreal expectations for that pregnancy/post-partem phase.

Well, that was fifteen years ago. I am a little older now, have had four pregnancies since and have gained and lost a combined total of about (because I don't really weigh myself, this number is an estimate based on the doctor's scale)110 pounds throughout the course of all of those pregnancies. I have learned not to judge myself by a number but rather by the way I feel.

Lately, I've been feeling uncomfortable. I've been feeling, for lack of a better word, fluffy. Soft, I guess. Whenever I feel this way I know it's time to check in with myself--not with my weight, but with my eating habits. I know I've got the exercise thing down. I NEVER skip a workout, keep the workouts varied, and make sure I do at least some strength training. What I don't do is monitor my food intake. Sometimes monitoring food intake can lead to obsessive or compulsive behavior, and believe me, I want nothing to do with any of that. But there are times when we all need to check in with ourselves. How is my nutrition? What am I missing? What am I getting too much of? To do this, I enlist three tools: food labels, measuring cups, a food diary.

1. Food Labels. Do you ever read these things? I'm sure you do. Food labels are an important tool for monitoring your nutrition. Knowing what a serving size is is just as important as knowing what is in the food you eat. If you don't understand what a portion is, then the rest of the numbers on the label don't really matter. If the "serving size" is vague (listed in ounces or grams) measure it for yourself. You can buy a food scale for as little as $5 or $10 at Target or Wal-Mart. Learn the serving sizes of the foods you eat most.

2. Measuring Cups and Spoons. This is a no-brainer. Instead of using serving spoons at meals, I use measuring cups to serve food. I use measuring cups for pouring cereal, measuring spoons for making cookies, and so forth. This way, I know how much I'm serving and can check this against the food label so I can see exactly how much I'm taking in. Measuring cups not available? You can use your hands as a portion guide.

Check out this "handy" portion guide from Precision Nutrition.

3. Food Diary.  This is usually my first word of advice to anyone trying to loose weight. Sometimes I munch all day long, not really paying attention to what I'm putting in my face. Then, at the end of the day, I feel bloated and uncomfortable. Using a food diary helps stop that mindless munching. I like My Fitness Pal app, but a simple notebook works fine too. An act as simple as picking up a pen every time you pick up a piece of food can go a long way in any weight-loss plan. For me this is just a short-term tool--something I do for maybe one week, just to bring mindfulness to my eating habits. Also, journalling how you feel along with what you eat can alert you to allergies or sensitivities.

I've been using these tips this week to help get rid of the frumpy, tired, bloated feeling and so far, so good. Hopefully I'll be back to my energetic self by Saturday in time to rock Top of Utah!

What are your best diet tips?
What are your goals for this week?
Anyone else running a race this weekend?

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Love to Taper!

Next week is the Top of Utah Half Marathon. I know for so many runners a half marathon ain't no thang. But for me it's huge. I ran my first half ten years ago. And HATED it. HATED! I didn't want to run again after that experience. EVER. After struggling through 13.1 miles at a slow (for me) pace of 10:30 I felt defeated when I arrived at the finish line about ready to heave. I thought maybe running wasn't for me. It took years for me to realize that not all races are the same. This particular race was 100% uphill, ever-so slightly, but up hill just the same. Who does that? Who creates a race that's up hill the whole way? Needless to say, this race is no longer in existence. Also needless to say, I am exited to run a half in which the first 7 miles are downhill.

Also, in my obviously inadequate training for that first half marathon, I failed to taper, running hard (for me) up to the day of the race. I didn't understand training, thinking I just needed to run more miles. Now I get it. I've felt the results of appropriate training and learned how vital the taper is.

The idea of reducing mileage leading up to a race is a hard one for many runners to get their minds around. It can play games with your head when cutting a regular 40 mile week down to 25. But it's important to let your muscles rest, rebuild glycogen stores, and mentally reboot. I appreciate running so much more when I'm not worried about getting in all the workouts prescribed on a training schedule. By the and of most weeks I feel slow, heavy, and inflamed. At the end of a taper I feel energized, light, rested. And let me tell you, that is exactly how you want to feel going into a race.

I also have more time. And that is one thing everyone can appreciate. Am I right?
Just this morning, I took the kids to the dentist. NO CAVITIES! YAY!
Then we took a jaunt to the farmers' market

Peaches are the best this time of year. I can't wait to sink my teeth into these beauties.

Then we diverted to Fiiz for a treat because NO CAVITIES!

The Dirty Diet Dr. Pepper tasted sooo good!

And now I get to re-energize my afternoon with this routine:

I love tapering! 
I'm off to Cache Valley again for the weekend where I will do just one easy run with hubby for fun!

What are you weekend plans?
What's your favorite thing to buy at the farmers' market?
Ever been to Fiiz or Swig or something like that?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Enough of the heavy

Last night's post was a little heavy. Important, but heavy. Enough of that! That combined with some research the hubby was doing and I was up way too late. Nevertheless, I got up and ran the extra mile this morning. My mind came to an agreement with my legs that we would do five easy miles and call it good. But after four miles my energy was starting to pick up. Five miles turned to six and we called it good. I try to listen to my my body when it's asking for a break.

A green smoothie with chia seeds and an egg filled my belly this morning. But don't think I didn't sneak a cookie to fill a craving later on.

I'll be spending some time with my yoga mat this afternoon for this quick pick-me-up:

I'm counting down the days until the Top of Utah Half Marathon next Saturday. Really, I'm excited for the taper next week. I'm not the best at sticking to a training plan. I run every day anyway. But I WILL taper, cause nothing feels worse than trying to compete on tired, heavy legs.

What's your next race?
What do you do to boost your energy?
What's your favorite asana?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All the things we should have said ...

Trapped inside my memories, all the things I would spill to the world if circumstances were different. With the tragic passing of Robin Williams I feel the prompt to write about a subject I want to broach each and every day, but can't. I have held it close to the breast (at least on social media, those I know in real life are very familiar with this story) for the sake of the precious family involved. Today, I will do it. But because there are those who wish this story be kept quiet, I will change names and other identifiers as needed.

I know of depression. I know all too well about addiction. And I know that secrets grow darker when they are buried and hidden. 
This week marks the three-year anniversary of the death of someone very close to me. I loved this person. We will call him The Colonel. He was my best friend and I talked to him every day.
The Colonel and I didn't grow up together, but we had shared history, we confided in each other and understood each other in a way any old common friendship would not allow.

The Colonel confessed to me on more than one occasion his deepening depression, his desire to be healed, and his struggle with self-medicating.

He talked to me about the Hole, the hollowness, the darkness he first recognized at the young age of nine. He talked of a desperation, an urgent need to fill the Hole. And, left in a troubled home, how at that tender age he first began experimenting with alcohol.

I had known for years about his adolescent dalliances with drugs and alcohol. His cigarette smoking at the age of 12 couldn't be hidden and was, therefore, common knowledge.
But he beat all that. He gave up drugs, alcohol and tobacco at the age of 20. That's when we began to grow close. He became a beloved member of our family.

Sure, I knew there were still issues. Too much cold medicine on occasion. Constant complaints about a back injury. An obsession with watching Cops and Intervention, shows of that sort. Sometimes his behavior was erratic, his laughter too loud, his moods strangely intense. But most of the time he was lovable, kind, the life of the party. And that's what we all choose to remember.

But I feel the need to tell more, to tell the truth. 

The truth is, he later confessed to me, the Hole never went away. The truth was he'd never truly given up his dependency. I listened to him confess his feelings. A legitimate back injury had led to the use and later abuse of prescription medications. Before long he was doing ANYTHING to get more. I talked to him about treatment options, presenting him with any information I could find. He turned it all down stating he'd tried it all before and it never helped. I cheered him on as he attempted a 12-step program, only to quit with only four weeks left. I prayed for him and with him and stuck by his side as his depression began to spiral out of control.

Then the bomb dropped. I got a call from an old friend and neighbor who informed me that The Colonel had been caught breaking into a neighboring house in search of narcotics.
"What should we do?" she asked. "You know him and his family best."
I wasted no time, not a second of hesitation. "Call the police."

Can you see why this has been kept in the dark? Can you understand why we've been asked not to talk about this? He was a father, a scout leader, active in his community. Think of the shame.
The police came, took him down to the station, did all the stuff they do there with first-time offenders, and let him go back home.

I confronted him the next day. Again I presented him and his wife with treatment options, real solutions I felt. They were rejected. Again, they "wouldn't help."

So I did the only other thing I thought I had in my power--I severed my relationship with The Colonel, telling him that if he couldn't accept help, I couldn't continue to support him. What followed was a month of mental anguish. Had I done the right thing? Would my "shunning" help him in any way? It was a long, quiet month with no contact with someone I'd previously seen or talked to every day.

One morning I received a phone call from The Colonel's bishop (LDS clergy leader) asking me if I knew where The Colonel was. Why on earth would I know where he was? I hadn't spoken to him in a month.

Turns out The Colonel was in jail. His wife posted bail later that morning and he returned home with future court dates on schedule. He'd done it again, broken into a house in search of ANYTHING to fill the Hole. Seems my "shunning" hadn't done a thing. I was heart broken. A sick feeling blew up in my gut. This wasn't good. "This doesn't end well," became a common expression for those of us who loved The Colonel. Still, I kept my distance, determined that I would hold out my support until he accepted the help he needed. Though my heart ached badly and I missed our daily interactions, I felt I was doing the right thing.

Over time I have learned to listen to my gut, to trust the quiet urgings of the Spirit. So when I felt the prompt to drive over the The Colonel's house one day, I listened. I rang the doorbell unsure of why I was there or what I would say if/when he answered the door. I was surprised what came out of my mouth when I saw him. "Come to my house, please." And he did, though begrudgingly. What happened that evening ended up comforting us through the hard months that followed.

All the pleading by that point was over. There was no begging him back from the ledge he was standing on. We didn't know it so much as we felt it. That night together, standing around in the kitchen, my family said goodbye. Of course not in so many words. We said instead, "We love you. We want you happy and well. We want to continue to see the best side of you. We want The Colonel in our lives."

Three weeks went by and I didn't talk to him. He didn't call me. I didn't call him. I prayed daily for change. I'm sure he did too. But those prayers fly up easily but only come to fruition through sincere, hard work. As it was, days and weeks passed and I'm not sure any real effort was made.

On a humid summer day I passed through the automated doors into the cool air-conditioning of Super Target. I was shopping for printer ink cartridges, of all the mundane things, when my cell phone rang. It was him, his number anyway. His name popped up on the screen and I thrilled thinking how long it had been since he'd reached out to me for anything. I quickly answered the phone.

Hey, you.

Fiauna? Something's wrong with my dad.

It wasn't The Colonel, but his pre-teen daughter.

What's wrong?

He's all purple and blue. You need to come here fast.

And that's how it happens. That's how your world comes to a crashing halt, how time comes to a standstill.

The rest of that day and night are all an awful blur. It was heroin, the poison that killed him. Later, the detective assigned to the case explained that it's all too common. What begins as a pain-pill addiction spirals out of control. Heroin is commonly the next--sometimes last--step.

I don't write this as a warning about heroin, addiction, drug abuse, whatever. I write this so others might recognize patterns. Recognizing patterns of depression (a.k.a. the Hole) and addiction might just be the key to saving someone's life. At the end of the day, we will never be sure if it was truly heroin that killed The Colonel, or suicide. We suspect he used the former to induce the latter. It doesn't matter now. What matters is knowing that we did all we could, all that came to mind, to save him. We fought for him when he would not, could not, fight for himself.

Was shunning him the right thing to do? I've been told yes and no. I feel confident that one cannot be forced into a true rehabilitation. True change can't be forced but must be fostered.

Later, on a old blog of mine, I wrote:

Things I've learned in the last two weeks:

Your best days can quickly become your worst nightmare.
Sometimes strength is overrated and tears are the order of the day.
Sometimes tears make matters worse.
Children are amazingly resilient.
Children need and deserve a mother and a father.
In times of test, the family is best.
We need prayers even when we've passed through this life.
Honesty, complete and total, is the best policy.
Secrets grow darker when they are buried and hidden.
Never, NEVER fail to let your loved ones know exactly how you feel.
God's love and atonement are infinite and never-ending.

I still stand by every word of it.

Now, what you can do for me is this: If you know someone suffering from depression, please, I ask of you, love them. Comfort them, support them. If you know someone suffering through addiction, again, love them, find local resources for help like Al-Anon. And never, ever, believe you are somehow to blame for their situation.

There is help, there is hope, and there is a joy still to be had. On the darkest days the sky still radiates sunshine.

© 2014 Fiauna Lund

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Lovin'

Last weekend I got lucky and got to run with these two: hubby and sis-in-law. They make me a better runner. He makes me fast, she helps me moderate my pace. We did a quick four miles around the small town of La Virken.

Sight seeing in Southern Utah means taking photos of my slinky--I mean my daughter. She poses like this everywhere we go and posts the photos on her Instagram account Scorp.aroundtheworld. That'll be fun to look at 20 years from now.

We had a little night swimming with cousins. The kids stayed up way too late. That means I stayed up way too late as well.

And then today it was back to school for this handsome 6th grader. The school he goes to is on a year-round schedule. Four kids + four different schools + four different school schedules=one frazzled mama.

Because this morning started out kinda crazy, I had to rework my regular workout schedule. Ten minutes of Barre3 from their mobile app (LOVE!) before breakfast and 7 miles on the treadmill later in the morning. Haven't heard of Barre3? You should definitely check it out online at Warning: you will get hooked.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dead Ends

I recently picked up a book called Nothing Daunted.

In it the author tells the story of two society women who at the turn if the 20th century left behind their lives of luxury for adventure teaching school in the wilds of the Colorado frontier.

While attending school at Smith College, the two women in the story recalled the school president asking his students, "Are you a lifter, or a leaner?" That got them thinking--and moving.

It got me thinking too. For a long time--the better part of my coming-of-age years--I struggled with leaning. Sure, I was a nice girl, smart and helpful. I always had  a job and paid my bills. I took care of my obligations--but nothing more.

I leaned.

What I mean by that is I needed a lot of support to keep moving in a forward direction. Still do. I need cheerleaders. And that's not all bad. But what I've found is that for a long time I needed someone to tell me to do things and the keep cheering me on or my motivation would wain. 

For me, everything had to have a purpose. I wanted someone to validate my choices for me, fearing that if they didn't see the point in what I was doing, didn't give me their approval, then I was wasting time and would fall out of their favor. It is/was true with my parents, friends, husband, children. I didn't want to put them out.

I thought I was being considerate of others, letting them take the lead and meet their needs before trying to meet mine. But what I was really doing was self-sabotage. And everything became a dead end. I found myself feeling resentful. Other people seemed to find the time/money/ability to do things. They took dance lessons, participated in activities, joined teams...and I never did.

And then I realized that other people didn't seem to need that validation. They just did things. Because they wanted to. What? That's when I learned what is meant by the expression doers do. It's not that I was lazy. I lacked confidence. But if you never try anything--on your own, under your own power with your own motivation--you gain no strength. You do not grow. You are a dead end.

It's called called Esteem and Self-actualization and it's right at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs--a psychological theory to outline the general motivational patterns behind human behavior.


So a while back I decided to run. Not because I was training for something. Not because someone asked me to. Not because I needed to exercise. I just ran because I wanted to, because I enjoy it. And nobody died.

Believe it or not, I had never done that before. My mind was blown. Suddenly I realized I could do other just because I liked them. I could certify in Pilates just because I wanted to. I could start a blog just because I wanted to. And I didn't need anyone's approval.

You know what? Once I started meeting my own esteem needs and self-actualization needs, I stopped leaning and started lifting. It's a wonderful feeling!  Why on earth did it take me so long to figure it out?

Are you a lifter?
What have you done just because you want to?