Upper Limits

Well this corner of the internet certainly has some cobwebs on it and they’re not decorations for Halloween! According to WordPress my last post was 5 months ago when I was trying to be a “coach”. Anyways, I’m glad to be back and writing again. Hope you’re all still on board.

For the past couple of weeks I have been taking part in Swim Bike Mom’s (or Meredith Atwood as she’s normally referred to) Swim Bike Fuel Program. She’s done two other rounds since launching last year and each time I said, “Maybe I should try this but what I am really going to get out of it? Eat more veggies and cut out sugar? Duh.” But then I started to read the comments of those who had gone through it and of Meredith herself who admittedly has always been a work in progress (just like myself) and has really changed things around for the better. I finally committed both financially and mentally to doing this and am very happy I did.

Since Ironman Mont-Tremblant in August of 2015, I’ve struggled…with a lot of things. But most importantly, at the root of these struggles, has been my lack of mental fortitude and strength. I became soft, lazy and unaccountable – to myself. I told myself that it was ok to eat donuts for breakfast for whatever reason, I said I didn’t need to go run because I was tired, I explained away the things I knew I should and deep down wanted to do which has led me to gain weight, lose muscle and lower the expectation of myself as an athlete and professional.

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As I’ve worked through this journey over the past couple of months, I’ve realized a couple of things as it relates to mental tenacity:

  1. I’ve been treating myself with kid gloves as it relates to sports, almost as if I was going to break if I pushed myself or that I would injure myself. If I injured myself, I wouldn’t be able to do anything so I did the bare minimum.
  2. My mental image of myself as an athlete since IMMT changed significantly (and even from Ironman Lake Placid). I’ve never been the athlete to “just finish or just get through it.” No, I’ve scouted the competition, set goals, had coaches push me, etc. But when I signed up for the two Ironmans, my approach changed for some reason, I didn’t attack the goal of the Ironman because it was “just to finish” (which completing an Ironman despite a specific time is a tremendous achievement, I have yet to do it). By setting the goal of just finishing, I admittedly did the bare minimum and therefore failed.
  3. By lowering my standard recently, I ultimately was making certain I didn’t fail. Because lets face it, failure sucks and no one wants to fail but ultimately we need to fail in order to appreciate the process and achievement it takes to succeed.
    1. Side note: this is a lesson first taught to me by my mentor and now friend Trip Durham. He specifically wanted me to fail at something the year I was the team leader in college for our game ops group. I didn’t fully understand it then and I didn’t really experience failure the way he was expecting it until I tried Ironman. Trip writes on his own blog and I highly encourage you to follow him.

So back to Swim Bike Fuel. One of our lessons has been on self-sabotage. This program is not just nutrition focused but rather focuses on why we make the choices we do and how we mentally go about things. In the self-sabotage lesson, our leaders referenced the book The Big Leap and Gay Hendrick’s term “Upper Limits”. As I read the lesson I found myself agreeing with a lot of it but honestly its taken me about a week and a half to truly put all of the pieces together and understand the picture fully.

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I’ll try my best at explaining Upper Limit as I understand it: when things are going well and good things are happening to you, you also may recognize that the other shoe must drop and something must go wrong because really its too good to be true. So if you don’t achieve so much, not having those achievements won’t hurt so bad. Essentially, we lower our bar to reach, making it easier on ourselves. I also take it to mean that we lessen our resiliency and don’t exercise that muscle as often. We don’t fight to keep the good things going or we allow the “bad” things to counteract or outweigh the good things.

Here’s an excerpt from Gay Hendrick in DailyOM “Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.

Unfortunately, our thermostat setting usually gets programmed in early childhood, before we can think for ourselves. Once programmed, our Upper Limit thermostat setting holds us back from enjoying all the love, financial abundance, and creativity that’s rightfully ours. It keeps us in our Zone of Competence or at best our Zone of Excellence.”

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Gay goes on to talk about relationships, money and the like and how we can use tools to change our outlook as to where we stand currently. He sums all of this up with, “Because few people understand how the Upper Limit Problem works, many of us believe we are flawed, not destined for greatness, or simply not good enough to deserve the dreams we want to achieve. Others miss out on big-time success and chalk it up to bad luck or bad timing. Millions of people are stuck on the verge of reaching their goals, can’t seem to scale the wall, and are struggling under a glass ceiling that is completely within their control, waiting to be removed. But here’s the good news: You’re not flawed or unlucky or anything of the sort. You’ve got the Upper Limit Problem, and it can be transcended in the wink of an eye—if you’re equipped with the right tools and a willing heart.”

So at the end of the day, I’m working on changing my internal dialogue about how I feel regarding different situations in my life. As it relates to running and triathlon, I’m learning that I am a runner and I am a triathlete, a competitive one, I’m just on the path to getting back to that and so I must be patient with myself but also push myself to keep forward progress going.

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In 2 weeks I will be on the Verazzano Bridge in New York City ready to tackle my first marathon ever with 50,000 of my closest friends. When my credit card showed I had a charge from NYRR, I was filled with dread. Dread because I knew I would have to train and push myself and do things that were going to mentally and physically tough. I wanted to quit many times this season while training for this race and it took me a long time before I even got serious about training but ultimately, I made the decision that I need to do this no matter what and to get it done.

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Last weekend I did my longest run ever of 20 miles. I planned out my Sunday as I was already registered for the local Marine Corps Half Marathon that was re-scheduled due to Hurricane Matthew so I just needed to tack on some more miles and knock them out. When the new race course was announced, it was the least exciting course possible but one that will ultimately benefit me on November 6. The course was four loops around the Jaguars stadium and their empty tailgating lots. There weren’t many supporters, nothing in the terms of scenery and the weather was ridiculously humid (as it has been all Summer) but as I went into the race, I knew that if I could knock out the 20 miles with this race as the majority of the miles, I could do the marathon in NYC.

That training run probably deserves its own post and maybe I’ll do one but I had a big mental win that day when I made the decision to leave the post-race area (after dry heaving into a trash can for a bit), head back to my car for more fuel and complete four more miles to make it an even 20.

I’m tired of setting my bar low and not really achieving anything in the process, only not liking where I’m at. So I’ve decided to “let go” of comparing myself to pre and post Ironman situations and just move forward with being the athlete that I am and to stoke that internal competitive fire because really I’ve missed it.

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When I do find success, it may hit when that medal goes around my neck in NYC or in another form, I will remember that I put in the work and deserve to enjoy the moment and not to self-sabotage with something else. Its all about balance and knowing when to push and when to ease up.

I hope you identify your own Upper Limit and find some meaning for yourself in my long over due ramblings.

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5 Reasons Why I Meditate Every Morning

And How You Can Learn to Meditate

I’ve been a fan of yoga for a couple of years but don’t practice consistently for a number of reasons:

  • Cost
  • Other fitness activities: CrossFit, running, etc.
  • Honestly, have made the time

What I love about yoga besides the physical movement allowing you to stretch sore muscles, relieve tension and build strength, I truly enjoy the mindset it gets you in on your mat. Meditation plays a large role in yoga and is incorporated into every session.

Every yoga session I did, my mind felt clearer and lighter than it did before practice. I’m an afternoon/evening exerciser predominantly so I would be meditating later in the day when all of the worries, frustrations, anxiety and everything else from the day would follow me to the mat.

Oftentimes, the practice helped me reset after my day but then I became curious about linking meditation to my Ironman training and using it prior to the race to calm my nerves. I truly tried to integrate this in but at the time, my mind was so muddled, exhausted, and fried that I couldn’t get anything going.

Now, 8 months later with a clearer mind, I have begun to meditate every morning before work and it has made a huge difference! Here are five reasons why.

  1. Achieve A Daily Goal

A goal I have for myself that I publicly declared in my Beachbody coaching group is to meditate everyday. By taking just 10 minutes in the morning, I accomplish a goal I’ve set for myself and feel instantly rewarded.

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  1. Start My Day More Peacefully

Now that my health is getting back on track, I am able to get up with enough time to have coffee, read, meditate and still get ready for work. Until my thyroid was figured out, I had so much trouble waking up and would often be scrambling to get ready while getting Memphis outside to do his business. This had me feeling stressed as I entered work and getting the day off on the wrong foot. I now enter with a clear mind and better outlook.

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  1. Learn How to Quiet My Mind

I don’t know about you but my mind is constantly going, with new ideas, things to get done, activities I want to do and everything else. Meditation is teaching me how to quiet my mind and how I can better control my thoughts. For years (and still), I would let recurring, negative thoughts bog me down and ruin my day. Now, I can recognize these thoughts, address them and move on.

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  1. Reactions to Challenges Is Less Severe

I’m noticing a shift in how I react to things that may come as a surprise, shock, or discouragement. I take a little longer to process it and think through it. “What about this is causing this reaction?” “Is this emotion I feel appropriate for the situation?”. This is also in part due to listening to a podcast from Jess Lively called “The Lively Show” and learning from her “Life with Intention” series. Check it out, it’s awesome stuff.

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  1. Happier Throughout the Day

Since I now start my day in a happier place, I approach (or at least try to) the rest of the day from a better perspective. Things at work have not been all butterflies and rainbows for the past several months and it was really getting me down but now I feel better about going to work and know that I can step away for 10 minutes to meditate should I feel overwhelmed or anxious about things.

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So, you see all of the benefits and want to get started right?! Not sure where to begin? Check out this free app “Headspace” to get started. The app guides you through 10 days of 10 minute long sessions. The leader is a soothing, British-male voice who prompts you at just the right times. They also provide cute cartoons to help visualize the process. Once your 10 free sessions are up, you’ll have to subscribe, but trust me it’s worth the couple of dollars (definitely cheaper than a yoga membership!).

 

Want to learn more about meditation? Check out these resources:

Why I Became a Beachbody Coach

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For the past year or so, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with my physical and emotional health. This time last year, I was knee deep in Ironman training for Ironman Mont-Tremblant but had just missed out on my first race of the year, St. Anthony’s because I was sick. I tried to remain positive and focus on the next race, Ironman Raleigh 70.3, but was sick again for that.

Fast forward to last August and Mont-Tremblant, I literally dragged myself through the workouts and getting the bare minimum done. In the days leading up to the race, my body felt so lethargic, heavy and energy-less that I was worried about the race and how I would get through it feeling the way I did.

Needless to say, I didn’t make it through the race and was pulled halfway through the bike leg by the medical staff (see The Ironman Mont-Tremblant DNF: The Post I Didn’t Want to Write). This was definitely a low point but I knew my body was working against me.

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As I returned back to Jacksonville, I went through a plethora of tests and doctors. I begged them to test my thyroid as I have family history of hypothyroidism and have shown symptoms for the past couple of years. Finally, someone listened and took a deeper dive into blood tests and bingo: Hashimoto’s as it relates to hypothyroidism. Also, I was very low in Vitamin D despite living in Florida and being out in the sun.

I was placed on synthroid (which I will take for the rest of my life) and started to eventually feel “back to normal”. While my energy increased and my thoughts became clearer, my weight increased. I started back at CrossFit, joined a Macronutrient challenge within the box for 60 days, and worked out outside of CrossFit but nothing I was doing resulted in weight loss, in fact, I continued to gain weight.

This has been a frustrating process as I feel like I’m still fighting my body but am determined to not give in. In fact, my endocrinologist wanted to prescribe me a weight loss pill, one that contained the infamous Phen-Phen ingredient. I looked it up online and immediately said “NO WAY!”. I was not subjecting my body to the crazy side effects.

At this point, I knew I needed to up my workouts, eat even better and surround myself with a supportive group of others I could relate to. Enter: Team Beachbody.

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I have dabbled with Beachbody’s different programs in the past and knew they gave you a kick in the butt for an at home workout and had only recently seen the powerful social network the brand had created. I was impressed by my friends’ progress with Beachbody and how supportive everyone was. I figured, I had nothing to lose, and only everything to gain.

So I made the leap to sign on not only as a customer of Beachbody but as a Coach! By becoming a coach, I get to do something I’ve always done and enjoyed but on an even bigger platform, share my journey (both the ups and downs), inspire others, and engage with those who want to lead a healthy life.

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I fully committed to this on May 1 and am already blown away by how supportive the community is and the positivity surrounding the team I am on: Eat Live Run.

My intention is to jumpstart my metabolism through Beachbody’s 3-Day Refresh as my doctor believes it’s not active (hence why I can’t lose weight) and use their workouts in addition to my normal CrossFit WODs.

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I can’t wait to share all of the awesome transformations and things that come from this and hope you will consider joining me on this journey.

I will be running my first Challenge Group with a 3 Day Refresh. With Summer around the corner and end of school year parties, why not try to get back on track! I’ll be posting more info here on Running With Memphis but be sure to follow my Facebook Page: Running With Memphis-Team Beachbody Coach

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