10 Things I’ve Learned About Myself So Far in This Quest (Part Two):

If you have not seen my last post about this subject (the first five things I have learned) then you can just look back to this post. I really wanted to make sure that I understood, as well as my readers, that this is a completely new learning process for me. Well, as stated before, I am trying to pick things that I’ve learned in my recent endeavors, and things that I have known for years but did not make a connection to until now. So before I kill you with complete boredom, here are:

The Top Ten Things I Have Learned About Myself So Far (the second half):

5.) I absolutely am in love with barre workouts for strength conditioning. And it completely baffles me as to why I hadn’t thought of it as a viable way to work on leg conditioning without bulking up with weights. I mean, I’ve been dancing for years between various classes and rehearsals for dance-heavy musicals. So I wonder why the knowledge of this particular exercise stayed hidden in my little noggin all this time. Well, as far as barre is concerned, it’s really easy and low impact (you don’t even need to use weights if you don’t want to), but it is super effective. I usually try to do it in the evening, three times a week, when I get home from work. Since I do my running training at 6am, I like fitting it in later. If you don’t know what barre workouts are, here is a great video by the folks over at FitnessBlender.

4.) This fitness, training thing is so much easier when you cook for yourself. Now I can’t pretend that I didn’t know that already, but it really is something I have to reiterate. It is also much more cost effective to cook for yourself while training. The only problem that I have is the whole cooking for one conundrum. Granted, there are a ton of things that can be fractioned as far as recipes are concerned, but I have always been very experienced in the kitchen. When you know how to improvise, cooking for one is so much easier. Another problem that I run into is that I can never use fresh produce fast enough. Even though I try to use it as quickly as possible, and buy as little as possible, there are times when it will go bad anyway. One example of a great way to work with what you have is by cooking what will be useful throughout the week. Example: the boyfriend and I made a roast chicken with roast potatoes and carrots for the Super Bowl. We ended up eating all the veggies but had more than half a chicken left. I put that in the fridge and made various other lunches until today. Today I pulled the chicken apart to use for various things like chicken salad, country pie, etc.

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Ew.

I separated it into three piles: what I couldn’t use went into the trash; what was clean-pulled went into a bowl; and what I could use went onto the red lid. Because I had so many useful pieces (but not stuff I’d want to eat, though), I decided to make a stock that I would later freeze.

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I know it looks completely gross; but trust me, it’s tasty.

In case anyone is wondering, the stock includes the full carcass of the chicken (with fat, skin, etc.), a bunch of baby carrots, half an onion, two cloves of garlic split, and salt and pepper and some thyme. Then I made dinner with a half cup of shredded chicken, half cup of sauerkraut, a garlic sour pickle chopped up, chopped onions, a quarter cup of chick peas, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder. Over it, I had a couple latkes I made two days ago (yay leftovers!). (If you’re interested, the sauerkraut and garlic sours are from the world famous gourmet shop Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli.) So as you can see, having different things handy helps keep me on track.

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I swear those latkes were not as burnt looking as they are in the picture. ūüėČ And by the way, it tasted JUST like a super sloppy Reuben (but way healthier).

3.) I absolutely, 100% do not want my endeavors to change who I really am, deep down inside. I know this journey will change me in some ways. Heck, the whole point is to change my attitude about exercise and fitness. But I don’t want anything drastic. This is that serious conversation that I eluded to in the last post. I think what triggered it was my boyfriend asking me if I had seen any of those movies about bloggers, because they ruined relationships. I know he was joking (you sarcastic jerk), but his words really made me think. I told him this past Saturday, while we were out to breakfast, that I wanted him to promise to keep me in check. He told me he wasn’t worried, but I told him I was. I didn’t want things to take complete hold of my life. I saw someone make a drastic (and similar) lifestyle change once, and it led to a divorce, and that terrifies me. But I guess the indicator I’ll be okay (we’ll be okay), is the fact that I’m already concerned about it. Luckily, we just concluded to cross that bridge when we get there. If we get there.

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I’m looking at you, “Julie“. (Photo credit: goodfoodstories)

2.) I want to have a healthy heart. My boyfriend works in a setting where he sees people with heart problems all the time. Sometimes he’ll have these horror stories that worry me, as I have a history of poor heart health from every side of my family. It’s scary stuff. And as I realize that I want to be around for the people I love as long as possible, I need to keep my heart pumping blood. I know I want to live long (and prosper), but I’m not ready to leave the ones I love either. That may be a little selfish, but I’m thinking ahead here.

And the number one thing I have learned so far:

1.) I have the BEST support system in the world. Honestly, you are all the best friends, family, boyfriend, colleagues, and loved ones ever. I couldn’t possibly ask for better people in my life. So, thank you.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Myself So Far in This Quest (Part One):

It has become apparent to me that when you take on a goal and journey as dramatic as the one I have, you quickly start to learn various things about yourself. These could be new discoveries that shed light on why things are the way they have been, or they could be things that have always been in the back of your mind but didn’t want to acknowledge. I have slowly been coming to terms with both these ideas. With my sister living in a different country for the next five months or so, I’ve had little opportunity for my usual venting sessions with her (and she with me). I love my sister and already miss her dearly, but I’m sure you can all tell she’s already forgotten about me and having wicked good fun. Without her usual guidance, I have since had to sit back and really look at what was in front of me; where was this adventure leading me? My boyfriend and I actually had a pretty serious discussion about it this past weekend (more on that later), and I really felt it was important to look at this journey from every angle. So without further ado, here are:

The Top Ten Things I Have Learned About Myself So Far:

10.) Never underestimate what kind of power you really have over yourself. A year ago, I would have thought everyone crazy who would have told me that I would be in training for a marathon (eventually) by now. Nope. Wouldn’t have believed you for a second. I’d probably ask you if Santa was real and expect a different answer than the one you’d give me. But your brain is a very powerful organ. It can work against you to convince you that you don’t really want something, even though your heart is in it; or it can completely rationalize your every desire. I was lucky in the sense that I somehow ended up with a brain that works. Obviously if you are a living, breathing being, your brain functions. What I mean is that my brain didn’t try to psych me out this time. It didn’t go searching for a rationale on why I couldn’t run a marathon with how out of shape much I’m not a runner. It didn’t try to convince me that this wasn’t something I could ever accomplish. No, what my brain did was magical. It rationalized my desire and mapped out a plan. It worked with my whole heart to convince me that this is¬†something I can do. And it told me that I was not allowed to give up (however, it did tell me to be realistic and that if I came to a plateau or a problem outside of my control, I would have to work through it). I was so proud of my brain. And I never thought I would be so enthusiastic about running.

I ate these - ants in the Amazon 2003

Your brain can convince you to eat these ants… you know, for survival. (Photo credit: exfordy)

9.) Working out on a regular basis significantly lowers and increases your appetite at the same time. I’m talking about full on meals here. I’ve noticed that I’m actually eating much smaller amounts at regular meal times on days that I work out (forget you, weekend!), and eating more throughout the day. As in eating less but more frequently. I know that there is some scientific hormonal change that happens that causes this (and I’m not talking about metabolism), but I’m too lazy to look it up right now (okay, maybe not). Maybe one day I’ll have the motivation to find evidence of this idea. Oh, and if anyone is wondering, I’m eating about three “meals” and two snacks a day.

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Yup, don’t have to worry about that. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8.) The reason I had such a hard time running in the past is not from muscle soreness, but from labored breathing.¬†And I am still struggling with this. A very difficult part of my workout/training is that I am limited by my breathing. I am not having a hard time running longer than 15 minutes straight because of sore muscles, it is strictly because of my arduous breathing. My body has not¬†accustomed¬†to the continuous jogging/walking/running cycles I have been putting it through. The funny thing is that I’ve read a bunch on how one “should” breathe while running, but it doesn’t seem to give me results. I even tried really hard to work with Michelle’s method from I Run With It, but I still haven’t gotten the hang of it. Deep breathing is insane stuff. Seriously, the method is an ab workout in itself. I have been a singer most of my life, so I have trained in how to breathe this way for a long time. You’d think it would come as second nature; but I guess my brain has other plans. Either way, I’m going to really work with it and keep trying until I get it right. Who knows, maybe it’s ONLY my breathing that is holding me back on going farther for longer (because I don’t ache… at all).

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*GASP!* “I…. need…. to cool…. down….” *GASP!* (Photo credit: jokeroo)

7.) I really don’t need to use pain relievers on my runs… yet.¬†I have seen many people who write on their blogs or even various articles about taking pain killers before a run, to help with the painful joints and muscles after. I hate taking pills for things. And I mean HATE. I’m a firm believer that we can always find alternative methods for what ails us, before subjecting our bodies to medication to which we may become resistant (it’s like if you take antibiotics for everything, eventually your body gets too used to them and they won’t work as intended anymore). Granted, I am allergic to a lot of antibiotics and cannot take most pain relievers. This could eventually have proven to be a problem, as¬†acetaminophen¬†is the preferred medication as it is the mildest (I cannot have that, aspirin, or even ibuprofen, except for in the case of complete¬†desperation). I can, however, have any form of¬†naproxen,¬† but that is not helpful as it is too strong on the stomach and the liver to take it regularly. Luckily, there are people out there who understand my plight and have produced posts for these specific topics. I want to avoid taking pain relievers as long as possible, but if I run into a dilema, I can go by things that bloggers like Amanda at Health.com have to say.

6.) I am much stronger than I think. I mean this physically and emotionally. Of course, I do cry at the drop of a hat at really sappy and sad commercials.

sarah mclachlan commercials Pictures, Images and Photos

(Photo credit: fiterature)

That is not what I’m talking about. I really thought about how emotionally taxing this whole journey (including the blog) is going to be on me, my boyfriend, and my extended family and friends. I had pledged to myself that I would not use anyone’s specific information unless given permission to do so; and I would certainly not mention names, unless they are for citations and mentions of celebrities. I don’t want to offend anyone, and the last thing I want to do is alienate myself. But I have been strong about many things in the past, and I know that I won’t let things get me down. I also am a lot physically stronger than I thought. I am absolutely amazed at how strong my legs are. I have known for years that I have pretty strong legs (I mean, some pretty closely related family were professional soccer players in Italy), and it’s in my genes. But I never understood the magnitude, until I started pushing them to work their hardest when I started this a few weeks ago. I am really proud of their hard work, and I really want to improve their different strengths. I just hope they get stronger, not weaker.

What have you learned about yourself in the past? Are you coming to terms with things you have learned might affect your goals?