When the stuff isn't there
Baseball is my favorite sport for endless reasons. One of them being I find it to be the sport most analogous to life.
Sometimes, your stuff just isn't there. You can do everything right, but for reasons beyond your control, the stuff just ain't there.
Deadspin defines stuff as a pitcher’s pitches, judged by how inherently hard those pitches are to hit.
Some pitchers had/have PHENOMENAL stuff nearly ALL of the time. I'm looking at you, Pedro Martinez.
But even those nearly-flawless athletes still have their off days. I'm looking at you, Jacob deGrom.
And often times, as you'll hear in the deGrom interview, they don't know why. They cannot tell you why their pitches weren't hitting their spots. Or why the spin rate was down. Or why the curve didn't break. And they also can't tell you why! It's fascinating and maddening.
With all the technology and scrutiny we have, psychology and emotions are still the biggest factor.
Today is a day where I feel like my stuff isn't there. And I can tell you why: ragweed. I'm being destroyed by plant pollen. But even though I know that, I don't feel any better about it. If deGrom had a headache, sinus pressure, and watery eyes and lacked his stuff, he would probably still feel as he felt about his last start as a human in full health.
I don't know where I'm going with this, but I think it has something to do with all of us being human and that sometimes, our stuff just isn't there. And that regardless of why, it's bothersome.
I am by no means an expert in health, but I've been on a journey of sorts for the past 14 months. I've always looked like a junior varsity athlete. Even in my brief days of being a varsity athlete, I looked like a JV athlete. That may have more to do with the approach I took to sports: they're supposed to be fun.
Anyway. I've undergone a transformation in so many ways and here are some things that worked for me. They're all obvious but sometimes we need to hear things more than once even if they are obvious. Cliches are cliches for a reason.
- Eat the same things
I have the same breakfast every day: a smoothie and a NoCow protein bar. I will also eat the same thing for lunch on rotation, and I almost always have an evening snack of popcorn. It's not boring. It's easy. It simplifies the process and that's wicked important if you don't want to think about what you're eating all of the time.
- Get moving
I'm an athletic person by nature. I love sports. I love staying active. One of the best parts of my day is my workout. There were times in my life where it was yoga, skiing, running, and any number of activities that sparked me to get moving. Walking is always in vogue and available.
- Find your team
I'm fortunate to be able to work with the crew at Trevor Kashey Nutrition. Having accountability has made this process not only more doable but way more fun. There's a global loneliness epidemic. Being a part of a community - any community - will improve not just your health but your life.
- Track your macros
This one is probably controversial. It works for me. I understand why it can be harmful for some, but for others, such as myself, it's fun. It's like playing Tetris with your food.
- Accept you will have off days
You will eat more than you planned. You will have cravings and there are times where yielding to those cravings will be the more sensible thing to do. It's not a flawless journey. There are a lot of zigs and zags.
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. It's the foundation of health.
Why start over
When you can just keep going?
I don't know where the idea of tearing everything down if you miss one day of whatever chosen thing you've decided to do came from. I'm guilty of it. The start-all-over mentality. I'm working on being less like that.
Like right now. I'm not starting over. I'm continuing.
For the love of the game
I love the Boston Red Sox more than any other sports team. Leaps and bounds more.
But I'm a fan of the game of baseball even more so than I am a Red Sox fan.
I have a borderline insane affinity for baseball. It's a quirky, backwards game built around failure.
Tonight I was cheering for Aaron Judge to hit his 61st home run. Against my beloved Red Sox. I was feeling a cocktail of confusion, excitement, conflicted, and joyful. It was equal parts "this is amazing!" and "oh god what am I doing."
Judge did not his 61st home run. I bet he'll hit 61 and 62 tomorrow. I really hope he does. God how can I say that!? I'm a Red Sox fan!
But I love the game more, and I would be willing to bet any player on any roster would agree with me. The laundry is important, but it's all for the love of the game.
Hard work and fun
Are not mutually exclusive.
They often go hand in hand.
I realized as I was drifting off to sleep I hadn't written. In theory I could have opened the laptop up and dashed something off quick. But that's not the point of this.
I don't know what the point of this is, but I know it's not that.
It's just as important to be able to restart something as it is to start in the first place. We're all going to have days where we miss our mark. That's human.
And so is getting after it again.
Be okay with being bad at stuff
One of my super powers is I'm not afraid of being bad at something. It's the only way to get good at something! It's rare that I think, "Oh I'm not going to try that - I'll be wretched at it." Often times it's the opposite, I try it because I know I'll be bad at it.
One of the benefits of teaching is that you see, on a daily basis, people acquiring skills. Whether you're young or old, it's possible to get good enough at nearly anything to make it enjoyable. And once it's enjoyable, you want to keep doing it. And guess what?
You'll get better at it.
The worst that can happen
Probably won't happen.
Try a to-don't list
I love a to-do list. I know I’m not alone in that. I love being organized and on top of my game. It provides me a ridiculous amount of pleasure knowing that I’m doing what I say I’m going to do. No matter how grand or trivial. It just feels good.
A few months back I told my therapist I had made a massive to-do list because I was feeling wonky. That was the actual word I used. Wonky. It covers a lot of bases, but in that moment wonky’s closest synonyms were likely confused, overwhelmed, and lost.
So my therapist, being the brilliant human she is, said to me, “Amy, I don’t think what you need is a to-do list. Why don’t you try a to-don’t list?”
A to-don’t list.
It’s easier for us to attempt to get out of our own way by adding things we need to do in order to make our lives more, well, orderly. Or more salient. Better. It’s a lot harder to figure out what we need to stop doing.
My to-don’t list is several pages long. I do not succeed at all of it even a fraction of the time, but I’m working on fixing that.
Here are some examples from my list:
The list literally goes on. It was challenging to start but once I got going, oh man, did I get going.
These are not dogmatic. They’re reminders. Life is more than a to-do list. And it's more than a to-don't list, but a gentle nudge saying, "Hey, remember what we're working on here," can go a long way for all of us.
The constant nature of change
Change is happening 100% of the time. We are always changing. I think we don't think about it that much because it is a wild thing to think about.
Me? Changing? No way! I still like all the same things! I still do all the things I did yesterday and behave the same way! How am I changing?
Time marches on, and if you're lucky, you get to march along with it. Some people dig their heels in in an effort to not be dragged. All they end up with are sore heels.
Some people are not lucky and time knocks them down. Game over. Bleak? Maybe. Honest? Yes. At some point we all lose the game.
So we might as well have fun playing it.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.