Taking My Own Advice

Today, I executed against almost all of my Guidelines For Taking Care of Myself – and I added a new one, thanks to a good friend at work: Think only 2-3 days ahead.

That is a big one, people. My planning and scheming skills are legendary. But right now, they’re a bit of a hindrance, so I’m practicing thinking about now. This moment. And how I will take care of myself in this moment. Look at me! Learning new things at 41-but-turning-42-in-just-2-more-days.

Let’s recap the guidelines!

1. Eating right is a loving act.
2. Booze is rarely a good idea.
3. Ditto for caffeine.
4. Sleep is essential.
5. Ditto for friends.
6. Workouts can be therapy.
7. Think only 2-3 days ahead.

 So… how am I doing?

1. Eating right is a loving act.
I’ve been EATING, so that’s good. Not as much as usual and with little joy or appetite, but I’ve been eating dino-chow. Just now: 2 eggs, 1 egg white, sweet potato.

2. Booze is rarely a good idea.
It’s 8:39 a.m. and so far, no cocktails! (Joke! I haven’t had any alcohol since last Friday, and I won’t. This is an easy win for me. But since everyting else is hard, I will celebrate this one. No booze. YAY!)

3. Ditto for caffeine.
I’m drinking a small decaf as I type this. Win!

4. Sleep is essential.
I had to resort to Ibuprofen PM to do it, but I got about 8 hours last night. I woke up twice, but was able to drift back to sleep. Win!

5. Ditto for friends.
6. Workouts can be therapy.
I combined these two today: double win! Blake, Bonita, Vicki, and I had a mini Bootcamp reunion at Deep Eddy/Eilers Park.

Our workout
3 rounds:
20 box jumps
20 pushups
40 walking lunges
sprint up the stone steps – run down to the bottom of the park – sprint to the top
time: 15:30

plank :60 + R/L plank :30 each + plank :45

7. Think only 2-3 days ahead.
Semi-win. I have plans from now ’til Sunday, so I’m a little ahead of myself. BUT what I’m not doing – which is completely new and scary and so so so hard for me – is thinking about THE FUTURE. I’m in full-on float mode. It’s stunningly difficult for me to keep my mind from making up stories and conclusions and plans, but CrossFit has taught me that I can be as disciplined mentally as I am physically, so when my brain wants to WorryPlan™ (new word! with an intercap!), I tell myself to stop. And I deliberately, methodically think of something else.

That’s where you come in: post to comments with ideas for things I should think about when I need to distract myself. Anything is fair game, even math problems!


16 Responses to “Taking My Own Advice”

  1. Barbara says:

    What English word is nine letters long, and can remain an English word at each step as you remove one letter at a time, right down to a single letter? List the letter you remove each time and the words that result at each step.

  2. Erin Clare says:

    Mel, I too have had a notoriously hard time living in the moment or taking things day by day, but it's something I've been working on since I moved back to Austin. Thinking about the future was almost synonymous with planning for the worst case scenario. It's a tiring way to live… for me it was at least.

    Here's some things I currently do that help turn my head off from thinking years or even months out:

    Physical: I do stuff that I suck at or potentially can harm myself if I don't pay attention. Handstands, parallette bars, getting back into trail running, aerial class. It forces me to focus on what is immediate. what is right now.

    Mental: I am an avid game freak. Console. Computer, board games. Card games. I play cribbage. I avoid strategy games especially Chess though I used to love to play it. I will play children's board games like Mouse Trap just because it's pure enjoyment.

    Emotional: This is the hardest for me. It seems my whole life I've been planning ahead for emotional disasters. I can no longer spend my energy and happiness being concerned about things that could rock me emotionally later in life. Instead, I take Hobie out and teach him something simple. He feels like it's fun and I feel good for being in the moment with him. I turn off my perceptions of the world and absorb myself in his perceptions of his world… his emotions. I used to do this when I was young and working with our horses. It allowed me the freedom to enjoy right now when it felt like my world was falling apart and gave me something to look forward tomorrow when the rest of the year looked like it would suck.

  3. Tami C. says:

    Kristin Armstrong said she conjugates verbs in French to distract herself when she runs up long hills. I don't speak French, so I cannot verify its effectiveness. Maybe it would be *extra* distracting to conjugate verbs in a language you don't understand.

  4. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Barbara, that could take me YEARS to figure out. Love it!

    Erin, thank you… for this and everything else. You've got Hobie; I've got Smudge. She's been a very good companion recently.

    Tami, that's a crazy-good idea. Verb conjugation it is!

  5. George says:

    I like to do "appreciations" to distract myself. I look around and marvel at all the great things I'm fortunate to have. I don't mean the big stuff, like friends and family, but smaller things, like clean water piped right into my house, air conditioning, or a nice frosty beverage whenever I feel like one.

  6. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thank you, George. I like this one! Right now, I'm grateful that the ultrasound on my thyroid found NOTHING. No nodule.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have mantras that I repeat to myself and my current one is working really well. "To thine own self be true." Thank you, Will Shakespeare, for reminding me that I need to be true to myself first and foremost. I tend to let myself get sucked into other people's drama and I take on their burdens even when I have difficulty carrying my own. This reminder that I need to take care of myself first has been tremendously helpful for me.


  8. c wiss says:

    This seemed like a great opportunity to drop you a comment, since I read all your posts but rarely comment. :)

    My first thought was that when you need to be distracted, you should make yourself mentally recall some point of CF / fitness knowledge. List the 10 components of fitness (and their definitions if you're an overachiever!), or the 9 foundational movements, or the key points of performance for each movement.

    If pressed, I might admit that I take my own advice. :-p

  9. jencereghino says:

    Six weeks ago I started practicing yoga, in addition to my CrossFit routine…the practice has helped me to be more present, more aware, and of course…more flexible, but mostly I'm more aware of my breathe and being present in the moment. I really feel like I'm able to better manage my stress/anxiety through breathing and have found it to be pretty incredible.

    If that doesn't work for you…I guess you could go back to Barbara's word game…which I'm hoping will have an answer, at some point. Who thinks up a riddle like that!?

  10. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    c wiss, that's an awesome idea. Or… how about fitness in 100 words. Seems like I could memorize that sucker, then learn how to say it backwards, too.

    jen, being present is HARD. And right now, it freakin' hurts, too. Breathing is good. I also realized last night that I was sitting ramrod straight on the couch. After about half an hour, I leaned my head on the backrest and thought, "Aaaaah." I feel like if I relax too much, I might come apart completely. But… I have often wished I could remove my legs when they're sore, so this might be just what I've been looking for :-)

  11. Barbara says:

    Jen…there is an answer. I'm no brainiac but can Google with the best of them:)

  12. AME says:

    Offering a new crossword puzzle each day, is my salvation. The puzzles are eminently do-able, but not so easy that you are just filling in the blanks, and if you get crazed by not knowing an answer, there is a "solve" button. A puzzle only takes 5-10 minutes, but it's 5-10 minutes of focus that make a great mind-clearing start to the day.

    Hope your situation is resolving, and just want to say that I'm so glad you are posting. "Friends are essential" — and I'm sure you realize that all of us who so enjoy following your blog are your friends.

  13. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    AME, that's genius. I LOVE crosswords. Thank you!

    Situation is still crisis-y, but you're absolutely right. My friends, including you, are essential and a true gift. Thanks for taking the time to post. It means a lot.

  14. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Barbara finally coughed up the solution to her riddle…

    What English word is nine letters long, and can remain an English word at each step as you remove one letter at a time, right down to a single letter? List the letter you remove each time and the words that result at each step.

    The word is "startling."
    Remove the "l" and it becomes starting.
    Then remove the "t" and it is staring.
    Then… string – sting – sing – sin – in – and finally, I.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This probably sounds weird, but lately I've been falling asleep (and avoiding unnecessary worry-thoughts) by picking a recipe–something simple like a basic tomato sauce–and making it in my head. I picture each item and what you have to do to it, and I'm usually asleep before I'm "finished" =P I just tried it one night and found that it works because it's interesting enough to keep me involved (and uninvolved in more anxiety inducing thoughts) but benign enough to let me relax.

  16. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Anonymous, I love that idea. If I focused on, say, my chili recipe, I'd be asleep halfway through the spice list. Neato!

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