I got a reminder that today makes one year since I completed the 75hard challenge. There was a picture of a group strength training class and video of me taking my final–150th workout in 75 days. 75hard challenge comprised of 2 45-minute workouts, reading 10 pages of a personal development book, drink a gallon of water, no alcohol and following a diet of your choice each day for 75 days. It was both hard and helpful that the last 30 days of 75hard fell during bloglikecrazy.
The truth is that the reminder snuck up on me. I didn’t realize it had been a year. I knew it was close but 2020 has disoriented my sense of time and a sense of myself. During 75hard, I was planning on competing in a Strongman, training for the possibility of a Trifecta (three Spartan races) and for the first time, I saw a new thing emerge in me. An athletic me, a physically competitive me, the me who knew she would fall and never come in first, but was willing to shatter those perfectionist tendencies.
I want to find her again. I need to find her again. It would be easy for me to slip all the way back permanently. I spent 39 years never truly competing. Never willing to break down the body. I jogged, belly danced, took Zumba, water aerobics, yoga, hot yoga. I never knew dedication.
Now that I know I want her back, it’s time to do what I can at home or outdoors by my lonesome. Buy (and use) weights, kettlebells, go on walks, stretch and plan for a safe way to compete again (hopefully) in 2021.
I was outside on a walk today. Since the start of the pandemic, the frequency of these walks have decreased. All those walks I took last year while participating in the 75 hard challenge seem like they happened at the turn of the century. Back then, I used walking as a form of exercise and meditation. I used it as my time away from the hectic schedule of work, gym, writing, get togethers, church and endless errands.
I don’t need the time in the same way anymore. I find myself getting too comfortable sitting inside, weighed down by blankets, napping, thinking, daydreaming about the ocean or deep tubs to soak in, reading, scrolling or watching TV.
I mistook all this newfound down time to provide the same thing. But it isn’t. I forgot the power of forward motion in sunlight can change perspective, take away some of the blues and the tendency to self-sabotage.
I can’t sabotage or hide. Movement awakens energy, gives the static a place to go. I become electric in the forward movement. Pounding pavement and weaving through children playing in the streets today reminded me where I am supposed to devote more time.
That is all it took. Throwing on sneakers, a jacket and stepping outside by myself to drown a little of me out and let the quiet in.
Last Saturday, Hubby and I went to a salt cave for the first time. Months ago, I looked at a couples massage in a salt cave for a weekend getaway but didn’t end up going. When I saw a deal on Groupon for a local salt cave, I jumped at the chance to try it for the following reasons:
“Halotherapy is known to help relieve skin conditions, stress, high blood pressure, respiratory infections, hangovers, and allergies. Salt is a natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial.”
And also because I didn’t want to shut down any modes of therapy that may prove beneficial just because I don’t know much about it.
I set a 45-minute appointment for two chairs at a spa that primarily does float therapy and has an infrared sauna. The cave was dimly lit with 4 cream-colored reclining chairs. We were surrounded by bricks of Himalayan salt from Pakistan and the floor was also covered in salt. We were each given a fresh pair of socks to wear as to not track salt back into our own shoes after the session.
I don’t know if it was the gradual release of salt-infused air into the cave but I drifted off easily when I chose to use the wireless headphones provided to us.
When our session was over, I just thought it was a great way to get quality rest. However the next day, that changed.
I don’t know if I can attribute it to the salt but the nagging pain in my left ankle from the light sprain and the strain on the left side of my right knee disappeared. It’s been a few days and it hasn’t come back. I am willing to explore it more because I have heard of the healing properties for people living with psoriasis.
Since the completion of 75hard, my desire to experience life more fully has only grown and I am glad it now includes halotherapy.
It’s Day 76. 75hard is over which means I accomplished the following:
150 workouts (mostly walks but many strength training workouts)
Drank 75 gallons of water
Stuck to my diet (calorie counting for me) using the Lose It app.
Lost over 20 pounds.
Read over 750 pages of personal development books.
No alcohol (I already didn’t drink)
I recapped more of the emotional side yesterday and I have said it before but it bears repeating:
I am less afraid.
The thing I thought I would be more fearful of was what to do next but it’s clear I had nothing to fear. Today, I went to a small group workout, took a walk and along with Hubby and a friend, climbed for the first time at an indoor gym.
Even though the mental transformation far outweighs the physical, here are a couple of pictures to showcase that aspect:
I feel more confident about the next steps I am taking. If anyone is wondering if I would do it again, the answer is a resounding Yes. If anyone is doubting if they can do it, please don’t. The old saying is true: You will find the time for the things that matter to you.
One last note.
I loved that unintentionally the bloglikecrazy challenge came at the same time I was winding down with 75hard. I have a record of these last 30 days which included teacher training, strength classes, a fulfilling writing intensive and the introduction of the idea that I will one day be a Spartan and a Strongwoman.
There will be more reflection tomorrow but I have to acknowledge I made it to Day 75!
I both completely believe it and have a sense of disbelief that it’s almost done. I just have a few more ounces of water, dinner to track and I will close my eyes to wake up to Day 76.
I keep thinking about Friday, September 13th. I was at lunch with my friend explaining the challenge to her, asking if she’d like to join me. We agreed to start on Monday the 16th. That could have given me pause right there–starting on a Monday. How many times had I said that?
But this time was different. I didn’t have a special restrictive diet or fast to stick to and this was more about developing mental toughness which I lacked.
The morning of Monday, September 16th came. I was in bed, contemplating an excuse to not start and then my friend sent a text. I saw her name but didn’t read it. Seeing her name was the impetus for me to roll out of bed, get dressed and take my first walk in the neighborhood. It wasn’t until I was out there that I opened the text. It was a picture of her and a message saying her first workout was done. My response: “Yes! Doing first workout now!”
I know she’ll read this and see I might have sabotaged myself on yet another Monday if she hadn’t been stronger than me that day.
So I thank her for being my partner. I thank my husband for filling up gallon water bottles, packing lunches, taking pictures and pushing me on the days when the second workout ended up beginning later than anticipated.
I owe gratitude to all the people who supported me and to God, whom I prayed to repeatedly asking for strength to finish and for a host of other things during this time.
No more words tonight.
Tomorrow may be day 76 and the challenge is over but I have a walk I want to take and a small group workout I will choose to participate in.
I am looking forward to the end but formulating what’s next. What’s the point of finishing 75hard only to return to the exact same habits as before it started?
As I’ve written before, daily walks will continue. Strength training 3-4 times a week and yoga on Sunday. The intensity may feel exactly the same but there is something comforting about working to reaching a goal without the compulsion of completing a challenge.
Besides the Trifecta goal next year, there is a weight loss goal but I don’t care as much about that as I did a couple of months ago. I want (and will have) the fitness to achieve my goals. This brings to mind another thought. Not caring what anyone thinks about my goal will be paramount to my success. Not naysayers, family, friends, my gym community or what I have come to experience most recently–the presence of a pushy online trainer on social media trying to find out exact details (like my weight) in order to give me unsolicited advice.
I will always appreciate and love support but I won’t depend on outside validation to become who I need to be to cross the line all three times in 2020.
On the 69th day, I went to a small group physical training class and the “small group” ended up being me.
I appreciated the one-on-one attention. My first real attempt at pull-ups was valiant and the success was aided by a set of bands I stood on for support. Per my new usual, I left tired but proud of the work done.
Afterwards, I met a friend for my second workout –a walk in the park. She gifted me a lovely book of poetry for my birthday.
On the back of the book there was a quote that resonated deeply with me:
“Nobody warned you that the women whose feet you cut from running would give birth to daughters with wings.”
Many women like me come from silenced women, oppressed women or women who lived as if their feet were bound or cut because of what the world brainwashed them to claim as truth.
And they did give birth to women like me and many women like my dear friend who want to live out loud, feel the earth under their feet on multiple continents, hike, climb, start their own businesses, volunteer, work, raise money, take care of their families, write books and lead without apology.
Women like me who are scared to live without the recognition of their wings.
I had a 5:30am strength class. I struggled to elephant crawl on the AstroTurf, quaking breath and wobbly arms, but it got done. I drove home, jumped out of the car and took a walk.
The long kind of meditative walk that I won’t stop taking once this challenge is over next Friday.
My mind wanders and winds as much as my feet do on these walks. So much to observe. The lonely cats. The barefoot woman who runs out to start and warm up her car before scurrying back in. The trashmen in dayglow vests dragging receptacles across the dewey grass. The children with their hoodies up and heads down, buried in their phones.
I remind myself often to pray. Say thank you, Kristina. You were blessed to wake up today. Your husband woke up today. Your family is healthy. Pray they feel loved and safe and want for nothing.
I may listen to something. But no earphones. I let the sound ring out from the depths of my coat pocket. When I started these walks 68 days ago, I anticipated my fitness changing, growing but I didn’t anticipate the gratification.
I think it’s better that way. Finding it, falling into a practice rather than entering full of assumptions. That is where the authenticity can be found.
I am home now. I feel my muscles vibrating and my heart still pumping several minutes after class is over. This Afterburn class is designed to destroy limits. All of the strength training classes I am taking are also designed for this purpose but tonight was something else… mountain climbers, push-ups, burpees, lunges, touchdown squats and something I had never heard of…Figure 8’s?
As I was winding a kettlebell through my legs, up back to my chest and back through my legs on the other side, there were many audible grunts. Another class member and I “competed” in pulling an infinity rope machine through 10 rounds at the end of the session. I thought I had nothing left when she asked us to do it. Did she not see my sweat and hear my heavy breath?
But when she called time, I pulled as if I had a shot in beating this very fit man next to me.
What’s occuring to me is that just when I think I have nothing left, just when I think I should be passed out on the gym floor, my will shows up.
There’s almost always more left.
The tank is only empty if I tell myself it is. If I set myself up with enough sleep, water, the proper food and vitamins, then it is possible.
I knew today would be better than yesterday. Even though I was sore, my walk this morning was done and I could feel the muscles working in my legs. I had a training to attend in the afternoon and the information presented to me filled in holes I didn’t know needed to be filled. My day job will make a bit more sense from here on out.
At the training, there were crayons, markers, colored pencils and clay at the table. I arrived for the afternoon portion and people were engaged in the training but they were also coloring and rolling around brightly colored clay in their hands. Maybe this is already commonplace at many companies but it was my first time witnessing it.
I eventually asked for a box and picked up a paper with “Enjoy the Little Things” and colored a little bit. It was almost alarming how satisfying it was to be free to do so.
It really can be about enjoying the little things-coloring at work, a meditative walk in the neighborhood and for me right now, going to let my stylist work her magic fingers through my hair.