Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Not anything profound or different from the general population, but I am recommitting myself starting NOW. The New Year always symbolizes "change" or "resolution" or "new beginning". I've never put up a facade that I don't struggle with weight management on a daily basis. That's just life. I was always a skinny young girl, but that didn't stick once I became a busy, working, mother. I learned that I didn't just want to be "skinny". I wanted to be FIT. I've put myself and my body through some serious challenges. The truth is, I work HARD to be fit and healthy, but when I slack, it shows...FAST.

The last 6 months have been the hardest months of my life in probably almost a decade. My role within my company changed, I switched from not only being an administrator, but also a daily operations manager. I essentially work two full-time jobs, on top of having young children, training and running the NY Marathon and then when that was finished I went full speed into the holidays. On top of all that, I did it with a broken heart and spirit as the changes came at a great personal/emotional loss. It's no different or more stressful than anyone else, but for me, it was a drastic change in my life style and things had to be pushed off my plate. Thank God for Blythe Alberg,,  as she was able to continue running the weight loss challenges.  My amazing husband, Marty certainly helped a lot and I can't imagine how I would have survived without him. I had to hire extra help for my kids, I've missed out on A LOT of things that I had grown accustomed to doing on a daily basis and I made a lot of personal sacrifices and pushed my sanity to the limit.

I maintained a vigorous workout schedule, obviously training for a marathon is not easy, but it was different and produced a different body style and routine for me. Then, when the marathon ended, I no longer needed to fuel myself for long distance running, but my appetite didn't adjust so quickly. So here I am: heavier than I've been in a long long long time and realizing that I put my nutrition on the back burner for too long, relying solely on exercise, and now it's time for me to get back on track!
I spoke with Blythe this morning, and normally, I would really beat myself up, but not this time. I made the change years ago to be healthy, I've had a set back in that I've been relaxed, but even heavier, I'm still fit and strong. I know what I need to do to get back on track and I'm reclaiming control to be my best me.

Think about the changes, wants/needs you recognized within yourself in 2014. Remember what you want and challenge yourself to make a commitment and be diligent so that you can reach your goals for 2015!
Happy New Year!!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Marathon Weekend

Well, here we are!  I'm sitting on the 162 train to NYC.  We are expected to arrive around 9:30am.  I've wanted to sit down and write about my weeks of training, but found I was too emotional, too tired, too whatever....  The past few months have been a whirlwind.  Short runs, long runs, endorphin heightened bliss and emotional falls.  Too many things to write about; Obscure injuries, aches, pains, lots of advil, KT tape, new shoes, long showers, 4am alarms, energy chews and goo.  The training was NOTHING of what I had originally expected and more than anything I could have asked for.

There were 6 of us sitting at that table when we decided we would run this thing.  I had a plan, I had a track, I knew what I was getting into.  I felt balanced.  I was prepared to take on the challenge and commit myself fully to the training that was needed.  My team was strong and we were all excited and ready to hit this goal!  Then life happened and I had to learn to make adjustments.  I lost my pace partner (she had to make the call that this was not her race), an emotional fall to say the least, but I learned a lot about myself and my own strengths through the trials that transpired.   I found myself with a heavy workload and a lot of unexpected stress.  The marathon was no longer the center of my focus, but instead had become something that I was trying to "fit in" to a very busy life.  For many weeks, I felt "locked", like I couldn't break open and enjoy the training.  I was frustrated with myself and I felt very isolated and alone in those feelings.  However, I was starting to notice that I wasn't the only one making adjustments.  The truth is, when you sign up to run a marathon, life doesn't pause.  Stress doesn't go on hold just because you think the marathon should be your focus.  Life just keeps moving and as I looked to my teammates, I realized that we were all learning our strengths and we were all pushing through and it wasn't just miles on the road where we were trying to just put one foot in front of the other.  

At times, it felt it was all too much.  It was in those times, I looked to my team.  I'd cry, or they'd cry, we'd talk, sometimes I'd just listen.  Sometimes we would laugh ourselves silly and I won't even try to explain why we chose to talk about certain topics.  I took out my feelings on hills.  I looked deep in my thoughts for peace during a long steady stretch.  I appreciated quiet mornings and the ability to tune it all out and just run.  Sometimes, life was so much that I couldn't run, but many times I laced up anyway and tried.  They weren't always good runs, but I didn't give up.  Even though I wanted to.  

Friendships stregthened, perhaps because when our strength was waning, we looked to each other for support.  Even those that aren't running the marathon offered support and became extensions of our team.  The relationships deepened as the miles increased and I found that even in my silent moments, my heart was heard..  

So here we are...sitting on the train headed to NY.  There are too many feelings to express and I find myself full.  My heart, my head, my bladder (lots of coffee this morning!)  Thank you Team Sole Society for everything.  Let's do this!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Emotional Health Matters Too!

Being healthy isn't just about eating well and excerising.  As humans, we are multi-dimensional.  Health and wellness is a balance of physical health, social/emotional and cognitive development (ok, ok, I'm tapping into my Early Childhoold Professional brain).  But you get the point-- health has many aspects and sometimes health doesn't have an obvious symptom or easy method of measurement.  

I had to miss my 16 mile run this morning, I'm pretty sure I have strep throat and a chest cold.  I was super bummed and even frustrated that I had run myself down so much that my immune system has weakened.  Like I mentioned, I'm back in one of the preschools working daily with the kids and let's just call it how it are gross.  They are little germ incubators and they touch everything and spread all kinds of sickies everywhere.  They are a force not to be reckoned with.  Get it?  Kids.  Are.  Gross.  

My system is already run down, with the marathon training, working long hours, little sleep, not the greatest diet because with all the running, I'm eating an insane volume of food and not always the best choices.  I don't have a lot of wiggle room to allow my body to rest and recover.  On top of that, I'm STRESSED.  Not all stress is bad stress, some stress just happens because is busy.  However, when your body is kicked into overdrive and you're working longer hours, squeezing in workouts, managing a household and just dealing with life...the stress adds up and your mental health takes a beating.  

I've always been cognizant of my mental health.  I like to think that I'm pretty aware of my quirks.  Trust me, I know I'm not perfect.  But when I started this journey of health and fitness in 2009, I could see that as my body was changing, so was my persepective of relationships, life stressors, and daily interactions I had with people and situations around me.  I've learned that I am in control of my mental health.  I am in control of how I react to situations, how I interact with people and what I allow in my life.  There are some stressors you cannot change.  There are some things that you cannot remove from you life...because it's JUST LIFE.  We can't avoid all stress, but we can certainly limit it and recognize what stressors we're stepping into.  

My New Year's resolution for 2014  was to invest in relationships that invest in me.  I was realizing that I was putting a lot of energy into relationships and parts of my life that brought absolutely nothing but stress back on me.  It wasn't healthy.  It was destructive.  With that resolution, I felt immediate RELIEF. I was cutting the bullshit out.  Most of it wasn't a gradual separation.  It was a door slam, really.  I stopped putting myself out there, stopped with the phone calls, texts, attempts of getting together with people who never initiated any sort of interest in being around me.  I stopped trying to please others and fix others and when I felt that pang of "loss", as you sometimes feel when you've separated yourself from someone, I reminded myself of the feelings of disappointment, resentment and stress that the person/persons brought to my life.  Sometimes when you think you miss someone, what you really miss is the "idea" of that someone...and you have to put your perspective back in check and say, "what exactly do I miss about that relationship?"  

As I started investing in the relationships that invested back...well, I learned that there are some really awesome people out there.  The expectations are gone.  You just show up.  You're present in the moment, you genuinely care and they care back.  However, we all understand that world doesn't revolve around us as individuals.  We know that at any given moment we'd drop whatever we are doing to be there for the other person, but we also recognize that we don't have to fix each other.  To have relationships that don't rely on what you can give, only care about WHO you are...well, that's incredible.  We aren't a dumping ground for one another.  We don't spew out our stresses with the expectation that someone is going to help us out of it.  We share and commiserate and laugh and tell each other: I'm hear to listen; let's grab a drink or go for a run or let me just sit with you because being near you makes things feel just a little bit better.  I learned that there really are people out there that just want to know me.  They don't need anything from me  Also, they give me the greatest gifts of all and that is just their friendship, their time and their sincere thoughtfulness.  

On the other side of that, when I stepped back and stopped pushing myself into relationships, there were some that really surprised me to learn just how one-sided they really were.  The reaching out stopped, the calls stopped, the texts, the "hellos", the messages...everything just stopped.  Except the world did stop, it just kept going and I found myself recognizing that there was an absence in my life and I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  I would go from anger, to resentment, to sadness.  Why wasn't this person reaching out?  Are they really ok that I'm not part of their life anymore?  Did I believe this relationship was more than what it really was?  I'm such a fool.   So when you decide to stop investing in those that don't invest in you...prepare to have relationships end.  It still takes my breath away to think that it's over, I get that ache in my gut, that hurt that says, "But I really loved you, why didn't you love me back?"  So while it does feel good to see that there are some amazing people in your life, you have to deal with the reality that some people are ok with you not being in theirs.  Maybe it isn't as clear as that.   Maybe they don't know how to invest in you, maybe you pushed yourself in, maybe maybe maybe....there are so many variables, but you have to remind yourself (myself) that the relationship wasn't fullfulling needs and relationships cannot be one sided.  

Last week after my 20 mile run, I was thinking about so much.  I was on a runner's high.  My thinking was so clear and you really do learn a lot about yourself while cranking out 20 miles.  You learn you're stronger than you imagined, that when your physical strength is gone, your mental strength helps you finish and that when that's gone, your friends can help you pull through.  I was thinking about my friend Susan.  She was so strong.  She stayed with me and really helped me those last few miles.  My body ached, I wanted to give up, and I felt terrible that she was running slower so not to leave me behind.  But you know, she wouldn't leave me.  She stayed positive and was just "there".  God, I love that woman.  I can't express how much I appreciate her in my life.  

It got me thinking about past relationships and I how I hoped my friendship with Susan (and several others) would never end.  So of course, I start reflecting on those relationships that I was in so deep and how they ended so badly.  What did I do wrong?  How could I have saved the relationship or how I could I have ended it differently?  It scared me.  Like I said, I know my quirks.  I felt that when relationships ended, specifically when I stopped investing, most didn't end quietly, they end painfully and explosively.  How can I keep that from happening in the future?  My husband talked with me and lovingly said, "maybe you haven't noticed, but you've got a little bit of a temper."  He also pointed out, that I only feel like all my relationships end that way because it's the relationships that I put so much into that broke my heart so badly when they ended.  He pointed out that often times I put myself into friendships and did what I thought I should do and what I wanted to do and that it wasn't always in sync with what that friend needed/wanted me to do and then I would get upset that they didn't appreciate what I had done.  He suggested that I look at relationships and truly evaluate what that person needed/wanted from me.  That I gave and gave and gave, but maybe that's not what the other person wanted or even needed.  So I couldn't be upset with someone for not appreciating something they never wanted in the first place.  Also, I was lumping all endings into that category and that just wasn't the case.  So much to think about.  

Yesterday, I got a phone call from a very upset friend.  She's in a pretty unfortunate situation and it has really broken my heart; she deserves better.  I hate that her life is hard right now.  We hung up the phone and all I could think was that she needed a friend.  I started thinking of ways that I could "fix" her situation and ways maybe I could make things better.  Then I pulled myself back and thought, "this isn't mine to fix; what can I do?"   The best thing I could do as a friend was just be there.  So I asked her to meet me for lunch.  Before we even started to talk, I just laid it out there.  "I can't do anything but listen, and promise not judge or take over.  I'm just here to listen and cry and let you know that whatever you choose, I'm behind you 200%"  Then I listened.  I just loved her and let her know that I was a "safe" place for her to express herself and that if there was something I could do, to just ask and I'd do my best.

I went back to work and of course, I thought about her the rest of the day.  But I didn't do my normal tailspin of inserting myself into her problem.  At the end of my work day, I was getting in my car and found beautiful roses and a card.  She thanked me.  She gave me the most sincere thanks I've ever received and you would have thought I had waved a magic wand and made all her problems go away. But that wasn't what she needed, she didn't need me to make her problems go away.  She just needed me to be there.  That's exactly what I need from my friends too!  I finally felt like it made sense to me.  I had a revalaton on what it means to invest in others.  I felt like a had a mental break through and a deep understanding of what I wanted and needed in relationships.  I felt appreciated, loved, and confident that there really are people that just love me for me.  

Today, my stress is lessened just a bit.  I wish I had been a little less stressed earlier in the week, maybe I wouldn't  be laid up in bed right now with the sickies, but I do feel like I gained another healthy habit/life skill in recognizing how to be a better friend and appreciate the friendships that I have surrounded myself with.  It makes those other moments of insecurity and self-doubt a little less daunting.  

Now, off to sleep the day away and focus on some physical health :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's Not Easy

I found myself folding laundry at 3am the other morning.  Why?  Well, because I couldn't think of how I was going to get it all done.  By all, I don't mean the laundry, although it had piled up, what I mean is, house chores, shuttling kids, train for a marathon, yada yada yada.  I just felt overwhelmed.  I was trying to think about how I could manage and juggle all that I had to do and I realized, that while laying there feeling overwhelmed and trying to pep myself up...I could probably have already started a load by now.  So, up up up I was and I was soon sipping coffee in a silent family room while folding laundry.  

My life has had some changes in the last several weeks.  One being that I haven't worked on site for my preschools in several years, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I'm back to working full time on site at one of my centers.  It has been somewhat of a blessing, for many reasons, but professionally I feel more connected than I've felt in a long time.  I'm working with many personalities and balancing many many responsibilites.  It's been more positive than I had anticipated and for that I am truly grateful.  The downside to working on site is that I have less time with my family and I'm not as flexible with my schedule.  This makes working out well...difficult.  

Over the years, I've heard excuse after excuse as to why people couldn't stick to their healthy habits.  The biggest excuse is TIME.  I can certainly appreciate the struggle, especially given my current situation.  I'm basically working 2 full time jobs (on site at a preschool and still doing my other full time job as admin for both sites), another part time job (teaching for the community college), raising young children and in my spare time I'm training for this little race in November (NYC Marathon).  However, even with my full plate, I'm making my health and fitness a priority.  It's not easy.  No one said it would be and for anyone that thinks that only people who have nothing else to do are the ones who can focus on their health...well, that's a big fat lie.  In fact, I think that most people that can balance a lot of different things are better disciplined and focused and can prioritize their time well enough to get those workouts in and plan and prep to prepare for their busy schedules.  

I'm not tooting my own horn.  This isn't a "whoa, look how much shit I can get done!" post.  What I'm saying is that sometimes difficult things have to be done to achieve the results we want.  I'm overwhelmed, there aren't enough waking hours to get done everything that needs to be done.  Forget about the things that I want to get done.  However, focusing on your health is not a luxery, it should be a priority.  Some things are going to fall through the cracks, some things will have to wait; you may have to move your schedule around, and you may be up at 3am to fold laundry.  Life is all about choices.  It may look easy to others because your will is stronger than your excuses.  People might think that your life is easier than theirs and therefore you have the "luxery" of working out and eating well.  What people don't realize is that when you want something bad enough, you make time for it.  If this were easy, everyone would do it.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Mental Game

Today was the first long distance run I had to say, "I'm done" before hitting the distance.  Part of the team was running 18, part of the team was only doing 13.  I had in my mind that I would run 13 with those that still had a shred of sanity left in them.  My first 3 miles felt really good.  Mile 4, I could feel anxiety setting in as I started doing the math in my head, prepping for the upcoming route and thinking about my to-do list that was waiting for me once I finished the run.  Suddenly, my legs felt like lead.  My heart felt heavy.  My mind said, "enough."  So at 4.5, I turned to Susan and said, "I'm out."  She first laughed, but then said, "are you serious?" and sadly...I was.  

Kathy and Stacie weren't feeling the run either, each for various  So the three of us turned back.  We finished up at just under 7 miles.  I know, most people think, "Holy crud...7 miles!?!  That's nothing to sneeze at!" but this far into marathon training, 7 miles isn't going to cut it for my "long run day".  To say that I was disgusted with myself is an understatement.  

Let me back up to when I first woke up this morning at 3:45am.  The alarm went off and my very first thought was, "I hate running."  Yeah, probably not the most positive thing someone should think as they are 13 or 14 weeks (I've lost count) into marathon training.  But, that's where I am.  I've been working a lot and I'm tired.  I'm burning both ends of the candle and I was not mentally prepared for the day or the run.  When I originally signed up with the marathon team, I only thought about how much I love the running, the runners, the social connection, health benefits, and if I'm being honest here...the clothes.  Weeks later, my body hurts, it's not just the time commitment of the run but also the time in RECOVERY, my feet are hideous and can we just take a moment to appreciate the amount of laundry (both excessive running clothes and normal every day wear that is just piling up because of the beforementioned time spent running AND recovering that keeps me from putting any time into my house chores such a laundry, and don't even get me started on what my kitchen looks like...)  WHEW. Mini vent over.  Needless to say, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and overrun.  Back to 4am, I did lay there and try negotiating with myself about why I really should or shouldn't run, I forced myself out of bed, got dressed, had coffee and breakfast and started my pre-run rituals.  Out the door by 5:45am and on my way to meet a couple teammates.  

The entire 10 min drive to Kathy's house to meet, I'm thinking about the run.  Stressing really.  I hear from Kathy she's only doing 13, and I thank my lucky stars and casually mention "me too".  Done.  Felt good to retract from the 18 miler that was looming over me.  But Kelly says she is doing 18. BAM.  Guilt.  "I should push myself" is what I'm thinking.  Then my body takes over and I start to cry.  Do I listen to body or my guilt?  I'm so torn.  I follow Kathy and Kelly in my car to our running spot start up.  I'm crying, talking to Heather on the phone, crying some more.  Feeling just way overwhelmed.  I tell myself to get my shit together as I see the rest of the team.  I get my fuel belt on, click DO WORKOUT on the Garmin and put one foot in front of the other.  Now, we're back to mile 4.5 and I'm turning around to head home.  MENTAL GAMES.  

Today was not my run.  I came home, got myself together and then worked the rest of the morning.  I just started knocking stuff off the to-do list.  Feeling a little come off my shoulders with each completed task.  I'm going to try again tomorrow, only 12 miles, tack that on with today's 7 and I feel OK with that.  I need to learn to trust myself and my instincts better.  I knew before even getting dressed that today was not my run.  There's a difference between pushing through because you need motivation and pushing through exhaustion.  I'm exhausted.  I need to make sure that mentally I'm able to tackle those long runs.  I need to get myself prepared and organized so that I can turn it off when I hit the pavement and I need to listen to my body when it says "AA you need to rest!"  Maybe that's something we don't realize until we're out there.  Maybe I could have pushed through and would have felt like a million bucks afterwards.  Maybe I would have curled into the fetal position sucking my thumb and they'd have to carry me away in a straight jacket.  I tried and I'm not going to look at it as a failure, just a lesson.  

So for today, I'm going to cross things off my list and focus on clearing my head and hopefully tomorrow I'll get a little spring in my step and feel better through those miles.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I am real.

If I am quiet, I'm a snob. 
If I speak up, I'm a bitch.  
If I dress up, I'm stuck up.  
If I have a manicure or fix my hair, I'm prissy.  
If I eat well, I'm a health fanatic.  
If work hard, I'm a perfectionist.  
If I laugh out loud, I'm a show off.  
If I exercise, I'm vain.
If I had a bad day, I'm moody.
If I cry, I'm too sensitive.
If my house is clean, I'm uptight.
If I offer help, I'm controlling.
If I cannot help, I have abandoned you.
If I wear make-up, I'm superficial.
If I order a salad, I'm starving myself.
If I get up early, I'm neurotic.
If I ask for help, I'm needy.
If I am kind, I'm weak.
If I follow my heart, I'm stupid.
If I follow my head, I'm cold.  
If I am sad, I'm self-centered.
If I am happy, I'm clueless.
If I am mad, I'm self-rightous.

If I am me...  I am real.

I have found that people will always have an opinion of who I am.  The best thing I can do is stay authentic and true to myself and not care what others think.  I will continue to surround myself with people that love and care about me for who I am, rather than who they want me to be.  

Being healthy begins with loving yourself.  

Do Workout

To say that this marathon stuff is easy, would be a BOLD FACED LIE.  It's tough stuff.  Life doesn't "pause" while you train, so on top of dealing with daily life stressors, you need to keep moving forward and get those training runs in.  We are up to 14 miles for our long distance runs on the weekend and we do two shorter runs mid week (4-6 miles each).  I hit 100 miles for the month of July and my body can feel it!

Aside from the marathon training schedule, I've had some changes in life that are requiring me to really buckle down and focus.  As summer camp wraps up, I'm preparing for the kids' vigorous school schedule.  With a middle schooler in the house and our little guy going into first grade, they just seem to be getting busier and busier!  I've had to go back to working at one of my preschools full-time and while the work isn't necessarily harder or more than usual, it has required that I'm on location for the day.  That has really jammed me up in regards to the things in my life that I could incorporate into my previously typical work days.  Developing a new routine is going to take a few weeks, but some things are going to have to be moved to the back burner.  So deciding where I can cut some slack has been somewhat problematic.  I know it will all work out, but the adjustment period is bound to have some challenges. 

In all honesty, most days I Do.Not.Feel like running.  I'm tired, stressed, sore, etc.  A few weeks back, I posted that I didn't feel like running, but no one ever feels like dealing with cancer.  That really put things into perspective, right?  Can't really complain that I'm ABLE to run.  So I laced up and hit the pavement and I will tell you, I really did NOT regret that run.  I was reminded that my body is strong, that I chose this goal and that with all my strength I will do my very best because there are others out there that would give anything to be able to run those miles.  

I think the greatest lesson I'm learning from training for this marathon is that life is truly all about choices.  You can want to do many things, but in reality we're all given the same 24 hours.  I've made the commitment to my team and to myself, so there's no backing out, but for the next several weeks, I need to realize that I can't do it all.  I have to focus and push myself to reach this goal because life is pushing on me to do other things that at times sound a little more appealing.  Just like anything you have to work hard for, you need to focus, you need to push against all the "I can'ts" and tell yourself "I can".  You have to know your capabilities and recognize what other stressors can wait and you need to remind yourself why you're doing it in the first place.