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Run, Fat Girl, Run

My good friend and inspiration Kim wrote a great piece yesterday about confidence and how it can screw with our heads. I thought about it a lot, because I’d had the same experience just the Monday prior.

In spring of 2012, I did something that scared the bejeezus out of me and registered for a group running class. Although I had “casually” run since 2009, running with other people was something I was terrified of. I was worried I’d be judged, or worse, I’d bring other people’s runs down. I am a slow runner. I don’t run marathons or ultras or even a 5K at a good pace. I figured I wasn’t cut out for running with other people.

Against my better judgement, I started the class. Our first run was – NOT EVEN KIDDING – in sleet. If that doesn’t prepare you for running with other people, nothing else will.

As you may recall, I ended up LOVING that class. I loved the people, I made great friends, and I felt like a runner. I felt like a runner because I ran. Didn’t matter how fast, or how long, or with how many people. If I laced up my shoes and got out the door, I was A Runner.

And then I got knocked up.

I stopped running because 1) I was pregnant and tired and 2) the month before said knocking up, I had come down with a double-ear infection and bronchitis, so I hadn’t run much then either. And through my pregnancy, I gained 60+ lbs.

I know there are the precious few whose bodies snap back to perfect condition within a few weeks of giving birth, but I am not among them. My body clings to pregnancy fat like .. well, like I cling to warm Krispie Kreme donuts. Realizing that I’m not even the spry 27 year old that I was last time, I decided to start from Square One. I registered for another running class.

To be fair, this class had a safety net. The coaches are my old running buddies, women that are incredibly strong and I admire them beyond words. Many of the mentors are my running buddies. I even knew a couple of my friends were signing up for the class.

But I was SO TERRIFIED.

I knew that I would not show up as The Runner from 2012. I knew that I carried LOTS of extra weight, and in the torture that is biology, of course it’s not distributed evenly across my body. I basically resemble a Weeble.

And if I was slow before? Sheesh.

But what Kim’s post reminded me of was a time when I saw a lady running down by a busy thoroughfare. Bryan and I were carting the kids somewhere and I was staring at her. He told me to stop staring. She was older than me, and my size or heavier. And she was struggling.

What Bryan didn’t realize was that I wasn’t staring out of disgust or annoyance or anything negative. I was so FREAKING PROUD of her. I wanted to high five her SO BADLY. It was every bit of restraint within my system not to roll down my window and shout some encouragement her way. She did not look like an ultra-marathon runner, but my God, she was out there. Running.

So I went last Monday. I was late getting there, so I literally had to catch up with the group. And running? OH MY GOD. My feet are like lead. My legs are heavy and weak. Trying to breathe was a losing battle. But I ran. Dude, I was A Runner. Again.

I’ve taken to spending 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day in our gym at work, on the treadmill. I don’t run – I am trying to avoid breaking a sweat – but I walk a little more than half a mile on a steep incline. I’m going to get there again.

Running is my therapy, and MY GOD, I am so glad to get back on that couch.

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The Many Ways I’m Sucking.

Welcome! You’re just in time for Sarah’s pity party! Take off your shoes and make yourself at home. The crappy refreshments will be out aaaaaany second, just as soon as that good-for-nothing hostess gets her act together.

Refreshments will include a punch made from Sarah’s tears and a cornucopia filled with Sarah’s guilt. It’s not quite filling and it will go straight to your hips.

In order for me to go back to work, I started watching sales and sale sites and whatnot, even back when I was still pregnant. I even ordered clothes from those mass sale sites when I was all laid up in bed with contractions. I’ve ordered some clothes recently from online stores having insane sales.

I cannot wear any of them. ANY. OF. THEM. BECAUSE I AM MASSIVE.

This impacts my self-esteem like nothing else I can articulate. I don’t want anyone to see me. I don’t want anyone to tell me that I “look great!” Don’t even get me started on what I don’t want my husband to do to me.

Because no one should have to do these things. Have you seen me? No one should be subjected to this.

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So, funny story. I wrote this yesterday.

This past weekend – and it kind of came to a head yesterday, obviously – I was in a pretty dark place. Exhaustion is one thing. I know that, eventually, the not sleeping through the night thing ends. (IT SHOULD, ANYWAY.) The finding quality one-on-one time with all of the kids is also hard, but it’s necessary.

Clearly, though, I was having a bit of an issue with Me. And My Body.

Then last night, I went to a kick-off meeting for my next No Boundaries 5k training class.

Man, I didn’t want to go. I was tired – ALWAYS tired – and I didn’t want people to see me. I just knew what would happen: they’d see me and say Oh my God, look at how HUGE she is! She had that baby almost two months ago! Why does she still look pregnant?!

But I went anyway. And as always, NoBo proved me wrong.

There were hugs and high-fives. Chants and cheers. Lots of laughing.

And in this really weird turn of events, I was really really sad we weren’t running last night. I realized how much I missed it – the running, the people, the distraction, the pace. Starting a run and eventually finishing it had become a necessary therapy for me.

I drove home elated and in an insanely good mood. I was still tired, but I was clear-headed. I was focused. And I was Me again.

I’ve run a few times in the last few weeks, and it’s HARD. My feet feel like lead, and my endurance is nonexistent. My pacing is off and my breathing is shallow. I struggle. I’m sore for days afterwards and then I dread the next run.

But after last night? I cannot WAIT to do up my laces again.

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The Only Non-School Book I’ve Read in Months.

I have a list of books that I want to read. I want to read them based on y’all, because y’all are a literary kind of people who actually read books and then remark about how awesome they are. Books like Gone Girl and In the Woods and the sequels to Graceling. (I actually read¬†Graceling! While stuck in Austin airport.) I want to read all of these books, and actually even have most of them in my Kindle queue.

But .. time, it is a rarity.

For my birthday, Bryan and I took a roadtrip for an evening and while we were strolling in a Barnes & Noble (waiting for Cheesecake Factory to open, honestly), and I noticed a book. It would be far more notable if I hadn’t have noticed this book, as the title is clearly meant to catch attention.

(To be fair, my copy was in neon pink and neon green, so I was doubly entranced by it.)

Now, in most cases, I pick up a book like this, crack it open, and the first few paragraphs clues me in as to what the book is really about. (I really have read far too many diet books.) So I glanced at the back cover, prepared myself to write it off as an Atkins Diet knock-off, and then cracked it open.

What I opened it to was something I’d never, ever heard before. So I was intrigued. And it was my birthday and I had successfully avoided buying anything in the Lululemon store, so I thought I deserved this book. I picked it up and poured through it on the way home.

Now. This book? Is pretty poorly written. I found myself cringing at the lack of editing and writing style quite often. It is also, at times, entirely sexist. Which I thought was interesting, and I wondered if maybe the author’s first language was not english. Sadly, I really did think these things.

But there were a couple of things in this book that I’ve adapted since reading it that .. are .. kind of working for me? Oddly enough? I know. Bear with me.

Don’t eat breakfast. This was groundbreaking for me. I have never, ever been a breakfast person. The occasional big breakfast on a weekend morning? Sure, okay. But in general, I hate eating before noon. I just don’t feel like I need to. This book advocates what my body was already telling me. Breakfast is for the expressed purpose of breaking your fast (overnight, right?), and why do that? Your body is already in a prime position to burn fat! Let it run! So that was nice.

In fact, the author suggests just having a cup of black coffee. Admittedly, I am not a coffee fan. ESPECIALLY black coffee. But I’ve managed. I take a travel mug of black coffee to work and sip on it until it’s gone. (To take it a step further, I’ve taken to putting a small spoonful of coconut oil in there.. this both takes the edge off the coffee and gives me a bit of caloric umph.)(Also, coconut oil is crazy good for you.)

Take a cold bath or shower. This was actually what I opened the book to at the bookstore and I had never, ever heard of such. The author outlines the process to do this safely, and those without bathtubs (MOI!) are not exempt. He claims that this gets your metabolism revved up for the day. I don’t know if there’s any science behind that, but you know? I’ve pretty much just started making the last three minutes of my normal shower time devoid of any warm water. It takes some getting used to, but .. I like it. I really do feel energized and ready to go.

These changes, obviously, are not quite dietary. Or exercise-driven. Which is why I think they’ve been easier to stick to. In a coincidence, the author also advocates cleansing your diet of any artificial sweetners, which I had decided to do anyway. For the most part, I’ve stuck to that – having the occasional diet drink when we’re out at dinner. (Although I’m more than likely to just have unsweet tea and leave it unsweet.)

The rest of the book is an interesting read, as it dances between being Atkins-like and South Beach-like, with a dose of Paleo thrown in there. There’s definitely some unique ideas in there, and while I can’t say that I’m now a Size 6 — let’s be realistic here; I’d look REALLY WEIRD as a Size 6 — I can say that I haven’t gained any weight since I stopped running. In fact, I’ve lost weight. (To be fair, I’ve probably lost strength and endurance as well, but again, it’s a TIME issue.)

So if you’re looking for a unique viewpoint in the often-repetitive diet market, this isn’t a bad read.

(And if you already like black coffee? You’re GOLDEN.)

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Breaking Up with My Boyfriends, Ben AND Jerry.

I can’t remember the last time I went on a “diet”; about two years ago, I started researching real food movements and caveman-centric eating styles and why we tried a bit of each of those, I found that – as a family – it was just easier to mix in the best parts of all of those.

As such, I found the need for “diets” to be obsolete. I was not looking for a quick fix or a band-aid or a miracle cabbage soup. (That is my FAVORITE point of reference for diets. “The Cabbage Soup” diet – did y’all ever try that? BOY HOWDY, DID THAT MAKE MY LIFE HARD AND SMELLY.)

But a longtime friend of mine – in fact, back in our early days at the company, we used to take turns ordering the newest “lose 20 lbs instantly!” products and sharing them – started a new diet that involved a high-potency vitamin/calorie dosing three times a day. And I thought, Ehh. Why not?

So these drops (yes, a three-letter-drop) are such that you take them sublingually, three times a day. And they offer you a diet plan to complement the drops – a 500 calorie a day diet.

Which, COME ON. Am I right?

Well, part of the plan is that you don’t exercise beyond walking because your body can’t take it. (While starving? NO KIDDING!) So I’m not exactly following that. But what I’ve found in the last few days is that I need the chance to detox.

Sugar? Is out. And not, like, entirely out because I am still eating fruit. (As is allowed on “the plan”. 6 strawberries, a small apple, or half of a grapefruit are permitted twice a day.) But I need to remember how sweet fruit is.¬† I need to remember that fresh summer berries are a decadent, luxurious summer dessert.

Carbs? No sir. I’m not bending much on this with the small exception that I may have some vegetables that are not allowed on the Atkins diet – legumes are not allowed, nor is corn or potatoes and I KNOW I KNOW THOSE ARE STARCHES ANYWAY. But I’m not saying that if I’m starving, and I have a big run ahead of me, that I’m going to avoid those things. But no more carb-loading on pasta before a measly 1 mile run and declaring it holy in the name of exercise.

Snacking? THIS MAKES ME SAD. But no, no more snacking. This is really the RESET button I needed – I needed to realize what had become habit versus me fueling my body. No more mindlessly shoving a Larabar (or two) into my face between breakfast and lunch. No more hovering around the vending machine. We are now pursuing purposeful eating.

My friend and I were talking about how the first few days went and she nailed it on the head: “It’s like you’re breaking up with an abusive boyfriend. He didn’t treat you right, he didn’t love you back, but yet, you just kept seeing him. Sneaking in a visit here, lying about seeing him there.” YES. YES YES YES. It has made me realize just how habitually I ate, not with any purpose. Because I looooove him.

So that’s where I am. I’m probably a little cranky – and a little frustrated that I have had two little bundt cakes sitting on my counter, uneaten, for three days now but who’s counting OH I AM – and I’m definitely coming out of withdrawal. But! I’m sleeping better – like, WAY better – and I’m actually tasting food again. I made Balsamic Slow-Cooker Chicken on Monday and each breast I’ve eaten since has been a got-damned flavor orgasm. How amazing ARE tomatoes, anyway? AND RED ONION? PURE BLISS.

The point I’m trying to make is this: I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes, we need to hit a RESET button. I’m not doing some 500 calorie a day diet, because HAHAHAH PLEASE. But I am tapering back and only eating natural, real foods and cutting out the crap that isn’t really helping my bottom line. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE? BECAUSE MY BOTTOM IS FAT.)

Of course, because why wouldn’t you?, I had one last hurrah. A menage e trois, if you will, with Ben, Jerry, and Jimmy Fallon. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

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Some Whining: Let Me Give You It.

I remember taking vacations growing up. I remember the yearly trip somewhere, be it the beach or grandparents or St. Louis or wherever. I remember packing up our conversion van and hitting the road.

Somehow, I didn’t get this gene. I WANT THIS GENE. We have not taken a true “vacation” since 2009, when my parents treated us to a week at the beach. It was AWESOME, and even Tony – who was maybe 18 months at the time – wistfully longs to visit “da beach” again. Before that, it was our honeymoon.

We just cannot travel. We cannot. And it eats me up. I crave fresh air, NEW air, and different food and new textures under my feet. I miss the adventure and my wanderlust just fills me with bitterness and resentment.

But we have a kid in daycare. Another one in private school. We have two car payments. A mortgage. An A/C unit with a deathwish. Crazy, stressful, unrelenting jobs. These things sap most of our resources. And, amazingly, it takes resources to travel.

Summer has hit, apparently. And the travel bug has bitten me. Like, eleventy frillion times, and the itch is constant.

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I have a love/hate relationship with interns every summer. Not with any particular intern, not personally, but just with the theory of them in general. I want to gather them all in a room and then tell them, “STAY IN SCHOOL. GET YOUR DEGREE. AND THEN LIVE A BETTER LIFE THAN I DID.” I want them to see the abundant fluorescent lighting here, and how it accentuates the bags under all of our eyes, and how we all walk with our gaze downward. As R said on Twitter, “Take a good look at the people who have been here a long time, and decide if THAT is the person you want to be.”

Now, the great thing is: it could be worse. I love what we’re working for. I believe in what we do. And I like most of the people I work with. But we are a culture, here. A way of life. And you have to wonder if the way of life is worth it, in the end.

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Okay, seriously, can we TALK about the whole zombie explosion and the guy eating the other guy’s face off and the woman eating her baby and the weirdo sending dismembered body parts to Canadian government officials? Because, y’all. MEMORIAL DAY USED TO MEAN SOMETHING.

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I got up at 4:30 the other morning and met some friends for a sunrise run. It was amazing. Seriously. Since we’re in the throes of summer right now (which, HAHA, is not even the throes of summer, but it feels like a tour through North Hell), running at dawn is about the only time I won’t perish in the heat. And it was lovely.

We weren’t out for time or distance, just wanting to stretch our legs a little. And in not worrying about time or distance, we had a great pace. For over two miles. Which is almost the 5k that I sucked so badly at on Saturday. Which makes me think this running thing is more than just a little mental. Because I could’ve easily finished out another mile yesterday morning for the full 5K course and in WAY better time. Because I didn’t care about time. Or pace. Or distance, even. I just wanted to stretch my legs.

(Thanks, Jennifer and Anita, for the company!)

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As if I needed another Mommy Guilt blow to the gut, the only thing Tony has asked for over the past few months is to get back to swim lessons. For some reason – unseen by his momma, who will not put her head underwater – the child loves swimming. He actually can’t swim, but he had made some HUGE strides through the last round of lessons he took. (In .. February, maybe?)

We finally made it over to the YMCA to sign him up for June’s classes, and WHAM!, the schedule has been adjusted for summer. The latest class starts at 5:00. We cannot reliably get away from work in time to get him to a 5:00 pm class.

And it BREAKS.MY.HEART.

So we’re looking into other options, but MAN. 1) I love the YMCA, and would rather spend my money there. 2) That’s where we’ve always gone, and you can’t beat the price. 3) I DON’T NEED ANOTHER THING TO MAKE ME FEEL GUILTY ABOUT NEVER BEING HOME.

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Silver lining: apparently, I have whined enough on ANOTHER topic to make a difference.

I am posting this from work.

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