Monday, May 14, 2012
For the first time in many years, I feel completely and utterly happy.
In the best shape of my life - physically, mentally, emotionally.
It didn't come about the way I expected.
I never could have predicted things would work out quite this way.
It wasn't consistent with the framework I had set up for my life...but sometimes you have to step out of the box to find joy.
I didn't anticipate so much work.
And, yet, it's been easier than I thought it would be.
All it takes is a choice to keep going. Every single day.
And YOU did this.
You inspired me.
You pushed me past my fears.
You saw true value in me when I didn't see it in myself.
You have been there for me when I felt competely alone.
You are available all hours of the day and night.
You fill my head with dreams and ideas and inspiration.
Your tenacity and kindness caught me by surprise.
Your tenderness is so deeply felt.
Your example is what I am building this new life upon.
Your success is the driving force behind my success.
There really aren't words for how much I love you...for bringing me to this new level of happy - with myself, my life, my body, my heart.
Thank you. So very much.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I really can't find the words to explain how I have been feeling about the incredible outpouring of love and support from the Spark Community on the blog I posted Friday, in which I described my feelings of running a distance of 5k. I have tried to write a personal note back to everyone that left a substantial comment on that blog and I think I've got about 200 of you so far. The stories you have shared with me and the kind words of encouragement are enough to fuel a thousand future runs!
A lot of you also said that you were inspired to try running yourself. Or to push yourself further. That is a wonderful spirit and to think that I might be able to play a part in helping you be a better version of yourself is quite humbling.
Frankly, I was surprised to only receive two messages (so far) holding a warning (I expected many). I received a particularly helpful message from PAPAMIKIE, who is a certified running instructor. PAPAMIKIE made it clear that he was not at all trying to discourage me (or any of you) from achieving our running dreams, but that he wanted to make sure that we are clear on not only the benefits of running, but also the risks.
"60% of recreational runners in NA get injured every year, seriously enough to have to change thier running program. Most injuries are caused by doing too much too soon or running with bad form.
The problem with too much too soon, is that the damage is small and progressive and often goes unnoticed until it is noticed because something gives.
It is possible to just get out and run, and to do this safely (without a program like C25K). I did it. It is also posible to do serious harm by repeatedly asking the body to do too much.
I sometime compare this to putting on weight. We do this just a little at a time and we do not notice this, and then one day we discover we are overweight, and we may wonder how it happened.
I hope you will understand that I encourage your goal, I support running and I believe that people at various weights and various fitness levels can enjoy running. But I am also aware that lots of people do themselves harm by going at it in a way that leads to injury. I just wanted to bring this to your attention."
I just want to thank PAPAMIKIE for sharing this information with me. As someone who has been severely injured in the past (see my recent post, "Broken...But Still Strong"), I am ultra-aware of my body and especially my weakest areas, at all times. In fact, you should know that this morning I wanted to run, but because my ankle felt a little tiny bit sore, I have built in one more rest day. Also...just because I was able to run a distance of 5k and break one of my own mental barriers, it doesn't necessarily mean that EVERY run from here on out will be a 5k. It will all depend on how I am feeling that day and whether my body is able to handle that magnitude of a run that day. I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to your body.
Please do not misunderstand. I believe in every single one of you!!! I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that we can all do ANYTHING we set our mind to doing!!!
It would be irresponsible of me, though, to neglect all the facts:
1. As you see in every exercise video out there, a person should ALWAYS make sure their exercise program is OK with their doctor/personal physician. I got the all-clear from my orthopedic surgeons and my family doctor before I tried anything on these old broken/healed bones!
2. A trainer or an expert is a great asset. Even if you can't afford a trainer on a weekly basis, it is helpful to at least have someone to gauge your current fitness level and help you design a plan for the future. I've been lucky in that I haven't paid for a trainer, but have a couple of very close friends that happen to be personal trainers. And, when you're friends with a personal trainer, they tend to give you all the good advice free of charge.
Don't forget, too, that there are experts out here on SparkPeople...all over the place! People like PAPAMIKIE and Coach Nicole - people whose lives are dedicated to helping people be successful in their fitness endeavors. All it takes is a bit of time and research to glean from their excellent wisdom!
3. FORM IS SO IMPORTANT. I'm sure I don't have perfect form (especially since I'm just a beginner). But I have to admit that for the majority of my run, my brain is laser focused on form. Mostly because of my past injuries. I worry that if I let my brain wander and just look at the pretty trees and birdies, I won't be paying attention and I will sprain may ankle or fall down. God knows I'm prone to falls! I really can't afford to break concentration with my list of bodily issues. So, for example, if you have trouble breathing doing the intro C25K runs, it might not be a good idea to push yourself any further just yet...until you have that breathing under control.
Like PAPAMIKIE, I don't want to dampen anyone's spirit or zest for running.
The truth of the matter is, I feel emotionally connected to all of you incredible people and I would be so terribly heartbroken if any of us were to get hurt or injured.
So, with that in mind, I thought it would be good to pass along this wisdom.
Make no mistake - I'm going to keep running!!! But I will be listening to my body and paying attention to my form and checking in with my panel of experts. And I will do it the correct way.
If we all follow these guidelines, we will have everything we need to not only reach our goals, but to be transformed into the very best we can be. I can't wait to see how we grow - AND how we shrink!!!
Love to all of you!!!
Friday, May 11, 2012
I've previously mentioned that I started C25K last month just walking the intervals, thinking that I was too heavy to actually do the running sections and that I'd eventually be able to run when I'd lost about 20 or 30 lbs.
But then I began to read all sorts of stories about people that have run entire 5K races at 230 lbs or started their running at over 300 lbs...people who have now lost close to 100 lbs.
Exercise Excuse #3: I'm Too Heavy To Work Out
Not true. I'm here to share two very important breakthroughs that I had JUST a couple hours ago...this very morning.
I started running (for real, doing the running intervals of C25K) two weeks ago. Yes...as in...14 days ago. It was super tough. The first week, I was struggling through those runs...having trouble finding my breathing rhythm, only able to barely run 1.5 minute increments, etc. As I have done a few more runs, though, the running intervals have felt easier. Progress.
A few days ago, I decided that C25K was progressing a bit too slowly for me. I honestly felt I could safely go further and do more than the program was allowing me to do. So, I checked in with my trainer and we decided I could just cautiously TRY to do a run all on my own without the program to see where my boundaries are.
I found I was able to do 2.86 miles with much more running mixed in than C25K was allowing. This was a huge deal for me...and so I ditched C25K for good and decided to just listen to my own body. And, make no mistake, with my past injuries...I am hyperaware of my body and I will respect any hints of pain or weakness! I'm not an idiot! However, when I got home, mapped my run and realized that I had come SO close to the length of a 5K, I got a little idea in my brain.
After two days of rest from running, I woke up bright and early at 6am this morning and hit the pavement. Oh man, you guys...I did NOT want to do this run!!! But I have promised myself health and so much more...and I WILL NOT break my promise.
So, are you ready for the two humongous breakthroughs???
1. I did a full 5K in one hour. And, the best part is...most of it was running! Just a few walking intervals. But running actually felt better than walking!
Are you understanding this? I am 238 lbs and, after two weeks of running, I ran 3.1 miles this morning...before most of my part of the world even got out of bed or went to work!
2. Perhaps more exciting for me was something else completely unexpected.
Somewhere in the middle of that run, my body slipped into its "perfect run". I have a hard time articulating this, but basically...I stopped overanalyzing, stopped thinking about pain, stopped trying so hard and relaxed and it was like my body took over and settled into what IT wanted to do. There's a certain pace, a certain set of the shoulders, a positioning of the legs, a certain pattern of breathing that is just natural and calm and it drives you forward effortlessly. It's like finally getting into a groove that doesn't involve struggle. This is what keeps a runner going through the long races. And, truthfully...when I hit that place, it really WAS more comfortable running than walking. When I realized this had happened, I was just bursting with joy.
For the last quarter mile, I sobbed. With joy...with pride...with sadness. So many emotions just flooded from my heart.
I can't believe I did it.
I didn't know I had this in me.
I wish I could tell Aunt Lois. She'd be so proud! (grief)
I'm so thankful for all my fitness inspirations.
I did this myself, yet I rode on the backs of so many amazing people...thinking of them really got me through this run.
I love myself.
I feel like I'm flying.
I can do anything!
I feel beautiful.
I can do anything...and I can do it RIGHT NOW...at this weight.
Exercise Excuse #3: I'm Too Heavy To Work Out - SHATTERED!
UPDATE: If you enjoyed this blog about the "rewards" of running, I encourage you to read my next entry, which takes a little more detailed look at the risks. As in life, balance is a great thing and keeps us healthy. Spark on, friends!!!!
Thursday, May 10, 2012
For the second installment of this series, I thought I'd focus on another excuse that I used to offer quite frequently for why I didn't like to work out.
EXERCISE EXCUSE #2: I can't afford a gym membership.
Nice try. This one is nothing but a pure excuse for avoidance of activity. But, man, I used it ALL THE TIME.
So, I live in Indiana...the weather here is such that I once used as space heater in my office in the morning and a fan in the afternoon. And this is typical for our fairer seasons like Spring and Fall. The extreme seasons are extreme - winter is freezing and summer is ridiculous with its heat and humidity.
My excuse train went something like this...
JAN: I can't exercise outside because it's freezing and it's icy. Don't forget ICE.
MAR: I can't exercise outside because it's so rainy.
JUL: I can't exercise oustide because it's hot. That humidity is dangerous!
JAN-DEC: Because I can't exercise outside, my only option is the gym and I CAN'T AFFORD A GYM MEMBERSHIP (and I don't have TIME - see Exercise Excuse #1).
The best/worst part about all these excuses is that you can use them all together at once and come up with what you think is a pretty convincing argument in your head against exercise.
For the past two weeks, I have not set foot in a gym and I have not once paid to exercise. But I have exercised more than I've ever exercised in my adult life. Come on, you've seen all the lists....they are plentiful here on SparkPeople. I don't need to tell you that all it takes to build fitness into your life is to MOVE YOUR BODY. But, in case you are looking for specific ideas, here are some things I've been doing:
1. SparkPeople Videos - My gosh, these are so easy to do! Not that the workout is easy...not at all. But they are only like 6-15 minutes long. It might be hard (pilates - argh!!!) but you can do ANYTHING for 10 minutes. YES YOU CAN! And, the great thing is, SparkPeople has over 40 videos! You can mix and match! Don't feel like working your legs today? No problem. There's an upper body workout...even a SEATED upper body workout. No excuses.
(OK, I lied...I did go and purchase a few items for working out at home...a resistance band, a jump rope and two 5 lb dumbbells. Total cost: $20. I hate spending money but I had to admit...$20 towards a strong, healthy, hot body...well, that could be worth it in the end! Sound invesment, friends!)
2. Going outside is nice. I like to run...which doesn't require a treadmill, by the way. You just find a place outside that is free and GO. And, as a side note, I purchased super fancy $75 Asics running shoes that SUCKED...only to buy a $9 pair of those large-soled walking shoes at Payless a few days later. These cheap shoes have been the best workout shoes I've ever used! I also ran in 90 degree heat last week...it was brutal, but I had prepared myself all day long by drinking water so that, by the time, I got out on the trail, I had about 100 oz of water in me. Despite the heat, I was glad I did the run.
And speaking of the magic of the outdoors, yesterday was a rest day from running for me, but I still went to take a 2.5 mile walk...not for exercise, but because it's beautiful and it smells nice and it makes my soul feel spectacular!
3. Jump Rope - This was a well-spent $4.88 at Target. And, my gosh, that was the TOUGHEST 10-minute workout I have done in the past 2 weeks!!! I was seriously feeling it yesterday!!!
4. And let's not forget all the things you can do...using only the weight from your own body. Listen...20 push-ups for me is pretty astounding if you think about the fact that I am pushing up a whole 200 and something something pounds! You think that's not gonna give you some sculpted arms?
There's so much more. But, the excuse that exercise needs to be done in a gym or that it needs to be expensive is DEBUNKED.
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