Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Other Side of the Plate Glass Window

I am by nature a people person. I like to observe people, I like enter acting with people, I in general just like people. There are some people whose behavior I would rather not have to deal with, but I still want to know what makes that person tick. What 'story' have they heard or designed about who they are that causes them to interact with the world the way they do. Have you ever wondered these things.

This time of year can be hard on people who struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction or SAD (seasonal affected disorder). I have had years of depression where the pain was so palpable I couldn't sleep or function well. I would will myself to function at the highest degree possible, but it felt like auto pilot. No feelings involved. Just numb to feelings of joy or happiness. I remember in various situations wishing someone would hand me a script that would tell me how I was supposed to feel and what I should say to reflect the appropriate mood. It is impossible to radiate joy or have a joyful inflection in your voice when what you are feeling is sadness, pain, or compulsion.

The topic of depression is a serious topic for me and for the ones I love. We have either suffered with it ourselves or watched the ones we love the most writhe in pain from the affects. My own mother struggled so painfully with depression. As her daughter who has always been a bit of a Pollyanna, I was always trying to cheer her up, make her laugh, get her to see the 'bright side' of life. I felt like such a failure that I couldn't 'give' her the gift of joy or happiness. Holidays were the hardest for her as was her birthday.

We have lost some family members to suicide related to depression and several others who abuse alcohol and/or drugs to drown their pain. Me, I was the 'good girl' I ONLY used food addiction and binging as a way to numb pain, which in my mind at the time made me a better person because I was not inflicting pain on others . . . I was only killing myself.

I remember in years past trudging through the holiday shopping season rituals, but not feeling the moment or experiencing true joy. I would see people who looked happy, in love and joyful and wonder what that might feel like. What did they do in life that entitled them to that level of happiness. I would project on them the idea that they must live a charmed life, full of joy and that they got everything they ever wanted. In my sad or depressed moments I would think that only pretty people get what they want in life.

I understand feelings of depression. I have felt that in years past. This year, I am truly joyful. Even more joyful than I was last year. My birthday is next Monday and I will be 45 years old. I am super excited! Seriously, I don't need a script to tell me how amazing I feel. And have you ever noticed that when you feel good, you look good. On the days that I am feeling a little under the weather or coming down with something, the best make up artist and hair stylist couldn't make me look good. But on the days I feel good, the joy just radiates out and it doesn't take much to make me smile and glow. I wish I could bottle up this feeling and spread it like Pixie Dust all over the people I love.

On Saturday, I was sitting in one of those trendy bistros with walls of plate glass looking out onto the plaza as shoppers walked by. I would see women of all shapes and sizes moving in groups or alone as they made their way through their Christmas to do list. Women who walked tall and confident with a little smile like they knew a secret. Women who trudge by looking like it took every once of effort they possessed just to move their feet, with a dead look in their eyes. Women who had a little skip in their step that just reflect a joy from the heart. Woman who looked stern, angry and just fed up with the whole thing.

As I sat there cozyed up to my husband, feeling radiant and loved, feeling whole and blessed, feeling joyful . . . . I could see a bit of me (from years past) in every woman's face and posture. And I wondered if she knew how good it felt to be on the other side of that plate glass window.

There are better days. Depression does not define you. There is hope for a brighter day. These are the best days of my life and it didn't start until I was 43 . . . I'm glad I didn't give up on life before I got a chance to experience what it feels like on the other side of the plate glass window. I wouldn't want to miss this. This is the good stuff and it makes all the not so good stuff pale into a distant memory.

Be blessed, be you!

Reach out if you need help dealing with depression, anxiety or addiction.

There is a life line and you may need to hold on for dear life for a while, but life is precious, don't let go

Friday, November 5, 2010

Taming Your Inner Toddler (Emotional Eating Tantrums)

I know, I know, I know . . . I'm just meddling now! Some of you only know me as the Carolyn who has lost over 100 lbs., seemingly drinking some magical potion that transformed me over night. You who weren't here to see the mess of scars and wounds that I came crawling into this website with. You may think "What could she possibly know about emotional eating" . . . well, she knows plenty.

I won't bore you with the details, but here is my short list of reasons (excuses) for emotional eating from my past: alcohol in my family, domestic violence, mental health issues, sexual molestation, son diagnosed with chronic kidney failure at age 4, miscarried a baby, losing family members to suicide, chronic depression and self loathing. This all combined into a lethal cocktail called bulimia.

Believe me, I know. I know the intentions of doing the 'right' thing and then ending up with an empty doughnut box in front of me. I know the self loathing of 'never getting it right'. I know the emotional pain that is so paralyzing that you will do anything to escape it, and turn to food to numb the pain. I know these things. I have felt these things.

BUT, there comes a time (mine was about 17 months ago), when you say enough is enough. Pain from the past can only follow me into the future if *EYE* bring them! Emotions and Food have nothing to do with each other. Emotions are feelings. Food is fuel. Why am I using fuel to medicate or numb an emotional issue?

If I could take a little creative license, think of your emotions (feelings) as toddlers and YOU (your higher intelligence, reasoning and rationale) are the adult in charge of their well being. Does a toddler know what is in it's best interested? Does a toddler get what it wants when it wants it? Does a toddler make the rules? NO!

So, why give in to the tantrums of a toddler when it comes to emotional eating?!? Why? I am blessed. I feel healed and whole for the first time in my life. I do not have the compulsion to binge, deprive or in other ways allow my feelings to manipulate what choices *EYE* (the adult) make for my health and well being.

I hear it every day from friends and people on my Fabulous Fitness facebook page . . . "It has been such a bad day, I'm stressed out, my eating is horrible" WHAT? WHAT? How does that sentence even make logical sense? Logically. Look at that sentence. It should read "It has been such a bad day (period). I am stressed (period). Those are feelings. Leave them in the feelings department. Do not choose to drag them kicking and screaming into the fueling department. They are already misbehaving! Don't give them more power! CHOOSE. YOU are the adult. A tantrum cannot manipulate you into following the will of a toddler. Even if those little toddlers are screaming "You've already made three bad choices today, just call the whole day a wash and give in." NO!!!! Make your next choice, this one, right now, the right choice for YOUR health and well being . . . because YOU are the adult . . .

. . . and YOU deserve it!

. . . tough love baby . . . .

. . . . now be a good girl and play nice . . ..

Live beautifully! Treat yourself well!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Almost Missed Out!

During this journey to health and fitness over the past 17 months, I have made little changes along they way that have lead to huge transformations in my body, mind and spirit. On the one hand I can hardly believe it has been that long. On the other hand my life is so drastically different I can barely recognize the person I once was and have no desire to return to that lifestyle. I truly don't. I don't miss junk food. I don't miss fried foods. I don't miss high blood pressure. I don't miss feeling lethargic. I don't miss feeling bloated. I don't miss feeling misunderstood or rejected. I don't miss these things at all. But I almost missed out on a couple really fabulous things.

I almost missed out on sharing this journey with some wonderful friends who have surrounded me with a kind of love and support I could not have even imagined. Friends who believed in me far before I even knew who 'me' was. Friends who loved me even when I whining and making excuses for why I was overweight and unhealthy. Friends who cried with me as I learned to unravel some painful events from my past that I had allowed to hold me in a bondage to some pretty stinkin' thinkin'. That bondage included some self abusive behaviors, including bulimia. I almost missed out on what it feels like to have the power to make choices in my own best interest . . . for me, by me, because it is the right thing to do.

I almost missed out on getting to know myself. I know that may sound odd. I am 44 and at the age of 43 I had my wake up moment where 'it' was no longer about being a daughter, a mother, a wife, a teacher, a homemaker, a friend or a neighbor. 'IT' was about time to get to know who I was created to BE . . . not do or what did I have to offer others. This involved getting to know getting past all the misconceptions I had heard through the years about what I was 'supposed' to be, do, say, feel, act like, etc. If no one was around and I could do anything, be anything, feel anything . . . what would that look like? Well, I will tell you that it looks beautiful and feels divine. I now smile all the time and have a hard time not laughing out loud several times each day. The simplest things in life are just so yummy to me now. I was deliriously happy the other day just riding to the coffee shop with my husband. The sun was shining in the sunroof of our old beat up '86 Probe . . . but life is good, I feel good, I feel happy, I feel loved, I am in love. That's it . . . I now know how to love and to be loved, and it feels splendid.

I almost missed out on how amazing it feels to wake up early on a Saturday morning and go out for a long run on a crisp fall day. A long run . . . me . . . on a run! Who ever would have thought? Now that I am in the taper for my marathon, this long run was only 9 miles (only, ha!) It felt so easy. I wanted to run another 3 - 4 miles just to continue how good it felt. Just a little over a year ago I started the Couch to 5K program. This is my first full year of running and I'm going to finish a marathon in less than 2 weeks from now. I almost missed out on this because of my preconceived ideas about what a runner was and what I was not. My aha moment came when my health was so bad that I could barely walk and I realized that it didn't matter how many friends I had, how many doctors I went to, how much money I had (or had not), how many people loved me . . . none of that mattered, if I didn't learn to love myself and take care of myself. Then I no longer worried what others thought if they saw a 240 lb woman in the weight room or running down the road. It didn't matter to me. I mattered to me. What I thought about me mattered. And what I thought was "Good for you girl! That was hard work and you did it! Good for you!"

I almost missed out on relearning that I truly do love being physically active. I love to sweat. I love to be outside. I love playing basketball in my driveway, riding my bike, running, tennis, hiking, etc. I love going to the gym and lifting weights and feeling my body get stronger. I am so glad to have the opportunity to be back on the mat teaching yoga and helping other women learn to appreciate and care for their bodies and health. It feels good, it feels right and it makes me smile.

The most important thing I almost missed out on is love. I had spent so much of my life guarding my heart in an effort to never be hurt like that again . . . that I did not know how to receive love. I wanted to be loved. I fretted over what was wrong with me that others didn't love me the way I needed to be loved. I had no problem giving love, but did not know how to safely receive the love that I so desired in my life. A love that allows you to be vulnerable and strong at the same time. A love that protects you and frees you simultaneously. A love that feels like a warm cozy home. Then, suddenly, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I realized I had had that all along . . . I just didn't know how to experience it. Once my perception of myself and others changed, everything came suddenly into focus and I was standing in the middle of the most beautiful life I could ever dream. And it's mine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reality Check

This is me stepping up onto my soapbox, for a moment. I don't know how many of you watch The Biggest Loser or have watched someone you love get so unhealthy that it hurt to watch them. Or maybe that unhealthy person is you. I don't know what your situation is at this time in your life or the decisions you made that you got you there. I don't know the obstacles, struggles or limitations there may be to you feeling like you can succeed. I don't know.

What I do know is that health is worth working for, it is worth fighting for and YOU are worth any and all the effort it may take. You cannot buy good health. No one can give you good health. Your health 'insurance' cannot promise you health. YOU . . . the choices you make. You . . . the power you take. YOU . . . cannot be stopped once YOU know what needs to be done and you do it.

Short story . . . at 43, my blood pressure was sooooo high and my weight was soooo out of control, my doctors thought I had a heart attack or a stroke. My body was inflamed and bloated. It hurt to walk. It hurt to stand. I just plain hurt. I was on medication to lower my blood pressure and another medication for GERD (acid reflux). I am not stupid . . . these are health problems brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle. I did not 'get' high blood pressure . . . I cultivated it! I did not 'get' GERD . . . I was feeding it! Some of my medications were causing some side effects that would require a third medication! I am not a human petri dish! I am not a chemical experiment. WHY was I doing this to myself. I was making myself medically dependent for my 'quality' of life. My calendar looked like an old persons calendar . . .doctor appointments, tests, procedures, physical therapy, etc. That is not living. Scientifically, things move from a position of order (or health) to disorder (unhealthy). Intelligent reasoning would suggest that if I was that unhealthy at 43, I would continue to digress and deteriorate becoming more and more dependent on the medical community for my 'health'. Really??? At 43? My best days were already behind me?

Over the next couple months I began changing the choices I was making about my health. Instead of looking to doctors to see what the 'prescribed', I learned to trust my common sense about what I knew was healthy. I KNOW what a healthy diet looks like. And so do you. You aren't crazy. You know that fast food and soda pop are not doing a thing to make you healthy. I KNOW what a healthy active lifestyle looks like. And so do you. We have this information. We have to choose to use it. We are far wiser than we choose to acknowledge. You do not need a doctor to tell you that you need to lose weight! You do not need a doctor to tell you that your blood pressure is too high. You do not need a doctor to tell you that eating saturated fats is clogging your arteries! You KNOW these things!!! Only YOU can make the choice to change the behaviors that are deteriorating your health and your quality of life.

You are my friends and I love you. You have supported me. You have encouraged me. Many of you taught me how to love myself and to be open to possibilities. You have watched me grow in love and in spirit. You have watched me lose over 100 pounds. You cheer for me. You celebrate with me. I am sooo blessed to have you in my life. Now, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are worth it!!! Cheer for YOU! Stop watching me from the sideline, come join me in the healthiest life ever!

I promise you, it is beautiful! It feels good! I want you with me! I want to grow old with you! A healthy life gives you a zest for life and I want to share all those zesty years living life wide open . . . not visiting you in the hospital.

(Humbly stepping down off my soapbox)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Loooooooooong Run

Originally written September 4, 2010

I am heading out the door on my longest run to date! 14 miles!

I am nervous. I am wearing new training shoes and I usually do not wear my new shoes for the first time on a long run. I am also using a fueling product today and some times they upset my tummy. This is my first training long run without my husband. I am in Virginia, visiting family and friends. I will have a long stretch where there is no bathroom option, right in the middle of the run.

I am excited. Because I am not running my usual route everything will be new and interesting. I also asked some of my friends who live in the area to serve as water stops along the way. I have a friend at mile 5 to offer me fresh water and a dry towel. This will help me to keep my pace and my focus because I know someone is aniticipating my arrival during a 15 minute window of time. Another friend will be waiting for me at mile 10. I will be so glad to see her. That 5 mile stretch between them is the stretch I am concerned about.

I keep telling myself that I am strong.
I am a marathoner
I can do this
This is my run
I got this

This is exciting. This is my last visit home before my 'events' in October and November. This is my time to share my passion with my family and friends and for me to receive their energy and support.

Time to lace up and go!

Live beautifully!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Food Philosophy & Fitness Ponderings

This trophy goes to the 437 people who commented on my blog Flab to Fab!!!! I wish I could send each of you a goodie and respond to your remarks personally, but time does not permit that. I am busy cleaning out my email at this time! For those of you who sent me friend requests, I am honored, so honored that you would add me as a friend. I try to take the time to go to the page of someone who has friended me and get to know a little bit about them before I add them as a friend. And, again, because I have received so many requests lately, I am unable to quickly respond to them. I have said this before to some of my friends and I will say it here, now, this network of friends on Spark have been a vital part of my continued success, I consider it an honor when someone adds me as a friend. I have been so blessed by sooooo many wonderful, powerful, encouraging, supportive, inspiration and motivation people here on Spark. I wish I could give you a list of some of the most inspiring people I know, but that list would be huge. Just huge.

Some of the emails I have received have asked me about my 'diet' and my fitness routine. First, I really do not 'diet'. I believe that is why I have been successful this time. I don't believe in 'diet' foods. You know, the foods you make yourself eat even though you don't like them, just because some 'diet' said it was good for you. I don't do it. I refuse to eat foods that I don't love. I pack my cooler every day with all the good healthy foods I need to take me through 9 hours at work and a workout at the gym. I look forward to each meal that I eat and never dread HAVING to eat something. Food is delicious. A fear of food is not a healthy place to be for me. I have changed my 'eating style' along the way, to match the season and my taste.

June 16 - August 23, 2009 - The only changes I made were to cut back my portions, not get soda or fries if we stopped at a fast food restaurant.

August 24 - December 31, 2009 - I used the Flat Belly Diet by the editors of Prevention Magazine. I love the foods on this 'plan' . All my favorites and things that were in season in August especially. Lots of tomatoes, almonds, olive oil, fish, chicken breast, dark chocolate, veggies. This is still the basis of my eating. In January I had to add more calories than this plan provided. However, I stuck to the food basics of this plan.

January 1 - May 24, 2010 - I was training for a half marathon and needed more calories than I was getting and I needed to challenge myself in different ways, so I started reading Clean Eating Magazine and following some of the recipes from Tosca Reno's Recharged Clean Eating book. I love this eating style and it combines very nicely with the things I had already incorporated as 'my plan'.

At this point I had lost 88 lbs. Each time I hit a plateau I either tweaked my diet or my exercise program. I was wearing a size 14 that was just a little lose, but could not fit into a 12. I got to a point that though I was not dissatisfied with my progress, I just wanted to see what would happen if I were to really go for it. What does all out look like? What does that feel like? Is it realistic? Is is sustainable?

I was not looking for quick fixes or pie in the sky promises. I followed the blogs of a couple workout divas who had made some remarkable transformations and I thought if they can do it, I can. But, I did not trust myself at this point to tweak my diet properly and I wanted to be sure I was eating enough. I asked a friend who is a nutritionist to take a look at my food logs and my workout logs. I knew I was close to the macro nutrient breakdown I needed for my body, just missing the mark somewhere. He did take a look and did make some suggestions that ended up being very valuable to me. The nutrition skills I learned from that consultation are life long skills I will be able to use over and over again.

However, the work was mine. I believe that nutrition is 80% of the fitness equation. I need my nutrition to be appropriate for the workout load I am requiring of my body. If my nutrition is not fueling my workout properly, my workout results will suffer, my form will not be what it should be and I'm not fully in the game. This may not seem important to your workout, but to my runner friends, they know that a night of crap eating leads to a rough run which can lead to muscle strains and pains throughout the week and slow recovery time.

Once I learned to fuel my body properly, muscle mass started increasing, performance improved and my recovery time was very short. I felt like I could go forever.

Not everyone can afford or needs a nutritionist. I understand that. I didn't need one at 100 lbs. overweight. There were other things to learn at that stage of the game. I've heard a little negative vibe because I used a nutritionist. Like that somehow negates the efforts made or the validity of the results, like I somehow cheated. I'm sorry if you feel that way. There are wonderful tools available for free right here on Spark. Portion control alone no longer work for me and I need to stay away from some of my trigger foods that make me crave more of empty calorie foods.

My favorite fitness workout involves my basketball and my driveway. I take my dog for a one mile walk to warm up my legs. Then I shoot a couple lay ups and a couple foul line shoots. My driveway is long enough for two mid sized vehicles to be parked back to back. Holding the basketball in my hands, I start at one end and do long stride walking lunges with a deep dip in the center and a walk through without touching down in between strides. So, from the lunge position, I push up with the front leg, swing through the back leg without it touching and bring it into the front leg position. Oh, and as I lunge forward I twist at the waist with the ball in my hands toward the forward leg. At the end of my driveway, I reverse and do backward walking lunges. Much more difficult. These require a lot more core and glute strength to push up backwards out of a lunge. I do this set twice. Then I shoot a few more hoops. Next I do a side squat shuffle down my drive way and back, holding the basketball. I sit back into a wide squat, go up on the balls of my feet and then as quick as I can and staying as low into a squat as I can I shuffle to the end of my driveway and shuffle back. Then I shoot a few more hoops. Next I do a set of 20 squat jumps. Holding the basketball, feet out wide, I squat down touch the ball to the driveway and then spring up from the squat and jump like I'm making a basket, arms up, full thrust, immediately back into squat. Then I shoot some more hoops to bring my heart rate back down. Next up are calf muscles. Holding the ball in my hands up over my head, I go up on my tiptoes like I'm trying to touch the ball to the rim. Then I shoot some more hoops. Last up is the side squat single leg lift. I start out in a squat, holding the basketball, as I come up out of the squat I lift one leg out to the side using the abductor muscles on the outside of my hip and I lift the ball over my head at the same time. As I come back down into a squat I place that foot on the ground, do a full deep squat and as I raise up I lift the other leg. I continue alternating legs for a total of 20 reps. You will feel these. This is my favorite lower body workout. Anyone can do these and anyone can get results. Need it harder, add a weighted medicine ball. Need it easier, doing standing squats and lunges instead. These are basic moves that most anyone can do with minimal equipment.

My favorite Full body circuit and core workout also involves no equipment. I also involves quite a bit of cardio. I walk to warm up, at lease 10 minutes. Then I run the width of a basketball court. When I hit the sideline, I drop to the floor and do 10 push ups. Jump up. Run back across the court. Drop to the floor do 10 crunches. Jump up. Run back across the court. Drop to the floor do 10 burpees (or squat thrusts). Jump up. Run back across the court. Drop to the floor and hold a plank position for 1 minute. Jump up. Run back across the court. Drop to the floor and do 10 more push ups. Jump up. No time to rest. Drop to the floor. 10 mountain climbers. Jump up. Run back across the court. Drop to the floor in plank position. Do a one arm side plank. Come back into full plank. Do the other arm side plank. Jump up. Run to the other side. Drop to the floor for oblique crunches. You can do this! You are tough! Give it all you got!

There are muscle groups I feel I need to go to the gym to hit properly, since I don't have any equipment at home. I am blessed to have free access to the University gym and it's facilities. When the weather is nice the world is my gym and if I had to pay for a gym it would be a waste in the summer time. I only hit the gym twice a week. But I work out 5 - 6 days a week. When I go to the gym I love to do arms, back and shoulders. I love the wide range of weights they have and the cable cross machines. During the winter months I use the gym more.

This is me, this is my workout, this is what keeps me fired up! What lights your fire?!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Working Out Like a Mother II

This is probably the most rewarding subject I have ever written about. I love being a mother, I've been a foster parent to special needs children, I've taught preschool and I have two grown sons of my own. There were times when things were hectic and I would feel stressed out and irritated. But when I would stop and reflect on why I was irritated it was usually the over commitment things I had gotten involved in that got in the way of the quality of my family relationships. Then I learned this little notion that for every time I said YES to one thing, I am saying NO to another. So, if I said "Yes, I will volunteer to help with that project." I was saying "No, I don't have time to relax with my family". Or if I said "Yes, son, I'd love to go hiking with you today." Then I'm saying "No, I don't have time to do the laundry right now."

That is an over simplification of the notion, but you get the gist of it. You have to pick what adds quality to your life or the life you want to build for yourself and your family. I learned that by looking at it this way, it made it easier to say no to all the 'worthy' causes and helped me to choose quality over quantity. So many moms of elementary aged students seem to running in 100 and 1 directions. To put is mildly they seem frazzled and fried. If this is you, I want to encourage you to exhale. No one has ever died from being less than perfect. Enjoy this day and all the little adventures it may bring.

In this phase of motherhood, you youngest has entered kindergarten and you have a little more free time. Whether you are a stay at home mom or you work outside of the home, you child is now more independent and can take care of some of their own physical needs. Encourage them to do so. Let them help pick out which vegetables you buy at the grocery store. Let them look through the Clean Eating Magazine or cookbooks to find things that appeal to them. Ask them what they would like to do and maybe offer some options. "Would you like to go for a bike ride with me or go to the park to play". If they choose park, make sure you play like a kid at the park! It is fun to play like no one is looking or like you don't care what others think of an adult on the swings. Have fun! Kids are happy. Active kids are healthy. Doesn't make sense that you would be happier and healthier if you played at the park?

Elementary aged children are great at physical challenges and are up for just about anything. During a walk or a play time at the park, challenge them to see how many times they can hop on one foot. You do the same! Now spread your feet apart, squat down to touch the ground and then jump up as high as you can (almost like a leap frog movement or a squat thrust). This is a fun age to workout with. This is my favorite age to do yoga with. Teach them upward facing dog and downward facing dog.

If you are blessed enough to be a stay at home mom and have that time alone while they are at school, now is the time you can invest a little more time into you fitness goals. Take up running (check out the Couch to 5k program). Take up kickboxing or Zumba. Challenge yourself with Crossfit workouts.

Elementary can be a picky food time. They are so drawn in by the commercial products and what their friends have. They are also more social at this age and are eating at friends house. Although we can't control what they eat at the home of others, we can provide healthy choices for them at home and in their lunchbox.

What's in the lunchbox? Start them out as young as possible with whole wheat breads and they will love them. There are these great whole wheat wraps called Flat Outs. You can use theses a couple dozen different ways. Here is one of my favorites. Spread natural peanut butter on the flat wrap, spread a layer of all fruit jam slice a banana in half lengthwise and roll in up in the wrap. Delicious! So, you just got your whole wheat, protein, and fruit serving at the same time. Add a little crunch to their lunch by learning how to make homemade sweet potato 'chips'. And to get another yummy veggie in their tummies, slice a red bell pepper. Red bell peppers are so high in vitamin C and they taste so sweet and crunchy. To add a little calcium to their lunchbox put in a small container of plain yogurt. If they prefer, you could add some chopped fruit (strawberries, cantaloupe is delicious in yogurt and is very high in potassium).

It's the end of a long busy school day and you both need a night time ritual to help you transition to sleep. My ritual is a warm epsom salt bath, a chocolate protein shake and I climb into bed to read for about thirty minutes before I plan to be asleep.

Whether you are a mother or not and no matter what ages your children may be. The bottom line is find what works with the phase of life that you are in now. Find out what your priority are now. Don't wait until everything is perfect, it never will be. Today is your time. What are you going to do today to work towards your goals, dreams, passions and desire.

My goal is to inspire you to live a life full of passion and dreams and that you will inspire your children and others to do the same. Life really is delicious!

Live beautifully!

P.S. My youngest is 21. Two weeks ago, he and his fiancee joined me in the 100 push up challenge. They have been very diligent in their training. Tonight they started the Couch to 5k training program and have decided to run three days a week and do push-ups and strength training three days a week. You should see the smile on this mommy's face!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Working it Out Like a Mother

Being a mom can be tough! I know it! I've lived is through 24 years now. As our children move through different stages of life and we move through our own ages and stages of life, the demands, energy and resources change. It is important for moms of all ages to assess their situation and come up with a plan that meets their unique situation.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with some of my favorite family members. In this group is my son's fiance, age 21 and my niece, age 29. Almost three decades of powerful women in one group (I'm 44). Each of us are in a different stage of our lives. Tori is a college student, she is engaged and doesn't have children. Michelle is a college graduate, married with two very young children and I have two grown children ages 21 and 23.

This was a celebration day for me, of sorts. It was the first time I wore my bikini in public. Man, doing all those bikini blogs really paid off. I have learned to be more confident and accepting of my body and I think that shows.
 Feeling a little sassy here!

I'm so proud of my niece, she has lost over 25 lbs. and has a goal of losing another 50. I really applaud that commitment. When we got to to the lake area and I pulled off my sundress, Michelle said "Man, Aunt Carolyn, I'd love to have your body." I don't take these type of comments lightly. First they are flattering, but they do recognize the amount of work and dedication it has taken for me to get this far. Second, I know the struggle it can be for those who are in a different stage of life than me to feel like it is a possibility for them.

We had a fabulous chat about how she was working her goals into the stage that her family was in at this time. So, I thought I would share a little bit of that here with you over a couple blogs.

When your children are very young, infant to preschool age, it is the most demanding time as far as energy and time goes. It is important to focus 80% of your fitness goals on your nutrition. Learning how to eat a balanced diet that is packed with nutrients and avoiding over processed boxed and prepared meals will not only benefit your health, but will be the best investment you can make in your childrens health. Obesity and diabetes go hand and hand. I am saddened when I hear the statistics of childhood obesity.

I understand that feed a family healthy foods can seem expensive, indulgent or unreasonable. Stick with me here. Food manufacturers make the processed foods sooooo cheap, which makes them very enticing to mommies trying to fill up a table full of little tummies. It is a very hard thing for a mommy to feel like her children are going hungry or that they can't provide for their nutritional needs. Here is the thing, those processes foods, that are so cheap, have very little nutrition. That is why the little ones seem to have a hollow leg and you can't fill up their tummies. Their bodies are hungry for nutrition. Eating processed foods also increases the likely hood of obesity and trains you and your children's appetites to desire more. The money that you 'save' on your grocery bill, you will spend in the doctors office.

The basic nutrition that is good for you is what is best for your children as well. Oatmeal for breakfast with a little bit of fresh fruit or unsweetened applesauce and 2tbs of peanut butter (for adults, some parents avoid nut butters for young children. Try sunflower seed butter. ) This is a yummy treat for any age. I like mine with an apple chopped up in it. Strawberries are also good. Oatmeal is not expensive. I like steel cut oats and they can be a little more expensive, but the old fashion quaker oats work just fine. Stay away from the instant, it is pricier and trains your palate to crave sugars. Opt for those fresh fruit sugars with breakfast. At lunch, a whole wheat flat wrap with 2oz of your favorite protein. I like grilled chicken. Try to stay away from deli meats, they are higher in sodium and preservatives. Spread a little Omega Heart Smart Mayo on the wrap (or an olive oil based mayo). Add fresh spinach leaves, onion, peppers, tomatoes (whatever is your favorite, is the cheapest or is in season). Almost forgot your snack times. You should have two. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. Keep it small and simple. 6 almonds and some plain yogurt. You can buy the plain yogurt in the store brand pretty inexpensively. By using plain yogurt you save calories, sugars and money. Chop up your almonds and put them in. Add a dash of cinnamon if you like. Be creative. Moms are good at that.

Dinner time. Switch your family to a whole wheat pasta or a high protein pasta. I know these are a little pricier. Here is the deal though, teach your children to eat a serving size. You are giving them proper nutrition. Their bodies will require a lower quantity, when they are getting a better quality. Steam some broccoli. Bake a Chicken. 1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta with chopped baked chicken and broccoli florets and grate 1 oz. fresh Parmesan on top! If your family likes tomatoes, use a can of diced stewed tomatoes (this is the one processed food I do keep on hand and use frequently. I keep canned beans on hand as well. They are good fillers and have excellent nutritional value).

Okay! Let's exercise!!!!! Time is at a premium and your energy is low! You want quality time with your family and you want quality time in your exercise. While your little ones are napping, you may need to nap as well. A tired mommy, is not a healthy mommy. Don't give up your rest time to exercise unless that is what you want to do and it works best for you. Plan on getting your cardio in while playing with your children. Babies and very small children can ride in strollers while you take your walk or jog. Strength training at this stage of your life does not need to mean an hour at the gym. Join the 100 push up challenge. Focus on large muscle groups. Squats and lunges can be done with no equipment and you can do those while you are watching your children play in the backyard. Crunches can be done anywhere. Suma Squats while holding your little one is better than any medicine ball and your baby will have a blast doing them with you . . . they think it is a game to be lifting into the air!

The key point here is that this is not the stage of life to make exercise THE focus of your life. Keep in perspective. Keep your family healthy and fit and you will be happier and healthier. This stage will pass and you will be ready to transition into a new stage of your life as well.

And when your four year old goes running up a sand dune, run up with him! The view is beautiful from the top and you both will enjoy the adventure. When your niece chases her four year old up the dune, follow! Fitness does not have an age limit or requirement!

Live beautifully!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Menus, Marathon and Muscle

Okay, technically I'm not giving you menus, but the word recipe did not fit the alliteration! Over the weekend I batch cook to save myself time during the week. If you do not currently do this, I highly recommend it. It take just a couple hours at the most and I have one time mess up and one time clean up of my kitchen. Everything else is just heat and eat for the week.

I make enough of this casserole for 4 dinners for myself. The recipe is a single serving.

4 oz. ground turkey cooked
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
tsp. Jalapeno
1 TBSP each fresh cilantro and chopped red onion
1 crushed garlic clove
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
1/2 a large zucchini (chopped)
1 oz. mexican cheese mix

In a casserole dish mix all the ingredients together, except the cheese. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the casserole. Cover with foil to keep cheese from getting crunchy and hard. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes.

Originally this recipe was for a stuffed bell pepper with grilled zucchini on the side. But, I was out of bell peppers one night and I had jarred roasted red bell peppers. I like the creation so well, I have been making it like this every since. This reheats wonderfully.

The other dish I made was a baked egg white and soy sausage casserole. This is not complicated at all and saves me tons of time.

I usually have 4 egg whites and one whole egg every morning with 2 oz. or soy sausage. I use Morning Star Sausage Crumbles. Would love to show you a picture, but again, picture issues. I make enough of this casserole for 4 breakfasts.

16 egg whites
8 oz. of sausage crumbles

Yep, that is it. Mix them together. Pour into a baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray and bake for approx. 8 minutes and then stir with a fork and then bake for another 8 - 10 minutes. I like for mine to resemble scrambled eggs and sausage. Sometimes I add a cup of chopped spinach to this mixture. When I come in from a run, I put 1/2 cup of cooked sweet potato into a bowl (cubed or diced), 1 serving of this mixer on top of the sweet potato and then I heat it in the microwave. While it is heating I make one whole egg over easy and put on the very top. Chop it up and mix it all together! The yoke makes a creamy sauce all over the sweet potato and is so yummy!!!! I actually crave this dish!

My marathon training is going really well. My long run this week will be 11 miles and it doesn't feel hard. I'm able to run four days a week this time. When I trained for my half marathon I could only run three days a week without feeling tired and run down all the time. This time I am feeling more fit and strong and my body is holding up well. One thing I have found to be true, is that my days of rest and recovery are a vital part of training. I have been kinda over doing it these past two weeks with the Zumba 3 nights a week, running 4 times a week and weight lifting 3 times a week. I started having little pesky cold symptoms and feeling run down. These are classic signs of over training. This happened in the last month of my half marathon training and I ended up with pleurisy and bronchitis. Luckily I recovered quickly and continued with my training. Since I still have 7 weeks of training before my half marathon and another 4 weeks after that until my marathon, it is important that I head the signs of over training and take some things out of my activity and put some things in.

I will not be taking Zumba on a regular basis while I am training. I will drop in on a class as time and energy allow. I will be adding more rest and recovery time. Additionally, I am focusing very diligently on my nutrition and hydration.

Although I love running and my training is going great, I have decided that this will be my only marathon experience. The training required makes it hard for me to focus on my muscle development. Since I do not have the healthiest knees, my running future is limited, but I could continue to lift weights until the day I die. I have a more muscular build and don't really see myself as a runner. I consider myself a weight lifter who runs.

As long as my body will allow me, I will keep running, but my distances will be shorter and my over all weekly miles will be smaller.

I just realize today, that when I run my next half marathon, it will mark the one year anniversary of me starting the Couch to 5K running program! In just over a year since starting running, I will have ran two half marathons and one full marathon. Wow! What a difference a year makes.

I wanted to include some new bikini pictures this week. I am feeling so much better about them this week. We are going to The Dunes in Michigan City, IN this weekend and I am wearing my bikini in public!!!! I am so excited! It's not that I think I have a killer body, but I am confident in how I feel in my bikini and find it quite liberating to be comfortable in my own skin!

I know this one is blurry, but I love that my muscles are starting to show in my back!

I have purposely not posted any 'before' weeks comparison pictures at this time. Each week my body is changing. Each week how I relate to food, exercise and my body change. I cannot continue to compare myself to past weeks pictures any more than I would want to compare my body to the body of another woman. This is me today. I feel good in my new swimsuit and I like the way my body is looking and feeling today. In a couple weeks, I may do a twelve week split screen picture.

I am so ready for the beach!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rest, Renew & Recharge!

Is is Sunday! Love my weekends. Saturday mornings I get up early for a run. This Saturday was a 6 mile long run. I had irritated my patella tendon last Wednesday in Zumba class. So, I had been icing my knee and skipped Zumba on Friday night to be sure that I could run on Saturday morning. I still wanted to be cautious during my six mile run. I selected a route that would allow me to get off the road and do some running in grassy areas and did two one mile loops of the soccer and practice fields on campus. Wow! What a workout!!! Running on soft surfaces is easier on your knees, but quite the workout for the hips! Oh, momma! After my run I eat the second half of my breakfast and get to work on my upper body workout. I decided to skip the gym and did push up, pull ups, lat pulls, seated row, bicep curls and tricep pull backs using my Total Gym for most of the workout. I like the assisted pull up on the Total Gym more than any other thing I do on it. I guess I just love the heavy weights, bars and plates at the gym.

Sunday is my time to sit and review the previous week and schedule my coming week. No workout planned for Sundays. I attend church in the morning. Then I wash any laundry that didn't get washed on Saturday. I dirty up a lot of gym clothes, running gear and sports bras in the week, so I need to make sure they are all clean and ready to go for the coming week. Sunday afternoon we usually cook up about 10 chicken breast on the grill. I boil a dozen eggs. Make some quinoa or brown rice in the rice cooker. Check over my menus for the week to make sure I have everything I need to pack my lunches. Then, I slip on my bikini and head to my lawn chair for an afternoon nap! mmmmmmm! Love my sunshine nap! I really don't sleep long, but it is a great down time for my body and it recharges me. I consider the weekend my spa time. I eat the freshest cleanest foods I can. I exercise, I rest, I read, I walk, I review and plan.

So, here is what my upcoming week looks like:

Food: Low Carb Day
Run: 3 miles
Exercise: Zumba afterwork
Crossfit Challenge: 10 Rounds of 6 Burpees & 6 Turkish Get Ups

Food: High Carb Day
Exercise: Lower Body Strength Training and weight circuit with Trainer. Heavy/Tough workout
Crossfit Challenge: 3 Bars of Death!!! Doesn't that sound fun! I will be modifying the weights for my current fitness and strength level. But as it is written: Deadlist 1 1/2 BW, Bench BW, Clean 3/4 BW !!!! WHAT! emoticon There are 10 rounds of this for time! First set is 10 reps and each round declines in reps. 10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 reps. I am predicting that I will be pretty trashed after this workout.

Food: Low Carb Day
Run: 4 miles
Exercise: Zumba
Crossfit: 5 rounds for time: Run 400 meters/30box jumps/30 wall ball shots w/20lb ball

Food: Medium Carb Day
Run: 3 miles
Exercise: Upper Body Circuit with Trainer
No Crossfit

Food: Medium Carb Day
No Run
No Exercise (unless I just cannot resist Zumba)
Crossfit: For time: 1000 meter row, thruster 45lbs (50 reps), pull ups (30 reps)

Food: Low Carb Day
Run: 7 miles
Crossfit: 3 rotations for time:
1. 60 jumping jacks
2. 15-20 Spiderman pushups
3. 20 Walding Lunges
4. 20 (10 per side) Spiderman Climb
5. 60 second Wall Squat
6. 60 second Pland
7. 20 Burpees
8. 50 High Knees

Every other week I really crank it up. This is my crank week! It does make me tired. It is a workout!!! It is very important that I pay attention to how my body is feeling each day and make sure that I am getting the sleep I need and the nutrition my body requires to perform. Usually about Wednesday evening I will start feeling some soreness in my throat and fatigue around my eyes and I know I need to back off just a little to let my body recover and repair.

Following my crank week, I'll take a little longer nap in my lawn chair on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Then the following week I drop the Crossfit challenges for a week which feels like vacation to my body! Gotta work for what I want and what I want is to be stronger and more fit. This is how I do it! Play hard, lift heavy, eat clean and rest to recharge!

That's how I do it!  How about you? 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Learning to Fly

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Clear blue sky, low humidity with a gentle breeze. The kind of morning that just beckoned me to come run. However, my right knee had been bothering me a little on Friday evening and by Saturday morning I could barely put weight on it without feeling discomfort. Since my 'official' marathon training season starts this week, I decided not to push it. So, I iced my knee, took some ibuprofen and applied a topical ibuprofen cream. I then set out on my bike for the gym. This was supposed to be a lower body workout, but with the knee I wasn't so sure that was going to happen. I took the long way to the gym so I could get warmed up and get some circulation moving through that knee. By the time I got to the gym, the pain was gone and the joint was moving more freely.

So, time to hit those large muscle groups!
Deadlifts - 2 sets of 12 w/50# barbell
Hamstring Curl - 2 sets of 12 @ 40#
Cable Adduction - 2 sets of 12 @ 40#
Cable Abduction - 2 sets of 12 @ 40#
Plie Squats - 2 sets of 12 w/25# weight plate
Squat Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 75#
Hip Bridge - 2 sets of 12 w/25# weight plate on hip
Single leg bridge - 2 sets of 12 w/25# weight plate

Skipped walking lunges and full sumo squats during this session. I wanted to strengthen all the attachments around my knee without taxing the joint itself too much.

When I left the gym I was feeling so energetic and wanted to enjoy the beauty of the day. I slipped by my house to pick up a fresh bottle of water and headed out on my bike for an eight mile ride in the rolling hills heading out of town. Simply gorgeous ride. It was a joy ride. I wasn't out to break a speed record and wasn't aggressive in my attack of the hills. I just enjoyed it. I will say that the increased strength and endurance of my leg muscles made the ride much easier than it was a year ago or even three months ago. It felt easy and I felt free, like a bird.

While I'm feeling this peaceful easy feeling, I reflect on how truly awesome it feels to be healthy, strong, happy and confident. I think back to a year ago and how hard this was. I can see myself at 267 lbs when everything was hard and walking was impossible. The sadness and depression were overwhelming at that point in my life and I had come to an end of myself. Just then, the song that was my 'anthem' last year comes on my playlist! The playlists I make are very intentional in their order. One song will ask a question, the next will be the answer. Or one song will be a 'she said' and the next will be a 'he said' kinda thing. The song is "Her Diamonds" by Rob Thomas.

Even though I am smiling in this picture (kinda) believe me, that is a sad girl who is crying out for help.

Reflecting back does not make me sad anymore. I don't dwell there. But I know there is hope, I know there is an answer and I am not saddened. The very next song on my playlist is the current anthem of my life. As the song hits the chorus I'm at the crest of the hill and I put one arm up in the air and just enjoy the sensation of feeling like I am flying as the momentum carries me down the hill. It is one of those glorious freeing moments. The song is "Learning to Fly" by Kate Earl.

This girl is happy, strong, confident and learning to fly!

I've added the lyrics for the Kate Earl song because it soooooo applies to this journey.

I've made mistakes
But I won't be ashaimed
It feels like fate has lifted me
I can't seem to keep my feet on the ground
I no longer hide, so I let the sun wash over me
Cause theres no darkness left to hold me down
And I feel its light now I've found the SPARK
That was missing in my life And I earned these wings
I was not born with them and it's not accident
How I walked through the rain and the fire
Cause it taught me how to love it taught me how to play and finally I'm learning to fly

when you lose your way
when you cant escape
when you feel just like a prisoner of all the world says you will never be
thats when you cant give up gotta hold on tighter now then ever
answers will find you when you believe
and I feel this light now ive found the spark that was missing in my life and i earned these wings i was not born with them and its no accident how i walked through the rain and the fire cause it taught me how to love it taught me how to play and finally i'm learning to fly and i try yeah i tried to get somewhere that id rather be but sometimes the fastest way is not so easy and i earned these wings i was not born with them and its no accident how i walked through the rain and the fire cause it taught me how to love it taught me how to play and finally i'm learning to flyx7

I would be remiss if I didn't add that I have had the awesome privilege of having friends that love me unconditionally and supported me endlessly and pushed me to my highest potential. Thank you, my friends for teaching me to fly

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weight Loss Warrior!

This was originally posted on Sparkpeople on December 29, 2009. As of today, April 27, 2010 I have now lost 80lbs.

Today I hit a big milestone! Today marks 60 pounds lost in 6 months! The more important goal that I hit today is that I set a goal to lose 20 pounds in ten weeks. Not any ten weeks, but the last ten weeks of the year. The ten weeks with Halloween candy, Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies. The ten weeks with unpredictable weather for biking, running and walking outside. The ten weeks when the gym schedule gets all screwy. The ten weeks when the calendar gets full and my patience wears thin. Yep, that is the goal I set and that is the goal I hit today! I cannot express how empowering that is! I feel like I just faced the dragon and came out the victor! It feels like I went into battle armed and ready and used every thing in my arsenal to win the prize. I feel strong! Like amazon woman warrior strong! It is an amazing top of the world kind of feeling that makes me feel ready to take on the next challenge, knowing that when it gets tough I can look back on this moment and know that I have what it takes to succeed. I've always admired strong female role models like Wonder Woman and Xena Warrior Princess and now I know, I have the heart of a warrior and the drive to succeed. Nothing can get in my way, unless I allow it! And today, I will not allow it!

Things I learned from setting the goal to lose 20 lbs. in 10 holiday weeks:
1. A (1) taste of anything will not throw me off track.
2. I can have dessert. One bite of cheesecake to decide if it is worth it, a second bite to confirm it's worth and a third bite to savor. Done. Eating the rest of the cheesecake will not make it taste any better, as a matter of fact it can negate the goodness by making me feel overly full or uncomfortable.
3. I can be pretty creative in how to get a workout in when the weather is bad, the gym is closed, etc. The trick is wanting it! I look at it as 'warrior training'. I cannot be fit for battle if I do not train.
4. The right balance between rest, workout, social events and good nutrition are vital to my well being.
5. If I don't care enough to look after me, sure as shootin' no one else is going to do it.
6. I want to be the kind of woman that inspires me! I want to be amazed by what I can accomplish when I set my mind to it. I want to stand back and say 'it can be done and I did it' and then look for the next challenge.
7. Friends can either be your biggest encouragement and support (spark friends) or your biggest detractors (jealous friends who try to tear you down).

Thanks for your encouragement and support! For your motivations, inspiration and insight! Thanks for helping to arm me for battle and to feel up for the challenge! The battle I fight is not against my weight or my fat . . . it is a battle for my health, my well being and to get to the heart of the woman I was created to be! {She pulls her sword from the sheath at her waist and holds it high in the air} "Who is with me?!"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Created for Beauty

I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 30 teenage girls last night on the topic of body image, value and worth. Our church sponsors this girls night a couple times a month. It is held at The Red Barn, so it is not in the church and those in the community who are not members of the church will feel comfortable and welcomed. It it truly an outreach ministry. There are a couple of adults who oversee the program and four or five girls from our university volunteer to mentor and help.

I would like to share a little bit of the basic message I shared with them last night. I have changed some of the images, but the message is the same.

Look at the picture below and tell me what words come to mind.

The words I usually hear are:

When I was born, my parents loved me and adored me. They gave me a special name, a name that no one else in the family had. It was my own name selected for me by my parents. Carolyn Denise. They rocked me, they loved me, they sang to me, they had hopes, dreams and wishes for me.

I grew into a happy go lucky girl who loved to sing, dance and twirl around in frilly skirts. I also loved to climb trees, run, swim and just thoroughly enjoy live. I was the perfect tomboy princess.

Around the age of five, some other images started entering my world. There was lots of fighting in my home. Loud voices. Doors slamming. Name calling. Threats. I remember being afraid, a lot. Afraid of losing someone I love. Afraid of being hurt myself. Afraid that the mean words that were spoken might be true.

Over the years I started feeling bad about being a girl. The messages I had received said it was dangerous to be a girl. I could get hurt. Someone could want to hurt me, just because I was a girl. A stupid girl who deserved it. How could I be so stupid.

To deal with the abuse, my mother withdrew from my father and from me. She attempted suicide twice by overdose when I was a teenager. I felt abandoned by someone I loved. Someone I had tried to protect. A woman, like me, who felt no value or worth. I must not be worth much. I must not be valued. There are the messages I heard in my head.

At the age of 17 a boy I had known since the day he was born, violated my trust and love for him. In that moment, it was so painful to be a woman. I had developed a very curvy body at a young age and had always drawn the wrong kind of attention. I hated my body. I didn't want to be a woman. Girls are trouble. I'm nothing. I'm a whore. These are the devaluing words I heard in my head.

In response to the messages that screamed lies to me in my head, some eating disordered thinking that had started in my early teens began to escalate. I began hording food, binging, and practicing different forms of deprivation.

This past year, at the age of 43, I had what I refer to as my epiphany year. In a time of emotional crisis, I cried out to God to deliver me. After a couple months of spending time in meditation and solitude with God, my journal and a devotional book, I had the most awesome gift given to me. I had a vision. I know, call me kooky, whatever. It was the most awesome experience and changed my life completely.

I saw myself as a five year old little girl, scared, hurt and ashamed, hiding her face from the world so they could not see her pain. In the vision, I was sitting in the middle of a grassy meadow with no shelter to hide under, nothing to shield my shame. The grassy meadow was the palm of the hand of God. And then I heard him call my name. MY name. It sounded so sweet and so gentle, like a song. But I was ashamed to turn and look at Him. Afraid that he would see how worthless and un-valuable I truly am. Then He said my name again in a reassuring way that told me that He knew everything about me and still loved me. When I turned my head, I was looking into the eye of God. I cannot tell you what He looks like. His eye is all I could see. I cannot tell you what His eye looks like, because all I could see was His love and compassion for me. In His eye, I saw the reflection of all He created me to be. I saw myself as He sees me! And it was beautiful. I was created for beauty. I was created to enjoy life and to live passionately. All that other stuff was just a delusion that kept me in bondage.

I suddenly realized that all the messages I had received were lies. I had long ago forgiven my father. I love him. He deserves grace, mercy and love. I had reconciled my relationship to my mother. She is beautiful. She deserves grace, mercy and love. I had forgive XYZ for violating my friendship and trust. He was young, he didn't realize the impact his action would have on me, he didn't intentionally hurt me. I had extended grace, mercy and yes, even love to him. Each of those violations of trust and love extended of just a short period of my life. However, the most egregious violator of trust and love was . . . ME! I had allowed the voices in my head to continually abuse me on a daily basis. I was mean to me. I was harsh on me. I demanded perfection from me.

Suddenly, I realized I could make a different choice! Once I saw myself as God sees me, I never wanted to be anything less! My heart felt light, there was a skip in my step, a light in my eyes and a beaming smile on my face. THIS is ME!!! And I love me!

So the next time you see a lady (maybe yourself) who looks like this:

or this:

or this:

Reserve your judgment. Show some compassion, love and mercy. Remember, God sees her like this:

Replace any negative adjectives with the lovely ones you would speak to this little lady!

Live Beautifully! Speak Kindly! Love Passionately! Twirl Little Girl! Twirl!

P.S. After the presentation, one of the college girls asked to speak to me alone. She shared with me a struggle she is having with an eating disorder and that the things I had shared really resonated with her. We talked, cried and prayed together. She and I will be having lunch together soon. I believe I was there to say those words for her and her alone. That very afternoon before coming, she had written in her journal how very alone she feels in her struggle with anorexia. She had no idea what I would be sharing and surely had no idea of her struggle.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Running Warrior Returns!!!

I am in the last weeks of training for a half marathon. I started with the C25k training program in October and signed up for my first half marathon before I could even run a mile!!! Crazy! My training had been progressing nicely and I was able to increase my endurance at a steady pace in the months of January, February and the beginning of March. I somehow got off schedule and started pushing myself increasingly harder. The past couple weeks I have been suffering through some pretty ragged runs due to some over training issues. I felt like I had lost my edge. That I had peaked too early and that my training was now tearing me down. So, I took a couple easy days before my Saturday long run, hoping to rekindle the fire in my belly, my inner drive.

As my husband and I stepped out on the trail today, he asked me "What is your goal today?" I said to run and enjoy it. No time expectations. When I'm tired of running, I will walk, when I'm bored with walking I will run. I need to find my inner drive and passion again.

The run was scheduled to be 10 miles and I did plan to cover that distance, no matter how long it took and no matter if I had to walk occasionally. In the second mile of the run, it started to sprinkle. My husband asked be what I wanted to do. I want to keep going. I was just breaking into a rhythm and enjoying the pace I had set. My body and mind were relaxed and enjoying the run. We continued on. At times the wind kicked up and our rain soaked skin would go numb from the cold. I was only wearing a tank style running top with a racer back and a pair of running shorts. I had grabbed a cotton t-shirt out of the back seat of our car before we started out, because is was overcast and a little chiller than I had anticipated. I did have on my ball cap which served as a wind/rain shield. I was looking a little gansta as I would pull the brim to one side and down a little to shield my face from the rain pelting coming at my right side.

During the first few miles, the rain actually felt good. In about mile three I met a familiar friend. My alter ego and best bud in my survival and weight loss success. I have referred to this inner warrior as the Go-Go Gladiator before. When I felt that passion and energy rising, I felt like falling to my knees right there in the middle of that running trail and crying out YES!!! YESSS!!!! YESSSSS!!!!! Thank You LORD!!!! Man, I missed feeling that fire! So glad to know it's still there.

This was an out and back run. On the way out, we would have moments of pelting rain followed by moments of sunshine and then winds and more rain. I realized that we had miscalculated the run and had run too far, but the bathroom was just a mile further and I really needed to go. So, we ran on.

At the pit stop, the rain started coming down in buckets. So my husband and I huddled in the porta potty together. Thankfully it was one of those larger ones that is handicap accessible and they just put them out this week, so they are really clean! We use the time to make sure we have drank enough, fueled properly, calculate our time, chapstick, sanitize, etc. Then we decide it is now or never and take off running. It looked like we might be sprinters after all!!!

We made pretty good time. About half way back, James realized that he had waaay miscalculated our distances and that it was going to be very difficult for me to complete, especially since we were pushing ourselves to run faster because we were freezing cold and soaking wet. When we hit the ten mile mark James encourages me to stop running and walk. He knows I am stubborn and have been battling with some overtraining stresses and injuries. But, I'm cold, it's raining and my legs feel pretty good considering. He looks around to find a farmhouse near the trail and asks me if he should go find me shelter while he runs the last two miles to the car and comes back for me. I say, no, we can do this together. After another half mile, he convinces me that he needs to run ahead and get the car and meet me at the next road, which will save me a half mile run. I agree. As soon as he leaves and is just out of sight, the wind picked up and the rain started harder and it felt like needles hitting my skin. For a moment I felt really alone and a little scared in the middle of nowhere by myself wet and cold. I wanted to crawl into the bushes and wait out the rain. But, James would be waiting. He would worry sick if I didn't show up at the meeting point. I ran. I ran. I'd walk for a few steps and then I'd remind myself that James is waiting, don't make him worry. At this point, I am soooo soaking wet that water is running off the brim of my hat. I am soooo excited as I round the last corner and see him pulling the car up to the meeting spot. I made it! Just in time! He had just gotten there. He had worried that we would be later than expected and I'd have to stand in the rain waiting for him, so he had pushed himself to run as fast as he could to the car. He said at times he would walk a few steps and then take off running again.

I'm glad I have such a loving husband who looks out for my safety and comfort. We were both freezing, starving and exhausted. My planned 10 miles ended up being 11.9 miles! I'm so glad to be the woman I am and to have the blessing of knowing my inner strength. I know that where I have been is part of who I am, and for that I am thankful.

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Thank you friends, for making the journey great!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Journey of Discovery

There is no way I could begin to express all that has transpired in my life in the past 10 months. Wow! Only ten months? Really? I feel like a whole new woman, how could that be in just 10 months.

Ten months ago I was depressed, over weight, hopeless, had plantar faciitis, and thought all my best days were nothing more than memories and photographs from the past. I had developed a persistent cough that was tearing up the lining of my throat and was having some pretty severe acid reflux at night that was making me miserable. At my doctors appointment, I found out that the cough was a reaction to my blood pressure meds, the acid reflux was due to weight gain and dietary choices and . . . . she said "You are depressed. Would you like a mild anti-depressant?" I started to cry. I realized I was stressed and depressed, but to have someone else realize it and say it out loud.

How did I allow myself to get in such a condition? I am smarter than that. I have studied Anatomy and Physiology and Exercise Kineseology. I have a certification in Aerobics Instruction (from my former life!) and am a Yoga Instructor. I know better. I know how to honor my body and how it was created to move. Who have I become? Why?

I assured my doctor that I knew what needed to be done and would take the steps to move in the right direction. Since depression and mental health issues are a prevalent issue in my family and I have struggled with bulimia for 28 years, I know better than to be irresponsible about depression issues. I asked my doctor to schedule a recheck with me for three months and assured her that I would call her if I felt things were spiraling in the wrong direction. She was very supportive and I was reassured. I did not take an anti-depressant, this time, but I knew I could get that help if I needed it.

Long story short. I spent a lot of time soul searching, crying and getting to the root of these repeated patterns of self destruction and abuse in my life. I realized I had become quite lost. I had forgotten how to live a life full of passion. I had forgotten to take time to care for myself.

It would be hard for me to describe in words what my light bulb moment was like. It was beautiful beyond words. When I saw in fullness what I was created for and the joy I felt in my heart, I knew then and there I never wanted to be any less than the wonderful girl I was meant to be. Full. Full of joy. Full of passion. Full of love.

I no longer looked at my weight as a point of shame, guilt or anger. I saw myself with the compassion and love that you would give to a child or a friend who was hurting. I saw that the feelings of guilt, shame and anger had kept me in bondage for most, if not all of my adult life. I am stronger than that. I know better now.

In the place of feelings of guilt for eating poorly, I placed passion for whole clean foods. Even when I choose to indulge, I do not feeling guilty.

In the place of shameful feeling about the stretch marks and damage I have caused my body by being overweight and sedentary, I placed joy. Joy that I have a body that moves and delights in being active. I love feeling like a kid! I play basketball, ride my bike and have a skip in my heart at all times.

In the place of anger over the events of my life that hurt me and scarred me deeply, I placed love. Love for myself for being a survivor. Love for God who is my protector and provider. Love for my husband who has been there for me even when I was an emotional mess.

On this journey I have discovered a lot!

I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

I can set goals! I can accomplish them!

My best days are not behind me! There are still great things to be done!

I like the sassy kick-butt girl I am!

I like to sweat! I like exercise! I love the way my body feels!

I still have great curves! And my husband likes them! A lot!

I have so much joy and laughter in my everyday life!

Today I will go to the doctor for my annual physical. She has not seen me in the past 6 months. I know she will be pleased. I know I am. I'm hoping to hear her say that I am healthy and strong and no longer need blood pressure medication.

In this journey of discovery I feel a little like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I never knew what I always had. The secret was here, inside of me, all along. All I had to do was choose to change my perception.

And no one has the power to take that away from me !

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Celebrating Being CurvyThick

Bodies come in all types, shapes and sizes.

There is beauty in all body types!

When I was in my teen years I was known for my shapely legs. However, I always felt self conscience about my thick thunder thighs, full hips and ample bust line. I was thicker, much thicker than all of my friends. I was always the big chick who 'carries her weight well'. What does that mean? It felt like a nice way to say fat. At 5'8 1/2 " tall with a medium-large bone structure, I was 135 lbs. wearing a size 9 Jordache jeans with my hot pink comb tucked in the back pocket.

Other girls could walk down the hall in a way that made them seem like they glided. Things moved on me when I walked. I could not walk without a definite hip shaking Kaboom-Kaboom. Impossible to enter a room without being noticed. I look back at pictures from those days and I'm sad for the girl who thought she was fat and wanted to blend in to the crowd. I'm sad that she didn't know how to celebrate her body and how she was created to move. I'm sad that she wanted to be something she was not.

You see, she and I have a lot in common these days. I'm currently the smallest I have been since I was 20 years old. Wearing a size 14 makes me 'average' in size. I am trying to get my mind around the idea that I am no longer the biggest person in any group. I don't cringe when I see my body, even my saggy parts. I see parts that are have more muscle tone than I ever remember having. I see parts that have more stretch marks than my youthful body had. The stand out thing I see is the curve at my waist and the smooth curve out to my full hips. There is no denying, I have curves. I am an hour glass body type . . . a large hour glass than when I was younger, but the shape has not changed. What has changed is, I love my curvyness. I celebrate the effort it has taken to make it more tone, I celebrate the stretch marks that record the battle I have fought with eating disorders and weight gain. Those are my battles. I wear the scar, I celebrate the victory.

Today I celebrate the curvythick girl I am and embrace the way it sways and moves.

And this is the rhythm my body is moving to these days!

Enjoy and get your groove on girlfriend!