Digging for discipline, because regret sucks more.

Photo Credit: Frederic Mancosu, Flickr Creative Commons

This tweet from @Tri_Psychology yesterday got me thinking:
“Suffer the pain of discipline, or suffer the pain of regret.”

So true, isn’t it? As a goal-oriented person, especially, it’s an either/or proposition. There is inevitably some amount of regret that comes along with letting time pass without sticking to your goals, plans, guides, intentions. I see friends set goals all the time and then let them go, instead of finding the discipline to stick with them, and then I see the pain of their regret. Personally, and from observations of others, I think the regret is much, MUCH more painful.

Not that I, myself, am perfect by any wild stretch of the imagination. Quite the contrary. While I have found a wealth of discipline and met many goals over the past year and a half, it is sometimes a two-steps-forward-one-step-back proposition. The hardest thing for me is finishing a hard training cycle…and then finishing those events and having to adjust to greatly reduced calorie intake. Or, put more simply: it’s hard to stop eating! To turn on a dime from hard training mode to maintenance or weight loss mode. Which is why I’m digging for discipline right now, to avoid taking that step back.

It’s been three weeks since my last event (Door County Century) and still I’ve been eating like a defensive lineman. Last fall after my first half marathon, I ended up gaining back about 8 “holiday” pounds before I managed to put the brakes on, turn myself around, and lose 20. Now, it’s a year later…I see myself falling into the same it’s-fall-let’s-eat pattern, and, NO. Just no. I will not let it happen this time. Even for three weeks, I loathe the feeling of being regretful about my choices. I know I’ll never be perfect, and everyone slips, and some splurges are OK and all that. But NO. I can do better than I am doing. And that kind of regret is treacherous, to self-esteem, among other things.

So I’m going on public record with my next goal, because that usually helps. It’s WEEK 40 of 2013 right now. Which means there are 12 WEEKS of 2013 LEFT to make more progress before the new year, instead of backsliding. And there are 16 WEEKS until the IceBreaker Indoor Marathon Relay. My goal is to lose my LAST 8 POUNDS by that race, and reach my ultimate goal weight of 135…starting 2014 in by far the best shape of my life, at the age of 45.

Holy shit, did that just happen? Did I *publicly* state my weight? THIS is a huge moment for me, y’all. After being fat on and off for most of my life, I am 100% cool with telling the world my weight. WOW. *pauses to soak this in*

I’ve got big goals for 2014 and 2015, so I need to head into the new year in a good place. Assuming that the swim training goes well this fall, I plan to do a sprint or olympic tri in Spring 2014, a half iron distance tri in Fall 2014, a full marathon in 2015 and IronMan Wisconsin in Fall 2015. There. I said it. Out loud. Those goals may change, if, say, I end up hating the swim, but as of today that is the PLAN.

So. Now. How about YOU? Any regrets that you’re tired of living with? Goals you set this year and didn’t meet? Goals for the rest of the year or next year that you’re digging for the discipline to meet? Is there anything I can do to help?

How to stop letting fear stop you

Ho-lee crap where did the summer go?! Fall starts tomorrow and I haven’t written since, erm, May. I have learned SO much this summer that I want to explode all over this keyboard and share it all. But really – my biggest takeaway from this summer is just how ABSOLUTELY FREEING it is to overcome your fears, one by one.

In May at the Jillian Michaels show, I bought a shirt that says “Feel the fear…do it anyway.” I love this statement. Because, the thing is…contrary to what we often believe, likely instilled in us at a very young age, fear is not a bad thing to be avoided…you just need to move through it to get to the other side. {Fear and “I can’t / I’m not good at …” tend to team up a lot, too, I’ve noticed. So you might need to get over both of those blocks together to get where you’re going…]

For example…I’ve wanted to ride a century (100 mile bike ride) since I was 39 (5 years ago). It was the thing I was going to do for my 40th birthday. Except, you see, I DIDN’T. One, because I hadn’t gotten my act together to get in good enough shape yet. Moreso, because some pesky little naysayers in my head were saying that I “don’t like riding my bike in groups of people.” Except, well, yeah, I had NEVER TRIED IT. Because I was afraid of it. As soon as I decided to work through the fear, and found The Bella Donnas, an amazing group of biking chicks who helped me get comfortable, I found it wasn’t nearly as scary as I had been making it in my head.

Me with Katie and Erin, two of the Bella Donnas I went on my first-ever group ride with on August 10th.

And less than a month after my first group ride, I had done an almost-70 mile organized ride and …crossed my five-year-old goal of riding a century off my bucket list, at the Door County Century on September 8. Wooooooooohoo! This. Made me SO happy. (Even though I did it with a strained hip flexor and could barely walk for a week afterward. Oops. SO worth it.)

I think it really helped to take a “baby step” first…doing a ride with a very small group (just four of us) before trying to jump in and do a big, organized ride. So that’s going to be a key strategy for me going forward and taking on other fears, and one that I highly recommend. If you can’t take on the BIG fear immediately, can you take a small step in its direction, and let momentum carry you?

Another example…the other thing I’ve always said in my head that I am “not good at” is swimming. I’ve never really dug having my face in the water at ALL, to be honest. So, a week ago, I bought a suit, and some goggles and a cap. And made myself go to the pool. And guess what? I hit that water with a vengeance, only choked on it once, and DIDN’T ACTUALLY DIE, in spite of the vivid, fear-driven dreams I had the night before about sinking. And I went back again. And again. The same week. And it was hard and yeah I’m not that good at it yet and I LIKED IT. And tomorrow I’m working with a swim coach because I think it might, just might just might be possible for me to be a good swimmer. Because I absolutely refuse to let the fear and negativity stop me anymore, and because I BELIEVE I CAN.

All that fear…wasted time! Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Life is passing now. and now. and now. What are you missing out on, that you want to do? What fear is stopping YOU from meeting a goal or reaching a dream? How can you take a step today to move TOWARD it and through it?

Review: Jillian Michaels Maximize Your Life tour

Yesterday was FITNESS SPONTANEITY DAY at our house. Woke up feeling restless; an hour later we were off on a family hike in the woods in Kettle Moraine State Park about an hour from our house…SO refreshing. Then we made the random last-minute decision to go to the Jillian Michaels show at the Pabst Theater; no regrets there, either. Jillian was GREAT.


Protip: I spent most of my teenage/college years working in various theater ticket offices…if you aren’t aware, many times there are great seats released the day of show that the box office had been holding back for possible VIPs. And this is why we decided to go yesterday; I had looked for tickets twice before and come up with crappy, overpriced seats, which I will. not. do. Two hours before the show, we landed in the center of the floor in row P, at a great price. BAM. Done.


Nutrition, Exercise, Motivation and…Tequila

The other reason we went is that my son – who is 7 years old – REALLY wanted to see Jillian. When your kid comes to you and says he finds someone inspiring and wants to see them – especially when you’ve spent the past 7 years trying to get that kid to eat a fruit or a vegetable – you pretty much say YES.

We’ve watched more than enough Biggest Loser at our house to know that Jillian swears like a sailor. I had hoped she would tone it down for the show knowing that there would be kids in the audience but mmmmmmyeah not so much. Not at all. Goddamn it, Bastards, the F bomb and all…she was ALL IN. I have some proclivity for swearing myself, so I understand, and am OK with it. But it’s not for everyone.

Also (sorry for the sucky I-phone picture) yes that IS a bottle of Patron by Jillian’s feet. I found it interesting that she was offering tequila shots while talking about how to prolong your life…definitely a show meant more for women out with their girls than for fitness-obsessed Moms and their fitness-obsessed little boys.

Still, my son was laughing during this show HARDER THAN I HAVE EVER HEARD HIM LAUGH IN HIS LIFE. Like to the point that women around us were getting annoyed (which I don’t get, BTW. WTF, aren’t we all here to have fun?). Totally. Cracked. Him. Up. Between the kid hearing about nutrition from a master and the laughter – worth every penny.


Bwahaha! So freaking true. Jillian encouraged everyone to stop spending money learning this lesson…and then we all went out to the lobby and trampled each other to buy our $40 t-shirts and videos and hats and mugs and…yeah. We’re never going to stop spending money learning this lesson are we. We know it. We just need constant reminders to DO IT.


We buy mostly organics at our house, and have read enough to understand how crucial it is to avoid antibiotics and hormones and nitrites/nitrates in our meat. And even my son is already aware of reading labels and avoiding hugh-fructose corn syrup, trans fats etcetera. But lest anyone waver, Jillian drove these points home brilliantly with photos of appallingly obese corn-fed cattle – and the steaks that came from them – and bloated farmed salmon.

She shared her lists of the Dirty Dozen – produce to ALWAYS buy organic – the Clean 15 – OK to eat conventional – and things to ALWAYS avoid in your food. (This, of course, is extremely effective bait to get us to her website and encourage us to join her paid online community. Not a bad thing to consider if you need more external motivation. I used to subscribe and there are a wealth of useful exercise circuits and recipes in addition to the community features.)


Jillian is, of course, a huge advocate for HIIT – high intensity interval training. And I tell you, when I used to actually do the super high intensity circuits in her Making the Cut book, I was in better shape than I ever have been in my life. Even better than when I was running before the ankle injury (*sigh*). As soon as I am healed I am getting back on the HIIT (and of course running) wagon. Right now I am just going to move my ass as fast as I can without hurting myself. Still, I was glad she acknowledged that HIIT isn’t for everyone, and that people should do what they enjoy…just FASTER, maintaining a heart rate of 85% of your max as much as possible during your workouts.


Sadly, at this point in the show there was an intermission and I had to get my son home. So the holy grail I was looking for was not to be found this night.

For me, the holy grail is self esteem…how to get some and KEEP IT even when I can’t run. Oddly, running seemed to be a remedy in this area. And now that I can run for the time being I’m struggling with the old self-directed negativity again…putting myself down and, exactly as Jillian puts it, getting in my own way.

Anyone see the end of the show, or have any words of wisdom to share in this area?



How touching Bruce Springsteen’s ass changed my life

Thought I’d republish this story today on Spaight Talk from a 2009 Posterous blog, in honor of that site shutting down today. (Buh-bye, Posterous…it was real. Sort of.) This could also be titled, How Changing My Outlook On Life Enabled Me To Touch Bruce Springsteen’s Ass. Or, if I wanted to get all new-agey on you, I could call it something about the Power of Possibility. It’s real, man. BELIEVE. Case in point…

AH, TO BE 16.

It all goes back to when I was 16, grounded, and my Dad snuck me out of the house against my Mom’s wishes to go to the Springsteen Born In the U.S.A. show at Alpine Valley. I remember standing on the hill in my *super hot* aqua tube top, white shorts and jean jacket, getting chills up my spine listening to the harmonica wail through the acoustic version of No Surrender. (Or maybe it was just my outfit that was giving me chills; it had nothing on the pink cowboy boots, white Coca-Cola brand jeans and yellow tank top that I wore to the Grateful Dead show, but that’s a different story altogether and one that shall never be told…at least not in its entirety. But I digress.)


Fast forward from 1984 to 2002, several states of residence, a slightly better wardrobe, including, ironically, a better Gap 1968 jean jacket. I’m in my mid-30s and after being called “the gypsy” by my family for a decade or so, have come back home to the Milwaukee area to “settle down.”

It is the post-September-11 Rising Tour, and Bruce is coming to Milwaukee. On a whim, I decide to stop by the Bradley Center ticket office and see if I can get two tickets to pay my Dad back for that long-ago magical night. I figure we’re going to end up in the nosebleeds, if I can get tickets at all, and I don’t care. I just want my Dad to know how much I appreciate what he did.


So, I’m sitting in the lobby waiting for the ticket office to open, and a guy, turns out his name is Bill, comes walking in with a clipboard.

Bill: “You here for Springsteen?”

Me: “Um, yeah.”


Me: “Um, thanks, but, huh? I don’t even have tickets. What the hell are you talking about?”

Bill tells me that he is a fellow fan organizing the line of fans into the order they will enter the show. Meaning if I can scrounge up two general admission tickets, my Dad and I will be front row, dead center. So, being resourceful, I do. And, we are. And it’s absolutely MIND BLOWING. The heartbreaking City of Ruins is like prayer, and Bruce breathes new life into every person present. The newspaper comes and does a story about how my Dad, an 80-year-old fan, is the first guy in the show, and due payback has been achieved in glorious fashion.


Sometimes, you just have to believe in possibility, even if it is against all odds. Sometimes, good things just happen to good people for putting themselves out there.

What are the odds that I would show up at the last minute like that, and end up front row center? Pretty damn slim. But it happened, and it happened because I took a chance that it might be possible.


Wait, though. You’re wondering about the ass part, and where that comes in, right?

The Milwaukee epiphany leads me to a Bruce show in Miami, where Bruce does a duet of Because the Night with Bono and where I meet my friend Mike from Boston, who accompanies me to a show in Columbus, Ohio, where we get so close to the stage that I get to hold Bruce’s hand during “Mary’s Place” and, yes, cannot resist the very unlady-like urge to touch his ass, just because it’s right there in front of me.

Life, my friends, is right there in front of you. Are you going to grab it?

Seven lessons from training for a marathon and getting injured

Imma just put this right here for later.


Evidently the universe, which is usually quite good to me, thought it would be comical to have me run through all sorts of winter darkness and ice and grossness, and then, on the VERY FIRST gorgeous warm sunny day of Spring, tell me that I have a stress fracture in my calcaneous (heel bone). Pending MRI confirmation on Monday/Tuesday, but we’re 99% sure. Frustrating…check. Sad…oh yeah, big time. Not at all amusing…at least not yet.

I feel asinine even posting this, less than two weeks after Boston. Believe me, I am *fully* cognizant of the fact that there are people much, much more gravely injured than I. I particularly think about the dancer who lost her foot in the bombings, who has vowed to run next year’s marathon. Unbelievable resilience.

I just feel that the best way to process/deal with this at this point is to think about what I’ve learned in the *process* of training and getting injured, partially to comfort myself, in lieu of ice cream, and partially in hopes that it might help someone else at some point. There’s a lot I would do differently, knowing what I know now.


The fitness and beauty industries overall conspire in many ways to focus on our aspirations to be skinny, and much less so on our desire to KICK ASS AND TAKE NAMES. We owe it to ourselves to know better than that.

Through the first 10 weeks of my training this year, I was very focused on limiting my daily calories to drop some lbs. before the marathon. Yes, valid goal. Yes, I dropped 13 lbs and am at a healthier, happier weight. Yes, I feel less gross (except for this whole sitting-on-my-ass-all-Spring-now thing). BUT. Little did I know that somewhere along the way, while obsessing over tracking every calorie, I was developing a slight Vitamin D deficiency, even though I was taking a 1,000 IU Vitamin D supplement every day along with a multivitamin.


With the help of this experience and nutritionist-to-the-stars and rockstar runner and triathlete Amy Friese, from Fearless Nutrition, I’ve learned that food is FUEL, not something to be feared.

Wait. What?! I’ve spent my whole life trying to learn to eat LESS. The experience of NEEDING to eat MORE to fuel training and a LOT of it…*mind completely blown*.


The thing about Vitamin D? It needs FAT to get absorbed. So if you’re using skim milk to stay skinny and think you are getting enough Vitamin D in your body, to ensure you can absorb calcium and keep your bones strong, you *might* be wrong. I’ll never know if my outcome would have been any different if I was enjoying a couple of glasses of 1%-2% (chocolate!) milk every day, but it’s entirely possible. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten my vitamin levels checked BEFORE I started training; I’d also suggest that to anyone training for something like a marathon…especially when you are rapidly heading over the hill like me. ;) There are of course other ways to get calcium and Vitamin D for those who can’t do dairy…the milk thing works for me, not for everyone. I recommend it if you can.


For newbie runners like me (or for anyone I suppose), it’s hard sometimes to know when you are running through a little “ordinary” pain and when it’s time to STOP and get it checked out. We train ourselves to just keep running, and that can mean not listening well to the signs of an injury. Denial, as they say, is not just a river…

A stress fracture is weird in that the pain comes and goes, so it can trick you into thinking that you’re OK. My foot started hurting about 6 weeks ago. At first, I could get about 6 miles into a run before it would hurt. Then 3 or 4. Then 1. Then…crap…it hurts all the time. I’d better go to a doctor. I wish with all my heart that I had gotten checked when it first started hurting, instead of doing two 20-mile runs with a stress fracture. I’d be in a very different place right now that it’s FINALLY SPRING.

The moral of the story: be smarter than me. If something hurts, GO TO THE FREAKING DOCTOR. If it turns out to be nothing, that’s a bonus.


Even once I admitted to myself that I am injured, I didn’t go to a “traditional” doctor / orthopedist right away as I should have, in hindsight. I went to a (terrific) physical therapist. I went to an orthotics-guy-acupuncturist. I finally went to the orthopedist seeking clearance to race and peace of mind. I really didn’t think he was going to find anything. HA. HAHAHA. BWAHAHAHAHA *cries*.

Seriously, stress fractures are sneaky little bastards. Don’t be fooled.


Everyone knows the community of runners is amaziballs and my experience during marathon training was no exception. There were people like Anne who offered to be there for support and early morning winter complaints. Like Deb, who offered to chat about nutrition and share her experience. Like Tracey from PowerUp Fitness, who whooped my ass (in a good way) in bootcamps and training sessions and was generally *beyond* awesome. And like COUNTLESS others who offered support and encouragement. Thank. You. All of you.

There were also more than 20 people who donated to Racers Against Childhood Cancer in sponsorship of my run. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT.


OK. So here’s the deal. I’ve cried a LOT yesterday and today. And while I can’t guarantee I won’t continue feeling a little sad over the next several weeks while I am sidelined (the absence of endorphins is a BITCH, yo) and watching people run by my window, what I can promise is that I am going to do everything I possibly can to stay motivated and strong and do what I can physically do during this period (which I don’t really know yet.) Yoga. Recumbent bike *woooohoooo (sarcasm)* Upper body weights. CORE. And I’m drinking my milk, and not obsessing over every single calorie…just eating healthy and trying like hell to not let food be my source of comfort…which is a real challenge for me at the moment.

So that, hopefully, 6-8 weeks from now, I can start running again, and maybe, just maybe, if people smarter than me say it’s semi-reasonable, build back up in time for a fall marathon.

‘Cause that Kelly Clarkson, you know, she may not *seem* like the sharpest knife in the drawer…but that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” shit? That’s the real deal.

So, while I can’t that Racers Against Childhood Cancer race shirt right now, it’s hanging where I can see it every single day. And know that someday I’m going to cross a marathon finish line in it, and it’s going to be EVEN. BETTER.

If you’ve dealt with a running injury, what advice would you add? And how do I not go crazy?

Running for RACC Fund: Racers Against Childhood Cancer

When I started running last May, it was for a higher purpose: childhood cancer. This cause still calls to me and pushes me forward, which is why I recently joined the great team of people who run for Racers Against Childhood Cancer. This group was founded here in Milwaukee in 2007 by a couple, Cole Braun and his wife Jenny, who have been working together to raise money for childhood cancer research since 1984. {Bravo!} Cole knows from his extensive personal racing experience that many athletes are motivated by something *beyond themselves*, and has put that to work in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Racers Against Childhood Cancer logo

Supporting THREE childhood cancer causes.


One of the many things I love about RACC is that the funds raised go to support *three* wonderful pediatric cancer causes: Cure Search, MACC Fund, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Cure Search for Children’s Cancer funds and supports research, and provides information and resources to those affected by this dreadful disease. MACC Fund is dedicated to funding research on childhood cancer and related blood disorders; its goal is to be cured out of existence. {Gooooooo MACC Fund!} And Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is known for state-of-the-art research.


Imagine, being a parent that has to tell your little son or daughter that he or she has cancer, if he or she is even old enough to talk. I can’t. I can’t even imagine. Yet, 46 kids will be given this news today.

My goal is to raise at *least* $1,000 – and my *dream* is to raise $2,620 – in the six weeks remaining before I run the Wisconsin Marathon for Team RACC on May 4…just under six weeks from now. Truly, ANY amount of help that you can give, $5, $20, $26 (dollar a mile, yo) or more, will be appreciated from the bottom of my heart, and will be used well by these tremendous causes. We got almost 20% of the way to my base goal the first day, which seriously made me verklempt – you guys are just amazing.


If you are able to help, please do so on my RACC fundraising page.


As for the running, I’m 275 training miles into this marathon program in the past 12 weeks, including an 18-miler this past Saturday. And I’ve got 168 training miles to go before the big 26.2. I’m feeling relatively good about it and as long as my tweaky right ankle holds out for another 6 weeks, I’ll be crossing that finish line with a big grin on my face, and a HUGE smile in my heart because of your support. Truly…I think of you, my amazing supporters, when I run. You keep me going, big time.

Love. Spaight

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