Friday, August 17, 2012
You know those days where you just can't think of a thing to blog? Yeah...this is NOT one of those days!
This day has just not stopped since I dragged myself out of bed at 6am. It was early and I was sleepy, not looking forward to driving to the YMCA and jumping into a cold pool to swim 22 lengths of the pool...but I did nothing physical yesterday at all, so I really wanted to get a workout in today. And, frankly, 7am is the only time I had available. I just could not let another day slip by where I would not be actively working toward my goals.
I am one of those people that HATES eating breakfast super early in the morning or right after I wake up. My body needs some time, you know? BUT...I was about to do some pretty heavy duty swimming (for me, still a beginner) so I knew I had to give my body some fuel to run on.
Thankfully, I have a whole BUNCH of THESE sitting in my pantry:
I've never tried these before, but MARATHONDAD kept INSISTING that I would love them. Our local grocery had them on sale for $1 and I literally bought every single package because that was such a great deal!
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Friends, I have found my racing fuel of choice.
They are DELICIOUS!!! And, here I am, thinking...WHY didn't I listen to MARTHONDAD in the first place??? Oy vey.
These little guys have caffeine in them too and, I'll tell you, I could feel the energy boost almost immediately after eating them. In addition, you are supposed to take them with water, so I got 16 oz. in my body before I even started my day. Not too shabby!
OK, so...the swim. This was my second time swimming and I really just wanted to focus on form and technique and, especially, on breathing. It was every bit as tough this time as last time...but I was analyzing things more as I went. I was surprised to realize that swimming is very much like running, in that it is a pretty tough mental game.
This is what happens to me: I start off going down the length of the pool feeling great...totally at ease and relaxed. I still haven't figured out a breathing pattern, so right around the end of the first length, I am starting to get winded. By the time I'm going back down the length, getting ready to finish my lap, my body is so much more tense and I would go so far as to say "flailing". After one lap, I must stop and breathe for at least 30 seconds before I can start another.
In my head, I know that the same is true of swimming as running: SLOW DOWN and RELAX. But...I have not been able to figure out how to make my body go a different speed. And, as I said, I am relaxed until the end of a lap. I believe this is 100% mental. Phsysically, my body should be able to continue. Gosh, isn't that just like running? Except scarier...because when you panic in water, you could drown.
Because of these issues, my tiny bite-sized goal for today was to swim 4 lengths (2 laps) non-stop. I was able to do that...twice...at the end of my swim. That made me feel proud. That pride will make me come back and try again.
Of course, swimming is also NOT the same as running. The biggest difference I've noticed is the delayed onset of exhaustion. When you are running, you feel tired as you run. In the pool, I don't feel particularly tired or sore or anything. I felt a *slight* burning in my arm muscles near the end...but it wasn't horrible. When I get out of the pool, there is a period of about 15 seconds where I feel AWESOME...but then at 20 seconds out, it is like exhaustion pounces on me like a panther. It's the most bizarre feeling I've ever felt. Luckily, it doesn't last long...but, my goodness, it takes a person by surprise! I'm used to feeling RADIANT after a run...not like I suddenly got run over by a truck. Haha.
I am learning so much about fueling my body...by how it feels. This morning, the Powergels were exactly what I needed to get my body going and fuel my swim. I did a sprint triathlon distance in 26 minutes. But, as soon as I was out of that pool and showered, I literally HAD to eat something...immediately. As in, I had not even gotten dressed but I was eating. Thank God I had brought graham crackers with peanut butter with me. I truly believe I could not have gone one more moment without fueling. That's just crazy. I really LOVE getting to know my body in this way.
After swimming, I booked on over to the physical therapist's office. New office. New therapist. This is the location with the water treadmill and pool therapy. Spent one hour with my P/T just going over everything that's ever happened to my body, moving my feet every way possible, walking so he could analyze my gait, etc. Of course, it was a WEALTH of knowledge...specifically about MY body. SO great to learn!
You know what my problem is??? I run differently on one foot than on the other. I suppose I always suspected this because I know I tend to baby my right ankle, whether it be intentional or not. But it is a marked difference. He said my right foot turns out a little and my left foot pronates. This is just awful for the rest of my body. He gave me a pretty motivational speech about how we are going to work on this in the pool, but when I get back on land, my complete and total focus needs to be on nothing but running evenly. My goodness, he's a great therapist. I know I've said it before, but I feel SO blessed to have such an excellent medical team on my side!
Of course, that comes with a price tag. They are pretty much my personal trainers/coaches right now. What would you expect to pay for that? If you said $250 per visit, you'd be correct. I balked at that amount at first, especially when I did some quick math and realized I'd be shelling out a cool $2,000 when all of this is said and done. How much is too much to invest in this half marathon/marathon/triathlon dream? When I really consider what I'm getting for my money, I can honestly say it's the first time I've ever seen a doctor bill that I felt was completely justified. And if you think that this could save me countless injuries and setbacks in the future, it is literally priceless therapy that I'm receiving right now. 14 doctor visits in a span of 8 weeks is a little crazy, but I'll tell you...it made me think long and hard about what I really want.
I want to be an athlete. I AM an athlete. And, more than that, I want to be healthy for life. There are going to be bumps in the road (many caused by my obesity), but I refuse to let obesity win. It has been winning for far too many years. I have wasted too many days, months, years of my life wishing I could do things that are beyond my reach. My appetite and declining health have controlled me for more time than I care to admit. It's time for me to rule my own body and make my own choices. How much work am I willing to put into this?
The answer: as much as it takes.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
So, remember my running buddy, Sarah, that I met out on the trail?
Here is yet another photo I stole from Sarah's FB page:
Yes, gentleman...she's available! Haha.
RECAP: Sarah and I passed each other on our regular morning runs almost every day. We would pass each other twice around the same spot on the trail every time. She had the sweetest smile and was so cheerful and always said, "Good morning!" I really wanted to know her story, so one day before my run, I penned a quick note and took it with me, hoping she would be out on the trail. Of course she was! So, as we got closer to passing each other, I yelled, "I have a note for you!" And I passed it to her. On the second pass, she introduced herself and said she'd e-mail me.
A couple weeks later, we had coffee for about half an hour, chatted about running and realized we were meant to be running buddies. We agreed to go on a short run together...an easy 5 miler. I had never run with a partner before. It was so much fun!
We decided, rather spontaneously, to do a long run together on a Saturday. 7 miles. That was awesome too! But, that was the fateful day of my ankle injury.
We had texted each other a couple times since then. She has been such a sweet, uplifting force for me through this time of injury and we have missed running together.
The other day, Sarah announced that she would join me for Deep Water Exercise. I was so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone.
And this is when it happened...
Try and put yourself in Sarah's shoes (probably Asics) for a second.
There's this girl that is close to your age that you keep seeing on the trail. One day this freak passes you a note...like it's high school or something. In the note, she calls you beautiful, but also makes sure you know that she isn't hitting on you. What a weirdo. But points for originality.
You meet her for coffee and it's fun! Yay! Instant friend!
You go running together once and decide it was worth it. Let's do it again!
Awww....friend is injured...no more running buddy for at least a month. Maybe it would be supportive and fun to go to deep water exercise with her.
Then, as you are struggling not to drown, she lays this one on you...
"So...do you wanna train for triathlons with me?"
Here's the best part, Sparkfriends. She thought for about, I don't know...one minute...and said, "OK, let's do it!"
So...here we are. Two virtual strangers checking out swim instructors/classes and planning to split the bill. Biking will be next, but we can only handle one or two things at a time, you know. (Oh, did I mention she also plays tennis?)
We must be nuts. Barely knowing each other and agreeing to forge into this completely unknown territory together. But, the thing is...we don't feel like strangers. It's AMAZING what can happen on a short 5-mile run. So much sharing...so much common ground discovered. And it really doesn't take long to know when someone is a kindred spirit, does it?
Anyway, it might be insane, but it's fun...so...it'll be worth it. And I think we will only love ourselves more as we move through the process.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
I had lunch with my boss this afternoon. As always, it was wonderful. I'm so blessed to have someone working above me that truly cares about my success in all areas - personal, family, career, running, everything.
Today, I was nervous. Because I knew there were issues that we needed to discuss where my performance on the job had not quite met her expectations. To be fair, she could have reamed me. But, she didn't. She was kind and understanding. Firm and clear about what needs to change (and she was 100% right), but never cruel or demeaning. I've never worked with a boss that handles situations like this so well. She's something else.
One thing we talked about was my professionalism. She is one of the most professional, confident women I've ever met. Watching her do her thing (which is, incidentally, "schmoozing" the big dogs at colleges and universities) is just fascinating. I asked her for tips on how to...well, be more like her. She said, "I know there is a deep confidence in you and I see it when we meet one on one. But, when we are in meetings and networking gatherings, you shrink back and I don't know why. You need to put your confidence out there and own it."
She's right, you know. I've talked about my insecurity in the professional realm in a previous blog. It is, by far, my biggest challenge at the moment. And it made me think...
Yeah...I DO have confidence inside. Remember my blog yesterday? I'm FIERCE. When it comes to my personal life, I really feel like I'm getting a handle on some things and that, naturally, brings confidence. But, when it comes to my outward persona with co-workers, it feels like a whole different story. And I wonder if it's related to my weight issues and the low self-esteem that comes along with them?
Here is a picture of me my junior year of high school:
I was not an athlete. I did not pay attention to my food and, frankly, I ate anything I wanted and ate a WHOLE lot of junk. It just didn't stick to me. I wasn't overweight until later on in college and, obviously, when I started to have kids. I wasn't one of those kids that was fat my entire life. Being overweight, and then obese, was completely unexpected. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined it would be possible for me to get to where I am now...over 200 lbs.
How did THAT girl become THIS?
Granted, that is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL photo of me and my son. But, you can see a difference from what I used to be.
Back when I looked like the girl in the first pic, my Mom (a tiny, 5 ft tall 100 lb Korean woman) said to me one day, "Leah, never ever get fat and frumpy. No man wants a frumpy wife. He will say he loves you no matter what, but on the inside, he'll be disappointed and he won't find you attractive."
WOW. Can you say ISSUES??? Yeah...you can BET that has caused some DEEP problems in my marriage.
So, this skinny girl goes to college and goes nuts with food and never exercises and gains 20 lbs. She comes home from college and her Mom says, "You are getting so fat. Be careful because....no man wants a fat, frumpy wife." Thanks for reinforcing that message, Mom. Especially since it hadn't already scarred me the first time!
Once in college, when I had gained 20 lbs (to bring me up to a total weight of 140 lbs), I was freaking out about my weight gain and, naturally, crying to my boyfriend about it. He said, "Leah...this is ridiculous. You look fine. Think about this....how heavy do you think you're going to get?" In a burst of sobs, I wailed, "Probably (sniff, sniff) one..SIXTY! Waaaahhh!" Get this...he LAUGHED and said, "You're never gonna be 160!" OUCH.
Mmmmhmmm. Then, when this not-so-skinny girl was pregnant with #2, she called her Dad on the phone and told him that she had officially passed the 200-lb mark. Instead of telling his 8-months pregnant daughter that she could lose the weight after the baby was born, he basically went ballistic, shouting, "Oh my GOD! That is SOOOOOOOOOO heavy! OH MY GOD! TWO HUNDRED?!" Yeah...that didn't help the old confidence.
So...I can see where my confidence went bye bye a long time ago. I mean, if this is what my PARENTS see....people who are supposed to love me unconditionally...what do I expect pure strangers to see when they first meet me? And do you think I'm going to be great at walking up, making eye contact and confidently introducing myself? Nah.
This is not a whine-fest, though. Because I HAVE changed. I've long since dealt with my parental issues, so their negative messages do not cut nearly as deeply anymore. Of course the effect from those wounds lingers on, but now I am able to see clearly when this is happening and work to fix it. This is all a person with a wounded past can do...take it one day, one sitaution at a time. And, as time passes, it gets easier.
My entire life has changed over the past few months. It hasn't been just physical...it has been emotional and mental and spiritual. A complete overhaul. I have SO much more confidence than I had even back in February of this year. YOU are a part of that. You guys give me confidence every single day.
And that's what my boss, Jennifer, is talking about...she has seen this change in me. She knows that I possess it within. She is just asking me to show it to everyone else.
In the meantime, I am interested in faking it until I make it. So, if I have any seasoned professionals in the business world that read my blogs, help a girl out. Give me some BASIC tips on how to exude confidence in a networking setting.
For instance, Jennifer's idea was this: when I meet someone, give them the firm handshake, look them directly in the eye and say, "Hi so and so, my name is Leah Drichel and I am the Fiscal & Administrative Manager for the Kuali Foundation and I really wanted to meet you." Her tip was: imagine they really WANT to hear what you have to say. (Cuz...they actually probably DO! Haha).
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Monday, August 13, 2012
It occurred to me yesterday that, in a couple days, I will already be halfway through my time in the walking boot. Two weeks down and two to go. My ankle is feeling a lot better, but then again, I haven't tried to necessarily put any weight on it. Still...it's healing. And, no, I do not walk around my house with the boot on 24/7, so I do have *some* idea of how it's doing...it's not like it's a full cast where I'm losing muscle mass daily, etc. It just feels...normal. That's a good thing, I think.
What's interesting is that I really haven't had much time to fret over the healing of my ankle. Yeah, I freaked in the beginning. But my ortho couldn't have been more merciful in putting me in a walking, removable boot.
I've been doing literally every other form of exercise that is non-weight bearing that I possibly can. My arms are RIPPED, y'all! For now, elliptical and bike are still out...but I have become more familiar with water than I have in a long time.
To be honest, I sort of dreaded water workouts, because it just seemed like a huge pain in the neck to figure out a schedule, then DRIVE to a pool and get my workout in. To be sure, it is a little more complicated than walking out my front door and running for an hour...but, it's amazing how simple things become when you are fiercely determined to do them.
Before this injury, I wouldn't have even considered going to the faculty/staff deep water exercise classes that are held from 5:30pm-6:15pm every single day after work. Don't want to miss an extra hour with my kids!!! Guilt city there! But...as it turns out...my family understands my desperate need for a workout right now and they don't really care if I come home an hour later than usual. They know this makes me happy and better able to serve them.
Do you know how long my kettlebell sat in a corner after I bought it? But you better believe I dragged that sucker out and it has got some use this past two weeks...along with my resistance band and my 5 lbs hand weights.
Do you know how DIFFICULT it was for me to make good food choices before this injury? But, hell...when I begin to feel desperate and realize that this is the KEY to continuing to lose weight, even while injured, suddenly it doesn't seem AS hard to make healthy choices for myself.
And, lo and behold, the scale is finally honoring the combined effort of exercise and diet that I am all-out fighting for these days!
I thought I was dedicated before. I thought I had a great program before. I really thought I was making the right choices before. And I really was...up to a point.
But this little injury/setback has taught me that there was a lot more I could have been doing. I didn't even SEE it! I just couldn't understand why I wasn't losing weight!
Well, truth is...I hadn't truly decided to...I wasn't 110% all in. And I didn't even know that I wasn't all in. How's that for helpful? Lol.
There was an initial switch in my brain that flipped back in April when I began running. It was the switch to accepting and working towards a healthy lifestyle.
And then there was this most recent switch...as Emeril would say, we kicked it up a notch. This was the switch to making that healthy lifestyle happen. There's something fierce about this switch.
If there's another on the horizon....well, that's almost frightening.
What about you? Where are you in your journey of fitness and food? BE HONEST. You don't have to tell me, but for goodness sake, be honest with yourself.
Are you fierce?
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I know I do this every so often and I hope it doesn't bother anyone, but I haven't had much happen in the past few days, as I've been down with the stomach flu. I mean, I suppose I could share that with you...but something tells me it would be rather uncouth to do so.
Instead, I thought I'd point you to an inspiring blog that I recently read. It happens to be written by one of my favs, ON2VICTORY. You guys know he's my buddy and, well, his story is really the one that stood out to me and got me started on this journey.
He posted a fabulous blog last night and I thought you'd enjoy it too:
He's such a great writer and so excellent at expressing what so many of us feel about our own issues with obesity and losing weight.
I hope you enjoy it and send him some love.
P.S. He just LOVES emoticons. Especially the "Keep Pushing" one. It's his FAVORITE. You should definitely emotibomb him.
Heh heh heh.
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