Managing my beautiful mind

Ah! Our amazing mind… it can lead us to impressive results, create incredible imaginary stories, regulate our bodies and a zillion more things. Our mind however can also play some interesting tricks on us, as I was about to discover.

Many of you know that I have a big project on the go, that of becoming much healthier. One of my favorite activity, other than walking, is swimming. I am far from being an efficient swimmer. Until 5 years ago, I could never swim with my face in the water. With guidance and perseverance, I did manage to learn how to swim the proper crawl method, but my endurance always was poor.

Typically I swam in a 25 meter pool. My routine is to swim breast stroke or side stroke until I get warmed up, then I attempt to swim the crawl, which is difficult for me, but I can usually do the length and with a very short rest, continue for a few more lengths. The intent was to build up my endurance.
Flash forward to two years later, ie, one week following my early return from my Camino. My regular pool is closed for maintenance, and I leveraged another pool which is 50 meters long. In my mind however, that was WAY too long. After all, I was just used to doing 25 meters at a time.
deep end pool
And, wouldn’t you know, the slope for the deep end starts just a bit past the 25 meter mark. Somehow, my mind was set that I couldn’t go past that mark. I tried for two entire weeks yet each time I would see the beginning of the slope to the deep end, I would have problems with my breathing and my endurance. Even I, who tends to talk myself in or out of just about anything could not get past that marker UNTIL… I found myself resting at the deep end after finishing the last length breast stroke style when I remembered I was to start the crawl at the beginning of that length.

“Well, I thought, I guess I can do it now” and I headed off thinking I would likely stop again 20 meters or so short. Much to my complete surprise, I got to that point and since I was in the shallow end, it seemed my mind didn’t see the anchored marker that previously kept me from finishing the length, and I just kept going the entire 50 meters. I pondered a moment and thought “I must have broken through the barrier” so I headed back again but to my dismay, the moment I saw the change in depth I tanked.

I side stroked to the end again, and after a moment or two of frustration, I headed back to the shallow end. Again, I did the entire distance without any issues. At that point, I was determined to overcome that visual block. I admit I haven’t quite managed that, BUT I do know I can at least do the 50 meters by starting off at the deep end.

I know eventually I will overcome this challenge but it totally amazes me that even though I KNOW I can do the 50 meters, I still am bound by that hard stop. Amazing that my mind is struggling with this however I am determined to conquer that invisible yet powerful obstacle.

Incredible what our mind can do, and surprising the power it can have over things that we struggle to control. In the grand scheme of things this is a small and inconsequential thing, but to me, it’s the game of mind over matter.

I wonder how many other “artificial” obstacles I have let impede my plans, how many times I’ve bowed out thinking this was not something I could do, or given up too early.

My determination is strong and soon the lane in both directions will be mine.
Now, please excuse me while I go and visualize this conquest!

Gambatte Kudasai – Do Your Best

I am reading a great book by a local author Robert C. Sibley, a journalist for the Ottawa Citizen, about his pilgrimage in Japan. He walked over 1,400 km and visited 88 Temples along the way.

In this book, he speaks of a phrase that is often said between pilgrims doing this trek – “Gambatte Kudasai – Do your best.” When I read this, I immediately thought of our bootcamp sessions.

I will not lie, I am out of shape. Decades of office work, long plane rides, hotel food and client dinners peppered by limited movements left me carrying additional weight that increased over time. Although the past few years post retirement have seen me walk over 1,100 km in Spain (over two trips), eating better and getting much better sleep, I still have a way to go to get fitter.

Mama Hanes7 weeks ago, a friend of mine spoke about her experience at a local bootcamp and I decided that I need to up my game. Inspired by my brother who lost more than 75 lbs and now a runner, I signed up, along with my two daughters for a 5:30 AM, three times a week bootcamp.

I admit that I was scared and had my doubt as to whether I could even finish a workout, let alone try to keep up with the others. Some of the members had been attending the bootcamp 5 days a week, and this for a few years!

Our local group, led by the fun and encouraging instructor Ristow, is comprised of amazing athletes who are the picture of encouragement. When newbies like us start, the experienced athletes pick up the reps we aren’t able to complete, run back to get the straggler (most of times, ME), support and encourage each other.

All that is asked of us, is to Gambatte Kudasai – Do your best! Today marked our 7th week, and somehow my body finally decided to cooperate with me. For the first time in 7 weeks, I was able to keep up with the running, able to carry with another team member, not once, but twice, MISERY (a huge bar weighing more than 50 lbs or so), run hills and carry a sandbag.

I don’t think I have EVER felt such a rush at being able to almost keep up with the group. I still have a long long way to go, but I am so excited at seeing the changes in my body, the increase strength and stamina, and my ability to recover after a hard workout.

They say that change needs to happen from the inside, and we need to be ready for it. I can honestly say that I am THERE! The change is happening little by little and I am so amazed that even at my tender age of 53, I can say “It’s never too late”.

I am absolutely sure that the credit doesn’t only rest with me, but with the support of everyone surrounding me. I now understand that even though I am still last in line, the important element is that I am DOING MY BEST – Gambatte Kudasai!

Thanks everyone for your amazing support! We are now opting for bootcamp 5 days a week – and I look forward to giving it my all each and every time!
Happy weekend –
Mama Hanes (My bootcamp nickname!)