Progress and Goals

So today I made it through my run. For the first time since my Hot Chocolate fiasco. And can I just say, 50+ degrees in December? Yes, please!

It felt great. And I realized something yet again. As long as I take my time, and let my body go slow, I can do it. I tend to push my body too much too fast at the beginning because I feel no pain, but then it starts to hurt to the point of not being able to run at all. 

As long as I stick to the intervals, regardless of how fantastic I feel at the beginning, I can make it all the way through. Yes, my knee was hurting a little bit during the running intervals in the last half, but it’s minor enough to be able to run through it. Again I must be patient. But I will be back to myself soon enough. 

Which brings me to my goals. I think I’m to the point where taking more time off is going to do more harm than good. And mentally, I just need it. To be back out there. To get that joy back. 

I need to start getting back to my groove of running more regularly. I’m not sure twice a week is enough, so I’m aiming to run 3 times per week. I should be able to fit that in, even with my crazy work schedule. It will probably mean a couple lunch runs during the week, but it’s possible. And I’m ready!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Qubein

Blessings in Disguise

I have so many things in life to be thankful for. And every day I’m reminded of how lucky I am. 

I do get discouraged sometimes. And I’m so overwhelmed. I feel myself literally sinking and constantly pulling myself back up for air. It’s all part of the process and I know it’s temporary. I’ll get there eventually. 

I’m reminded in many ways of how sometimes the very things that stress me out are true blessings. I’m still not really back to running. Me knee still hurts when I try. But it’s ok. I don’t really have the time right now anyway. A true blessing. I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to make time for something that I truly can’t fit into my life right now. And it’s forcing healing time that my body needs. 

Today is my daughters sixteenth birthday. She wanted to spend the day at a spa. I wish I could afford to give her more here, but the facial and pedicure was enough. I’m just honored that she wanted to spend it with me. And she appreciates what I can do. It was just what I needed too. Some much needed time to relax. 

If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ~Anthon St. Maarten

  
 

Finding Joy

As I mentioned before, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed lately. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. And this year, I feel like the biggest grinch. 

I didn’t even want to drag out Christmas decorations this year. Finding time to decorate just seemed like too much. Because then I just need to find the time to put it all away in a month. I just wasn’t feeling it. 

But my daughter insisted. And I’m so glad she did. I didn’t put up all the lights in the house. And I didn’t decorate outside as I usually do. But just having my mantle decorated (even tho I don’t have everything out yet, can’t remember where the rest of it is!) and the tree up, has lifted my spirits. 

It’s those little things I’m trying to focus on this year. Not getting caught up in shopping. And I know I won’t have time to bake. But at least I know I can always find something that brings me joy. 

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. ~Henry Ward Beecher

 

(Still debating whether to drag out the Christmas photo!) 

Giving Thanks

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. ~Saint Basil

As I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately (ok, a lot overwhelmed!), and just generally out of sorts, I decided I really need to take a moment to assess my situation. Starting with the blessings in my life. It’s so cliche, I know, but with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided I’d start with all the things I’m so very thankful for.

  • Of course, there’s the usual family and friends that I know I can always count on.
  • My dogs, that although they can require a lot of attention, I know they will love me always.
  • Two good legs that allow me to be physically active and run, even if I do have to rest now and again.
  • A healthy body that keeps me going.
  • A roof over my head that I can call my own.
  • A job that pays the bills (ok, two jobs).
  • Opportunities to see the world, that I may not otherwise have.
  • The knowledge to allow me to obtain a degree and be anything I set my mind to.

The list could go on endlessly. But the key basics are there. I know the next month will be a crazy one. My work schedule is a lot to handle. And with everything else, I know it will be tough. I’m so frustrated with the commercialization and want to really focus on what’s most important. Time with family and friends. And appreciating every moment. Living life and loving it!

Testing Part 2 and other Musings

I didn’t write about my Part 1 test last weekend, but I tried running some intervals last Sunday to no avail. Although my knee had been feeling fine, as soon as I started any kind of jog the pain was too much. So I just walked. 

This week I have just continued my exercises to work on strengthening as I had been doing. The knee has felt fine all week, so I decided I’d give it another go today. 

The forecast wasn’t great, but I wanted to try it anyway. This is what I was blessed with:

 

And I really do mean blessed. Although I’m more than ready to move to a warmer climate, I do enjoy running in the winter. For a lot of reasons. One of which is the beautiful scenery!

When I first started, I thought the snow might actually be good for the cushion it provided. But I think in hindsight, the reality is it actually made it more difficult as I didn’t have adequate stability for my knee. It was slow going, but at least I was able to run some intervals, so I know not all is lost. I didn’t want to use headphones, so I was just going by feel. I know it’s going to take time to get back to full running, but that’s ok. Patience. Again. 🙂

In other musings, I have discovered a few things. It’s time to invest in new shoes and socks made for running in snow. My feet are not too happy with me right now! Also outdoor running gear. My wind pants from a few years ago are too big, though I can make them work, but I also need a jacket. Any recommendations?

 

Livin the Dream

Way back a couple months ago when I started physical therapy, my physical therapist and I were talking about general stuff. You know, like what do you do for a living, family, etc. Typical small talk.

I wish I could remember exactly how he worded it. But he said he had a friend or someone that when asked about life, would respond with “Living the dream… just someone else’s dream” or something to that effect. In other words, dripping sarcasm. Not really living the dream at all, at least not the way they envisioned it.

So it was kind of a joke. Every day when I would go to physical therapy, he’d ask how it was going, and my response “You know, just living the dream.” But I’m not really living the dream at all. At least not what I had envisioned for myself.

But that’s changing.

Going back to high school, I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. I always loved math, but couldn’t see myself majoring in math in college. I just couldn’t see myself as a teacher, and didn’t know what else I would do with a math degree. So I went for accounting. And I hated it!

Last night, I had a meeting with my Money Man (what I affectionately call my financial adviser). I was talking to him about going back to school and he asked what my plans were. When I told him math, he said there’s so much more you can do with math than being a teacher! I wish I had someone to tell me that 25 years ago!

I find it so ironic that after all these years, I’m going back to school for the degree that I always wanted. I met with a college counselor on Saturday, and have been getting everything lined up to start in January. Stressful, for sure, but I know it’ll provide the challenge I need right now.

I really have no complaints about my life. I’m very thankful for what I have. And I appreciate all that I have been given. But that doesn’t mean I just want to maintain status quo. I’m still young, and I’ve got plenty of time to improve, to challenge myself. I love my job. I love the travel industry. But I also decided 4 years ago when going through my divorce that I never wanted to depend on anyone else ever again. I can take care of myself. And I want to be able to do a better job of it. And push myself.

So right now? Now it’s time for me to start livin’ the dream. Livin’ the REAL dream!

Post-Race Recap

Well, I made it. Barely. 

It’s kinda funny, actually. My daughter joined me for the Hot Chocolate Chicago race. She was running the 5k, I was running the 15k. Before the race, I was pointing out how our sweatshirts were embroidered, “Chicago 2015 Finisher”, but not all were. We had a laugh about how you get the sweatshirt before the race, even if you don’t finish. 

Little did I know, that almost ended up being me!

Before the race started, I warmed up with some slow jogging before joining my start corral. I stretched what little I could while waiting for my group to reach the start line. I had done a squat at one point, and felt a pinch on the outside of my left knee. 

I started out slow, as I typically would for that long of a run. Not that I had much choice with the sheer number of runners. You certainly don’t run these races if you’re all about the time and competition. Weaving amongst all the walkers is a little more than a nightmare. But I was in no hurry. 

I made it through 4 miles, no problem. Somewhere around mile 5, I felt that pinching feeling on my knee again. I walked a couple times for a short while, and it would go away. After mile 6 it seemed to linger more. I continued trying to push thru, but slowed my pace. Up until this point, I was probably running about 10:15-10:30 pace. 

I was coming into McCormick place and things felt fine. I picked up the pace a bit, and as I was exiting, it was almost like my knee completely gave out. It was excrutiating! It hurt so much just to walk. Shortly after, there were a couple volunteers, and one lady asked if I was ok. I said I’d be fine and carried on. 

I thought I was closer to the end, but I hadn’t reached mile 8 yet. Either way, I was determined to finish. 

A little while later, the same lady came up behind me on a bike and asked if I was sure I was ok, and offered to get me a cart. I refused. I didn’t start this race not to finish. And as long as I could walk, that’s exactly what I was going to do. 

I quickly realized that if I quit bending my knee, and kept my leg as straight as possible, it didn’t hurt much at all. I walked as fast as I could, which was pretty slow for me! I tried starting a slow jog a couple times, but there was no way I would be able to do anything that resembled running. 

I wanted so bad to run this race. And it hurt so bad. Not just physically. Emotionally I was just done. All the feelings of failure kept creeping in. I wanted to cry. In fact, I had to hold back tears more than once. I couldn’t even finish strong. But I finished. 

I went to the medical tent to get some ice. The lady that helped me there was trying to figure out the pain and felt it might be bursitis. But it seems like the location more resembles ITBS. I’ll give it a few days of icing and taking it easy and see how it feels. Hoping to avoid any more doctor/PT visits. 

Either way, it would seem I will be launching another hiatus. I have until next June to get my act together. I plan to do this right so I don’t encounter any more problems for my half. 

But right now, all I know is this – regardless of what happened today, or last month, I am not a quitter. I’ve committed to being healthier, and running. And I’m too strong to let anything get me down. 

Running teaches us to keep moving forward, one step at a time, especially in the most painful moments. 

  

Anticipation

The answer to the big questions in running is the same as the answer to the big questions in life: do the best with what you’ve got. ~Unknown

I meant to write this post last weekend, but time has a way of escaping me now days. So here I am. Tomorrow is my first big race.

 
A lot of you may be thinking 15k is really no big deal. And maybe even for me it isn’t. I mean, I ran 9.3 miles once already just in my daily run. But that was once. And before I had to take time off for my foot problem. I’ve been a little nervous about it since then, but not at the same time. It is what it is. It’s not like I’m racing for time, or to compete. I’m running for me. To accomplish something I set out to do. And how I get there isn’t at all important to me, just that I do.

Last Saturday, I was debating what to do with my run. I had already worked back up to 5 mile runs, but I really felt I needed to push myself. Prove that I could log more than that before going for 9+ this weekend. I settled on a 7 mile run. It was fine, my foot hurt a bit, but I survived. If I could make it through 7, I can manage 9.3.

This week, I’ve just been trying to find the balance between letting my foot rest, and logging some miles to keep me moving. Just enough, but not too much. Hopefully I’ve done ok, and will be good to go tomorrow. My foot feels fine today, so that’s always a good thing.

So, onward and upward. I may not run my best race, but I will run the best race I can tomorrow. It’s going to be a beautiful day!

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.