Week Five

Week Five: Endurance – Go for it, and have fun!

Complete the Weekly Reflection


Week Five, Mindset…(Eleonora)

We are almost there! Two more steps and you’ll have all the tools you need to be well forever. Seriously…can you believe that?! These tools are indeed guaranteed to work, but only if you use them regularly enough. That word “enough” is key! You don’t need them all, all the time, and in all contexts. As human beings we are intrinsically resilient and designed to heal (in community). We just need to support our human bodies by sprinkling these practices throughout our lives just enough. This is never a linear process or done once and for all. It’s all about slow and steady habit-building over time. Remember: the practice is the outcome!

This brings us right to this week’s theme: endurance. I don’t know about you, but this past year has been trying! Between the pandemic and socio-political upheavals, my ability to make sense of reality, and my sense of agency, control, and purpose have been put to the test. The enormity of the structural challenges we have collectively faced has created a lot of stress, and for many of us a sense of helplessness–probably human beings’ most dreaded of all feelings.

So last fall, I found myself on the porch of my dear friend and colleague Dr. Angela Gillem, sharing my own consternations with her (it’s pretty convenient to have psychologists as friends! ;). As we chatted about our lives and work, we got to talking about a specific form of mindfulness-based therapy (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT), and Angela reminded me of the importance of grounding my life in my values. ACT capitalizes on the fact that values give us purpose and agency. No one and nothing can take our values away from us! And nothing is more enlivening that aligning our actions with our values. Values are intrinsically motivating, they feel like “being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing”.

The very next morning, I sat down, googled a random list of values, and narrowed it down to nine: connections, courage, kindness, joy, justice, self-growth, spirituality, truth, and well-being. For each, I listed a few actions I could do. None of the actions I came up with would resolve the pandemic or social injustices, but I no longer felt that I was sinking in quicksand: I could still live a meaningful life and contribute to my world in a way that felt empowering.

So here is your exercise for this week:

  1. Using this list (or any other!), identify 5-7 core values 

SUPER IMPORTANT: Values are not goals nor “shoulds”! How do you know the difference? Because even just thinking about a value you cherish feels enlivening, emboldening, and empowering (not heavy or like another chore). Values are intrinsically inspiring and compelling, and by definition never “done” (if you value kindness, for example, you can have a goal to be kind in your next interaction, but kindness is never fully “accomplished”, it stands endlessly as a guiding post). 

  1. Take stock of what you already do for the values you identified, by listing those concrete actions underneath each (when I did that, I noticed that I was taking good care of one or two values and I was leaving many of the others to languish)
  2. Add 1-2 actions (aka goals) underneath any value for which you feel some additional yearning (looking at my list, I could immediately see how I was missing the value of “connections” the most; so I made a list of activities I could do safely in-person, decreased my zoom time, and added some collaborative projects for work)
  3. Select one (small, simple) action per day, from any of the values you miss the most, and commit to doing it :).

Values are your source of unlimited motivation and sense of purpose. They are your emotional endurance. Go for it and have fun!


Week Five, Movement…(Pamela)

When you think of exercise and endurance, it’s likely the first thing to come to mind is some sort of long distance activity like running or biking. Resistance training can also have an endurance component as well. Think about the workouts where you’ve completed sets of 8 or more reps or even :40 or more for multiple sets. This is more of an endurance focus than traditional strength and power workouts. (Especially the reps of 100 from the Friday workout! If you weren’t there – log in and take a look 🙂 )

If we dig deeper however, I think we can look at the endurance part of exercise as something else, something a little more inspiring and interesting. Perhaps you’ve heard yourself or someone say, “I’m in it for the long haul.” I think it’s great in concept but it sounds dull in practice. Let me first clarify, that I’m not trying to put a negative connotation to it. We all need to be exercising for the long haul! 

The long haul should be about setting various goals, just as we do in other areas of our lives, short term and long term – then mapping a plan to get there. And somewhere along the way, likely a number of times, adjusting the plan for whatever reason has crept in but not abandoning the goals all together. To keep the plan exciting, set mini goals along the way. This can look as simple as doing 5 push ups a day to walking/running a mile every day. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy or even something that takes a long time to do, just enough to re-invigorate the next week of movement for you to stay on track with the endurance nature (or long haul) of exercise. 

What will you do this week?


Week Five, Mess…(Pamela)

Go for it and have fun! Everything about food can and should be fun. Even if you don’t consider yourself a master chef in the kitchen, doing so could change how you view some aspects of food, even the food prep! I know, how on earth?!

Crank some tunes and have at it in the kitchen. Try a new fruit or veggie. Sub in tofu or turkey for the chicken a recipe calls for. It can be like your own little experiment. 

I have the most fun in the kitchen when I start with a recipe, look at it and say, “I’m feeling a little like mushrooms instead of peppers.” Or, I open the fridge, see what’s in there and pull out a few items that might go well together. 

Some tricks I’ve learned for food to taste better or different:

-Roast or grill vegetables (even fruit) instead of steaming or sautéing. Use different seasonings, even different oils. 

-When you have time, add your spices, dry, to a frying pan over low heat. This changes the flavor profile in a great way. 

-Grow a few fresh herbs or veggies in the summer. Fresh out of the ‘garden’ gives you an unique appreciation for flavor. Basil and rosemary are ridiculously simple to care for. If you have space to try some container gardening tomatoes and cucumbers are also pretty easy as long as they get watered well. 

-Pastas and rice appreciate being cooked with salted water and some oil rather than rolling with water solo. 

-Grilling is amazing! All year round, not just in the summer. Plus, it eliminates a few steps in the clean up process. That’s always a plus for me. 

-Throw yourself a dinner party, seriously, or even make a fancy snack tray – even if it’s just you. 

-Lime juice and zest freshens up a summer meal with a unique zing that is significantly different from lemon.

Try any one of these tips and be creative this week. Enjoy your food any way you can!