Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Self

I like to read other blogs for many different reasons.  First, as a writer I think it's important to see what others are writing about and how they are writing it.  While the bulk of my favorites are, of course, about weight loss/healthy eating/running/etc  I also love fashion blogs, cooking blogs, parenting blogs and anything to do with Charlottesville.  Secondly, I find a lot of inspiration in reading others stories.  Whether it be about an amazing run they had last week, hurdles they're currently encountering or conquering a few more pounds on the scale, it's therapeutic to realize that your struggles are not necessarily unique.

Yesterday I came across a post from one of the blogs I try to keep up with called Running Through Life.  The post was entitled "Dear Self: Just Go".  It was the exact the words I've been saying to myself for the past few weeks (though much more eloquently stated than what I say to myself) as I've struggled to get back into my training plan.  It reminded me that I'm not that different from so many people out there, working to keep their lives/journeys/health/goals on track. And though it is indeed, work, it's my work to do.  

My favorite lines from the post read:

"You are back in power. You are in control. Just do it.....
The gym in calling your name. Answer it."

I like to think sometimes that there are forces out there plotting against me (like the universe was yesterday) but what it comes down to is that it is up to me and only me.  I have the power to make changes.  I am in control of what happens.  I just have to do it!

Do you have favorite blogs or inspirational writing that you read to help keep you motivated?  I'd love to hear about them. 

Some Days Suck

Ever have one of those days when you felt like the universe was out to get you?  That was yesterday.

It all started around 12:30am. After getting my first full night's rest in over 4 weeks on Sunday I laid down optimistically at 10:30pm. Could it really happen two nights in a row? I fell asleep rather quickly but, unfortunately the night was over almost before it started.  I awoke around 12:30 and, despite my many valiant efforts to fall back asleep (more pillows, less pillows, no pillows; side, back, stomach; couch, guest bed, Moe's bed; warm chocolate milk and Girl Scout cookies...) it never happened.  Or at least not until 7:15am when the girls marched out the door for the bus stop.

A two-hour nap is generally not a good way to start your day. You obviously don't get anything done during that time (besides some much needed rest, I guess) so you literally start your day two hours behind. You spend the rest of the day attempting to catch up, knowing it's not possible. Today I'm convinced that moving backwards would've gotten me further than whatever I was doing.

After accidentally dumping out a fresh pot of coffee, hitting multiple dead ends at work, and realizing we were out of laundry detergent on laundry day I gave in to the sad eyes Scout was giving me and leashed him up for a run.  I really needed to start checking things off the day's "To Do" list, but seriously, how could anyone resist those eyes?

It was another beautiful, unseasonably warm February morning in Charlottesvile so once we were out and about I felt great.  This ended abruptly at mile two, however, when out of nowhere two large, unleashed dogs came barreling toward us.  Scout immediately went on the defensive setting the larger of the two - a beautiful pit bull mix -  into attack mode.  Suddenly I found myself reaching between two fighting dogs to pull Scout out of the teeth of the other and up into my arms.  The other dog continued to jump on me and nip at Scout for a few minutes while I attempted to call out commands to him like "Sit!" and "Stay!" in hopes that he would comply and let us sneak away.  That didn't work, but fortunately a woman with a dog came walking toward us and offered to help.  Upon her arrival the pit bull settled down and walked toward her with his tail wagging. I reluctantly set Scout down and the two proceeded to sniff each other like dogs do and apparently come to some kind of truce, ending the fight as quickly as it started.  

Scout and I are both okay, by the way, and I don't blame the other dog for what happened.  He was just a dog doing what his instincts prompted him to do.  We called the phone number on the dogs' tags but there was no answer so upon my return home I called Animal Control. These dogs had been spotted running around the neighborhood over the weekend so I feared they were very lost and hungry - and knew they were not safe running on their own.  Animal Control works with the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA (CASPCA) to return dogs to their owners in these situations, so don't worry, they are being well taken care of.

This ordeal ended my first effort to today but it didn't stop me completely. With the race drawing near I knew I'd have to make a second attempt.  Sparked by my recent run on the Saunders Trail I decided to switch things up again.  I parked the car about a mile from one of the Rivanna Trail trailheads near our house and headed down the road for what I thought would be a fun, easy trail run.

In hindsight it may have been a good idea to check out the trail prior to running it. But, like they say, "hindsight is 20/20".  Unfortunately, I'm blind as a bat.  

The first mile on the road felt great.  The beginning of the trail was even better. But after less than 5 minutes the nice, even path became extremely rocky and uneven, making navigating it while running quite difficult.  Though my pace was somewhat slower than I had hoped I kept on going until something even worse happened.  The trail suddenly ended and I found myself face to face with an enormous, never-ending, steep sloping street. My nemesis had found me once again!

I won't lie - I ended up walking a fair portion of it, but at least I kept on going. When the GPS showed 2 miles, however, I abruptly turned around for the glorious gift you receive after climbing a mountain - the downhill.  Once again I found I quite enjoy running down hill, rocking it at a little under 8.5mph and was back at the trail before I knew it.  

I knew from the first half of my run that the trail, though somewhat difficult to navigate, would offer me no further surprises.  Or so I thought.  Within a mere minute after a woman walking the opposite way said, "Stay safe!" I was tripping over what I assume was a large rock (I obviously didn't see it), sending my iPod flying through the woods, landing sharply on my hands, knees and face, and twisting my ankle.

I usually wear my workout war wounds like a badge of honor - they prove, as a friend on Twitter said tonight, that I am  "badass".  If she could see me right now - ice on my ankle, heating pad on my back and Dora band-aids covering my cut up knees -  I'm not not so sure she'd have the same reaction. 

Oh well, tomorrow's another day.  And it's bound to be better than this one!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


When I returned from Mexico I was ready to hit the ground running, literally.  

I'd taken a few days off from Clay during the last days of Chrissy's life because I wanted to be  with her and I was struggling to muster up the desire to do much of anything.  So after Mexico I had had almost two weeks off with the exception of a few less than stellar runs and a lot of walking with Scout to clear my head. 

Amazing how quickly your body forgets how hard you had worked.

Getting back into it was difficult, but I was ready and knew I needed to jump back in as quickly as possible if I was going to achieve my goal of crossing the finish line at the Cville Ten Miler.  

Then the cold hit.  Not the cold outside (though we did get 4 inches or so of glorious snow this week) but rather the dreaded winter chest cold.  You know he kind that is just bad enough for you to feel like shit but not bad enough to convince yourself that you need to take it easy?  That's the one I got.  And it nestled itself in my chest long and hard enough that going up and down the stairs in our house was difficult, let alone running 5 1/2 miles.  

So, there I was with yet another setback.  I was frustrated to say the least.  So when I woke up Thursday morning I was honestly ready to call it quits.  No way could I make it through the short run I was supposed to do on Tuesday, let alone the long one I needed to do today - and the Ten Miler was only 6 weeks away. I'd never be ready in time.  

But, like I've said before, part of this health journey thing is just getting up off your ass so that is what I did.

I wasn't sure my lungs could handle a run yet so decided that walking the Saunders-Monticello Trail would at least challenge me a little. While it's technically only a 2 mile trail (one way) you can add half a mile each way if you park in the lower lot and run all the way up to the Monticello Visitor's Center and it's uphill the entire first half. If nothing else I'd work my calves out a little.

Then the weridest thing happen. As I started up the trail I felt like running.  Yes, I actually felt like running.  So I did.  Okay, maybe "running" is a strong word for what I was doing, but it surely wasn't walking anymore.  I made it to the top averaging 11.5mph.  It's not record-breaking speed, but it was more than I'd anticipated I'd be able to do and, I was still alive at the top.  My heart rate averaged 94% of max., of course, but somehow I survived.

The best thing about the Saunders-Monticello Trail is that after you run all the way up on the first half you get to run all the way back down!  This half I averaged 8.5mph, which I realize is normal for a lot of runners on flat and hills, but was fast for me (recall that though I am running 3 times I week I do not consider myself a runner yet, as I'm certain real runners do not whine as much as I do nor move as slowly as I do).  I was able to keep my heart rate at 86% the whole time and I can even say I kind of enjoyed myself.

Saturday I have to bump up to 5.8 miles and Tuesday up to 6.4 if I'm to keep up with the training program Callie set up prior to all hell breaking loose.  Am I worried?  A little, but I also know that this is a personal goal, not a race I plan to break any records at or anything like that.  I promised Chrissy I'd take her with across the finish line, but I never promised I'd do it fast!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Got your attention, didn't I? And though much to the dismay of my male readers there won't be any skin showing here, but I am actually going to talk about boobs today.  Well, sort of. 

A few weeks ago at cycling I walked in on one of my classmates having a conversation with Hyam about what she was wearing.  It was an adorable tank top from lululemon that she had received when Hyam was asked to be an Ambassador.  While it was a really cute top and looked incredible on her, it definitely was not something she was used to wearing.  This woman, in spite of her long, thin, beautiful body usually works out in a baggy t-shirt.  Now I, of all people, am not knocking the baggy t-shirt or the fact that she wears one as I don mine as often as possible, I'm just stating a fact to prove a point so keep reading okay? 

Their conversation led to our open adoration of another classmate who was recently introduced to the world of beautiful (and often pretty sexy) lululemon workout wear.  Like typical women we commented on how incredible she looked in said clothing and the fact that she's blessed because not only is she tall and thin (which comes somewhat naturally but also from working out like a mad woman) she also has an incredible rack. Yep, we actually said rack.  And trust me, it was meant as a high compliment.  She's beautiful and she's got great boobs.  And though she sounds like the kind of woman you want to hate - she happens to be beautiful on the inside, too.  Really.

I recalled that in college I whined about my "Barely B's" and how I couldn't wear some of the things my "Sexy C" friends could.  Oh how I wished for boobs to fill out that strapless dress I was wearing to formal (yes, I thought of that as a major issue in my life at the time).  Now, however, I'm consumed by "important" things like whether or not soccer practice will be canceled tonight and I'm thoroughly disgusted with the DD's I acquired as my weight increased. I long for the days of wearing inexpensive bras from Target and a single sports bra for high-impact exercises.  And, of course, to be able to even think about wearing a strapless dress. 

My long, tall friend in the sexy tank top commented that this is, unfortunately, something that plagues most women she knows.  No matter what we look like most of us ever seem satisfied with it.  A woman with gorgeous, naturally curly hair wishes for smooth, straight locks - a woman with the long legs desires to shop in the petite section - the woman I am at 38 desires the boobs of the girl I was at 20.  The grass is always greener, isn't it?

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to improve your health, strength, self-esteem, etc. - that's a big part of what this blog is based on.  But I'd also love to see more of us accepting - and loving - who we are - which is the other half of what I'm striving for in this journey I continue to take.

In doing research for this blog post I came across what lululemon calls their "manifesto"  which I've posted below. I found these words very inspiring so I thought I'd share it (you can find the text and pdf versions at  It's hard sometimes on this journey to not of focus on the physical (and therefore more tangible) aspect of what's happening, but rather on what is truly important - what's happening inside.  So as I continue to move forward I am going to "Breathe Deeply - Dance, Sing, Floss & Travel" and I'm going to focus on loving the person I am, regardless of my bra size.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I've always been an emotional eater.  Had a fight with a boyfriend? Drown my sorrows in ice cream. Bad day at work? Scarf down a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. Kids driving me crazy? Nothing a loaf of fresh bread and some gourmet cheese can't fix (especially if paired with wine!).  

When I was in my teens and early twenties I would literally eat myself sick with incredible amounts of food so that I wouldn't feel the pain of my emotions, but rather that in my stomach and throat from the eventual vomiting that would follow. I avoided gaining weight from these binges by sticking my fingers down my throat or ingesting laxatives. 

Thanks to therapy, anti-depressants, some wisdom that comes with age and the support of friends and family I was able to control my bulimia by the time I reached my mid-twenties. The emotional eating never fully subsided, however.  I still ran to food to comfort me, as many of us do (it's so common that there's even an eHow article on how to stop it!) .  Beating bulimia, unfortunately, brought on my initial weight gain.  Looking back I probably needed it then - 5'8 and 120 pounds is pretty small.  It wasn't until a few years later that my weight once again became a problem.  This time, however, I wasn't too small.  

Our first move to Seattle was exciting but also very difficult for me.  I was used to having tons of friends, a job and freedom to roam wherever and whenever. Now I found myself in a new city with a new baby and the only person I knew - the Spicy Chicken -  was out of town more than he was home.  So I did what I knew worked and filled those voids with food (and shopping, but that's a completely different post).  Most women who struggle with their weight post-pregnancy are dealing with weight the gained while pregnant.  I, on the other hand, gained most of my weight after Maggie was born.  The months after I had her were really tough.  I felt like all I ever did was nurse her and I was always tired.  I started watching soap operas.  Yes, it got that bad. 

A few years later, however, I had friends, a job and another new baby on the way. We'd found an anti-depressant that really worked for me (after quite a few that didn't).  The voids were filled and I was finding that exercise was a much more effective way to deal with stress and emotions than eating was. I did I triathlon.  I did a 10 K. I felt great. Then we moved in Omaha.  

Not surprisingly my weight shot up once again.  Eventually we settled in to Omaha, however, and I started to get back on track.  Then we got transferred to Charlottesville. 

Do you see a pattern starting here?

It's been almost five years since we moved to C'ville and we have no plans to leave (though we are moving across town).  I have an incredible group of friends, I'm doing some fun part-time work and fill the other hours a day trying to be the best mom I can be.  While the Spicy Chicken travels more now than ever we've developed a routine that works for us and I only bitch about it once or twice a month.  I miss my family in Minnesota and Texas but I don't feel that void like I used to as my parents visit on a regular basis and the friends I have here are truly like family to me.  I work out at Clay three days a week and fill the other days running and hiking with Scout.  No voids.  No room for emotional overeating, right? 

Of course that's not true.  But filling my life with other positive things - and working the past few years on having a healthy relationship with food - has definitely changed how often I turn to it for solace.  Instead of throwing down an entire day's worth of calories when something goes wrong (and inevitably it will) I turn to my running shoes - or my friends- or Wii Zumba (yes, I have actually started doing this, but don't expect any videos to be posted here!).  Some days I turn to my computer - like I am right now - to sort out my feeling as I write it out for all the world to see.  Amazing how therapeutic a blog post can be!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Viva Mexico

To say that this today's Athletic Training class was difficult would be an understatement. But slowly, after 5 days of poolside butt-sitting, too much tequila and nachos - so many plates of nachos - my body is starting to come back to life. 

The Spicy Chicken and I were fortunate to spend a few days in Mexico celebrating the 40th birthday of great friend of ours this past week.  If you know anything about the two of us you know that while we definitely work hard, we play even harder.  And after the difficulties of the past few weeks we were more than ready to play.  

While I'd start the day with plates of amazing fresh fruit and made-to-order egg-white omelets, the accompanying mimosas and bloody mary's quickly mitigated any of the earlier healthiness.   I'll be honest and say that my training went dry after I sweated out a few margaritas on the treadmill Day Two (4.0 miles in 45 minutes). However,  I'm fairly certain we worked off at least 1000 calories on the dance floor (we were literally wet from head to toe in sweat!), and though the week was devoid of any crunches, my abs were literally sore from the constant laughter.  Fun doesn't even begin to describe our week. 

So where do I go from here - after hitting it hard for several weeks and then completely plummeting to a lazy alcoholic stupor for several days? As always, I head back to Clay for a kick-ass work out from Hyam.  If there was one thing I needed today it was that and Hyam, of course, delivered.  It'd be easy to continue to let things slide but I actually couldn't wait to get back into things (and Hyam's text "want to see you" text last night didn't hurt either!).  That's the thing about your body (and Hyam!) - they are always ready and waiting for you to take care of it.

The Ten-Miler is going to be here before I know it so I'm pulling my running shoes back on and hitting the pavement tomorrow.  See you on the Rivanna!  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Finish Line

It is taking everything in my power not to climb back into bed this morning.  It's rainy, gloomy and there's a mountain of laundry staring back at me.  Oh, and then there's that whole funeral thing...

Many of you know that my dear friend Chrissy passed away earlier this week after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer.  Needless to say, it's been a tough week.  It's actually been a tough couple of months as Chrissy, true to her self, battled hard against this disease even when it was raging through her entire body, refusing to let go until she was ready.  That's our girl. If there was one thing you could say about Chrissy it was that she was strong. And stubborn...And smart...And beautiful...And amazing...

We were extremely fortunate that Chrissy's family opened their home to us during the last few days of her life.  Our friends spent every moment possible with them from the time she fell into a coma until she took her final breaths.  We took turns sitting by her bedside all weekend long. My girlfriends and I were able to hang out with her for hours, talking about our memories with her, giving her the lowdown on what was going on in our lives, telling her how much we loved her and how proud we were of her and assuring her that it was okay for her to let go now.  She didn't like that last one, of course, and occasionally let us know about it with a long, hard sigh that sometimes sounded like "Noooo!"  

These are conversations you never really expect to have with a friend at my age - Chrissy was just 41.  I will miss my friend immensely - the way she got things done when nobody else could - the way she smiled - the way she wasn't afraid to take on anything (including cancer and the greased watermelon contest at the club!).  My sadness, however, is much greater for her family than myself.  If the pain in my heart is this great, theirs must be unimaginable.  I don't doubt her husband's ability to handle things, but I weep for the fact that he has to. And I know her kids will not only survive, they will excel (these are Chrissy's kids, after all) but I ache because she won't be there to see it.  

Chrissy was a great athlete and had a love for running that, hard as I try, I will never have.  Even when cancer was trying to beat her down, she'd don her running shoes and push herself as far as her body allowed. I promised I'd take her with me when I cross the finish line at the C'ville Ten Miler - even if it means I have to crawl!

In Chrissy's memory I will be doing the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Colorado June 23-24, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Washington D.C. October 12-14 and, of course, the Women's 4 Miler (as my friends have done for years).  While I know it won't change Chrissy's fate my hope is that it will change that of someone else.

We miss you so much Chrissy, but you will always and forever be in our hearts.  I have no doubt that you are already up in heaven seeking out a position on the Board of Directors, organizing a Sweet Adelines Chapter, and showing the boys a thing or two on the volleyball court.  I know you will have things whipped into shape by the time we get there.  In the meantime we will try to uphold your legacy down here (but if you're expecting me to get the FV BOD Minutes out in a timely fashion you might be waiting awhile).  I will see you at the Finish Line.