5 on a Friday: BLAH edition

July 23, 2021

1- Confessions: I have felt blah all week. I scrolled for a long time last night despite writing this post as a pep talk to myself to convince me to do otherwise! I missed yesterday’s workout and today’s is looking iffy.

This is all probably because call is challenging, call is stressful, and when I do it I just do not have much left. I have noted this before, but I really need to make an effort NOT to plan much or ask too much of myself on call weeks.

(Because it won’t get done and then I’ll feel a layer of guilt/shame lumped on top of call stress. It’s like Call 7-Layer Bars, and they are not tasty.)

What SHOULD I build in?

Relaxing rituals, easier workouts, extra help with the kids. Someday I may figure this out . . .

2- I’m not working this weekend, but I AM solo parenting. At least it will be a complete shift from the week. (I’ll just keep telling myself that . . .).

3- Blah, part 3. I have been eating terribly lately. I am giving nutritional advice to my own patients and not following it (#allthecarbs). I am sure this is contributing to overall feelings of blah. My clothes are not fitting as well and I can take full ownership as to why.

I will say in addition to lackluster eating habits, I also blame doing more running and less strength. Last summer when I was not running at all I was in excellent shape from a body composition standpoint. And it was fun. I LIKED those Beachbody calendars + paper tracking sheets! I really did miss running, though. I need to figure out how I can get a better balance. Maybe it’s impossible at my current life stage . . .

4- Summer. I’m sure our gross summers have something to do with #mood.

I mean, it’s not that bad. But it’s just so humid and the daily storms get so old (my mild phobia of lightning does not help). Our summer ends in . . . November (and sometimes not even then), so it’s not like we are almost through it, either.

5- I guess I need to practice gratitude, do my foundational habits, etc. But this is an acknowledgement that sometimes it can be hard to lift yourself out of a negative mood. (And no, I’m not PMS-ing!).

I feel bad that this “5” was no links and all whining! So here are a couple . . .

I did enjoy this Freakonomics episode: The Pros And Cons of America’s (Extreme) Individualism

Amanda’s Favorites shares the 3 Planning Views she needs (I 100% get this!)

Amanda’s Favorites is the only YouTube I have ever consistently watched. I find it soooo relaxing! I am going to see if she will come on BLP!

After call ends on Monday evening, I have a (somewhat) easier week next and THEN we have a weeklong summer vac, which promises to be really low key (beach, pool, rental, and that’s basically it). We plan to tire the kids out in the morning and enjoy screen time/down time in the afternoon. I am going to read summery beach reads and we will cook simple family dinners. Hopefully that will help!


  • Reply Carrie July 23, 2021 at 7:01 am

    I feel you on the blahs and appreciate you sharing honestly. Two thoughts…. One: have you considered getting a peloton bike? It’s completely weather-proof and is a great way to get a quick workout in no matter your mood. I am a former competitive distance runner but my feet no longer allow me the miles my body and brain crave. I’m OBSESSED with my peloton bike.

    Second thought: if you haven’t read The Plot or People We Meet on Vacation, grab them for your trip. You will love them!!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 23, 2021 at 7:59 pm

      ooh thank you for the book recs! I am not drawn to a Peloton bike (though I’d love a tread IF we had a place to put it 🙂 ). If I ever have a running injury though I’d probably by a Peloton bike in a heartbeat!

  • Reply Chelsea July 23, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Sounds like you need a vacation :). Like an actual vacation.

    There’s a guy in my running group who is a physician who runs with a giant phone every 3 or 4 weeks and has to stop on the side of the road to take calls in the middle of our long runs. Obviously you already know this, but I’m attempting to validate that call messing with workouts is not some sort of personal failing. It’s clearly a hurdle for other people as well.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 23, 2021 at 8:30 am

      Giant phone? Interesting!!! Our calls go straight to our regular cell 🙂

      And yes, I guess my 2 and 3 day mini-vacs were not quite cutting it …

  • Reply Amy July 23, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Ugh I hear you on all of this. YES, first of all, to understanding your needs well enough to not over schedule or over plan during your call weeks! That is going to help so much. I like to think of that kind of strategy as setting myself up for success. In my own life, I’m a highly ambitious gardener who likes to grow as much as I can every year [with mixed success, lol]. I had a baby in March and it took concerted effort on my part to NOT plant a huge garden this summer when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to spend the time on it that I really want to. The strategy is paying off — I have some garden success, but if I had done as much as I aspire to, I would feel like a failure for not being able to give everything the attention that it needs. Also called setting realistic expectations. 😊 I knew going into this summer that some things in my garden were going to suffer, and they are, but I knew that going in.

    And another YES on the strength training vs running, honestly. I enjoy running but last year, pre pregnancy, I was training for a distance race and had objectively the worst body composition I have ever had! I switched to strength training (and drastically reducing carbs, honestly) and lost like ten pounds without even thinking about it. Post baby I have been exclusively strength training and it’s been great. I do think as women in our forties we need to put more effort into building and maintaining muscle rather than (or alongside) endurance cardio.

    Hope your day is uplifting today!

  • Reply Kristie July 23, 2021 at 9:04 am

    This post resonates with me! As always, I appreciate your honesty. I’ve found the same with strength vs running…I’m a distance runner and don’t want to give it up (or even cut back, really), but I struggle to fit in strength like I want to. Have you ever read Roar by Stacy Sims? Her research is on female athletes, and she talks a lot about the importance of strength (with heavy weights) as we age. She’s a mom, too…maybe a good guest on BOBW to talk about balancing fitness for the working mom??

    • Reply Jen July 26, 2021 at 11:39 am

      I am always thinking about Stacy Sims too!!! It is clear that strength training is a huge part of keeping up fitness as you age!! I keep reading about it but like you I still love endurance sport and struggle with a workable balance. Training for races (running and triathlon) doesn’t fit as well into my life as it used to but there is something about it which still fires me up. I have done a number of the BB programs and I like being stronger but the completion of a program to doesn’t feel like the same accomplishment as training for an event. How i’ve missed races!! I love how getting out for a run, or a bike is actually getting outside (usually). I really respond and feel so much more wellness when i get outside regularly – fresh air, even in a cold Canadian winter is a huge mood booster for me.

      I also struggle with being too focused on aesthetics (body composition) but know that i do still care too.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 23, 2021 at 9:17 am

    I actually found that I got my best race times for the 1/2 and full when I was running 3 days/week and strength training 2 days/week. But that was about 1:52 half and 4:02 marathon so slower than your ‘fast’ races, I think? But I felt great and my clothes fit great, too. And strength training is so important for us for so many reasons! So maybe try to shift back to a blend and let go of some of your pace goals? Or just make sure that getting faster is most important right now and a shorter term goal? And then you can shift back to a blend? I wonder if you are maybe working towards the getting faster goal at the wrong time of the year since this is the hottest, most humid season for you? Your summer is like our winter – it’s too dang cold to run (for me, the lowest temp I care to run in is about 10F and it’s below that for a good chunk of time in the winter here) so I shift to more strength training and indoor cardio workouts. Then in the summer, I focus more on running. So it seems like this should be your beach body/peleton workout season and then in the fall you could shift to being more running-centric? Just a thought!

    I’m glad you have a fun vacation on the horizon as it sounds like you really need the break! You felt so great coming off your last vacation so hopefully that happens again, although I know it’s different to go on a vacation w/ kids. 😉 We have a partial week at my parents in August that I am really looking forward to as I also need a clean break from work!

    And yes, 100% you should lower expectations during your call well. That is such an intense schedule, especially to have a full week of call!! Since you are an upholder, you know you are going to beat yourself up if you don’t get to everything on your list!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 23, 2021 at 11:19 am

      That is not slower than me at all and my last marathon was in 2009!!!! Not recent 🙂

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 23, 2021 at 11:29 am

        Well those times were pre-kids and then pre-hip surgery (had a labral tear) so back in 2015!! I don’t know if I will ever get back to those paces! I just started running again and wow it is humbling – but also great to do something just for myself. I’m doing a 10 mile race in October with a goal of finishing with a smile on my face. I’ll still be BF’ing our baby so I know my body has enough going on without adding a time goal to the mix. But I’m hoping these hot/humid runs (it feels like FL here right now – it’s been super humid and in the 90s during the day) pay off in the fall when we have cooler, more pleasant temps. My training partner – who lives across the street which is so wonderful and convenient – is also a doctor (pediatric urologist) so I always think about you when she talks about call!

  • Reply Lydia July 23, 2021 at 9:30 am

    I am feeling this too!! So good to see it written down somewhere. My husband has been WFH now since March of 2020, and really, truly loathes it. We have two small children (3yo and 1yo) and I am 22 weeks pregnant with our third little boy. My body doesn’t handle pregnancy well so my 1/2-marathon training and really all other exercise came to an abrupt halt with my pregnancy. I had a disappointing work situation come to a head about 3 months ago and while it was mostly resolved in my favor, I have felt less invested ever since. The last requirement for my professional licensure is a bit further out of reach than I anticipated, after years of education and exams—so the light at the end of the tunnel feels far away!!

    Any one of these things would be manageable on its own but I’m feeling pretty gassed from the long-term nature of it all. It constantly feels like it’s almost over so we shouldn’t make any rash changes (like quitting my job) but also… summer doesn’t end THAT soon, there’s no promise my husband will go back to the office as scheduled in September, and babies are often just as difficult on the outside as on the inside. Perhaps relief is not so close as we pretend. 😬

    All that to say from a long-time reader/listener, the summer and the blahs are both “real” and “real persistent” and you have company in it.

  • Reply Grateful Kae July 23, 2021 at 10:05 am

    I totally agree with you on the running vs. strength thing and body composition. An amazing trainer I know once said something that stuck with me. She said, “If someone came to me and said they wanted to get the best body composition possible, you know how many days of running per week I would prescribe to them? Zero.”

    She went on to say, that of course, if someone truly ENJOYS running, then that is fine and holds value, also. So it’s not that people should never run, if they like it. Maybe running is worth more to them than their body composition, anyway. She was just saying that so many people think they “have” to do hours of cardio, or running, etc in order to get good body composition, and that’s just not true at all- and often the reverse is true.

    I think people who mostly run for exercise but also have a great body composition are probably actually really, really dialed in on their nutrition (or they run a LOT a lot of miles). I’m not willing to really “dial in” my nutrition right now, so…generally speaking I prefer to emphasize strength workouts. But I really don’t love running anymore (I used to, but just got away from it), so it’s not a hard trade off for me. 🙂

    When I worked with an online trainer some years back (and I was running at the time), she told me I could keep running some if I wanted, but to keep it to no more than ~3 miles, twice a week. The rest of the workouts were mostly heavy strength 4 days a week with a couple short HIIT sessions tacked on now and then. That was definitely when I had my BEST ever body composition hands down (also was watching more diet more then, too 😉

  • Reply Amanda July 23, 2021 at 10:57 am

    I’m reminding you that you’re awesome. 🙂 Also that call week is stressful (I’m not a doctor but I know what it’s like to have that pressure of being responsible for after-hours work calls) and the oppressive Florida summer humidity can get to you/me after a while. Plus when you’re feeling blah, everything becomes blah. It’s the opposite of rose-colored glasses. I’m excited for you for your family vacation.

  • Reply Irene July 23, 2021 at 11:12 am

    I’m so down about the rising case counts. I was so hopeful about the fall and am trying to actively just stop thinking about everything because I’m afraid to be hopeful anymore but just can’t take the stress of anticipating another winter like the last one. I’m just spent and I would love to 1) return to office regularly a couple days a week and see all the people who made my job worth doing and 2) be certain enough that my kids will have reliable childcare to commit to that. Just blah….

  • Reply K July 23, 2021 at 11:29 am

    My version of scrolling is watching old sitcoms on Netflix. Like you, I’ve made many lists of alternative things that I genuinely enjoy (read, walk, cook, podcasts, journal). But here was the problem. Netflix works because it is easy and it lets me immediately escape from stress. The things on my list are nourishing, but they help me process stress instead of escaping it. Processing is better in the long run, but it does require some energy to get started. I needed a different list for that time right after work when my emotional tank is empty. For me, this was switching to a comedy podcast where people talk about my favorite Netflix shows (yes, it is rather mortifying to confess …). This wasn’t nourishing, but it was an easy, immediate escape and helped me transition away from binge-watching Netflix after work. My original list is still wonderful, but those activities are better for morning or midday to prevent my tank from getting to empty. For me, an empty tank requires a different list.

    This summer has been incredibly hard. We’re back in a time of uncertainty and high-stakes decisions with imperfect information, much like March 2020, but now we’re all worn down from 18 months of COVID-ness. Be gentle with yourself during this hard time.

    And many thanks to the commenters talking about running and strength training. I’ve been a distance runner for 25 years, but running just isn’t working the way it used to for fitness. I’ve known for a while that I need to make a change, and all of you are giving me the push I need.

  • Reply omdg July 23, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    Well, you know how I feel about running. I added swimming back and have been doing 2-3 swims per week, plus lifting 2-3 times per week and my body feels stronger than it has in years. Also lifting for longer sessions, and interestingly, it feels much less onerous than it had been. I have FINALLY started chipping away at the weight I gained when I was on vacation IN MAY (I mean… it was 2 lbs, but still). Eating out on the weekend also is counter productive to my waistline, but good for my sanity, so it’s a balance.

    As for call, no words but SOLIDARITY. I’m on overnight Ob call tonight which… hopefully there won’t be too many overnight c-sections… but there probably will be. I am setting low expectations for myself for tomorrow, like maybe go for a walk and do my shoulder exercises, and try not to yell at my family.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 23, 2021 at 12:34 pm

      What longer lift sessions are you doing? I may need to go back to Autumn. Honestly my eating has been garbage, that’s a huge part of this! Time to reign it in 🙂

      I wish I DIDN’T find running so inherently satisfying.

      • Reply Omdg July 23, 2021 at 1:17 pm

        I made up my own program!

        Legs: I do 20-30 reps of single leg lunges (10 at a time on each side), goblet sumos, dead lifts, squats, calf raises and triple bear.

        Upper body: 20-30 reps of shoulder extensions (front, side, and diagonal), shoulder presses, standing row, chest press (the version with lifted hips), tricep presses, skull crushers, tricep extensions, and curls (I do fewer reps at higher weight for curls)

        Abs: autumn’s 10 min abs routine one time through (so basically 5 min abs), plus flutter kicks, cross kicks, drivers, double leg lifts

        I don’t do every exercise every day, but I do try to do at least some core each day. My triple bears have gotten good!

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 23, 2021 at 1:25 pm

          Oh wow! That sounds challenging yet I crave an “outsider” ordering me around 😂. It sounds like Autumn meets Joel …

          • omdg July 23, 2021 at 1:44 pm

            Yes! I took the parts of each that I liked and combined them (and omitted the parts I dread… for the most part, ahem shoulders). I also am not finding I am so sore I cannot function after a workout, which was seriously a problem before. I need to ease into intensity increases more than I used to have to. I’m also less likely to skip if I just say to myself that I have to do 10 min. It also helps that my lifting doesn’t get me that sweaty, so I can do it before work and not have to also leave time for a shower.

          • nicoleandmaggie July 23, 2021 at 4:21 pm

            (Not an advertisement) My DH is loving Delta trainer, which is an app that connects people to physical trainers virtually. I think our Monday post is his review. But he loves the outsider ordering him around part especially! (He also likes that his trainer knows what she’s doing.)

          • Sarah Hart-Unger July 23, 2021 at 6:20 pm

            thank you! I will look for the Monday post!!

  • Reply coco July 24, 2021 at 1:49 am

    I stopped running two months ago because I fell and sprained my ankle. Since then I’ve been doing 6 days or body weight strength training or very light weight and bands. I do notice more defined muscle tones and also get hype after exercise. I do miss running but now I know I can survive without running and probably look even fitter and stronger.
    It’s hard to do both though. when I was running 5 times a week, I try to strength training but it’s not the same 10 min here and there than consistently 45 min a day.

    totally get the same feeling of blah when I eat too much carbs, which always happen I’m stressed. hard to break the cycle.

  • Reply Mrs. Candid July 24, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    Ys, it would be great to have Amanda on BLP.

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