lover’s quarrel: running

Within, you will find the many faces of my post-running experience- there are two expressions, I’m either in agony or thrilled to be done. I can lift heavy, jump all around, but nothing makes me feel stronger than a solid run. This stems from my not natural ability to run. I believe some bodies are made easier to run than others. Being short and stocky is not an example of this, however, the fact that I have been able to run miles despite this, is a point of pride.

IMG_1927.JPG

I started running in February of 2012 on a treadmill in the basement gym of my college. 30 seconds of running, 4 minutes and 30 seconds of walking for 30 minutes. Every week or so, I would add 30 seconds to my running time. When I reached 10 minutes, I decided to see what would happen if I kept going, a mile wasn’t far out of reach.

IMG_8318.JPG

The first time I ran a mile, it took me 15 minutes. By the time spring came, I could run two miles straight. Being outside and off the treadmill helped me to go longer and faster. I hit 5 miles by that summer.

Running is my most tumultuous relationship as I have been on and off with it for years. Throughout spring, summer, and fall, my running is in peak form, but when winter comes around, it’s back to the treadmill (unless the ground isn’t icy or snowy) and it falls off a bit.

IMG_8363.JPG

The most miles I’ve been able to run is 10 and my legs were shot after. Usually I stick to 3-6 miles. Right now, my goal is to hit a 30 minute or under 5k. My most recent run on Sunday was 4 miles at a 10 minute and 20 second pace.

I can sometimes tell how my run will go based on the first two miles. If those feel like a breeze, I can extend my mileage to closer to the six mark. Sometimes I really have to push myself through those first two and then the third doesn’t seem as bad. Once I hit my groove, it starts to feel easier and I naturally gain speed.

IMG_4199.JPG

I’m not far off, I just need a better warm-up plan- better than just lacing up my sneakers and getting out there! Practice always makes better! And I hope that with my continued weight loss, running will become naturally easier as well. Considering I started off the summer with a pace of 12 minutes and 59 seconds with walking mixed in, I think I’m making vast improvements!

IMG_7487.JPG

Music is everything. I have a proclivity towards musicals and pop music, something that has a little pep and motivation to it. Much of the time, I will also listen to podcasts because it feels like I’m within a conversation- hello My Favorite Murder!

I love the feeling of finding my stride and cruising. I hate struggling and feeling like every step is a battle. Either way and in-between, my runs are always worth it.

IMG_9688.JPG

Running is not for everyone and I respect those who keep it from their workout plans. It’s the same reason I don’t do burpees. I HATE them. For me, running is a test of endurance and strength of which does not come easily to me and I enjoy the challenge- most of the time.

What’s your relationship like to running?

Guest Perspective: Shonna

Every so often, I’m going to incorporate stories of friends and colleagues and whoever wants to be included to share on the blog. While I like to think my own 100-pound weight loss can be inspiring to many, it’s so important to hear from different voices, as everyone faces unique obstacles and challenges throughout their lives.

I met my friend Shonna working at my current gym where I do personal training. She is a group exercise instructor of several different classes- hello Zumba and strength training- a passionate exerciser, and has a great fitness backstory she agreed to share.

Thank you, Shonna, for visiting GMMCA!

IMG_4647.JPG

When did you start exercising? Why? What did you do?
I remember doing tapes and television workouts when I was a little kid (Mousercise and Sweating to the Oldies were my favorites). I played sports a little and took dance lessons, but it was all pretty casual. After high school, I would join a gym and maybe walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical and machines, but I didn’t really have a plan or know what I was doing. I got way more into fitness around 2005 when I worked in the corporate world with a team that was really physically fit. We had a gym in our building and after a lot of convincing, I went to my first Spin class with my coworkers. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t scary at all! From there, I started running, worked with a trainer, and went to more classes.  In 2007, I became a Spin instructor and after being laid off from that corporate job, learned to teach more classes.
How has your routine and philosophy changed over the years?
I’ve become more comfortable with taking risks and trying new things! I really feel like you need to step out of your comfort zone because you never know how much you can do. I’ve also learned that while I love teaching, I need to set aside time for my own personal workouts and goals.
What does healthy living mean to you?
It’s an investment in my future. I have been through some health scares that were out of my control.  I want to be in control of everything I can to keep myself mobile and healthy and living a full life for as long as possible!
Are their any words of advice you’d offer to your younger self starting out on your journey?
Don’t be afraid! The gym, classes, trainers, running groups… they are not as scary as you think. You just need to find what works for you. I feel like some classes or organizations really have a bad reputation, but we are honestly here to help you. I know I try to make my classes as welcoming as possible for all levels and most instructors I know do the same. We all started somewhere!
What inspired you to become a fitness instructor? What do you love/hate most about it?
I was taking Spin twice a week in the gym at my office. They were looking for another instructor and I figured I was going anyhow, might be some good extra money.
I love seeing people achieve things they didn’t think they could. That could be anything from getting in the door in the first place to lifting a heavier weight than they thought possible.
I don’t really hate anything about it in general- but I don’t love when people come in with a closed mind or a negative attitude. It doesn’t happen that often, though!
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out?
Find something you love to do and it won’t be a chore! If you are a social person, go to a class or join a group. If you like to keep to yourself, find a trainer to design a program just for you.
What’s your favorite exercise?
Right now, I love my CrossFit class because it’s different every day. I’m really lucky to have excellent coaches and a dedicated class full of really supportive people at many levels.
You only have half an hour to exercise, what do you do?
Ah! Some HIIT training! A good mix of cardio and strength.
What are you most proud of in regards to your health journey?
I’ve been up and down in weight over the years. Right now, I’m up more than I would like, but I still get out there and work hard. Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit for that.
What are some challenges you’ve faced over the years?
It’s always the “diet” for me. I got to my goal weight in 2012 and was a vegan. It worked so well for me until I suddenly started experiencing  some frustrating things like gaining back weight and feeling exhausted all of the time. The next year, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and later with thyroid cancer. After a complete thryoidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment (and a full recovery!!!) the vegan diet didn’t work for me anymore. I’m still struggling to figure out what works for me after all of this.
Any healthy eating tips you want to share?
It’s not a one size fits all situation! I feel like the one thing we can all agree on is eat whole foods as much as possible, but after that, it’s so individual!

Reflection Time

First of all, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my mama. She’s the best.

08190F74-2DC8-4152-87DC-627785C5B76D

On Friday, I realized it had been five years since I graduated college. This made me reflective and several pages in my journal is a testament to that. The truth is, the years don’t really matter, except that we can no longer count life in “school years.” I am no longer a super-senior of real life. I just am. And yet, I still have nightmares where I’m lost in high school and can’t find my classes, so what does that signify?

IMG_1114

When the picture above was taken, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had just lost a ton of weight, I was graduating with honors, and even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, I had a temporary summer job, and I figured I would figure it out. Five years later and I’ve held five different jobs, all for the better, lending to well-rounded life experiences and honing professional skills, and I keep telling myself that it’s important to figure out what you don’t want to do, as much as what you do want.

Life is not perfect or easy, but I have been blessed. There have been struggles and losses and hardships, but I’m choosing right now to focus on the good. Those top three, since graduating, include becoming a published writer, getting my personal training certification, and moving to LA- if only because I had been talking about it for five years, so it was move or shut up.

*My parents would probably like me to insert my Master’s degree into this list and while yes, this is an accomplishment, I have (un)gracefully retired from teaching and will never use the degree in the traditional sense. Call it an invisible fourth choice if you must.

I should also note that this blog is also five years old and I’ve been trying for five years to find a direction for it, but it’s been chaotic. Such is life.

Looking back at pictures of my friends, I found this gem.

IMG_1115.JPG

This was taken six years ago right before I started my weight loss journey. This girl is me, and yet, I do not recognize her. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t particularly enjoy looking in the mirror at this time. But, a few months after this was snapped, I did look at myself in the mirror, long and hard, and I discovered that I was worth more than I realized. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times. My relationship to myself did not better after I lost weight. I chose myself and saved myself because I liked myself, and it helped me find the strength to exercise, eat right, and be kinder to my body, mind, and soul.

It’s funny that I struck this particular pose because in just a few months, I would be employing that strength, both physically and mentally, and completely uprooting my life for the better.

This blurb was longer than I expected when I first started typing, but the only other matter of the weekend I’d like to discuss is that I saw Billy Joel at Dodger Stadium and it was awesome. I love him and I’m not sorry for it.

A0724327-FBD1-48FE-AB01-C458D8C6A637

Also, Dodger Stadium looks strange without that large looming wall in left field. Just sayin..

Day One!

It’s in the books, folks! I made it through one day in LA, waking up in my cozy bed in Boston and now about to fall asleep in my new home in LA. It’s hard to describe what I’m feeling. I can’t decide if I’m incredibly brave or stupid, but I’m going with both because it’s good to be versatile.

A little nervous. Kind of excited.

IMG_5629.JPG

After an early morning wake-up call and a for-now goodbye, my mom and I headed to the airport (thanks Dad and Mac!) for her conference and my new life. Once through security, it was time for a semi-ish breakfast.

IMG_5640.PNG

Now boarded, I kept waiting for that meaningful last moment in Boston, but the plane kept pretending to take off without actually leaving and I ended up kind of falling asleep. Look at this dude trying to judge my moment!

IMG_5639.PNG

I was very excited to get off the plane, though it was a smooth ride, so I could stretch these legs! After I collected my bags, my mom and I hitched a ride to our hotel for the next few nights. By the time we put our bags down, I was so hungry (I really wouldn’t last long on a deserted island) so we headed into the city to find something to eat. Sandwiches did the trick, all the way through dinner, and we ate at noon LA time. Damn good though!

Our post-lunch activities included walking around to find a store to buy wine. My mother will not accept tiny refrigerated bottles of wine, but she was pleased that convenience stores sell alcohol in CA. The wine came in handy later.

Back at the hotel, we welcomed my car to its new life too! There was a brief, terrifying moment, when all I saw was a BMW on the truck that was most definitely not mine, but then the guy called out to me from across the street and there she was! Such an easy way to get that car cross-country. I can only imagine what Princess must have seen on her journey. The other things that were reunited were my slippers. Due to circumstances I don’t need to get into, let’s just accept that one slipper made the trek in my car, the other in my suitcase. I found it funny.

Now aided with a car, we headed to one of my favorite places in the world- Santa Monica.

IMG_5632.JPG

 

The ocean immediately put me at ease, reminding me that it’s important to try new things, chase after dreams, and explore this world.

IMG_5633.JPG

 

IMG_5635.JPG

My mom loved Santa Monica too, from the water to the Pier, where we rode the roller coaster and ferris wheel on a perfect September day.

 

img_5636

Some more exploring found us a new friend!

IMG_5645.JPG

 

 

 

The afternoon ended with an ice cream cone before we headed out to take a peek at my new apartment. I can’t divulge pictures yet, but I am both excited and relieved for these new developments.

Things that I learned about LA numero uno: No one is lying to you. Traffic sucks. It tooks us about 50 minutes to go 9 miles from my apartment to the hotel. Yikes. This is the thing that will probably be the most challenging for me. But let me tell you, everything else I saw today just makes me excited!

Fun fact: my mom prefers traveling with an actual map over an app. I don’t disagree with her, if I had the time to analyze a map every time I drove!

IMG_5638.PNG

Tucked into bed, it was time for a shared glass of wine.

IMG_5644.JPG

 

 

Now it’s time to give into these heavy-lidded eyes (and yeah, it’s still super early LA time, but give a girl a break!) It sure does help to have my mom here to help transition me through this move!

Two Days!

Pretty soon, I’ll be off on my adventure and I hope to share with you all as I go through it. I’m now two days out from my big adventure and there’s a million different feelings and thoughts circling my head. Change is big and scary and necessary, and not in the least easy. These past few months have been a whirlwind of preparations intermingled with the usual workdays and summer happenings. Especially in these past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time with family and friends, not exactly saying ‘goodbye’, but more ‘see you at Christmas,’ but it’s still weird.

Many people have asked me if this move is “it,” meaning I’m not coming back. I understand the sentiment, but I don’t think there’s ever a way of knowing if anything is  “it.” What I’m telling people is that I’m going on an adventure. It’s as temporary as it is permanent, which sums up everything we do in life. I’m going for a multitude of reasons, number one being that I want to write for TV. I will never feel settled in anything that I do professionally until I give this a shot. It’s my dream.

As my mom said, when I mentioned it was hard that my dreams were taking me far away: “That’s the point of dreams, you have to chase them.” People may think I have a glamorous view of moving to Hollywood and pursuing my dreams. They’re not wrong because it’s hard not to envision this complete change of life, with a lot of fear, but much more hope, thinking that things might just fall into place, but I also have no delusions that this journey will be easy. That’s what makes up a journey, struggles and triumphs. The whole “blood, sweat, and tears” trope is very real. I don’t know if I will succeed as a writer in a place where there are thousands of people doing the same exact thing, but I have to believe in myself and my talent, and give it my all. At the very worst, I will have tried, learned invaluable lessons, and lived.

I’m entirely fortunate to have the very best family and friends to support me through it.

Harry Potter and the Strength Inside

Such a wonderful weekend! After work on Friday, I got moving in the kitchen to chop up some salads for dinner for me and my sister. Once we were done eating and chilling for awhile, the family (minus my brother-in-law who was on a hiking trip) went out for some ice cream on a perfect summer evening. I’m loving the purple cow frozen yogurt, which is black raspberry base with dark and white chocolate chips.

The next morning, I was back at it for work, and when I got home, it was nice to relax by the pool. Later that afternoon, my sister and I headed into town to get our tattoos. I’ve been wanting to commemorate my weight loss journey for awhile, and I finally found the perfect encapsulation!

IMG_5480.JPG

Strength is a reminder of what I’ve done, yet it is does not describe the end result so much as the path I had to take, the choices I had to make, and the ideology I possessed in order to keep going. The supremely cool part about it is that it’s written in my own cursive! Now whenever I’m running or lifting weights, or need strength in any other little or big task, I can just sneak a glimpse and move forward!

Up next, Lauren and I had a celebration to attend. Not only is July 31st the birthday of the greatest writer who ever lived, JK Rowling, and her creation, Harry Potter, but there was a midnight release of the next chapter of the Harry Potter legacy. The Cursed Child is in play form, which I wish desperately I could see in London, and it was fantastic. JK Rowling asked fans who saw the show not to spoil it and fans who were waiting eagerly to see or read not to seek spoilers, and I listened. Don’t mess with the queen! I read it in under three hours, crying, laughing, and reminiscing. A real blessing.

Here are some highlights of the midnight release at Barnes and Noble:

IMG_5473.JPG

IMG_5475.PNG

IMG_5477.JPG

IMG_5483.JPG

Such a treat to wake up on Sunday morning, make an amazing breakfast, and read this spectacular play!

IMG_5484.JPG

IMG_5485.JPG

After reading, I got down to Sunday chore business. First, a four mile run and a one mile walk that I crushed- thank Dumbledore for no humidity! Next, a little vacuuming action, some meal prep for the busy work days ahead, laundry washed and folded, and blog posts to write!

An awesome Sunday!

Changes

Well, good morning. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a food pic, so here’s one of this morning’s breakfast. Scrambled eggs, a whole grain English muffin topped with butter, and a big berry bowl filled with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. An excellent start it the day and fuel for a soon-to-be strong workout!

  
There are soon to be a lot of changes over here at the blog- just posting for one thing. I know I’ve been slagging when it comes to updating the blog, but the past few weeks have been busy. I’m making an effort at making it a priority now, especially that I have some big news to share. Some might call it stupid and I would never day courageous, but I am calling it my own. After a lot of reflecting and discussion, I’ve realized the time is now to go after my personal training certification and make a career out of it.

Fitness, health, and well-being are what I am so passionate about. It changed my life three/four years ago now and I am leading a happier, more fulfilled, stronger life now because of it. As I’ve said before, the weight loss was a positive result from dedicating my life to eating healthier, exercising my body, and listening to my mind. Making those things into habits that I enjoy have helped me be successful. I can’t imagine eating as poorly as I did all those years ago because it makes me feel sick, tired, and disgusting. I do indulge in foods I love, ice cream, but I do so in healthy moderation. Oddly enough, eating right has helped me to enjoy eating. Before, I held a negative and guilty connotation for it. Now I eat without embarrassment, knowing that whatever I put into my mouth, I am doing with purpose, for nourishment, and yes, for enjoyment. This is important. Food is not the enemy, it is a life source. Unfortunately, the fast-paced and short-on-time environment in which we live does not leave much time for cooking. There are ways around it, which I hope we will explore on this blog, but it does need to be made a priority.

As for exercise, I am lucky because 5 out of the 6 days I workout, I want to be there. There are those days, especially on the dark end of 5am, where it would be so much easier to roll over and fall back asleep for a few more hours, but I find that it is so much better to wake up and go. Getting to the gym or taking that first step outside is the most difficult part. Once the adrenaline kicks in and all that strong and powerful energy takes over your body, you often feel like it’s not so bad. It actually feels really really good. And spoiler alert, the more you exercise, the more you like it. You just have to find the exercises that work best for your body and mind. Exercise has been a release and a savior to me when battling the stresses of school and work. I know that this is one place that I can return, just for me, every day, and connect with the thumping of my heart, the strain of my muscles, and the strength of my motivation. It has gotten me through some times where I thought things were too overwhelming and showed me that I am stronger than I seem. It’s always a good choice and it’s always my choice.

As for the mind thing, there are definitely improvements that can be made- as well as in anything I do of course- but these lives that we live are hectic. We eat in front of the tv because it’s the only time we get to watch that show we love. We eat at our desks in front of the computer because we can’t miss that email that might come or because we actually want to get out at five that day. We go through the motions because some days that’s what’s easiest. We don’t listen to our aches and pains of our bodies or minds because there is no time to be sick or to rest. We don’t listen to the things that we want to do because it doesn’t feel like the right time or we are too scared to go after it. One thing I want to do more is meditate. I’m not someone, at least right now, who can sit for long periods of time reflecting, but I can give five minutes of my morning or right before bed. I run on high anxiety, oftentimes knowing it is okay and that I need to relax, but not knowing how. In many ways, strategies can be taught, but you have to allow yourself to follow them. It’s just like with the first step of my weight loss journey. Strategies and guidelines were set, but it wasn’t time until I knew it was time.

I am not an expert. I just began studying for my personal training certificate and all I know is what worked for me. There are a ton of factors that led me to this moment in my life, big and small, those that stand out and those I may never recognize. I left my job because it wasn’t right for me and because I knew if I didn’t do this now, it would never get done. I dedicated my life to my health and well-being. I want to dedicate my life to helping others find that too. One thing I can say absolutely is the largest secret to my success is staying positive.

It started, officially, with a moment standing in front of a mirror and finally realizing that this was not how I wanted to live my life. I was afraid that day, rather than excited, to be going to an amusement park because I wasn’t sure that I would fit in the rides. I hated myself and my body, but that was nothing new. What was new was the realization that I could change that. I told myself that I was going to start making little choices that felt good and right. That day, I chose to walk back to the hotel rather than take a cab. Back at home, I hopped on the elliptical for a few minutes each day. I swam laps in the pool and walked the dog with my mom. I ate veggies and fruits and paid attention to everything I ate and listened to how it made my body feel. I started to lift weights and got so excited about trying new exercises and recipes. I lost weight and I loved the satisfaction of physical success. I found a passion and release in writing. I found that for the first time, in a long time, I was happy and proud of being me. I never saw my routine as a diet or temporary. I saw it as my life. I made it my life. It saved my life. 

There wasn’t ever a time in there that I felt like I couldn’t do it or that I wanted to give up. I do know how that feels because it had happened in the past. I couldn’t fail because my mindset had changed. When you want to live a healthy life, there is no easy fix. There is no secret evil formula that allows you to just cut something from your diet or workout for twenty minutes a day. Not anything that is long-lasting. You have to do it all. It has to become a part of your life. You need to be willing. 

I’ve already gone on for too long, but these words have been swimming around in my brain for so long now that when I finally sat down to write, they flowed onto the screen. I guess long story short is, life is about finding and doing things that you are passionate about. Four years ago, I never would have guessed where my life would be right now, but I wouldn’t have known a year ago, six months, or yesterday, not really. 

I’ve realized what makes me happy, fulfilled. I’m making my life about it.

How about you?