off to a running start


Ok – so we are only about a week into chapter one and I have to say, I am a bit exhausted. It might be all the running and jumping, swimming and stretching that my body was not quite ready for OR it could be that instituting these changes all at one time could be taking a small toll on my small frame. I am not discouraged though.

A few days ago, I made time between meetings and went to the mall attempting to purchase my very first pair of running shoes.  The simple process gave me a massive migraine. I’m not sure if it was the act of being at the mall (which for me is not a pleasant experience) or the horrendous neon colors/styles of shoes available that caused this reaction.  Although I did have an intense “sensory” experience, (high volume crowds, loud colors and atmosphere). I left failing to accomplish the task at hand and couldn’t help feeling a bit defeated. I came home nursed my migraine with water and a steady yet brisk walk to alleviate the situation.  I realized, while walking, that I may have taken the wrong approach in beginning this process.  For me, this project is not about checking off things a bucket list or just getting things done.  If I want to grow in any way, I really need to think about how to add or weave these new elements into my life in a way that makes sense for me. How can I make these new changes fun but also use them to re-energize pieces of the day that I had not thought about before. Instead of trying to find more time or new times to do these things, how could I develop and create ways to multitask and try to integrate these things into the time I already have in my current existence?  This is something I am going to work on in the upcoming weeks. To understand a bit more, maybe it would help to give you some baseline information on my current existence.

Starting point:

Body:  I’m 5ft 2 inches tall. I weigh 106 lbs. I luckily have never had to worry about weight or health issues.  Born with a high metabolism, I eat like a bird most say.  This however has allowed me to be under motivated when it comes to “getting in shape”.

Exercise: I lead a relatively inactive lifestyle: I sit for at least 4-6 hours a day between my time on a computer and driving.  I would not say my body looks out of shape but both an  8-year-old and an 80-year-old could beat me on the racetrack. I have no set exercise routine (nor have I ever). I probably burn more calories stressing about the fact that I don’t exercise. The unstructured exercise I have done in the past year includes, walking, yoga, helping people move? swimming, occasional hula hooping, dancing, and one dreadful zumba class . I can jog for about a total of 10 minutes before being completely out of breath and I can do about one pull up on a good day (about a half on a bad one).

Food: My diet is mostly healthy but based on efficiency, a budget, and what I can cook in a galley without a stove.  I have been cooking significantly less since moving onto the boat.  I have never officially been on a diet, until now.

Muscle Memory: I picked up a guitar in college learned a few songs, forgot them, and didn’t pick it up again until my mid twenties when I learned a few more songs and promptly forgot them. I’ve repeated this process probably every five years and still somehow only know about 4 chords.  Lack of discipline here has weakened my muscle memory.

The Senses:  As physically inactive as I portray myself to be, my mind is the opposite.  I am constantly thinking about a million things at any one time, often working on putting them into action.  In order to concentrate on my work or thoughts, I find myself having to “tune out” external sounds, smells, external motions etc.  For these “sensory activities” I am finding that I need to physically stop my motion to become aware of my senses. This stopping and concentrating in my fast paced day is a challenge.

As promised here is my plan for moving forward:

Goals for each day:

Follow proposed diet (emphasis on have-nots)

Upper body strength exercises in the morning, on the boat, in the car, or at the office

20-30 minutes of chosen exercise

Jogging (must do at least twice a week)

Jump rope Journal (everywhere all the time!)

Yoga before bed

Guitar before bed

Goals for the month:

Learn 2 new songs – play them for an audience

Guided sensory walks

Sensory deprivation activities (More on this soon!)

Want to check in to see if I am keeping up my promises? Check out the Living Chapters Facebook page for updates on the jump rope journal, exercise documentation and my food photo gallery.

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.

4 thoughts on “off to a running start

  1. Erin Goodloe

    I am not sure that my last comment made it to you (my i-thing died)

    So …
    Thank you for sharing this project. I am working on becoming active again and I have been thinking about this sort of thing almost full time. I thought I would share:

    Simply leaving my house or car or sedentary comfort zone and moving for a set time (no matter the pace or activity) has been a good way of thinking about things for me.

    You mention integrating movement into your life. For me it’s been good to combine exercise with social time.

    Walking and talking with friends or family can be a nice time to brainstorm or dream. For me it works best if there is a habit. When I was in shape I regularly walked with a friend or family for an hour 3 days a week. We all looked forward to it and helped get the others out of the house. Being outside is nice. Trail walks and running make me very happy. Light rain? Umbrella and cute boots! Splash and play! This is the ting I missed most when I had a broken leg. 😦 Frankly I haven’t done a good job getting back into it…
    But will start trying again this week. Thanks for helping me think about these things.

    Having a digital or real exercise buddy is nice. Digital buddies help you set and keep goals. This project seems to do that! Cheer leaders and co-stragglers.
    For real life exercise partners I would say that trying to keep pace with someone is not a great idea when you are starting, but leaving together to the gym or a circle track or a trail and agreeing on end times works nicely. But… you’ll find over time that you get more able to run longer and faster… and eventually you’ll find yourself running with folks. Being able to run and converse is a good way to make sure you aren’t pushing it too much.

    A word about the 8 and 80 year old.
    The 8 year old’s job is to move full time and the 80 year old had a head start.
    Currently my endurance is pretty bad. I’m starting in a similar place to you. Again. Before the accident I worked from not being able to run a minute to running 8 miles. Now I want to start again.

    So after the accident I needed to re learn how to walk and for a while I “rode” stationary bike. I just moved slowly in circles for hours and months. Working though knee and hip pain. I spent many hours in a gym (it was my full time job) barely able to push a bike pedal around once while and I’d glance over to the 80 year old next (recovering from a hip replacement) who was pedaling like they were winning the tour de france. it was easy to get discouraged. I did get discouraged often. It was depressing, and now that I am doing much better I am a bit embarrassed that I felt so down and without hope.

    I kept at it. It’s easier to say than to do- but it helped me realize that we weren’t racing. I was showing up to push myself to be better, and so was the 80 year old. In a way we were both fighting for our lives. But war imagery isn’t quite right. . . I mean being at peace with where you are and gently pushing forward is important. Showing up and trying and doing it again every day is the hard part, the thing that is amazing, the thing that many of us don’t do. Celebrating the significant accomplishment of trying again and trying again …is helpful. Our bodies are amazing, they will change, but it happens slowly. I was simply unable to do many things so I just pushed as hard as I could.

    When I was first going from inactivity to running it was easy to overdo it and burn out. For you- I think that you could run fast for a moment, but i’d encourage you to slow down and just work on moving for a set period of time. Play with speed in short spurts- but don’t expect to run full throttle for long. You might like the run walk method.

    On shoes: Maybe run barefoot on the beach. It is hard hard work, but you don’t need ugly shoes.

    So to sum up my advice: Try to make it fun / social. If not fun – celebrate that you simply did it. Try to think about scheduling flows and prompts to make exercise automatic. Balance between not over doing and pushing a bit harder each time you try. Make it habit.

    Resources you might like:
    couch to run
    run walk method
    The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
    The Happiness project chapter about energizing
    charm city run

    Go Beth!!! What you are doing is hard hard sometime scary work. Mentally and physically. Hooray! You can do it!

    1. living chapters Post author


      thanks so much for your response and your ideas and suggestions! I really appreciate your perspective – please do continue to share ideas! The most helpful thing to me is focusing on scheduling flows and working physical movement into my daily life in a natural and non-abrupt way. This is working for me! Keep me up to date on your progress as well!

  2. Sandra Harriette

    You and I think so much alike, it just blows me away 😀
    Would you say that you’re an empath? I certainly am, and the feelings you described from having been out at the mall are very similar to sensations that I get. I literally feel every aspect of what’s going on around me.


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