Friday, December 03, 2010
We hear a lot here about "spreading the Spark," but what does that really mean?
When I first got instructions from SparkPeople.com to "spread the Spark" it reminded me a lot of the theory of witnessing in Christianity. Whatever your beliefs, I found serious problems with witnessing to strangers, even to friends. God, or religion in general, isn't necessarily the most PC topic of conversation. You hear all the time "no politics or religion" when it comes to social situations, but it wasn't my need to be PC that made it so difficult, it was the hostility I often got from even approaching the subject. So when I tried to spread the Spark, I was nervous, but I tried. And guess what I got? Yep. Excuses and hostility.
I hear it all the time from other Sparkies who have tried to help people around them. Their coworker, sister, boss, or friend says, "You're doing great! I really need to lose weight too..." and the Sparkie takes that opportunity to tell them about Spark, about their successes here, about the wonderful support group and tools. And then they get shot down.
So how do you really spread the Spark?
When I started out on Spark, I didn't tell anyone outside of this little corner of the world what I was doing. I was nervous. I didn't want to own up to trying to lose weight if it was going to be just another failure in my weight loss attempts. "Just another diet..." I could hear them saying. I could almost see their eyes roll. I wasn't sure what Spark would mean to my life, I didn't know if it was the key, the answer, or just another fad-thing I was going to try. And I wasn't about to open my big mouth until I was sure it was legit....until I was sure *I* was legit.
A few months ago, though, I started opening up. Everyone was noticing my weight loss, and I was proud...I felt the need to spread my successes with friends and family. Soon, I started adding Sparkies as friends on FB, the ones I felt I'd really gotten to know on a deeper level and felt we could branch out as friends beyond the bond we all share here in our weight loss efforts. I started posting pictures of myself and my son at the gym. I'd rejoice about a great workout, a good Zumba class, or a race I completed. I didn't really think much about it, my weight loss attempt was just starting to become part of my actual life. My life, the new life I was building with the help of Spark, was becoming such a huge part of my everyday life that to hide that part from my friends, family, and coworkers seemed like hiding the largest part of myself.
But even though I wasn't thinking too much about it, apparently other people were. I've gotten countless comments from friends and family. Thumbs up on my workout reports. "You're an inspiration!"-type comments. It felt good, and, for a long while, it felt like it was all about me. Guess what? It wasn't.
What I've discovered in the past few weeks is the easiest path of least resistance in spreading the Spark is to simply make yourself an example. Share your joys and triumphs with friends and family and, all of a sudden, they realize that if YOU can do it, THEY can. It's funny, you don't even have to say those words (which always induce eye rolls) but they can hear them in their heads.
Last week, when I started Couch 2 5k, I finally allowed by C25k iPhone app sync with my FB account. Finally. I was ready to share. After each run, I posted an update to my account, and let my outside world know what I was up to. Here's what's happened in the past couple weeks:
* I've gotten some great real-life challenges from Sparkies, that spur me on even when I can't log onto Spark.
* A friend who moved away in July asked me how much weight I had lost, and when I told her 80 pounds, she said WOW! and then told me, "I'm using you as my inspiration to go back to the gym!"
* A family member commented on my run post (finishing week 2 of C25k) today that she had downloaded the mp3 podcasts of C25k and had just completed day 1 of week 1, all because I had shown her it was possible, and working.
And those are just the highlights.
Maybe the Spark Gods will be angry at me for saying this, but Spark, the real idea behind "The Spark" is far greater than this site or a book. The Spark is the fire I felt when I realized that this isn't just another try at losing weight. The Spark was the feeling in me that said, "This is different. This is your NEW life." In a world where we struggle constantly with depression, childhood obesity, diabetes, and other such illnesses, this Spark can be the start of a new life. (I'm not saying depression can be cured with diet and exercise, but there is proof that it can be better managed with it...at least from what I've read.) Therefore, spreading the Spark can be the equivalent of saving a life.
So my Spark, that started with such a cover of doubt that hid any small smoke signals of any sort, is now flaming bright. And once others started to see the light, they started catching fire themselves. They caught the Spark...and it grew into a wildfire. Even at Thanksgiving lunch, we spent more time bonding over running and workout stories than we did recipes and the food on the table. We're all burning bright. And I can't take all the credit for that, but my sharing my story with friends, my opening up, has certainly allowed that fire to grow bigger.
So, here it is, Sparkies, my challenge to you. Figure out how YOU are going to spread the Spark in your life. And remember it doesn't have to be a big gesture or long talk. Sometimes, in most fires, the smallest ember sparks a tree nearby, and an ember from the fire that grows there, sparks another.
While the destruction caused by wildfires seems a rather depressing thought in terms of what we're speaking of, think of that fire as burning out the negative effects that years of McDonald's and Starbucks addictions have built in us. Think of it as burning out the bad habits we learned as children, in college, through pregnancy, or whenever. And think of the new green life, new healthy trees, that can grow in land fertilized by the nutrients fed to our body through whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, clean foods. You're building the best compost pile in which to establish new growth...healthier growth, bigger and stronger trees.
And once you have those fires burning, you can let them in on the almost magical nature that is the combined tools of SparkPeople.com. What the people who started this have built is a comprehensive system that isn't tied to fad diets or quick fixes. It's the same old "D & G" (diet & gym) we've been hearing all our lives. And we all knew it was the one thing that truly worked in losing and/or managing weight (even if we didn't want to admit it). They've taken what seemed like a lofty idea, a very difficult goal, and broke it down into manageable steps. And they provided tools to make those steps easier. Research articles. Exercise routines you can do anywhere and at any fitness level. Simple input calorie counters to track calorie intake. Fitness minute trackers. And the most important part of all -- an online community of support persons who understand your struggles, have been where you've been, and know where you can go if you just keep trying. In my honest opinion, SparkPeople.com is just the right mix of user-friendly tools to build yourself a better life the right way, the lasting way. So once you have your fires burning, let them know that there is a place they can go to keep it stoked. Lead them here. Spread the sparkpeople.com AFTER you've already spread the Spark.
Are you hiding your Spark? I think it might be time to let it out. You never know what might grow from it...
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Sugar and spice, and everything nice....that's what little girls are made of.
So after a frantic phone call from my PT last night, in which she scolded me like a child for not coming to the gym last night (I did! She had already left!), she told me that the other person working would weigh me in. (For my insurance program, I have to meet with her once a month and get weighed in so they make sure I'm still losing weight.)
I got to the gym at my regular time, about a quarter to 7pm. (Which I've told the PT a dozen or so times...) I figured I'd change first, so I could workout right after my weigh-in...and that's when the trouble started. *lol* I realized in the locker room that I had forgotten my sports bras. I had 2 choices: 1) go home and give up on finishing C25k W2D2, or 2) do the darn thing in my regular bra and hope for the best. I picked 2. I was not giving up my running night! NO way! NO how! I put my bra on and said a little prayer, and apologized to my body for what I was about to do to it...and out I went.
Nobody helped weigh me in. The girl at the desk said the PT told her she couldn't let anyone else use it but the people on our insurance program and had refused to show her how to use it at all. That meant I had to figure it out all on my lonesome. For this machine, you have to input:
Male or Female (Female, of course! Thank goodness for an easy one! *lol*)
Normal or Athletic build (I chose normal, which may have been a mistake. *shrug*)
And then target Body Fat %...this one I forgot. I typed in 23 first, because it just sounded good. Then I tried 25 when I realized it wasn't giving me the same target weight as last time. Still no dice. I checked my notes (on my phone) from last time, and there it was -- she set my goal for 30% body fat. I entered it and stepped on.
Let me just say, I hated that scale for a moment last night. I knew it was going to be high. I was super bloated yesterday, have been for several days (TOM symptoms?) and it was almost bedtime, when I generally weigh the most! But there it went, up to 339.8...and I was good with that, until it decided to round up. Stupid effing machine! 340.0. LIAR! (I hate that effing number! *pouts*)
So, now for the results...
Last time's results, as read off to me by the PT:
Weight - 346 (I think)
Body Fat % - 53.3%
Pounds of Fat - 184.6
Pounds of Muscle - 161.6
Target Weight: 230
Pounds of Fat to Lose: 115
And then last night's results, as read from the print-out:
Weight - 340.0 (LIAR!)
BMI - 51.7 (Can't wait to be under 50!)
Body Fat % - 49.9% (YAY!)
Fat Mass (or, as she said, pounds of fat): 169.6
FFM (Fat-Free Mass): 170.4
TBW (The water in my body): 124.8
Target Weight: 243.4
Predicted Fat Mass at Target: 73 pounds
Fat to Lose: 96.6
Okay, so the target weight was a little higher this time. Not sure what that means...but let's focus on the important parts.
I went from a body fat percentage of 53.3% to 49.9%!
That means my body is less than half from fat! It's been a good thing to keep saying to myself over and over. This is a difference from October 23rd to now, so that's some good work there!
I went from having 184.6 pounds of fat on me, to having 169.6.
That means I lost 15 pounds of FAT in a little over a month! DANG! I love that number!
I increased my muscle mass too. Now she called it "pounds of muscle," but there wasn't anything on that sheet that said that. The only thing close was the FFM, or fat free mass. According to online research, this accounts not only for muscle, but any other composition of your body that is not fat - that includes your bones, muscles, connective tissue, even water. So what she called "pounds of muscle, really isn't at all"....I feel that's a little misleading. Still, it's fat free mass, and I like that! Mine went from 161.6 to 170.4, and since I'm hoping my bones aren't getting bigger, and my TBW (my water weight) actually showed me as being dehydrated for the day, I'm counting that as a gain of 8.8 pounds of muscle.
This is especially wonderful considering she said I was likely to lose muscle at first. Of course, my at first wasn't really my "at first," if you know what I mean. I just started the program in October, but I've been running this program of mine since April, and I've been ST along the way...so it makes sense that my body is getting used to building muscle and eating fat. Take that PT! *lol*
So, what am I made of? Well, mostly muscle and other fat-free mass (like bones and stuff!). I know it may sound strange to say, but knowing that I'm more healthy than fat is a HUGE deal. For years I've been carrying around more than double myself on my back and all over my body. My healthy part has been lugging around more than an entire duplicate of itself in just fat! Can you imagine making a double of yourself in fat and then carrying it around on your back all day? I feel the need to apologize to my body, or at least I did...until I realized that the only apology and amends it needs is what I'm doing right now, freeing my healthy body from the encumbrance of having another half of itself to lug around. I spent the last month dropping 15 pounds off that load, and giving it another 8.8 pounds to devote to carrying around the rest...so that load should be feeling a whole lot lighter right about now! No wonder this month I've felt so much lighter on my feet!
Another thing I learned from having to decode the riddle of the printout all by myself is TBW - or Total Body Water. From reading a decoder (*lol* reminds me of those ring decoders for mood rings) online, "It is important to ensure your body is not dehydrated, especially when exercising or dieting." (Source: www.doctorsweightsoluctions.com - Body Composition Analyzer)
So they give you a little equation to do. Take your TBW, divide it by your weight, times that by 100, and that = your Estimated Hydration Level %. For women, it should be around 50-60% hydration. Taking my results from last night though, mine was 36.7%! EEP!! Now I didn't drink quite as much yesterday as I have been the past couple days, and I'm a little suspicious that the coffee midday may have drained some of that out of me. (I believe I've read that caffeine can dehydrate you, right?) Still, it reminds me that I MUST be more diligent about drinking my water consumption throughout the day. I've already had 1 glass so far today, and I don't usually start drinking water until about 11am or so, so I'm trying to correct that for next time.
And for all of you wondering how my night went after that, as far as my workout is concerned...
Well, I finished W2D2 of C25k. It was the hardest one yet. I kept thinking, "My heart isn't in it..." With the issues with my bra (OW! That hurt!! I now truly cherish the importance of my sports bras!!) and the issues with the PT and the scale, I was distracted. About halfway through I tried to get myself to focus, but my body was just sore (and, maybe part of it was the dehydration as well??...hrm...something to consider!). I did, however, finish. I did walking segments of 3.0 most times (though I did have to drop to 2.8 or so near the end because I needed the recovery so badly!) and ran at 4.5 speed during the running segments. I also loved the guy who hopped on the treadmill next to me and started doing intervals too. I may or may not have had the thought that he was only doing it because I was and he wasn't about to be shown up by the fat chick! *lol* He didn't start interval running until after I was in my first one, and he seemed to pull one out after almost every single one of mine. I felt like I was being chased!! Of course, his running and walking segments were both faster than mine, but he was pretty well built...I'll get there eventually.
After my run, I couldn't stomach the ST. (Oh, did I mention I spent much of the afternoon and all of the drive to the gym with severe stomach pain? I ate something that did NOT agree with me and I was feeling SO sick!) My chest felt raw where my bra had rubbed some. All the way home I thought about how I should have just done it anyways. I gave myself crap for about 10 minutes, I even used the F-word (no, not THAT one...Failure!). I said to myself, "I can't believe you couldn't even make it through a ONE DAY CHALLENGE in the Suck It! Challenge! You suck!" And then I remembered that in the same challenge, I also vowed not to beat myself up for whatever I considered my faults. I was NOT a failure. I ran sick and upset and pushed through the worst run yet, and I finished it (and actually did an extra 6 minutes of warm-up and cool down because my phone was giving me trouble and my stupid C25k program wasn't running right, so I had to reset it to fix it, and I walked the whole time I was getting it set...). So I reminded myself that I had NOTHING to guilt myself over. I could either chose to make up the ST later, or I could simply forgive myself and move on from there. My results from the scale show that I've been doing just fine, and I wasn't PERFECT on getting all my ST sessions (or even all of my cardio sessions) in last month. So, I forgave myself, and went home and took a long shower as a reward, and then ate dinner with my boys while watching The Santa Clause.
I'm putting this in the books as a good night. And reminding myself that more than half of me is made up of good, naturally healthy, wonderful things!
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
~!~SUCK IT CHALLENGE ENTRY CARD AND DAY ONE CHALLENGE~!~
1. Pick any 5 things to measure that you will measure again on New Year's Day. Post those current measurements here. it can be everything from how many modified pushups you can currently do, to a 5K time, to a bra size, I don't give a crap. Personalize it.
A. Length of Time Running @ Speed: 90 sec @ 4.5
B. Weight: 338.4
C. Jeans Size: 26-28
D. Morning Workouts/Week: 0
E. Fruits/Vegs per Day: 3ish
2. Declare yourself. Do so by choosing one or more of the following.
A. Make your declaration of independence from imminent failure, guilt and pressure. Write a paragraph, a statement or a blog about how you will do your best, and not hate yourself if you fail.
I, Esther, do declare that I am, from this point forward until the end of 2010, releasing myself from guilt, pressure, and the risk of failure. I will remember that each day is a new day, each moment new. I will remember that no one gains 80 pounds back in a month without seriously attempting to or having some sort of physical conditional or malady. I will remember to celebrate my accomplishments by sharing them with all my Sparkies, but also by giving myself something small or big, even if it's just a self-manicure or a foot massage. And I will take the time this month to remember that laying down the guilt upon myself for supposed missteps, is a selfish act of punishment toward someone I love very dearly. If a friend or loved one made a tiny mistake, I would forgive immediately, so I should do the same to myself, instead of beating myself and dragging the family down into my misery. I will love me, and I will remind myself of that each and every day.
B. Post a current body shot if you have not already posted one, or at least an updated one you can use as a before picture. This isn't a long challenge, only 4.5 weeks- so you may not make alot of progress in a body shot- but the goal here is to not backtrack in December, right?
Always post a monthly picture. I did my WTF? pictures last night, but I need to do a more public version as well. Waiting for my new yoga pants to get here first...
C. Post an awesome profile picture of yourself, if you don't have one.
Reminder to myself: I'm going to do a photo shoot with myself this weekend and have fun with it, pulling in props and/or Christmasy fun!
D. Put up your ticker. This is IMMENSELY helpful. it shows where you are now, which can be tough to admit, but its courage that makes all the difference. You know that's the truth.
I always do pounds lost, because it means more to me and reminds me of what I have accomplished. I need that reminder much more than what I still have yet to lose.
E. Redo your sparkpage with flair and determination. Freshen it up. We're done with the tired same old same old.
Did last night! YAY!
3. Make the decision that no matter how many times you fall in December, you wont wait 24-48 hours to make up for it. Make sure your next act, after falling, is standing up straight. Immediately. State one victory you have already had today.
I pushed myself through the midday blues and munchies by allowing myself a small cup of coffee. I may make this a regular thing, if it works. Less calories, a special treat, and I can still work off the caffeine. (Plus, I'm always falling asleep around 3pm...this might help!)
4. Tell me what you are absolutely going to do right today.
I WILL go to the gym.
I WILL complete C25k, W2D2.
I WILL follow that cardio with ST.
I WILL choose between solo-ST or pilates.
I WILL not guilt myself if I don't choose pilates.
I WILL go home and eat something healthy.
I WILL wrap the few presents we have before bed.
I WILL be in bed, ready for sleep, by 10pm.
Then I will ALLOW MYSELF THE FREEDOM TO READ, WATCH TV, WATCH A MOVIE, OR WHATEVER I WANT UNTIL BEDTIME tonight.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Weight November 1st: 347.2
Weight Goal for December 1st: 339.2
Actual Weight December 1st: 338.4*
Weight Lost in November: - 8.8 pounds
* And a note to myself, I woke up so bloated this morning it HURT and my rings wouldn't go on my fingers. I don't know WHY the bloat...I drank a ton of water yesterday. Hopefully it goes away SOON! (I've gained 3 pounds of bloat since Sunday... *pouts*)
Waist: 48 - 47.5 = .5 inches
Hips: 59 - 59 = no change
Thigh: 25 - 24.75 = .25 inches (x2!)
Upper Arm: 15 - 15 = no change
Neck: 15 - 15 = no change
Calf: 22 - 21 = 1 inch (x2!)
Total inches lost in November = 3 inches
Yep, that's it. 3 measly inches. How does someone lose over 8 pounds and yet only loses 3 inches? Well, let me tell you. My body has been reshaping itself for months now, but no month more than this one.
* My stomach apron (oh, I hate that term!) has flattened out some and is making it's move northward.
* My calves are finding more definition.
* My ankles have lost their bulge.
* My wrists and fingers are much smaller. Many of my rings barely stay on my middle and first fingers now. (They started out on pinkies and ring fingers!)
* From the side, you can tell my abdomen is flattening out. There is no longer the huge slope. For those of you who have had the pleasure of knowing - I now look down and can only see my boobs, no more stomach poking out below it.
* I've gotten a bubble butt of sorts, which irks me, but it's be the slow progression of a huge shelf butt to a higher, leaner, more structured bubble butt, and I have already started to notice changes in it in the past few weeks.
My biggest challenges with my body right now:
- my HUGE thighs. But I have a feeling running is going to help. ;)
- my stomach. I honestly have fears that I will ALWAYS have a huge stomach apron, a flat one that's just skin but hangs down to my knees. I have nightmares about it, no lie.
More importantly, what did I *do* in November? (I've got to learn to celebrate myself more!)
I attended my first Yoga class. (FUN!)
I got into Line Dancing classes!
I learned about overdoing it with Zumba, Line Dancing, Treadmill and ST in one night! And that night I learned what a severe drop in blood sugar feels like! YIKES!
I reminded myself that it is VOLITION that keeps me going, not some mythical magical power called "motivation."
I learned to increase my water intake. It does a body good to get even MORE than 8 glasses a day!
I fought with, and made up with the scale. I now know more what to expect before I step on in the morning, so it doesn't really scare me anymore.
I realized I was starting to like my face more. I'm learning to love my body as well.
I took the time and actually had a date with my husband, and while it was a crazy mess, I grew to love him more...and have all month. It's been a month of love and realization.
I hit the biggest bout of depression I've had in a very, very long time, and then realized I could pull myself out of it, one finger and toe at a time.
I had a few job interviews that went well, and I'm still waiting to hear on one, though I think the other opportunity may have died.
I started reading a self-help book, Winning After Losing, and started doing some of the exercises in it.
I met pilates, which apparently stands for Pain, Intimidation, Laughter, Anger, Tightness, et Soreness. MEAN! I haven't been back since, though there's another opportunity tonight...
I said goodbye to the 340s, told them where they could take theirs and what they can do with it.
I had a couple off days, and then I got right back up and started again...
...and then something magical happened....
I decided to try Couch 2 5k again, and I made it through day 1. Tonight will be week 2, day 2, and I'm so happy and already addicted! For November 2010, my biggest accomplishment will ALWAYS be, that I started to run. I couldn't before, and I can now...and that's HUGE in my world!
And along with that change, came others, emotional ones. I felt more connected to those around me, my support group, strangers, the world at large. It's like running freed my heart to love. I went from the most depressed I've been in 7 years in November, to the most serene I've been in the past 11 years. I don't know how, and I don't know why, but I'm basking in the glow.
And now it's December.
$400 - savings
Save up another $400 bucks for Vegas and buy my ticket. (I'm waiting to hear from the job prospect, which I should know about next week. Don't know what will happen if I get the position, so I'm holding off another week, even if it costs me another 30 bucks or so.)
My weight loss goal is really simple this month. I want to be under 330 pounds. That's 8 more pounds if you go from today's weigh-in, but only 5 if you go from Sunday's. Either way, it's doable. If I do make this I will buy myself a Wii Fit balance board.
C25k Week 3 +
Get to at least week 3 on C25k. I'm still nervous that I'll have to repeat weeks like I did last time I tried this. It took me a month or more to get week 1, day 1 completed, so why would I ever assume it's going to be smooth sailing from here? Next week makes me nervous already.
I'll let you in on a secret....one of my 2011 goals is to do at least 11 races before the year is out. I want to start early enough so I don't have a race every weekend. Plus, I'd love to be able to do a couple out of state races this upcoming year, so I need to start planning now.
1000 + Fitness Minutes
1000 for the month. That's just a little over 30 minutes a day, but I'll be taking Sunday's off. So I'll have to make it up with some longer sessions (heck, Zumba is an hour-long class!). I think this is totally doable. (I'd love to hit 1500 though, secretly.)
I'm going to try to remember this month to enjoy everything. Whenever life gets hard, I want to step back, remember what's good, and move from that place instead. I'm going to start that by really savoring my trip to DC. While I could think of all the things that make me nervous/sad and/or scare me (like being on my own for a week in DC), I'm instead going to love that I won't have anything tying me down...I can go at my own pace, where I want, when I want. I can walk out of my hotel room at 3am if I want to, I don't have to worry about someone watching the kids or someone missing me.
14 ST sessions (and consistency!)
I have to work on getting consistent with my strength training. First of all, my routine takes forever! I'm going to ask the PT about that. I just don't have an hour or more to spend on ST 3 nights a week. Second of all, I'm doing something wrong because my elbows have been killing me. I opted out of my planks and pushups on Monday because I really don't want to injure myself. Still sore. *shrug* There are 4 weeks in December, I do ST 3 times a week, plus I need 2 more ST sessions this week....that all = 14 ST sessions this month.
1800 Calories a Day, 1 Cheat Day a Week
So I've been having some difficulty with wanting to eat more (probably from the running). So I'm going to try to stay as close to 1800 calories I can for 6 days of the week, while letting myself go even slightly over my range on one day each week. Maybe this will get me through the week by remembering that if I want something, I can have it on cheat day, as long as I can fit it in. I don't know...but the past two days have NOT gone well. More than actual hunger, I've been THINKING about food almost constantly. It's driving me nuts! So I've got to have some channel for that. Maybe it will help, maybe it won't, either way, trying to stick to 1800 calories a day will be a good thing to grasp onto. I need to stay in that habit if I want continued success!
So, November went relatively well, and I have high hopes for December as well. I just want to enjoy the last of this AMAZING year, a year that changed my life, a year when *I* changed my life! This is a big year for me, so I'm savoring it. I'm already thinking ahead a bit, but I don't want to put all my hopes in 2011. What's the saying - The problem with diets is Mondays? The problem with New Years Resolutions is midday January 1st. Instead of pinning all my hopes on NEXT year, I'm going to SAVOR the last precious month I have in 2010. I'm going to use it to form a good solid base for the next year too, by building and learning and growing. A month is plenty of time for learning and adventures, and I'm not about to waste 31 days just hoping for the ball to drop!
Make December COUNT!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Okay, here we go. I thought about all the things I wanted to say today in a blog, and then it all went out the window when I realized I hadn't put my DC plans into action yet and I'm running out of time.
So, here's the deal. I leave Sunday, around 11am for Washington D.C. for work training. I'll be there for a whole week. I'll be in class from 8:30a-4:30pm every day, but I have my evenings to myself. While I did check and discovered the hotel has a gym and a small indoor pool, I want to get out at least a few nights and catch the winter/fall air while taking in some sights. I've never seen DC at night, and I hear it's beautiful. I'll admit, I'm a bit worried, as Hubs keeps remarking to me that the crime rate is terrible there and I'm likely to get mugged and die while out on a run, but I have to keep telling myself two things that generally work for me 1) just be safe, people do it all the time and you don't hear about 10 people a night dying while on a run or walk in DC and 2) you're just not that special.
Okay, let me take a second to explain that last one, because I've gotten crap for it before. You see, when I was a kid I used to be afraid all the time. If I was told there was a 1 in a million chance I would get hit by a bus, I'd be terrified that I'd end up being that one. Well, I don't know if someone said it to me, or I just came up with it myself, but one day I decided I couldn't live my entire life in fear. So I started telling myself, "You're not that special." In other words, what are the real odds that I'm going to be that one in a million? (I know, I know, the odds are 1 in a million! *lol*) But, what are the odds? Is it more likely that I'll get hit by a bus today walking outside, or is it more likely that I'll be fine. So anytime I get scared to do things (go to NYC alone with a friend, go on a plane, etc.) I tell myself, "You're just not that special." Now what happens if I happen to GET that special and something does happen? Well, what can I do about it now? I'm not going to not live just so I don't die. That's just stupid. So I take as many precautions as I can, I am safe as possible and then I just do it. For this trip I bought a small wallet I can slip in my pocket. If I still don't feel safe, I'll tuck the hotel key and some cash and my cellphone in my bra and off I'll go...it wouldn't be the first time I went for a walk/run with stuff in my bra! (In fact, I do it all the time.) I'll walk with my head up. If I notice someone, I'll make sure they know I see them, but then look away as to not be threatening. And if I get nervous, I'll hum, or sing, or whistle. It's much better to be thought of as crazy than to be thought of as the perfect, silent victim. I'll walk tall and proud, head up, taking care to know what my surroundings are, and whatever happens, happens.
Okay, so onto the challenge. I kept thinking to myself, other than the general monuments and museums, I don't know much about what's in DC. I certainly don't really know my way around (though I've been Googling with street view for weeks, virtually walking around the city so I'll feel more comfortable once I'm there). And wouldn't it be more fun if I didn't feel so alone?! (Being alone also scares me...less and less lately, but I'm not a hugemongous fan).
So here's where you come in. In the comments below, I want you to leave me 3 things:
1) A direction. Left, right, straight.
2) A number of blocks or miles (in tenths...I'm not walking a marathon here!).
3) A song.
And, let me say, number 3 is super important because Esther's playlist is boring the crap out of her. Help me breathe new life into it, and attach your name to my playlist, so I can use you as inspiration to continue.
The idea is for me to walk out of my hotel, and follow the directions I'm given in order to get somewhere...take a Spark tour of the city, without any of you even realizing where you're leading me. Of course safety will have to come into play. I may have to divert directions if I reach a dead end or a freeway ramp or something, but it might be a little fun to try. (And thankfully, my phone has Google maps and GPS to get me back to the hotel safely.)
One final thing...if you know the DC area, feel free to suggest to me:
* good restaurants
* good walking/running paths
* good parks
* cool free stuff to do
So, Sparkies...what do you say? Do you want to take me on a tour of our nation's starred city? I promise to take pictures and report back where all I went...as best I can.
Here's your template:
Direction: (Left, Right, Straight)
Distance: (in Blocks or tenths of a Mile)
Song: (please give artist name too so it's easier to find on iTunes!)
Here's hoping this works!!
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