Monthly Archives: January 2014

embrace your failures

I am a planner, a dreamer, and thinker upper. I love nothing more than to settle into a little nook on the couch with a notebook and plan things–vacations, semester schedules, weddings, science lessons, website layouts. I keep mini clipboards stationed all around–in my purse, on my bedside table, in my car–for planning purposes only. I research, I outline, I draft, I brainstorm, all the time. It’s what I do best and it’s how I solve problems.

Do you have a problem with keeping your closet organized? I can make a plan for that.

Do you have trouble eating enough vegetables? I can make a plan for that.

Do you want to learn Spanish in seven months? I can make a plan for that.

I can plan until the cows come home.  The planning comes easy, but the doing takes practice. And when the stars align and the planning actually becomes doing, there is a hard truth that I have to try and accept: eventually, my plan will fail.

Plans are tidy. Plans are square. Plans are black and white (unless you use fancy pens to write them).

Life is unpredictable. Life is messy. Life does not always ever go according to plan.

So. Let’s talk about fitness plans. Do you have one? I did. I’m working on a new one. From August to December, my fitness goals were threefold: eat something green at every meal, drink at least  5 bottles of water a day, and do at least 30 minutes of HIIT or strength training.

I made a list of things I could eat for breakfast that included something green, because I usually default to oatmeal or cereal. I washed my Brita and bought a 24 pack of water to keep in my car in case I ever left my water bottle at home. I  made coordinating fitness and  cleaning schedules to make sure that the living room was always tidy on a day I needed the TV for a DVD workout.

My goals had plans and my plans became actions. I lost 7 pounds and earned the ability to actually do ten pushups in a row. I maintained through Christmas’ roast beasts and chocolate feasts. And then a cold, aimless winter set in. My plan, which had centered on a busy school schedule, quickly gave way to sleeping in and eating awesome sandwich concoctions made from left overs. A new semester started, and panic set in. My plan had run its course. What if life had finally gotten the best of me?

So what did I do? Did I settle? Nope. I made a plan for when plans fail. (I like to make Inception jokes at times like these, when I find myself making plans for plans or checking my to-do lists of a to-do list To-Do List. But I’ll spare you.) Here are the steps I’m taking right now to get my fitness goals back on course:

1. Identify why the old plan stopped working.

Is it a matter of motivation? Did the plan lose relevance? Can a tweak here or there put the plan back into motion? If you’ve noticed your eating habits have become a little more “fast” and a little less “fresh,” but you’re plumb fed up with spinach salads, you might just need to up your creativity when it comes to planning lunch. And definitely don’t include spinach salads as your go-to when you devise your next healthy eating manifesto.

Why did my fitness plan stop working? Simply put, it became a matter of the winter blues, blahs, and blargs. And while I tried to keep up with the program, my lack of motivation totally derailed my success. It was time to embrace a physical and mental break.

2. Let go of your feelings of failure.

In case you’re familiar with the if-you-fail-to-plan-you-plan-to-fail adage, let’s reflect. Making a plan does not eliminate the possibility of failure. Planning is important, doing is necessary, and readjusting and adapting is crucial. So when you plan, plan to fail. Get comfortable with it. When a ball comes at you curvaceously, plan to catch it. But when it hits you square in the nose instead, readjust and adapt. You aren’t failing. You’re learning. If you’re in a failure funk, reflect on why and just trust that you’ll find your groove thang again.

Letting go of failure–real or perceived–is especially hard for me to do. It’s January 26th and I’m still a little angry at myself for taking what has now become a 30 day respite from all things gymnasium. But a new plan is in the works, and I’m focusing on mini successes, like making it to the gym once a week and tackling Insanity here and there. Did I tell you I finally made it  through the entire first week with Shaun T? For the first time ever?! I’m raising the roof over here.

3. Give yourself time to determine the best course of action.

If your plan isn’t working anymore, it’s probably because your life is different. How have your circumstances changed? How have YOU changed? What are your current struggles? What is inspiring you? Have your goals evolved? Answer these questions and forge a new path, but realize that finding what works best again might take a long time. Usually just long enough for your life to change again. C’est la vie!

What is my new plan? My general goals still include daily workouts and maintaining a healthy diet, but my schedule for this semester is, in a word, wonky. Morning classes here, night classes there, and long stretches of time that could easily be filled with reruns of Parks and Recreation. January has been a month of trials and errors. I tried getting up at the crack of dawn to work out, but the temptation to sleep in was just too great. I tried working out in the middle of the day, but the temptation to just schlep around in sweaty workout clothes all day long was just too great.  My next work out move? Nighttime workouts. Typically, my drive to sweat it out after a day of classes is not remarkably high, but I think this might be the ticket–for now, anyway!

This week’s fitness highlights…

Addicted to: Lime flavored Greek yogurt. My favorite is Oikos. I eat it everyday for breakfast–it’s delicious and portable. Eating this for breakfast is one holdover from the old fitness plan of last semester!

Something new I learned: Definitely check out this series on beginning weightlifting. I’m trying to learn as much as possible to boost my confidence and frequency with the free weights.

Confession of the week: I definitely admit to fast forwarding through any instance of globe jumps during Insanity. I hate them. Do you ever allow yourself to point at the TV and yell “NOPE, NOT DOING THAT, YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!” Because I do!

Don’t forget to pay Samantha a visit and see how her fitness journey/Insanity marathon is going!

–Catherine

To read each post in this series, click the links below.

Embrace the Uncomfortable

sewing tips for true beginners

Today I am going to share with you the most wisdom-y sewing wisdom I know. I am not a beginning sewer, but I am also no expert. Therefore, I remember the days when sewing was filled with frustration…confusion…math…

Okay, so it’s still filled with math–not my favorite thing–but I have learned some lessons here and there that either my mom taught me  and I ignored or I painfully discovered on my own. More importantly, my sister just began sewing some serious projects and she doesn’t really know what she’s doing. This post is for her and anyone else who has punched their sewing machine.

Here are 5 tips that might make your next project a little less stressful. Keep these basics in mind as you progress from novice to tricked out seamstress!

1. Find the sewing machine manual

Totally obvious, but still worth mentioning. Dig out the instruction booklet that came with your machine, even if you think you remember how to thread your machine. Because you maybe…don’t remember at all. And theres a lot of helpful information about tension, stitch spacing, zig zagging…just get familiar will all those knobs and be-bobs. If your manual is long gone, Google your model number and you’ll probably find it online.

2. Take material prep seriously

When selecting material, try to fall in love with prints that are a little more forgiving and textures that are easy to work with. Maybe avoid stripes for now, and lean towards cotton. Then before you even start imagining your finished project, wash and press your material. Washing in warm water and then giving it a tumble dry preshrinks your fabric, which is important if you want to launder your fancy new dress or blanket. Just make sure you account for a little shrinkage when you get your material cut. Also, press the bejeezus out of your material. Cutting over a mess of wrinkles makes for funky shapes and inaccurate measurements!

3. Be precise when you measure but don’t flip out over human error

Sometimes you have a pattern to trace, but if you’re free handing something–like a rectangle– don’t fret if some things are a little off here and there. Like less than 1/16 of an inch off. That’s not too much. An 1/8 of an inch here and there? That adds up pretty fast, especially if your seam allowance is only 1/4 of an inch. If you’re cutting out strips for a quilt and your rectangles are 1/2 an inch wider and one end, you will definitely run into some problems later on. Take your time and double check your measurements!

4. Never try to cut more than 2 layers of material at a time

Shortcuts are not your friend right now. If you have 18 triangles to cut out, do not fold your material in half a bagillion times and expect all of your triangles to be the same. Your material will bunch and stretch and morph  and you will not have 18 beautiful, congruent triangles afterwards. Instead, fold your material in half one time, draw 9 triangles, and go from there. Two at a time is about as quick as you can go.

5. Don’t underestimate the problems of over-pinning

My sister is an over-pinner. She was sewing together two squares for a pillow yesterday and had a straight pin every 1/2 inch. Ultimately, this creates a very cumbersome pin cushion to try and shove under your presser foot, not to mention changes the shape of your material a lot. And you can only sew, like, a centimeter before stopping. A few pins can go a long way.

And now for a bonus tip–know when to walk away. My mom is a nice lady and an expert seamstress and still runs into snafus that test her mettle. When you start to feel like lighting a match under your machine, just turn it off and go do something else. It is my personal belief that your frustration leaks out of your fingertips onto your machine and makes everything go wrong. Thread breaks, bobbins jam, the feed dog marathons your material through even though your foot is a mile away from the pedal…just stop. Fix yourself a stiff lemon water. Then resume when you feel excited about your project again!

Happy sewing,

Becca

embrace the uncomfortable

On Sunday, January 5th, 2014 I began my fourth attempt at Insanity.

I don’t know what it is about this program. I can’t seem to get into the groove yet can’t seem to stay away from it. So time and time again, I start over with stars in my eyes, imagining a Memorial Day beach romp in a teeny bikini sixty days in the making.

I get through the fit test. I get through Day 1. And then, I quit, formally parting  ways with Shaun T by yelling expletives at the screen and stomping through the house yelling about how much I hate working out.

Well, here’s the thing. After taking an enormous break from any physical activity and generally eating a little more and little worse than usual during the Holidays, I began Insanity (again) with the wrong intentions. This is my Insanity mantra:

“I don’t want to do this. This is uncomfortable.”

And lo and behold, I never get past Day 1.

But I will forge on. I just want to get it done. Maybe so I can high five myself for finishing something I currently associate with failure. Definitely for the physical benefits. So I will pick up Day 2’s workout come tomorrow and move forward from there. I think the most important thing for me to remember is that Insanity (or any other workout program) is not a bullet train to achieving some fitness goal. I look at the 60 day calendar and mentally check off each workout and imagine that any and all health and body image problems will be solved forever. That is not a sustainable mindset.

Instead, I’m trying to keep the following  things in mind:

1. I am physically capable of doing anything.

2. I am content to work out even if I knew my body would look the same day in and day out.

3. I can embrace the discomfort.

4. I can integrate Insanity into my fitness plan any way I want–it’s not all or nothing.

My overall goal will be to just move–and move hardcore–everyday, whether its Insanity or not. So maybe it will take me four months to finish. Or maybe I will hit my stride–Samantha promises I will find a  groove. And you know what? I think I believe her. I think that maybe if I can just get past Day 1 and  positively align my mentality, I could maybe, possibly learn to love Insanity. We shall see.

Regardless, here’s some fitness tidbits from this week:

Favorite (fitness) article: This one reminded me that the only person I need to compete with is myself.

Goal for next workout: To battle the bore by practicing mindfulness during my workout.

Biggest mini-success: Doubling the number of switch kicks since my October Fit Test.

Workout saboteurs: Insanity is loud and my poor neighbor let me know in the middle of my first workout. Well, at least I think that’s what she was going to tell me. I quickly shied away from the peephole and hid until she went away, and then moved the workout upstairs. Thank goodness we have a loft. (Also, I know, I’m very mature for not answering the door).

Favorite pin: This is definitely my mantra for next week!

Sorest muscle:I hardly moved my bod at all this week. But dang. My calves feel like a monster truck ran over them.

I will be back next Saturday with an update. Please send good vibes my way!

Catherine