Motivation

Doing More, Better

It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve updated this blog! I remember the moment that inspired the last post: I was rehearsing with my old improv team in a back room of a strange charter school in Ravenswood.  The exercise was to get to know each other better. We stood in a circle with one person in the middle and the other group members were able to ask anything they wanted.

A question to me was, “you seem to do a lot; what all do you do or try to do?” My answer was that ensuing blog post.

So 2 years later, it feels like a good time to take a look back and see what I’ve accomplished, what I started, where I’ve made progress, what I’ve given up, and what I’ve yet to do…

  • Work/Career growth
    • Started an amazing new job at Healthbox in March 2016 with an amazing team and have made great strides there
  • Study for the GMAT
    • Done and taken!
  • Apply to business school/get my MBA
    • Applications complete—see a forthcoming blog post on that : )
  • Start a podcast
  • Go on more dates
    • Yeah, some.
  • Work on self-exploration with a therapist (just started!)
    • Doing this regularly. Also have a great accountability group that have been so helpful in this process
  • Go to chiropractor regularly and do rehab/prehab exercises
    • I did this… one time…
  • Learn to dance hip hop
    • Went to a class! And hired a coach for one lesson. Not pursuing this right now, but would love to pick it up someday when I have time
  • Workout
    • Non-negotiable
  • Do triathlons
    • Did a few more this past year! Made a commitment to not “bail” on any races and upheld that! The accountability group was incredible in this
  • Do obstacle/adventure races
    • Had a blast! Won the Savage Race outright and Qualified for OCR World Championships

 

  • Travel
    • Went to China in January to see my sister who is teaching there. Incredible trip!
  • Practice for Improv group 2
    • Doing
  • Shows for Improv group 2
    • Every other week
  • Networking
    • The new job has afforded me amazing opportunities to travel to conference and get more involved in the tech, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and venture capital worlds
      • Pro tip: Always add value to the relationship 
  • Go to more business/professional development events outside of work
    • See above
  • Keep great friendships
    • This should always be ongoing
  • Maintain my social life (where it doesn't overlap with other items on this list--like simply going out or concerts, etc.)
    • Could be better about this
  • See more live music
    • Pusha T, Eve 6, Run the Jewels, Ja Rule, Chance the Rapper
  • Sleep MORE
    • Not even close
  • Write more for myself
    • Nope
  • Writing articles for other websites
  • Practice mindfulness/meditation; possibly in a class setting
    • Much much better as of late! Having accountability partners is crucial
  • Go to gymnastics
    • Not yet!!
  • Go to Crossfit
    • Rarely, but would love to go more
  • Play more basketball
    • Have played some random, unplanned pickup games and it’s been a blast
  • Start playing hockey
    • Putting off till later
  • Play in my rec sports leagues
    • Rarely
  • Host some mastermind group dinners/friends dinners
    • Did a couple! Or at least arranged some get-togethers of like-minded people
  • Go play ultimate Frisbee
    • Once!
  • Read more books
    • I read my first physical book for the first time in year recently: The Inner Game of Tennis. Really great lessons that I’ll write more on at some point.
    • Currently reading Radical Candor by Kim Scott as team at Healthbox. This book is great!

Resistance--And how to beat it

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying” --Steven Pressfield

I want to do a lot of things. A lot of different things that seem to have no connection with one another, but there seems to be something that keeps getting in the way.  I’d love to write more… but I “don’t have time.” I want to start taking improv classes… but it might “get in the way of my workouts”. I’d like to start taking gymnastics classes and combining it with my current training to get my walking handstands perfected… but it’s “too far away and too expensive.”

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What’s really getting in the way? Resistance

Enter Coffee with Kate

A few weeks ago I met up with another trainer and incredibly awesome friend of mine, Kate Galliet of Fit For Real Life. Kate isn’t only an awesome trainer who owns her own gym where she trains endurance and everyday athletes, but she is wickedly smart and has awesome insight and a positive and practical outlook on life. And she bought me an awesome cup of coffee.

She and I talked about a lot of things but namely about plans we had and things we were working on. There was a big difference I noticed though—Kate was doing these things while I was till thinking about them. Sure, I’ve started a new job which I’m loving and is keeping me crazy busy, but I can make time to explore new ventures. Kate told me exactly what that problem was: Resistance. She recommended that I read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

The book was fantastic. In it, Pressfield defines everything that Resistance is: Invisible, Internal, Insidious, Implacable, and Impersonal. Resistance is what keeps us from reaching our full potential and accomplishing the things that we are in fact capable of achieving. To overcome Resistance, you’ve got to choose whatever it is you are striving to achieve and become a professional at it. It must become like a job—something you do because you are excellent at it and something you can separate yourself from.

How to beat resistance:

Just start: Just write. Just run. Just do handstands against a wall. Want to read more? Start with magazines or websites, but just start and create a habit of it. Your results don’t matter, but you are doing it and with practice comes getting better.

The next step is to create a routine. I’ve finally started mediating every day. I’ve put this off for ever and ever, even though it’s been something I’ve wanted to do. Now, every night, I finish getting ready for the next day, then I read for a few minutes, then I turn off all the lights, sit quietly, and go through a programmed meditation practice from an app on my phone. Then I watch a few minutes of Breaking Bad, if time allows, and go to bed. By keeping this pattern, when I get ready to meditate, I know that is all I’m setting out to do.

The same can work if you want to write more—Create a routine. For me, it would be to go to a nearby Starbucks (have to be out of my house), catch up on Twitter so I won’t have it on my mind, end all text conversations and put my phone on silent, and then finally, my mind is free of obligations and I can begin to write.

The next step is committing. You’ve got a routine, you’ve made the pledge to just start, but now you can’t give up. Just keep doing it. Over and over and over.

So far, I’ve been able to use the lessons I learned from Kate and this book to start meditating, do more personal journaling, and commit to a lifting program I’ve been on for the last month. My next steps are to apply these to finding a cause to volunteer at and to begin improv classes or a sport league—Chicago just needs to get warm enough so I can ride my bike to these commitments.

What about accountability? Can I do recruit someone else to do this with me? I would say yes and no. Sure, it nice to have someone to keep you accountable, but you’ve still got to do the work.  You have to be a professional. J.K. Rowling didn’t say to another author, “I’ll write a book if you write one too”. No, she was broke and took on the commitment to become a professional and commit herself to writing. You just need to look at what you’re doing and ask “is this something that is short term with a defined outcome, or is this something I want to become a part of me and continue long-term.

Now you tell me, what things does Resistance get in the way of in your life that prevent you from achieving something you want?

Good luck and when you encounter that Resistance, call it out and make note of it! Once you start looking you’ll start seeing it a lot more… and finding more ways to overcome it!

This Feels Right

A lot has happened since my last post--which is a large reason I've been delaying this update (well, that and until today it used to take me hours to upload pictures...). I've got a changes coming, but I guess I'll start at the end first. Then weekend before last, I hopped on a plane and jetted out to California--I flew into LA, saw my cousin, and rode with a friend 4 hours north to be a part of the one and only Wildflower Triathlons. This was a team event for Wattie Ink, so I had the chance to meet about 20 of my teammates...  they are all awesome and overall really really good people. We camped out Friday night (in a tent) and I then spent the entire day Saturday chasing around most of my teammates who were racing the Long Course half-Ironman race.  I think I got a video of nearly everyone crossing the finish line or out on the course! (Let me know if you raced and I'll see if I got you on video!) Heather Jackson, a Wattie Ink pro triathlete, won the overall Pro female division and dominated the course!

Heather Jackson- the Champ!

Transition

If you don't know about Wildflower, it's known as one of the toughest triathlon courses in the country. Mad props to everyone who finished on Saturday as it was easily like 90 degrees- I was getting a workout just around with the camera so I know the racers felt it.

Some of the squad at Wildflower

The next morning we woke up to temps in 50s. I was so cold I didn't even know if I was going to start the olympic distance race I would be doing that morning.  Luckily, I got into my Blue Seventy wetsuit early and was able to stay warm. The race was awesome--swim was choppy and impossible to sight, hills on the bike were crazy, and the run felt entirely uphill until the last mile.  My swim was bad, but I blame that on how I swam, not my swimming ability, bike was solid, and my run was really good.  This felt awesome based on the amount and distance that my training has been. I've been doing less with more intensity and lifting a lot more.

Headed toward the finish

Me and One-arm Willie!

My wild one-armed uncle Willie was there! I met him at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon a few years. He won the overall challenged athlete division

After the wild weekend, I returned to LA, got In n Out Burger with my cousin (that's right bitches) then hopped a train to San Diego, bike in tote. I stayed with a good friend of mine and we sealed the deal on an apartment we'll be moving into in June...

Which brings me back to the start!

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to resign from my job. It was not in line with where I wanted to go in my career and I wasn't happy.  At the time, I didn't have something else lined up yet, but I knew that if I didn't make a move, I never would.  So I stepped away... And I have never felt so happy. The decision felt so right and so powerful. Now, I could be happy, and my destiny lies in what I make of it and how hard I work for ME. I came across this article today, which totally reaffirmed what I plan to do.

So through a series of events and hustling, I am going to be moving to San Diego next week to pursue an opportunity in marketing, brand development, and sports--everything I want to be doing and that will help me determine and align what I want to do in the long term. I couldn't be happier and more excited.  I will be very sad to leave Tampa and the amazing friends I have here, but this is going to be another huge step in my recovery: for me to get to a new environment, leave old habits, and create a life free from the things in my past which kept me stuck.

To help support myself, I'm also going to start personal training again, which I can't wait to do as it is something I really enjoy and I have a lot more experience and knowledge than when I was training in college.

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Next Tuesday I'll head out from Tampa on a cross country adventure.  I've talked my little brother into making half of the road trip with me which should be awesome! Our plan is drive from Tampa to Atlanta, spend the night in Atlanta, then spend a night and day in Nashville, followed by the next night and nearly a full day in Memphis, then stopping through Little Rock as we finish in Tulsa for the weekend where my cousin is having her wedding. After the wedding, my brother is flying home, and I'll finish the journey through Albuquerque for a night and then spend a night in Las Vegas! If anyone is along this route, please let me know, as it would be awesome to meet up! Especially in the second half of that trip--who wants to go to Vegas with me??  No, like really, I need someone to go with!

Here goes!

1,000 miles in the car with this kid...

Life Lessons I learned From a Dog Named “Bolt”

Let’s be honest, I don’t usually watch a lot animated Disney movies. Oh wait, I said “let’s be honest”--Ok, so maybe I do (and don’t try to tell me Toy Story isn’t one of the greatest movies of all time.) But a few weeks ago, I was riding my bike on the trainer in my apartment looking for something to watch.  For the most part, I have the TV on, but I don’t really watch it, as I’m rocking out to some Seether or 2000’s rap, like some old school Nelly. Since ESPN was showing women’s basketball, I was looking for something to watch while I rode. Disney channel was showing the movie Bolt, which I’d heard of, so I figured I’d watch. Plus, I had my jams on and was watching with subtitles, so I didn’t have to listen to John Travolta’s voice come out of a dog’s mouth anyway. The plot is about a small white dog named Bolt who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, thinks that he has super powers. Under the false pretense of the TV studio, he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to "rescue" her.

Bolt

Halfway through the movie, this dog had me rapt (no, not rapped). Not only was the movie pretty good, there were some great life lessons that one can pull out of it, no matter who you are:

Believe in yourself, even when others don’t

Sometimes, if you tell people you can shoot lasers from your eyes or have a super-sonic bark, they won’t believe you--blasphemous, I know. But if I told you 6 months ago that I would be stronger now than I ever been in my life, you probably wouldn’t believe me either. Early in his adventure Bolt comes across a cat whom, convinced by a pack of conniving pigeons, he deems to be in plotting with an evildoer who stole his human.

The cat mocks Bolt and tell him that none of his powers are real. But the difference between us and Bolt? Bolt never doubt’s himself for a minute. He knows he has special powers (he doesn’t actually), and if he doesn’t believe in himself, who will? The first guy to break 4 minutes in the mile probably didn’t have anyone who believed he could do it, yet he did. Most people don’t think anyone will ever break 2 hours in a marathon, but there’s some crazy kid running around out there who thinks he can... And I guarantee they will.

Even if you want to do something unfathomable, never begin to doubt yourself--if you do, then you’ll never even try.

Always protect and be there for the ones you love

When Bolt’s person gets taken away from him, he has one mission--save her. He never once thinks about where he will sleep, when he will eat, if it will be dangerous, or if he could get hurt. All Bolt knows is that someone he loves needs his help and he’ll risk life and limb to save her.

As I’m writing, I can’t think of any stipulations for this rule. No “but” or “except when”, nothing. If you love someone, be there.

Turn your enemies into friends

Tricked by a flock of conniving pigeons, Bolt is sure that the cat he encounters knows where Penny has been taken and how is responsible (another lesson--stay away from haters).  His initial response is to hurl the cat headlong into rush hour traffic on the highway from the edge of a bridge. But he doesn’t.  Bolt recognizes that the cat may prove useful in his journey and he takes the cat along with him on his mission.

Bolt and the "evil" Cat

You won’t get along with everyone.  You should try, but it just won’t always be the case (caveat--PLEASE don’t hate on people for trivial things like how they look or how they workout.  We’re not a bunch high school girls here). But I am not talking about the guy who parks across 2 parking spots, I mean your true competition.

Instead of resenting someone who vies for success in the same industry as you, try looking at them with curiosity--what do they do that has helped them be successful? Did someone get a promotion over you? What skills are on his or her resume and what work experience do they have that you don’t? Now, what are you going to do to ensure that the next time someone is being looked at for a promotion that you get it?

Lastly, as Bolt learns, sometimes our enemies are those who are most similar to us, and that’s what breeds the competition and dislike.  Set these aside for a minute and try to get to know. The things you couldn’t stand about a person might be what make for a great relationship.

Create your own luck

There’s a point where Bolt realizes that he doesn’t actually have any powers. On his journey, the cat is captured and Bolt has to make a covert rescue operation to bust her out. In doing so, he takes out an animal-catcher, thwarts a group of hungry canines, then proceeds to blow a gas station to smithereens.

But wasn’t he useless without his powers? The saying goes, “the harder you practice, the luckier you get.” Luck is relative. Sometimes the cards just fall right for you, but you have to be willing to play those cards in the right order.  Now this is just my opinion, but I believe our lives are filled with luck and opportunity. For me, I believe that comes from God, but wherever it comes from, the key is acting in that moment.  If a beautiful girl (or guy) walks into a coffee shop and you don’t introduce yourself, are you unlucky that you’re not dating anyone? If you don’t lift weights heavy and push yourself to get better, are you unlucky that you can’t build muscle?

Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle hard (closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard)

Bolt didn’t sit around and wait for someone else to bring him to Penny. As soon as he saw the problem, it was game on, do work, solve the problem. What we can learn is that  you can’t wait on anyone else to make things happen for you and, like I said above, you’ve got to put in the work to expect good things to happen.

Additionally, find ways to be awesome and to not be like everyone else.

Hustle

Learn new skills

So learning how to eat and drink out of a bowl on the floor is not the most glamorous of skills to learn, but Bolt allowed the cat to teach him how to do so. The point? Another tool in his toolbox.  Right now, I am trying to learn to code websites.  Does my job require this? No, but someday it might, or someday I may want to build a site and I’ll have the skill to do so.  Not only that, but there are all the skills that come along with learning something new--like how to study and how to partition your time in order to have the hours you need to learn.

Learn everything you can.  C.S Lewis said “Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” (Mere Christianity, 88). If you don’t know about the other side, how can you actively choose to behave in a certain way?

Never stop learning, asking questions, and challenging what is already given. If you don’t ask questions, then you can’t grow.  I’ve always found this in my Faith. By asking questions, I am able to arrive at the deeper understandings behind the “whys” of what I believe.

Face your weaknesses

Be brave.  Bolt never backed down. As a superhero, the evildoers didn’t scare him, but even as he realized his mortality, he stayed true to his mission... and he succeeded.

Why don’t we like to confront our weaknesses? I can think of 2 reasons--the first is that we don’t like to revel in what we’re not good at. A good friend spent some time trying to teach me to juggle... And I’m awful at it.  Throw a football, drain 3-pointers, do fancy footwork on agility ladders, I’m golden... But juggle 3 little batons and I’m useless.  My sticking point is I don’t like failing. And I don’t like failing over and over. But if I really want to learn to juggle, and I’m going to have to fail, fail, and fail again... And maybe one day I will nail it!

The second reason, which stems from the first, is that it makes us uncomfortable. Everybody else in the gym squats more than you and runs faster? Its more comfortable to not go.  But if you ever want to run fast... You’ve got to run fast. If you ever want to squat 300 pounds, you’ve got to start moving some pretty uncomfortable weights in order to get there. The joy comes from being successful and eventually learning how to turn these weaknesses into strengths.

I hope you can relate to some of these lessons.  Tell me, what lessons have you found from surprising places?

Acceptance, Willingness, and Committed Action

12 weeks into treatment and this fact becomes more clear to me every day: There are 3 components involved with change- Accepting that it's necessary, being willing to make a change, and committing to do and following through on it.  It's tough as hell. Acceptance:

Everyday I become more accepting of the fact that I will likely struggle with an eating disorder for the rest of my life. However, I don't have to let it rule me and can be in control of my actions.  I accept that my eating disorder is an evil thing that will sneak in at any moment and attempt to sabotage my efforts at recovery.  As hard as it is to admit this, it's what is going to make recovery possible for me.  5 years ago I entered treatment for the first time at the age of 20 with the belief that "I'm going to walk out of the door of this facility completely recovered and never think about me eating disorder again." Well, that certainly wasn't the case was it?  It would be inaccurate for me to think this is something that will go away, however, I know that I can lead a life that will provide the tools and strength to get through this and live a life based on values, hope, and free of darkness.

I can also accept that I do deserve a life that is free of guilt, shame, and loneliness. I accept that some days it will be very hard, but I also know that some days it will be easier.  We all deserve a life like that and it's in our human rights to be happy. But we don't have to be happy all the time; life includes feelings of sadness, happiness, love, and heartbreak.  And we need to accept that.

Willingness:

Lately, the willingness piece has been more difficult.  Yes, I want to get better and beat this (and I am), but often the thoughts do come in that want a return to my old, comfortable, predictable life.  I've been contemplating this blog post for a few days without knowing where to start.  I noticed that if anyone else asked me to do something for them, that I would do it as fast and as best that I could without thinking about it.  However, when it comes time to do something for myself, it's an entire different ball game and there's a realization that I don't think I am as important.  It took committing to my therapist and my peers here that I would post and update this week.

In preparing to update though, I saw pictures of my old self at swim practice and sooo terribly wanted that body back.  My eating disorder told me immediately that I could do all the things I have been working on here- flexibility, social interaction, love, friendship, spontaneity- and still get that body back.  My dietician helped me see, however, that, no, I couldn't. Undernourished, fatigued, and unhappy, my body would not be able to feed my mind enough to let me do those things.  Hence why, as hard as I tried to beat this eating disorder by myself, I wasn't able to do.

I'll be straight up, I've reached my "maintenance weight", which is significantly more than I weighed when I entered treatment 12 weeks ago. Does this petrify me?  Absolutely.  Everyone I know has only known me as I used to look. No one has seen me at a normal weight then lose weight and then return from treatment back at a normal weight. I am incredibly scared of coming back and being judged for how I look--that I will no longer have an identity; no longer be "the athlete" or "the kid with the eating disorder." I am also scared of how to reintroduce exercise without being sucked back into it as I was before.  I am willing to try though.  And I will succeed. Breaking the connections of food and exercise is tough for me; that I have to earn and deserve food in order to be able to enjoy it.  However, being here has greatly helped me with that.  I am now able to lift weights a few times a week and will begin to reintroduce cardio next week.  On the days I don't workout though, there's still no choice that I need to eat all my meals and snacks.

I also realize that I was giving food an immense amount of power.  Literally, the only source of "happiness" on many days came from my dinner and being able to eat it.  But in order to feel like I deserved it, it took sacrifice throughout the day and obsessive amounts of exercise.  That's why it was so hard for me to do activities that would threaten a meal that I had earned, because if something else got in the way of it, what then would I be able to find happiness in? It also prevented me from being truly present with friends- fully engaged and I'm sure made me less fun to be around.  I hadn't seen this need to avoid loneliness by restricting and exercise, as those would make me not feel "left out" because it gave me an excuse of something that I had to anyway.  A necessary obligation to "train and eat right"

Committed Action:

I am committed beating this.  100%, no doubt, absolutely.  I am incredibly unhappy with my body- Coming in, I had this fear that I was just a shallow and vain person for thinking that this was all just a stifling fear of becoming fat. Just having that fear that I am shallow has shown me that there is more to this than just surface appearance. I have been digging deeper and don't have a definitive answer yet, but I know large maintaining factors are feeling accepted as an athlete and a way to not feel lonely.

Part of the committed actions I make are to view and thank my body what it can do; to view my body as instrument, not adornment. I now have the ability to build muscle and get stronger, be more present, function more healthily, and think more clearly.  I can take up hockey again and enjoy or go mountain biking and have the energy to make it through a day.  I also can now let myself take the adventures or go on the trips which the eating disorder prevented me from doing. I'm not just going to walk out cured, but I have the skills to make change happen.

The most anxiety still comes from seeing people I haven't seen in 3 months and returning looking completely different. Yes, it's going to be noticeable and how do I deal with that? Especially with people who never knew I had an eating disorder.  I also need to draw lines between those who I'm accountable to, and those can support me. I had given too much responsibility to friends and strained relationships because of that.

Committing to be willing is the hardest part in all but it the most significant part of change.  To make change you can't just go through the motions, but, as I've said before, you've got to be willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Thanks for reading