Monday, February 25, 2013

the one where i try to be brave...

One of the great things about writing a blog is that whatever you’re thinking or feeling on any given day becomes fodder for your listening audience, whoever that may be. It’s almost like a form of therapy and the world is your therapist. Gone is the need to carry your thoughts, you can pawn them off on unsuspecting strangers! =)

In the past I’ve written about fun things, insignificant things, tough things, important things, etc. I always try to be honest (as honest as you can be online without giving away significant personal information and attracting all kinds of creeps and strangers and yet still connect with your reader of whom you usually know nothing about). I feel like when people speak honestly, that is the time where you really are able to have a connection, even if it is over the digital airwaves. Why are the “embarrassing story” columns among the first read in magazines? Because on some level we’re always looking to connect with others. It’s real. It’s what actually happens. And for a brief moment, suddenly we’re not alone in the big, bad world. It’s human nature. Why is solitary confinement such a torture? Have you ever seen Castaway? We crave interaction with others.

(Tangent: Isn’t it interesting to see how technology has affected how we interact with others and how we assign emotion to certain actions without witnessing the intent behind it? i.e. If someone doesn’t respond to a text message right away…they are mad, or angry, or upset. People who flippantly post rude and inappropriate comments online because there’s no ramification that follows.  My grandma asked me to get a book for her…I wanted to let her know I found it and my first reaction was to shoot her an email and let her know…not pick up the phone and talk to her. {Side note: Neither of my grandmas have email.} One of the things that I always tell my younger sister is 1) Never say anything online or in a text that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face and 2) If you have something really important to talk about with someone, make the time to sit down with them…or at least pick up the phone so you can hear their voice…but I digress.)

But I don’t want to talk about human interaction today…be it in person or digitally. What I want to share with all of you is something that I struggle with…something that is hard for me to talk about because I’m self-conscious about it…and is something that I’m continuing to work on. My weight.

Crazy how I didn’t even want to type those words just now. But for anyone who’s struggling and working on something in their life…you’re not alone. So allow me to share the past, where I am now, and my plan moving forward.

Weight was something that I personally struggled with all the way back to grade school. I remember when I was in 8th grade, five foot nothin’, and I bought a size 6 pair of pants for our class trip to Washington DC. And I felt fat. Looking back I wish I could give my 14 year old self a hug and tell me how beautiful I actually was. But when you feel like you’re fat it really doesn’t matter what anyone tells you. And so I took that mentality with me to high school. I had always been a tomboy…playing sports was inside of me. But when I got cut from volleyball my freshman year I was devastated. It was my favorite thing…I LOVED volleyball. And I had to basically reinvent myself. So I got involved in music and became involved in lots of different activities…choir, band, newspaper, photography, art, etc. And I took a long hiatus from athletics. Couple that with all the awkward changes that come from turning from a girl to a woman…and let’s just say I was never happy with how I looked in high school.

An aerial shot of my little school.
College came and I started to make some changes. I started running (really…what else was there to do in New Ulm, MN?) and it became my respite from the tiny college campus community that I was isolated to. (350 miles away from home and no car…if I didn’t run I didn’t ever go anywhere.) In the winters I would hit the elliptical in the Fitness Center (so thankful for those soccer boys with the hot legs that worked out  there…which consequently offered incentive for me to brave the -40 degree windchills that stood between my dorm room and the Fitness Center). Slowly but surely I started to drop the lbs and feel better about myself and more confident. My senior year of college I decided to try out for soccer. Not only did I make the team, I made the TRAVELING team. After an 8 year hiatus from the sport, I was pumped. When I was playing soccer was probably the best shape of my LIFE (even though I still felt like I should lose another 10 pounds). 

And then…the great lawn mower injury of 2006 happened. I sprained my ankle getting off of a lawn mower (pausing for a moment of judgment from my listening audience…I’m a klutz, what can I say?) and thus began a year-long process of rehab, surgery, and more rehab. One year later I got the ok to start running again. The next week I injured my knee. I don’t even remember what or how I did it…at some point people as accident prone as I am just remember that you sucked at life and hurt yourself yet again. Then I was in a situation so stressful that my body refused to lose the weight I’d gained, despite my allegiance to the gym and good dieting.

Two years ago, after basically re-building my life, some of my co-workers and I realized that we were fat. =) Crazy to put it that bluntly, right? We had all the excuses in the world…we sit at our jobs…we’re too busy gigging out…eating healthy is too expensive…fast food is just that, fast…and then? We decided to stop making excuses. We were all competitive people…so what better way to support each other than with a weight loss challenge. I finished first for the woman and third overall. And then I trailed off for a while. Then last year there was a group of us who trained for a triathlon and other various races. Fighting through more injuries (hip flexor and crappy knees this time) I finished my first sprint triathlon, my first 10k, my first 15k, and a handful of 5ks. And then last winter hit…and I got lazy once again. 

In January I made my theme for this year (no resolutions for this girl) “Be Happy.” I thought about what I needed to change in order to be more happy. And one of them is work on how I feel about myself. So I started to set some goals…

Pull Chain Pale Ale...
in case you were wondering. =)
     1)      Train and complete five races.
- Lake Mills Sprint Triathlon (June)
- Triing for Children Olympic Triathlon (July)
- Brewers Mini Marathon (September)
- Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure (September)
- Lakefront Discovery Run (October…this one ends with beer at the Milwaukee Alehouse!)
     2)      Stop looking at the scale. The number on the scale doesn’t define who you are. It is just a number. Focus more on how you feel about yourself and whether or not you are making healthy choices for your diet, exercise, and life. (Anyone who knows me KNOWS that this is driving me nuts…I love to try and control things. Instead I measure inches…I think that’s a better reflection of losing fat and strengthening muscle. I haven’t looked at a scale since January 1…)

3)      Stop making excuses. A wise man once told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. It’s about prioritizing. Save the $5 you would have spent on McDonald’s and put that into your groceries fund. Spring for a couple green peppers instead…or fresh fruit…or yogurt. Yes, I can sit on my couch and watch that episode of Girls…or I could grab my iPad and watch it on the stationary bike. Do I get the Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s or a scoop of raspberry sherbet from my freezer at home that I got on one of our many midnight grocery store runs. =) And if I’m not making time to work out because I’m tired…then it’s time to start getting more sleep and fueling my body with FUEL and not junk!
4)      Give yourself a break. You don’t need to work out all the time. Just create a routine and it will become a habit. You don’t have to eat 100% healthy ALL the time either. It’s better to let yourself get a small Shamrock shake every now and then. Then when you do decide to have a treat…it’s something special and you don’t overreact like you’re having water for the first time in the Sahara and order the largest size possible. Control.

So here I am…a work in progress. Training for a couple tris and my first half marathon. I’ve been working on a “base” for about a month to get back into it and avoid injury. I’m aware of what I’m putting into my body and why I’m doing it. (Last night the what was 2 Spotted Cows and the why was because they were delicious and I enjoy relaxing with my best friend over a couple cold ones...I am a Wisconsin girl after all.) This weekend I jumped into it a little more hardcore. I swam and biked this Saturday and ran outside (first time in 3 months) and played volleyball yesterday. I woke up this morning feeling sore and craving some serious stretching. But I already feel better about myself. It’s about stopping the excuses and taking the first step.

Thanks for reading today, this was a hard one to write. Consider this my encouragement to all of you to challenge yourself to overcome the obstacles that you face in your life. 

I sort of feel like I’m winding up an episode of Mr. Rogers right now. He always made you feel really good at the end of each episode. I'll let him wrap this one up for me, so until next time…

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