Illness and surrender

January 14, 2018

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Day bazillion of a wicked painful sinus infection that has left me very puffy and exhausted. I haven’t ran in a week and I’m kind of going crazy but trying really hard to be patient with the healing process.

Yesterday I surrendered to the Minute Clinic and finally got a healthy dose of antibiotics. It had been a ridiculously long time coming. If I’m being honest, I have been feeling rundown for the last several months, it just happened to be that December 12, 2017, was the day my body said, “I give up. I’m taking you hostage until you get your shit together.” Unfortunately, it has taken me until now to get it together. Well, mostly get it together.

It all started with a gastrointestinal bug that took eight days (as opposed to my usual two days) to “recover” from. After the bug, I had a window of a few days where things were looking up. Then, the frigidness set in on the holiday weekend. My nose got stuffy, my throat got raw, and my overall rundownedness flared again. I chalked it up to the weather, crappy holiday eating, and a long pre-Christmas week at school. But alas, I was wrong. A sinus cold soon set in and I spent the last days of 2017 sucking on cough drops like they were candy, with a box of kleenex attached to my hip to catch all the drips. By the new year, I thought I was over the hump. I was so crazy wrong, AGAIN.

Nine days ago, the sinus cold morphed into a full-blown, wickedly painful infection. I thought it would subside in a couple of days so I loaded up on OTC painkillers and toughed out the days. Instead, it got worse. Way worse. Until I just needed it to not be worse anymore. So, I surrendered. And I went to the clinic, something I rarely do. (Besides, my very wise friend gently suggested that it was probably time for antibiotics. And she is a nurse so I figured I better listen.)

Today, I impatiently wait for the antibiotics to begin working their magic. I’m staying in bed all day and doing a whole lot of soul-searching. The pain is annoyingly present but I’ve cut back on the OTC drugs, so I’m pretty sure I’m getting better, even though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. The doctor said in 2-3 days I should be 50% better.  I can’t freaking wait, although right now, I’m having a hard time believing what she said will come true.

Through it all, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons of the last month. While I am extremely grateful to be a healthy person most of the time and while I know that my current state is temporary, I can no longer dismiss being ill for a month as no big deal. I do that a lot, try to pass things off as not important because what I have going on isn’t a big deal in the big picture of life, and it isn’t. Until it is. And I need to stop doing that. One month of being ill is something that shouldn’t be dismissed. I know that now. At least I’m working on believing it.

Physical pain shuts me down mentally so I’ve been in my own little bubble for the last week, saving every ounce of mental and physical energy for the most urgent of things. I’m kind of exhausted from being exhausted BUT from this moment on, right now, I’m vowing to listen to my body when it begins to whisper to me, instead of waiting until it is desperately screaming at me to pay attention. Self-care should always, always, always be our first priority and I know that. But so often, it isn’t. And we have a billion excuses as to why taking care of ourselves shouldn’t be a priority. And the majority of the time all the reasons are bullshit. 

So, while I’m healing, I’ll be refocusing and I will be working on making my health-mind, body, and spirit–a priority. ONCE AND FOR ALL. No more half-hearted attempts or making up excuses. For starters, I’m going to try very hard to manage unhealthy stress (which involves not taking on things that are not mine to take on), to clean up my eating, and to make rest a priority.  I am not exactly sure how I am going to wholeheartedly accomplish this yet, but I’m going to be working on it. Very fucking relentlessly. (Incidentally, this will likely entail a mental unraveling of sorts so stay tuned for more on this matter. Insert evil laugh here. Muhahahaha.)

How about you? Has every viral illness of this weird winter knocked you down? If so, why do you think that is? What are your best wellness tips? What are your best excuses?What do you do for self-care? (Sorry, bubble baths, wine, retail therapy and all of the other fluffy things don’t count.) What changes do you need to make in your life to move forward in a way that is more healthy for your mind, body, and spirit? What whispers should you be listening to? What is stopping you?

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A wellness journey evolving

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Me, five minutes after waking on the morning after a four-day holiday feeding frenzy.  Yes, I felt as rough as I looked. At one point I would have been so shame-filled about my overindulging that I never could have posted a picture like this. Not anymore. I’ve evolved. I know that most of the time I choose well. My worth is not defined by a temporary lapse in judgment. And neither is yours.

It occurred to me last night as my body was going into its post-four-day-holiday-feeding-frenzy total meltdown, that I realized that I really missed (and need to be) blogging about all the things health and wellness that I used to when I began my fitness journey nearly six years ago. So, here I am, back at it, determined to keep writing.

Six years. For real. It’s been that long. It was a journey that began with me just wanting to lose weight. Instead, it has evolved into a journey that I never could have imagined. One that has had me rejoicing on mountaintops to painfully falling on my face (literally), more than once, mind you. From taking life for granted to learning to navigate the grief and challenges that accompany a devastating loss of life. From not being able to run a mile to running marathons. And a whole lot of other things along the way including people. Amazing people have come into my life. Each twist, turn, celebration, and fall from grace that this journey has brought me on has been an opportunity to grow in strength, patience, courage, grace, humility, joy, and so much more. I am grateful for all of it. 

As with every departure from writing regularly that I’ve taken, it always feels a little awkward hopping back in. I always feel the need to recap the gaps in painstaking detail and catch y’all up to speed but that usually turns into a novel that ends up completely emotionally draining me mainly because I haven’t written for so long and I have so much to get out. (Most of the time–for a million reasons or none– I end up not hitting the publish button anyways! Ugh!) Naturally then, because of the mental angst,  I don’t write again for a very long time because it was so hard to write the last time. Which ironically doesn’t make much sense because writing is one of the things that I need to practice as part of my core-level self-care routine so, in theory, I should be keeping up with it. But, I don’t. Then I get caught in my own vicious cycle of feeling bad about things I should be doing to keep myself well but fail to do. Soon, because of my failure to do what I need to do for myself, the shitstorm of shame begins. (For the record, it’s a ridiculously vicious cycle to get caught up in as shame can wreak havoc in a person’s life. And as a side note in this parenthetical note. . .  I know that I’m not alone in this as I am guessing a whole lot of you reading this have your own shitstorm of shame stories to share when it comes to health and wellness. Life is a treat sometimes, isn’t it?)

So, I’ll spare you all the gory details of my hiatus and just recap the highlights of the last couple of years for you, in bulleted form. (Things always seem easier to digest in bullet form, don’t they? Also, I have managed a couple of yearly updates during this time so some of this might be familiar to a few of you. )

  • Since my first DNF (Did Not Finish) on my first attempt at a 50k race in September of 2015, I’ve failed two subsequent times, once in 2016 and once in 2017. Although there is a part of me that cringes when I think about those failed attempts, I’ve grown immensely as a runner from each experience. Considering six years ago at this time I literally could not run a block, the fact that I’ve attempted 50k’s seems like a freaking miracle. I’m trying really, really hard to celebrate how far I have come on my running journey, despite the many setbacks.
  • In 2016, amidst a whole lot of life-changing experiences, the old fat girl tapes started replaying in my head during a particularly tough long run.  “What are you doing? Fat girls don’t run. What are you trying to prove? You aren’t a real runner. Real runners don’t take walk-breaks. Look at those thin fast runners whizzing by you. Why are YOU out here?” And on and on it went in my head for miles. It took me over a year to get to the root of that break-down. Again, like my race failures,  I learned greatly from that experience although if truth be told,  it still haunts me a bit. 
  • I’ve discovered over the past couple of years that writing, practicing yoga, and trail-running are my essentials for my optimal mind, body, and spirit wellness. I need them all to thrive, to breathe. Unfortunately, I don’t practice what I need to. Although I run several times a week, I don’t always get to the trails, which is what soothes my soul. Writing and yoga? Well, they are sparse, but I know that I need them as much as I need to run.  I haven’t figured out what is exactly stopping me from doing what I need to do for myself, although I have a pretty good idea. (Hint, likely relates to the old fat girl tapes mentioned above and there is definitely NOT space to unpack that baggage in this post.) I can, however, wholeheartedly say that I am working on it all. 
  • With the exception of falling off the wagon briefly over the last few days only to eat meatballs and a bit of bacon (my brother and uncle both make incredibly delicious meatballs that I will never pass up and then, of course, there’s bacon, because bacon) I’ve stopped eating red meat and I really don’t miss it. At all. In fact, I feel better NOT eating red meat. Now, if I could just stop eating sugar. . .
  • Although I doubt that I’ll ever follow a completely vegan or vegetarian diet, I will be incorporating more and more vegan recipes into my diet. It is crazy how good food tastes when it’s not laden with a bunch of animal products. During the holiday feeding frenzy we baked/cooked/made the following vegan recipes:
    • Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting. It was decadent and was seriously one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever eaten. (Okay. A chocolate frosted cake is not really a healthy option ever, vegan or not. Just wanted to acknowledge that.)
    • Green-Bean Casserole. You know the kind with the crispy fried onions. Instead of the crappy canned cream-of-something soups, we used a recipe that made a cream of almond milk, garlic, vegetable broth, and a bit of flour. In my opinion, it was much better than the original version.
    • Vegan Monkey Bread. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical when we decided on this recipe, but WOW, I was blown away by the taste. While this was still a sugar-laden treat, applesauce replaced the butter making it a better option. It was incredible!
    • Vegan Waffles. Just as fluffy and delish as regular waffles.
    • Vegan Wheat Bread. Five ingredients. Bam. So good.
  • When I began my weight-loss journey in 2012, my original goal was to lose 100 pounds, a goal that I didn’t come close to reaching. I have, however, lost 70 pounds and kept it off for over five years. Although I know now that my original goal was likely one that was a little too lofty, I do have a solid 20 pounds that I want to be gone, not because I don’t like the way I look, but because I know that I will feel better and be able to move faster and farther. I’ve already unpacked all of the reasons and excuses as to why I’ve remained plateaued, and details aside, it comes down to the fact that I’ll need to return to the hard work of being mindful about what I eat (like when I began) and to commit to not being lazy about my choices. Because I am very active, it has been relatively easy to keep the weight off. Easy is lazy. Lazy is comfortable and fun. It’s easy for me to eat chocolate cake and then run it off. It’s not easy for me to NOT eat the chocolate cake and still go for a run. Flawed? Of course. Am I working on it? Slowly but surely.
  • I’ve learned that health and wellness are SO MUCH MORE than just diet and exercise. True health and wellness come when we are taking care of our WHOLE selves–body, mind, and spirit. Please know that self-care is not selfish. In fact, self-care is essential for life. When you believe that you are worthy of taking care of yourself, you will begin to experience life in a beautifully different way. It was when I was finally able to accept and love all 250 pounds of myself, as is, and then embrace all of my lived experiences wholly for what they were–nothing more, nothing less–was I able to commit to loving and taking care of myself. I’m still a work in progress and always will be. I’m okay with that now. I wasn’t okay with that when I began this journey.
  • I have learned that wherever you are at in your quest for better health, you are never alone. There is a wonderful health and wellness community out there, loving and supportive folks that will have your back. Find people that will be there for you along the way, people that will be there for you to help you through the struggles as well as celebrate wildly with you when you reach your goals. Be accountable. Don’t fall for the plethora of weight loss and health gimmicks available. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Be patient with the journey. Remember that you are worth it. You will gain a much better perspective on life when you stop beating yourself up. I know this from experience.

So, that’s mostly it in a neatly bulleted nutshell! And, I decided as I was writing this that I am not setting resolutions for the upcoming new year, as I do every year, instead, I’m setting them now: write often, run a lot, do yoga, evolve. Sounds like a tee-shirt. Maybe I should get one made.

P.S. Although I will hold myself accountable for my goals, accountability partners are always appreciated! What intentions are you setting for yourself when it comes to health and fitness? Share if you like!

P.S.S. THANK YOU to every single person that has been a part of my journey over the last almost six years. There are so many of you! I have treasured all of the runs, walks, talks, hugs, tears, recipes, challenges, workouts and everything else along the way. And I am looking forward to so much more of all of it!

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Facing fears and finding me…

The past few days I have spent some time reflecting on my weight-loss/health/fitness journey. And while reflecting on this journey is something I tend to do regularly, I have been extra reflective as I get ready to write down my 2016 goals. Adding to that, a good friend recently asked me for some weight-loss tips the other day which really got me thinking. . .

This was the very first honest post I wrote about my weight and my struggles. I wrote it on January 23, 2012 and I remember this night vividly. We had just returned home from Iowa after sending our youngest off to Oman to study abroad. I had looked at the going away pictures. I remember consciously trying to stand in a way that would make me look not as large as I was when we were taking the pics. Those pics were my tipping point. My surrender. Later that night I sat down to write this after I ordered my scale. Again, thank God for Amazon one-click or I may have chickened out. I am also not sure where I found the courage to hit the publish button that night. . . but I did. Facing your fears and owning your story, is the most empowering and freeing thing I have ever done in my life. Happy New Year. May you find yourself and be free.

Hangin' by a Thread



Part of truly being yourself is owning your story. Today, I’m owning a pretty big part of mine…


I did something today that absolutely T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D me, something I have avoided- successfully or not, depending upon how you look at it- for years. My heart is still pounding a bit, but thanks to one-click shopping at Amazon.com I didn’t have time to stop and think before I tossed it into my virtual cart. Boom, it was done. No going back. I had to face this once and for all.

Anti-climactic, I know, but the big, scary thing I did was order a digital scale, something I haven’t owned for years. For many people, hopping on the scale is not a big deal, but, as a person that has battled an eating disorder for a good share of my 40 plus years, the thought of owning and stepping on a scale is…

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Five reasons to love running outside during a Minnesota winter. . .

*****WARNING*****WARNING*****WARNING*****

(This post is nothing but a desperate attempt at positivity.) 
 

It’s November 10. Two days ago I s-h-a-t-t-e-r-e-d my 5k personal best and I am currently 169 days into a runstreak. I am desperately trying not to let this early winter storm–that has arrived in FULL FORCE–dampen my running spirits.  Now, when I am running better than I ever have, is not the time for winter to settle in. Why, Mother Nature? Why?

I rolled out of bed around 9:00 a.m. (As luck would have it, I had decided last week to schedule today off work.) I immediately peeked out the window. I could see through my curtains that the ground was white but I was intensely hoping that the weather predictions had been wrong.

UGH, even worse than I imagined.

So many inches already on the ground! I knew if I was going to get a run in I would have to do it now–or I’d likely succumb to the negative thoughts (it’s cold, it’s snowy, it’s slippery, you don’t need to run etc.) that were already creeping into my head. I’d soon cave to the negativity and then head on over to the neighbors who had graciously offered up their treadmill.

But, I refuse to succumb to the drone of the treadmill.

Well , at least this early in the season. Not just because I don’t like the dreadmill treadmill, but because my mental health requires that I get outside and run. Running outside soothes my soul like few other things do.

Not really seeing much of a choice in the matter, I bundled up and headed outside for my first winter run of the 2014-15 season. Alas, woe is me.

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Beauty of a look , I know. And yes, the white behind me is blowing snow.
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While these shoes work perfectly for winter running, I already miss my regular shoes.

I set foot into the snow and surprisingly my legs (albeit reluctantly) settled into a running form of sorts. I made it out of the yard without falling and headed down the road on some tire tracks. The snow was deeper than I thought and it was blowing hard enough that the visibility was less than two blocks. The snow stung my eyes and I ran the first block with them mostly closed. I’m sure I was a sight.

About a quarter mile in, I was already wringing wet with sweat. I had definitely overdressed.

About a half mile in, my calf muscles were screaming at me. “This is not normal! Why are we trying to run through this white stuff?”

At my turn around, my lungs were definitely more taxed than normal. I had forgotten how cold temperature affects breathing. By this time, the negative self-talk was beginning in full force. “Why are you running in a snowstorm? This is dumb. You are dumb. Go home. Head back to the gym.” And on it went, eventually progressing to a full-on whinefest in my head.

I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the things that I hated about winter running. Breathing is hard. My mile-per-minute pace slows significantly. Runs are usually shorter. I can never get down how many layers I need to stay comfortable. Shoe choices are limited. Running on the trails I love so dearly is nearly impossible.  And I slow down. (Oops, did I already mention that?)

Apparently though, I began to settle into the run because as I got closer to home, I made the decision to run a little farther (despite my crap attitude) than I had originally planned. I had realized that it was going to be one helluva long winter if I was going to be grumbling miserably already. I thought back to last winter. What were some of the things that I actually liked about winter runs? Was there anything?

Amazingly, I discovered,  there were a few things I actually loved about winter running.

5.  Winter running clothes are pretty cute (and black running tights, which I wear all the time, make my legs look rather toned.)

4.  Winter cross-training activities are a blast. Snowshoeing anyone?

3.  Running while it is lightly snowing is incredibly peaceful and beautiful.

2. Moonlight runs on a calm winter’s night are some of the most soul-soothing runs,      EVER.

1. Running outside in Minnesota in the winter is just plain, BADASS.

 And who doesn’t want to be badass?

What about you?

Winter running, love it or leave it?

A 15-tune, hard-rockin’, bad-a@@ playlist to fuel your workout

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It happened almost magically one extremely blustery Saturday afternoon late last November. I had been putting off getting ready for a run most of the day when the weather suddenly tanked, big-time. UGH. Not ready to face the frigid temps and gale force winds, which ironically would be no big deal at this point in the winter, I found myself forced indoors for a workout. (Yes, I understand that the word “forced” is a bit dramatic and in the grand scheme of life–who really cares–but, when running in the great outdoors is something you depend on for your health and sanity– yes, I mean that literally–this WAS a big deal to me. And no judging because I know some of you totally get where I am coming from here.)

At one time, I was a diehard workout-only-to-music person but over the last six months or so, I had gotten away from running with the tunes constantly pounding in my head. I had become accustomed to running sans music and had learned to appreciate the sounds of my feet pounding the pavement instead. I now crave silence and solitude on my runs but a workout indoors, that was completely different story. There was NO way I was getting through that kind of workout tune free! It, quite frankly, doesn’t seem possible to me.

Because I had spent most of the day “preparing” for my run, my motivation to move was quickly waning. I needed to get on my elliptical ASAP, but I had a major dilemma (again, a bit dramatic, I know.) My 1st generation hand-me-down iPod, on which I had spent years accumulating a wide variety of incredibly awesome music, had been reduced to only playing when attached to a power source. To make matters worse, I had just switched phones had not put any music on my new phone yet. I N-E-E-D-E-D music blasting through ear-buds, not from a stereo, to get through the winter workouts; besides, if I sat down to create my usual type of playlist, it would take hours. I would be done for that day, motivation bye-bye.

I scrambled to my phone and decided to see what I could throw together from my cloud. Much to my surprise, what I created in just a few minute’s time was nothing short of a hard-rockin’, bad-a@@ miracle. I rushed to my elliptical, hit play, and before I knew it, an hour had flown by. This little gem of a list had powered me through a 60-minute workout and I had been only hoping for a 20. What? I know. It rocked that much! I have listened to it on almost every gym workout since that day and I have yet to tire of it. It is a bit of a departure from my usual workout playlists–generally a mix of disco, rock, grunge, new-wave, and Christian rock–but it is apparently what I need to survive this brutal winter indoors. (It also may help to explain the lost, blank look I have on my face when I am at the gym.) Anyways. . .

After my inaugural workout, I knew I wanted to share this mix of mine. If you are looking for something rockin’ and different to workout to, you’ll appreciate these tunes. I even created  a YouTube playlist for your viewing enjoyment (which you can find here http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJU6PG_tnWuu0rWdLowVnev_Al8T5pg2B). (Incidentally, it did occur to me as I was watching YouTube that this playlist is a little dark, a little hard, and probably is very telling of the dark, hard side of me. Nonetheless, there are some brilliantly catchy guitar riffs, screamy vocals, and great beats. A warning though for all of you 80’s kids like me–you may suddenly find yourself singing wildly into your faux microphone, playing your air guitar, and banging your head. Don’t ask me how I know this, I just do.)

For the record, to anyone that may happen upon this, I am NOT a music critic, so don’t bash unless you have an entirely valid argument. This post is just for fun. Music choices are completely subjective anyways, right? So what is to argue (unless you disagree on #6.) It is also important to note that this list is definitely not all-inclusive of the great hard-rocking songs that I love or would be great to workout to. The beauty of this list is that it came together without a hardly a thought. So, without further adieu (drumroll please), let the magic begin. . .

  1. “Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace- Great band. Great song. The second verse says it all. . . “I can’t escape myself. So many times I’ve lied. But there’s still rage inside. Somebody get me through this nightmare.” Have you have been to that place? I have, more than once.
  2. “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park- I LOVE this band! The tempo on this song is perfect for a runner of my speed, especially when you are struggling and need a pick-me-up. Again, some of the lyrics are pretty spot on. “Bleed it out, digging deeper just to throw it away. . .I’ve opened up these scars. I’ll make you face this. . . I’ve pulled myself so far. I’ll make you face this now.” Sounds to me like somebody was gutting out a long, hard run when they penned these words. Whew.
  3. “Fire Woman” by The Cult- “Fire. Smoke she is a rising.” If you have seen me after a run, you have no doubt noticed that I look quite like a “firewoman” with my red hair, crimson face, and entire body radiating heat like fiery coals from hell. LOVE the guitar melody and the vocals on this song. Plus, the lead singer has very pretty 80’s boy band hair. What’s not to love about that?
  4. “New Year’s Day” by U2– Best. U2. Song. Ever.
  5. “No One Like You” by the Scorpions- Ahh, the 80’s. This band. The guitars. The vocals. The cheesy videos. A little change of tempo with this song. It’s good mid-workout when you need a bit of a breather.
  6. “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio- Ronnie James Dio had one of the best hard-rocking voices, EVER. (If you argue that one, you are crazy. Just sayin’.) Anyways, the lyrics and guitar are STELLAR. “Do your demons, do they ever let you go? When you’ve tried, do they hide deep inside–is it someone that you know?” Crazy powerful words if you have ever been through some dark times. Consequently, this is one of my favorite songs EVER. (Two-versions on the YouTube list. The “official” video comes nowhere near doing the song justice. The live version is definitely better.)
  7. “Self-Esteem” by The Offspring- Another one of my favorite bands. Seriously, what would the 90’s have been without them? This song may be a little slow for faster runners but works great as a warm-up or cool-down. The video is classic 90’s and the retro Evil Kneivel footage brings me right back to the 70’s. Hello, who doesn’t remember sitting in your living room glued to the television when Evil made his ill-fated Grand Canyon jump?
  8. “Separate Ways” by Journey- My favorite Journey tune. The guitar and the beat make this a great running song. The video, however, is one of the cheesiest videos to emerge from 1980’s. FYI: If you love this song, don’t torture yourself by watching the video. PLEASE!
  9. “Turbo Lover” by Judas Priest- This is my second favorite Judas Priest song even though I can’t decide what my favorite song by this group is. The video is completely creepy but the beat and tempo make this a killer song on the run.
  10. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana- My favorite song by one of the best bands to have EVER rocked the planet. EVER. This song has motivated me on many a dreadmill treadmill run.
  11. “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses– 80’s kids, is it possible to listen to this song and not do a little Axle shoulder sway? I think not. This song is loud, hard, classic, and awesome. You will work a little harder when it’s blasting through your earbuds. I promise.
  12. “Youth Gone Wild” by Skid Row- Another lead singer with pretty 80’s boy band hair. Sigh. This song is hard, heavy, and in your face. Perfect for a workout (or an 80’s keg party, so I’ve heard.)
  13. “The Zoo” by the Scorpions- Yep, the Scorps made the list twice.  LOVE this tune but the video is. . . well, not sure what it is. Definitely not cool, and that IS for sure.
  14. “B.Y.O.B.” by System of a Down- This song is HARD and SCREECHY but has some amazing guitar work and the tempo changes are great for an interval workout.
  15. “Fight for Your Right” by the Beastie Boys- Yes, I saved the best for last. This song is the quintessential teen anthem and it brings me STRAIGHT back to 80’s keg parties high school. Fun fact here for ya– I know every single word to this song and can sing those said lyrics in an incredibly cool faux London/Brooklyn accent. “I’ll kick you outta my home if you don’t cut that hair!” I have solo concerts with myself to this song and you should know that I ABSOLUTELY ROCK! For real. Hence, I apologize profusely in advance to any friends or family members that may be near me if I happen to be in public, have had one too many adult beverages, and this song comes on the jukebox. Just walk away, walk away. It’s really okay. I’ll totally understand in the morning.

How about you? Any awesome running/workout playlists you want to share?

Facing fears and finding me the fifth: Part two, how I lost 70 pounds

(This Part two of the blog-version of a presentation I recently gave. Part one can be found here https://melissafaithbodin.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/facing-fears-and-finding-me-the-fifth-owning-your-story-and-believing-your-worth/)

Do not let the number on the scale define your worth.
Do not let the number on the scale define your worth.

As I wrote in Part One, accepting myself as is and believing I was worthy of happiness and healthiness was essential to losing (and keeping off) 70 plus pounds. Obviously though, it takes more than believing in one’s self (even though it’s a necessity) to effect life-long, positive change. Throughout my healing journey, I have had to make some choices that have required me to change how I looked at my life and my health. For starters, I took the word “diet” out of my vocabulary. I encourage you to do the same.

no-diet

Instead of ever saying I was going on a diet, I chose to say that I was opting for healthy changes and then I slowly integrated those changes into my lifestyle. For example, I added more fruits and vegetables to my plate,  upped my hydration goals, and increased my exercise time. The ripple effect of making healthier choices led to more changes, and then to more again. And so it goes, each change leading to a better one.

One thing I have learned over the years is that there isn’t a SINGLE weight-loss gimmick, protein diet, low-carb diet, super-calorie restricted diet, diet pill,  shake, herbal concoction, or surgery that will do for you what adopting a healthier lifestyle will do. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Trust me on this one.

Also, because I am NOT on a diet, there isn’t a single food that I have given up over the last two years (there are foods, however, that I don’t eat anymore mainly because after making healthier choices most of the time, the not so healthy ones don’t always taste the best.) MOST of the time, I eat relatively healthy. For instance, I rarely eat fast food, we cook most of our meals at home, and I try to stay away from highly processed foods. (I say MOST of the time because I doubt I will ever give up the Dairy Queen or Jack’s Frozen Pizza.)

I read recently about the 80/20 rule and it made sense to me. 80% of the time, strive to make the healthiest choices possible. The other 20%, well, those are the Jack’s nights and DQ trips. Choosing to live a healthier lifestyle isn’t about being perfect, it’s about making an honest effort to effect change–it’s about being real.  

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The next choice I made was accountability.

How many times have you ripped open a bag of chips vowing only to have a few and suddenly half a bag is gone? Or maybe you taste-tested your new brownie recipe to the tune of chowing down an entire row? Been there, done both. I’d like to tell you that I have quit doing that entirely, but that would be a lie. The difference now? If I eat a half of a bag of chips or a whole row of brownies, I account for it. No, I am not thrilled with myself if I make choices like this, but. . . I do not beat myself up over them either. I account for the poor choice and move on. (In the old days I would have gone hog-wild the rest of the day because I had already “blew-it” and vowed to “start again” the next day. Sound familiar?)

To help me with accountability, I started using myfitnesspal  in January of 2012 and haven’t stopped. It takes less than 10 minutes per day to keep track of what I eat and how much I workout. (YES, you do have 10 minutes to do this.) Keep a journal or find an app (there’s many out there) but just find some way that works for you to account for your intake. Make an effort to strive for accountability. By making the choice to be accountable, you will take control over your food choices instead of your food choices controlling you.

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Third on the list is movement. LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO MOVE. Move, even if it is for only 10 minutes per day. Start with a minute, if you have to, but move. Exercise is imperative to good health, weight loss, maintaining weight, good mental health, stress relief, muscle tone, anxiety relief. . .the list goes on. Our bodies were made to move and you will be amazed at how good you feel when you do.

The key is to find something you like and then to do it. Walking is good. Running rocks. If you aren’t a fan of either one of those, there is swimming, biking, hiking, rebounding, elliptical, good old-fashioned calisthenics, Zumba, Crossfit, yoga, rowing, spinning, aerobics, stair-stepping–the choices are endless. Most of the time I run but I also do most of the other things on the list. Moving your body will change your life, I promise. I know this because it has saved mine.

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Next up, change the way you look at food. How many times have you said to yourself,”I have been so good today on my diet that I am going to reward myself with a brownie (or cookie, or piece of cake, or a bag of chips, etc)?” Unfortunately, I have said those exact words too many times to count over the years. If you are currently doing this, STOP IT NOW! Do not REWARD yourself with food but instead make food a choice that you are in control of (I know, it sounds a lot like accountability.) By all means have the brownie, not because you deserve it, but because you choose it. It is a subtle– but powerful– change to the way you approach food and it works. Food is fuel for your body, not a reward for “being good.”

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Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is patience. When embarking on any healing journey you need to accept and understand that lasting change takes time. You did not put on the weight overnight, so don’t expect to lose it overnight. Strive to be patient. Work on being kind to yourself. Give yourself space to create sustainable change. By doing this you will find that you will be able to stay the course of your new healthy journey, no matter what life throws at you–that I can attest to (see Part One.)

I stated in one of my first blogs that I someday I wanted to be a “marathon-running, mountain-climbing, vegan.” At the time I couldn’t jog a mile, climb a small hill without feeling like death was coming for me, or go a day without eating meat. If I would have tried to do any of those things, let alone all three at once, I would have failed miserably. It took nearly 18 months; but, last summer I completed a marathon, climbed a mountain or two, and made it a week without meat. (On a side note, I can’t really imagine ever going “vegan” because that would mean giving up Jack’s Pizza and DQ. Hello. The best I am hoping for is to be an 80/20 vegetarian. Makes sense, right?)

In the end though, no matter where you are on your journey through life, it all starts with you. YOU choose your path. YOU choose to move. YOU choose to be accountable. YOU choose to create space for change. YOU choose to be patient and kind with yourself. YOU, and only YOU, can make the choice for a healthy and healing journey. Love yourself enough to make the choice. YOU are SO worth it.

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P.S. Some more essentials (that I won’t elaborate on for the sake of not making this post a novel but are all just as important as the above):

  • Hydration is key. Staying hydrated staves off hunger and tiredness, both of which lead to overeating.
  • Eliminate excuses–there aren’t any good enough.
  • Set goals that are attainable, measurable, and realistic.
  • Learn to breathe. Stop and take a deep breath now and then. It does wonders for your mind, body, and soul.
  • Surround yourself with people that lift you up and ditch the ones that don’t.
  • Find workout buddies–they keep you accountable and push you to new limits. I am SO grateful for mine!
  • Learn all you can about weight loss, exercise, and getting healthy. It makes your choices easier.
  • Rest is essential. Allow yourself time for it.
  • Eat! Don’t deprive yourself or cut too many calories. It won’t do you any good in the long run.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy yourself on this journey.

Facing fears and finding me the fifth: Owning your story and believing your worth

(On January 5, 2014, I had the honor of speaking at the MACCRAY Community Health Challenge 3rd Annual Kick-off. Here’s  the blog-style version (part 1) of where I was coming from and where I have been on my weight-loss journey. To some of you that read my blog regularly, some of this will sound very familiar.)

To truly believe in yourself and all of your amazing awesomeness, you must first learn to accept yourself with your whole heart. This means forgiving yourself for past mistakes and honoring your own unique and beautiful story, no matter how difficult some of the past chapters may be to reread. Accept yourself, own your story, and believe that you are worthy of great things. ~MFB

As I write this, it’s been nearly two years since my first installment in this little blog within a blog. Little did I know what life had in store for me at the time of my first writing. When I started this journey just two short years ago, life was SO completely different. . .

I really hadn’t stopped to think about it until I started preparing for a little presentation I did last night for my community’s annual health challenge. Even though I talk in front of people on a regular basis, this one was rattling my nerves BIG TIME. After pondering why for quite some time, I finally concluded that even though I frequently bare my soul in writing on this blog, I had yet to publicly speak about my weight loss. Quite frankly, it is scary as H-E-L-L. It also dawned on me as I was looking back through my earlier blogs that when I began this journey, life was “as usual” in our family. The beginnings of this story had started for me pre-crash with my mom and sister-in-law cheering me along every single step of the way. They were my absolute biggest and most loving supporters. My sister-in-law was the first commenter on my first blog and one of the very last conversations I had with my mom (just a couple of days before she was killed) was about my weight loss. She had exclaimed (in a way only a mother could) that she forgot how small my shoulders really were (they aren’t, but the last few pounds that I had lost had come off that area of my body in a very noticeable fashion). She also had told me how proud she was of me and that I was inspiring her to “get on the stick” and lose some weight. Even though I am so very thankful for these beautiful memories, recalling them is still crazy painful. I hadn’t thought I’d be “going there” while preparing to talk so it threw me into a bit of a mental tizzy that I wasn’t expecting. Nonetheless, I had to do this–not because I had yes to speaking–but because I had to do it for me. I had to own my story, out loud, in front of real-life people, as opposed to the usual virtual audience– even though I was scared sh$$less.

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Own your story. You are amazing and worthy.

Over the last couple of weeks, I had been contemplating what I would talk about and how I would present what I knew in a manner that would be helpful to others. I am obviously not an expert on nutrition, weight-loss, or anything of the like. I am, however, an expert on myself and my own story. I know from experience the power that owning your story holds. I also know that no matter what our struggles are or where we are on our own journeys, we are NEVER, EVER alone. Because of this, I knew that what has worked for me would work for others in their own way, on their own journeys.

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You can stop the weight loss roller coaster once and for all. You have the power.

For the record, I truly have no idea how much weight I have actually lost. I stepped on the scale in January of 2012 for the first time in nearly a decade. At my official “weigh-in” I tipped the scales at 240. Yep, 40 pounds more than I thought and 30 pounds more than the worst-case scenario number I had in my head. Since that fateful day, I have lost roughly (depending upon the morning) 65 pounds. I am guesstimating though from looking through photos  that at my heaviest, I probably pushed 250 on the scales, which would make my total weight loss somewhere between 70-75 pounds. I was able to finally the stop weight-loss roller coaster at that moment, not because I had suddenly become a health and fitness guru, but because I had done the mental work beforehand. I had faced down the demons in my head and had decided that I was WORTHY of being happy and healthy, regardless of my past or present circumstances.  I had learned to accept myself for exactly who I was– nothing more, nothing less. I had zero excuses left (not that any were truly legit anyways) not to stop the not-so-thrilling ride that I had been on. Once I learned to accept and believe in myself, the journey became so much easier.

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Believe that you are so very worthy, because you are.

The most terrifying thing is to accept yourself completely.”  ~C.G. Jung

It’s hard though! Learning to accept ourselves and believing that we are worthy of happiness and healthiness can be so very difficult to do; but, acceptance of ourselves and belief in our own worthiness is essential to the journey. There isn’t a single thing that you cannot overcome– if you make the choice to do so. You cannot change your past, you can only integrate it into your present and own it. Make it part of your own beautiful story–the one where you truly believe you are worthy of great things. The one where you are in charge of writing your own ending. . .

(Next up: Part two: The rest of the essentials)