How’s your spiritual health?

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Let’s go to the gym and get our sweat on.

 

The cool thing about working out is tangible results. If you have a goal to trim your waist, you will notice a difference when you slide into that pair of skinny jeans. If you have a goal to run faster, the time on the clock will show faster mile splits.  If you have a goal to lift more weight, when you place five more pounds on the bar and lift, you’ve done it.

 

Physical fitness is just one of the part of being a healthy person. It is also the easiest to measure.

 

When we start talking about the more fuzzy things like spiritual fitness most of us have no idea where to start. There isn’t a gym membership for spiritual health. It is also something that you can’t easily quantify. How do you measure if you spiritual health? How do you define if you have more meaning and purpose in your life?

 

Some people think of church and religion when they hear the word spirituality. For me spirituality is something that falls outside of the scope of church and religion. I’ve never been much of a churchgoer and I’ve never followed any religion, however I’ve studied several of the world’s religions. Now I try to incorporate aspects of different religions into my life.

 

In many ways I still don’t know how to “work out” to get stronger with my spiritual fitness. But I do understand what things make me feel more spiritual and connected to the world and the people around me.

 

Running, surfing, and yoga.

 

These do much more than just help me strengthen my cardio and get toned. When I run, surf, or do yoga I feel more connected to the world around me. In a pose, riding a wave, and finding my stride I have moments where I focus so intently on what I am doing, the rest of the world dissolves.

 

Those meditative moments of being rooted in the present are few and far between. But in those moments where I am in the flow, the world is perfect. In those moments I reach a state of peace and perfection. I also strengthen more than my body, I strengthen my heart, my mind, and my soul.

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Roll with it baby

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In 1992 I was at Queens College, we were practicing volleyball. I went up for a hit or a block, I can’t remember that part. What I do remember is rolling my ankle and hobbling off the court. After, I lay down on the floor and propped my feet against the wall and thought it wasn’t so bad. After practice I walked across campus went to my dorm room and started to get ready for my weekend. Somewhere in the hours after rolling my ankle it got really bad. The end result a trip to the ER, X-Rays, no broken bones, but a pretty bad sprain.

 

(Looking back know I can’t believe I walked home on an injury but in the mind of an 18 year old……well we don’t always make good choices when we are 18.)

 

Fast forward to 2014.

 

My knee is stronger. I still have pain but nothing to stop me from working out. I’ve been doing yoga, strength training, cardio, and some light running.

The weather in New England has been rather temperamental this winter, so finding nice days to run has been challenging. Earlier this week we had a nice winter day, the temperature was in the 30s, there was almost no wind, and most of the snow had melted. What a great day for a run.

 

About two miles into the run, disaster. Out of nowhere I rolled my ankle. No ice, no snow, no rocks. I was on steady ground. Somehow I took a step and the next thing I knew I was on the ground.

 

Usually I run with my phone, but for some reason this time I left it in the office. I couldn’t call for help but I knew lying in the parking lot was probably not a very good idea, so I hobbled to the middle of the street to flag down a car. Thankfully someone pulled up and drove me back to work, where my co-workers quickly got me to the ER.

 

This sprain feels much worse then the one I got 20 years ago. It might be that I am older and can’t recover as quickly. It might be because I am smarter about the healing process.

 

Looking back on how 20 years ago I was walking and playing ball a few weeks after my injury really strains the spirit. But healing takes time. So I am trying to stay positive, at least moving around on crutches is a great workout.

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Is it safe to go back to the gym?

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We are now in the middle of January. We have barely scratched the surface into a new year. We’ve gotten past January 17- ditch your resolution day . I think it is safe to go back to the gym.

 

There is probably no line for the treadmill, spin class is a little thinner, and you can find space in the locker room to change.

 

For the die hards, the New Year is tough time. You have to adjust your routine and schedule to welcome some new people to the world of working out.

 

2014 brings more than the bacchanalia of ringing in the new and saying goodbye to the old, it also brings the resolution of transforming into the new you. The person you have always wanted to be but needed the clean slate before you were ready to start.

 

The days leading up to flipping the calendar, daytime television and morning talk shows are filled with experts detailing exactly how to make your goals stick this year. After a night of celebrating and a day of recovery, with fervor you hit the gym and begin the transformation.

 

Hey, this is easy (but I have to wake up so early to get to the gym).

 

That run wasn’t too bad (but why do my legs hurt now).

 

My new workout clothes are so cute (but I don’t want them to get all sweaty).

 

Guess what happens at the start of a new year? We write a new date. We go back to work. Our kids go back to school. Our lives continue.

 

I’m rooting for everyone who is on a quest to become a new you. I wish it were as easy as spending a few days in the gym and then returning to your old habits.

 

As the excitement of 2014 wanes, the gym regulars are back to their routine. We’ll see you again next year; hopefully 2015 will be the year. We want to welcome you into the fold, we know it is hard, and we will be here when you are ready.

4-6 Weeks

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After some poking, prodding, and twisting, Doc says all the symptoms are consistent with a torn meniscus. Fun! That means 4-6 weeks of physical therapy along with 4-6 weeks of no running, jumping, or twisting my knee. Which translates to no running, no surfing, no SUPing, no volleyball……

DCIM101GOPRO    Amica

This injury strips me of my usual repertoire of healthy activities. Not only are these the things I do to stay physically fit but they also help me stay sane.

 

This means I need a new workout. So this week I tried something new.

 

For weeks I have been hearing tales of this amazing work out called crossfit. Rob and Chris from work share stories of bruises, bangs, and big lifts. For the past few weeks I’ve been considering checking it out. I just needed a catalyst to really motivate me. Who knew a knee injury would do the trick?

 

I know what your probably thinking, how can you do crossfit if you can’t do any impact or twisting? Easy, just modify exercises so it is low impact and you don’t twist.

 

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Force Newport Crossfit (http://www.forcenewportcrossfit.com/CrossFit/) let’s you try a workout before you commit. The night I went we did box jumps (modified of course), kettle bell swings, squats, and slam balls. It was a solid workout called “three minutes of fun”.

 

In addition to conditioning the body, the workout forced me to be present. And that is what I need for my mental conditioning.

 

I have yet to commit and become an official crossfitter. But it got me thinking about other workouts I can try, like getting the dust of my yoga mat.

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The Art of Staying in the Moment

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The Marine Corps Marathon was a really difficult race for me. Over the past few months I’ve been trying to understand why it was so tough. During training I had my ups and downs. There were runs when after 10 miles I wanted to cry and quit and other days I felt fantastic like I could run forever. It wasn’t until I was flying down for the Princess Marathon and I ran into Erin (http://lovedisneyrunning.blogspot.com/) on the plane. She ran the Marine Corps and noticed something and it really put things into perspective. The marathon was the day before Hurricane Sandy hit. Because the storm was coming, people were not in the moment; their thoughts were everywhere but the race. This was true not only of the runners but the volunteers and Marines.

She was right.

From the moment we arrived in DC our focus shifted immediately from enjoying the weekend with family and friends to dealing with the storm. Jim and I got found out our flight home was cancelled. I was tempted to throw in the towel on the run and just head home, but Jim thought that was silly. Since we couldn’t fly we worked it out with the rental car company to just drive from DC to Rhode Island.

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This really impacted my run. Instead of enjoying the run, my mind was elsewhere. I was okay for the first half of the race. But then I reached a point where I was worried about sitting in a car for 8 or more hours. I ran the first 20 miles and after hitting the bridge, I decided to walk the last 10k. My mind was already on the car ride and I was thinking about how my legs would feel.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had the same issue during training. It was still the height of surf season. The water was warm enough to not have to wear but a 2/3 wetsuit. During so many of my long runs, I yearned to be in the water. My mind was anywhere but the run. My runs suffered.

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I find I enjoy running the most when I am in the moment, when my mind doesn’t wander off to worry about work, shopping, or bills. I focus on the steps ahead of me and continue to move forward. When I manage to stay in the moment, running is a joy.

My other love surfing is the same; you have to satay in the moment. The minor difference with surfing, if you lose focus on the moment, the waves can be very unforgiving.

Staying in the moment during a run (and in life) is an art I am still working to perfect. Once in a while I am truly able to eliminate distraction and enjoy just being. When I do, my stride comes easy and my breath is not labored. I had this feeling during the Princess marathon. While it was not my fastest race, it was so enjoyable because I was just enjoying running. Disney is fantastic for putting up great entertainment along the course, but I found it wasn’t necessary because I was in the present moment. I was simply enjoying running.

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This is a work in progress. But because I had such a struggle with the Marine Corps Marathon, I am much more aware. Jim and I have the Newport 10 miler coming up in a few weeks. Let’s hope all of the mental training I’ve been doing has paid off and I’ll be able to stay in the moment.