Thoughts on Weight Loss vs. Healthy Habits

I haven’t talked too much about my weight issues and weight loss journey here yet. I know I’ve mentioned it a few times but that’s about it. Eventually, I would like to write about it a little more in depth. But for now, I have this one thought.

I don’t think I’ve ever really discussed actual numbers with anyone. And now, I will throw it all out there for anyone and everyone to see. Talk about feeling vulnerable. At my highest high, I was over 250 lbs. Yes, I’m close to 5’10”, but that number should not have ever been reflected on my scale. I don’t know the exact number, after you reach a certain point you kind of stop paying attention to the exact figures. Out of embarrassment. Or maybe denial.  I can tell you the very first time I joined Weight Watchers, I was 241 lbs. and had lost approximately 10 on my own before I joined. (actually that wasn’t the first time I joined, but the first time I really committed to it)

When I was on that journey, I had an ultimate goal of 150 lbs. I plugged along and got down to about 165, give or take. I felt great! Once I got there, I had decided I was perfectly happy with myself and my weight at that point, that I decided I didn’t need to be 150. And I didn’t.

And that’s when I stopped trying. And that’s when I started gaining again. I tried getting back to Weight Watchers. I knew the program worked, if you worked with the program. But I wasn’t in it. My heart wasn’t there. I was spending money, going to meetings, just to step on their scale. But I wasn’t trying.

I had some ups and downs after that. Stress mostly. Ok, it was all stress. And anxiety. Not a recommended way to lose weight, by the way. And certainly not long term. At least I would hope your stress level isn’t such that it would be long term.

And this takes me to the beginning of this year. I had finally decided to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak. But it was different this time. Instead of focusing on eating whatever I want, within a set number of points, I focused on WHAT I was eating. I started focusing on the health and nutrition and everything I put in my body. I got back to running. And I was in it for the overall health and fitness. And I was in it for the long haul. And I was doing it for me.

I counted calories for just the first couple months until I got my bearings. I needed some sort of concrete goal to strive for, to get the ball rolling. I was looking at calories, while also focusing on what those calories were in. 250 calories of fish and salad instead of 250 calories of pizza. You get the idea. And I started avoiding those things that cause me problems, abdominal pain mostly. It’s so incredibly amazing how satisfied our bodies feel when we are putting in the right ingredients. I found myself not needing as much when I was eating just what I needed. I wasn’t even hungry. And it made all the difference.

Again, when I started, I set my goal at 165, since I had been there before, and I knew I would be perfectly happy and ok with that number. And it’s just a number anyway. Just one part of an overall equation. Health is about so much more than the number on the scale, but it gives a good guideline.

I accomplished that goal. I continued to eat healthy, and run. I was just continuing what I had started, and focused on making good choices every day. I wasn’t depriving myself of anything, just listening to my body. This morning, I stepped on the scale, and for the first time since I graduated High School, I saw 1-5-0.

Let me take you back a few years. I don’t know how I remember this, but I do. I guess it just goes to show how I’ve always been slightly obsessed with my weight. But all through high school I was 147 lbs. I don’t know why. But it seemed every year when we had to weigh in the Spring and Fall, I was 147. Maybe that’s just the number I remember because that’s where I was most, but that’s always stuck in my head. So I probably hit 150 shortly after graduation, and kept on going.

If you haven’t figured out yet the point of this post, I’ll spell it out. 🙂 Health is all encompassing. There is so much to it, and more than just a number on the scale. But the most important thing to remember, is to do the right things for your body. Eating healthy, and moving more, is what’s most important. Losing weight is great. But doing it just to aim for a number on the scale will often set you up for failure. It’s so much more important and successful if you enter with the mindset of being healthy. Make good choices, and do what your body needs. And your body will give you what you want.

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Pain, Grief and Acceptance

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do. ~Brené Brown

Last month, I wrote a post on my birthday about learning to finally love myself. You can read that here. But I’m not perfect.

I love myself for all that I am. I really do. And I accept myself. But it’s a constant battle. Every day is something. Almost daily, I look in the mirror and see the body of the person I was 100 pounds ago. I know that’s not me any more, but that’s still what I see.

Almost daily, I find myself constantly wanting to ask “Why?”. I know I’m a wonderful person, inside and out. And it’s what’s on the inside that matters more than anything. But I still wonder.

It’s a daily thought process of mine, reminding myself that I’m perfect just the way I am. Even though I’m not perfect, far from it. But I constantly see all my mistakes, all my imperfections, and I wonder if that’s what everyone else sees too?

Fall is a very hard time for me. My absolute favorite season, but it bears so many negative reminders. My birthday. Every year for the past 5 years I’m reminded that I don’t have someone to take me to dinner and celebrate. My divorce was finalized in October 3 years ago, another reminder of my failures. And this year a friend posted that they are celebrating 20 years, they were married in 1995, as was I. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to grieve that, given all the other circumstances distracting me. October also marks the anniversary of my ex’s trial, another painful reminder. And through it all, I’m reminded of how strong I’ve had to stay. Carrying so much on my shoulders.

I know I’m strong. I know I’m independent. I know I’m beautiful. But I constantly have to remind myself of these things. And of what I’m capable of. Physically and mentally.

I just applied to go back to college to work towards a bachelor’s degree. Something I’ve always thought of, and never done. I often wonder if part of my desire stems from wanting to be better. Feeling like I’m not good enough. As if some degree will make me a better person. (It won’t, I know that. I’m going back because it’s something I’ve always wanted. Again, proof for myself that I’m capable.)

Like running. I run because I can. I prove to myself regularly that I’m capable. That my body can accomplish far more than I give it credit for.

All these things weigh on me daily. And I just keep pushing through. And trying to remain positive and smile.

And then today happened. Earlier this month, I actually paid a photographer to take photos of myself and my kids. It was more for me, truth be told, but I really wanted pictures with my kids also. It’s been almost 10 years since I had photos of me with them (and of course my ex was in those too). It was money I didn’t really have to spend, but I did it for me.

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And today I got the previews. It was all I could do to keep from tearing up at work. Looking at those photos and seeing me for the beautiful person I am. And accepting what I see. Seeing me still smiling after all I’ve been through. And happy.

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And I’m once again reminded of why I love photography so much in the first place. I always wanted to give others that feeling of being proud of who they are. And showing that love and beauty through the lens. And this is also why I advocate for everyone to get in front of the camera! It’s so important, to do it for your family, but most importantly, for yourself. Especially as women and moms. We get so caught up in everyone else, that we forget about ourselves.

So thank you so much, Scarlett. For making me feel beautiful. And worthy. And reminding me exactly what I’m made of. And that yes, I AM enough. I will treasure these photos always.

Thoughts on Going Naked

I’m talking about running here people!

So last night, I did my first ever run without music. I know truly going naked is no GPS, no music, just you and the great outdoors. However, I did keep my phone on me for a number of reasons. First, I was venturing out right around sunset, which meant darkness was not far behind. Second, I don’t think I could ever not run with my phone, just in case of emergency. Third, even though I wasn’t worried about knowing my pace on the go, I still wanted to know what I did when I finished. I’m a numbers person like that.

But this run, was all about me and my legs. No distractions from the music. It was cold, rainy, and windy, and just listening to the wind whipping around me was kind of cathartic. I was totally focused on me and the run. In a way, it was nice and refreshing to be able to get lost in the run and enjoy it, freezing cold and all. And it does give my mind more space to wander, and process things that are on my mind, without the music getting in the way.

At the end of the day tho, I still think I prefer to have my headphones and my tunes. The music tends to push me more, and gives me more motivation. But there is definitely a time and a place when running without that added noise is both beneficial and beautiful.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. ~Bill Bowerman

Clarity

Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be. ~Dr. George Sheehan

So yesterday I had some time on my hands. Well, not really, but I had some things to accomplish, and was on a set timeline.

I get off work at 5, and had to pick my daughter up at 630, which typically happens at 530. I also had plans to meet some friends for some much needed conversation, as I hadn’t seen most of them in a very long time. That was at 7, or whenever I got there since I’m an hour away. Then there’s my running. I didn’t want to give up the day, since I’m down to less than 2 weeks til my 15k, and the weather was to be gorgeous! And rain in the forecast for this week.

So I decided I’d bring my running clothes, and go for a run around my work campus, then head over to get my daughter, drop her at home, and on to meet up with my friends. I had just enough time to squeeze in that run, but didn’t have the time to go home and run from there. I had mapped out a route that would be approximately 4 miles, equal that of Saturday’s run. I had decided I was going all out, and would run the entire route, so long as my foot felt ok.

I loved that it was a new route, with more nature abounding, less buildings. It was peaceful. And my mind was running right along with my legs. Some things have been eating at me, and I wrestle between “tell everyone exactly how you feel, all the time, life’s too short, etc, etc” and “if it’s meant to be, it will be”. I live by both those, and it’s hard to know sometimes exactly which route to take.

But as I ran, as it often does, my mind found the clarity I was seeking. And it rests in me. I just needed to remind myself that I am more than enough. And everything else makes sense. And with that, I pushed through, and made that 4 mile run into a 5 mile run. And for the first time since having to take a 2 week hiatus, I finally felt like maybe, just maybe, I can do this! That 15k is not scary anymore.

Yesterday, this tree caught my eye. I love that it showcases all the colors of Fall, and reminds me how I love this season. I love the changes, literally and figuratively.  I love friends that remind me that no matter how much time and distance separates us, we are, ultimately, still friends. I love running that proves to me exactly what I’m capable of. And the true test? I woke up this morning with only the mildest discomfort in my foot. And that, I will take.

  

In the Raw

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed. ~Ernest Hemingway

Life is complicated. As if I really needed to say that out loud. But sometimes it just makes me feel good to remind myself of that, that I don’t have to have everything figured out. Things are going to happen, whether we want them to or not. People will come into our lives, and people will leave. Things will go wrong, and things will go right. Learning how to deal with it all is just part of the process.

I tend to be very protective of myself. Of my feelings. I’m very guarded. I don’t show emotion. I don’t know if I’ve always been that way. To a point, I think I have. But definitely much more-so in the past 5 years. I’ve been hurt in ways I could never imagine. Pain I would never wish on anyone. And yet, I learned to deal with it. Roll with the punches. I showed more emotion in those first six months then I think I have my entire life. It’s hard to control such intense feelings, when you’ve held back on so much, for so long.

But I’m back to the old ways, I’m back to hiding. But I’m working on it. Maybe not in the emotions I show, but in other ways. I’m still pretty good at hiding behind a wall. But I’m trying to open myself up. To be present. To allow life to happen, and not hide. To say what I feel, what I think. 

This is one of those things I worked on with my therapist, that I always find very difficult. But I’ve also learned that sometimes you just have to put it all out there. There’s something very freeing and liberating about exposing yourself, being raw and vulnerable. I am who I am, and I shouldn’t be ashamed or feel like I have to hide from anything or anyone. I’ll be accepted or I won’t. And whether or not anyone else accepts who I am is not my problem.

I’m constantly reminded how short and precious life is. I’ve tried to make it a mission of mine to tell those close to me that they are important. That they are loved. Especially since I lost so much. I don’t want to ever regret not having said those all important words. And I don’t want to be that person that takes advantage of another, in any way. Its so true, you never know what tomorrow brings, so make every day count, in every way. And never let those words go unsaid. 

I’m not gonna lie, I still have anxiety at times. It’s taking me outside my comfort zone in a way I’ve never been. But I also know that some of the best moments in life start outside that comfort zone. I have no desire to stay where I am in life. I want more. I want the best life has to offer. And if that means putting myself out there, and taking a few hits in the process, then that’s what I’ll do. But I’m sure the benefits will far outweigh the pain.  I’m ready for the challenge, are you?

New Directions

So lets talk chocolate. Probably my favorite chocolate, ok one of them, is Dove. Not only is the chocolate itself so creamy and delicious, but I actually kinda live for the Dove Love as I call it. The little inspirations inside each wrapper. 

And can I just admit, that I really dislike that they don’t include that in their holiday chocolates? That’s right, there is no Dove Love to be had at Christmas. Or Halloween. Are you listening, Dove? You need to include your love with every bite! Anyway, I digress. 

So yesterday I had to stop at Walgreens for a prescription, and lo and behold, they were on sale. And I can’t walk away from a sale on Dove! So after being told I was gorgeous, I unwrapped this:

  
That’s right, because I can. Why did I move out and get on my own two feet 3.5 years ago? Because I could. Why did I get a tattoo? Because I could. Why do I run? Because I can. Why do I choose to eat healthy, organic food whenever possible? Because I can. Why do I do most things I choose to do? Yup, because I can. 

And then today, this gem:

  
So this is where I actually say out loud that I’ve been thinking of going back to school. I try to have no regrets in life. After all, every thing I’ve done was at the time exactly what I wanted. But looking back, the one regret I have is not going to college. Not getting a degree. Not living up to my potential. 

I did go to community college, and I have two diplomas, but I’m missing that bachelors. You know, the degree everyone looks for in new employees.  I’ve been telling myself for a while now that there’s more to life then money. And I believe that. But at the same time, I really don’t want to continue living like this for the rest of my life. I want more. I want to be able to afford to travel. I want to be able to have the funds to pay for things when they come up unexpectedly, whether that’s medical expenses, home expenses, or any number of things. I want to be able to give more freely. 

And truth be told, the reason I never pursued a degree after high school is because I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. And it’s only taken me 40 years, but I finally have some ideas. In a perfect world, I’ll be able to grow where I am. After all, I do love my job. But I’m not sure what my options are there. I’m still not 100% sure, but I feel like I at least have a direction I’d like to go.

And as with everything else in life, I’m not really sure how I’ll manage it, but I believe it’ll all work out some how. It always does. 

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. 

Lessons in Life

In this age of the quantified self, we measure how many hours we slept, steps we took, calories we burned. Yet we know nothing about ourselves. We spend more time checking-in to our stats than our souls. Our experience is mined for data but not depth. We have all these numbers to improve now, but no idea how to dial back the numbness.

Life needn’t be a spreadsheet, yet our useless fascination goes on. We spend more time shopping, in considering the thread-count of our sheets before purchase, than we do soul-searching, that beautiful art of thinking about the quality and purpose of our lives.

We are addicted to the constant digital stream, often peering gape-mouthed into the sordid details of other people’s lives; in the process we have checked-out of reality, neglecting our own life so pregnant with potential and meaning.

If we are to measure and monitor and improve anything, let it be our presence and character, a mindfulness for who we are and how we are experiencing and relating with the world. Have I been true to myself? Have I lived vibrantly today? Have I loved openly today? Have I made a difference today? Let us check in to ourselves in these ways; for, in the end, these are the only measures that matter.

-Brendon Burchard

A friend of mine shared this recently on Facebook. And it is so profound and meaningful, I wanted to share here. An important reminder to us all, that our lives are meant to be lived. We are human, we are meant to love, and experience all life has to offer.

When it comes to health, I’m not gonna lie, I did count calories for a couple months at the beginning of this year to get a grasp on my eating. But my larger focus was on just eating and doing what made me feel good. And avoiding what didn’t. And that, alone, has made all the difference in my journey to a healthier me.

As runners, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the statistics. Yes, I track my mileage, and look at running pace, but more as an afterthought. I try to run the best I can for my body on any given day. I know a lot of runners, myself included, that run for what it gives back to us, in the form of sanity, anti-depressants, clarity, the list goes on. But what if we did more of that in our everyday life?

I’ll be working on this more, especially with the holidays rapidly approaching. Being present. Being true. Living and loving with happiness and joy. And making a difference, if only to one person.

Control and the Battle Within

Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing. ~Denis Waitley

I have so much spinning in my head these days. So much I don’t even want to dive into. Suffice it to say, I have a hard time with control, or dealing with things I can’t control. It’s a daily battle, telling myself that everything is ok, that everything happens for a reason. Expect nothing, appreciate everything. Trust the process, and have faith.

I do, I really do. But it’s not easy. As I was thinking this morning, it occurred to me. Running. And one of the reasons I love it. It is completely within my control. It is one aspect of my life, maybe the only one, that I have complete control over. I control how much I run. I control how hard I train. I control whether I succeed or fail. I’m not counting on anyone else. It’s all me. And it gives me time to think about everything else that is outside of my control.

I’ve learned to be independent. To rely on no one. To live for myself and what makes me happy. But I also struggle with things that I want in my life, that I can’t do on my own. And it’s so hard to let go of that control. To put myself out there. To stretch outside my comfort zone to the unknown. I just want to crawl in a hole where I’m safe. Where I can decide what does or doesn’t happen, where I’m in complete control. But at the same time, I know that what waits outside may just be the best thing to happen to me. And it may be completely out of my control. The battle to protect my heart and soul, or open it up to the best things in life.  To risk pain. But to also take the chance at something wonderful.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about taking chances. As hard as it is. I have faith. And hope. I’ve learned life is much too short to not live to the fullest. And that means opening myself to everything life has to offer. Pain and all.

Moving On

Yesterday marked my last day of physical therapy. After visiting the doctor for my follow up Monday morning, she had advised that I could stop when I felt comfortable continuing on my own at home. And since the insurance had stated they would only pay through Wednesday’s session, and my PT agreed I was doing well, that was it.

It feels good to not have that added to my schedule, to be honest. And now that I’m back to running again, it just feels more normal. Being able to move on is so freeing, so liberating. Of course, as I was worried before about building up to my 15k in a couple weeks, I’m more nervous now! I didn’t realize I’d have to take it so slow, but I’m still just going with the flow. If I have to do intervals to get through, so be it.

I learned a long time ago to look at every life experience as a blessing. It sucks that I had to take time out from training, and work through an injury. But I’m so thankful this happened before a seemingly small race. Not before the half marathon I’m running next year. Or before the marathon I plan to run after that (yes, I have now decided to train for a marathon in my future!).

I’ve learned so much from these past few weeks. Take it slow. In fitness, and in life. Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to accomplish things, that I forget to slow down. I’ve heard it said a million times, and I’ll now whole-heartedly agree, recovery is so important. I don’t think my problem was running too many miles, per se, but not allowing time between them. I would run too many days in a row, not allowing my body the breaks it needed. Something to remember for all things, we can always use a break, some down time, to allow our bodies rest, both physically and mentally.

Not only allowing time for recovery and much needed rest breaks, it’s so important to take things slow and just enjoy the process. So often we rush through life, and don’t take the time to enjoy it. Patience. I’ve said before how I struggle so with being patient. But this was just one more reminder that it’s oh so important. Enjoy every moment of the journey!

I’ve also learned the importance of cross-training, and strengthening. There’s so much more to running then running. And my focus going forward will be on more total body fitness, not just logging miles. I know with the right training, overall, I’ll be stronger and better off for it.

I don’t want to have another setback, or worse yet, a more difficult one. I addressed this one quickly, and got it under control (I hope!). I’ll get through my race in 2 weeks, one way or another. And then I’ll look forward to next year. Taking one day at a time, of course, and loving every minute!

No matter how successful you may be, if you hate the process and have not stopped to enjoy yourself along the way, your accomplishment has surely been lacking. ~Dr. Joe Rubino

Rising Up

To rise, first you must burn. ~Hiba Fatima Ahmad

Anyone that knows me well, knows one of my life mantra’s I’ve adopted is “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s what has kept me going when I felt like giving up so many times.

The firm belief that things have to happen a certain way for us to get out of life what we need to. That life will keep throwing things at us until we learn the lessons they are meant to teach. That one phrase has kept my hope alive. When nothing made sense, and I couldn’t understand why things were happening, I had to believe there was always a reason, even if I couldn’t understand at that moment. Sometimes, eventually, the reason would become known. Other times not. But that didn’t matter. I learned to accept things for what they are, without the need to understand every detail.

In my case, I had to burn. I had to crash to the lowest low to find myself and rise above. I had to find the strength within myself. To prove to myself what I am capable of. I’ve learned to count on no one. Be independent. I’ve proven to myself that my body is capable of so much more. I run because I can. Because my body has proven to me that it’s possible.

I’ve always wanted a tattoo since I was in my late teens/early 20’s. But as with so many things in my life, I never knew exactly what I wanted. Or where I’d put it. I would think of it periodically, but nothing ever spoke to me. Until recently. I don’t even remember where the thought came from. I was online I remember, and must have seen a photo somewhere of a phoenix tattoo. That was it. The phoenix. The bird that is reborn from it’s ashes. Me. I had initially decided I wanted it above my ankle, where I could see it easily and be reminded of the struggles I’ve overcome. But I wasn’t sure I wanted it that small. So I had an alternate plan in mind. It wasn’t until I was there today, that I made the final decision, and had it placed on my back right shoulder. And I love it! Exactly what I wanted. Exactly what I needed.

And I now have something else planned for my ankle, which is the other reason I decided to go with the back for the Phoenix. And I can’t wait to share that one when the time comes!