Now What?

It's important in life to set goals for ourselves. It's very good to establish a time frame for these goals. My major goals sort of lie in a vague timeframe and I continue saving and hoping indefinitely for whenever I finally buy a house, get married, have kids, and put them through college. Obviously I don't have forever to achieve these goals, which seem impossible sometimes, but in the back of my mind I think I use my father as a gauge, who didn't settle down until he was 40. So I still have six years, although I know how fast time flies as we get older.

Short term small goals are a lot easier to achieve. I make lists at work everyday, and at the end of the day check off the things I've accomplished, and then cross off the day at the top of the list and write down the following day. Even on weekends, I know I can work in mowing the lawn, doing laundry, and any other tasks I need to accomplish between musical engagements. The timeframe and the tasks are both realistic in proportion to one another.

Two months ago, I set a goal to get in shape for a race. I was certain it would take me close to 40 minutes to complete; I did it in just over 34 minutes. It was a great feeling, followed by an enormous sense of relief. I was nervous with anticipation all day, moreso than I have been in previous years. I had trained and I'd cut out a lot of the snacks I enjoy, and though I wasn't dieting completely I'd still managed to drop 10 or 11 pounds when I wasn't looking. Had my jeans gotten stretched out? Why did my belt need a new hole? It wasn't until a few people at my last gig asked me if I'd lost weight that I got on a scale to confirm it.

Naturally, the first thing I did after the race was pig out on the wraps, granola bars, potato salad, and other assorted goodies my company had provided. I regretted it later, but at the time I was ravenous. And the next day, I thought for sure I might reward myself with a visit to Starbucks or Carvel. Fortunately, cutting out a little early the day before to go to the race left me with a lot of work to do the next day, and I ended up taking a shorter lunch. Gathering storm clouds were also an incentive to race back to work rather than get caught in the rain dallying for snacks.

I did skip the gym on Wednesday though. I know the cruel aspects of metabolism, how I could gain back in a week what I'd lost in two months, but I needed one day after so much intense training. Running outside in warmer temperatures on uneven terrain is also more exhausting than a treadmill in an air conditioned gym. I needed one day to recuperate, but that's all I should allow. Now I need to ask myself, “What now?” I feel like people have been looking at me differently, although it may just be my own altered perceptions. If I'm happy with how I look, I don't see my own disgust reflected in the eyes of others like I do when I'm not happy. So I definitely can't stop now.

It's been intense, though. I ran for an hour every night. I did stomach crunches and weights for another half hour. I spent more and more time in the gym and wasn't getting home until after 9 PM some nights. It's Summer; there's nothing on television that I care about or need to rush home for. But I do want to get home earlier. So the question now is how to modify my workout without going back up to 190 pounds or higher. I don't want to do as much as I've been doing, but I want to do more than I was doing before I set the race as a goal. Next year's race is too far off to use as motivation. In terms of time, I think I'll cut that hour on the treadmill down to half an hour. But to compensate, I may up my speed. The actual race proved I can run and maintain a faster pace than I thought possible. In the gym, I always operate with the subconscious fear of losing control and not being able to reach the “STOP” button before the machine flings me back and I injure and/or embarrass myself.

So I begin anew, with new goals, and I'll adjust my math accordingly. Maybe by this time next year, I'll be running the same distance in half the time. Even a few minutes will be a victory. It's good to have goals; it's crucial to take those first few steps before breaking into a run.


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