I know that going to the gym helps my overall well being. I like pushing myself. I’ve grown tremendously. Things I once only dreamed of doing are now things I do all the time. I’m still not heading out to the Games or anything, but I’ve improved with continual practice.

It feels good to be able to move well. It’s impressive to see muscles on anybody and on me – dang impressive for an old fart. And so, I go to the gym without ever really questioning it. It’s what I do. I wake up and go to the gym. Period. No deciding. No debating. I just go.

I also know I have to eat better. I don’t have that choice any more. I’m pre-diabetic and if I don’t want to end up post-diabetic, I have to watch what I eat. I don’t get a cheat day. I can’t just decide I don’t want to do this now. I’m stuck with this if I want to stay on this side of the A1C line. And I do. So I eat and watch my carbs and try to choose better. No debating. This is just my life now.

I know I move better when I do yoga. I don’t do Hatha yoga or Vinyassa yoga. I do Yin yoga. It’s a practice that holds poses for minutes at a time, stretching as you sink into the pose and breathe in and out (through your nose when there isn’t too much pollen in the air). It helps with connective tissue stretching and allows you to move easier.

Somehow, I gave myself permission to choose on this one. I have no idea why. Probably because my routine wasn’t set in stone. There were no classes I had to attend or people would miss me. I have all my props right here at home and I can select from a range of over a bazillion YouTube videos. I have some favorite posting people who don’t annoy me as I’m trying to relax into the pose. It’s counter-productive to be annoyed while trying to do yoga.

I kept telling myself it was just an hour and I needed to get upstairs and stretch a little. Instead, I just debated myself and opted to not go upstairs, not stretch, not do the thing I knew would help. Last weekend, I finally forced myself upstairs and I was horrified.

All the things I could do once upon a time are gone. I’m not able to bend or move like I could a few months ago. Instead, I’m about as pliable as I was a couple years ago when I first got talked into doing some of this crap.

I know it is better to have this set of skills in my life for a variety of reasons. The most noticeable is that it makes going to the gym easier and that is why I finally got my unhappy ass back upstairs. But it makes the rest of my day better, too. It makes falling asleep and staying asleep easier. It just has a whole host of benefits.

When I’ve been awake for too long, I’m entirely capable of talking myself out of anything that seems like too much work. So, I have my alarm set for earlier on the days I go to the gym and I have been doing just a thirty minute routine before getting ready for the gym. That worked on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday is my rest day. I do laundry instead of going to the gym. I could have gotten up and started the laundry and done a real whole hour yoga class. I didn’t. I decided around lunch time that my issue was I didn’t want to do a whole hour class. I have nothing better to do, but that was my sticking point.

So instead of blowing the whole thing off, I figured it was better to do a thirty minute practice than a zero minute one. And that’s what I did.

I have no idea how long it will take me to get the flexibility back. Since I’m perfectly willing to do this before I hit the gym, I should be able to get in five 30-minute sessions a week and then on my rest days, I can opt to either do some or no yoga. At least I can opt for that once I’m a little farther along the path of habit and routine. Right now, I really need to keep myself vigilant because otherwise I will be back to no yoga again.

And then there is meditation. I need to return to that as well. It is supposed to help with my scattered nervousness. At least that is the theory and it seemed to work that way when I actually did it. So, I tried some of that today, too.

I know how to be healthy. Why is it so much work?

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I’m not getting any younger. Being old is hard work. You have to fight to keep whatever it is you already have. And trying to get more is far more difficult than when younger.

My goals include working out with CrossFit type WODs four times a week. I do a yin yoga practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and meditate on the days I don’t do yoga. This stuff is helping keep me flexible, strong, safe, clear, focused, etc.

I’ve been doing CrossFit longer than yoga and there are days when I just CrossFit the shit out of my yoga practice. I catch myself in the act and alter my behavior so I can yoga during yoga. I have found that after so much yoga, there are times when I yoga my CrossFit WODs, too. I then have to remind myself that CrossFit is CrossFit and yoga is yoga and when they meet, I must adjust my sails.

I want, above all, to be perfect. All the time. I realize this is both ridiculous and impossible, but there it is. I cringe with each mistake. I cringe when I don’t keep the bar in close on a lift. I cringe when my body doesn’t fold in a pose. I cringe when I find a typo. I cringe when dinner doesn’t turn out the way I planned. I cringe and cringe and cringe and then wonder why I have a stiff neck.

Meditation is extremely difficult for me. I’m busy thinking about being perfect and the whole point of meditation is to not think, especially about being perfect and then I get caught in this loop of wanting to be perfect at a time when perfection is not even a pretend goal.

Using a guided meditation helps some, but my mind still wanders into the path of oncoming traffic and I wish desperately to be perfect at this. I would like to be perfect at something. Okay. I want to be perfect at everything.

My quest for perfection has oftentimes negated the sheer joy in living. This is most clear for me now at the gym when I should be so grateful to be able to do all the things I’ve worked so hard to attain. Instead, I want more and miss the joy of getting this far up an eternal mountain. There is no top to this journey.

Stop and smell the roses. At least notice there are roses and they are beautiful. I love the smell of lily of the valley, maybe I should stop and smell that.

I’ve been keeping a journal of things for which I’m grateful. It helps to keep me focused on the here and now and realize how precious it is. It is perfectly imperfect. I should allow myself to cherish it, mistakes and all. Noticing how often I’ve chosen wisely and done good. Not all the time, of course, but often enough to give me something to be thankful for.

I’ve risked enough to make the mistakes, be imperfect, learned new things. Gratitude makes even the imperfect better.

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I created a new plan for my health and wellbeing. I decided to cross train four days a week, meditate four days a week, and yin yoga three days a week. The yoga is on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The mediation is on the days I don’t do yoga. Cross training is on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. This switches things up enough so I don’t have the same day too many times a week. Variety is the spice of life.

But then there is life. The past two weeks have been uncharacteristically chaotic. I’m retired and don’t do much in the line of chaos anymore. But we had Christmas early because of work schedules for those not retired. And then there was actual Christmas and then New Year’s Day. And my birthday fell in there and we went away for a couple days.

All in all, I didn’t get much gym time. I was doing some meditation and some yoga, but not really hitting my schedule. The new year started and I was determined to make my schedule stick and then – once again life happened. Really, it was weather. The weather happened.

South Carolina is not the snow belt. I used to live in the snow belt and we had all manner of things stockpiled and awaiting the frigid winter weather and all the snow and ice that befalls Ohio during the cold months. Down here, not so much.

But we got sleet. Then we got snow. A lot of snow fell on the already ice covered streets. There wasn’t a stockpile of salt or ashes waiting to be spread around. What we had was ice covered streets and drivers who are not used to driving on them. Hell, they have trouble driving in the rain here. So the ice was too much and many vehicles hit the ditch.

But yesterday was sunny and bright and much of the snow melted. The cloudless overnight sky let any built up heat escape and the freezing temperatures made the roads all icy again. A local driver lost control and killed a pedestrian just a few miles from my house this morning.

My gym was cancelled again. I didn’t do anything yesterday because of all the snow. This morning, I was mostly dressed when I saw the notice. So I finished lacing up the shoes and checking the heart monitor. I wrote my own workout. I vacillated and then made myself do the higher number.

I selected a 20 minute EMOM with even minutes doing 10 kettlebell swings and odd minutes doing 10 air squats. It wasn’t too much, although for the math people out there, it is 100 of each of the moves. My legs were a bit tired by the end. I pushed through and did what I told myself I would do.

I’m rather proud of that. In the last few weeks I’ve been very lackadaisical about my own schedule. This is my schedule. Why is it so difficult to follow it? I have nothing else to do but spend time on my own health, fitness, and wellbeing. Why is that so hard?

I believe we think health is our natural state and should be easy and just happen. But in reality, chaos is the natural state of the universe and all that is in it. It takes a great amount of energy to make something out of the chaos. And so, it takes a great amount of energy to make me do the things I say I want to do.

Perhaps having figured this out, it might be easier to stick to my schedule I created for me to get what I say I want. I sure hope so.

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Adult to child: Just do your best.
Adult to child: Is this really your best?
Child to adult, hesitantly: Yes.

Just do your best. We say this to kids all the time. It’s onerous. How many times as adults do we not do our best? Can you really NOT cook a better meal than the ones you have been preparing all week? When was the last time you really cleaned the house instead of just getting the surfaces? How much television have you watched instead of [fill in blank]? Is your career path on course? How many times did you check social media at work this week? Is that really your best?

We do our best on occasion. But not all the time. It would be exhausting. I make decent meals much of the time, but other times I honestly don’t feel like it. We don’t have to have gourmet food three times a day.

The house is reasonably clean. The laundry is done often enough. We aren’t going to have the health department come in and condemn the place. But it isn’t spotless and probably never was.

Life is imperfect. Doing one’s best all the time is perfection and we are not capable of perfection. I’m not sure it should even be a goal. If everyone were perfect, whatever that might mean, we would all be the same. It is our imperfections which make us unique individuals. I’m odd in this place and even weirder in that one and when you sum up all the ways in which I miss the mark, it creates me.

When I CrossFit, I’m not the best. I’m often not even anywhere close to my own best. I’m tired and cranky and the WOD contains crap I struggle with. But by struggling in my own crappy manner time and again, by listening to the coach who points out the errors in my form, I can improve to something better. But I will never get to best, at least not consistently because that would be perfection and … humans aren’t perfect.

When I do yoga, I strive to get myself tied into the correct knot and because I do yin, I then try to hold the pose and melt into it. Sometimes this is simply impossible and sometimes it is merely a struggle. But because I’ve been doing this for months, my poses look more like they are approaching the way the masters says to contort oneself. But in yoga, acceptance is more important than prescription.

I’ve been meditating. My mind is far less chaotic and I can focus on my breath for longer and longer periods. There was a time when I couldn’t even sit still for a few minutes. I can now. It isn’t the best, but it is better.

I rarely have the strength or stamina to do my best. But I can often do enough. Perfection is unattainable. But enough can be enough. If you let it.

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There are a lot of things that scare me. Most of them don’t even exist. They are in my head, haunting and taunting and making me question my ability to be an effective adult. Anxiety is pervasive. I can turn even the best of days into a catastrophe without even batting an eyelash. It’s a skill. Not a very useful one, but honed to perfection.

I watched a TED talk recently where this guy said we hallucinate ourselves into existence. What our brains tell us becomes our version of reality. Our brains don’t see or smell or taste or do anything other than process electrical impulses into something the past has shown us is usually pretty much how reality works.

I’m unsure why my brain believes the world is out to get me, but it tells me often that I am not up to standard. I’m failing. I not only didn’t succeed, I outright lost. It is in a near constant state of panic, trying to control every eventually in a dynamic and ever-changing world.

My brain lies to me. And then my intellect tries to counter those lies with some simple truths. Things like pointing out that the world has never yet killed me. I live in a world of fear and doubt, projecting onto myself criticisms that never materialize.

I’ve been trying some daily guided meditations and the day I had to tell myself I was “enough” was terrifying. Enough of what? How is this measured? By whom? I’ve been disappointing people my entire life. I never once brought home a report card filled with nothing but A+. I didn’t go to med school. I never have been the prefect wife or mother. I’ve made mistakes here, there, and everywhere. How can any of this be enough?

And that’s where we fall apart. We want perfection. Intellectually, I know this is impossible. I don’t expect anyone else to be perfect. I would like it if it ever happened, but so far, we are all just humans with frailties and flaws and fear. We want to be accepted even being these things and we know how often we find dissatisfaction with the imperfections of life.

Learning to remain calm and thinking instead of reacting will help with this. I’m trying to get a better handle on this. The acceptance of imperfection is not an easy task for me, but if I could master it, things would likely go much more smoothly.

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