May #GoTheDist

This month's theme:  Second Chances.

Was there a month where you didn't do quite as well as you wanted to do?
Well now's your chance to restate your goals of that month and try again.

I'll be redoing April.  I will be back in the boxing gym and re-committing to my goals.

If you don't want to go back and re-do a goal, I want to hear about how you are forgiving yourself and giving yourself daily second chances.

Here's the spreadsheet:  SPREADSHEET!

Grab the button for yourself (copy and paste HTML into your blog)

NSV of sorts?

So despite my panic, I have a NSV of sorts:  I weighed myself this morning (something I haven't done in a month) -- and


I even lost .7lbs.

So, despite the unlimited buffets/a la carte restaurants, the all-inclusive alcohol, and not going to the gym and between dancing, swimming, hiking, going easy at the buffet, not getting drunk, and sleeping well, I found a way to stick with/close to the plan while having fun.

So for every good news, there's usually something that tempers the reaction:


How did this happen? 
  1. Well for starters it wasn't anything extrinsic -- i.e. nothing did this to me, I did this to myself.  It is a sum of the choices I have made over the past 5 months.
  2. I have not food logged.
  3. I have been unfocused and joyless in the gym, intimidated at the boxing gym (not by the workout, but intimidated by the time it takes for my body to recover) and unable to juggle both in a schedule that works for me.
  4. I suffered the extra long winter and then spring allergies mentally instead of just physically.
  5. Life got a little overwhelming for me in terms of personal administration.
  6. I let a boy distract me from my schedule.
And if you notice, almost all of those things has an obvious remedy:
  1. Accept responsibility for what happened and move on.
  2. Go back to what worked and start food logging again!
  3. Tinker with the schedule and plan for feeling sore and be on the lookout for pain.
  4. Now that the sun is shining, go outside and play! 
  5. Now that those problems are all fixed, look for ways to be proactive about these problems instead of reactive. 
  6. Include the boy in the schedule, but not to the exclusion of other things.

the sincerest form of flattery

Growth by Loss

In Jamaica (Dunn's River Falls) in 2006

At Tulum, Mexico in 2005

At Tulum, Mexico in 2011

Not perfect -- but having fun.
The difference?  I chose to live a little. 

I found the gym (TWICE!) while I was on vacation....

Now did I actually use it???

Lost & Found

Lost:  Robby's April #GoTheDist

If you look at my line you will notice that I have not logged a single mile running.  I haven't logged anything, really.

The month started off pretty rough after I had lost my wallet in NYC in late March, and then my phone died on me.  It's no tsunami, it's no earthquake.  Nor is it famine or plague.  But sometimes the bumps in the road are just big enough to send you flying off course.

Mid-April things started looking up -- I was able to get a new drivers license issued (with new sexy photo).  I was able to then take that license to the bank in order to unfreeze my accounts (and set up new ones).  I then took money and license (and other documents) to get my passport renewal expedited.  Things were lining up just in time for my vacation.

First I had a few days in NYC -- dinner with my dad, met some Long Island buffalo, surprised my grandpa, with a visit, took my first ever hot Vinyasa class (Wii yoga prepared me for most of the poses/motions, but nothing prepared me for the heat; also, the teacher was super encouraging of me working within the limits of my own body).

Pretty soon we were on a plane to Miami and then to Cancun, and then after an hour and a half of driving, we were at our resort.  I highly recommend it (and hope to write a recommendation for it on TripAdvisor sometime soon I'm in the process of a recommendation for it) and can understand why I met so many people who had stayed at the resort multiple times.

I will post more about my vacation soon (perhaps, I'm of two minds to post about it), but suffice it to say, I had a great time and it was a much-needed break.

I'm back...


“Pain is temporary.  It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.   If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”   ~Lance Armstrong

Today has been a bad day -- I've been between a 7 and a 9 on my pain threshold scale all day.  
But it's not my back this time -- it's my neck.  Yay!  Fun surprise!  Is it something as benign as sleeping the wrong way or how I sit at the computer?  Or is it the degenerative disc disease finding a new way to fuck with me?

I came home from work barely able to lie down (eff you, gravity) and in tears.  I'm pretty stoic and able to handle pain (both physical and emotional), but there are still some things that bring me to my knees, figuratively.  I'd even go so far as to say that this pain is exquisite.  I save that label for pain that floods my whole body and requires me to find a place in my mind that is beyond the pain in order to be able to cope.

Even with the pain I feel right now, my spirit is undeterred, and I do what I can to stay on the path I am on.  And at the very least, I will be floating in the pristine blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico in a little over a week. 

LA Boxing Post #7: One of Us

(I had hoped to post this on Thursday, but a whole lot of work and life happened in the meantime, my apologies if I kept anyone waiting...)

Raise your hand if you've ever been where Alissa was.  (Alissa:  that breeze that you just felt was the collective raising of many hands.)   We have all let insecurity dictate our lives in one way or another (not just people looking to lose weight/gain health, but literally ALL people deal with insecurity in one form or another).   What I have learned, and what I will say time and time again, is to turn into it and confront it head on.  Until you do this, you are a hostage of the insecurities. 

So one of my favorite classes at LA Boxing Georgetown are the Technical Boxing/Sparring classes taught by Randolph (who is as patient as he is knowledgeable).  They exemplify the second point I want to make about the insecurity regarding going to a gym:  the more you go to the gym and connect with the people around you, the more you will feel like you belong in the gym and among active people.

To make that point, I asked a few of my classmates from the technical class as well as a few of the staff members at the gym a few questions, including Alissa's concern "How would you feel if a 300lb woman came into LA Boxing?"

Paul (a very fit gentleman who has let me spar with him on two occasions) has been boxing for the past 4 months.  He did some martial arts in college, but boxing is fairly new to him.  Paul is taking boxing not just for the cardio, but for the "explosive strength" aspect that he found he couldn't get from weightlifting alone.  He noted that other members of the gym are a unique mix of all different body types and ages.  If he were to see an obese person at the gym, he would think "good on them for trying to make that effort to improve themselves" and that the "consistent effort to improve is inspirational."  His advice is to take it easy in the beginning (in boxing, in working out in general) and gain endurance/stamina.  "If you are in the mindset of going out swinging hard, you will be disappointed, you will get frustrated and give up.  Go in humble and eager to learn, not trying to prove a point, and you will stick with [it] longer." 

Jessica (another classmate who is in her mid-20s) originally started boxing with her dad, even though he didn't think she would stick with it.  A little over a year later, she is still at it.  She said that she is still boxing because she was never good at any physical activity before and she is good at this (also "it's nice after a stressful day to be able to beat the crap out of something or someone.")  Jessica made the same comment about the makeup of the gym -- members are all shapes and sizes -- and noted that many of the members were women.  She said "everyone is really helpful; no one judges you."  The only thing she'd think if an obese person came into the gym is "Good for them.  How's their right hook?"

While talking to Jessica, MMA/Kickboxing trainer Ed chimed in with what he'd think about the obese person walking in the door-- "About fucking time!  You made a commitment.  You came in.  The first step is the hardest:  get inside the fucking gym."  Once there, he advises people to ask a lot of questions, "[i]f you're new get the attention of the instructors, so they know to make sure to watch your form so you don't hurt yourself."  This is true in a boxing gym as well as a regular gym.  "The scariest part is getting in here.  Once you do don't quit because it's hard.  It gets easier."  He should know, he's been doing martial arts for just almost as long as I have been alive.

Last up to endure my battery of questions was Felix, the Regional Director at LA Boxing covering the DC area (he has been with LA Boxing for 3 years, has worked at many gyms in the past).  I was hoping he could tell me bit more about the membership in general, beyond the diversity that Paul and Jessica had mentioned.  I asked Felix a variation of the question I had asked the others:   "How would you convince an obese person to join?"  He said that telling people they can burn 1,000 calories an hour usually does the trick and that if an obese person wanted to join that he or she would "be received just like anyone else that joins -- as a person that wants to be a part of something."  What is that "something"?  He said that many women are not interested in the perceived violence of boxing (he hopes to offer budokon at some point), but that the gym is a workout-based facility with a strong group mentality, "people motivate and push each other. . .  it helps prevent people from giving up."  It's not just the instructors who are willing to help;  Felix says the long-standing members just as willing to help a new member feel comfortable in the gym.

So I guess all that's left to say to the people sitting on the sidelines, afraid to set foot in the gym: 

What will it take for you to join in the fun?

LA Boxing Post 1:  The Risks and Rewards of Change
LA Boxing Post 2:  Showing Up
LA Boxing Post 3:  Finding Your Fight
LA Boxing Post 4:  Belonging
LA Boxing Post 5:  Fight or Flight
LA Boxing Post 6:  Finding your Fight: The Class -- Reporting In

The Fighting Irish

I was walking home from boxing and I ran into these gentlemen from the Belfast-Beltway Boxing Project:

So young, so innocent. Okay, not so innocent.
He's the best in his county. And funny too.
Cool, right?
They're up at 6 am training.... and I'm the one who is staring longingly at my bed.

Reader Questionaire Follow-Up

At the end of March, I posted a "Readership Questionnaire" and I wanted to share some of the answers over the span of a few posts.

Question:  In your opinion, what's the difference between something (1) being challenging, (2) being painful, or (3) that will make you sore?

There were lots of great answers (thanks to all that answered) but there were some really great answers that fell in line with what I believe--that (1) challenges push you past mental and physical comfort zones; (2) pain is your body's warning sign that something is wrong and is often a predecessor to injury (or that pain will persist past; and (3) soreness is your body adapting and recovering from learning new movements.

I just want to encourage you all to CHALLENGE yourself, but to honor your body (and any signals of PAIN).  Wear your SORENESS as a badge of honor (and make friends with ice, heat, epsom salts, etc.).

<3 you all

from @retroactiv_:  Challenges are things you can overcome. Pain is something that should be expected when working out, but you should watch for the wrong "kind" of it (ie. chest, back, etc). Things that make you sore are awesome. Soreness means you are making progress and pushing yourself.

from @hockeygirl4:  Everyone has challenges in their lives, whether physical or mental. My brother is physically challenged, has cerebral palsy, so if I'm participating in an activity, or attempting one but I'm scared, I think of him and what he has gone through in life thus far making my challenge a little less scary. Being in pain, that's a whole new issue. I have a really bad knee from a softball injury that was misdiagnosed years ago causing bone on bone irritation whenever I kneel, run, walk, go up and/or down stairs. It actually pisses me off when I can't participate fully in an activity at LA Boxing in Las Vegas. I feel like people are judging me as a wimp for not doing the outside jog, or a particular strength exercise (duck walks). It's painful physically and mentally for me. Something that makes you sore..hmmm...I'd say if you're sore, you've completed a task that was previously a challenge for you.

from @charliegirl2490:  Challenging is good- you feel accomplished when you are done.   Painful makes it impossible to do anything else when you are done.  Making you sore is also good- I like to carry around a little stiffness after a workout.

from @SwimBikeRunDC:  Something challenging makes you push yourself past your comfort zone and in the end makes you stronger. Something painful should be stopped and evaluated for type of pain/injury or whether the activity is good for you.  Soreness can be good or bad depending on severity (and whether it creeps into ""painful""). I think being sore = getting stronger.

from @Nevers2Long:  1. Something I'm not familiar with is what I consider challenging.  2.  Something being painful is just plain something that hurts.  3.  Something that makes me sore is pretty how I'd describe working out. I don't feel it while I'm doing it, but my muscles let me know the next day.

from @stephmiller:  Being challenging is something that you have to give everything to accomplish.  You train, learn and take time to accomplish a challenging goal.  Something painful is usually a red flag for me.  If I am in the middle of a 5km run and i tweak my knee or have sudden ankle pain, then I stop.  Something that makes me sore makes me proud.  If my muscles ache after a work out I feel like I have accomplished something.  Sore should not be mixed up with painful.

Square One

Size 18 dress was HUGE. 
I wore a size 18 dress for
my mom's funeral at age 13
Ever feel like you're doing really well (on point with diet and exercise; feeling strong mentally and physically) only to have something knock you back to where you started?

My blog started to pick up steam once my friend Nancy showed us the dress she wanted her bridesmaids to wear.  It was a very visual goal of where I needed to be.  And I got there.

My brother is getting married on August 20th, 2011 and I am in the bridal party.
This time around, I'm (trying to) helping the bride pick out the dress.  I find this both fun and ridiculously discouraging.  Why? Sample sizes.  Luckily the stores we have been to have a wide array of sizes, but the majority are still in the 8-10 range.

My body shape right now is a bit of an inverted triangle body shape -- which is very hard to dress.  I'm very broad up to (boobs + ribcage + shoulders = size 16 or so) and pretty narrow on the bottom (size 10/12 or so).  Dresses are a NIGHTMARE for me. 

Hopefully we found a few styles that will work on all the girls' body types -- but man, it's so hard to not get down on myself when I'm putting on a size 18 dress (that's too big) but still doesn't look/fit right.

I just have to remember that bridal dresses are often smaller sizes than "regular" sizes.  I have to remember that dresses can and will be altered to look good.

I have to remember that my body is changing all the time.....

Finding Your Fight, The Class: Reporting In

 lFirst of all, I want to thank Betsy for helping me set up the Finding Your Fight: Intro to Boxing class, Arturo for teaching it, and LA Boxing Georgetown for allowing use of the space/equipment. 

Secondly, I would love to thank all the fabulous ladies (Emily, Lauren, Amanda, Megan) for attending the class.  Kudos to Lauren for being a "natural" and earning a $25 Visa Gift card for "being a natural" according to Arturo.

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
Muhammad Ali
I keep on talking about "Finding Your Fight."  It has become a turning point for me in two main ways:  (1) taking my exercise to the next level (not resting on my laurels) and (2) really engaging my mind and heart in everything that I do (instead of just going through the motions).
Boxing is hard.  It isn't impossible, but it is hard. It requires patience and repetition.  It requires focus and skill.
 But more than anything else, it requires a whole lot of heart.  
"Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even."
Muhammad Ali
I don't know about you (if you've ever boxed or participated in martial arts, or even exercised in a manner unfamiliar to you) or any of the ladies that participated in the class (but I'd love to hear from them), but there are times when every muscle is screaming for me to stop, or my heart is racing, and I have to take the second to pause and re-energize myself.  I continually tell myself to stay with it, to feel the fatigue and be appreciative that I am moving (even if it isn't the most perfect workout).  
I know the fear will pass. I know the leap of faith will free me.
I know my body will respond and recover. 
All that is really left is the fight we fight against ourselves for ourselves.
What happens when you think you can't do something?  Do you see walls as obstacles or challenges to be scaled?  Do you turn toward your fears or away from them?
"Life doesn't run away from nobody.  Life runs at people. "
Joe Frazier
In terms of the #GoTheDist challenge, having the inner fight/determination and heart means that you take your 100% goal and go 10% beyond -- you go further, faster, or harder.  Are you facing forward or retreating?  Are you selling yourself short?

 So the meat and potatoes:  Arturo warmed us up by having us move around in awkward and silly ways -- for instance a duck walk, jumping/crawling around like frogs, spiders, and monkeys, some dynamic stretching, and a bunch (150) jumping jacks.  Arturo's point was made very clear -- boxing isn't just about hitting things; it's about conditioning.

We moved into bag work -- jabs, cross, hook, uppercut -- working in combinations and varying speed/intensity.  We also added other elements (plyo jumps, squats, pushups, more jumping jacks, more squats) inbetween sets.

By the end I think everyone was feeling that sweet soreness that says "this was a workout."  I'm proud that everyone stuck with it and kept each other going.

I think one of the most heartwarming moments (and something I'll take from this) is during the jumping jacks -- it was clear that not everyone was at the same conditioning level.  Arturo counted the first 30, and then we took over.  When my voice started fading, my friend Emily started counting and motivating everyone to finish it to the end.  So while I was out of breath and sore, I felt strong because my friend had my back.  
"Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything." ~ Muhammad Ali

Found in my box of keepsakes....

And the Little Blue Engine smiled and seemed to say as she puffed steadily down the mountain, " I thought I could.  I thought I could.  I thought I could.  I thought I could.
I thought I could.
I thought I could.

March #GoTheDist Wrap-Up by @CyclingSi

A HUGE thanks to Simon/@CyclingSi for graciously writing the March #GoTheDist Wrap-Up.  It has been an honor and a privilege to see him on his journey, and especially to see him achieving his goal this month.  Exciting stuff, buddy!

Ladies, he's single....
March, for me, is the gateway into spring a time of renewal, change, and growth--not just in nature but in us as well. I have participated in all bar one of the Go the Distance challenges from October to the present. But with the exception of the first month, they have not gone so well--with illness and bad weather being a constant problem.

I am not really sure what the change was this month--possibly the improvement in weather; maybe the week off I took in February--but there has been a total change in my thinking. The change is not just about my training, but life journey as well. I found myself letting go of a few more fears and insecurities, freeing my mind to focus on things and people that really do matter to me.

The challenge was a simple thing to set: in addition to starting to record my calories once more, I set my now-standard 100 mile goal, but I also added a 10 miles of trail walking to the mix just in case the weather turned nasty. Given that I had only ever got close to my goal last October, I was concerned that I had bitten off more than I could chew and that I would fail again. This month I was to prove my fears were unfounded.

One thing that I have wanted to do for ages was to ride out in the back lanes and the open road away from the cycle paths. However, I have been worried about how I would handle the roads and, more importantly, how I would cope with riding up hills. As March’s focus was about growing, I outgrew my fears and headed out onto the open road and straight up the first hill I could find and straight over the top.

I think the only real down point this month was going too long with out a rest week. As a result, 2.5 weeks into the month I hit the wall, so to speak. I was now tired and in need of a break. So I just limped to the end of the week and rested for a week, with a few light rides before picking up the intensity (starting to think about increasing the time and distance).

For the future, I have learned that I have to change my riding patterns and go with two hard weeks, and then a rest week (instead of a 3-1 pattern) and to do 3-to-4 bike workouts a week with a rest day in between to maximise my energy and recovery. Lets face it, I am not as young as I used to be but I will be fitter than I was!

This has been my best months riding in years, let alone since last October.

The challenge has helped me to grow stronger, both physically and mentally. I have seen some of my fears crushed under my tyres and let out triumphant yells as I crest each hill. I am not just talking about those on the road either: to quote Gunnery Sgt Hartman, I am “Born again hard” and I am loving it too.