10/15/05 Stop Shoulding all over Yourself (22)

Sat. 22 Days to the marathon. Today is Ironman Kona. Let’s keep our eyes on Heather Fuhr. 27 years old 30 (yes thirty) Ironmans completed and 14 (yes fourteen) Ironmans won!!! Wow. They are having live coverage on ironman.com unfortunately I am going to have to miss it as I am doing a 5k out in NJ today.

It has been raining – no pouring for a solid week. Right now the rain has let up for a minute and I’m hoping it holds off for the rest of the weekend. I just don’t want to repeat last weekend’s running in torrential downpours. I’m looking forward to doing the 5k today, because it is a 5k. Yeah!! 3.1 miles — yes!! Not even enough of a workout to earn significant WW points but I don’t care — I’m looking forward to an easy and hopefully fast run. I want at least 12 minute miles. 36 minutes as my max and the closer I can get to 33 — all the better.

Tomorrow the Staten Island 1/2 marathon. I’ve been mentally rehearsing all week. I’ve been mentally rehearsing good posture, good knee alignment, good stamina. While I’m running I’m going to focus on feet, feet, feet, and roll, roll, roll. Feet, feet, feet to remind me to move them faster. Roll, roll, roll to remind myself that I want to roll off my toes as fast as possible. No lingering on the ground.

I feel my body has peaked for the marathon and right now I’m just going to try to keep it in optimal order for the next 3 weeks. I think our training season was a little too long, but that’s okay, hopefully I can spend the next 3 weeks really healing my body so it can come out in full force.

I had bad week of eating. Really bad. I was up another pound at WW and I went to my meeting very frustrated. I’ve been concentrating so much on being aware. I’m aware I’m not hungry. I can’t figure out why I keep eating when I’m not hungry — almost compulsively — oh wait, not almost, it is compulsively. And impulsively. At first I thought it was procrastination — a way to avoid getting my work done. Then I thought it was guilt over not getting my work done. When I went to my meeting I started to lament to the group that the marathon is coming up, I should be at my 40 pound weight loss already. I should have this food thing under control. I should have all of these techniques mastered. What’s my problem?

I feel like I have a little kid inside of me. As much as my adult voice says “that’s not a good choice — you shouldn’t have that,” my kid voice goes “na, na, na, na, na — I’m going to have it anyway.” I should have more control. I see the situation coming. I prepare myself (after late night class I’m going to come home and go straight to bed) and yet I still find myself having a snack (or two) and watching Boston Public on Tivo. Why? I should be farther along in this process.

Did you notice that I used the word “should” six times in the last two paragraphs? I didn’t notice how many times I was saying “should” until they mentioned it at the meeting. Should is a crippling word. As soon as you say “should” to yourself, it becomes a punishment, an assignment, something to avoid. Instead, they recommend saying “I want.” The inner child will always respond with rebellion to “should.” But the inner child will clap her hands when we do something we “want.” It a small shift in words, but the power is really exponetially greater.

It really does work. I tried it on my kitchen yesterday and it seemed to work right away. The kitchen is the bane of my housekeeping existence. I feel like it is always a mess and I’m always having to clean. The problem is I like a clean kitchen. Some of my compulsion about always thinking I “should” clean the kitchen stems from my wanting a clean kitchen but when I say “should” something inside me says “yeah, put it on the list.” Yesterday I had a lot of work to do but I really wanted a clean kitchen. So I simply said outloud “I want a clean kitchen, it will make me feel good.” In ten minutes my kitchen was totally clean. (It really wasn’t that messy, but it’s the principle I’m trying to illustrate here.) Had I said to myself “I really ‘should’ clean the kitchen” I would have felt it was just another assignment to add to my already long list of duties. This small shift in thinking was huge to me. I felt like someone gave me a secret code into the chamber of WW secrets.

Our leader is really good. Maggie gets deep into the psychology of why we do what we do. One of things she was really trying to stress yesterday is to start listening to how we speak to ourselves. I’m very hard on myself. My self-talk is very harsh. Even now I was about to write that I “should” work on that. I constantly think of myself as lazy as I don’t accomplish the laundry list of a million self-improvement items. Learn Russian, study Buddhism, attain enlightenment, run a marathon, do an ironman, teach, start a new business, do, do, do. I feel like I am constantly wasting time. Even writing which is a great joy of my life becomes a burden when I give myself assignments like “you SHOULD write for an hour every morning.” Boy that really gets me up and at the keyboard — not. But when I say “I WANT to write something this morning, I have something to say,” I miraculously sit down and find the time to write.

Maggie really illustrated the power of words. Everybody in my weight watchers group was so impressed that I’m running the marathon. My reaction? Big deal, I’m not even doing it well. I’ll probably have to walk some of it. Negative, negative, negative. I kept trying to pooh-pooh it — “everybody has their version of a marathon” I said — “you might have two kids and a job — that’s a marathon too.” But the other people in my WW Sangha kept saying, “no it’s a huge achievement.” I am constantly struck by how little value I put in my achievements. I actually say to myself “well, if I can do it, it can’t be that big of a deal.” It is such negative self-talk. I really “shouldn’t” do that — lol.

Yesterday I got on the elevator with one of my neighbors. She said to me that one of her friends had done the Danskin Tri in Sandy Hook. She told me that she had told her friend that I had been an Angel at the Tri. Her friend was very impressed — “ooh, she must be a good swimmer.” My friend in the elevator looked at me and said “I told her I guess so, but I remember when you first started and how hard it was for you to do the swimming — remember how you used to complain about that?” I stopped and laughed for a second. “Yes, yes, I do.” I said. I remember like yesterday, May 2003 in Amelia Island spending the entire weekend with one goal — swim two consecutive laps without stopping. In the HOTEL Pool!! (That’s not even 25 meters.) I worked for 3 consecutive days on that. On the 3rd day when I did it I had not been so proud of anything in a long time.

Last Sunday I was doing the training running in the rain in the park. As I was coming up toward the carousel a woman ran up next to me and said “are you doing the marathon with Team in Training?” (I as wearing my training shirt.) “Yes,” I replied and then we looked at each other and realized we recognized each other from my very first season of training. We reminded each other of our names — hers was Kristen. I remember my first meeting with her very well.

It was a couple of weeks into training and we had to run around the reservoir twice. I thought I was going to die. First of all we had to run up the westside drive which I couldn’t make up that hill without walking for the entire first season (and everytime I run up it now I’m still surprised I can do it). Then we had to make it around the reservoir twice (1.6 miles each time). I could barely make it 5 lampposts without having to stop. I remember getting to the opposite side of the reservoir and thinking “not only can I not do two loops of this thing, I don’t think I can make it back to the start!” I made it around and just started walking the second loop. This woman Kristin came up to me and said “you are doing great. When I first started I couldn’t run around the reservoir and now I’m doing a marathon.”

I remember that moment like yesterday. Now here it is two and half years later and I’m training for my marathon and I run into Kristin. She said how’s it going? I told her I had just completed my first twenty mile training run and she said “geesh you are ahead of me!” Of course I realize that was figurative as we said our goodbyes and good lucks and she sped off into the distance. The milestone was not lost on me.

This brings around to what I used to tell my computer students a lot. Many times they would say to me “there is so much to learn about computers, when will I learn it all?” I would always, “you’ll never learn it all — it’s constantly changing. But you must always pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve come.” I realize that I am guilty of not doing this for myself.

So today I want to say Kudos to me. Good job to me for sticking with training, for trying to eat healthily, for keeping my goals in sight. I’ve come a long way. I have a long way to go, but I’ll never get there because there is no there. (ooh, how zen!) Marathons and Ironmans are just stops along the way. Water stations in the big endurance event called life.

Finally we talked about anchoring in our meeting. Maggie had us think of an attribute we wanted to adopt into our life. I chose bravery. I want to brave going into the marathon. I want to be brave when I have conflicts with food. She told us to think of a time when we were brave. I could only think of being ready to swim at St. Anthony’s. I felt confident and brave. I knew I could do it and even though I knew it wasn’t easy, I was going to face it head on. Once we established that feeling, Maggie asked us to assign a word or a gesture to that feeling. The only word I could come up with was “Rumble.” LOL. So now when I want to conjure that feeling of bravery, I simply have to say “Rumble” and I will be filled with that same brave spirit. I’m willing to give it a try. Can’t hurt, might help.

Rumble, girl, Rumble.


“A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”
Albert Einstein

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