Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Whether I know you in person or not, I am proud of you, even if only for trying.  I concentrate on being supportive, motivating, and encouraging to others, as well as genuinely happy for others’ accomplishments.  I was once so very guilty of comparing myself with others, and I strive today to not do so.  This is not to suggest that I never engage in this comparative behavior, because I do, and that is clear in many of my other written ramblings, but it is something that I continually work to correct in myself.  Comparison is a damaging habit, not only to your own well-being, but it can also potentially leave a ding in the contentment of the other individual (the victim of your analogy).  Until recently, just yesterday in fact, I was unaware that I was the object of comparison; when this tidbit came to light, it irked me, and here is why . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat with wonder, distressed that I was not going to provide further explanation?)

Yesterday, a woman with whom I work, I will call her C, had just returned from a walk outside at about the same time that I was making my way back to my office from my Monday gym session.  (Word on the street is, you should never skip a Monday.  Challenge accepted; I ran 7 miles.  BOOM!).  C happily reported that she was already at her 10,000 steps for the day, and Leola stated that she (C) and Miss Amy are putting her (Leola) to shame (I’m “Miss Amy,” btw).  C proceeded to state that I likely get 20,000 steps a day, and Leola reiterated that we are working on two different journeys and reminded her that I am training for a half marathon.  C then indicated that it is easy for me because I am 20 years younger than she is, and that is what annoyed me.

Why undermine my drive, my hard work, and my commitment?  On days that I get 20,000 steps, it’s because I push myself and then I push myself harder and then I push myself just a little bit more.  Do not diminish another’s progress in order to build yourself up.  If you are unhappy with 10,000 steps, then push yourself to take more steps.  If you feel unfulfilled with your work in the day, then do more work.  I may be 20 years younger than C, but there was once a day when running 7 miles seemed like merely a pipe dream.  Several years ago, I was still 20 years younger than C, and running even .25 miles nonstop was an immense accomplishment.  Although I was left feeling unfulfilled with that .25 after a while, I did not compare myself with someone who could run longer, nor did I encapsulate their abilities: he’s younger than I am, she has more time than I do, he has a more natural athletic ability, and so on and so forth.  The excuses for not performing as well as somebody else are endless, but it should not matter how you perform compared with another.  There is a lot of truth to the quip, “Compete with yourself, not with others.”

So, since 2015-ish, I have been counting calories, going to the gym, running, running, running, and running some more, drinking more water, working on my food related choices and behaviors, pushing myself . . . In other words, I work damn hard, so. damn. hard.  So, I do not take kindly to my weight loss or my step count being credited to my age.  I can only assume that C is not happy with where she is at, but that did not give her an appropriate cause to minimize me, more specifically, where I am at in my own journey.  For the record, there is an 80-ish year old man (that is 50+ years older than I am) who absolutely smokes me every year at the Safe Voices 5K.  So, you see, C, MY age has little to do with YOUR performance.

I am well aware that soul searching is burdensome and that it is painful to be truthful, particularly when we feel that we are falling short and have to admit to ourselves that yeah, this one is on me.  I sat on this encounter all of yesterday afternoon and evening before writing it up this morning; I thought it of the utmost importance to analyze why this bothered me so.  Why am I so sensitive to this remark?  Am I justified in my feels?  What I’ve concluded is that . . . I am justified to feel any sort of way that I want to about it.  My feelings are my own, and they are valid whether someone else “gets” them or not.  However, I usually do make sure that my perspectives aren’t fueled by hanger, and in this case, they most definitely were not.  I was (am) sensitive to her remark for exactly the reasons that I outlined: I work hard, and I did not appreciate my hard work being surmised that it is easy because I am 33.

So, I urge one and all to just . . . STOP.  Stop comparing yourself with others for any reason . . . whether it’s a number on the scale, a distance you’ve run, the size of your residence, the make and model of your car, your marital status, your parental status, the brand of your clothes, your level of education . . . just STOP.  Instead, engage in self-reflection, and keep it just that: SELF-reflection.  When I began to self-reflect as a means to counteract my nature to compare, compare, compare, I learned several key points, and here they are . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat thinking that I was not going to share them with you?)

  • Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • I am exactly where I am meant to be, and I have two options while I am here:
    • a) be happy where I am while I work on bettering my situation and / or myself
    • b) be miserable.  *The latter will assist me in the accomplishment of . . . being miserable.
  • Sometimes, someone else just wants it more.
  • A lot of work remains ahead of me.
    • Although I fully understand that when I compare myself with others, I am allowing my joy to be thieved, I have yet to learn how to keep others from pirating my joy.

 

*Note(s):

  • I referred to C as such because her first name begins with a C; this letter selection was not to imply derogatory name calling.
  • Most days, I do not achieve 20,000 steps.  So, C’s comparison is based solely on her own assumption.
  • Larceny is a Part 1 crime.
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Mainely A Stereotype

I reside in a small town.  Not only do I live in a small town, I live in THE stereotypical small town.  Think: Mayberry combined with Cheers (yeah, the bar) ’cause my residential township is quaint, peaceful, and the locals know everybody’s name (exception: seasonal tourists, but many of the locals are nosy / social so they know the tourists’ names too!).  So, for the sake of my privacy, all the while giving my home a name, I shall refer to this quaint land of familiarity as Cheersberry . . .  or Maycheers . . .  or . . .  ORRRRR . . . I will use these interchangeably.

I have various run routes established.  There’s one route that I like to do either very early in the morning or later in the evening because 1.5 miles in, I reach a very small beach, and to witness the sunrise or sunset there is breathtakingly beautiful.  Plus, there’s the added bonus that if it’s a wicked hot day, one can jump in the lake for a little swim!  The picture I have does not depict the rise or set of the sun, but it’s still a glorious view, even at midday.  Also along this route are fellow Cheersberry residents who have become familiar with me and will oftentimes whoop words of encouragement or offer me water.  The Friends on the 4th 5K is mapped along “downtown,” but there is a portion of the run that is residential; many people sit on their lawns to cheer and lightly spray runners with their garden hoses – this is my favorite!  The garden hose incidence is less frequent during one of my “regular” runs, one that isn’t a big to-do / event, which makes it even more special if it should so happen, and once in a while, it does.  Small town livin’ is the tops!  . . . at least for eight months of the year.

Narrows

Summer is now in full swing, and the tourists have come from near and far!  Adding to the small town stereotype, the locals are not always so fond of the tourists, and by this, I mean I am not so fond of the tourists.  The environment changes when the out-of-towners flock to Maycheers in gaggles.  Just last week, I was pushed around and rudely cut in front of at the farm stand, and all of the commotion was caused by non locals.  When running, the out of state cars do not move over to share the road; in the last few days alone, my Radin and I have had several close calls with vehicular modes of transportation.

Yearly, I am prepared for the sudden change in environment at the grocery store and other shopping venues.  What is typically a friendly and patient setting becomes a climate of superiority and brouhaha.  When it’s the off-season, patrons of the grocery store chatter with one another as they wait in line, say “excuse me” if they need to reach something that is in another’s personal space, and offer to help those who may need helping.  Now?  Now, it’s a free for all.  Overall, the from-awayers are impatient, crashing their shopping carts into others because they’re ceaselessly using their cell phones, they loudly insinuate and make certain that we, the townies, are aware that their vacation time is valuable and that they cannot be bothered to wait, and the number of people that aggressively invade personal space is utterly galling.  My intent is not to generalize because I am certain that there are just as many delightful vacationers in our area, but I’m just indicating that the poor behavior is noticed.  I can adjust to the sudden influx of strong personalities, but what I tend to have difficulty acclimating to are nightly fireworks and unleashed dogs.

I love fireworks, but I much prefer them when they are appropriate.

  • Q: So, when are they appropriate?
  • A: Holidays such as the 4th of July or New Year’s, and on Friday or Saturday nights should the desire be to launch the works of fire just for the pure sake of doing so.

I wish beyond all measure that my town ordinance did not change, that fireworks were still banned and illegal.  The nightly fireworks wreak havoc for the wildlife, not to mention the pets who are terrified of the loud noises and riddled with anxiety over the ruckus.  *I am not a parent, other than fur babies, but I imagine that it is exceedingly arduous for those with babies, toddlers, and young children.*  The late night annoyances are also not appreciated by those of us who get up at 0400.  I understand that many of the temporary residents are on vacation, and I acknowledge that they should enjoy their vacation time, their relaxation time but not at the expense of those who live here full-time, year-round.  Cheerberry is not The City That Never Sleeps; we sleep . . . or at least, we used to.  I’m not requesting that the fireworks and drunken carousing cease altogether, I just ask for the commotion to wrap up at a sensible time.

Finally, leash your dogs!  How do I know that the offenders of the leash laws are out-of-towners’ dogs?  Just like with the humans, the locals, especially those of us who are actively outside and running about the town, have familiarly with the local yokel puppers.  Sunday evening, I took Radin for a long walk.  *Radin and I are not able to run together because we are equally clumsy and end up in calamitous, though comical, conundrums.  So, when Radin accompanies me, it’s for the slower paced meanderings.*  About a mile from home, during our return expedition, an unleashed dog bolted toward us.  I have no doubt that this dog was friendly, but my Radin and I were recently attacked by an unleashed, not-so-friendly dog, in our own yard.  It is fair to assert that Radin and I are now a little suspicious and mistrustful of foreign dogs that come darting at us.  Stranger danger is real, folks!  I should note that Radin does not get along remarkably well with other dogs as a rule, and because I know this about him, he is always harnessed, leashed, and kept close to me.

During our aforementioned adventure, I pulled Radin close to me and commanded him to stand between my legs.  Because my thighs are much stronger than my arms, I know that I can hold him still and protect him that way.  (Hey, I’ve been credited with saving his life during our attack, so I know that I could (and would) do so again).  We began to simultaneously walk backwards, taking slow and steady steps, but the dog continued to dart toward us.  To my horror, the unleashed dog scampered into the road and into oncoming traffic.  Now, I don’t want problems to arise between this dog and my own, but I also don’t want to see harm befall this visiting dog.  I’m typically the person pulling over and rescuing dogs (and cats and turtles and whatever else I find in the road that needs an assist).  Meanwhile, drivers are annoyed because traffic is slow going – Radin and I were nearly hit by two or three vehicles that refused to move over!  Out of approximately seven passing motorists, only one man stopped to help us.  Coincidentally, the other six vehicles had out of state and out of country (Canada) registration plates, respectively.  The man who stopped to help me, he was a Mainer.  Summer folks, enjoy your stay in Vacationland, but please, consider the residents of your interim abode.

. . . I don’t want to be the stereotypical, vacationist hating, country bumpkin so please, do your part in not turning me into a stereotype . . . just sayin’.

Incentive Inception

::sigh::

I’ve recently begun to backslide, and as a result, I have come to the conclusion that I need to evaluate my prior successes.  What was I doing right previously, and how have I strayed?  By honing in one why and how I was successful two years ago, I will likely begin to see many more successes emerge in the present and the future.

One past behavior that I was so proud of myself for overcoming was my scale / number obsession.  Well, the compulsion to weigh myself once, twice, and sometimes, three times daily has returned.  I’ve been battling this numbers fixation for a month or more now, and it has got to stop.  Logically and rationally, I know that this behavior is completely and utterly counterproductive.  I am also aware that by being so focused on a number, especially if it’s one that I am not accepting of, I’m inhibiting myself in various other ways.

Two years ago, when I lost the bulk of my overall weight loss and saw the most significant changes in my body, I was consistently working out with my childhood bestie.  Since she loathes cardio, we spent our time doing a plethora of body weight exercises.  When she ceased coming over due to a change in job, marital status, and residential area, I altogether discontinued that workout / routine.  I know that my gains in muscle were making an impact on my weight loss.  I am also aware that it’s tremendously important to be well-rounded, and I’ve lost that aspect of my gymming persona.

Now that I’ve pinpointed what’s different between then and now, what is my plan?  Incentives!  I’ve been attempting to reel myself in, in regards to incessantly stepping on the scale, for over a month now, but when I am held to only my own accountability, it’s fail after fail after fail.  So, to start, if I stay off of my scale for two weeks from today (until July 11th), I will be the recipient of an incentive.  I think incentivizing myself will assist me with re-focusing on and re-engaging in favorable behaviors I have abandoned.

. . . TODAY IS A NEW DAY, and I’ve got this!


. . . TODAY IS ALSO A NEW DAY, and I’ve still got this!

I just wanted to provide a brief follow up regarding yesterday’s post because this morning, I realized just how ingrained our habits are, whether they be good ones or bad.

This morning (06/28) in my bathroom, before my shower, I automatically went to the scale.  My route to the scale, from my bed, was quite obviously programmed in my body and mind’s GPS, and I was locked in on autopilot.  Luckily, I was able to break free from the trance, and I did not step on!

Last night, even though it was after 1900hrs, and I had already run 5 miles, I started a 30 day booty challenge.  It’s on my Day Zero Project / goal list to complete a 30 day challenge, and I think this is just what I needed to introduce body weight exercises back into my routine.

I must admit that I am pleased with myself for seriously implementing a plan to improve upon where I’ve determined that I’m currently lacking.  So many times before, I’ve had little to no follow through on my intentions.  Now, consistency is the key!

 

 

 

Progress Not Perfection

For shame!  It has been seven months since last I’ve written.  Between my last blathering in August of 2017 and now, I’ve been knocked down again and again and again, but hey, this is me getting back up.

In September of 2017, I fainted.  My last thought before the episode was I feel dizzy, as I placed my hand on the door handle to enter the bathroom.  I apparently was able to open the door, for when I fainted, I fainted into the shower, hitting my head.  My Mum drove me to the hospital after I made my way across the street with tears spilling from my eyes.  My best guesstimate, as far as the time I was “out,” is no more than 30 minutes; this estimate is based on two times: the time it was when I last looked at the clock and the time I arrived at my parents’ house.

At the hospital, I underwent EKGs, CTs, so on and so forth.  I was thrilled when the ER doctor indicated that I have one of the healthiest hearts she’s seen.  Shout out to running!  Long story short, there was nothing in any test indicative to the fainting episode, it was just my luck of the draw that day.  As a result of the whomp to my head, I was out of work and all physical activity for over a month because I had one heck of a concussion.  I had the typical symptoms: headache, forgetfulness, impaired speech, light sensitivity, nausea, and emotions ranging from sadness (full on with tears) to rage (also full on with tears).  Luckily, I recovered relatively quickly, and I was cleared to start exercise (slowly, progressively) by the end of October.  Since October, I’ve been gunshy as far as getting back into my normal routine.  Though I could not participate in my last 10K of the 2017 season, I was indeed able to enjoy my vacation to NYC, albeit difficult at times – that’s a lot of lights and sounds for someone still nursing concussion symptoms.

While in NYC, I used the hotel’s gym only once, and I only ran one mile when I did.  However, this was still a win in my book because a) I did it after over a month of running zero miles and b) I used an unfamiliar gym in an unfamiliar atmosphere in an unfamiliar state.

Now, here is is March of 2018, and I am just getting myself together again.  I have had some stern chats with myself as of late.  Though I have gone on short walks during short breaks and used my gym’s work intermittently, I have not yet established that routine, that sweet spot I was once accustomed to – when my body craves gym time and my mind and heart are set on making it a reality, not just a brainstorm.

After many setbacks, many of my which were of my own doing, I am finally ready to really and truly work hard again.

Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying

I have just made my way up from the belly of the beast.  The beast being the (somewhat) abandoned basement floor of the building and its belly being the gym.  See why it’s abandoned?  However, no matter just how neglected that lower level is, it’s nowhere near as jilted as this blog.

When perusing my past posts this morning, I discovered that in May was the last time in which I wrote.  May!?  How can this possibly be!?  I’ve fallen victim to the “tomorrow” or “I’ll do it later” mentality, all the while, the passing days grew in momentum.

  • I vaguely remember writing that 2017 . . .  this is going to be the year that I make a concentrated effort to take pictures during events.
    • This has not been an entirely successful endeavor, but A for effort?  Do I get half credit?  My lack of photos is mainly due to the several events I have run alone.  However, I do have a handful of photos:
      • A before photo of my best friend, Callie, and I at the Safe Voices 5K to End Domestic Violence
      • A selfie of myself (duh) after Color Me Rad
      • A before and after photo of Callie and I at Tough Mountain.
    • Considering I have ONE before picture, ONE after picture, and ONE before AND after set of photographs, this is clearly a progression in the right direction.  If only I could hone in on and perfect the craft of consistency.  However, that is another battle.
  • When I began this blog, I pledged to lose those pesky last 10lbs., thus leaving me sitting prettily at my goal weight.
    • I still have those pesky 10 lbs. that I would like to lose.  Over the course of the past few months, I’ve been half-assing it fairly regularly.  Half credit for consistency in this scenario?
      • Though I am NOT where I planned to be all of those months ago, I am not beating myself up over my “failure” because it’s not a failure.  My lack of “success” is a mere bump in the road along what has been a long journey.
      • I am simply trying harder and recommitting myself to the following: drink more water, track calories (-1000 deficit), and stay active.
      • I am finally at a place where I do not define myself by that number featured on the scale.  Though I do indeed have a number goal, and though I am disappointed I’m not quite there yet, I measure my successes in other ways . . .
        • . . . I can now run a 5k without stopping / walking.  At one point, running .25 nonstop was an accomplishment exceeding any other.
        • . . . I’ve maintained my weight, and though I’ve experienced fluctuations, I have not gained.
        • . . . My clothes fit properly and are flattering.
        • . . . I’ve adopted habits such as using the gym for half of my lunch hour.  Remember the quip about the belly of the beast?  I’m slaying said beast.

So, why the lengthy absence from Cupcakes and Canter?  Two reasons.  1). I’ve struggled the past few months with making time.  This struggle is not only applicable to writing, but it’s something I’ve faced with just . . . ev-er-y-thing.  2). There is a part of my psyche that did not want to face my lack of triumphs; once written down, said lacks feel more real than when floating around lackadaisically in my brain.

So, what has happened between May and today’s date in August?

  • I’ve run 3 – 5k events, improving my overall time by 5 minutes.
  •  I ran in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, and even though I had to climb into what I have lovingly dubbed as the “struggle bus,” it gave me confidence in my ability to put myself out there and try new things.
    • In my defense, it was more than a 10k, the pace was a 7-8 min. mile, the shirts didn’t breathe, and it was hot. as. balls and humid.  Am I going to participate in the LETR next year?  Why, YES.  Yes, I am . . . because I know that the evidence van struggle bus will be there to pick me up if I fall, or in this case, just slow way, way down.  Furthermore, I felt relieved that no one made fun of me, nor was I the only one who needed the four-wheeled assist.
  • I completed Tough Mountain, a 4 mile obstacle course with 21 obstacles.
  • Most importantly, despite all of my self-perceived failures that are really non-failures, discouragements, and disappointments, I’ve kept trying.  I’ve never given up.
IMG_20170603_174831_035
Safe Voices 5K
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To Do: Tough Mountain
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To Done: Tough Mountain

 

 

 

May Goals

. . . May’s goals . . . 

1). NO pizza. I always give something up each month. The reason I am choosing pizza is because it’s my absolute favorite food, and I want to get it back to a status of being a “treat” now and then instead of eating it often / regularly.

2). I’d like to be down 5-8 lbs toward my goal weight by the end of the month. I only have 13 total left so I think 5-8 is a good chunk without being overwhelming.

3). Actually get the 45 miles in May done for the 45 in May swap 🙂

4). Start and maintain a journal, which I have outlined and made a plan for last night and this morning 🙂

. . . Well, 10 days in, and I am doing decent with my May goals . . . 

1). I have not had any pizza.  This includes take out, homemade, Hot Pockets and / or Lean Pockets, pizza rolls, etc.  NO pizza whatsoever, and you know what?  I am OKay!  I noticed that after my two months sans ALL sweets, that now, I can eat a piece of candy or have a BITE of a sweet, and I am instantly satiated.  I ate a small brownie this past weekend, and it was far too much.  Considering I am off of soda entirely, with the exception of the Kickstart (damn those!), my habit of giving something up for a month at a time is definitely helping me regulate my bad habits and improve upon what “in moderation” means to my lifestyle.

2). Well, I did not weigh myself May 1st, and so, I can only go by my last weigh in, which was on April 24th.  The current number on the scale is higher than the number that was facing me on the 24th, but because I have been working out again, I attribute this “gain” to muscle weight.  I was also bloated for several days, and I know I am holding water.  SO, I am not overly concerned.  I may weight myself this evening and go from there.  If it’s one thing I have learned, it is that I can have a target number in mind, but I should base my progress on how I feel, and I am feeling fantastic!

3). I have thus far completed 19 miles for the Move It! 45 Miles in May swap.  I am also participating in the Pacific Coast Highway virtual race, which is 113.2 miles.  I need to up my daily distances in order to finish the latter within the month, but I am pleased with my 19 miles thus far.  Unless my May mirrors April’s events, I foresee completing the 45 miles without a hitch.  I am definitely pushing myself to get out there, even when it is the last thing I want to do.  Fun shirts and knee socks help; they keep me happy!

Running for bibliophilia

“Running for bibliophilia.”  Image from my Instagram: idiosyncratic_unicorn

4). The journal . . . eh, not so much.  I need to let go of my tendency to be slightly obsessive-compulsive, in regards to my penmanship and style, and just embrace the journal’s contents and love it for what it is.  I had brainstormed a format that I felt will work well for me, but I have not been successful at actually executing it.  I still have time to follow through, even if it’s only writing my stats down, and then, I can improve upon my process (embellishments, etc.) next month.

So far, so good.  I feel like I am finally on the upswing!

 

New May, New Me

Well, it is the 1st of May: a new day, a new month, and new goals!

From one of my forum interactions, in one of my many swap-bot groups, Healthy Journaling . . .

“I am thrilled! I have finally started a journal. Well, by started … I mean that last night I took the time to choose one, put some washi along the edge of page #1 with a matching / complementing sticker (pink flamingos for those who dig details ;D), and I brain stormed what/how I am going to journal.

I decided that to journal should make me happy, which is why I plan to decorate and embellish each page. I decided I don’t want to sit and write, write, write, but I want it to be useful in tracking…

SO, I have decided…

-make a daily goal for myself,

-throw in a motivating quote – I have several applicable Project Life cards I can paste in for that,

-write down my activity (total miles, work outs I have done, etc.), and

-notate cals in vs. cals out (I won’t include the itemized tracking in my journal because I track everything I eat and drink meticulously in my Fitbit).

I may or may not include a short reflection to include how I feel about meeting my daily goal or how I can achieve it if I did not, etc.

The biggest obstacle for me, in regards to journaling, is that I get anxiety when it’s not perfect. If I see my penmanship as sloppy, if the washi tore and isn’t perfectly aligned, etc. It’s something I have always faced – I could get SO many more letters written and be journaling consistently if I could just learn to embrace the imperfections.

Anyways, feeling good about day #1 / page #1!! :)”

I am signed up for / involved in a lot of exercise themed and goal oriented swap-bot swaps this month.  With my first 5K being June 3rd, I am so excited to recommit myself to running and working out.  Though I am signed up for several events, there is something motivating about when that first event becomes impending rather than in the queue for a much later date!  To help me prepare, I have joined the Move It #2! 45 Miles in May swap, AND I am doing the Pacific Coast Highway virtual 5K, which is 113.2 total miles.

So, May is off to a good great start, and it is only 1100 hours!

-First, I have my new journal accompanied by a concrete plan regarding how I will utilize it and a format which will allow me to keep  it consistent and as aesthetically pleasing as it is useful.

-Though it was raining this morning, I still went for a morning walk with a colleague!

-Thus far, I am sticking to my daily goal.

I only have 13 pounds until I reach my goal weight, and I feel that it’s feasible to achieve that goal by Tough Mountain, especially if I can stay on target for a 2lb loss per week.  Tough Mountain is July 29th.  That’s nearly 3 months!  I can do this, and I am more driven than ever to do so.  I have finally turned the corner where I start to support the idea that it is OKay to put myself first by having actions that are aligned with the attitude.

It no longer matters how or why I fell off the wagon, nor does it matter how long it has taken me to get back on it.  I have given myself permission to stop dwelling on my perceived failures.  What IS important is …

I have that fire in my belly again.