Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The year of Strength

Can it possibly already be the end of 2013? This last month and particularly couple weeks have flown by in so much time I have barely had a moment to stop and think yet alone contemplate a blog post. Generally speaking I am not a fan of major New Year’s resolutions. I honestly believe that every single day, any particular day is as good as any to resolve to change something you are unhappy with in your life. There should not be any added pressure simply because in a matter of a few minutes that ultimately have no major barring on your life you should be forced to do something you clearly were never previously ready for. Basically what I’m saying is that the calendar and or clock ticking away should not be the major reason you decide to enact change into your life. True change can only really occur when you are mentally ready to do it. Change of any sort is HARD work and should not be attempted unless you are ready to put in the tireless effort and have the true desire. There is my preaching rant on the topic. With that said, I00% scratch that, 1000% believe change is possible when you really want it.

This morning Facebook greeted me with this post in reference to New Year’s and I read it and shook my head in utter delight and amazement.

One freaking year gone. 2013 is on its last dying moments and all I can do is smile. Smile because 2013 happened. Smile because it even existed to begin with and more importantly because in my entire life history I don’t think there has been a single year as influential and life altering as 2013 has been. Firstly, I survived an entire calendar year caring about fitness and health. That is kind of a big deal for me. Not only did I survive an entire year but at the end of the year, right now, I feel as energized and pumped as ever about where else I am going to go with this. I do feel a renewed fresh start kind of feeling, probably prompted by a new year. I am not making any large declarations or resolutions but I can appreciate the sense of newness that a calendar change can bring. I can embrace the whole clean slate mentality without committing to unrealistic expectations that ultimately lead to disappointment.

Going back to the quote, I have to say that we far too often don’t take a moment to stop and appreciate the time that has passed and to see how different we are in a year. Admitingly some years we probably find ourselves in almost the same place as the previous year. Not every single year is momentous but some of them are. 2013 just happened to be one of those years for me. I am not even close to the same person as I was on Dec 31, 2012. That girl had no idea what the next year would eventually bring. She had no idea what amazing people it was going to bring into her life. The people who have come and gone, some forgotten, some missed but more importantly the new relationships that have developed and blossomed. And of course the memories. Those all too important memories. Some wonderful amazing moments and then a few of the worst times of my life. Yes, 2013 has been tremendous on so many levels.

Self-discovery and exploration have opened my eyes to so much. You know those quotes that say you sometimes have to hit rock bottom to really change or to see the truth of situations. 2013 was a year of clarity on many levels for me. I hit rock bottom in my marriage. ROCK bottom. I had previously thought I had hit rock bottom but I honestly hadn’t. 2013 brought the bottom. It was only thru the rock bottom that any clarity or light appeared. Therapy has been tremendous. Weekly therapy has helped in a way that I had never realized was possible. Also actual medication that was clearly much needed has changed my world ten-fold. Mental illness is a real thing and when left untreated can lead to rock bottom types of situations. It is only when someone gets chemical balance sometimes that one can see how unhappy things were. Despite how awful of a period of time that was. TRULY awful, there is a part of me that feels happy not necessarily that it happened but happy that I survived it. Happy that it finally brought upon the change that has been needed for years. Happy that I am moving forward in my life with positivity and hope.

Why yes, Facebook Quote, It is in fact crazy how all of that happened in just one year. I close my eyes, blink and a year has passed and I’ve somehow managed this year to come out the other end so much more fulfilled than I have ever found myself. Excited about my life. Excited about what I can accomplish and do. Full of ideas. With a sense of happiness that has always eluded me. With real life friends. What the hell? So rare for me. Things still scare the shit out of me at times but I pretty much try to push that aside and do it anyway. That is the lesson that 2013 has taught me. Just because something is scary doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. Sometimes those are the single most rewarding things in life. Sometimes it’s a little fear that makes life worth living.

2013 has brought so many wonderful things into my life. I mean, I probably earned them, but it was the first time in my entire life that I can honestly say I loved myself. It was the first time that I worked past some of the fear and let it go enough to get out of my own way. 2013 has profoundly changed me and I feel so blessed at this exact moment to have endured.

With all that said I am very excited about 2014. I actually really am excited to see what this year will bring. I am excited to writing a post on December 31, 2014 and to see what this entire year will bring. To see how much more I can change and grow and evolve. I don’t have everything figured out because no one ever does, but I do know that 2014 is going to be good. I feel that. I have no desire to stop growing and evolving into the woman that I am or shall be.

I have this mental picture of who I can be in one year’s time and I’m going to work my hardest to get to her in a year. And just an FYI, this mental picture I am painting in my head is just as much about the inside attributes as the physical image. The funny thing is I am quite certain now that I have found such self-love and self-respect that I had never lived my entire life prior loving myself. That is so sad. To spend so many years of your life never fully getting what self-love and respect are. To never actually believe you were capable of anything. To not believe that your dreams could be a reality. I believe in myself now. And I am so in love with my inner strength and how much I believe that I can really impact my life and those around me. It is such a good blessed feeling. I know, pretty preachy for blog post, but whatever.

2014 is going to be every bit as good as 2013. I won’t say better because honestly I can’t imagine that anything will ever be as completely transformational as 2013, but that doesn’t mean that 2014 can’t be amazing in its own right. I’m going to tackle new stuff. I am going to continue to push myself and grow stronger. 2014 is going to be all about strength. I shall label it the year of strength. Yes, I love that. 2013 was about weight loss and ultimately self-acceptance. Now that I have achieved those, 2014 is definitely the year of growing my strength in all forms. Physical, mental, emotional. The year of strength. I love that. I am going to push myself into new territories. And I am going to keep growing these muscles. I am so ridiculously excited about that you have no idea. Said the girl who was always a steadfast runner. Boy how I have seen the light… strength training is EPIC. There is something crazy powerful about picking up 135 pounds and deadlifting it. Who knew? Or as Amanda made me do the other day, Bench pressing 115 pounds. Yes, building these physical muscles while expanding my brain.

2014 is definitely my year of strength. This is uncharted territory, pushing beyond anything I have ever known in my life and there is something so exciting in going into unknown land. Seeing what I’m really capable of. I always knew where I’d get just running and trying to lose weight. I always knew the outcome. I can honestly say sitting here writing this I have no idea how far I can go or what the outcome is and that is so damned cool to me. I know what I want to be some day but I don’t know what my body is going to do. I love this unchartered territory. Quite honestly I love that I am getting to rewrite my story piece by piece, day by day. I love that life can still surprise the fuck out of me. I had no idea that I would be exactly here today. One year ago, as 2013 began I felt that it was going to be a good year and I believed I would get back to my goal weight of 140 pounds. I just had no idea that all the goals would suddenly change and I was NEVER dreaming big enough. Simply being 140 pounds was never the goal. This girl is capable of so much more than that.

So as 2013 comes to a close and I put the final nail on the coffin I can honestly say that I have never been happier or prouder of myself. 2013 will go down as epic in every possible way. Now bring on 2014, I’m ready for you and I’m going to make you my bitch… seriously…. Let the year of strength commence! (and just to start it off right Amanda is coming over to my house tomorrow since our gym is closed on New Year’s and we are going to do a kick ass workout in my house with all my equipment!... yup, true addict here :) Oh and I have a friend :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Exercise gal

I have been a terrible blogger this month. I have been so busy and consumed with everything in my real life that it’s been difficult for me to find the time to sit down and write as much. But I guess I’m still writing which is a sign that I have not fallen off the deep end or jumped ship. Actually, I don’t think jumping ship will ever again be a reality for me so that is somewhat comforting nonetheless.

Christmas is in two days. Well, actually I consider Christmas Eve every bit as much Christmas because my entire life Christmas Eve is spent with my mom’s extended family, a giant group of us hanging out and its always a good time. So basically I just have to get thru work today, approximately 8 hours and then I am in the clear for a couple days. I am terribly excited about this. I am also terribly excited about this because as much as I adore Christmas this month has been brutal on the food choices. I mean, downright cookie awful. Downright candy awful. Just plain awful. But my exercise has not slacked so at least there’s that. My exercise has been incredibly on point so I can’t feel entirely guilty about all the crappy food choices.

I see why Jan 1 people make this healthy resolution and hit it with avengeance. I don’t need to suddenly decide to become healthy Jan. 1, but I wouldn’t mind a clean slate, a regroup after the holiday season. I am pretty much looking forward to that. Purge my house of the bad things that have slowly crept their way back into my life this month. And by that I mean Hershey’s kisses, peanut butter cups, white chocolate and m&m’s. Yup, I bought bags of candy under the guise that I would be putting them in the Christmas stockings. The bags never made their way to my mom’s house. They were opened in mine and I’ve been eating them. It doesn’t help that I purchased all white chocolate options which are my hands down favorite.

People falter; they pick themselves back up and get back to the game. That is how this is supposed to work. Yes December has been exceedingly difficult in many aspects related to health and nutrition but I managed. I don’t think I actually managed to gain much weight if I did so once this season is over I can return to hardcore building of muscle and health. I have been giving much thought to what 2014 might look like for me. It is going to be an epic year of pushing beyond what I have ever known. When I gain weight and lose it I have a pretty good sense of how things are going to go down since I’ve done that scenario multiple times. I know what the results should look like, etc. I am now, for the first time in my life, in completely new territory. I have no idea exactly what is going to happen in another 6 months’ time or a year from now. What can I accomplish? What will my body look like? Complete unknowns and there is something so awesome about that. Exhilarating and awesome.

I think I will probably start to see better results when I quit eating like a fat girl but whatever. Just a few more days and then its clean and healthy. I have been trying to decide what I am going to do and I have decided that I really don’t want to do any sort of plan. I don’t want to follow some stupid thing that is not logical or reasonable for life. Instead I want to just eat better. I have been eyeballing lots of healthy chicken/veggie/rice dishes. I want to try and incorporate more rice meals and healthy beans and sweet potatoes and yams. I don’t know, healthy stuff. Good hearty stuff. I am really going to make a more concentrated effort to prepare some dishes over the weekends to eat all week. That is my biggest plan for 2014. I really feel like my exercise is amazing and dialed in but that I need some help in the food department. So much harder for almost everyone.

Friday night was my work Christmas party. It was really nice and fun. We went bowling and had pizza (and yes I had LOTS of pizza) and we had prizes and it was a lot of fun for sure! Saturday morning I got p and went to the gym and did an hour of turbokick and then an hour of boot camp and it was hard and awesome and ass kicking. I felt great afterwards. Then I just hung out with my family. So good.

Saturday night Amanda texted me and wanted to see if I wanted to work out on Sunday with her. I can’t really turn down workout time with her so of course I said yes. I met her there yesterday at Noon and we did legs. Holy Shit, we did legs. This is the thing, in the end it was only 7 different exercises, but it was insanely hard and insanely brutal and it took about 2 hours. That girl pushes me.

We started with 10 minutes of sprints on the treadmill. 10 mph sprints which actually seemed pretty easy to me. This was just to get our lets warmed up you see. For impending torture. Amanda set up a 135 pound barbell for her. We were going to do lunges. I rested the 135 pounds on my neck and just about fell over. I could squat it, but not lunge that amount. My balance told me I would fall flat on my face. So we got the 80 pound barbell for me. I did lunges across the gym with 80 pounds and I was dripping sweat. I would go, Amanda would go, etc., etc. We did 3 reps of it. Then we moved on to squats. I started with the 80 pound barbell but Amanda said if I could easily crank out 10 of those then I needed to go heavier. I got 15 no problem, so the next round I did in fact squat the 135 pound barbell. Crazy to see how strong I’ve gotten. I am squatting 135 pounds. Exhausting and terribly heavy that is. (I’ve been watching yoda and Star Wars The clone wars cartoon with the kiddos so this explains my Yoda speech there)

Then to give our legs a slight chance to recoup before we crushed them again Amanda decided we were doing pull ups. They are assisted in the sense that we stand on each other’s knees to get an extra boost up but that doesn’t make them easy at all. You still have to pull your shit up. I did 10 of them. Amanda did 10. I did 9. Amanda did 9. Then it was 8, and then 7… 6,5,4,3,2,1. So in the end it was 55 pull ups each. I was thinking this was quite crazy because that is an insane amount of pull ups. Difficult to say the least.

Then it was time to do deadlifts. 2 weeks ago when I worked out with her I did 90 pound deadlifts and I thought that was heavy. Amanda decided today I would be doing 110 pounds. And since I could do them pretty easily actually she told me that I had to try her 135 pound bar. And guess what, I could do them. It was not easy or perfect but I managed 6 deadlifts at 135 pounds.

We did 3 sets of 12 reps and that was brutal. I guess it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it truly is. We then alternated between leg kickbacks that work your ass and then leg extensions that fry out your quads. We’d do 30 of one, and then 25 of the other exercise, a total of 3 times.

We then went to the leg press. This is the one where you lie down and use your quad muscles to literally push massive amounts of weight up. The machine itself weighs 167 pounds without any added weight to it. Amanda seriously loads up the machine with 3 forty five pound weights on EACH side. This means its set at 437 pounds of weight. I wanted to laugh my ass off. You want to push 437 pounds. But shockingly I did. It was HARD and I struggled a little at times but holy shit I did it. I leg pressed 437 pounds. This is the part where someone else pushing you is amazing because I assure you there was not a single exercise that I did that I honestly would have done on my own. Or in those weight amounts. No freaking way. Partially because I never would have believed I could have.

It’s been a long time since I dripped that much sweat from lifting. I seriously was a soggy mess and yes my heart rate was spiking all over the place when I was lifting that heavy. So don’t ever think that cardio is straight up the only way to get a good workout. This shit proves it all wrong. I was exhausted and starving by the time we were done and boy oh boy did I feel amazing and great. I did it. I kept up and I killed it. Exercise is exhilarating. I am getting so much stronger than even I realize.

Today I am sore. My quads are on fire, my ass is tender, and my back is a little tight. Nothing that I haven’t ever felt before, nothing that I can’t live with. Nothing that will prevent me from working out again tonight, but just a little sore. I can tell that I worked them. Tonight is one 30 minute class, muscle conditioning. And then I have another hour of turbokick.

Tomorrow morning, before my family gets together, I will be heading to the gym because they are having a special extra boot camp class. 10 AM-11 AM, I will be kicking my own ass in a severe pre-xmas workout. Yup, this girl will exercise Christmas Eve morning. I love that. My food may end up being shitty but at least I will be activating my muscle and getting them fired up beforehand.

Christmas day will clearly be a reprieve from exercise. But Thursday I am back to the gym for Iron Power. So yes, this is exactly how the next couple days are going to go. I think it’s a great mix and/or balance of indulgence and fun and exercise and commitment to my lifestyle.

I am generally so excited to get back to being all about health and fitness and my goals and plans for myself. Soon. Just a little more of indulgence and fun around the holidays. Then it’s back to more consistent blogging, better eating, and new challenges.

Have a wonderful fabulous amazing and most importantly happy and fulfilling Christmas. My most favorite time of the year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Operation Survive

Operation survive December is in full force. I am not sure what it is exactly about this time of year but boy is this the most challenging time of the year for me, period. I mean to maintain a healthy lifestyle, incorporate my love of exercise and basically not go crazy from busy. I adore Christmas and therefore am very excited for this upcoming weekend which somehow resonates with me as the official kick off to my Christmas. I honestly think I enjoy the couple days prior to Christmas more than Christmas itself. I love the family togetherness, the sitting around the Christmas tree, the anticipation. The happiness. That begins Saturday. (After I spend my designated 2 hours at the gym of course).

This last weekend was all about survival of the fittest. I am content just surviving. I had a great Saturday workout, a great lunch date with my friend Amanda and then somehow I found myself going out to dinner Saturday night indulging in margaritas which ended up leading to something is a very rare occurrence for me, complete and utter drunken feast. The last time I was fully drunk was at my youngest sister’s wedding, well over two years ago so it’s not as if I overly indulge often. But once I start drinking, it becomes so hard to really know that you are beyond drunk and should no longer consume any more. This is most likely why I do not like that feeling and rarely partake in such behavior. I ended up horribly sick and therefore spent my entire Saturday night hunched over the bathroom toilet throwing up. Yes, ENTIRE Saturday night throwing up any and EVERY thing in my system. It was awful. Awful. Completely my own doing so I have no one to blame but myself but it still felt like shit. This of course ended up ruining my Sunday as well. I was so tired and hung over that all I did the entire Sunday was literally sit on the couch, lye on the couch, have a single cracker and pray that I can keep it down. Lie down. Try and sleep. Get up, hug the toilet, and sit back down on the couch. NOT good times.

Mostly I was mad because I caused this and therefore I was in no shape to do any of the things that I really needed to do. There was clearly no exercise for me on Sunday. There was no house cleaning which was desperately needed. There was nothing but survival. Stupid stupid fucking alcohol. As a result I have zero desire to drink even a drop of anything alcoholic for a long time. This ususally happens. I can’t even stand the smell of it right now. Pretty much to be expected when you spend the better part of 10 hours throwing it up.

Moving on. Yesterday I did feel better after a good night’s sleep and therefore I did manage to go to the gym last night. I was in full on survive December mode. My body said that I did not want to go exercise but my mind said hell no; you are not getting away with that, so away I went. And I did feel good. Good decision. I had therapy last night so I had to leave early, only getting in an hour workout. Better than nothing. Tonight is full on exercise night for me. There is only 1 half hour class to take and then I am on my own. Tuesday night is pretty much the only night that I am on my own. I plan to lift lots of weights. I am feeling strength training deprived and in need of a good overall strength session to restore my balance. It will happen tonight.

I find myself more and more looking forward to post Christmas/post-holiday January health month. Everyone seems super focused on health and nutrition in the month of January and for me that’s perfectly okay. It’s right up my alley mostly. Don’t get me wrong, by no means do I actually think I am some horrible slacker this month. It’s just not my finest output, but let’s be honest here, I have gone to the gym 12 of the last 16 days, I will go today, tomorrow and Thursday night, meaning in 19 days I will still have gone 15 times. Not exactly slacking. I need to keep reminding myself of that fact. If this is truly my “off” month than I am totally more than okay. Then I really do have this the way that I think I do.

My food choices have been definitely less than stellar but I truly have come to terms with the idea of survival this month. I don’t think I am gaining weight or looking different so whatever food choices I’m making aren’t killing me. I do look forward to a time, post-holiday, where perhaps the bad choices won’t be as abundant or prevalent.

That is part of my new year’s resolution, well, I don’t really make resolutions, but that is part of my goal or plan for 2014, actually spend some energy focusing on nutrition. Quality healthy stuff. For now I’m just taking survival to the end of 2013.

With all that said, I had some pretty awesome comments happen this weekend. While at the gym on Saturday morning, a woman that I have seen at the gym probably since I joined but I rarely see commented to me. I am always friendly and I smiled at her in class. I probably maybe see her once a month or so and she walked over towards me and said, “Every time I see you, you look more and more buff.” Excellent complement. Kind of made my day.

Then later, another woman who actually is one of those bikini models at the gym. She is nice and I’ve talked to her before, was like, last Monday night in class, I noticed and just wanted to tell you, you look awesome. I can totally see your guns and you have been working so hard. It was very nice. So both of those compliments happened this weekend. Good stuff. So despite it all, despite my just wanting to survive, I am not exactly slacking. Sure, I truly do think I could be doing more with my nutrition. I think I would probably be making more progress if I cared a little more about the quality of food I’m putting into my body but I’m going to get on that, in 2014…. Mmwwwhhhaaaaa…..

I’m actually totally excited for 2014. 2013 has been so amazing and brought me so far and taught me so much. I feel like 2014 is going to be all about fine tuning and dialing into my goals and dreams and starting to dream beyond what I previously thought possible. It’s going to be about making new dreams for myself. 2014 is about enjoying the fruits of my efforts. Its about loving myself and my body and enjoying using this body for happy healthy endeavors.

In therapy last night a questions was brought up and discussed about having a basic mission in life. What would you think your basic mission in life is? It was an interesting question. Not that most of us sit here and think of what exactly our mission is… that sounds so purposeful and I doubt most of us generally live that purposefully. But it did get me thinking. What would be my mission in life? She said some people want to enjoy life and get the most out of it. Some people have epic work goals. Some people’s mission is collect things, etc….

Of course I had to really think about it and at its core I know that my mission is to live my best happiest most authentic life while trying to inspire and help others. It’s crazy, but I do think my “mission” or the thing I wake up for is to better myself and the idea that I could/would/maybe someday can help others to find their paths to. Of course my mission includes living a healthy lifestyle as well. I think that I am only at my best when I am treating myself with love and respect in all forms and a big form of that for me is health and wellness. It’s eating well to fuel my body to push it to better myself. I live for self-improvement.

Obviously I have been thinking about my “mission”. I think it’s a cool concept worth exploring. Perhaps that’s something else I should think about in 2014. Maybe I need a mission for 2014. Perhaps a larger mission is just a bunch of smaller goals which is okay as well. I have always been a big picture kind of thinker and a dreamer. A dreamer who likes to have goals and plans in place to work towards. I function so much better when I have some sort of goal or prize waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. I am goal driven.

Well, at least its Tuesday, which means that time is flying and of course it should be my beloved weekend soon enough. Plus Friday night is my office work party which should be pretty fun. We are going bowling, having a pizza party and doing awesome raffle prizes. It should be an excellent evening overall. Fun times. I adore this time of year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Day

I love my life. There I said it. And do you want to know what in particular brought this thought on just a second ago? It’s this. I was sitting here and went, oh crap, I should write a blog post, and it’s been a few days hasn’t it? And then I thought typically this lack of posting would mean that I was somehow faltering in my endeavors and then I realized that was exactly NOT the case. The fact of the matter is, this is my life. Healthy, active, fit, determined and therefore I just love my life. I am not slacking. I am not faltering in my endeavors, I am just busy and don’t have tons and tons to say. But I do love my life.

Just survive December plan is still in full force. I really feel that January is going to be a big, kick ass month, like so many people who vow to do things different “this year”… I don’t necessarily anticipate changing anything about my lifestyle but I am looking forward to a refreshed restart. In the mean time I am still going at it.

Wednesday night I had personal training which kicked my ass. Then last night was mega workout night and I felt AMAZING. I met Amanda at the gym at a little after 5 PM. We did 15 minutes on the stair climber for a warm up. Love how 15 minutes of climbing your ass up stairs on repeat is the warm up. Then we did a 30 minute barbell class which Mary taught. Then it was 1 hour of Iron Power which Amanda taught. So overall I did 1 hour 45 minutes of amazing strength training and I felt so alive and high. Love that feeling. Did I mention I felt strong? It really makes me feel so confident and alive.

Today is rest day. Actually I get a massage tonight after work. I will take it. Then tomorrow I have free to myself and I love it. This is what my plan of action is. 9 AM, hour long Turbo at the gym with Amanda. 10 AM, hour long gladiators otherwise known as boot camp with Amanda. Then I am going to go home shower and change up and then I am meeting Amanda at 1 PM for lunch and to hang out. Yup, girl date and girl time with one of my favorite people. Look mom, I have a friend! A real life friend that I am meeting for lunch. I never thought I’d see the day. Then at 5 PM tomorrow I have a nail appointment, time for a fill and a color. I am thinking tomorrow I am painting my nails red in honor of my favorite holiday.

So yes, perfect girl day for me. Also exactly what I need. Today I just feel happy and that is a great thing. It’s the small things in life I guess. We all have those moments, days where no matter what you do or how hard you try you just feel defeated or don’t love yourself when you look in the mirror and then there are the opposite days the ones where you just see yourself and feel happy and thankful for the progress you have made. Today is one of the latter.

I feel like I am actually “feeling” muscle growth in my body and it is such an amazing feeling. I am beyond certain that I am never going to be fully tight or ripped simply because of all the extra skin that has been stretched over and over again but holy hell are things so much better than they have EVER been. It gives me so much hope for the future that if I keep working things will someday have to get better and the plus side of all that is that I truly LOVE everything I am doing in my life and wouldn’t want to change it. This life, this exercise, this eating, is NOT torture anymore. It is happiness.

Single best decision of 2013… gym… Yup, there you have it. Perhaps one of the single best decisions of my entire life actually. Of course it has to be the right gym I guess because I have previously joined a gym and never went. I adore my gym obviously and it just works for me. So amazing to find people in real life that share some of my passion and enthusiasm. Of course it comes in the form of the trainers and gym nuts like me but nonetheless it feels great to connect with people in real life. Clearly that is something that has always been missing in my life as well.

Anyway, back to the feeling muscle just in the past couple weeks I have started to notice and feel muscles in my legs, my upper thighs. Now this is huge because I carry my weight in my thighs and such. This is not typically an area that ever gets muscular for me. Too much fat and skin around it. Still is lots honestly but I can feel muscle coming in now and that is so encouraging. Encouraging for a girl who but a year ago was where I was at.

I am crazy giddy happy with how I feel. How I feel about myself and my life. Yes, happy that my body is getting tighter but mostly happy because my inside just loves to live life now. Happy because I have confidence that eluded me my entire life. Perhaps part of that confidence comes with age as well. I can’t give all the credit to strength training. Part of me was bound to grow up eventually.

I am thinking about resolving in 2014 to eat more greens. Or more natural food. I have to admit that I am just terrible with my laziness. I have gotten so processed with everything out of sheer hatred of cooking. It’s ridiculous! I think I’ve got a pretty solid workout life in place so if there is room to improve or dial in it is the nutrition.

Anyhow, I don’t really have much else going on. Looking forward to my massage to get some of the knots out of my overworked body and then I get to go home and wrap a mountain of presents that have been piling up all week as the packages come in. Thank you Amazon Prime and online shopping as a whole. I’d say 99% of my shopping has been completed online. So thankful for that.

Have a fabulous weekend, as I wholeheartedly intend to!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A class high

Last night I ventured to my gym, cold as hell, bundled up in sweater and scarf over my workout clothes, not really looking forward to even removing my sweater to workout. This is the effects of cold weather. But, once I started working out I felt great. Not shocking. I did a 30 minute class which reminded me what I love so much about classes and the gym. There were 4 of us in the class. I know, a whole whopping 4 people. Another thing that I kind of love/loathe about my gym. I love it because class sizes are small and therefore much more personnel. I loathe it because the numbers are so small classes are always on the verge of being cancelled. 6 is the magic number I’ve been told for classes. Consistency of 6 people. I am slightly hoping January does bring an influx of New Year’s resolutions to the gym.

So there I was, one of 4 participants with an instructor I like, Mary. Mary normally does the workouts with us but as she was recovering from a cold/flu illness she was taking it easy and only demonstrated the moves and then walked around and encouraged people. I love Mary. Mary was one of the first people who truly inspired me at the gym. The very first class I ever took was from Mary, first time I had ever met her in person actually. I saw a few photos of her and I have to say she intimidated the fuck out of me. But that is typical of my personality, fear what we don’t understand. And by not understanding, 6 months ago, I did not really get how women could be so physically strong. Anyhow, that very first class she had a sweatshirt on and when she went to take her sweatshirt off revealing her amazingly chiseled arms I literally had to pick my mouth up off the ground. I was so impressed, inspired and wowed that that particular moment has stuck with me and most likely always will. Her arms were every bit the epitome of strength and certainly something that I didn’t even know I wanted until that very minute. Life changing honestly.

So back to last night. Mary is now a friend and I now have made my way to being up front in most classes. I used to hide in the back of the class as most scared insecure newbies do. 6 months later and I am confident enough that I can either do anything asked of me or don’t care if I can’t quite manage it and believe that I will give it my best and therefore if I am not 100% its okay.

Usually instructor’s beings by telling us what they have in store for us. As they rattle off the exercises I always find myself shaking my head and thinking holy cow that is going to be rough and just smiling and saying, I will try, because that is all I can do honestly. So I just nod and play along. Going one exercise at a time.

Last night was 60 second exercises, 6 different one repeated over and over. In all honesty it was 2 ½ times we got thru the set of exercises, given the time it takes to pause a moment in between, catch breaths and regroup. Believe me, 2.5 times was enough.

I noticed something last night that put a smile on my face. I am definitely a completely capable confident woman. Everything might not be easy but I am capable of anything. We started out with 60 seconds of pushups. Pushups all the way down to the ground touch the ground and then push back up. This is ever so slightly more challenging than a regular push up because it requires complete push up from the ground position on the up. Of course, there are always modifications to any exercise. There are pushups on the knees; there is just hold a push up in a plank position, etc. At some point I usually end up having to slightly modify. But because somehow last night I felt like I was being watched and clearly like I was the most seasoned in the class I just went for it. Regular old pushups. The funny thing is this, I didn’t stop. I didn’t need to stop. By the end I was getting tired but I was still using my shoulders to push my body weight up over and over again. I was the only one who did the regular version of the push up.

We then moved onto Squat thrusters. Basically pick up big ass heavy weights and squat and on the return up push those weights up into the air above your head. After 60 seconds this is brutal and for some reason last night I was just feeling it and decided to up my weight factor. I picked up heavier weights which ended up feeling brutal. This was followed up with bicep lunges. Do lunges and when you go down, use the weights in your hands to do a bicep curl and then come back up. Lunge and lunge. This one wasn’t too difficult for me. I love me a good bicep curl and lunges I can live with.

After this we moved onto arm raises. Basically take a lighter weight, I used 6 pounds and raise your arms to your side and then to your front. This is a workout for your shoulders and after 30 seconds or so everything is on fire. After this we did butterfly crunches which I have to admit I love. Basically put your legs into a butterfly stance, lift a weight above your head and do a sit up and take the weight down to your feet. Repeat. Sit ups with a weight. Love it.

The last exercise I did not love. I never do. It was moving planks. Plank position on your elbows going up and down between hand and elbow. Moving up and down while holding a plank. It is brutal and torture and again Mary offered up a modification for others, either do the moving plank on your knees or else just hold a plank. She told the people that they could do any variation of this as they needed and then she looked at me specifically and said you’re goal is to 20 moving planks, no modification for this girl. Clearly she was pushing me and clearly she believed I was capable of the full on version. It was brutal but she was right I did it. 22 moving planks in 60 seconds. And it was in this moment that I realized that I have come so ridiculously far in 6 months. I am pretty much almost at 6 months of gym time now and I am not the same woman by any stretch of the imagination.

In class last night one of the other people was new to the gym. She said she’s been there for a week and Mary went over and showed her how to properly do the exercises. The correct form for the lunges and squats, etc. And I smiled, not because the woman needed help or because Mary is amazing but I smiled because I too was once there. I remember clearly that first week Mary coming over and showing me correct form because I was clueless, and now here we are 6 months later with Mary telling me that I not only don’t get modifications but I have expectations of how many to do. More than once she told me I had great form and was doing awesome. When she walked around the class to help people out she never had to tell me how to do it. After 6 months I am a seasoned vet I guess. And it felt amazing to still be here, 6 months later, in classes, pushing myself to new limits. The fact that classes can still be effective after 6 months is a testament to not only the instructor’s ability to vary, but your own ability to challenge and push yourself. I find something rewarding in each class because these certainly are not exercises I love or would do on my own.

Let’s face it, I hate moving planks. I rarely make myself do them for a minute at a time. I am not a giant fan of pushups either and yet there I was last night cranking them out and that puts a smile on my face. Yes, I am more capable than I generally believe. We went thru this series of exercises once, and then we did them all over again and then we half of them again, as that was all we had time for. And I walked away feeling like I got a great workout and a solid sense of satisfaction at having achieved something I would not have done on my own.

After that workout, I headed out to man land and spent 45-60 minutes doing weights on my own. Needed a good arm workout and I felt that amazing high come back. That high I can only seem to find in the gym. That feeling of being alive and healthy and strong. That high in knowing that I am improving, ever so surely, ever so slowly every single day. Yes, my goal for December is simply survival but it’s nice to feel the passion every now and then.

Tonight is personal training and a 30 minute class. After that I am jetting out of there as quick as I can as my niece and nephew are in town tonight as they pass thru on their way to the beach for the weekend. So after working out tonight I get to see my kiddos and that means that I will work extra hard to push myself in the hour I am at the gym, to get the most out of it so I can solidly enjoy my time with the kids.

It’s quite nice to get a peek at my passion here and there when it has been dormant for a little while. As much as I adore Christmas and all the blessings this holiday season brings a part of me is secretly excited for January so that I can get a fresh start and a renewed determination and of course setting some personal goals for 2014. I am really thinking 2014 is going to be an awesome year. It’s getting close. With all that said it’s getting close to time for me to change into my workout clothes and then bundle up over them with my layers of warmth and start the process all over again.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cold Chill

It’s been a few days since an update. I told you something has just been feeling off in me lately. I have lost my motivation. I truly do think it’s the holiday season and all the other things I want to be doing and the freezing cold that seriously just makes me want to snuggle up and do nothing. I have to fight this feeling extra hard. Mind you, I have still been going to the gym. I’ve still been doing my thing it’s just mentally not as perfect as I’d like. Guess that’s okay.

I have a simple December goal, get thru it. If I don’t really progress too much in my health and fitness endeavors that is okay. I just don’t want to go backwards. If I can just stand still for a couple more weeks I will be okay and take that as a victory.

Our weather here in Oregon has been crazy. Friday I went to work and then it started snowing. A lot for us and my truck handles like utter shit in the snow and since we very rarely get snow or icy conditions I can admit that my driving skills are less than stellar. After about 30 minutes of downpour snow I decided to go home. I did not want to risk it. It was a good call because I was already sliding all around in the vehicle just getting home. Not fun. Quite terrifying actually. It’s the vehicle, honestly. 2 wheel drive, light little pick up. Crappy.

Friday was my rest day at the gym and that was fine since they actually closed the gym early and then came the announcement via personal text message from my trainer friend that they were cancelling all classes for Saturday morning. This was an epic blow to me. I quite enjoy my early Saturday morning classes. I was bummed but vowed to go to the gym anyway. Then at about 8 AM on Saturday I got a text from Amanda saying she was going to work out at 9 AM did I want to join her for a killer hamstring and glute workout. I was like of course! So needless to say I got in an awesome workout anyway. Almost 2 hours and I was spent. That girl kicks my ass in all the good kinds of way. She actually challenges me to do more than I thought possible.

We were doing dead lift reps, like 15-20 reps of them, and she had me do 90 pounds. More than I’ve done and eventually it started to hurt. Lunges with weights across the gym. 50 pound squats. Leg presses. The fun went on and on. When I woke up Sunday I was sore. Like back of my legs, hamstrings were so tight and on fire. Guess it worked. Yesterday I was still in quite a bit of pain. Actually, today I still feel it. Yesterday I did another 30 minute class with Amanda. She called it the killer 16 minute workout. And it was brutal. It was 8 exercises, done for 2 minutes each. You can’t even comprehend how difficult it is to do something for 2 solid minutes. 30-45 seconds of any of them is about right, 2 minutes is torture. Then I did half an hour of turbo kick before taking off to therapy.

Mind you, all this time the temperature has never gotten above about 30 degrees here. During the day it seems to be about 22-26 degrees and that is exceedingly cold for here. Oregon may rain a lot but we don’t get this bone chilling cold for this duration of time. It kind of makes life miserable honestly. Frozen practically solid 24/7. NOOO good.

Oh my eating was the shittiest it’s been in forever this weekend. I was attacked by cookies with frosting. Okay, okay… I attacked them. They were innocently minding their own business on my mom’s counter and I found self-control to be something of the past. I cannot even tell you how many cookies I ate over the course of 3 days. In the twenties honestly. We aren’t talking little round cookies. We are talking giant frosted cookies. It was bad.

Yesterday I did manage to avoid the cookies, as we brought a plate home of them for some unknown reason. I didn’t eat them. I was back on track. But memories of frosted sugar cookies and the sugar high ran rampant in my body. Detox is a must. Sugar is incredibly addictive. Real sugar too. None of this sugar substitute crap, but real old fashioned sugar.

On the plus side I had a great weekend just hanging out with my family, making cookies, going to a Christmas bazar, doing Christmas shopping, wrapping presents. It was the perfect holiday weekend and therefore it was okay. This leads me back to my earlier sentiment that I simply want to survive the month of December and if I come out exactly the same than that is going to be a victory for me. Truly.

I am really doing well with being happy and enjoying myself, even if I’m struggling a little with the diet and health stuff. BUT I keep going to the gym so things aren’t all bad. And as I sit here and type right now my muscle are still sore meaning that I am working them hard so I am sure nothing is as bad as I imagine it to be. Can you believe we only have 2 weekends left until Christmas? Only 2 more full weekends. That is just crazy to me. Hands down, my favorite time of year!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

One year blog Anniversary

So last night was indeed get my ass kicked at the gym night. Honestly, as much as mentally sometimes I might not initially want to do it, afterwards I ALWAYS feel epic and accomplished. This is how the story goes. I arrived at the gym at about 5:15 PM. The last couple months there has been a class at 5:30 PM. Last month there was such poor participation in the class they took it off the schedule this month. No 5:30 class. Shit. Guess that’s what happens when only 3-4 people show up each week. My personal training session is at 6 PM. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do.

I was talking to Amanda, my friend the trainer, who normally teaches the 5:30 PM class. Last night 2 other people showed up for class but again, it was cancelled. Anyway, we were up front and she was supposed to have a 5:30 client but she cancelled so Amanda was like, hey let’s go workout. So away the two of us went into the “class” room and Amanda decided we were doing a quick 500 rep workout. Um, there is nothing particularly easy about a 500 rep workout. This was supposed to be my light workout before personal training which was supposed to kick my ass. However, this little workout was pretty hard.

This is how it went down. We started with 50, yes 50 in a row, lye on your stomach and raise your body up, superman’s, into a push up. However it was more than a standard push up, it was a jump your entire body off the ground from the push up position. I can’t explain it but it was intense. Back and shoulders were on fire. Then we did 100 knee jumps. Jump up in the air and slap your hands on your knees. You know, knees in the air kind of jumping. The it was 50, yes, 50 freaking weighted burpies. You heard that right. I have never done 50 burpies in a row before. A weighted burpie is when you have a pair of weights (8 pounds in this case) in your hands and when you go to jump up you raise the weights above your head for extra torture. That was BRUTAL.

After the burpies we moved into 100 jump lunges. Which honestly weren’t that horrible. Then it was 100 mountain climbers and then we finished with the most brutal of them all, 100 knee tucks. This is performed much like a mountain climber. In push up position instead of of sliding one leg at a time, you literally hop both legs at once up to your knees and then back. These were so ridiculous on the quad muscles that they literally had to be done is sets of 10 and then a stretch and pause. 100 is BRUTAL. So overall, 500 reps. I was dripping sweat.

What was funny about this workout is that it was me and Amanda doing it together and there were other people in the room watching us who showed up for the 5:30 class but since there wasn’t one they just watched us. It was kind of weird actually. But Amanda didn’t get paid to teach a class so I understand that she didn’t want to have a class but apparently she likes me and we work out together for fun so I guess it works. It felt strange but also kind of like I got a free personal training session but slightly different because she was working too. It’s actually better, plus I adore the girl. Honestly I do. She is such a sweetheart and seriously a good friend so I guess that’s why it works for us.

Afterwards my legs were on fire and I had to go to my personal training session. And guess what, it was leg day :) Of course, right. So I put on a resistance band. One of those rubber band type things around your ankles that you have to keep your legs extended to keep it on, and I had to squat shuffle across the entire length of the gym. It is a lot. Back and forth and then do squats. And then step up on the boxes with weights above my head. All legs. I welcomed the few exercises that were for my arms. A few chest presses and then some tricep extensions. And then back to legs. I was dripping sweat and hating/loving every minute of it.

And then if that wasn’t enough when I was done with that half hour I jumped right into the second half of Turbo kick, another 30 minutes of ass kicking. When that was done I was ready to go home. 1.5 hours of intense work and I was one exhausted puppy. But it was amazing!!! Of course I think it’s amazing afterwards when I have actually completed the entire workout.

So despite not having an official class at 5:30 I still got an awesome workout in anyway. Stuff I would not have ever done on my own. Because seriously who are we kidding who in their right mind would just do 50 burpies on their own along with the additional other 450 reps. Yeah… not me and I am kind of one of those crazies who loves this shit. This is exactly why there is great benefit in having a personal trainer or at least taking classes at the gym. Pushing yourself to do things you normally would not do. Keep surprising the fuck out of your body I guess. That is always important!

Tonight is Iron Power, my favorite class of the entire week. It is 1 hour dedicated to lifting weights and burning out each major muscle group in the body. It is taught by the lovely Amanda. I spend a lot of time with that chick at the gym! She somehow has seriously become one of my best friends. Anyway, I never miss a Thursday night Iron Power class. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. After Iron Power I am calling it quits, as this is day 6 in a row of exercise and I’m ready for a break. Tomorrow is rest day, much earned I might add, as clearly despite my heart not being 150% into this shit this week, clearly I didn’t let that stop my body from performing at 100% capacity. I had some great workouts despite it all.

I had a thought this morning that made me smile. I woke up today and was once again happy that it was Christmas time. And then I smiled because I started to think back to a year ago at this time and while I was solidly 2 months into the process of losing weight and feeling good, I am so ridiculously happy with how much of a difference a year can make. I am happy. I am so happy. I am so happy to wake up each day and love myself. Not be ashamed or embarrassed to live my life or afraid to do anything that I want to do. That today is a good day simply because I am alive and breathing and healthy. And I have to admit that I am honestly very thankful that I am not at the place I was a year ago anymore. I am glad that I am not only still going strong a year later but I am thankful for every blessing this past year has brought me. I am thankful for my gym, and the strength of the physical and mental kind I have developed this past year. I am thankful for my online friendships. I am thankful for my gym friendships that I have developed. I feel happy, full and complete. Something that has taken me a very long time to feel.

You know what else I am thankful for? Honestly… I am thankful that I get to enjoy myself this year around Christmas and eat a few cookies and indulge in some alcoholic beverages and treats and not worry about gaining weight. Last year, I remember trying very hard to be mindful of everything because I was deep in loose weight mode. I am thankful that this year I will still be mindful of my choices but I don’t have the same pressure anymore. The past 6 months have taught me that I can indulge mindfully and still maintain because I have a good calorie burning engine in place now. I did not drink alcohol last Christmas. Not that I am a heavy drinker my any stretch of the imagination, I am not, but it would be lovely to enjoy a glass of wine here or there and relax. I am very much looking forward to that. This is just one of the many amazing things that I adore about my lifestyle. I get to be healthy and strong and enjoy all aspects of my life. Perfection.

And you know what else? Seriously, today, one year ago, is when I wrote my very first blog post again on this website. Today, 1 year ago is when I started my online journey again. I have officially documented one entire year of my life via this blog. This is the very first time I have ever consistently blogged an entire year of my life. That just put a huge smile on my face. I did it, another milestone, and another sign that this really is it for me.

Wednesday December 5, 2012 I posted an entry called Silent Descent, which chronicled my efforts to do this all over again. According to the post I was down 21.2 pounds which means I weighed 198.8 pounds exactly 1 year ago. Yup, SOOO grateful this past year has happened. I am fulfilled in a way that I have never been in my entire life.

So today I will raise my metaphorical wine glass (metaphorical because I don’t have any wine in the house, wait I do, but I’m not drinking it now!), and celebrate 1 entire year of blogging my journey and toast to all the adventures that will come in the next year.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On a Quest

I should also mention that yesterday, this happened….

Yes, about 2 weeks ago I was contacted on twitter by Quest and asked if I’d be interesting in writing my transformation story for their weekly thing. I was surprised and said yes of course. So when I got back from Vegas, I wrote up something, collected pictures and sent it all in. I honestly had no idea if they’d use it and when it would happen but last night was very surprised to see this.

You can read my whole story here:

It’s pretty crazy honestly to see this as I so often don’t feel like much of a transformation/inspiration. I honestly just feel like a normal girl. I read all the previous transformation stories and am like, wow, I don’t even compare. I don’t look nearly as good as the other people but then when I see it written up I guess I look okay. Sometimes it’s that self confidence that we all struggle with that gets in our way.

So apparently I am now forever immortalized on the quest website with my story. Funny stuff really.

Life Update

I have forgotten what it was like to be incredibly busy. Clearly based on how much time I am generally able to invest into myself one can see how clearly I don’t have much else of a life. November/December suddenly become quite busy times for me. I guess it’s the holidays. That and work has been super ridiculously busy as of late which is actually requiring much of my time. Between work and trying to maintain my workouts it doesn’t leave much time for everything else. Wait, this part of my world goes by the wayside a little. In this instance it does not mean that I have been floundering though.

I have to admit that with all the additional demands on my time my motivation/desire to give 150% to my health and nutrition is hard. I am still managing to make it something that I partake in but it’s perhaps not the level that is has been. But that is only slightly in question. I had a very hard time around Thanksgiving, but who doesn’t? I did not beat myself up, it was Thanksgiving and I had a lovely holiday with my family. It was actually very low key, chill and delicious.

I got up on Thanksgiving and I ran 5.2 miles in the freezing cold and when I say freezing they announced before the run that it was 27 degrees out so I guess that is freezing. I do not run in the freezing cold and I hated it. I think I discovered I am incredibly cold blooded. I was bone chilled. My nose could not stop running which in turn made every drop of moisture stick to my body like ice. It was miserable. When we were done they gave us wine at like 9 AM in the morning. I had a drink and then tossed the rest. I wanted warm. When I finally got in the car I was shaking I was so cold. I turned the heat on and it literally took me 45 minutes to warm up. I had not been that cold in forever. Miserable experience, but hey, you live and learn and I did it.

The rest of my Thanksgiving was fabulous and I really did eat too much. I should have gone to the gym on Friday as I was off and had no good reason not to. I had every intention of going, but I did not. I think I was still in a food coma and did not want to do it. I told myself it was okay to take another day of rest. I did not work out Wednesday night either. I only feel slightly bad about that decision. I mean, in the end I knew I was getting up Saturday morning for 9 AM turbokick and then I did 10 AM boot camp. At 11 AM, I then proceeded to do about 20 more minutes of weights on my own before calling it quits. Really awesome workout. Then I went to my mom’s house where we had a very big install the outdoor Christmas lights party. It was amazing… and I mean, we do a kickass job and it looks beautiful.

This is the thing about Christmas. I do not decorate my own home probably because I spend so much time decorating my moms. Christmas happens for me at my mom’s house. It is the magical land of Christmas cheer for me and my sisters. I am not exactly sure why and I can’t explain it but over the past couple years Christmas has become more and more magical. It is that special time of the year that is just perfect in every possible way (despite not always being perfect) and is completely held in such high regard that we spend the entire year glowing from it. Christmas is just magical family time. Being a family girl I wouldn’t want it any other way. So we decorate the hell out of mom’s house, inside and out and spend our evenings drinking coffee/cider/cocoa by the tree and bonding. It is AMAZING. I wish I could articulate why it has this sense of joy and wonderment but it just does. I think it is this massive desire to be close and just experience pure unadulterated love. This is why I get so caught up in giving and loving and sharing with my family.

Anyhow, after we decorated the outside we got a tree and decorated it. I already wrapped some presents on Friday night and brought them over to put under the tree. Mind you this is just the tiny beginning of presents. We ususally have a ton, but in all fairness, it is presents for 10 people. It gets quite massive. Mostly because we adore the kids and I love buying them things and sharing the sense of Christmas wonderment with them as well.

Sunday morning I once again woke up NOT wanting to exercise. I think it’s this persistent voice in my head telling me that I want to eat cookies and drink cocoa and do Christmas stuff. Instead I instantly put on my workout clothes and told myself I just had to get to the gym for an hour. I arrived about 11:30 AM. I told myself an hour. I did an hour of weights. Then I was like, oh, just a little bit more. I was feeling good at this point. Then at about 12:45 my friend Amanda, the trainer, texted me and said they were meeting there at 1 PM to do a workout. I was like, well, I’m already here so sure. So at 1 PM, I started round 2. We warmed up with a 30 minute walk on the treadmill. Then we did shoulders and abs. It wasn’t until about 2:30 when I finished and finally walked out of the gym. So yes, 3 hours later I guess I’d say I worked out despite not feeling it.

Monday was crazy busy at work, payday and all and then Monday night I headed to the gym where I partook in a killer 30 minute high intensity class and then 30 minutes of turbokick. I had to leave early as Monday nights are also my therapy night. But in my hour there I still got in a great workout.

Yesterday I was excited to go to the gym but once I got there I wasn’t exactly feeling it. I did a 30 minute class and then did about 45 minutes of weights on my own and decided that this was good enough for me for the night. Tonight is personal training and class so I know it’s going to be a killer one so I let last night be slightly easy.

So yes, tonight I am back at the gym again. So clearly I am going thru all the appropriate motions of exercise despite feeling very busy otherwise. All of my free time is consumed between decorating, shopping, wrapping presents, trying to keep my head above water. You get it. Of course I love this time of year and wouldn’t want it any different. I am sure I will be back to my old self post Christmas. For now I am just doing my thing, staying on top of it. But the food choices were less than stellar the entire weekend and even the past 2 days I’ve struggled a little with volume. I just am constantly hungry beyond belief. Crazy hungry. I can’t seem to shovel enough food down my pie hole. Normally this is okay with me as long as it’s good foods I am eating but the past days it’s literally been a pie hole. I ate a lot of pie. And crackers and other random things that are not exactly nutritionally sound. However, I am not mad at myself. I forgive me and I move on.

Today is a new day and I am learning that even a few bad days are not life altering for me. I won’t gain weight and I get right back to it. Plus I kind of work out a whole hell of a lot in the grand scheme of things so I am sure I am fine. I did have a few moments in the past couple days where my mind was feeling bad about my food consumption and told my brain to think I was fat and gaining weight. I am not. Just funny to note that when I eat badly my brain wants to think that physically I am getting chunky. There is no difference in my body. It’s just the tricks our mind plays to fuck with us.

But overall I am doing well and I am happy and looking forward to my most wonderful time of the year. Christmas music 24/7… feeling the holiday cheer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have to admit that I have found myself so busy as of late that I haven’t really even had a moment to ponder the whole point of Thanksgiving or the being thankful part. Yes, people spend the month of November daily writing Facebook posts expressing their gratefulness for things like coffee and heat and trees and birds, etc. You get my point. But honestly, what are you truly thankful for this year?

As I was running around doing work errands this afternoon I was walking by a bank of windows on my way to the bank downtown and I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection and I had a stop and pause moment where I was like, holy shit, I look strong and healthy. I do not look tiny and breakable or fragile or wimpy. I look healthy. And then as I continued on my way into the bank I got to thinking about the reality that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and that I have so much to be thankful for this year. That truly 2013 has been very good to me and I really feel so blessed this year.

I had a moment where I almost felt tears welling up inside of me because my reflection told me I was physically strong. And then I stopped and thought that my physical strength has led to the most amazing inner strength. Something that I can honestly say now that I have never, in my previous 34 years of life experienced. It is quite funny that when I was making myself physically strong is the first time that I was ever actually able to make my inside strong and confident as well. I have never experienced this level of self-love and inner strength.

I know I talk a lot about strength because it is truly something that is such a foreign concept to me. I never believed it was possible to feel the way I do about myself on the inside and that is probably the single thing I am most grateful for in 2013. This last year has been amazing and epic and I am beyond thankful for everything that I have earned. I did this. I can say I am grateful for what has happened to me or the blessings I have been given which is true, but honestly, it is what I worked for. I am blessed that my body and my mind was able to respond to what I gave it the way it did, but honestly, I put forth all of the hard work to earn the rewards of my efforts.

2013 is the year I finally stopped being my own enemy, my own worst critic and my own victim. Yes, I have to admit that I spent the vast majority of 2012 playing the victim in my mind. I see now, with all my newfound strength how miserable I truly was to myself. 2013 is the year of such tremendous growth on all levels. I truly do feel blessed to at the place I am emotionally, mentally, physically.

I think it is fair to say that just because someone may be strong physically doesn’t always equate to a strong sense of character or vice-versa. One can be beyond mentally and emotionally strong and not physically. I don’t think the two always go hand in hand. Basically from my own personal experience I have met lots of incredibly fit people who are complete assholes in character. Clearly they work hard and have determination, but it doesn’t mean they are nice people. I understand this concept completely. But what was so shocking for me and something that I really had no idea would occur was how changed I would be by becoming physically stronger.

The direct correlation between physical and inner strength was a completely shock to me. It seems the stronger I get physically the more my insides become strong and confident. I find myself expressing myself in all these ways I never would have before. I find myself championing the underdog and feeling confident enough to stand up for what I believe in. AMAZING feeling. Confidence is every bit as magical as I had always envisioned it would be. Albeit I never believed I’d truly have it. And yet, here I am on the eve of Thanksgiving 2013 as confident as I have ever been in my entire life and honestly believing that I am a confident person. Those are words you never would have gotten me to say at any other point in my life. Thank you 2013 for being the year. Thank you for finally teaching me the lessons that I needed to learn about love and tolerance and faith and happiness.

I honestly can’t believe another year is almost coming to an end. I can’t believe that I have survived over an entire year of life changing events. I honestly believed way back at the beginning of 2013 that this was going to be a good year for me. I had no idea that it would be what it has become and that I’d be closing out the last month of 2013 feeling as strong and confident as I do. That is the beauty of a year. It CAN be life changing if you let it. It’s never too late to become what you were always meant to be.

I am now beyond excited for 2014. I have never been over a year into my weight loss journey/life and felt as confident and in control of things as I do now. Or as motivated. I swear I have more motivation these days than I have ever had. Perhaps that’s because I have more energy and excitement for life in general. That is what good physical heath does for you.

This is the thing I know. Somewhere in the back of my brain is this little voice that tells me that I am destined for something greater in this world of health and nutrition. The little voice that says you are going to make a difference somehow. Again, I am not sure how or what, but I know it’s brewing and working towards that. I have to say I feel very passionately about empowering our youth to believe in themselves. It’s not just about being healthy and fit anymore; it seems to have branched off into the territory of confidence and self-love. And I adore that this is where my brain is headed. In showing young women that being strong of character and strong of body is not only possible but so beneficial to our well-being. You can already see that my brain keeps expanding daily into new and deeper territory.

If I keep going down the paths I am travelling, which I don’t possibly see how anything else would occur, I know eventually I am going to do great things. Not only for myself, but for the world around me. There’s that confidence coming into play again. Perhaps I need to find a place to volunteer with young girls or something like that for right now. Hopefully it wouldn’t come off as creepy seeing as I am a 34 year old woman with no children of her own. But honestly we all know it’s just because I want to help, inspire and empower girls. Nothing creepy about it.

Anyway, again, just mind rambling here. This is where I come to process my thoughts and make all important self-discoveries. This is what I know, this whole thing started out about losing weight because I was tired of living my life fearful of everything. It started out about getting back to a healthy weight and somehow 13 months later has manifested itself into something so much greater. It isn’t even about weight or how I look anymore. It’s about the confidence and self-love that results from all of it. It’s about feeling empowered and like women can do anything they set their minds too.

It’s like that feeling I get, like last night, when I was the only woman amongst a sea of men over by the weight racks at the gym, lifting like a beast. Because why the fuck not? Who says strength is only for men? It’s about time we teach our children that women are every bit as strong as any male counter-part.

I am not tiny or stick thin. I will never be that, and have no desire to ever be that. I am not perfect. I have scars and stretch marks and flaws a plenty. But I am strong. I am a fucking bad ass woman. I am building and rebuilding myself from the inside out every single day.

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I am actually beyond humbled and blessed that this is my life. That I am capable of feeling the way that I do. This is exactly the feeling that I want to work the rest of my life helping other women feel. For every single fat kid who was picked on, or average sized woman who was told they were ugly. For every woman who allows a man to walk all over her, I want to help them find their own sense of self-love. I want them to know this exact feeling, of what it’s like to feel like you are worth your own love. That you can be this strong and really, truly, accept yourself.

I sure am singing a different tune than a year ago. I love that I can pretty much track my last year on this blog and certainly completely notice the shift in attitude that has occurred in me. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Enjoy yourselves! I will be starting my day out with an 8 AM, 5.2 mile turkey trot run in the freezing cold. Cause that’s how different this year is for me than last. So I will exercise before I indulge. Cause that’s just who I am now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A mix of blah and yuck

I cannot fathom being a teenager in today’s online world. I suspect every generation doesn’t understand how the one below it survived and perhaps this is a sign of my aging state but holy cow, how do teenagers do it? Facebook pages, twitter accounts, snap chat messages. Our entire lives are played out online to begin with and throw in the normal hormones and turmoil of middle/high school and it seems like a recipe for disaster.

My sister is a high school math teacher. She often tells me horrific stories of cyber bullying and instant snap chats of young girl’s daily outfits that are passed around and criticized. Can’t believe she wore that, or did you see how fat she looked in that outfit? Of course facebook/twitter provide all the means necessary to publically stalk, obsesses over and ridicule all of your friends/enemies and crushes alike. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would have been a basket case had I grown up today in this environment. I already felt ridiculed, looked at and like an outsider without having to have it seep over into my out of the actual school building life as well.

With all this said, it is not shocking to me that growing up is extremely difficult these days. Again, I am certain it has always been and will always remain difficult but given these added pressures it seems all the more important to instill a sense of self and worth in our next female generation. I am sure men need it every bit as much, but I am particularly speaking to something that I’ve been noticing in my own facebook feed over the past couple months.

I have a young female cousin who recently turned 13. She is in 8th grade I believe. Her entire social life is being played out online for the whole world to see. She is a nice young woman who is actually very physically cute. She is 13 years old and therefore it’s not really for me or anyone to honestly comment on her physical attractiveness. She is a child still but unfortunately peers have a different take on this. Like most 13 year olds in general she is not nearly done growing, developing, changing, becoming the woman she is going to become. I don’t think she is naturally a supermodel, but who is? With that said, she is certainly not by any stretch of the imagination ugly. I am only commenting on her physical appearance because she so often does and it really makes me sad. She is an innocent maturing woman and the fact that so many of her facebook posts come out as derogatory insults to herself breaks my heart.

Recently, in the height of the whole name random facts about yourself trend sweeping facebook she, along with lots of her little friends, posted list after list of facts. A direct quote, “I don’t think I am pretty” For months there have been subtle nudges about her lack of pretty and I just don’t understand. Then yesterday she posted a series of photos of her and 2 of her friends goofing around taking model shots a park this weekend. They were actually gorgeous photos. She looks like a 13 year old girl. They all look like 13 year old young women. They do not look like buxom mature 25 year old super models, and somehow I get the impression this is what she thinks is the ideal image of beauty is.

I thought the photos were cute. Truly, 13 year old girl cute. Lots of friends commented on the photos, one suggested you should be a model to which my cousin responded, I’m not pretty enough, and I’m not even cute. Someone else said you are cute/pretty whatever and again she responded again direct quote, “Haha, thanks but nope I am a mix of bleh and yuck.”

At this point, I could no longer stand by and read this because my heart was seriously breaking. And then I responded with a rant that read…

Can I tell you that you make me sad when I read your comments about not being pretty enough or that you’re a mix of bleh and yuck? Why on earth would you ever think that???? I think it’s so sad that somewhere along the line you got the idea that somehow you weren't good enough. It breaks my heart really. Firstly there is not a single idea of what pretty or beautiful is, every single woman in this world is gorgeous in their own way. Secondly, you are beyond gorgeous. You are so young and beautiful and I wish that every young adolescent felt like they were more than enough for not only those around them but themselves. I hate that something in your life has given you this idea that you aren't enough. This is what is so wrong with our society. You are a young woman that is still growing and maturing and you can do and be anything you want to be and you are more than enough! You are beautiful not just because your outside is beautiful but more importantly because your inside is. That is what is most important. Please don't ever belittle yourself. You’re worth so much more than that. Sorry for the rant but I've seen you make comments a lot about not being pretty and it just really breaks my heart....

I have been noticing for months that she clearly has some self-esteem issues and I am so sad about that. I am sad that a 13 year old has ever been put into a situation where she feels that clearly she is being judged and can call herself a mix of bleh and yuck. She is none of these things. She is a 13 year old child in my eyes. However, I understand that I cannot call her a child and certainly she is testing the waters socially as all 13 year olds do. I guess maybe a part of me could also relate and I wanted to take that pain away. I want to fix the heart of every single 13 year old girl who somehow thinks they are not good enough for some reason.

I partially blame heightened social media for this problem. I blame the availability of skewed images of beauty. I blame mean snap chats and social media outlets where children feel the desire to interact and yet the shame of public ridicule. And of course the age old desire to compare. It is so easy now to compare our lives with Facebook. What for me was always just an image in my head of what these other popular girls lives must be like, is now a constant reality/reminder with the accessibility of images of parties you were not invited to, events you didn’t attend, and friendships you desired but are not included in. Facebook has many advantages and just as many disadvantages. I was always able to pretty much stalk most of my crushes as it was back in the day, I can only imagine how badly it could have gone with social media being thrown into the mix.

It is no wonder to me that kids these days are more depressed and so many children/babies end up killing themselves because of bullying. You are already beyond emotionally fragile as your hormones rage and you try to find yourself.

I imagine at some point my cousin had some stupid person make a comment and call her ugly or not pretty. I say this because I am pretty certain I recall months ago a sad post about some boy calling her ugly and how much it crushed her. And now it is forever stuck in her head that she is not good enough. We should mandatory require every young child to take self-esteem workshops or something like that. No 13 year old should walk around feeling like they are ugly. It just isn’t even possible for a 13 year old to be ugly. They are still growing every single day.

Why do we always all want to grow up so damned fast? Her pictures give me every single indication that she desires to be a sex pot grown up. It really just makes me sad. I want her to aspire to be more than that. I want her to aspire to be anything she wants to be and value the beauty of her inside. Her strength. I know perhaps this seems hypocritical coming from somehow who spends so much time obsessing over her own physical appearance. But it is perhaps because of that obsessiveness that I would not wish it upon my 13 year old cousin and it makes me terrified for my soon to be 9 year old niece. I want more for them that that. I want them to be strong and brave. I want them to be fighters and warriors. If they want to be beautiful physically that is okay as well, as long as they acknowledge and embrace the fact that it is a beautiful inside that matters so much more. I want them to understand their own strength as strong females. I want them to love themselves, all of themselves, just as they are. Flaws and all. These are hard learned lessons that I pray they can and will understand one day.

If I’ve learned nothing it is that strength of character, and strength of your own self is so much more important than anything material or superficial to the outside. Sure I still like fashion and being pretty but that is secondary to my emerging inner strength. The most important thing I have ever given myself. I simply want all young women to believe they too are capable of anything, and certainly more than just being pretty.

Monday, November 25, 2013

One of the scariest nights of my life

So I had a pretty shit evening last night. Well, not me, my mom had a shit evening last night which made me incredibly scared, nervous, and worried. I went to the gym in the afternoon and got a great workout in my some friends. Yup, gym friends. I got home around 6 or 6:30. I had intended to make spaghetti, even stopped at the grocery store for supplies and had everything set out to go. About 6:45 I picked up my phone and noticed that I had 2 missed calls from my mom. My phone was on silent, which is why I missed them. I didn’t think too much of this. She left a message but my phone was behaving badly and I couldn’t retrieve it. I decided to just call her back. What ensured was horror on my behalf.

In my entire life pretty much I can’t recall a time ever when I called my mom and on the other end of the line I hear her sobbing and in obvious physical pain and her answering with “Emily.” I’m like, what, what the hell is wrong? She was like, I am in physical pain, it hurts so bad, it’s like someone is stabbing me. I can’t move. Instantly I went into shock mode. I have never heard my mom like this. I had to try to decipher thru her muddled dialogue what exactly was going on only to ascertain if she was immediately bleeding to death and I needed to call 911 or if it was something else. I got out of her that it was her side; she thought it was her kidney and it was awful pain. I told her I’d be there in a couple minutes and we were going to the hospital. I live literally a mile away from my mom. I was still in my workout clothes, so I Just ran into the bedroom, kicked my shoes off, grabbed a pair of pants and boots, grabbed a jacket and took off. I was still in sports bra and top, that didn’t matter.

By the time I was pulling into her driveway my aunt was there as well. I have to admit because my phone was on silent it was about 15-20 minutes before I got back to my mom and I figured she probably called someone else as well. I sprinted into the house quite panicked honestly. My aunt was helping her up and to her car so we could go to the hospital.

I felt helpless and powerless. I have never seen my mom in so much pain. She is a strong woman. In all fairness I probably get a lot of my grit and determination from her. She doesn’t complain and doesn‘t even cry that often. I certainly am a teary freak comparatively. Anyhow, it was just so sad to see her pained expressions on her face. My aunt drove her car with my mom and I followed behind in my own vehicle. In the end it was probably better to have multiple vehicles so we went that route. Along the way to the hospital my aunt suddenly stopped the car and pulled over and I followed. My mom got out of the car and threw up on the side of the road. I knew something was obviously wrong.

When we finally made it to the ER, as per typical of the ER, it takes forever for anyone to actually administer pain meds. It was probably easily 30-45 minutes before my mom actually saw a doctor. As everyone pretty much concurred based on my mom’s description it turned out to be kidney stones. She eventually got pain med that took away the excruciating pain she was in, thank goodness. They did a cat scan and finally came back and said that this was a GIANT stone and that it would have to be surgically removed. Apparently this is a 6mm stone trapped inside a 5mm tube thus being stuck and severely painful for her. She was admitted into the hospital last night for surgery today. The entire process is very slow and lots of sitting around.

By the time mom was finally taken to her room and we got her situated enough that I felt comfortable leaving her, it was almost midnight. So yes, I did not get to bed until after midnight last night, but honestly I am just thankful that it wasn’t something worse.

Those moments of terror and horror when someone you love so much is in so much pain and you can’t help them is unbearable. It also puts lots of things into perspective. I had a lot of crazy thoughts running thru my brain, fears really. In the end a kidney stone is minimal compared to what it could have been. Thank goodness it was only what it was.

She had surgery earlier today and everything went fine. Hopefully, in a few hours, she will be able to go home tonight. So far so good. It is just incredibly humbling to be reminded of how important and fragile our bodies and health are. Humbling that the things we love and take for granted can so easily be taken away. Not that it was but the moment of panic is all too real. So as this Thanksgiving approaches I feel extra thankful that it was not worse. Humbled that I lived thru that experience. And reminded of the value of good health. Not that this prevents such things, but I sure do not ever want to have situations like this where my own health or lack of health is the cause of something that could have been prevented. That was not the case for my mom this time. Apparently kidney stones are common and unavoidable. My mom is in good health so I am sure that helps make the recovery process easier.

Crap like this just puts life into perspective doesn’t it? I will never forget that phone call where the other end was my mom in such pain. Seriously one of the scariest moments of my life. Ever. That is a phone call you never want to have.

Remember to tell the people you love today how important they are to you and how grateful you are to have them in your life. Lesson learned last night. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Phoenix Bound

So it all started like this. Friday morning I got an email from the Rock N Roll Marathon series that said hey, all you Vegas runners, congratulations on your run, here’s a coupon code for a special price to register for the Arizona Rock N Roll half marathon and oh by the way, there is a special medal you earn, the desert double down. Run both the Vegas and the Arizona races and we’ll go ahead and throw on this extra medal. I think they had me at extra medal. I like my bling.

You can guess what followed and exactly where this story is going. As of today I am now officially registered for said ½ marathon and have a plane ticket, hotel room and car rental booked for Arizona January 18-20 of 2014. The race itself is Sunday January 19 in Tempe, which it seems is really just Phoenix. I am a bit confused that this race runs thru different cities, as I guess they are all really closely located. Nonetheless, I am going to Phoenix. I have never been to the South, any south. I’ve never been to Phoenix and that unto itself is pretty cool. So yes, I am heading to Phoenix in January for yet another half marathon.

I think somewhere over the weekend I decided that my goal for 2014 is just going to be run ½ marathons and have fun. Sure I’ve been running off and on for the past 10 years but just now is officially the first time I’ve ever enjoyed the official organized run. I want to take a year and now stress about training or times and just have fun running. I have no doubt that at some point in my life I will run a full marathon. I don’t however think that 2014 will be the year. I say that because I want to take the year, run a bunch of halves, get a solid base in the world of running for me and just enjoy it. I guess let the luster of running 1/2’s wear off before I decide to tackle the much longer full marathon. I actually think this is a good plan for me. Run the half marathon distance for a year before venturing down more complex territory.

Usually running a half marathon produces such an adrenalin rush that it is in its afterglow that I end up signing up for another half marathon. After my first one, within the week I was signing up for Vegas and now after Vegas within a week I signed up for Arizona. I see how this goes for me. I can’t even explain the high that I feel after completing the run. I definitely see this year as my year of the half. I am not really planning any other destination runs this year but you never know. I might get that buzz later in the year.

This is my tentative plan

Jan: Phoenix Rock N Roll half
April: Corvallis OR Half and Eugene OR Half
May: Portland Rock N Roll Half
June: Seattle Rock N Roll Half
Then from June-September there are tons of half’s in Oregon that I will probably look at but am not fully committing to just yet
November 2014: Vegas Rock N Roll Half

Running season or marathon season in Oregon is really heavy in September/October so that is most likely when I will have more races to conquer. But at least for now this gives me a good start.

Didn’t we all really know that eventually I would get the itch to run like this? I really do like the half length because it doesn’t require too much of me. I don’t have to spend my life training for it and I can still go to the gym and do my strength training and do my once a week runs and just enjoy everything else I am doing and show up and run and have a great time and get a medal. I’m excited.

I have to admit that I really function better in day to day life when I have things to look forward to, but who doesn’t honestly? So yes, having another running trip planned in January just keeps me going a little and there is nothing wrong with that.

I also have to take a moment to reflect on the reality that I am just capable of doing this at all. That I can plan on running all of 2014 and I don’t question whether I will want to or be able to. That my commitment to myself is just there. That I am fully invested in this life I am living. I just want to smile because a year ago I had no idea I’d be right here, right now. I am so in love with this lifestyle and how strong and confident I feel.

I am so excited to see where else I end up going and what’s next for me because there is just no stopping me now.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The cost of travel

I have to admit that I have been struggling a little since getting back from Vegas. I don’t know, maybe I struggled before and while in Vegas, who knows. It was shockingly harder than I thought it’d be to return from a 4 day vacation and get right back to it. I think it was simply tired feeling. Wait, I am still tired and still mentally struggling a little bit. I did the best I could in Vegas and I don’t regret my choices but some of the less than stellar food options took its toll on my body physically and then complete lack of sleep and the last two nights at the gym have been a total struggle. I have mentally not wanted to go. I have been there in physical spirit but not in a total committed mental capacity. I think my body notices the difference.

I am hoping that after I get some adequate sleep this weekend that my body will finally readjust. I have been detoxing for a couple days now and hopefully the combination of those two things will make my excitement and love for the gym return. I mean, I am going to the gym tonight again because that is what I do, but I am just not that excited about it. Ususally I am VERY excited to go to the gym. I don’t regret my Vegas trip at all, amazing time, but I am just sorry that its taking me so long to adjust again. I feel like I regressed a little and that is never a fun feeling. But whatever, at least I went to the gym Tuesday night and last night. As thy always say, maybe they weren’t perfect workouts or my best ever but a less than perfect workout is still better than no workout at all. That is the simple truth of the matter.

I have no doubt my enthusiasm for what I love most will return soon, but for now I will just make myself go and do what I can. I am grateful that even when I don’t feel like it so much it is such a part of me that I just do it. And yes, I ate crappy while in Vegas, especially Sunday AFTER my run and then all day Monday. But you know what, Tuesday morning, back to the real world and it wasn’t even a question I got right back to my healthy nutrition. Tuesday and yesterday were perfectly clean. Today is perfectly clean. I can do this. It’s not really a question of me doing it. I know I will. At this point this IS my lifestyle. I just know before I went to Vegas I was on a high with my exercise and this week its been a struggle. I guess sometimes are just like that, plain and simple. We don’t all live in crazy happy land all the time with extreme motivation. This is a good reminder to be thankful of the days where I feel completely motivated and passionate. Those are great moments. It will return and I will be thankful when it does.

For now, I am just going to keep plugging along. Cause that’s what I do.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I am an Athlete

When you look back on your life someday you will never regret the things that you have done, you will only regret the chances you did not take, the moments you walked away from and the things you were too scared to attempt. Running the Vegas strip was single handedly one of the coolest things I have ever done in my entire life. Definitely will always stand out as one of the highlights of my entire life. I know each person has a different idea of what life highlights are. Some people have epic moments with their children, which is beyond amazing, but obviously is never going to happen for me. I have vacations, moments with my family that I will cherish forever, but right at the top of coolest life experiences ever will forever more include running the strip.

I was scared. I did not allow myself to get too freaked out beforehand. I knew I was going to be terrified so in the weeks leading up to it, I tried very hard to keep my anxiety in check and tell myself that I could do this. I was getting a little freaked out the days prior but again, it was beyond my control so I went ahead and just tried to let it be what it was going to be.

I think most of my anxiety stemmed from the fact that I don’t really “train” for such things. Yes, I know I run. Yes I know that I am capable of running but the past couple months I have really cut my running down a lot. It’s pretty much down to one longer run on Sundays and if I’m lucky one short run during the week. That doesn’t always happen either. In the 3 weeks leading up to Vegas I only ran 3 times. One 10 mile run, one 6.5 mile run and one 4.5 mile run. That was it. Three weeks before and my nerves were starting to scare me. What if this was going to bite me in the ass? What if I couldn’t run it all and I couldn’t do it? These were the overwhelming almost paralyzing fears that started to enter my brain as I waited for the race to start.

The thing about running an event like a Rock N Roll marathon one is that you are with 30,000 other people. Yes, 30,000 people total were there, divided amongst 3 different race lengths. There was a half of the half, 6.5 miles, the half marathon and then the full marathon. Over 20,000 people ran the half marathon, clearly the most popular length. The race was scheduled to start at 4:30, but the pre-concert was from 3 PM-4 PM and clearly you needed to get there well in advance to make your way to the appropriate locations. Half the fear is the unknown. And of course walking everywhere.

I should back up. The race was Sunday afternoon and we arrived in Vegas late Friday night. Like midnight kind of late. Travel takes its toll on my body. I am not the best traveler in the history of travelers. It just takes my body a smidge to adjust. I get really dehydrated and my stomach always has issues. The entire time I was concerned about actually running and the social phobia of being with 30,000 other runners but I never considered the physical toll travel and vacation would take on my body and subsequently on my performance. Friday night when we finally got to the casino I had a drink. It felt good drinking it but then afterwards not so good.

Saturday morning I woke up and I did feel better but then I forgot the other aspect of Vegas, you walk everywhere. I don’t have a problem walking obviously but add dehydration with lack of good nutrition and your body just being out of whack and by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around my right leg was fighting a severe case of the shin splints. I knew this was not a good sign. As I was walking around I was like crap, my right leg is already tight. NOT good. We went to the runner’s expo Saturday and got our race packets and partook in all of the booths. It was a good time. Saturday night we ended up seeing Zumanity. Which is like the naughty Cirque show. It was all right. It was entertainment but wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Sunday morning I slept in, as to allow my body as much proper rest as I could get, all things considered. I immediately put on workout clothes as for some reason this always makes me feel better and more active. We walked around, had Subway for lunch and I tried to drink water and more water so that I was properly hydrated. I also did not realize how much more difficult it might be to wait around all day until 4:30 to run a race. It was an interesting balance act of not exhausting yourself, staying hydrated, proper fuel and of course not eating and or/drinking too close to start time. By the way, I failed on the last part. It was a good learning experience.

I ended up making my way to my designated start corral, 22; yup; all the way back in corral 22 with the other anticipated 2:10-2:20 time frame finishers. And the nerves were going crazy. I had visions of being dehydrated and already having shin splints in my head. I was nervous that once again I wasn’t a “real” runner and that these people, these other runners, would somehow think I was an imposter. I don’t know where these thoughts come from. Insecurity. I had to remind myself to breathe and had to keep telling myself that I would get thru this and I’d be able to run and even if I had to walk towards the end I would still finish. No matter what, I’d finish and get my medal. The medal was pretty damned cool and motivating all to itself. I was able to see the medal at the expo on Saturday and it was so shiny and pretty that I instantly knew that I had to own it. Just get thru this and that bad boy would be mine. So I had that in the back of my mind.

I think the fear of not having run all that much or training came into my mind. How do I keep showing up to these things and just expect my body to perform without properly training. Geesh. One of these days it will bite me in the ass. When you are in corral 22, turns out you don’t actually start the race at 4:30. You are released in coral waves and it meant that I did not actually start running until about 5:10 or so. Which was fine. We just kept moving forward inch by inch. About the time that 4:30 rolled around and I was waiting to start I got the urge to pee. Oops. But I was not going to leave that line and pee. I am kind of one of those freaks who doesn’t want to miss out. Always afraid I guess. So I told myself to just hold it. I was so nervous. In those moments before I actually started running I must have had a million thoughts running thru my head, most of which were, can I really do this? How the hell am I going to do this?

Once I finally made it to the “start” and I began to run for real, all thought left my brain and my legs began doing what I know they can do. I ran. The biggest issue at first being all the freaking people. It was quite difficult to maneuver around that many people. You do a lot of stop/start’s…. But I wanted to run. That is the one thing that my body was telling me to do, just run. So around people I went, on high alert. Up on the sidewalk, around person after person. In hindsight, I perhaps should have started up higher because I felt like I was instantly trying to pass a giant heard of people.

We all have different strategies for running. Clearly I am no professional runner. This is what I know. When I start out running I don’t mind running at a nice comfortable pace for as long as I can go. If I have the energy I want to use it because in the end my mind is going to do all the work for me that my body can’t physically do. I want to run when I feel like running. It’s probably a stupid strategy but thus far I haven’t really developed any other. Just run. That is my strategy. Do what I can in this exact moment. And I just wanted to run. Getting around people was tough. The first few miles that definitely slowed me down when I had my most desire and strength. That was rough. But about 1 mile in I had this amazing moment, this amazing epiphany, I am a fucking athlete.

Mile 1 down, on to mile 2. About Mile 3 or 4 we approached the Strip and I was passing people left and right. It must have been about 3 ½ miles in because I remember thinking it’s been about 30-35 minutes and people all around me were walking, huffing and puffing and I felt GREAT and AMAZING and ALIVE and I went, holy shit, I am a runner. And then I said, wait, no, I am not a runner. I am an athlete. Which is even better. If I were a runner I would actually train for this shit. I’m not a runner, but what I am is a bonified athlete. I am a person who cannot train specifically for this run, but instead spends 6 days a week training to become a kick-ass athlete and that is what is coming out now. I am an athlete. Because at no point during mile 3-4 did I even consider stopping, I felt great and was just getting started.

The weather was perfect. And I do mean perfect for running. It was probably in the mid 60’s. I was in a tank top and the slight wind chill offset the sweat that I am sure was happening but I didn’t feel because of the weather. I felt like an athlete and then the most amazing thing happened, I literally saw the first part of the Vegas strip ahead and the streets were literally lined with spectators. Thousands upon thousands of people cheering, holding signs and it was beautiful. I am almost certain I had tears in my eyes. This was it. This was that epic moment that people can go their whole lives without experiencing but it is one of the coolest things in the whole world. This is what it feels like. I was running down the closed off Vegas strip and thousands of strangers were cheering us all on. I was still trying to get around people. That was pretty much the story of the entire race. I guess when you have 20,000 plus people running one race you are going to spend the whole thing trying not to trip over each other.

I’d end up on the side of the road next to the crowds and these little kids would stick out their hands for you to slap as you ran by and it was amazing. Any time I saw a little girl with her hand out and a look of awe in her eye I went out of my way to give her a high 5. It was literally the most amazing thing I have done in a long time. I felt it. I felt the power of a marathon. I felt the power of inspiration, and courage and the high all rolled into one.

Running the strip at night was beyond epic. Take Vegas at night and then add doing something not everyone can do and it is just a cool experience. The lights were breathtaking from that vantage point. As I ran by each casino my smile got brighter and brighter. As we approached Planet Hollywood, mid-strip and the big reader board read, Go Luck Runners, Go, Go… the runners around me cheered and clapped. I am literally getting teary eyed this second writing this out. It was that indescribable of a moment that will live with me forever. For whatever reason, running along that stretch of ground, at night, being lit by the lights and sounds of Vegas, was pure happiness. Not to mention the live bands that were playing all along the race course. Yes, I had my music on low in my headphones, but it got trumped by the noises around me which was so much cooler anyway.

I still had to pee but decided that I was not going to slow down to pee unless I beyond had to. I did not. As I ran past Circus Circus at the other end of the strip and started towards the Freemont area it got quieter and I began to settle into a more running mode. Just me and myself and I felt great. Forget any physical pain, I can do this. Eventually we came across Freemont Street and the lights and sounds were back upon us. Onlookers cheering, lights flashing and the extra surge of adrenalin returned. We were at around mile 9 at this point. And I was still feeling great.

I crossed the Mile 10 mark feeling awesome and in control at about 1 hour 40 minutes and then something happened in the next mile or so. I hit the wall. Suddenly out of nowhere, I was exhausted. The miles did not seem to move, even though I was moving. I slowed down a bit. Not massively, but enough. Mile 11 came and went and I told myself 2 miles to go. You CAN do this. This is where my mental strength took over. I wanted to walk but I told myself that I had just freaking ran 11 miles so I was going to finish this crap come hell or high water and you were going to run these last 2 miles, even if you ran slower. You were going to run every single step of this half marathon. I should also mention every single water station was a nightmare. People slowed down, you had to literally jog in place to get around people. Definitely time slowing. But I made myself run even in those moments because I was bound and determined to finish this thing running. Around mile 11 we had one of those water stations and it took every ounce of my mental strength to not stop and instead run around and even in place for seconds while I tried to get around.

The last two miles were grueling. I ignored any physical pain or need to pee that had been forming. And then I saw the lights of the Vegas Strip ahead of me. That was a moment of happiness. We ran down the strip, to Freemont Street and then back up the strip on the other side. When I saw the strip ahead of me I smiled, because that meant the end was near. It seemed so close, even full well knowing it was 2 miles away. Vegas is deceptive like that. But it didn’t matter, I saw the lights and I knew I was getting close. I finally made it to Circus Circus and then I saw Treasure Island. The finish line was at Caesars Palace, right after Treasure Island. I did slow down. No doubt about it. The last two miles were all mind over matter for this girl. Sheer determination to run every single second. Sheer testament to mind over matter. As we got closer a spectator yelled out, you are almost there about ½ a mile to go. And I ran. I sheer willed myself across the finish line and it took me a second to realize that I had actually finished before I told my feet to stop running; I was done.

And then it hit me. Yes, the thrill of victory, the sense of accomplishment. The triumphant mind over matter. But also the exhaustion. The physical wear and tear on my body. My ridiculously aching shin splint. My desire to vomit and pass out. I had no idea I was that tired or exhausted or in that much pain. My mind blocked it all out because that is what our minds do best. I was immediately given my shiny, perfect medal as my visual proof of my accomplishment. Then I had to embark down the “secured” zone which consisted of a quarter mile walk. This had medics of to the sides, and tons and tons of recovery sponsored items. I literally got handed water, then Gatorade, then chocolate milk, then pretzels, a PowerAde bar, apple, a Coors Light, bagels, etc. My hands were full. I was so sick all I wanted to do was get thru this seemingly forever walk to sit down for a moment. My hands were getting fuller and fuller of stuff but I kept smiling and thinking about what I had done. But I wanted to sit.

As I walked by a girl was lying on the ground screaming about her leg and I hear people yelling everywhere, Medic, Medic. I saw medic tents filled with people in pain and obvious discomfort and it made my feeling a little nauseous seem irrelevant. I am an athlete. I have enough sheer grit and will to push myself and come out okay. I finally made it out of the secure zone, which I think was enacted to control security in light of the whole Boston marathon bombing, so I totally understand. But as soon as I got out, I found the first curb I could and sat down and gulped liquid and ate. But I had a medal. An amazing shiny medal and the most amazing memories that I will never be able to replace. So ridiculously cool.

My official time was 2:15:10. 2 hours, 15 minutes, 10 seconds. Not any record breaking pace. Faster than my last half marathon. Totally different conditions. I was kind of expecting a slightly better finish time, but given not taking into account the travel fatigue on my body, the alcohol I consumed, the shin splints prior to even beginning the race, the persistent need to pee for the entire 2 hours 15 minutes, the constant heard of people one is trying to run around, and I will gladly accept my 2 hours 15 minutes. And oh yes, my complete lack of actual training. That always amazes me. I know I should train, I really should train more. But part of what I love about running ½ marathons or rather this distance is that I don’t really have to. That I can do what I want at the gym, live my life and not have to dedicate my entire existence to marathon training. I can show up on race day and just run the thing and be okay.

Sure, if I trained actually I could do it quicker. I am certain I could be more efficient and prevent some of my issues but I like that I don’t have to work that hard at it. I like that despite all of my setbacks I still managed to run every single step of that ½ marathon. That I ran for 2 hours 15 minutes straight. You know what else is pretty awesome and I will take it; I finished 6,705 out of 20,566 which put me in the top 32% of ALL runners. And get this; I finished 3044 out of 12665 women, which puts me in the top 24% of all women competitors. Top 24% of all women who ran the race. Not too shabby, considering it was never really my goal to care about placement. Finishing is ALWAYS just my goal.

It’s insane to me that after I crossed the finish line that there were still like 9,500 more women to cross after me and a total of like almost 14,000 more people to go. But you know what, every single one of those people deserve their medal because of what they accomplished. That is the cool part about running. You win no matter what if you cross the finish line. Yes, I did not “win” the race, but crossing the finish line was my win. My victory. I might as well have won because to me I did. I fought against all of my own self-doubt and esteem issues. I fought thru my physical pains and mentally kicked their ass. I did win my own race.

Fear. It is such an interesting thing. I’ve spent my entire life being so afraid of everything. Not being good enough for myself. How long have I been running? How many times have I lost and gained weight? Always running. Running. Running. And I never ran an organized race. I never once let go of the fear to put myself out there. That is what makes this time different. That is what makes this time around the final time. I am doing this. I am not letting fear control me anymore. Yes, I still get afraid. Yes, I still have self-doubt and have to talk myself down off the ledge, but I flew to Las Vegas, I stood in a crowd of strangers (always scary for me too with my slight social anxiety) and I pushed aside my fear to run. That is winning. That is breaking my barriers. And that is rewarded with one of the coolest experiences of my life. I was rewarded with this giant gift of memory that will stick with me always. I did it. I freaking ran the Vegas strip. I know what it’s like to be cheered on in a marathon situation. I feel humbled and blessed by my body. Humbled and blessed that I can put my body thru everything I have in my life and it come out the other end as an athlete.

It was the weirdest most pervasive feeling of my life. As I saw people all round me, of all shapes and sizes and clearly different athletic abilities, I realized for the first time in my life, that I am in amazing shape. That I am not just some runner, but a true athlete. Someone who could just as easily run 13.1 miles and pick up a heavy set of weights and perform. I am an overall athlete and this is what I am most proud of. I can decide to run a half marathon or push myself to my limits with weights, but either way I am becoming a strong person both physically and mentally and every single thing that I do is a step in that direction. Blessed and humbled.

Thank you body for all you endure and thank you mind for finally understanding and accepting self-love. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to grow and change and mostly for becoming the woman that I have aspired to be my whole life. Thank you for this gift.