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FEF Challenge: Spring Motivation Board

Friday, April 15, 2011

This week's challenge was to create a spring motivation board. We weren't allowed to create a virtual one, which is what I usually do, so it was really fun for me to get out the construction paper, scissors and glue stick. The board is something to inspire you to keep going when things get tough.

I have more than just one dream, like most of us here. Yes, we want to get fit, lose weight, and lead happy lives. That is Goal #1. For me it's a goal of mine to lose weight and become a normal weight so that I can be healthy for not only myself, but for my two girls and my husband, too. A big part of that goal for me is running. I have discovered that I love to run and it is great cardio, so it is a goal of mine to continue my mantra to "Run Strong".

Another goal of mine that some of you may know is to write a book (or two, or three). I have two first drafts of novels that are sitting in my drawer. I have a children's book all laid out and composed. I have at least ten great short stories that are doing - what? Nothing. I have discovered that I am afraid. I don't know exactly of what...failing? Success? But nonetheless, there is fear there. It is one of my goals to conquer that fear, toss procrastination and perfectionism out the window and just go for it.

So my collage combines some various elements. There is Faith in there, because for me that is my strength and the foundation on which everything else resides. There is running, because I AM a runner. There are quotes about strength and discovery. And there are quotes to inspire me to write.

My husband is a glass artist and I'm going to have him set my collage under class so that I can put it on the wall of my office at home to inspire me.

Here is my collage, and elements are described below. I took a picture of it, but also scanned it in. It was difficult to get the entire collage without losing some of the sharpness of it. But hopefully you get the idea.

Thanks for taking a look!

Left to right:


"One Inch at a time" - this is not only for my weight loss, which is slow, but for my writing and also for my running. I'm a slow runner, but inch by inch I will get there!

"Little by little deep inside us, the diamond shines, the eyes open, the dawn rises, we become what we already are." ~ Bo Lozoff. This quote inspires me because I feel that we all have the power inside of us, and we have had it all along. This is similar to the quote I posted last week on my spark page, that we are all athletes, just some of us are in training and some of us are not. I want to become everything that I can be.

"Add your own Scenery." A fun quote about the people, situations, etc, in your life, but also about having long fun runs outside to places I've never been.

"Today's the day. No more fooling around." enuf said.

"Run Strong" - my mantra I used in the 8K - I added stickers along the trail in the picture to show movement.

"Find your strong" - OMG I LOVE this! Had to cut it out of the magazine when I saw it.

"Of course I can do anything. I'm a mother." How true! And there's a picture of my beautiful dolls to cheer me on.

"Go Write Your Book." No explanation needed.

"They're just pieces of paper. Let GO." I need to remember this.

Heart with Christ inside and words coming out of it like love, peace, joy, faith, etc. I believe that all good things come from Him and if I am in Him I am all of these good things. I show that to the world and it's contagious, hopefully.

Bible at the bottom I put a sticker that says "Found" - I found myself in the bible. I found promises from God and have found my strength there. It is my goal to stitch His words on my heart so that they come naturally to me in all times.

Right picture - me when I was 5 yrs. old. framed. I want to embrace the inner child in me and remember to honor her always. "I'm a runner" is above it, then at the right is "Yoga. Love. Run. Peace" - this quote reminds me so much of my wonderful friend Blaize and I wanted to have a piece of her in my collage. "Be a hero" is at the bottom, reminding me to be a good role model to my girls, and also what my dad said to me after the shuffle.

At the very right of the page is a quote by Aristotle: "Well begun is half done." Meaning just start!

"You have to be willing to write badly." This got cut off on the bottom right.

Upper right - a picture of a woman running with wings on her shoes. I loved this image, it conveyed how I feel when I am running, like I am flying. There's a quote she's running on that says "When you're a vessel from God, you don't even need a boat!" Meaning that God makes a way when there is no way. If it's His plan he will pave the way for you.

On her shirt I put "Got faith?" and then "Running on Faith" over her. Above her it says "There is no place God cannot go."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Okay, I'll bite... what is FEF? ... and your collage is coolness..

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SYN-CA 4/16/2011 12:52PM

    Creative, just like YOU! You are an amazing woman, Kathy--realize your many gifts.... emoticon

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MOMFAN 4/15/2011 6:22PM

    "Continuous effort -- not strength or intelligence -- is the key to unlocking our potential."
- Liane Cardes

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KSGROTHE 4/15/2011 6:08PM

    This is emoticon! I still have to work on mine.

You rock! Keep up the good work!

- Karen

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THEADMIRAL 4/15/2011 4:59PM

    emoticon I LOVE it!

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TABIKATZZ 4/15/2011 3:17PM

    great collage!!! perfect!

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KITHKINCAID 4/15/2011 2:51PM

    This is really beautiful. I want to cut & paste now!

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SGTSUNNY 4/15/2011 2:22PM

    You have a gift that needs to be shared with the world! Go for it!
Great job again on the writing and visual!

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LMLOPEZ 4/15/2011 1:57PM

    Kathy, it's beautiful. Thank you for sharing and explaining it for us. What a motivational way to keep finding the strong!!

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TEMPEST272002 4/15/2011 1:44PM

    I love your motivation board. I especially like the idea of putting a picture of yourself as a child in there. You were quite the little sweetie & so like your own girls. I'm off for a walk, then sitting down to do mine this afternoon.

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AMBERLEIGHM1 4/15/2011 1:42PM

    I love your inspiration board, you did a great job explaining the meaning behind everything. I think I need to make one now and put one next to the treadmill. Faith carries me through everything so I really related to your board.

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KKINNEA 4/15/2011 11:24AM

    Sometimes my running feels like "One inch at a time" :) This is a great motivation board!

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    Oh my goodness, this is amazing!

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ZURDTA- 4/15/2011 11:15AM

    Lovely... just lovely!

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WOLFKITTY 4/15/2011 10:59AM

    Wow! Thank you for the explanation at the bottom, too. This feels like a really powerful vision collage!


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SMALLERMELORIE 4/15/2011 10:54AM

    Great Job Kathy

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GETNHEALTHY4ME 4/15/2011 10:50AM

    emoticon This looks great! I'm gonna have to work on mine over the weekend.. not a glue stick or magazine in sight in my house... *sigh*

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MESEATURTLE 4/15/2011 10:49AM

    Totally totally love it!!!!!!!!

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Shamrock Shuffle Race Report: One Day You Will Wake Up in Your Dream (pix)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Congratulations on your finish at the 2011 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k!

Reading those words in that email yesterday after running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was like waking up in my dream. Waking up to a life that was not my own previously. To understand you might need a little insight into my history with the Shamrock Shuffle.

My family has been walking and running the Shamrock shuffle the past five years. When we first started participating I could barely walk it. I was overweight. No, strike that. I was obese. I tipped the scales at 300 lbs. Then the next year I was pregnant. Then the following year I walked it and finished the race 20 minutes quicker than 2 years prior.

Last year they took away the walking category, but my sister signed my dad and I up (walkers are welcome, but you need to walk at a 15:00 min. pace, which is speed walking). We were both a little scared. I told him we could do it, and no matter how badly our race results might be, we were going to finish. As the race started, we almost got trampled. People on the bridge cheered us on, and he looked at me, winked and asked - Want to run just a little bit? Just for show? - And we ran. A few minutes later, I noticed my dad wasn't next to me anymore - I looked back at him in the sea of runners. He waved at me and said to go ahead. So I did. I couldn't stop. A mile later I finally slowed down. I felt bad I had left my dad behind. I called him on his cell phone and waited for him. I couldn't let him do it alone. We were the last people to finish the race. (We actually had the pace car following us and telling us to get off the street, and the person in front of us had one leg - no joke).

What happened after that race is nothing short of a miracle. I began to RUN. Finishing last and having the pace car following us and telling us to get off the street was humiliating. That does something to a person. Also, I LIKED running during that race, and felt the thrill. I wanted more of that.

So I began the Couch to 5k program and in 2010 after graduating from Couch to 5k I ran five 5ks.

Then I signed up for the Shuffle in 2011. I trained for it as I trained for my 5ks, adding a little time and miles on every training session. However, there was a point where I thought I wouldn't be able to do it. I think it was because I viewed the run as one big mountain to get up. I wasn't digesting it piece by piece. My friends reassured me that I could do it, and Jenn (KITHKINCAID) told me to just add a mile on at a time to my training. That gave me peace and reassured me that this was doable. My partner Blaize (DANCINGEARTHMOM) has been a constant support to me during my training, cheering me on my runs and having the faith that I could do it. Aundrea (OFFDREA) also has been cheering me on and virtually high fiving me on my runs too. My best friend Cheri had recently run an 8k and assured me that yes, the distance felt longer than a 5k, but that I could do it. And of course my sister Kris, who is a huge inspiration to me, has been patiently listening to my calls of uncertainty and pushing me on. She is pregnant this year so she wouldn't be able to run with me, but she assured me that I could do it. My sister Kara told me I could do it. My entire family knew I could. And all my Sunny Gals were behind me 100%.

So you could say that this race means a lot to me (ya think? LOL). I even painted my toes green in honor of the upcoming race.

That morning I prayed that God take any fear away from me and replace it with peace. I think starting off the day this way really helped me get into my mindset. The night before I created a playlist of songs so that each mile I knew where I was at just by my song list.

My dad picked me up at my house in the burbs and we drove out to the city. Traffic wasnt bad. We parked about a mile away from the event as we knew (from past years) that the parking lot would be jammed and take us an hour to get out of it. The walk to the race served as a great warm-up for me. It already felt warm outside, and it was going to get hotter. In past years it has snowed, rained or just been plain freezing out for this race, but this year it was going to be a record-setting heat. At 9 AM it was already 75 degrees out.

As I got into my start corral and was lined up waiting to run my nerves were jumping. The race said it had 40,000 participants.

The official race start time was 9 a.m., but I was in the last corral, so we didn't move until 9:50, so it was almost an hour of move up a little, wait. Move up a little, wait. My dad was so sweet and stayed with me near the fence so that I wasnt alone.

I know I am a 36 yr. old woman, but to have my dad do that it was just really touching. I had looked for Jenn (KITHKINCAID) as I knew we were in the same corral, but it was a mob of people and I couldnt find her. Later I found out that I was actually in the H corral, not the G, so I was in the last one. It wasn't marked very well. I contemplated whether I should visit the port-a-potty before the race, but I didn't want to have to jump over the fence or force it open to get back in as some people were doing, so I stayed put.

Starting Line - Source: Chicago Tribune

Then we were off! First song on my play list Airplanes B.O.B/Hayley Williams. I got motivated and inspired by the crowd. There were people up on the bridge cheering us on. I looked for my sisters, who I knew were going to be on the bridge, but didn't see them. I was going to wave anyway, but didn't, lol. It was amazing. Then through the tunnel and I knew there was no turning back.

Photo Source: Chicago Tribune

I paced myself and even though I had the urge to run faster I didnt my plan was to finish the race strong and run the second half faster than the first half. I didn't look at my watch, I felt like that might freak me out (and make the race seem longer) so I made a deal with myself -I could look at it at the mid-point of the race and that was it. So I kept running. I felt strong, but also the heat made my chest feel really constricted, which I am not used to.

Then we passed the first mile marker! It felt like a short amount of time. I didn't look at my watch at the time, but later reviewing my Garmin I ran that first mile at a 10:35 pace. I kept running. We went up a slight hill and I could see all the runners and it made me feel like a part of something larger than myself. I felt like I was living, and this is not something I would have planned or set out to do just one year ago. I have come so far.

Photo source: Chicago Tribune

Next onto Michigan Avenue. This race is cool because the city of Chicago shuts down certain streets that are normally very busy. Michigan Avenue being one of them, a prime shopping place for Chicagoeans and tourists. But today it was open and us runners owned that street! This was the first refreshment stop and I hadn't planned on stopping for Gatorade until the 2nd and final stop, but I thought with it being 75 degrees and feeling like every drop of it, I should hydrate. I slowed down to get my cup, drank it while fast walking and then threw the empty cup on the street. And I was off (again)!

Pedestrians waiting to cross the street. Source: Chicago Tribune

I looked to my left and saw my name on a sign, Go Kath, Go! Since it said Kath and not Kathy, I looked closer and saw it was my sister Kris and her boyfriend Ben! I was in the middle of the street so I tried running to the left to get their attention. I waved both hands in the air (look Ma, no hands!) but I didn't say anything. I'm not sure if I could speak at that time, lol, I was so excited and speechless I guess. They saw me and turned the sign around as they cheered. The other side of the sign read Run Your Irish Ass Off! OMG, this got me so motivated and I pushed further. I ran off and later my sister told me it looked like I wasn't ven sweating (ha!) and that it was easy for me. Whaat? LOL.

Photo taken after the race of the sign

Next came the 2nd mile mark. Almost halfway there. I kept running and my playlist pushed me further. Didn't peek at the watch. Jerk It by Thunderheist came on. (Pace 11:15)

The next mile went by slowly, but I was pacing myself and I mentally knew that I could do it. I just kept going and enjoyed the experience. At this point there were a lot of walkers so I had to maneuver around them but it was all going well. I started to get a side stitch, which I never do, but I slowed it a bit and it went away. Then the 3 mile mark came as well as the 5k mark. I looked at my watch then and I was doing pretty good time. My 5k time was 37:33, and my PR for a 5k is 36:01, so I wasn't doing too bad. (Pace 11:55)

The next mile is a bit of a blur. It didn't feel hard to me, but I was in the zone, so I don't remember much of it. Wolf Like Me came on by TVOTR. I did start to use my mantra here, I had set aside a few words to use when things got hard, and my mantra was Run Strong. A lot of my songs had that theme, too. Stronger by Kanye West was one of them. This one came on at this time and further engrained the mantra in my head.

Once I hit Mile 4 I pushed it. (Pace 13:45) I looked at my watch and knew that to finish anywhere near my goal of finishing in an hour I would have to push it, I would have to run a 10 minute mile. We ran for a bit, then turned the corner and came upon the HILL. My sister had warned me about this hill, that it would come right before the finish line. The perfect song came on, Move Along by the All American Rejects.

When all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through
Move along
Move along

Most people at this point were walking up the hill. It was a difficult hill, I don't blame them. But I had read a quote about hills in a running magazine. The quicker you get up them, the faster they are over with. I pushed it and ran strong up that hill, I wanted it BEHIND me. Then we turned the corner and I saw the finish line! It looked so far away though. It was at least 2 city blocks away. But I fast-forwarded my Shuffle to go to my ending song, Coming Home by Diddy/Dirty Money/Skylar Grey. It is so inspiring and I love the beginning with Skylar singing. My pace this last mile was 12:54, but when I pushed it to the finish my pace was 9:57.

Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they've forgiven my mistakes
Back where I belong, I never felt so strong
I feel like there's nothing that I can't try
and if you with me put your hands high
If you ever lost a light before, this ones for you
and you, the dreams are for you
I'm coming home

~ lyrics from Coming Home by Diddy/Dirty Money/Skylar Grey

As I crossed the finish line I reached both arms up into the air and formed Vs with my fingers for Victory! I had done it!!

Pictures of me nearing the finish line courtesy of Marathonfoto

My pacing throughout the race really paid off because I finished the race in just a minute over an hour, with my official time being 1:01:48.

But even better than the time is the tremendous amount of growth I've done in the past year. Last year I would not have been able to run the whole race, whether or not I stayed by my dad's side or not. I wasn't a runner then, but I feel I can call myself a runner now. And I love it. I've lost 85 lbs. and am closing in on my goal weight.

Comparison pictures from last year's shuffle compared to this year

My family @ the Shamrock Shuffle, 2007 (276 lb.) - 60 LBS HEAVIER

Me at my heaviest at the Shuffle, taken from a cell phone.

My family was there to cheer me on, after I crossed the finish line I saw my sister Kara, and then my Dad, as well as my sister Kris, Ben, and Kara's boyfriend Jan. I have the best family in the world, they all came out just to support me. Everyone gave me a hug, and my Dad told me I was a Hero, now how cool is that?

Next I called Jenn (KITHKINCAID) to see where she was at, and we planned on meeting at a nearby statue to get some photos taken.

Jenn looked AMAZING, and I also got to meet Holly (CHICAGOHEALTHY) and Glenn (GLENNYB).

As I was leaving I met another Sparkie but I don't recall her name.

My family and I also took some photos.

Then we went to Patricks for some beer and grub. I have a thing for breakfast burritos after a long run, so I ordered a breakfast burrito with chorizo yum! I only ate half of it though, and didn't touch the hashbrowns. The beer was the best I've ever tasted, but I always say that after the Shuffle.

When I got home my daughter Lucy, who had been sick, had made me a card and spelled out Congratulations. She was so excited for me, they had watched the news coverage of the Shuffle. She was so sweet and disappointed that she couldn't pick me out from the crowd. And despite being sick, she suggested we go out to eat to celebrate, and that just melted me.

After getting my gear off I took Lucy for a walk. I knew that the fresh air would do her good, and so we packed up the stroller and went out to the park. And despite the feeling I had when crossing the finish line, THIS had to be the best feeling of the day. It was 86 degrees outside, and after my longest race to date I didn't want to curl up on the couch... I wanted to be with my daughter and take her for a walk. I felt like a healthy mom!

THIS is why I do this. This was one of my goals this whole time - not a goal that you can set your watch by, or see your progress as it unfolds. Those are great goals, too. But no, this was more of a feeling. A feeling like I had made it. Like I was that healthy mom I saw in a Leslie Sansone blog and put into my scrapbook three years ago and knew I wanted to be, writing -This Will be Me Someday!

As we were leaving, I caught my reflection in the door and smiled. Yes, this was the woman and mother I had become. A healthy woman, wife, sister, friend, and most of all, MOM.

For anyone reading this that thinks you can't do it, YOU CAN. Just put one foot in front of the other. You will surprise yourself. I know I have.

God can do anything, you know -far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! ~ Ephesians 3:20

"Those words you sometimes hear?
"You're not worth fighting for?"
They're a lie. Nothing more.
You are loved.
You are worth fighting for.
So go into your day, strong friend, knowing that nothing can defeat you.
You've already won."

~ Holley Gerth, DaySpring Writer

P.S...Shamrock? I beat you.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEARTS4ME 4/15/2011 1:09PM

  I am so freaking excited for you! What a fantastic feeling it must be. Thank you SO much for sharing your experience with us!

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SUSIQZER 4/14/2011 2:11PM

    Awesome blog! What an amazing accomplishment!!

emoticon for posting your story!!!

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TABIKATZZ 4/14/2011 1:42PM

    wonderful blog!! Congrats! you inspire me and I hope to run with you one day!

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STIPER23 4/14/2011 12:12PM

    Great blog! My dad made me a sign for my first 5k race. It was great and I still have it!

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GYMRAT_AT44 4/14/2011 12:07PM

    Beautifully written. Enjoyed reading it. Congratulations on your accomplishment. I have a 10K to tackle in March 2012... I'll have to come back and read this again before that time.

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ALEXSMOMMYRUNS 4/14/2011 11:52AM

    This was a great blog, and I agree with K. My Dad's been an awesome cheerleader at my races and I'm 30! Awesome blog and story...great job!!!

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SHERLYN-WILL 4/14/2011 11:50AM

    YOU know what I love about you and your journey.. YOU KEEP PLUGGING ALONG... MAKING PROGRESS ALL THE TIME... improving you.. improving your health, and you just inspire so many people.. you will NEVER know just how many!

THANKS for sharing the wonderful pictures... you gorgeous lady!

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SKFEREBEE 4/14/2011 11:36AM

    Love this blog! When you talk about being a healthy mom it brought tears to my eyes. It's amazing what we can do if we just let ourselves. emoticon

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KKINNEA 4/14/2011 10:40AM

    You did fantastic! I don't think it's weird your dad was there - mine has come and stood on sidelines a couple of times too and I'm 35 :)

This race sounds like fun - I'll have to keep an eye out for it next year.

It sounds like you planned really well and executed that plan, based on all the details you included in your post. Congrats, fellow runner!

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SPEEDYDOG 4/14/2011 7:57AM

    Great blog and what a race! You have to be very proud of you effort.

Thanks, Bruce

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JOAN_HEO 4/14/2011 7:38AM

    Great blog! Huge congratulations on your run!! You rocked it!!!

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    Kathy, I want to thank you for sharing this journey with me. It was as if I was there. I am so proud of you for completing this race.

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TEDDYBEARGIRL 4/14/2011 12:12AM


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TEMPEST272002 4/13/2011 11:48PM

    You inspire me. You amaze me. You move me.

I'm just blown away by how far you have come. What a sense of accomplishment you must have felt to not only finish but have a great time as well. It was so great that your family was there to cheer you on at the end. Love the sign!

I loved seeing the pictures. What a crazy number of people to be racing with. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to stand in a crowd that size. Incredible experience. Thanks for much for sharing it with us.

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GOGOMAMA 4/13/2011 10:44PM

    Wow!!! Simply Amazing! I am in awe and inspired by your courage, attitude, joy, and drive!!! You must be so proud of your tremendous effort and huge accomplishment! Love it! emoticon

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KSGROTHE 4/13/2011 8:45PM

    emoticon on doing so well in the race! I love this blog!

Keep up the good work!

- Karen

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JENJESS48 4/13/2011 2:02PM

    emoticon You are so amazing, Kathy! "Congratulations" doesn't begin to cover it! emoticon

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OFFDREA 4/13/2011 1:32PM

    OMG Kathy you seriously rock. I am in tears reading this. I have felt so crappy the last few days and this blog has just washed that all away.
You are such an amazing woman and I am so proud of you!!!!!!!!!
I love all the pictures and you are so blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive family. You are so inspiring.
Tonight, when I do not want to go for my run I will think of you and that will be what gets my ass out the door.

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KATYMACK 4/13/2011 12:08PM

    What a great blog. You had me cheering you on. That is a fantastic time. Congratulations.

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CHICAT63 4/13/2011 9:13AM

    A truly inspiring, awesome, touching running blog!!!! Way to go, you rock Sista. You are to be very proud....love your song choices Skylar's song with Dr. Dre & Enimen: I need a Dr. gets me through hills too:).

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LOOZINITNOW 4/13/2011 7:29AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SLFRISBEY 4/13/2011 7:14AM

    Awesome, awesome report! I am so happy for you and proud of you! I love the quote at the end, it made me tear up when reading it... I am going to have to save that somewhere! GREAT JOB!!!!!!

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KARVY09 4/13/2011 6:04AM

    What an amazing race report! One of the best I've ever read! So proud of you and how you came back from last and persevered. Truly awesome.

So when's the 10K? ;)

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ZURDTA- 4/13/2011 4:42AM

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

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TODAYIAM 4/13/2011 1:29AM

    WOW Kathy!! Way to go!! You inspire me so much!! Thank YOU!!

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MOMFAN 4/13/2011 1:09AM


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KITHKINCAID 4/13/2011 12:20AM

    You beat it!!! I am SO PROUD of you for everything that you have accomplished. What an amazing race/day you had. So wonderful. I missed not getting to spend more time with you, but we will soon. It was so great that your family was there to support you through such a monumental milestone! And seriously - I agree with everyone else - doesn't even look like you were sweating. Easy peesy :)

And you and I were listening to Move Along at EXACTLY the same point in the race - hilarious. Ever since SLIMKATIE used it in her video it's been a huge push for me as well. It makes me think of Spark and all the people who are rooting for me - you included. Thank you so much for sharing some of your day with me as well - I'm so happy I could be a part of it with you!

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UNICORN212 4/13/2011 12:00AM

    Gee, I know I am hormonal, but your blog brought me to tears! Wonderful job!

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SGTSUNNY 4/12/2011 11:51PM

    What a great blog, you are such a gifted writer! And you are my hero too! Great time, good run, you did a wonderful thing running the 8K!

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STARLIGHT615 4/12/2011 11:35PM

    So proud of you!! Your pictures are amazing!!! Fantastic Job sweetei!! love ya!

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    so many awesome pictures! you should be so proud of yourself! i am!

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To All the Girls I've Loved Before - My Top Motivators

Saturday, April 02, 2011

It’s part of our challenge this week to name five people who motivate us. There are so many people here on Spark who motivate me, it was hard to choose 5, and in fact I’ve chosen a bit more than 5...but also there are different categories of people who inspire me. There are those who inspire me physically to push it, those who have lost a lot of weight or those who have challenged themselves and won.

There are also those who inspire me spiritually, and I’ve decided I will write a separate blog soon to honor those people.

But for this challenge here are my Top motivators, and I’ve also put their pictures in the Top 6 slots of my Spark Page so that I can see them on a daily basis and remember why I’m doing this, and they they did it, too. I picked more than 5, but with a community of such inspiring people it was impossible for me to pick just five.

KICKBXCHIC/STEMMEFATALE: My sister Kris. She is, and always has been, my number one supporter. She would find something nice to say about me when I was 120 lbs. overweight. She always made me feel strong, pretty, and like I could do it. I was one of those kids whose awkward stage lasted oh, about 10 yrs. I was overweight at an early age, starting in the 3rd grade, and she was always there for me to protect me, and to help me. I remember her trying to get me to run in the 8th grade. She would take me to a nearby park and we would run the track there. Well, she would run, I would make it about halfway around then quit. But she has been this constant force in my life. Recently she is the person who inspired me to run. She bought my entry to the Shamrock Shuffle last year and that race made me desire to be a runner. I remember after a particularly good run, you know, the kind where you realize just how far you’ve come and how you shouldn’t even be running this far in the first place, I called her up crying and said “Thank you for changing my life.” And she has. She will drop anything for me, and once I called her at 10 p.m. at night and begged her to run the Susan G. Komen 5k with me (it was the following morning), I was afraid to run it alone and she didn't even question it. She was there. She is my friend, sister and running partner. She ran beside me during my first 5k and stayed with me the whole time, even though she normally runs at a faster pace. And she also gave me the courage to run a 5k alone. She is an amazing woman. And she's my sister.

DANCINGEARTHMOM: Blaize, my partner and friend. I remember I met her on the Done Girls Team message board and I looked at her profile and saw she had run a half marathon and I was so impressed with her! She was recruiting girls for the Done Girls seasonal challenge at the time, and I responded to her post and posted on her spark page. She was one of those people that inspired me so much at first “glance”, that I added her as a Spark friend, and hoped she would friend me back. She not only did that, she introduced me to the Sunny Gals and made sure I was on her team - she said that I inspired HER! Imagine that! Her and the Sunny Gals are one of the best things that’s happened to me on this journey. Blaize is a strong woman, she is the epitome of get ‘er DONE! She is a single mom, engaged to her soul mate, she is working full time and going to graduate school. And did I mention she’s lost a ton of weight, run a half marathon and several 10 and 5ks? She works out on her lunch break so that she can have that time at night with her beautiful daughter, Azali. She makes time for the things that matter in her life, and she is deeply spiritual and feels connected to the universe and shows those around her how they can feel that way too, and make peace with their lives. This strong woman is as wise as Buddha and as fun as Marilyn Monroe must have been in her prime. And she makes time to lead the Sunny Gals and always has an encouraging word to say. She has picked me up more times than I can count, and has given me confidence in so many ways. I love this girl.

SUNNY GALS: I have said that this team is like meeting one of the Spark motivators, except they ALL are spark motivator material. It’s like having a group of cheerleaders cheer you on, pick you up, and give you a smack on the butt to get you in gear. These women are the most amazing women and they all have hearts that are bigger than any amount of weight they may need to lose, than any obstacles they may face. These ladies are givers and I count them among my blessings every single day. I don’t know what I would do without them.

KITHKINCAID: Jenn, my Chicago sparker and the first person I’ve met from Spark in the ‘real life”. She inspired me to try Zumba, a dance class I’ve never taken before, and in turn she said I inspired her to try Couch to 5k. She has lost over 85 lbs. and has excelled in everything she has tried. Running? She’s faster than me. Zumba? She is a pro on the floor. And now she’s trying Salsa. She has shown me that nothing is impossible, and that goals aren’t just dreams, they are things we can plan for and reach. She has insights that we can all relate to, and she shares her heart so openly here on Spark and it benefits us all. She is funny, hard working and is someone that I know will reach her goals - and then some.

KARVY09: Christina is leader of the Couch to 5k Team which is the team I turned to when I knew I wanted to run. She is so supportive and cheered me on during my training. She gave me the courage to START running weighing 276 - she herself began running at 275. Since then she has run six 5k - 7k races, 2 10k races and, in her words, “A KILLER HALF MARATHON!!!” She has lost 110 lbs. and is also blogging about her experiences in a blog at www.chunkyrunner.com. She has shown all of us “fluffy” runners that yes, we can indeed RUN.

CAROLYN1213: Carolyn went from 267.5 lbs. to 180 lbs. in a years time. In her words she said she “went from feeling hopeless and disparate to feeling hopeful and confident. From size 22 pants to a lose size 14 in a year!” Carolyn teaches us all about clean eating and the importance of strength training. She shares everything she has learned in her blogs and writings. She has shown me that it is not too late to tone up, and that all things are possible. She has a strong faith and also embraces being a woman and taking charge of our lives and strength. She is, in a word, AMAZING.

TEMPEST272002: She has lost 51 lbs and says she’s fallen in love with running and snowshoeing. She is also training for her first triathlon. She has shown me that it is possible to run, to open ourselves up to new worlds and therein lies the discovery of our true selves. She is honest with how difficult it can be at times, and also helps lift those up when they need it. She is a talented photographer and a wonderful wife. She is creative and led a challenge over Halloween that inspired ME to get into a Marilyn Monroe costume. She is an inspiration.

MOMFAN: Leona has lost 100 lbs. and has shown me that it’s consistency and hard work that gets you there. She is very strong in her faith and she leads the team Christians with 100 lbs. to Lose and helps us all to aspire what we dream to be. She taught me that it’s never too late for a new beginning, and that we are all beautiful creatures. I remember when I first joined her team I spark mailed her, asking what her secret was. I wanted her to tell me exactly what she was doing, so that I could follow her plan like a blueprint. She told me that I would find my own way, as she did. She gave me some helpful hints, but it was not a “do this, don’t do that” sort of thing that I wanted. She taught me that this is truly a lifestyle change, and no set of rules can get us to where we want to be and stay there.

To all of these beautiful ladies, I applaud you. Know that I visit your pages often and find much inspiration there. For those that may not know these ladies please visit their spark pages. I just know you’ll find inspiration there too.

God bless,


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CARILOUIE 4/8/2011 5:26AM

    This is beautiful!

Have a super weekend.

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WCATAP 4/5/2011 7:31AM

    This is a wonderful blog!

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FREES1 4/4/2011 9:31AM

    its marvelous that you have all of this support and more! Keep going as you have!

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TEMPEST272002 4/3/2011 9:31AM

    Wow - I'm really honoured and moved to be on your list, especially in the company of such amazing women. Carolyn1213 was the first sparker who just blew me away with her attitude & she is the one who inspired me to try running. You, my dear friend, continue to motivate ME with your humour, passion, generous spirit and deterimination. I always enjoy reading your blogs & find inspiration here. I'm thinking about becoming a Done Girl... all the coolest sparkers seem to be on that team... and you have the best challenges too.

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KITHKINCAID 4/2/2011 10:02PM

    Now I want to do this too! You know you're totally on my list! Thank you so much for all the beautiful things you said about me. I love you friend!!! I can't wait to see you next weekend. We gots an updated pic to be takin' with our skinny behinds!!

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ANNEKATHLEEN 4/2/2011 9:31PM

    I love how you put pictures in your list! That is AWESOME! So glad to know you!

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REENSKI 4/2/2011 4:37PM

    Awesome Inspirations!

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YATMAMA 4/2/2011 4:19PM

    God is so faithful to place those of His choosing in our lives, for His purposes. What a great challenge!

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AMBERLEIGHM1 4/2/2011 3:14PM

    Thank you for sharing such inspirational women with us. Your friendships and triumphs are so motivating and inspiring. I love reading blogs on here and really appreciate you pointing out some I haven't been fortunate enough to come across.

Peace and Blessings,
Amber, Adam's Mommy Forever

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TRAVELGRRL 4/2/2011 2:28PM

    Thank you for your blog today; it totally illustrates that there is STRENGTH IN NUMBERS! We are not competitors with each other; we can root each other on and ALL be winners.

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KARVY09 4/2/2011 2:20PM

    Wow, thank you so much! I'm in great company. A lot of these girls motivate me every single day... including YOU!

Love ya, and have a great race!

(PS- Would you believe there's already a blog called Running While Chunky? I had to name mine chunkyrunner.com!)

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    darn you Kathy! I am a crying fool over here! Your words touched me so incredibly much!! Do you know how much I love and adore you? Do you REALLY?! I mean, you are incredible!!! God, the universe...whomever we believe in definitely helped us meet for a reason! We are soul sisters...and you are one of my best friends. You are one of the most amazing women that I have ever "met" and I am truly blessed to have you in my life. SNIFF sniff.....now I need to go blow my nose! hehe. Gosh I love you....I'm saving this......when I have a bad day I'm reading it.....you have touched my spirit!

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GRACEISENUF 4/2/2011 2:02PM

    emoticon emoticon KARVY09 is my girl too. Since I first came to SP she has been such an inspiration to me.

What a great tribute to your SP friends Kathy!

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Finding Beauty through Despair

Friday, April 01, 2011

I had a very bad day today. It started with work, where I was expected to video edit, which is something I have never done. But, we wanted to save the money to hire somebody, and I can usually figure things out. So that turned into two days of me trying to do the equivalent of fitting a square puzzle piece into a round hole. I worked through lunch today, cancelling plans with my sister, and also ended up working three hours past closing. And it's still not done, I know I have that to face Monday morning. I am not proud of the meltdown I had in the bathroom, crying my eyes out because I hate to fail, hated to possibly tell my boss, the President of the company, that I just couldn't do it.

As if work weren't enough, I am also over-committing myself in other areas of my life. I love my church but it's a small church, and not many people to help for certain things, like say, a ladies' tea to be held Mother's Day weekend. The Deaconess asked me in an email last September, if I could help with a tea. In the past I've helped with graphic design projects - creating posters, flyers, sign up sheets, things like that. I'm good at that. I like doing that, and I like helping people. I'm a "yes" person, which I am learning is not so good of a thing. In fact, it could be my worst characteristic. So, this innocent little "project" I am working on turns into a full blown tea. And I'm one of two people coordinating it. I don't enjoy it. And I've told the Deaconness I hated it, I would have never said yes had I known what was involved, blah, blah, blah. But yet. I am still DOING it. And I don't have the time.

Where is my family in all of this?

My husband.

My two daughters.

Come to think of it, where am I?

Better yet...

....where is God?

Had I asked him if it was a good idea to add tea hostessing/planning skills to my resume?

Had I asked my husband?

Did I ask myself?


And at work I take on unrealistic projects . The marketing guy was wise enough to tell my boss that HE couldn't edit the videos he wanted for his speech next week. But me? Oh, I'll take it on. I'll figure it out. I'll make it work while my family is at home, waiting for me, waiting to eat dinner while it gets cold on the table. I'll make it work.

Well, this isn't working anymore.

I need to claim back my time, my self, my spirituality.

I feel that amidst all of this MESS I am missing God's plan for me. Missing it by a mile.

Earlier today when I had my meltdown, I called my husband from my headset (always attached to my head) in the bathroom. I could barely talk through my sobs. I reached my limit. It was all too much, my work life and my church life colliding together and I was so overwhelmed I felt like I was drowning. I couldn't breathe. He listened to me and didn't say much. We hung up and I continued to try to make it work, at work.

I got home hours later and after we put the kids to bed he told me that he felt God in his life today, that he felt something spiritual touch him. Now my husband does not go to church with me, but believes in God, still for him to say that something spiritual touched him, that is a huge thing. A big thing. I listened.

He said that after he got off the phone with me he felt so bad for me and didn't know how he could help. He went to the window at that moment, and what was a rainy Chicago day turned into a snowy day. Right before his eyes the rain turned into big, fat 2-inch snowflakes. He said it was amazing to see. And he thought to himself that while I was at work, miserable, that there was something much more beautiful out there. God was at work in those snowflakes, creating each one different, and even though I was at work at couldn't SEE it, it was still happening. It was beautiful and amazing and it was something that I couldn't see or touch at the time, but it was there.

Sort of like faith, I thought, when he told me this. Sort of like the promises in the Bible. It reminded me that even through the tough times, God is there for me, waiting for me to call out to Him. And He is always there.

I am going to make some changes...I know that I was not put on this earth to be miserable. I am going to start putting more boundaries around myself, and my family...I am going to take some things away from my life that I don't need, and it may disappoint some people, but it is what I have to do.

If you've made it this far, thanks for listening.

From the fullness of His grace we have all
received one blessing after another.
John 1:16 NIV

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKFEREBEE 4/14/2011 11:42AM

    If you say No to others, sometimes you are saying Yes to yourself and your family.

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FREES1 4/13/2011 10:55AM

    congratulations!!! you'll be unstoppable now!!
and what a great photo of you running with "proof" lettered across it!

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GOGOMAMA 4/12/2011 9:58PM

    Beautiful blog! Hugs and faith!

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KITHKINCAID 4/2/2011 10:05PM

    I'm so sorry you have been having a rough time of it lately. Definitely sounds like you're taking on too much and you need to re-connect with YOU and your faith and your family. Just remember - no one will hold it against you for not taking on a huge project. They'll just go and ask the next person. Unless that thing is SPECIFICALLY written into your job description, then it's not your responsibility to take on. And no one will hold a grudge with you for that. If they do - then they're not a person that you want to associate with anyway.

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GRACEISENUF 4/2/2011 2:11PM

    I could have written this blog awhile back...SERIOUSLY. A few years back I went to a small church and the same type of thing would happen ALL the time . Hey I realize that churches come in all sizes but the fact still remains that in a small church you have a few people who seem to pull the entire "load" for everybody else. It can be very tiring. Fast forward I really did have to just say "No". I was the type of person that was a "people pleaser" and felt it was my "godly" duty to do whatever another Christian asked. Not so much anymore :).

It is so freeing to say yes when your heart is in it and to say no when it isn't. Most of all I remind myself ...there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Sometimes I place stuff on myself that HE never intended for me to carry.

Hoping you have a wonderful weekend.

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AMBERLEIGHM1 4/2/2011 1:12PM

    I'm so glad you were open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and realized that you needed to change some things in your life; it is easy to get distracted and it happens to all of us at times. When your life is balanced you enjoy every day things so much better.

I will keep you in my prayers as you go through these changes and grow, I'm so proud of you. You are blessed to be loved and it is wonderful that your husband cared enough to absorb and savor that moment so he could share it with you later. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Have a Blessed day,

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STARPESCADO 4/2/2011 12:11PM

    This is great. I am so happy that you have made that decision for yourself!

Your Hubby sounds sweet, too! : )

Good luck with everything and I wish you only the best!

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    OOoh sweetie. You are amazing. We all reach our limit sometimes. I think that you reached that point and now you are ok with relaxing for a little bit....it's hard to cut some things out and admit it's too much....but you feel better...I can tell! I love yoU!

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OFFDREA 4/2/2011 11:34AM


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PRESBESS 4/2/2011 10:30AM

    Yes, I read every word! I, myself, have been busy, busy, busy running around with my family for the last couple of days and have not stopped for one minute until now. Reading your blog helped me in my moment of "what in the heck is happening" as I think about my somewhat chaotic world right now. We can surely get ourselves in a bunch sometimes but we are sooo blessed to have a loving God gently reminding us of His peace and love and also that He is a God of order! HE cares for you Lotusflower!

Enjoy your day "your" way and keep Sparkin'

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    Kathy, you are so hard working and sweet. I understand the problem of always saying "Yes". You are a good person and you will get through this. You are only given the things that you can handle and you can do this.

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CARILOUIE 4/2/2011 7:48AM

    How beautiful this is!

I know that your faith will carry you through... sending hugs and prayers.

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YATMAMA 4/2/2011 12:55AM

    Oh, honey. *hugs* Such is the plight of a talented woman with a big heart. I pray God will teach you the difference between a GOOD thing and a GOD thing. You see, He gives us the grace, the gifts, the resources to accomplish all He's called us to do. It's when we take on more than He's called us to do that we get overwhelmed and stressed. It's unhealthy for us and it robs the person who should be doing some of the projects or tasks of their blessing, as well, because we're doing their work. I rejoice over your husband's revelation today, for the presence of the Holy Spirit right there with him. God is SO good!! You'll balance it all out. I have faith in your ability to seek and find God in the midst of it all. *hugs* and love to you, precious one!

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WOLFKITTY 4/2/2011 12:53AM

    Good for you!
Stay strong,

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TEMPEST272002 4/2/2011 12:05AM

    I was really moved by your blog today. It takes such courage to face where we are going wrong. Your husband's revelation was so beautiful. His tender, caring love for you - that really moved me too. Those are the moments in marriage when you realize the true gift you have in your spouse.

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SGTSUNNY 4/2/2011 12:04AM

    Hugs! You are handling so much, remember to find some time for yourself this weekend!

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SHERLYN-WILL 4/1/2011 11:52PM

    OH.. thank you I needed this so much! IT just gives me goosebumps that your husb. shared this with you! WOW... God is so good! Then you were able to use it even again and apply it and see God's intention for you...with what your husband saw today! I love that!

THANKS for sharing!!!

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SWELL10 4/1/2011 11:02PM

    What a beautiful revelation your husband had. Isn't it amazing that the God who created the universe would care enough about us to remind us that He does beautiful things in our lives. Let Him!

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SWELL10 4/1/2011 11:01PM

    What a beautiful revelation your husband had. Isn't it amazing that the God who created the universe would care enough about us to remind us that He does beautiful things in our lives. Let Him!

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PICKLEDGINGER2 4/1/2011 10:56PM

  Bless you. Take good care of yourself.

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Sometimes a pound is enough.

Friday, April 01, 2011

March Progress Report:

Start weight: 214
End weight: 213
Weight lost: 1 lbs.
Total weight lost this year: 12.5 lbs.
Goal weight progress: 33 more lbs. to go to goal weight!
Onederland progress: 14 more lbs. to reach ONEderland!
Total weight lost: 85 lbs.
Total fitness minutes: 924

My goal was to lose 4 lbs. this month. I didn’t reach that (again). I only lost 1 lb., but I’ll take it. My body likes to go into a weird sort of, I won’t call it starvation mode, but I will call it a “cling to my fat like it’s the end of the world” mode when I am training for a race. But that’s ok. I know that it’s when the road is rough that real growth happens. I am going to stick to my new lifestyle, which I love, there is no turning back, and just keep living, running and aiming to be happy and balanced. Sometimes, it’s not all about the scale. Sometimes it’s about the lives that we create for ourselves, one day, one moment, one experience at a time.

I’ve been running 3x a week to train for my upcoming 8k. I’ve eaten well, excluding the weekends, and yes, there is room for improvement with nutrition. I could get more freggies and fiber in. Last month I noticed that I needed to get more workouts in, and I definitely did that.

My goal this month is to lose 4lbs, bringing me to 209. My goal this FEF challenge is to get into ONEderland and lost a total of 14 lbs. I think I can do it, I lost 12.5 last challenge. I have an amazing partner and team behind me, anything is possible!


I beat my own pace. I have been keeping a running log in this round of training, and my starting pace was an average of 15:00 miles per minute. Some days it was higher, some days less, but that was the average. In a month I’ve shaved almost 3 minutes off of my time, with a pace of 12:00 per minute as an average and the other day I had a 3 mile run where my average pace over the duration of that run was 11:13! For those of you new to running, I highly recommend keeping a log, it is so inspiring to look back and see how far you have come.

In my 8k training I’ve ran that distance 2x already now.

I was telling my brother in law about a house I saw for sale and he asked where and when I told him he was like "What were you doing out that far from your house?"

Me - in the words of Forrest Gump - I was RUNNING :)

And I saw a fit runner coming from that direction and she nodded and waved to me as if I was part of the club. I remember seeing people run outside and thinking how great that was, but that I would never get there or even want to do that. But here I am! It's really unbelievable to me sometimes. There's a great park by me that's about a mile away and I always drive there and never thought I could even walk there. On Saturday I ran PAST that park!


What did you do this week to go above and beyond?

I went for a run even though I was SO tired and didn't want to go.

I went for a run at lunch although my day was stressful and busy.

I got up early to workout.


List your non-scale victories here.

I am now the weight I was when I got married!!!!!! I haven’t weighed this in 10 yrs. at least.

I can now cross my legs and oddly enough, find myself doing so often and it’s actually comfortable!

I bought a French silk blizzard but only had a few spoonfuls, then put it in the freezer.

I got my hubby to actually run for a few minutes!

My childhood crush told me on FB that he should've went for me when he had the chance!

I've had several other people on FB tell me how skinny/pretty I am – I am not used to that. No, I'm not vain, but it is nice to hear sometimes. (I'm not used to it, but it could grow on me).

A shirt that the button used to pop open now is very loose on me.

My hoodie from the Hot Chocolate race now fits me and I wore it in public!

I can now stretch my legs behind me while standing up and hold my ankles, I could never do that before!

I now LOVE stretching and Yoga!

Men are actually holding doors open for me and being much more polite than they used to be. I feel like a star or something. Wow, this is what “normal” feels like.


You are only in competition with yourself to get to that next goal, milestone and the victory you will find there is much more satisfying than anything else.

Stress can and will hold onto the weight.

Sometimes you will only lose 1 lb. in a month. That doesn’t take away all of the hard work you’ve done.

Strength training is essential.

Sometimes, a pound is enough.


Total loss: 12.5 lbs.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JENJESS48 4/3/2011 6:03PM

    Being considered "normal" is a real shock, isn't it? Like when men open doors for you or sales girls at regular clothes stores greet you in a friendly way and offer to help you find something specific - like you belong there. But having a fit runner recognize you as one of the club is absolutely fantastic - you're better than normal, you're AN ATHLETE!!! emoticon You go, girl!

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REENSKI 4/2/2011 3:06PM

    Congratulations on your accomplishments-you look awesome!

& Thanks for the inspiration


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OLANDAVE777 4/2/2011 2:57PM

    Loved your post! You are doing an amazing job! You look fantastic!!!!!

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AMBERLEIGHM1 4/2/2011 1:00PM

    Congratulations on all of your accomplishments and recognizing how far you have come, that is wonderful.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, you are very inspiring. I just started to run intervals and can't wait until I can run my first mile.

I'm looking forward to watching you reach your goals, you have so many good things ahead.

May the peace of Jesus be with you always,

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PHYSEDTEACHER 4/2/2011 12:40PM

    WOW...pics are great! Keep up the good work!

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    Awesome blog post!!!

emoticon on improving your running pace, what a VICTORY!!!

emoticon on your non scale VICTORIES!

The scale has not moved much for me in over 6 weeks, but like you know perseverance will make that needle move eventually and there are so many other victories along the way.

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MESEATURTLE 4/2/2011 7:54AM

    u look great!!!!!!
A pound is a pound is good to loose!!!!!!!

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STARFIRE125 4/1/2011 10:49PM

    You are doing an awesome job! And I will take a pound lost any day! emoticon

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TEMPEST272002 4/1/2011 10:38PM

    Wow, you have come so far in the time I've been following your blog. You ARE a runner! 8K's - I'm impressed. emoticon Thanks for sharing your nonscale victories. Eat your heart out ex-BF! I love crossing my legs now too. Strange pleasure... but it's the first time I've been able to do it in... well, 20+ years anyhow. Loving the pics - I can especially see the difference in your midsection... and I LOVE your big smile!

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GRACEISENUF 4/1/2011 8:47PM

    Hey a pound is a pound ia a pound...I'll take it any month!


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UMUCGRAD 4/1/2011 8:46PM

    Great perspective! Yes, a pound is a pound. Celebrate your MANY accomplishments. Keep up the great work because you are an inspiration.

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KSGROTHE 4/1/2011 8:07PM

    emoticon on all your successes in March and on your overall success in the PUSH Challenge! I can really see a difference in your after photos!
Keep up the good work! emoticon

- Karen

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ANNEKATHLEEN 4/1/2011 7:49PM

    So inspirational! You are so amazing. I can feel your joy, happiness, and victories just by reading this awesome blog.

It's weird when men start opening doors for you, huh? I thought that was just a common courtesy that people did, but then I realized after losing weight that it happens a lot more often than it used to. Sad, but true! Keep up the great work! You look GREAT!

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