Thursday, January 26, 2012
I am going to run a marathon.
I know I've said it before, but I need to keep telling myself that I am. It seems like a bit of a surreal goal at the moment. Still, I am making progress. Yesterday, my son's teacher asked me why I had run 12 miles on Monday, and for the first time I said, "Because I'm going to do a marathon."
Not "I'm thinking about doing a marathon." I AM doing one. No turning back now.
I have to admit that I was surprised to hear it come out of my mouth, but it solidified it for me. I'd been having doubts and worries about whether I'd be able to handle it, but none of that matters. That's old, anxious Em trying to get back into my head, and she knows she's not welcome. I'm going to do it. It's that simple.
The reactions from other people have been interesting. My husband thinks I'm crazy and is a little worried that I'll hurt myself, but he is always supportive and encourages me, too. My trainer is beyond excited and telling everyone she knows. (I really have no way of backing out) My son's teacher and the other moms looked at me like I was some kind of strange, alien creature that they would never quite understand. And, my favorite (read the sarcasm) friend who brings me down told me to slow down my training and that I wouldn't be able to do it. (Should I mention that she's never run more than a 10k & aren't trainers supposed to be supportive of this kind of thing?)
The last reaction really got to me, and I talked to my wonderful, awesome trainer about it. This "friend" is always telling me to slow down, that I'm over training, that I'll hurt myself, and it drives me nuts. I feel amazing. I trust my trainer 100% to never push me to do something that I am not ready for. I am making awesome gains in strength and love everything I am doing. My trainer was not happy about the comments and told me to ignore her. I just think it's awful to try to tear someone down when they're already facing a huge task like running 26.2 miles.
Every time I think of that number I get butterflies in my stomach, but as you know I feed on fear. I also feed on challenge, and I feel like this "friend" has upped it for me. I wanted to do it for me, and that will always be my first reason, but now I want to do it to prove her wrong.
No, I am not built "like a runner". I am not thin, and I have short legs. But, I am strong, and I am determined. And, I am going to do it.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I ran 12 miles! Usually, I write a long detailed blog about my distance runs and what I learned from them, but I think this one's going to be pretty short. Because - well, it wasn't that eventful.
I had a good run. It was our usual out and back route, so I didn't see anything different than usual. I ran a pretty steady pace, and I think I have definitely gotten faster. I managed to keep up with my trainer for the first 4.5 miles, which is a mile longer than I ever have before.
The weather was perfect. 36 degrees, sunny, not too windy. It was a lovely day to be outside, and after running in 15-20 degree weather, it felt warm. I had to take off my sweatshirt after the first couple miles.
I started getting really sore in my hips and back around mile 9, and I had to walk for a bit. But, I didn't beat myself up over it, which is a huge improvement for me.
I was on a schedule and had to get back in time to have rehearsal with my middle schoolers, so I couldn't really relax and enjoy my run. Still, it pushed me to run faster and more than I would have if I had more time. I made it back right on time. Luckily, the kids don't care if I am a sweaty, mud-covered mess.
The thing I love most about running is that it gives me time to think. I hardly have a moment to myself most days, and it's nice to be alone with my thoughts. I thought about some of my goals that I posted in the previous blog. I thought about the marathon for a bit, and then decided that mile 10 was not the best time to decide whether or not to sign up (wait until you're not in pain, Em). I also thought about the studio. We finally heard back from the guy who owns it, and the rent is unbelievable. It was a deal-breaker, and I knew it immediately. Usually, when a plan doesn't work out, I feel like a failure, but not this time. I tried to think about it rationally, and I realized that it's not something I want to rush into. Maybe some time in the future I will open my own space, but that time is not now. I want to focus on being a trainer and build up my client base. I want to workout - not get bogged down in business. I ended the run feeling pretty good about my decision. And, it leaves me room for more goals! (Because I don't have enough of those...)
One last thing. I tend to find a mantra to get me through the tough parts of my runs, and this is the one that did it for me yesterday.
Yes, she's doing ST (and I have definitely been there before), but it got me through and even made me pick up the pace when I was lagging at the end.
Have a wonderful day, Sparkfriends!
Friday, January 20, 2012
When I started 2012, I had a couple goals in mind for the first half of the year, and they were pretty good-sized goals. I wanted to run my first half in May, and I wanted to get certified as a personal trainer. These are major goals and would add to my constantly changing life. I feel like I keep taking steps away from the old me and my old interests, and I am moving slowly toward a different (healthier, more exciting) life.
Anyway, those goals are still on the list, but as things begin to seem achievable I always have to up the ante. I start studying for my certification next month, and I have already done some practice training with friends that went really well. I'm feeling fairly confident that I can pass the test and be a good trainer. I've also had a more successful 10 mile run, so 12 is looking like it's doable, and if 12 is doable, so is 13.1.
I've added 3 goals to my list for 2012, and I'm honestly not sure if I can make them all happen. But, that's the point, right? To challenge ourselves with things we don't think we can do. My background on my Sparkpage says it all.
So, here they are:
1. Run a marathon - Even while considering the half, I wasn't sure I would ever do a full, but after reading BLACKROSE_222's blog about the Disney marathon I felt so inspired that I knew I had to try it. I'm going to start with our local marathon in Burlington, VT. It took a few days to even look it up on the internet, and when I did I felt the overwhelming urge to throw up. But, that's good. That's fear, and if I'm not scared, I'm not taking a chance. I felt the same way last March when I went for my Zumba training, and now I am a happy Zumba instructor. Fear is growth. The marathon is in May, and my trainer says I should be able to train for it this year. I hope she's right. I think I can handle the distance. I just worry about having the time to train properly. My life is crazy hectic right now, and I still need to be able to use my legs for other classes.
2. Open a fitness studio - This one kind of just popped up in the last couple days. I've been struggling with last minute schedule changes in one of my Zumba classes because I hold them in a school, and their policies on use of the school seem to be changing quite often. I have to keep finding a back-up space on short notice, and it's frustrating. There is also an open storefront on our Main street that would be ideal for fitness classes. So, I am seriously looking into opening a space that offers various classes as well as personal and small group training with the idea of expanding it into a small gym eventually. It's lucky that I know several trainers with different skill sets, so I could offer a variety of classes. Right now I am trying to wrap my head around business plans and everything else needed to start a business, and I am honestly feeling a little overwhelmed. Not that that ever stopped me.
3. Get to my goal weight / see my abs - This one is a personal goal. I've been on a plateau for a year, and the scale has just started moving again. I've made tweaks to my diet, and I am being much more consistent. I think I can get things going again and reach my goal. The abs part surprised me, but with all of the ST and the weight loss, I am getting lines on the sides of my abs, and I am just a small amount of flab away from actually seeing them. And, I really want to.
So, those are the new goals. I'm not adding any more for this year unless one crashes and burns. I'm feeling nervous and scared but also very excited. It's time to stop dreaming about the life I want and start living it. I have accepted that it's okay to change your plans and interests as long as you are moving toward something that is more fulfilling.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Iíve decided to run a marathon.
That may be the most terrifying sentence I have ever written because by putting it out there, I am committing myself to the biggest challenge of my life. I am committing to grueling long runs and learning through trial and error the best way to fuel my body for such a feat. Iím committing to running with a very large group of people when I am normally a small race kind of gal.
There are a lot of things about running a marathon that scare me, but Iím not going to think about them too much. You know why? Because fear is what holds you back from greatness. From amazing accomplishments and lasting change.
Iíve said it before, but I think it deserves repeating, especially at this time of year when so many resolutions to get fit and healthy are beginning to fizzle out. You cannot let fear stop you from achieving your goals.
There are a lot of reasons to be scared.
Changing your eating habits is scary. What if you canít always go out with friends for pizza? How do you face the many temptations of holidays or family functions? What if you donít eat perfectly 100% of the time?
Losing weight is scary. What if your spouse, partner, family, or friends donít like the new you? What if you start getting more attention from strangers? What if there is no fat to hide behind?
Exercise is scary. What if you donít do enough? What if you get hurt? What if you canít take the pain? What if youíre not doing it right?
Having goals is scary. What if it takes too long to achieve them? What if you realize you donít want it enough to work for it? What if you fail?
Notice that all of these fears start with ďWhat if?Ē.
Stop wasting your life wondering what if and just go for it. Fear is the thing that keeps you on the couch. Worry is what makes you quit two weeks into January. So stop thinking about it and just act. I know this isnít an easy thing to do. I am a natural thinker/worrier, but there is a difference between addressing real concerns and creating obstacles that have never actually existed. Most of what youíre worrying about wonít even happen, and if it does, you deal with it, learn from it, and grow.
Changing your eating habits doesnít mean that youíll lose friends, or if you do, they probably were not the kind of friends you needed anyway. Some friends might be willing to support you and go to a healthier restaurant or plan an outing that isnít centered around eating. Taking care of your body is not something to be ashamed of, and if anyone likes you less for it, you should closely examine their reasons and whether they are worth keeping around. As far as handling family functions and eating perfect 100% of the time Ė stop stressing about it! Remember that anything is acceptable in moderation. No one is going to eat perfectly 100% of the time. That is just setting yourself up to fail. Select one favorite indulgence, have a serving, and leave it alone. We stop tasting most food after the third bite anyway, so youíll get the satisfaction without all of the extra calories.
If you are overweight, the best thing you can do for your health is lose weight. Usually friends and family will see this and support your efforts. It may take a little time for them to adjust to the new, active you, but give them time. Their support is there, and they will still love you when youíre healthy. The scariest thing about losing weight is the loss of invisibility. Overweight people tend to use fat as a shield. The larger they become the more invisible they feel. Trust me, Iíve been there. I used to feel like I was the only one who felt this way, but many people suffer this feeling of invisibility. When the fat begins to disappear, many struggle with feeling exposed. It can be hard to suddenly always be seen. The thing is, once you start taking care of your body, you feel better. Being noticed, while scary at first, is a nice change. Having confidence is an amazing feeling, and the better you feel inside, the more youíll have to share with the world.
Jumping into exercise, like many of us do once January 1st comes around, can be an intimidating experience. Donít go hard and burn yourself out in the first few weeks. Slow, sustained progress is lasting progress. Start with what you can handle. You donít have to do it all at once. I certainly didnít jump out of bed one morning and decide to run a marathon. I started with walking (at home in front of my TV) for 10-20 minutes three times a week. When youíve been sedentary for years, any movement is going to make a huge impact. Starting simple also limits your chances of injury. Just remember, if it is actually painful stop doing it Ė if it burns, keep going! If you ever wonder if youíre doing something the correct way, ask a trainer or find a video. The Internet is filled with great videos on the proper form for any kind of exercise.
Having goals isnít that scary. Knowing what you have to do to achieve them can be. Before I started to lose weight, I had vague goals. I wanted to ďlose weightĒ but had no plan for how to do it or how much I needed to lose. I had a lot of dreams about my future career, but no plans for making it happen or inclination to step beyond the dreaming phase. Once you begin making specific plans and mapping out the steps you need to take to achieve them, you have a responsibility to complete those steps and achieve your goals. Itís a great feeling. Taking smaller steps makes your goals seem a lot more manageable, and it is a much more realistic approach. Small steps arenít failure. Failing is letting the enormity of what you want to do keep you from even starting.
Sometimes along the way you may find that you no longer want to strive for a certain goal. Examine your feelings and your reasons. Are they just excuses because you are afraid? Or, are you moving in a new direction with your new found self-confidence and no longer have interest in your old goals? Itís okay to re-evaluate your dreams as long as you are not just too afraid to try. My plans for the future have definitely changed since I started this journey, but it is not because I am afraid. In fact, my new goals are much more terrifying because they are more challenging, and Iím going to have to learn something new.
Whatever your fears may be, face them. Do not let them control you or define your success. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
It's been just over six years since my first real reality check, and lately I can't seem to stop thinking about that day.
Up to that point, I had lived in a world of my own creation. It was a scary place. It was the place of delusions. A place that first showed me how "fat" I was when I was thirteen, convinced me that no one noticed my strange eating (or not eating) habits in high school, and convinced me that binge drinking and eating nothing but mac and cheese had not affected me in college. I was big boned, curvy, voluptuous. Other people were fat, but not me.
Craziness, I know, but I couldn't see it. I refused to. I stopped looking in mirrors. I bought clothes that never fit quite right until I finally gave in and started buying men's pants because they "fit better". Right...
So, six years ago I was sitting anxiously in the doctor's office waiting for the physician's assistant to come back with the results of a pregnancy test. I hadn't had my TOM in 2 months, and I was convinced I was pregnant. I wanted to be so badly. My DH and I had been trying for 6 months, and I knew this time was for real. I had taken several (or 7) at home tests, and they had all been negative, but still I knew I was pregnant this time.
She came into the room and very bluntly told me the test was negative. I was stunned, but the shocking part came next. She told me very definitely that I probably had PCOS and would never have children. That had to be the reason, she said, because I was fat and fit the PCOS profile. Now, I don't know a lot about PCOS, but at the time I couldn't even begin to accept that because of the other word she said. The F word. Fat.
I was fat? Me? No. No, I have large frame. I'm built like my mother. I'm curvy.
I couldn't say anything out loud. I sat there stunned, and then I started to cry. I hate crying more than anything, especially in front of other people, and this woman was about as caring as a paper bag. She thought it was because I wasn't pregnant and couldn't understand why it would cause me to be hysterical for 20 minutes. She left the room and only returned a little later to shoo me out because they had other patients to see.
Needless to say, I never went back there, but her words stuck with me.
I went home determined to lose weight. I jumped on my ancient (mostly unused) treadmill and started to "run". About 3 minutes into it, the treadmill broke. Just stopped working under my feet. I punched the console and cried. I hid in my room until DH came home to find me a sobbing, hyperventilating mess. Somehow, through the tears, I managed to tell him everything - no baby, PCOS, so no hope of a baby, and Fat - she called me fat! I remember looking at him to see the indignant reaction I'd hoped for, but it wasn't there. Because my DH is not blind. He knew what I was. I was the only one who couldn't see it.
I felt completely exposed and humiliated. Everyone else was in on this secret, but no one told me. How dare they keep it from me? How dare they lie to me?
That day still haunts me. I'll never forget it or the way I felt. But, it was the beginning. The moment my life changed forever.
It didn't happen immediately. I found out soon after that I was indeed pregnant, and I indulged in everything I thought a pregnant woman "deserved". I ate nothing but pizza and General Tao's chicken for 9 months, and I packed on the pounds. When my little girl was born, I weighed in at 230 pounds, the heaviest I'd ever been. I wanted to get healthier. I wanted to be better for her sake, but it was hard. I started doing some mild exercise once or twice a week, but I kept up my terrible eating.
Not long after my daughter's 1st birthday I found out I was pregnant again, and I immediately slipped into my inactive, overeating ways. I had no idea that exercise was okay for pregnant women. I thought it was a free pass to eat whatever I liked. When my son was born, I was 260 pounds. Did I mention I'm 5'1"? I felt terrible, and I barely had the energy to move. I dreaded even having to get off the couch to use the bathroom. My daughter was an active 2 year old, and she loved going outside. She always wanted me to play with her, but I didn't. I always had a reason that I couldn't.
I hated the way I felt. I hated being a terrible, inactive mom. I wanted to play. I didn't want to sit on the sidelines and watch, and most of all, I didn't want my kids to end up like me. I was ashamed of what I had become, and I kept hoping they would somehow avoid being like me. I dreaded the time when they would be old enough to go to school because I knew I would be an embarrassment. I couldn't continue on the way I was going. I had to change.
I've blogged before about my slow process of losing weight. Taking off 80 pounds is one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it has definitely been the most rewarding. I'm a completely different person now. Exercise is a daily requirement. My new favorite meal involves tofu and spinach - two things I "didn't like" before. I haven't eaten red meat in months. I've found confidence and strength that I never knew I had. I thought other people were meant to be leaders and successes, but now I find that I'm just like anyone else. I can do it, too. It just takes hard work and determination.
I'm two weeks into 2012, and I am sticking to my new plan. Lots of healthy (mostly vegan!) eating, teaching Zumba, working out / training for a half marathon, and I've dropped a rather nasty habit I had left over from my younger, stupider days. I feel amazing. I can run for miles. I can carry both of my kids (about 65 pounds)with ease. And, best of all, I see them, as well as DH, making smart, healthy choices, too. I've convinced friends and family to get healthy and try new things, and I've had some wonderful experiences that I never would have had if I had stayed fat. My future looks so bright. I start studying for my personal trainers certification soon, and I am thrilled with my new career choice.
Six years ago I thought my life was over, but really, it was just the beginning.
I'm not sure what the point of this blog is, except to get that day out of my brain and onto the screen. But, even if it stops bugging me, I will never forget that day.
I hope you always hold onto the past, but don't let it hold you back. Only change moves you forward and helps you grow. Embrace change. If I hadn't my life would be so, so much worse and so would the lives of those around me.
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