Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why I've Realized I Like Running

5K Glow Run from February

   So here's the deal - running is terrible. It really is. Somehow though, in the last year, I've come to enjoy it.

   I still dread doing it some (. . . or most) days, but once I'm about 4 minutes in I hit this really nice groove and things are just good. I move - and I mean really move. The amount of distance I can cover is so gratifying. Austin and I usually take this trail near our apartment complex and it's cool to watch it all pass by as I run. My favorite part is about 3/4 of the way through, at this one section of trees where we always see fireflies if we're out at dusk. Running in the summer heat has its perks.

   I have learned to love the wonderful burn of pushing my muscles up a hill or through an extra minute's sprint. I also love the way I feel after I'm finished; it's the kind of accomplished that leaves you involuntarily smiling. I enjoy that because of all this I have more energy and stamina overall. We went to the beach last month and I was so surprised at how easily I spent all day moving around in the sand. This was the first year that hasn't worn me out. I went for a walk down to the pier and back at least once a day.

   There are still some days that I get through a workout and I hate it and I seriously consider quitting. I was so sad to see the progress lost after I hurt my hip, and that almost did it. But I'm coming back and I'm glad. Building the endurance to "just keep going" has been as much of a mental thing as a physical one. When my body tells me it's tired, oftentimes it really means that it doesn't feel like putting forth effort anymore. It's a mind game to realize when that's true and then to convince your legs to keep moving. Improving there has given me a mental strength that conquers more than physical activities - and that I certainly did not expect. I find it much more bearable now to do things that I just don't feel like doing. Self-discipline is a skill to be honed.

   Running is empowering. It only requires tennis shoes and determination. Anyone can have those things if they try - I can testify to that. Running used to be one of the weakest areas of my entire life. I can remember how impossible it felt to jog for 5 straight minutes on a treadmill. Last night I ran on a treadmill again for the first time in a long time. Five minutes went by and I realized that I needed to bump up the speed to challenge myself. I'm glad I decided to do this. I'm glad I stuck it out. I'm glad I can say now that I actually like running, not just the idea of being a runner.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gamify Your Life

   My husband stumbled upon this really awesome website a couple weeks ago. It's called HabitRPG. Basically, it turns your routines, to-do lists, and things you wish you could get yourself to do into a game. You create "dailies," "habits," and "to-do's" for yourself (in real life) and you get rewarded (in-game money and experience) for completing them and penalized (lost in-game health) for skimping out on them. The tasks change color according to how well you're keeping up with them and offer more reward for harder tasks or ones that have been sitting longer on your list, to give you the incentive to stop procrastinating.

   Psychologically speaking, the program does a great job:

   #1. I'll start with the best part - that Habit allows you to see, in a concrete way, where you're doing well, where you can improve, and how you are improving as you accomplish each task. Seeing progress made is a HUGE motivator and oftentimes it can be hard to see in real life.

    #2. The reward system (especially with some of the challenges and achievements), I feel, inspires a longer-term feeling of intrinsic reward in completing tasks. Intrinsic motivation is always stronger than extrinsic (ie. the feeling of a job well done works better than, say, money).

   #3. There is a mixture of continuous (given predictably every time a task is completed) and random (given only some of the times a task is completed, and unpredictably so) positive reinforcement. Random rewards  actually have really strong reinforcing effects. Really strong.

   #4 There is a social system set up for accountability and encouragement through Parties and Guilds. So important. Think Facebook if it were more positive and it inspired you to do stuff in real life. I mean, really, imagine if all of your time spent on Facebook was actually going toward accomplishing real life stuff.

   This is one of those things that you can take and run with as far as you want to go. Whatever you're looking for they have, or you can create it (p.s. it's open-source for any coders out there). There are Challenges to participate in, Guilds to join with like-minded individuals pursuing similar goals, and lots of fun little additions to brighten your day. I've actually stopped using my paper planner altogether because this just works better for me. I use Habit's website for my to-do's (and their phone app - which is not as good, but it lets me check things off) and I'm starting to keep dates on Google calendar.

    Really - just give it a trial run and see for yourself. You can watch some short videos to better understand what I'm talking about here:  #1, #2#3#4And if you want to join our Party (a group of people who go through the "game" together and encourage one another), email me or leave a comment or send a Facebook message or whatever and we would love to have you join us.

Happy Habitting!

   (Did I mention there are fun pets? There are fun pets :) )

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

101 in 1001: 9 Month Update

          Progress since my last update . . .

#3. Start an IRA for Austin. --- COMPLETE
#7. Finish saving our 6 months of expenses emergency fund. --- COMPLETE

#14. Read 40 books.
   I read these four: When We Wake (3/5 stars), Salem Falls (4 stars), Discipline: The Glad Surrender (4 stars), and Origin (5 stars) . I'll post about them soon.

#28. Try my hand at all of the alcoholic beverages on my Pinterest board.
   Austin and I made this drink for my birthday: Strawberry Champagne Punch. I wasn't a big fan of it. We made these on two separate evenings to go with tacos: Raspberry Mango Sangria and Cucumber Lime Margaritas. The sangria was very good, especially after it sat in the fridge overnight, but I think I did something wrong with the margaritas because they turned out very strange and pulpy.
#29. Bake a new thing each month from Pinterest.
   I played a little catch up for December and January, so I ended up with 5 things baked: Avocado fries, Quinoa pizza muffins, Snickerdoodle brownies, Feta artichoke fritatta, and Stuffed sweet potatoes. All were delicious!
#30. Try 10 new vegan recipes.
   I did my first one - Black Eyed Pea Sloppy Joes. So good!
#34. Do a good ab workout every other day for 1 month. --- COMPLETE
   I've been requested to share my workout plan, so I'll make a separate post about that.

#49. Purge my closet of everything I don't love or need. --- COMPLETE
   There will be a whole post on this. Just you wait. It was terrible and crazy and awesome.

#64. Finish reading the entire Bible book by book.
   Finished Luke and started John.
#65. Memorize a new Bible verse each month.
   March: Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26
   April: So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in them. 1 John 4:16
   May: When you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon, and the stars - all the heavenly array - do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. Deuteronomy 4:19

I've accomplished 17 total goals now and I've got 11 in progress. Here's to another successful 3 months!


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