Saturday, November 19, 2016

Ainsley's Angels!

I have some exciting news!!! After looking a couple different times over the last couple years and learning that there is not a local Ainsley's Angels chapter, I have decided to do something about it.  A few weeks ago I contacted the organization as someone who is interested in being an Ambassador. I received an e-mail, watched a video, and this week participated in a conference call. I was e-mailed the official documents and submitted my application minutes ago. I will, hopefully, be joining the next class of Ainsley's Angles Ambassadors-in-Training!!!

What is Ainsley's Angles?
The short version is that it is an awesome group that pairs athlete riders (in wheelchairs) with angel runners.  The angel runner pushes the athlete as they run a race together.  This group not only allows individuals with disabilities the chance to participate in a race, it spreads awareness!!

 Ainsley's Angels was started by the family of a little girl named Ainsley Rossiter, who lived with a rare genetic disorder called Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy, or INAD. Her parents wanted Ainsley to live a full life, part of which was competing in races.  With the inspiration of Team Hoyt (Dick and Rick Hoyt; a father-sun runner/rider team), Ainsley's Angels was born. Her story can be found at the Ainsley's Angels of America website.  Also, her big sister, Briley wrote a terrific book, Born an Angle, which is all about Ainsley. I bought it to take to work to share with my clients, especially children, because I think that it's a tool to use to spread awareness of different abilities and the cool things everyone can do to help others.

 Ainsley passed away in February, at the young age of 12, surpassing an average life expectancy of 10 years. Ainsley's spirit is very much alive and lives on through Ainsley's Angels. Ainsley will continue to inspire and help others for years to come. She's touched the lives of many people, including those whom she's never met.

What is an Ambassador?
As an ambassador, I will bring Ainsley's Angels to my area!!! I will contact race directors, do fundraisers, recruit Angel runners, Guardian Angles (to help with various tasks/serve as chairs), and many other things to help spread the word and get people involved. This is the shortened version of what is involved in being an Ambassador.  

How do I get involved?
Just visit the Ainsley's Angels website to learn about different levels of involvement and choose which may be right for you! You do not have to be a runner to be a part of this amazing group.

Why I am doing this...
I first heard about Ainsley's Angels through the I Run 4 Michael (IR4) group. This is the group that connected me to my fantastic buddy, Maverick (who just turned 7 yesterday!!). I started seeing things about Ainsley's Angels and thought that it looked pretty cool.  At first, I saw runners who are part of the IRun4 family who were also involved in Ainsley's Angels. I thought maybe it was another way to connect with their buddies.  I researched it and learned what it was about.  As I mentioned, I checked into it a couple times and found nothing in my area (although in the book, there are stars in two Michigan locations, so I'm not sure what happened there). I feel that this is something that needs to be around.  People with different abilities should be able to cross a finish line; not just in a wheel chair division of a race. Learning about various disabilities is always a good thing. Awareness is important. Honestly, it's just something that I care deeply about and want to see in my area.

Of course, my little Maverick is always on my mind.  If it weren't for being a part of the I Run 4 family and being inspired by him, I probably wouldn't know anything about Ainsley's Angels. I have a friend who has a wonderful daughter who spends her time in a wheelchair. Her Mom bought a chair so that her daughter could be part of her running experience.

So why... Because I have been touched by some pretty cool people who I think should have the opportunity to cross the finish line.  I wasn't always a runner. I was morbidly obese.  I cannot find words that can describe the feeling of crossing a finish line. Even my first 5K was a huge accomplishment for me. My most memorable (and most emotional race) was my first half marathon. I'll never forget that feeling; the feeling of doing something that I never thought I would do; or even be able to do. That feeling is one that everyone should have the opportunity to experience.

Sometimes I have rough runs and remind myself that God gave me the ability to do this. I'll always be slow.  Right now, I'm not my slowest but I'm also not back to my fastest (however, I am working on that!). I may be faster than I ever was.  Or maybe I'll get to where I was and stay there. My goal is to at least get there.  I'm slow and some days the runs just suck... But you know what? Fast, slow, hard, or easy, I am able to do it.  We are all different in many ways.  Not everyone has a body that can carry them throughout a race. Just because they may have legs that don't work the same way mine do doesn't mean that they shouldn't be able to feel the excitement of crossing the finish line.

I'm so, so excited for this opportunity!! I'm hoping that they love my application! I'm hoping that my dedication, determination, passion, and love is evident when they read it.

They say that in life, everything happens for a reason.  There are reasons we do things. There is a reason for every person we meet. We're put through hard times for a reason. Life is full of ups and downs and every single one of those has purpose. We can get caught up in negativity easily. It doesn't seem to be as easy to choose to be positive. When you do it though, it's amazing. It's peaceful. Learning to work through the rough stuff, to let go of drama and negativity (and realize that it's not something fun to get sucked into!) is huge. If you choose to rid your life of that toxicity, life can be pretty amazing.

I found this organization and applied because it's something I'm interested in.  I am determined to make my chapter successful. There is a reason I've been drawn to it.  There is a reason I was connected to Maverick.  And little Ainsley.... There was a reason she was born with INAD. Look at what this little life started! How can you not believe that she was put on this Earth, her own version of perfection, for a reason. Look at all the good that one little girl has inspired.

I encourage you to go reflect on your own life. Find your reasons. Release the negative and embrace the positive. And just love...


Friday, November 11, 2016

Hello, Again!

I'll really try not to have a super long post since I have a habit of trying to cram several weeks into a blog post once every six (weeks) or so. I keeping thinking "ohhh I should blog." And then I don't. I think it's more of a time issue. I'm a busy girl these days.  Between work, working out, and social/fun things I don't take the time to sit and write. I'm also way more apt to sit and relax with the iPad than sit at a computer (after sitting at a computer most of the day during sessions/writing client notes). I guess the last thing I want to do at home is sit at my computer desk. I think the blog got to be "I need to" or "I should" more than "I feel like" or "I want to." That's probably why, over the last couple years, I haven't written as much.  That and the weight gain.

So... The update last time was mostly about the half marathon. I didn't find another that worked with my schedule in October and not so far in November. The next will be in February. Which means vacation! I started this round of training a few weeks ago and it's going well. I'm doing my "long" runs, which haven't been long yet, on the weekends. I've also been running with a friend once a week, on the weekends. We usually stick to the 5K length but last week I had four on the agenda and she did four with me. This week is five, but since I've already done five, I may not do five with her.  Or maybe I will.  Hmmm... I feel like I'm (somewhat sneakily) prepping her for a half too. If this one wasn't sold out, I'd try to convince her take vacation with me. RATS! We have talked about doing one this Spring, so that will be fun.

I already have one schedule for Spring, the Flying Pig, in Cinci. There are a ton of races in April and May that I want to do. Unfortunately many of them fall on the same dates or very close together. Given that I do training runs that build on miles weekly, I'm sure I could do a half one week and then another a couple weeks later. However, they're all over the place and all that travel gets pricey. So, I have some narrowing to do!

I've recently gotten into yoga again. This is something I've gone in streaks with - probably because I was doing it at home and that gets kind of boring. And it's not a huge calorie burner so I found it ten times easier to do something else. Huge calorie burner or not, it is necessary. Especially for someone who runs a few times a week. Speaking of which, so far, I'm doing better at sticking to a training schedule of only running three times a week, maybe four on some weeks. I'm really bad at that. I could run 5-6 days a week. I am trying to be very mindful of the bad things that result for that. Like over-training injuries. I don't want those.  I'd get super focused on it because I love it and it torches calories. Torched calories translate to pounds lost.  BUT injury and inability to do most activities results in (usually) pounds gained, boredom, and anger over not being able to run. SO, I'm working hard to stick to my training plan.

Well, that sidetracked me... Back to yoga.

I'm now going to yoga class at a studio. I can typically make some of the morning classes, and every now and then, I might be able to go to the more intense, evening class. I'm also considering adding spin for my cross training a couple times a week. I've heard it is really good cross training for runners. It's a great workout and calorie burner, but it doesn't add on steps and those damn fitbit challenges (and my own goal of 10K a day) keep me focused on steps.  But once or twice won't hurt!

So, AGAIN, yoga...

It's awesome. I love it ten times better in the studio than at home. The yoga teacher, Lauri, is awsome. And let's face it, an awesome yoga teacher in real life is far better than an obnoxious yoga teacher on a video. Videos also do not give you that live teacher element so that your poses or postures can be corrected or you don't have reminders and cues. Plus the cool down at the end is a million times better than on a DVD. And longer.  Plus, she gives us affirmation cards to read and essential oils to smell.  I leave class feeling relaxed but also refreshed.  Some days I can REALLY feel my muscle tightness (from cardio) which tells me "oh yes, you needed this today." I feel like I get a lot more out of class than a video.

My affirmation cards have been a little eerie.

Last Friday, I got some about bringing back a childhood dream.  When I was younger, I wanted to be a dancer. In High School, I longed to do color guard. Why? Because I didn't have confidence.  Writing is another thing I've always loved and been passionate about.  I write now and then... Typically through this blog, because as awesome as a novel would be, it would take me two years to write one, unless I quit working and did that full-time which is a risk I cannot take right now. Prior to getting that card, I signed up for the Saturday morning choreo-yoga class. It's a yoga flow set to music. It's beautiful. It's a little bit like..... Dance.

Monday's card was about getting rest because I work too hard. I don't usually think of my work as hard (mentally it is sometimes) but maybe that was more about sleep. I'm not always good at sleep. I also stress if I can't fit an intense workout in. I've eased up on that this week. Yesterday was just yoga. I didn't have time for an intense cardio because my day was so crazy. And you know what? I'm just fine today.

Yesterday's card was about love.  The day before (Wednesday), I thought a lot about love. I try not to get political on here, but dang there's a lot of hate right now. On both sides.  So on Wednesday I really tried to stay positive and stay away from the negative.  I didn't get into any hefty conversations. Instead, I simply spread the message of love.... That all this hate is doing us no good. I'm actually a little frightened because this is probably the time the "bad guys" would prey on us.  Hit us while we are weak and fighting with one another.... I haven't seen anything in the news but that's a scary possibility.

Today's affirmation was similar. It was about reflection.... Looking inside myself. Although I can't remember exactly what it said, there was also something about kindness or joy. I remember reading it and thinking "well that's weird... I was just looking up random acts of kindness cards and sayings while drinking my coffee this morning." I actually pinned a few ideas on Pinterest. And then went to class, where at the end, I received that card.

Okay, this is almost starting to creep me out.  These cards of affirmation are chosen at random. We just grab one (like when you grab a card at random and the magician says he knows your card). I find it interesting that these are pretty much fitting in with things I've done or I've thought about.  Apparently I must be on a good track with my thoughts and actions because these affirmation cards are definitely providing affirmation!

So I'm in love with yoga more than ever before.

Now, I need to go get a quick run in so that I can get back to work!

Hope life finds you well and you have a fantastic weekend!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Am I Boring?

That's the question I just asked myself when I saw how long it's been since my last post.  Seriously, I used to have something to write about here nearly every day. Then I got off track. Then sort of on track. Then off track again.  For a while I probably should've re-named htis Workouts and Weight gain just because that's what was happening.... Still working out but gaining weight.  I like to "blame" picking up my boyfriend's horrible habits but even if I did let them slip in, I should've been in control.  I think that's really when I got out of blogging and have just had a hard time getting back into it.  That plus being busy all day and busy at night.... And basically just doing lots of other things!

So my last post was in July...

I don't see where I ever posted about my super fun Chicago trip with my friend Ashley.  I had decided to do the Bears 5K. Then the boyfriend and his Dad were gifted baseball game tickets. The same weekend. I can do the Chicago trip solo; it's not a big deal. It's close. I always drive anyway. I know my way around... BUT it's kind of a little bit more fun when you have someone with you. So I thought "hmmmm who can I convince to go?" and put a post on FB. Ashley is another IRun4 runner from my area. She responded and we decided to go! What a fun trip!! It was quick, we went down Friday afternoon, raced Saturday morning, spent Saturday there, and came home Saturday night. We packed a lot into our time!

The race itself went pretty well. I eventually slowed down a little because it was hot.  The heat really gets to me.  Well, actually it's the sun. Or the humidity. Or a combination. I guess because I always ran in the evening, I didn't realize how much of an ass the sun is to me. I SHOULD know this because I've had pale skin for my entire life.  I used to go tanning but finally realized how incredibly stupid that is... First, skin cancer. Second, totally fake.  Third, sometimes people look the color of Oompa Loompas. Finally, I don't want to look like an old beat up handbag. I really enjoy looking younger than I am. It's just gross all the way around. I never tanned all the time. I would go in spurts of times I'd tan and times I wouldn't. Then I'd go only a couple times a week. Then I stopped all together because I'd much rather have healthy, youthful skin than look like an old beat up handbag. My personal opinion...If you tan, enjoy.  Anyway, so I'm not tan. I have fair skin. Fair skin that the sun likes to skorch. So I could feel myself burning and slowed down.  As usual, I forgot the sunscreen for my arms and back. I always remember the face and lips (okay, not always, but most of the time). ANYWAY...So I got hot and slowed down. I finished slower than I anticipated. I was a little bummed but then realized I was standing ON Soldier Field and let it go. Ashley and I drank our free beer, waited for the race to finish and bought medals for our buddies, and our awesome tutus attracted a reporter and we got interviewed - which focused all on our IRun4 buddies (and a little on football... Ashley may have gotten some flack for not being a Bears fan).  It was a lot of fun and like other races I've done in Chicago, right on the gorgeous lake shore.  I'll forgive the sun.

I didn't do any races in July. I did the Color Run in August but that was with my boyfriend's little cousin so running was limited.  Goofing around was through the roof.  It was fun! Most of July and August were focused on training for the next half marathon. I had short runs. I had long runs. I struggled with humidity. I struggled with heat. I got pissed off at the sun way more than what was probably necessary.  Honesty, how have I been running for so long that I haven't figured out this sunblock thing yet? Or maybe I forgot about it. That plus change in times for training made a huge difference. MOST races are done before it gets too unbearable. Running at lunch is far different than running at 7am or 7pm. Like with what happened with Gazelle Girl, running inside on the tready is much different than outside.

I didn't really go too far from home in July either.  August was a tough month. My workouts were very inconsistent for two weeks. My Grandpa hadn't been doing well for almost a year and had declined for the last two.  He got really short of breath one day so my Mom had the ambulance take him to the ER. He was eventually admitted and tests revealed that he had fluid around his lung. We didn't realize how much until the doc drained off over two liters. So, let's say a two liter of pop and a half.  The liquid was dark. But it was gone.  So we waited for his little lung to expand.  It didn't. There were things that could be done to help it along but it didn't work.  Eventually, it was decided that they would not opt for the more invasive procedure.  People can breathe with one lung.  His other lung had a section missing  (past biopsy site - which was just scar tissue), so it was a little lung but it was just fine. He started declining during his time in the hospital and we sort of knew what was coming.... We decided to take him home on Hospice. He wasn't in terrible condition and was pretty alert for those first few days.  As the week progressed, he was sleeping more. He was crying out in pain more. It happened to be that the Friday that he had gone into the hospital my Aunt and Uncle were here from Kentucky.  So, most of us were there that following Friday night - minus my cousins and their significant others.  Both my Mom and I had "that feeling" in the morning.  I went for a run and pounded the pavement hard. At a 10-something mile for a short time. It was super humid and miserable, but I ran hard. That night everyone was there for pizza...I think. My boyfriend and I were there. My Dad (who wasn't going to come but my Mom said "you need to") was there, my Aunt and Uncle were there. At one point, I remember my Dad telling him that he, my Mom, and my Uncle had gone and made all the arrangements that morning, so he'd know everything was taken care of. I'm not sure when I realized it, but at one point I said to my boyfriend "we can't leave." And I told my Dad the same.  For some reason, we just knew we were sitting there, waiting for him to let go.  We watched him decline all day and when my Aunt and I were outside, my boyfriend came out and said "they want you in there now - they think he's dying."). So I went in and saw him struggling to breathe.  We all stood around him. He looked so helpless. He was alert and responsive to us. That day I did the absolute hardest thing I've ever had to do.... I looked him in the eye and said "Papa, it's okay to go. We love you but it's okay. I promise we will take care of Nonie." At that point, he started to cry. I noticed a little tear rolling down his cheek.  He closed his eyes and within a few minutes, he was gone. I still can't picture his sweet little face or think about it without crying. Thank God for my boyfriend being by my side through all of this. He's been my rock. The following Tuesday was the funeral. My cousins made it up that weekend. I had taken a couple days off of work and spent time with my family, then we had the funeral. I was tired and exhausted. I took a few days after just to adjust to life in general, I guess.  My workouts were... well I have no idea. They were there and they weren't there.

After that I knew I needed to get back on track. I'd missed two long runs and had a half marathon coming up. I don't think I missed a day of doing something from then until the half.

The half was in Chicago last weekend. I did well.  I remembered my sunblock. I listened to my body. I started out strong (my fitbit and strava both said stronger than my race time -- for all of it, but whatever). Other than a quick stop at the hydration stations, I didn't walk until past the 10K mark. And, as I felt my skin getting hot and burning, I did the smart thing... I stopped at the aid stations. I asked for my sunblock and I put it on.  I felt better. I did this a couple times during the race.  Here's the thing with races, any stops count... Potty stops, medical stops, even those less than one minute walks for hydration... It all counts with your time. So I finished slower than I expected... At least five minutes slower. But, even with that extra time added in, I was about 10 minutes faster than my last half. Still slower than my first, but that's to be expected.  As I lose weight, I will get faster. As I train more, I will get faster.  The best part is that... I felt much better during the race and after. I think that those stops, time added or not, really helped keep me from getting too warm. It feels ten times better running when you don't feel like your skin is burning.  It was a beautiful morning along a gorgeous course.

Then this weird thing happened.... I realized I LOVE HALF MARATHONS. The first one ever was a goal. I wanted to do "just one." I didn't do another for just over three years.  This year I've done two.  The second one, earlier this year, was a miserable experience but I finished. This last one... It felt so good and I wasn't worried about things like time, pace, or sweepers (total fear during the first one which was funny because I was running 11-12 min miles and the time limit was based on a 16 min mile - weird first half anxiety I guess!). I just ran.... I picked a pace that was comfortable and went with it. Sure, as time increased, I slowed down a little. I even walked a little after mile 8-ish. I think once I even walked an entire mile (right before I needed sunblock again).  But I picked it up and ran/walked after that.  I didn't hit a wall at mile 10. I didn't feel like I wanted to quit once. Mile 11 seemed a little long but I kept going. I felt so good after!!! Now, I have fallen in love with this distance. My next half is planned for February but I'm looking for one sort of near by for the end of October or early November, just to keep long distance momentum going. I have to look at my training plan for the half in February. I hope to be down another 20 pounds, based on my 5 pound per month rate of loss, by then. I think that will continue to help with endurance and speed. I'll be closer to my lower weight, but will still have some work to do.  I will be happy if I shave off another 5-10 minutes.  But part of me wants to work my butt off and PR it.... I'll strive for that but will be happy with a small improvement.

So that's that... Maybe next time I won't wait so long!!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Inspirational Women in Yoga.

First, I have to say that my head is POUNDING but I really want to write this. I'm a little concerned that it may impact on my writing but I think it'll be okay. Plus there's always that awesome editing feature which I needed yesterday because..... I am not good at posting from my iPad.

I'm sure I've written a bit about yoga before. I love it. Yoga makes me feel strong, both physically and mentally.  Yoga challenges my body differently than other activities. I am constantly surprised at what I can do or in progress that I make. I don't practice at a studio because my work schedule is all over the place. It makes it hard to get to classes. There are some on Saturday mornings; right when I do my long runs.  I'm hopeful that something a little later in the evening or earlier in the morning will open up.  I do yoga from DVDs that I have. I find new things on-line. I practice some moves on my own. I do Piyo which is a hybrid but includes yoga poses. I would love, love, love to take a class but it's a matter of finding one that works with my schedule.  Something may have to change though.  I have thought, at various times over the last five years, about wanting to include exercise in my professional life. I had a goal of getting my personal trainer certificate back in 2011 or 2012.  I've thought about yoga a few different times, especially over the last year.  Something has stopped me each time.

I've discovered what's stopping me.  Me.  Well, my perceptions of what others MIGHT think about me in those roles.  Back when I was at my smallest, I had achieved a tremendous goal.  I'd lost the weight of an adult. But I felt like I didn't fit the look.  I had the passion but felt that my own appearance wasn't good enough. I ordered the books and started studying but that's as far as it went. I met my boyfriend in 2013, and gained weight back (not all of it, thank goodness!). It was clear then that my books needed to stay in a box. And that's where they sit. Looking back, I looked good. I didn't think so because I didn't look like whatever it is I thought I needed to look like. I didn't think so because the numbers on my scale were higher than what I felt they should be. I look at pictures and I look fit, healthy, and in some ways even thin... My collar bones and spine were showing. But not my ribs. I didn't have protruding hip bones.  My abs and muscles didn't show like I thought a trainer's should. I had a picture in my mind of what I thought a trainer should look like and it wasn't me.

I've thought about becoming certified to teach yoga a few times.  Again, I thought that this would be my goal when I reach my weight loss goal (this time - where I'm staying). I had another picture in my mind (this one a bit different but still NOT my body) of what I should look like.  Several pounds and a few years away from where I was, I thought "when I get there again..." and realized that at that time I totally could've worked for those goals.

Yoga has been on my mind a bit more lately. I love yoga for the entire experience. When my body does something I didn't think it could do, or I can master a pose, I feel awesome.  It's work and takes time, like anything.  I love how it can relax people but at the same time make people strong.  I totally love the mental part of yoga. I incorporate similar thoughts in my life and what I do at work. I want to become certified so that I can actually teach poses and help clients in that way. A few months ago I decided that when I reach my weight and fitness goals, I'll do that.

Guess what! Trainers, like people, come in all shapes and sizes.  I'm finally learning that it is okay to workout and not look like a fitness model or the stereotypical trainer I had envisioned. Yoga instructors come in all shapes and sizes too.  Bodies can do a lot - no matter the shape or size.

I've been a person who believes in body positivity in a way that we should all embrace and accept others. We are different souls in different bodies. Why should your body look like mine? Why should mine look like yours? It shouldn't. We are unique and different and go through life in these amazing masses of all sorts of cool science-y stuff like matter. That's what our bodies are for... To carry these brains around and, well, they're part of what make us people; living beings. I think that we've gotten away from really thinking about what our bodies are and have focused so much on what they look like.  We have sexualized our bodies. Instead of looking at them as just bodies, we have made them more - basing it on what is physical appealing to the eye. Well, someone's eye because the idea body didn't just become ideal all on its own. Someone came up with this; the media continues it.

Let's think about it... Boobs.  They're blobs of fat and flesh that are meant to provide nutrition to babies. Someone decided that boobs were sexual (to look at, I mean; I'm educated I know about erogenous zones). Someone decided that these big blobs were so pleasing that they were sexually arousing. Now people go out and spend thousands of dollars on making them the size of their heads (or bigger!).  Butts are the same for some people.  Our butts help power our bodies; help with movement and lower body strength, Someone decided that butts were sexually appealing. So now the sight of Luke Bryan shaking it in a pair of tight jeans makes women drool.

We all admire different things for different reasons. I may see beauty in something that you don't. I have recently started to see beauty in bodies in a different way.  I see them as beautiful in what they can accomplish.  Someone with awesome muscle in a pose that's been captured beautifully by a photographer is pleasing to my eye.  I think that fit bodies are beautiful - and muscle can be graceful. Check out Adeline Gray, a female olympic wrestler or some of the other athletes in ESPN's body issue.  It really is about movement and the way their individual bodies are created differently. And it's absolutely gorgeous.  

Yes, I've had plastic surgery to remove skin.  Why? Because I didn't like it. Because I worked hard to achieve a physical goal and I wanted the reminder of past pain to be gone.  This time I won't go through more surgery (but I'll likely bounce back a bit better this time too). I don't have any pain associated with the amount of fat on my body.  This is the result of being too lax on nutrition and having too many indulgences.  It's been in fun. I've still been active too, so I guess that's a part of it.  And yes some of my past surgery was probably based on how others would see me.  This was also done three and four years ago.  People can change and, apparently, my outlook has in that time.

Now, I agree with body positivity but please know I do not agree with promoting poor health - at any size. I believe in treating my body well through fitness and nutrition (but yes I do still indulge sometimes!). A person can have fat but still treat their body well.  I don't know, by looking at someone, what their health issues are. I can see an overweight person and make the assumption that they have high cholesterol.  I can look at a thin person and think they don't.  I could be totally wrong.  I'm overweight right now and the only thing wrong with me is that I seem to have a headache today.  My lab work is all great. My functions are great. My body works well.  Yeah, I don't eat clean 100% of the time (but am making great strides, and realistically I will never be perfect nor do I want to). Someone could look at me think I'm fat, ugly, and unhealthy. And they'd be wrong. I'm not fat.I HAVE fat (we all do!). I'm actually like really pretty. Other than my weight being too much I'm healthy.

I have found some amazing women in yoga who have been inspirational. They are not thin. But they are athletes. They are strong. They are beautiful. They have bodies that are not the idea but they are beautiful.  They have bodies; bodies that can do amazing things.

Dana Falsetti.... LOVE her!!! Anna Guest-Jelley created curvy yoga; yoga classes and teacher trainings that are for all bodies. She has included ways to help those who have bodies that may function differently so that they can do their best practice. Amber Karnes created body positive yoga. Rachel Brathen does yoga on a paddle board.  I'm not that good on stable ground sometimes!! A headstand on a paddle board? Badass. Chelsea Roff is a woman with a story that makes me cry when I read it. She survived a traumatic childhood and anorexia. She founded Eat Breathe Thrive. Our bodies are wonderful, capable things. They can do a lot. There some other awesome yogis out there too.

Whether we do fitness for mental health benefits, physical benefits (improvement or weight loss), or just because it's fun, we all do something. Thanks to these ladies for being awesome and showing that it's okay to be you in your body. And that has helped me to realize I DO want to do this.

With that, I need to find someone local who is able to train new teachers.

Go find the beauty in someone else....


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Patches, Pink Drinks, Powders, and Pills - Oh, my!!!!

I decided today that I'm going to stick something in a bottle, give it a nice name, some flashy packaging, and tell people that it's THE life changing product. It will make you energized, cleanse your colon, and help you lose weight.  I'll find a way to make people believe in it. Then I'm going to convince people to sign-up to become distributors to go sell it for me so I can sit back and make millions. BUT I'll let them know that by signing up they too can make money (if they put all of their time into it) and earn the miracle product for free!! 

Sounds like a pyramid. Sounds like something I hear about in one way or another, a couple times a week. Now there is a fancy name for it; Multi Level Marketing. It's not a pyramid scheme and differs in a couple ways; the main one being that it is legal. However it is still a pyramid business when you think about it in he basic sense....

Two others and I join your team. That pushes your rank up and you get a raise. I add three people. The others and two and five, respectively. Wow - by adding 3 to your team, you  just had others add 10 more to your larger team. Of course they can create their own.... And so on. Pretty soon the person at the top is making money thanks to the work of every single person that signs up under them. They get on social media and promote but they don't need to continue the legwork. Meanwhile new girl A is at the bottom, struggling to add people with the belief that she'll get free product and make extra money. The problem is that now the market is over-saturated. She's struggling. No one above is sending referrals her way or helping her build her team. She signed up. They told her what to do. That's it. 

Yes, this IS a generalization in the most simple context. But it makes my point. 

Now please know - I've done a couple of these. And I sucked at them because I love my career more than some random side thing. One thing ended up being used just for the discount. After the fees, the discount wouldn't actually be a discount (fees added up, over time). So I quit. The other? I just didn't have time for. I honestly LOVE the products and will continue to use them. BUT....Extra work outside of work is going to be for my career - kinda like lesson planning for teachers. I don't want to work to push or sell a product in my free time. I want to workout. I want to walk my dogs. I want to spend time with my family and my friends. I want to take trips. I want to sleep. I want to watch the three TV shows that I like. I want to read running and other exercise magazines. I want to write.  I don't want to be stuck sitting around late at night or during the weekend. I want to do things I enjoy in my free time; not things that are work. I didn't love it. It's not my passion. So? I'm done with that. Now you know I have a background and experience. I'm not just babbling. I'm also bit bashing and saying no one should ever do those things. If you love them, go for it. I love therapy. That's my thing. 

SO.... The latest I've seen (some still; some again) are "health" related. Pink powders, flavored powders, a skin patch, some random "supplements" that you pop. And people are quick to join becaus it sounds so amazing. Every single one of those products is going to give you energy, make your bodily woes disappear, help you lose weight, and whatever else.  That product that isn't required to be evaluated by the FDA (although there is some apparent credentialing they can get). It's bit the same evaluation. I wonder how many people look into the validity. The ingredients. The safety. I prefer to know exactly what I'm putting into my body. I try to aim for ingredients I can pronounce. This is most likely why I'm sling weight. Because I care again. I know exactly what lettuce is. I know where apples come from. I don't know what some -ose -Ide -whatever -whatchamacallit might be. 

Guess what!!! Clean eating, water, and exercise will make you.... Have more energy, feel better, and get rid of the junk in your body. Oh and if you get up and move... You can actually get pain relief!! Throw some chia seeds in your yogurt and - there's your awesome, a,axing, miraculous super food. 

I'm the type of girl who asks her medical professional for input before taking whatever supplements or proteins she may read about or think about taking.  I asked my PA about my pre-workout and if it's safe because it has things in it that I can't pronounce. And I sure as heck don't want to put something in my body that could be harmful. 

I can see where you think I'm being hypocritical or contradicting myself. Unjust said that I take pre-work out but earlier stated I prefer to know what's going into my body. There. Please note and understand that. I'm not being hypocritical....  I'm saying I don't just jump on board with something that is presented to me. I won't put something into my body (and don't use it on a daily basis) that I didn't discuss with my PA. 

I don't buy into gimmicks. I'm very skeptical of these types of products. I'm not going to throw $200 at something for a month. I'd prefer to buy an entire Lululemon outfit (more on sale or at an outlet!) that I can wear to workout. I can wear it to do something good for my body that's gonna last more than eight weeks. 

I guess I'm like "Carrie Bradshaw " - "I like my money right where I can see it hanging in my closet." 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I Guess It's a New (again) Trend...

I see I've been absent for almost a month again. Gosh, time is FLYING by so fast!! I have been working lots of busy days and between other things and making sure I have time to fit in some exercise, by the time I sit down at night I'm in that mode where I just want to zone out.  Not sit down and write.

I believe I posted about my weight loss before. I'm moving down, however it's slow going.  I'm eating mostly clean but not super clean where I'm dropping pounds as quickly as I did in the past. I'm all over the place with exercise - it's getting done but not at on any kind of schedule.  I had family up (unexpected surprise!) so I was working with that. I also did a June biking challenge - 100 miles in the month - to raise money for kids with cancer.  I've had lots of support on what I'm doing and my biking but not much as far as donations.  Awareness is something in itself though. Now more people know about the challenge so when it comes around next time, maybe more riders will sign up. 100 miles in a month is really not bad, even if you bike at a leisurely pace. I generally keep it fairly light and bike around 10 miles per hour.  One day I think I did about 14 and that was a day I was moving a bit faster because I started getting rained on. At ten miles a ride, that's only 10 rides in the whole month.  That's only 10 hours of time.  Not bad at all. Due to my schedule mine were more spread out. Then I was out of town for a couple days for a 5K and doing some running on other days, I ended up in crunch time last week. Most of my workouts were biking; at least ten miles. June went by much faster than I  was prepared for! But I finished, on time, and with over 100 miles.  It's The Great Cycle Challenge USA and they'll continue to add miles and donations in throughout this month. There were over 26,000 riders so I'm sure it takes a bit of time to gather all the data.

Anyway....weight loss... I'm sitting around the 25 pounds lost that I was at in June (okay I'm like a pound, almost two, more pounds lost, but close enough). I'm working on 30.  My goal is to have lost over 30 by the time my next doctor appointment comes up.  that's on the 15th of this month, so just under two weeks.  I see no reason that I cannot lose five pounds in two weeks.  As of yesterday, or maybe the day before, I was thisclose to being to that 2 more pounds lost, so it's really only four pounds which is totally do-able for a two week span. More would be great.  I weighed this morning and even with increased sodium (cookout yesterday) my weight was not up as much as it could've been... Not even a pound, so that should come off with water in the next couple days.  I feel that just biking and walking last week had something to do with it too. Until the weekend, I hadn't done much running so the last two weeks were pretty light as far as activity. I was still doing activity but not as intense. Lots of biking and walking but only a few runs until this weekend. I had done a 5K on the 25th and then it was walking and biking until Saturday. I did a couple runs the week of the 5K to get ready for it but I'd been running a couple times a week before then and no long runs since what turned out to be a five miler when I did my last 5K (ran/walked a mile to/from to add a couple more on to the run). I think running will really get things moving again!

This weekend, I did just over four miles Saturday, three Sunday, and a virtual Independence Day 5K yesterday.  Saturday's run was a bit of a struggle; probably because I hadn't done a run in a week! With all the biking and being so busy and not wanting to run late (because then I'd be energized and miss sleep!) it just kind of worked out that way.  By yesterday I noticed my endurance was already better. My speed was also improving. Saturday was more of a struggle and each day got a little better. The 5K the previous weekend was a little brutal. It was hot early in the day - like 80 by race time. And the Windy City had a lack of wind, even right on the lakeshore. There were also lots of people. I lost my friend within the first mile because she was able to squeeze through some people and as I went to go through behind her, someone else came up from the other side and he and his buddies went through, then there was another group I couldn't get around. So I got stuck. Several times during the race, actually. Somehow my time wasn't as awful as I thought it would've been given getting stuck and it being so stinking hot. I was slower than usual but not too terribly far behind - only a few minutes.  It was still an awesome race and when I realized just how crowded it was, I realized time would probably be a factor at some point. I got to finish ON Soldier Field.  I could've been stuck walking the whole thing and would've been totally fine!!!

So weight-wise I'm doing pretty good. I'd have hoped to drop 8-10 pounds a month before this appointment. I was really wanting to be down 50 pounds from February (five months) which is the rate I lost at when I lost weight the first time.  But I'll be okay with 30+. Is it slower than I want? Yes. But I'm doing it in a way that's better for me. Previously I cut off a lot of socialization because that's so centered around food. I was also a little obsessive about my eating habits. Yesterday I decided that I wanted to have an adult beverage because it was the 4th of July! I typically have a beer or drink once every 1-2 weeks.  And that's usually one drink.  Yesterday was a rather large mimosa but after that I was done and back to water.  Moderation.  Yesterday was also a cookout and I ate like a normal person... Not too much and not in an obsessive way.  I had hotdog. I had some pasta salad. I had a few chips.  And I was good. I ate to where I felt satisfied but not super full. I didn't freak out and chug water or struggle because there were not fruits or veggies. I ate a white bun (gasp!). In the past I would've loaded up on fruits and veggies avoided pasta salad and chips totally, and maybe would've had a some of the meat without a bun. I'm losing at a slower rate, but it's a more comfortable, more realistic rate. And I'm not beating myself up like I did before. I ran and burned lots of calories and although I don't like to eat calories back, if I ate a few of them back (wasn't all of them), that's okay. Life goes on.  I'm happy. I'm not self-isolating for fear of what food or drinks will be around.  Life is fun! Would I like to be down 50? Of course.  Would I like to be down 50 but not doing anything or have problematic eating and anxiety in social settings? Nope.  I'll take slow and meeting the needs of my life as it is at this stage.  A few years ago, I was okay self-isolating. My then-boyfriend lived away. I had no one else to worry about during the week. It worked.  Now? It won't work the same way. But I'm eating as clean as possible and putting in the work in way that's working for me now.

Around 20 pounds lost people started noticing. I didn't.  And I still struggle. But I struggled when I was at my smallest weight. In some way, I'll probably always struggle with body imagine. I think that's something that's true for many of us.... I know very few people who are absolutely comfortable with their bodies and would change nothing about their physical appearance.  It doesn't have to be weight loss... It can be that they want to gain weight; maybe they have a nose they don't like; maybe they're short... Anything. Body image is tricky and in same way most of us have some sort of issue with it. BUT it's in how we handle it and how big we allow it to get. So at 20 pounds I didn't notice much.  At 25, I started seeing some differences. I'm also feeling better about how I look in pictures and take mirror selfies regularly to help monitor progress.  I didn't do this last time but this time I think it's a good thing since my weight is moving a bit slower. I'm getting there.  And maybe I won't hit 50 pounds lost until September.  That's okay.  I'd say my goal for the end of the year; another five months would be to hit 70 pounds lost, total.  That's another 40 from where I am now. I think that if I'm a bit more strict, I can do that.  But I will accept a loss of another 30, for 60 overall since February. The good thing is that I'm done beating myself up. Progress is progress. Progress is good. Progress not perfection. I think I'm finally back in a place where I've done my best to block all other negativity from my life and am just working to respond in a different way to bad vibes... You don't like me? Cool. You wanna talk about me? People who know me won't believe it. People who know you will (but do I even care what they believe? Nope.).  People somewhere in between won't want to get involved, will ask the second side of the story, or will let it roll away. Got a problem with how I look? Don't look at me. You think I should/should not be wearing make-up? Okay. Don't like my hair color? Okay. I do. I'm just at that point where I know I can't control what other people see or say and that's okay. My body image isn't about them. It's about me. It's about how I feel. Why should someone saying "oh she's gained some weight back!" bother me? It shouldn't. I'm WELL AWARE of that. Yeah, I have.  Why do you care? What people don't know or see is what I'm doing.  I exercise at least 6 days a week. I usually take a rest day but not always. My exercise varies - I do light cardio, intense cardio, weights, yoga... A variety.  The thing is, I don't control what anyone else thinks about how I look. I don't control what they say. I only control how I see myself; how I feel about myself; and what I choose to do (or not do) about it.  Right now I'm eating mostly clean and I'm exercising a lot. Exercise makes me feel good. I'm losing weight but I'm not stressing.  I'm happy. Maybe that's what upsets people... I'm not showing that I'm totally miserable with how I look. I'm not. But it's also not anyone else's business how I see myself or feel about myself. I share things here because I want to. Because I've heard it's helped other people.  I've had people tell me I've motivated and inspired them. I've had people tell me that my determination has helped them to be more determined.  That is by far one of the best feelings I've ever experienced. Ever.

So I'd say things are going well... I've done a three 5Ks in June/thus far in July.  I was thinking of another half this month but got off-track with my training. I have one for sure in September so training will start for that soon enough. I'm sure I'll do some more 5Ks and 10Ks this summer.  Running is good. Eating is pretty good - I could clean it up a bit but I'm okay where I'm at. Weight loss is happening. I'm going to make sure I don't miss tracking any bites during this two weeks and hope to be at 31, or more, lost on the 15th. Other areas of life are going great!

Hope life finds you well and your summer is fantastic!!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Month...!?

I've been busy.  Super busy lately.  It seems like time has gone by very quickly.  I'm going to give quick run down of what I've been up to and will write a more detailed post later.

In the last month I have....

1. Lost more weight. Not as much as I could have (or feel I could have) in a month. But I'm down five more pounds. My weight loss had plateaued for a bit and within the last couple week. It's been moving again. I've added some more light activity so maybe that little bit of extra has made it move again. I've also been trying to vary my routine more, which typically helps break plateaus. Slow loss is okay but in a month I'd have ideally lost 10 pounds.  I would have accepted eight. But I'm happy it's moving again.  Any loss is good.

2. Run a 10K.  I wasn't ready for the 25K at Riverbank, especially after Gazelle Girl in April.  The morning of Riverbank was cold, which I was happy about. It had rained but it wasn't raining at race time. It was windy which I didn't enjoy but it wasn't bad and didn't slow me down too much. I felt really good after the race. I'm still slower than I used to be and have some speed work to do to get faster (which I hope will improve with continued weight loss). It was a good race and I felt good about things.  I had started half marathon training again so the 10K was before my long run was scheduled but that was okay; I have varied my runs since then. I missed my seven mile run last weekend (due to biking 14 miles instead and out of control allergies the next day) but I have eight on the agenda this week. I'm usually okay up to 10...It's over 10 that I need to work on so missing one seven mile run should be okay.

3. Gotten back into biking again. I started cycling challenge to raise awareness and benefit kids with cancer. I have a goal to ride 100 miles in the month of June and people can sponsor/donate. It's the Great Cycle Challenge. On days things aren't hectic (or cold, or rainy..)  I plan on riding to and from work which will give me a minimum of two miles a day. On a day where I could work it, that would be four with going to/from lunch. I also plan on a long ride every other weekend (at least) to see my Grandparents, plus other rides throughout the week. As of now I'm sitting at 20 miles. 80 miles in 23 days (including today) isn't bad.  I have a short tempo run to do this evening and will most likely at least ride a few miles... At a comfortable pace I can do five in half an hour so it's not like it takes much time out of my day.

I suppose that's the short version of my health and fitness update.

I saw this awesome video today and feel like people should check this out - and the awesomeness of this woman, Dana Falsetti! She seems like such a strong, confident woman.

Hope you're doing well!