Those Long Runs

Long runs.

When you’re a runner, there’s nothing more foundational to your training than a weekly long run. They are key to building strength and letting your body slowly adapt to greater distances. They are  crucial when you’re an endurance runner.

Countless Saturdays  these past months have found me out on the road in the wee hours of the morning. Seriously, what sane person is out at 5:30, leaving behind a perfectly warm bed to go out running ? My long runs have tapered down to my races recently and although I’ll be doing my 50K on the 28th, I’m not putting in any crazy long runs before then.

I am planning a long (ish) run for Saturday, you know, something in the double digits ? 😉

Is it weird that I want to see those numbers show up on my watch ? even in my last race when it was over 10 miles I remember thinking… “yay, double digits, now we’re getting somewhere”.

I’ve gotten to a point though that I really look forward to them. Some nights I’ve been so hyped up I’ve had a hard time sleeping ’cause I’m playing the route out in my head. I look forward to them ’cause on their own they singularly offer a new weekly challenge to me.

Long runs are so  life sucking  empowering for me.

Long runs have also carved out the most intense discipline in my life. It takes a lot to leave your bed and put yourself out on the road to be prepared to go…. in the dark…the cold…….the misty drizzle…. or know you’ll most likely encounter rain before you finish. So many weekly variables to the long run. To  understand that what you’re about to do is crucial to your success as a runner mentally and physically.

But let me tell you about what goes down once I’m out.

I live in the hill country so it’s always dark and very quiet when I leave. I take my music but never use it until the last few miles and by that time, it’s nice and bright out 😉

I take off and let my body slowly wake up and settle into the rhythm of the run.

If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s this zone you just get your body in.

The only sounds I hear are my feet hitting the road and the soft sound of my breathing. If I’m lucky, sometimes, the sky is bright with stars or the moon, and  it’s the most awesome, amazing, privilege  to be out then. It makes me feel so very, very small and once again, in awe of our Creator and creation. One morning I saw four shooting stars…. silent, swift, and quiet streaking across the dark sky.. at that point… you don’t miss your bed at all.

All I can think is…. “If I was in bed I woulda MISSED that!”

I pass houses, dark and silent, the owners still tucked into bed, dogs not let out yet, single quiet porch or night lights still on. There’s a part of me that feels rather accomplished at that point for being out there, already having miles under me.

The night sky gradually leaves as the new day pushes into existence. If I’m fortunate, I also get to watch a glorious sunrise too.

You know that term “break of dawn” ?

It’s a real thing. It happens. But usually we are either inside, busy, or not really paying attention to see it, to actually even notice because it’s swift and fleeting.

Yet, when you are on the road, running, it’s all in front of you. A front row seat to the new days arrival.

It’s that soft subtle move that changes the last glimpse of night, to day time.  Blink and you miss it.

Long runs also give me time to think, process, or mull over ideas. I often get some of my most creative thoughts as I pound out that pavement. Oh yeah, and the therapeutic aspect at times can’t be beat.

By the time the sun is rising in the sky and people are getting out I’m closing in on finishing my run. I’ve usually popped music in to kick me a little more into high gear. I remind myself I get bragging rights when I finish 😉  and coffee…. yes, a little caffeine too…. I’ve earned it…..so  glad my Starbucks peeps love me messy in running gear as much as when I’m all girly again…

Finally, the last couple miles are in sight….. the finish line.

Depending on the distance, my legs could be asking…. “are we there yet ?”  Knowing the end is so close, I dig in deeper to push it all the way (it’s just…..evil…… in the last 1/4 mile I’ve gotta pull this hill that seems to sometimes get taller in front of my eyes 😉

And then, I’m finished, hours after leaving my comfy bed.

I’m tired. Sweaty. Hair dripping. A proverbial hot running mess.

Long run done and as always, I feel freaking victorious.

That Stupid Scale

20150311_170859-1Let’s face it…. truth time…..

In our lives we’ve all had relationships with scales… and it’s usually a love/hate relationship.

THE SCALE – our judge, jury, condemner, slammer of our self-esteem and worth. The “thing” that has the ability to take our good, happy day and turn it to crap based on what numbers dial up like a slot machine in Vegas. Those numbers can make us feel like a million bucks or a huge failure.

If the numbers are “good” we allow it to stroke our self-esteem… like our personal value is hinging on those numbers.  If we determine they are “bad” then it can single handedly take us down, making us feel instantly bad about ourselves. Might as well paint a big loser symbol on our chest and send us out into the world.

Let’s establish this right now… you are not “just” a set of numbers… ok ?? There is far more to you than a set of numbers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The scale does have a value, but it’s a tool, and there are times we need to use that tool, but use it wisely.

When I started my fitness journey, I needed to lose weight, and my weekly weigh in’s were important to my progress.

Did you note the key word here?  Weekly.  Not many times in a week, a day, or several times a day, weekly… once.

I won’t lie. I was in the same boat.

Some weeks,  I loved the damn thing. Other weeks, I had to resist throwing it out the window. I understood for my progress to be successful it needed to be slow and steady, which it was. Some weeks there was more, some less, but it was forward movement.

You know what that scale didn’t tell me ? What it doesn’t tell you?

How awesome you are no matter your size, even as you are seeking to be less of you. It doesn’t take away that amazing feeling you have finishing a workout. Before I’d lost any weight worth mentioning, I mentally felt great after coming in from my walks (that’s where I started in the beginning before, the sickness started, you know, the sickness that is making me run a  50K 😉

The scale also doesn’t show all the cool stuff that is going on INSIDE you. It doesn’t show your lab tests improving, your heart and lung health getting stronger, your resting heart rate getting lower (and a whole lot of other scientific stuff)  or the way you think of yourself, your growing confidence and stronger self-esteem, or the way those workouts help you feel less stressed.

Nor does it show how empowered you are becoming with each workout and positive step forward.

No. It won’t show you any of that.

Being a certain number doesn’t make you “healthy”…. nor does striving to just be “thin”….. it can make you skinny fat which basically means you have more body fat percentage than lean muscle mass. Ah, the benefits of building lean muscle mass… another topic to be pursued….

The goal shouldn’t be to get “thin”.  Oh, years ago when I was starting to lose weight that WAS my mentality.

“I just want to be thin and fit in size 10 jeans again!” at that point that’s all I knew….all I wanted.  Make the scale say less… life would be good.

I didn’t realize it could be so much better than just a quest to be “thin” and trying to achieve some perceived number of “perfection.”

But then…. things happened along the way. Yeah, I was losing fat. But other cool stuff was happening too.

Losing fat let my muscles start showing up. Lifting weights wasn’t just giving me some muscles but making me stronger for ALL  of my daily living. I went from cute 5lb weights to the 35lb I currently use.

Running was shaping me in crazy ways. My legs are not only wildly strong but have awesome muscles. I can’t tell you the times total strangers stop me to comment my legs. My abs leaned out.  Actually I can’t tell you a single area that running hasn’t improved on me.

I got faster. I could lift more. I tackled projects in life without needing someone “stronger” to help me.

I got mentally stronger….tougher.  My confidence grew. I was empowered and didn’t ( and don’t)  consider that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do.

Oh wait…… hold on ……. do you see my numbers at work here ? Defining me ?  No, I don’t either.

You see now days I’m more concerned about what my body can do, and how it can perform doing the things I ask of it, rather than if my numbers are bouncing around on any given day. Today I can’t think of a better compliment than when someone tells me I look strong.

I honestly get on a scale maybe twice a year and it’s at the doctors office. Total freedom.

You see the scale was a “tool” to get me moving. I used it for it’s purpose. It allowed me to see my efforts of eating better and moving more were having results.

Today, all my clothes  are single digit sizes. Remember me mentioning all I wanted was to get back into my size 10’s? I never thought a day would come they’d be two sizes to big. As long as my clothes fit well, I don’t concern myself over numbers hopping around on any given day.

I mean, why ?  Don’t we have enough in our days to trouble us ? Enough negative to potentially bring us down? Do we need to give something like …a scale… that kind of power ??

Ok…. the take away for you my lovely 1.5 readers….

The scale is a tool. Use it as one ( wisely) on your weight loss journey.

It is not your moral judgment.

If you are at the weight you desire to be, how your clothes fit should be a good indicator of your weight, however, if you check in with it, once every week or two is probably enough.

Remember, you are not defined by a number! It’s doesn’t give you value or take away your value.

Focus on all the cool things that make you feel strong, empowered, and confident.

Celebrate your body and what it can do. There’s only one of you in all your awesomeness.

Most of all, love yourself, on the journey to your destination =)

You Run What ??

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My view looking up the hill I was about to run….

Hills.

Is there anything that can make you cry like a baby tougher, stronger, and more of a beastly runner than running hills ?

I know a lot of runners shy away from them, hate them, or grudgingly do them. In the few years I’ve been running I’ve actually come to love hills.

In a practical way, they are speed work in disguise, but they also build strength and power in our legs like nothing else can.

In a  “I feel pretty freaking proud of myself”  kinda way I love that I can power up hills.. not walk or crawl… but let those powerful muscles I’ve built do that work. It’s especially nice in races to nail those suckers 😉

One of my neighbors once told me, “I see you running those hills and I don’t even think I could walk up them!” well at one point I couldn’t powerhouse up them either.

Training. Training gets a lot done.

When I tell people or post that my workout was hill repeats, they have this idea of a gentle sloping hill dancing in their heads.

Mine are literally mountains that have been paved over.  I don’t kid you.

The picture in this post is one that I run. It’s ironically called… Little Hill…. someone’s warped sense of humor?? It’s crazy steep, but running to the top, and down the spine of it into a cul de sac and back over again gives me an even half mile. So I often go to this place and do like… 4 miles… of repeats.

Can you say… butt kicking ?

Yesterday’s workout was hill repeats. I’m pretty much not pushing myself hard since I have a half marathon coming up in a couple weeks and then my 50K on the 28th.

If you read my other 50K posts, you know unfortunately, the race cancelled due to weather issues. I determined I was just going to run my own personal 50K.

Dang it I didn’t train so hard to not make it happen. I’m so stubborn and hard headed… the idea of coming so close… wasn’t something that set well with me …at. all.

Anyway, that being said, the race committee sent an email letting runners know that they could do a virtual race for what they signed up for and still get their runner goodies =) How nice.

So, March 28 it’s going down. Stick around and stay tuned for how all that plays out.

And as mentioned, I’m going to be running these next couple weeks but my training is done for all intents and purposes. It’s been carved out for months now. Long runs in the wee hours of the morning. Cold miles. Wet, cold miles. Hot, humid, sweat filled runs that left me drained. Strength training. Short runs. Slow. Fast.

I finally totaled my training miles…. roughly 995 from August till March 1! I feel like a machine.

After I wrap this month, it will be time to reduce the miles and give the body some rest time. I don’t mean doing nothing. Just less mileage in my week, then adding some biking and more strength training. My goal is to keep my long run base at 15 miles.

I’ve toyed with the idea of maybe doing a duathlon later this year. So definitely some brick training days too. And of course, I’ll have my sights set on a marathon at the end of the year =)

What goals do you have set for yourself in this upcoming year ?

Share with me.

Approval Not Needed

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So with the big hoopla in the media this week about Kelly Clarkson and her (gasp) weight (is it anyone one else’s business but hers?) it really stirred up a topic that’s been rolling around in my head for awhile to write on and this was just the catalyst to let it out.

No, not her weight. Not yours or mine or the family dogs. Actually, this has nothing to do with that topic.

I was more impressed and high fiving her for her ” I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks, I’m awesome” attitude and comment over that issue.

Approval. She pretty much thumbed her nose at the idea she needed someone else’s approval to be happy and be herself. Kudos to you Kelly.

Approval.

We come into this world almost wired for it. In the beginning it’s our parents/ family, we get in school it becomes our peers, later it becomes our boss, co-workers, friends, still family, sometimes even perfect strangers.

If we’re fortunate as we grow up and mature becoming more comfy in our own skin and who we are, we become less concerned over the need for approval of others.

I mean really, at the end of the day, approval given is based on personal opinions, values, beliefs, how we were raised, and even what our personalities are.

I was recently chatting with a young friend who was expressing to me the idea of doing something and I said… “well, just do it”.

His response was… “yeah, but I just worry about what other people are gonna think”… I laughed and told him I didn’t care anymore….

He responded with… ” yes, but you’ve had more life experience to get to that point” and he’s right. I have lived enough life to get to that point. I’m grateful for that ’cause honestly, it’s total freedom.

My “approval needed” list is tiny, one digit, small now days.

I reminded him that approval can be subjective, or it can be a “control” thing with some people. Withholding approval, not giving it, can often be a silent way of expressing personal displeasure, which is then projected onto the person.
Basically, their way of saying they don’t like what you’re doing or have done or that they wouldn’t do it . As stated above, that would be based on personal feelings, beliefs, values, etc.
I reminded him that it can be those closest to us who might withhold it but if he wanted to grow and move forward, he’d need to live his own life and pursue his own dreams.

It can be a hard step to move into. But it’s also seriously freeing. You have your own life to live….. to be yourself.

You don’t need approval to embrace your life and live it to the fullest being who you are.

So hat’s off again to Ms. Clarkson for reminding the rest of the world to smile and say “I don’t care what you think, I’m awesome”

You…. go be awesome.

No, I’m Not Eating My Emotions

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Food. I like that stuff.

Now days, my food choices are vastly different than those pictured above.

I’ll freely admit that I’ve had to get it in it’s proper perspective over the last few years. Growing up food was the “thing” that you celebrated with, gathered on Sundays for, had extra helpings of, and most importantly, you always, always cleaned your plate. It didn’t really matter you weren’t hungry anymore…  just ignore your bodies natural signals of being full and clean your plate.

Happy, sad, angry, depressed, bored, restless, frustrated, holidays, bad weather, stressed, whatever……. all opportunities to eat.

My grandmother and mom were great cooks, and it needs to be mentioned, bakers too. I freely admit to being a baked good snob and can often pass on  store bought goodies and cake mix cakes and bagged cookies. I mean, no offense, but when you’ve had a made from scratch 3 layer German Chocolate cake, anything else is simply an imposter.

They ruined me.

I mean, not totally, ’cause I’m a pretty good baker myself and can make cakes that grown men offer marriage 😉 and my sons friends immediately sought to raid my cookie jar because ( according to them) I was the “only” mom who baked real cookies haha

So yeah, food, it was a big deal…. used on many levels in a completely improper way.  I hadn’t come to the knowledge (yet)  that food was to primarily be fuel for my body.  Not a sporting event.

As I got older, I realized that my family definitely was a family of “emotional eaters”. My grandmother was very over weight as was my mom.  Actually, if I’m being honest with you, they were considered obese. My brother struggled with his weight most of his life. I had steadily gained weight for a few years when I finally got the kick in the butt to make some changes before I might too have to deal with health issues that plagued my mom, grandmother and brother.  I had watched my family use food for comfort and a distraction from boredom for years but was fortunate to have my eyes opened to that.

I often referred to it as mindless eating.

It might look like this: constant grazing while cooking, continuing to eat and pick food from bowls after the meal was long over (and large seconds had been had) eating during the clean up process, basically just consuming food without any thought of what was being done…. or an awareness you’re eating when you aren’t even hungry.

I knew I needed to make myself intentionally mindful of this process to avoid the downfall of a lifetime of emotional eating.

It wasn’t easy. I became aware of the weak part of my days/nights where I’d look for food and not be hungry or when I thought about grabbing something ’cause I might feel stressed, angry, or bored.

Over the past few years I’ll say I think I’m pretty on top of it now…. and I’m very conscious when I let myself do it.

I remember one night after a rather stressful day my husband walked into the kitchen… I had a bag of BBQ chips out on the counter (for the record… I LOVE BBQ chips… but I’m pretty sure they have crack in them) and I was standing there just munching them down… I looked at him and said….

“I want you to know that I’m fully aware I’m totally emotionally eating right now”

I was being kinda silly about it but I was serious too. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t need to eat them.

It’s a huge step to identify things in your life that are a stumbling block to your health and fitness goals. Once you know your triggers you can make those slow steady changes to freedom.

To break free you must first:

Be real with yourself. Stop making excuses for eating what you don’t need.

Call it what it is… emotional, mindless eating. An unnecessary and unhealthy habit.

Remove yourself from temptation. And that means…get outta the kitchen.

When it was evening and I had eaten and wasn’t hungry, I just brushed my teeth. I knew I wouldn’t get anything after going through that process.

Write down times you feel most vulnerable, or things that drive you to eat when you aren’t truly hungry. Doing this for a week or two will show you patterns that you can then use as a defense strategy.

You love your family… but look at ways you may be influenced to participate in doing this just because it’s always “what you’ve known”. You can still be a part of the fam without engaging in this 😉

Finally, be kind to yourself as you move through this. Awareness is the first huge step to success. Press on and use each day to move forward to freedom =)

Challenges, Obstacles, and Being an Overcomer

A 4ish mile run yesterday morning.

And you’re thinking….sooo… what’s new? you went for a run….

Thing is, it was my first run since I raced last Sunday. I haven’t gone that long not running in… I don’t even know when…… I traveled home Monday and my natural inclination (usually) would’ve been already plotting a run for Tuesday.

But disturbingly, this thought crossed my mind Monday evening,
“I don’t really care if I run anytime soon….”

It freaked me out. Like, where did that come from ??

True, I was tired.

Friday-Monday each day I had traveled about 4 hours at a time, I ran 13.1 miles Sunday ( literally…. ran them all… other than walking through water stations to get fluid in) and even though I mentally dismissed it as “only running 13 miles” fact is, it’s still a good distance to run.
Let’s not forget the complete and total… frustrating let down… of not getting to run the 50K….or that at race day I had logged (roughly) 990 training miles since August.

I guess it was a breeding ground for my “whatevah if I run again” crazy thinking…

I messaged a running friend who assured me I wasn’t a freak but to just allow myself a little down time. He told me I’d be back on my game again soon. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you that you’ve put yourself out there, given your all, worked hard and ….resting… is an ok thing.

So I did. I mean I wasn’t a total and complete sloth. I did do a few days of strength training in my week, but I never looked at my running shoes. ( I think I heard them crying at night 😉

Therefore, yesterday morning, when I knew I was ready to get out there it was totally with the intent to run easy…. and run wherever I wanted….. and however I wanted…. no agenda.

And you know what? It felt amazing. Those creepy feelings were gone. I was back out where I needed to be. I felt alive.

I’m refocused and moving forward and know what my new goals are.

You know those moments we go through where we feel laid low… are often the times where we… once again… redefine ourselves.

Challenges and obstacles define us. They can either take us down, defeat us, and make us want to quit….OR…. they can push us, shape us, and mold us into overcomers.

We just need to decide how we will respond.

How do challenges or obstacles help you move forward ? How do you deal with them ? Do they strengthen you ?

Runner IsShoes

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A colorful collection of my running shoes…..

Ok, you knew I couldn’t stay away from talking running for to long, right ?

Well, actually truth be told, this is more a post about the most important thing involved in running, shoes. Well at least I think so. Good shoes are a requirement to do what we do, keep us comfy, and protect from injury.

In fact, when new runners ask me what they need, I tell them they can run in just about anything but they need good quality shoes.

Then the inevitable question…. “what brand do you wear?”

My response is this: go to a good shoe store, try on several pair, you’ll know them immediately when you slip them on.

I then tell them: I wear Asics.

I jokingly tell them I’m married to them. Other than a couple brief flings with Mizuno’s to see what the hype was about, I’ve been in Asics from the beginning of my running career (4ish years now). I’ve always loved the fact I can just go out and put miles on them straight outta the box with no “adjustment” period. They perform well, offer a variety of styles, colors etc and at decent prices.

Other than buying the Cumulus style… which almost destroyed me… the toe box was so small, the heel part was brutal… I was like a disappointed child at Christmas finding out Santa wasn’t real… don’t let me down now……

I was thick in marathon training last fall with those and one day for a shorter run pulled out an old pair of GT 2000 2’s.

Immediately… it was like… OMG…. I’m home…..that’s when I knew… I wasn’t just married to a brand, but a style in that brand.

Does that make me a real, serious, runner now ???

After the marathon, moving into the 50K training,  I knew I seriously needed shoes again. Being 6’0 and not small, I probably beat shoes up faster than someone smaller.

If you run, you know though when it’s time, don’t you?

This time, my mission was simply to get my hands on the GT 2000s. I wasn’t sure if the 2000 3’s were out being new, but figured I’d be ok with the 2’s. I got to the shoe store and after a swift assessment saw no 2000’s at all. I was rather crushed but they had a vast amount of other Asics so I figured I’d find a comfy pair between one of those.

After several pairs tried on, I’m back digging around on the shoe display, when, seriously, what to my wondering eyes should appear?

A single pair of Asics 2000 3’s…. in my size…. and in cool colors. I rubbed my eyes concerned it was a mirage. Nope, the box felt very real in my hands.

I eagerly pulled them out and slipped them on.

**Deep sigh**…. I was home.

I looked again through boxes and never saw another pair. I kid you not, it was all I could do not to squeal like a girl on a roller coaster.

Literally, the next day, I did 10 miles in them, and they felt like I had already been running in them. I think as a runner, that is THE most important thing. I don’t want to have to think about my feet.

Ah, but then, at the end of their running life cycle, what to do with them ? I have several pair that went to yard work before I finally threw them away. Some are still good for a few short miles. But as you can tell, I have many pair still taking up space in my closet.

Is it weird to not want to part with them?

Do I need… therapy? 😉

Ok…. share with me…. are you married to a brand ? What happens to your shoes after they’ve served their running time?

Pills, Shakes, and Other Magic Potions

I’m a pretty passionate person and that passion usually carries over into a lot of things I do… what I believe… ideas I support and embrace.

It’s no wonder then I feel passionate about wanting people to be successful on their health and fitness journeys, and  especially in the area of weight loss. I know half the battle is getting your mind on board and determining you’re gonna take those small baby steps to get it off.

When I began my journey I felt like this:

I want to be thin…now. I want the fat to go away…. tomorrow…. now… make it happen. Skinny jeans be on.

It’s unfortunate we live in an instant gratification society. We’re used to having things instantly. No waiting.

The reality is…. losing weight and keeping it off….. isn’t an overnight process. You didn’t put it on in 2-4 weeks it won’t come off like that either. I know it takes dedicated, consistent effort for it to be long lasting and sustainable.

That is how I encourage people to approach weight loss.

Sane. Balanced. Livable. Sustainable.

It allows the mind and body to work together doing what needs to be done.

Now saying that, here’s where my passion really spill over.

The plethora of products out there promising fast, quick, easy, weight loss in a matter of weeks. The modern day snake charmers.

I can’t tell you the times I’ve challenged down one current trending product with their hype of Lose 15 lbs in 21 days!!”

Now I’ll freely admit to not being a great math wizard in school… but I can tell you what they’re promoting is a loss of 5 lbs per week, given 21 days equals 3 weeks. I’ve had them come back and say “it depends on person” yet all the advertising continues to be boldly proclaimed that this will be the results you get.

Not. Realistic. Is there a show of hands that would agree to that ?

Not to mention I think you’d eat the diet of a gerbil to actually, really, lose that in such a short time. Yet, all I’m told is that there is more food than you can eat each day. Somehow that doesn’t all balance to me.

Then there’s the trendy pink drink, and the drink your meals plan ( honestly am I crazy for wanting to eat real food and not drink it?) I like to eat food……

Never mind… there are wayyyyy to many to talk about and I’m not interested in offering free advertising anyway….

People are desperate. They are willing to take their hard earned money and drop… a lot of it…. on these products.

All I can think is… why not go buy real food with that and get out and go power walking?

The diet industry is a mega business to put it mildly. There are so many things out there today promising to be the magic genie in the bottle for weight loss but if you want to be successful and keep some of  your money it comes down to this…. are you ready?

You have to expend on a daily basis more calories than you take in and create a deficit …. consistently doing that…will lead to weight loss.

Revolutionary, right? Maybe I’m on to something 😉

So, yeah, I am passionate about this. I want people to be successful on their journey and STAY on their journeys, not give up and go back to old ways when the “diet” ends…. or their money runs out.

Changes have to be made. New habits formed. Goals set and reset. Forward progress. Every day.

My suggestions? take it one day at a time, use your money to buy good food, and celebrate each victory and before you know it you’ll reach your goal =) and then, you can use that money to buy smaller clothes 😉

I Don’t Do Diets

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Hey boys and girls =)

How is life treating you today? It’s been (the usual) busy day for me and I’m catching a few moments to type out this post.

I see my title, and find myself ironically amused that I’m camped in Starbucks drinking coffee and nibbling M&M’s while I write this.

Haha…. blogging in a coffee shop. Have I arrived yet?  😉

The diet thing…. or as I think of it… the diet trap….. that often has no end in sight. Let me tell you, I have had my experience with “diets” over the years and what I remember most about them is counting down the days till it ended, much like someone waiting to finish their prison time.

Is it coincidental the first three letters of the word spell….. D…I…E ?

I’ve certainly been on a few that left me feeling so hungry I thought I might.   Worse yet, diets were often deprivation of the worst kind. You might as well have had a Scarlet Letter on your chest at family get togethers as you dutifully nibbled celery sticks and drank water enviously watching everyone else eating “the good stuff”. And having to watch them eat chocolate cake…while you had none… or worse yet you had some and then felt like a failure for doing so, or had the usual questions leveled at you…

“But aren’t you…. on a diet ??”

You counted off the weeks till things got back to “normal” again.  Food was the only thing you thought about. You were on the scale every single day looking for validation from the damn thing.

Oh let’s not forget when you made the decision that “tomorrow was the day”.  You got rid of the stuff you loved by eating it all the night before and prepared to never see it again.

You stocked up on celery. You pondered if you’d ever  get to really experience chocolate in the rest of your lifetime.

Then one day I changed the game up.

I realized after one diet venture, that food, has a lot of power. It speaks to us in many ways.

It feeds our bodies and our emotions. It often comforts us. But it can be a mean task master too, controlling and manipulating you to lose sight of your goals of good health and carrying a comfortable body weight.  I realized if I removed the power from food and quit playing “good food/bad food” games, and taking away everything I loved, and told myself it was there if I wanted it, that maybe I’d get the upper hand.

I decided to try my theory. I told myself nothing was off limit.

My goals were simple: begin to make overall better food choices each and every day. Eat enough to satisfy my hunger but not over eat. If I really, really  wanted ( fill in the blank here) I’d allow myself to have a little. Note, not go on a binge, just enough to satisfy the craving.

I remember about a month into my experiment the fam went out to get burgers. Did I order a salad and stare longingly at their fries ? No…. I had my own. And I just moved right on with my goals in sight. I didn’t have the attitude I ate fries I might as well throw the towel in. Oh, I certainly wasn’t perfect. There were days I felt like were a total bomb. I just picked up and kept moving forward.

Every single day.

Let me tell you….. there  was complete and total freedom of feeling…… in control…. of my food choices. I hadn’t gone off the wagon with my “nothing is off limits” approach.

Time marched on. There were holidays. Family birthdays. Events. And I enjoyed each one. I learned to sample. I learned to be very selective and eat only what I truly enjoyed and that it didn’t take lots of food to manage my hunger. I paid attention to my natural body signals and started obeying them.

I learned there was freedom in saying “no”  to things.

And something crazy started happening…… I was losing weight! How could that be? No suffering? No doing without good foods I loved ? Yet somehow, steadily, week by  week I was diminishing.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned these past few years:

I  now WANT to eat “healthy” foods. I often have salads simply because I love them. I love veggies and don’t think of them as something I have to eat. I actually crave that stuff.

The more I ventured into running the more aware I became that food is “fuel” for my body to perform and that it was important what I put into it. Endurance running has definitely made me understand the necessity of it.

So yeah….. I don’t “do” diets… and neither should you.  Embrace life. Trust you are smart enough to make good choices for yourself and you will lose weight.

Slow and steady, the way you should, while you live life.

Oh and those M&M’s I mentioned in the beginning?

I didn’t even eat them all…

Tell me your success stories…. or the diet traps you escaped from…. in the comments section =)

Strength

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Strength~ the quality or state of being strong, bodily or muscular power, vigor. Mental power, force or vigor.

It’s no secret, I love running. However, one thing I found I enjoyed a few years ago was tossing around some heavy metal objects, namely weights. When I first started I had these cute little 5lbers ( don’t give me a hard time…. I didn’t know better 😉

I moved up to 8’s, then 15’s, 20 and finally to what I use mostly now, 35’s. I got a 35 lb kettle bell for Christmas I like working with. At this point, I’ve built some wicked arms. Not only that, building my upper body has made me a stronger runner.

When I slip on these gloves…. it makes me feel all business. I know I’m planning to work. I love how strong I feel when I’m doing it and I love the strength and muscles I’ve built. These gloves are like… work clothes 😉

Strength has become one of my, life words, in the past year. Strength isn’t just necessary in a physical way, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally too.

Strength became such an important life word to me that I made the (very) permanent decision to have it tattooed on my wrist as a bracelet. The word is in the banner, and chains surround my wrist to reflect the strength of iron, while the flowers bring my feminine side into it.

I guess I feel rather, passionate, about it.

There are so many times I glance at that when I’m going through something and it reminds me: I can bring home the final miles of a marathon. It reminds me when life situations threaten to swallow me. It challenges me to look beyond what I think is difficult, to fight back and push against the very pressures that are (ultimately) giving me strength.

The culmination of events, good and bad, in my life have forged this out in me.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I wish I could’ve passed on, but then, would I have developed the mental and physical strength I have now ? Things happen for a purpose and if we let them, they shape and mold us to be stronger.

Do you relate? Have you been through things that you feel have made you stronger ? Share with me in the comments.