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Here on New Year’s Eve, it is a natural time to pause and reflect. Whether it’s a real turning of the calendar page or a symbolic one, it’s never a bad thing to stop and think about accomplishments, lessons learned and the opportunities that await.

In a lot of ways, I had an incredibly blessed and fortunate year, some of it was from our hardwork, but a lot of it was just good fortune, so I have a lot of gratitude in my heart for that. We’ve definitely had some hard, ugly years I couldn’t wait to close the door on, but this wasn’t one of them. We are healthy. Our kids are healthy. Our parents are doing well. Our jobs are going well. As evidenced by the medals I collected this year, it was a lot of fun for me too!  I really can’t ask for much more than that.

If I dig into specifics, here are a few things that stand out to me about the personal lessons learned from the year that I don’t want to forget.

  • Making peace with dairy intolerance. Since I first started playing with elimination diets seven years ago, I’ve known dairy was the root of most of my GI issues. It wasn’t the gluten or anything else causing problems, it was the cream sauce, the cheese, the whey protein and the casein that is in so many foods. All of it upset my stomach and would make me cough and sputter, but let’s be honest, cheese is amazing. It’s about my favorite food ever, so cutting it out has been hard. Really hard. I’ve tried different versions of dairy. Goat cheese. Sheep cheese. Lactaid to make it easier on my system. I’ve made allowances, like “it’s OK, it’s worth it this time.” After years of being on this roller coaster, I’ve finally stepped away from it, and as a result, I feel SO MUCH BETTER. I’ve cut it all. So no more trace Parmesan, no goat cheese, no yogurt, no milk chocolate. I ask about ingredients before I eat them and order food at restaurants and work to avoid it every chance I get. About the main time I get it now is from real butter, but that seems like the milk solids are so remote it’s mostly OK, and even still, I don’t use butter much at home. I finally realized it was taking me about 7-10 days to recover from each exposure, and it finally got to where it just wasn’t worth it to me. It’s amazing how much more even keeled I feel cutting out this source of inflammation from my life. This is something I may still need to remind myself of in the future, so I’m writing it down for my sake and yours. When I say I know it’s hard to cut something, I really do. When I empathize that you aren’t feeling well because you made an allowance for something that doesn’t agree with you, I understand that as well. Sometimes it may be worth it to you, but that doesn’t mean it always will be. It just means that’s where you are right now, and as it is, I feel really good about this evolution and recognition that the milk allergy I had as a four-year-old has never resolved and needs to stop consuming my energy.
  • Working out hard means recovering harder. When my kids’ schedule changed and it cut out my recovery routine of doing some foam rolling and stretching each night, I didn’t really worry about it much. That is until I got hurt and then needed to spend eight weeks of PT undoing the tightness and rigidity that built up in my body from skipping what should have been part of my daily routine. The more you train. The more you need to recover. It’s a lesson I’ve learned before. I need to keep at it. Too many athletes work on recovery to get over injuries and then pivot back to training until they get hurt again and have to repeat. I see it in others, and I see it in myself. I’m trying to stay off that roller coaster as well. I know what to do. I have to make time for it, just like I make time for the workouts.
  • Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Whew. Everyone who’s a parent already knows this right? With athletic fourth graders, we have had all the good challenges you’d expect with near pre-teens. It’s all normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’ve literally tossed in bed all night wondering if I’d handled something well or been a disaster Mom. Or not been able to sleep because I’m anticipating how to handle things the next day. My kids rarely wake me up anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’m sleeping well each week. This is something I know isn’t going to go away anytime soon. It’s just part of parenting. And when this stress level is going up, it means I need to look to bring other stressors down, so I don’t break. When I look around sometimes the easiest stressor to reduce is my workout load. This is a luxury, I know, but it is something that can give unlike many of my other commitments. If I’ve had a terrible night’s sleep, I need to skip the workout to try to sleep more. Or if I’m up and need to clear my head, it’s ok to do an easy bike ride or easy run instead of a threshold workout. Also I can practice self-compassion and spend more time thinking about the effort I’m putting in and less time telling myself what I could have done better, not just on the parenting front, but on all fronts. This is hard work and beating myself up about any of it doesn’t help anything.

These are all lessons I plan to carry into the new year to help me be a better me. I’m still formulating my goals for the year ahead and have written a little about how I approach goals here already. The one thing I know that’s going to be part of my 2019 focus is continuing to improve upon and prioritize my sleep. It’s been on the back burner too much, but to make it better, I have to think on the changes I need to make to help make it even possible. If you want to dive into that process with me definitely sign up for my Ready. Set. Focus. jumpstart course that’s coming up, you can sign up for it here.

Do you have some takeaways that you’re pondering from this last year? I’d love for you to share them with me, so we can grow together.


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