Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to Make It Work

I have been thinking about the differences between training now, at 36, with a family and a mortgage, vs. training when I was 18, single and at a training center. When I was younger, I lived at the Ice Castles International Training center for a while, pursuing Ice Skating. While I was there, my life was prescribed for me in a very concrete way.

Our schedules were given to us, and they looked something like this:

5:00 am Patch Practice
6:30 am Stroking
7:15 am Breakfast
8:30 am Morning Freestyle
11:30 am Karate
12:30 pm lunch
1:30 pm Ballet
3:00 pm Afternoon Freestyle
6:30 pm dinner
7:30 pm Weight Training
9:00 pm Cardio
10:30 pm lights out

Our meals were designed for us according to what our trainers agreed we needed to do, loose fat and build muscle, mostly. We kept detailed diaries of what we ate, and our cardio was adjusted accordingly.

It was kind of a no-brainer situation. Show up, eat what was put in front of you, no more, no less, do your work, get your rest. We did this six days a week, and took Sundays off. (During which time we usually did lift practice in the pool).

We all lived on campus together, my "class" included Chen Lu, Michelle and her sister Karen Kwan, Surya Bonaly, and a bunch of other great skaters. (Michelle was 13 at the time.) Because of this, when we ran into each other on the way up or down from the rink, as we stopped to chat, we'd do calf raises on the stairs. There was never a moment when we weren't training, and it wasn't hard to live in that mentality.

Today, life is a bit different for me. I assumed going into this, that I would have the work ethic, tools, and sheer will power to make a massive training effort easy for me. Alas, those tools, while very helpful, are not the things that will make or break me here in my desire to be healthy, have great balance, strength and stamina.

Today, my life doesn't have a schedule that stay constant for more than two days. I have to think hard about what I eat, how often I eat it, and of course, i have to prepare it myself, while feeding my kids as well. Yes, I know, everyone has to do this. But it has been interesting to try and figure out just exactly how many calories i am burning on a given day, so I can make sure that my calorie deficit (while I am still in the fat-loss stage of my program) is not more than 500 calories a day. More importantly, that the meals I eat are maximised to carry enough Protein to build the muscle I am demanding, that I get as many vitamins and minerals directly from food sources as possible, so they are efficient, and easy to metabolize and therefore build strong connective tissues, minimizing the chance of injury and maximizing my ability to heal should I hurt myself.

Both my little sister and I are certified Nutrition Technitons through Intrafitt, a program that was built for body builders and endurance athletes to treat their food as highly efficient fuel. But times and research have changed, and Liat and I (okay, mostly Liat) are finding ourselves slogging through books and articles to constantly update and refine what we believe about food, and how to make it most beneficial to our training. It was easier to show up at the cafeteria and pick up the tray marked "Kate".

So I have this mental image of what a great training program looks like, and what I would do with my day if I could, if I got paid to train, and it would look like this:

5-10 mile hike or 3 mile swim
"Epic" cardio once a week (26 miles or more)
Weight Training
Balance Work
Six meals a day (complete, no bars or red bull!)
A gallon of water a day
Vitamins 3x/daily
Film viewing/technical reading

Clinics and Camps monthly until Bridger opens.

Obviously, to pull this off, I'd need to be single, independently wealthy and 18!

So the question became, how do I do this? How do I balance my desire to do it to the very best of my ability with the real life situation? I want to be with my kids, take them to their swimming lessons, hang out with them, teach them, hike with them, spend time with my husband, work on my blog (s!), make my art, clean my house, pay my bills...

And the answer, I think, has evolved over the last three months. It used to be that when I "blew it" (ala Trainwrecks)I would get really down on myself. "Come on, Kate, you know how to do this. If you can't commit now, how will you ever make it?" "How bad do you want this? Obviously not enough to get your shit together to get to the gym at 5am every day."

And what has evolved here is the fact that life will happen. And it helps to have a (very) flexible training partner who is just as dedicated as you are (THANKS, LIAT!), and it helps to just keep trying.

There is this old Evian ad that I think I wrote about once before: Every day is a new chance to do something healthy. So I decided that part of my training mantra needs to be that if it doesn't happen today, I'll do everything I can to make it happen tomorrow. Meanwhile (and this is key, here...) I am going to enjoy the curveball that life has thrown me today.

In this last five weeks, this has meant letting it be okay if I go four or five days with NOTHING as far as training, but sticking with what I can and not getting discouraged (This was a MUCH bigger feat than I thought it would be). Cooking good meals anyway, taking vitamins anyway, not letting the lack of exercise snowball into other areas where I was doing well.

This also means allowing myself to eat ice cream occasionally!

This is definitely a work in progress, but it has become interesting as in the last two weeks, suddenly, things have come into balance, time with family, time in training, and I have really learned that everything comes and goes, my ability to make the kinds of food I should be eating, my ability to bring all my vitamins with me, my ability to get on the balnace board twice a day, my ability to get to the gym every day, my ability to remember to stand on one foot while i am doing the dishes, my ability to let go and focus on what is happening now, my dedication to my meditation practice...

and its okay that these things come and go. The trick seems to be KEEPING them coming and going, and in the big picture, it balances out to time in training and time with family. The last two weeks have been a spectacular success in this vein, less time with babysitters, more time in training... lets see if we can keep it up!

And if we can't, lets be patient, and loving and wait for the time when we can start again.

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