Feeling what’s tough… so I can feel what’s strong

As I’ve shared before (and will continue to share because it’s nothing to be ashamed of), I struggle with anxiety. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years, some years tougher than others. When I was younger, I thought I was just a “worrywart”. But as I got older, I realized the symptoms in my mind were more than just some casual “worries”, and I then learned about this thing called anxiety.
 
Yep, it’s tough to deal with. Yep, it’s hard for people who don’t suffer from it to truly understand how crippling it can make a person feel. But deep down I know that I can’t let anxiety define me, and I share this because I don’t want others who suffer from the same to feel like it defines them either. I also share my journey with it because I truly believe that our mental health is at the forefront of how we tackle our physical health. There are no programs or special health products that we can buy to help us deal with and/or erase the deeper stuff. And the more we allow ourselves to be open to feeling what’s tough, we give our bodies permission to feel what’s strong.
 
I can tell that I’m in charge of my anxiety right now (instead of it being in charge of me) because of the power I’ve allowed myself to focus on SELF-CARE. Yep, you’re going to see a lot of posts from me containing those two words for a while. Last week was filled with tough moments. And today I found out some car repairs will be quite costly. Kinda feels like life is trying to try me. With how much I’ve been struggling with anxiety over the past year, it wouldn’t have surprised me if I would have dealt with those stressors by sitting around and over thinking, feeling overcome by fear, and feeling paralyzed by that fear so much that I wouldn’t workout (because why bother when you’re anxious?) and, instead, would eat my emotions. But I am proud to share that I DID NOT ANSWER LIFE STRESS WITH THOSE HABITS. Instead, I answered with two simple words….
 
self-care
 
Saturday morning I wanted to come up with any excuse possible to not workout, but I knew deep down I needed it. I got in my workout. Sunday is typically a rest day and filled with chores to prep for the week ahead, but I knew I need to make it a priority to set aside 30-45 minutes to get out and walk. So I did. Today was a long day at work and I got some bad news, but when I got home I changed my clothes and got to the gym for my workout. When, usually, anxiety would answer the call, I’ve allowed SELF-CARE to step up to the plate and deliver. Right now, more than ever, I know I need to take care of myself so that I can best handle the stress. SELF-CARE. This is a huge victory, bigger than you know, and honestly, for the first time in maybe over a year at least, I feel most like myself. Yep, I’m still 40-45 pounds heavier than I was over a year ago. Yep, I still have a lot of work to do to improve my health. Yep, I still have struggles! But when you see and feel yourself choosing to care for yourself over self-sabotage when anxiety strikes…… I can’t even begin to tell you how good, how grounding that feels. It’s a solid step in the right direction.  It’s medicine for my soul.  It’s a necessity.  For each of us. 

Why I’m going for it… and you should too

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Cliffnotes…

I’m going for it.

What is “it”?  Finishing this October’s Detroit Free Press International half marathon.  What am I “going for”? Finishing the race under three hours.  Why?…

“Oh boy, here we go again”…. I know, right?  I’ve set these kind of goals before.  This goal in particular has been attempted previously.  Once… twice… three tiiiimmesss a failure.  I’ve run nine half marathons and, although I’ve come close a few times,  have not finished any of them under three hours. This doesn’t mean that those races were a failure or insignificant to the journey.  They most certainly are.  But yeah…. I still want that under three finish. And I want it badly.  But maybe for different reasons than one would think.

Ironically, I couldn’t be in worse shape right now. Well OK, I could.  But let’s not make it a goal to find out.  When I pursued finishing under three hours before, I was in way better shape (both during the training and the race) than I am today.  But would you like in on a little secret?  I-don’t-care.  I’m going for it anyway.

Recently I’ve been pretty obsessed with following Kelly Roberts’ “BQ or Bust” journey from Run Selfie Repeat.  During my spring break, I binge watched all of her YouTube vlogs pertaining to her quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I was glued to my iPad because 1) she’s such a rad, relatable human with an inspiring story worth telling, and 2) I was finding my struggles within her struggles.  Like big time.  In particular, I was learning from the moments when she let in to fear instead of trust and boldness, like during certain training runs or races when she didn’t empty the tank and finish giving it everything she had.  Insert flashback to the last three or four half marathons I’ve completed – “oh look, mile 10… finally” and then said “screw it” and finished at a pace “just good enough”.  Looking back I realize – I was in pain, but it was endurable.  I was tired, but not tired enough.  I was there, but I wasn’t truly present.  I gave up on myself for the sake of finishing “safe”.  Lightbulb officially turned ON. It’s not good enough anymore.

Hi, my name is Heather.  Not only do I typically play it safe when I run or workout, but I play it safe in life in general.

Sure, when I register for and run a race – I’m not in it to take first place nor will I ever be.  But I wouldn’t have registered or trained or showed up to toe the line if I didn’t want something from the experience.  Something that, ten-twenty-thirty years down the line, will still be with me as I go about my day-to-day.

I originally started running to help me lose weight.  And there were times when it definitely did.

But gradually I learned that the weight loss was just a bonus, just a side bar.  Running was teaching me about life stuff.  Often, hard life stuff.

When running should have been my go to, it took a back seat this past year while I went through some of that tough “life stuff”.  My running shoes have been patiently sitting in the corner of the room, never judging or questioning me about where I’ve been, why I’ve put some weight back on (turning to food as therapy instead of them… their soles), or why it is taking so long for me to get back to what used to bring me such joy… instead, just waiting for the moment when I’d pick them back up, place them on my feet and say “Ready?  Let’s go”.

I’m ready again…. I think.  Oh no you don’t, Heather.  Try that again.

I’m ready.

My endurance is comparable to that of a turtle stuck in a pond of Laffy Taffy, peanut butter, and Rice Krispie Treats…. but I’m ready.  I’m up a solid 40-50 pounds since I last ran a half…. but I’m ready.  I’m scared out of my mind about how challenging this journey will be…. but I’m ready.

Reflecting on this goal, I think I wanted to finish under two hours before because I wanted to see that number and I wanted to prove something.  But now I realize that “something” wasn’t truly defined because I never felt the urgency to define it.  The goal lacked a connection. Perhaps it was superficial. However, remember that tough “life stuff” – yeah, it’s changed me.  It would be awesome to see a “2” at the beginning of my time after finishing this October’s half, but that won’t be the reward.  The reward will be the time spent, tears wept, joy felt, growth seized, fear denied, challenge embraced, lessons learned, light shined – from the moment I click “post” on this entry to the moment I toe up to the starting line and travel 13.1 miles as strong as I possibly can. Those are the feelings and moments I miss and yearn to experience once again.  And if by the end of this quest I miss my goal by one second, yet experience all the beautiful, messy, challenging, joyful, strength growing stuff in the middle, it will have all been worth it.  THAT is my why.  THAT is my missing “something”.  So yeah – I’m ready.  Scared.  Excited.  Uncertain.  Ready.

Side note – while I travel this journey to finish under three (I feel like I need a catchy # for this quest), I am taking you all with me – more blog posts (in this format and via my Facebook/Instagram pages) and possibly even some video/vlog style posts.  It takes a village, right?  I’m ready. We’re ready.  Let’s do this.    

Same race, different pace…

Does anyone else think that Timehop on Facebook is rigged to show us something from the past with crazy ironic timing? I’m skeptical of that, and a little over a week was no exception when it reminded me that 5 years ago, I ran my first half marathon in Detroit.  When I made the decision to sign up for that half, I was nearly 400 pounds.  Who in their right mind signs up to run a half marathon when they don’t even know if they can run for 30 seconds without seeing Jesus and asking Him to take the wheel?  I guess I do.  Honestly, all runners are a special kind of crazy, so it was only a matter of time before I joined this special “tribe” of humans.  That cloudy morning in 2011 was all it took to hook me in and keep me wanting to come back for more, not because it was easy but because it helped me get a glimpse of potential.  I have gone back every October since then, until this year.  I won’t dive in too deeply with the details, but to give you the cliff notes of 2016, thanks to Charles Dickens – “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (mainly the later). Therefore, I made the decision to opt out of the international half this year, and run the 5K instead.  To some this might seem silly, but it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve faced.  Maybe only my fellow runners will understand, but think about something you look forward to, have a passion for, plan to do every year, that is a huge part of your life transformation, that you love… and one year all plans are thrown out the window and it’s just not the best decision for you. It’s a real bummer when that happens, but I don’t regret my choice, or the crazy path getting there, one bit.

To be completely transparent, I wasn’t sure how that weekend was going to feel. In a way, I was anxious for it to be over.  I was uncertain how I’d feel at the expo without my traditions, doing the 5K after a year of so much inactivity (and some lagging injuries), and Sunday morning as thousands (over 26,000, to be exact) were toeing the line of the 39th Detroit Free Press marathon… and I wasn’t one of them.  Part of me kept saying “just get through to Saturday afternoon and then avoid social media at all costs”. I thought it would hurt too much to see all that I was missing out on, to see joy in others when my joy has been absent. This year, anxiety has robbed me of not only my joy for running but my joy for life and the things I love.  Instead of continuing to train, work out, and do all the running and race things that have become a huge part of me over the last five years, I felt paralyzed by fear and anxiousness.  All year I’ve continued to try and find that mojo again – fight off the fears, forgive myself (that super important part), and start fresh, but nothing seemed to click.  Something was off balance. So, as you can understand, I worried that “Freep weekend” would be saddening and continue to pick at the wound that no amount of Neosporin could heal.

As a race ambassador, which I have been honored to be a part of for its inaugural year, I had the opportunity to help run the information booth at the expo with some of my fellow ambassadors.  How would I possibly be a happy, helpful representative for this race, a race I love, to the thousands that attend when, deep inside, my heart doesn’t feel in it?  I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer.  You just show up.

What happened was magical and took me by total, yet not so total considering how special this race is, surprise. As soon as I arrived and stepped out of my car onto the roof at Cobo Hall, I felt the excitement in the air.  Upon entering the expo, that excitement only multiplied as the “buzz” began to build.  Leading up to this weekend, I imagined myself sticking out in the crowd as “the girl who gave up”, a label only I gave myself.  But as I was making my way to the back of the expo to join the other ambassadors, I began to feel the opposite.

Almost instantly after joining my crew at the information table, I felt this tingle of happiness. Joy? Is that you?  The joy I have not known in a long time.  Joy that I thought was going to allude me that weekend, because how could I possibly find joy during a year that felt so different.   Because…

It wasn’t about me.  It was about we. 

While I worked the information booth Friday, I had the opportunity to hear stories (and answer questions…. probably about parking…. and passports) from veteran and first time Freep runners, some running a 7 minute mile, some a 15, and many others anywhere in-between. I heard stories of overcoming obstacles, injury, and fear.  In many runners’ eyes, I saw confidence, nerves, and excitement.  In all of them, I found joy.

Friday was a total blast.  I enjoyed every minute of helping answer questions, connecting with so many people, and feeling a part of something greater than myself. That momentum carried over into Saturday morning as I participated in the American Home Fitness/Detroit Free Press 5K.  Although my body wasn’t “officially” race ready (well, I mean, gazelle status aside, when has it ever been officially “ready”), my heart was ready to get back to that atmosphere. What makes a race so unique and special, no matter the distance, is that after months of training alone without the crowds and the cheers, you toe the line fueled by the energy of complete strangers.  You journey through each mile of the race lead by not only your soles but the soul of the runners around you.  And you cross the finish line driven by the energy, the cheers, the soul, and the joy collected within you.  Although my body didn’t allow for me to travel the 3.1 mile path as I have trained for it in the past, that morning exceeded my expectations and reminded me, once again, what joy feels like.

Saturday evening I began to collect all the bib numbers of the 30-40 friends running 13.1 or 26.2 miles throughout the streets of Detroit and Windsor the next morning.  My heart was filled not only with excitement but pride for them.  Each friend was running with a different “why”, yet each one of them was filled with a boldness that emits this raw faith, a faith that says, “I can” and “I’m worth it”.  How could I NOT be inspired by them?

Sunday morning felt like Christmas to me.  I wasn’t running 13.1 miles downtown, so why not sleep in?  Tell that to a six year old waiting to see what Santa left her under the tree.  I was that six year old little girl, and the track my runner app was my brand new Hollywood Hair Barbie.  Wake up, Heather!  It’s time to play!  Once the clock struck between the hour of 7 and 8 am, my fingers began the marathon of tracking all of these wonderful people chasing down a PR, change, or a dream.  And as the arms of the clock ticked and runners passed mile after challenging mile, I felt their “sole”. I thought for sure that Sunday morning would bring a weird, depressed feeling. I was ready to delete my Facebook app for the day, for Pete’s sake!  But I’m so glad that I didn’t, and I am so glad I was wrong. Completely wrong. Because it brought me all the happiness, inspiration, and joy I didn’t picture could happen but did. Their journeys that morning, including all of the awesome finisher pictures, sparked joy and peace within me.

It turns out I needed them.  Each of them.  Their energy. Their spirit.  Their nerves.  Their confidence.  Their fight.  They helped me light the candle when I thought the wick was too short and the ends too charred.  They helped me feel peace and fight fear when both anxiety and depression have been looming for months.  They gave me strength and light. As it turns out, I’m not “the girl who gave up”, but rather “the girl who gave in… to joy”. They gave me joy.  All the joy.  So much joy. And joy truly does matter to me…. again.

Thank you for the lessons and the light, Detroit. My soles are eager to see you next year.fullsizerender-10

I am currently under construction. Thank you for your patience.

Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.”

Oh, friends.  Where do I begin? I’ll begin with the tough stuff, because 2016 has been filled with it.  I have decided to not run the Detroit Free Press International Half this October.  Instead, I will be dropping down to the 5K.  At first, I couldn’t imagine not doing it.  I’ve done that race every year since 2011.  It’s my heart.  It’s my passion.  It’s me.  “Be stubborn, Heather.  Suck it up and do it.”  But the more I thought about it, like really thought about it, I realized that being stubborn and “sucking it up” wasn’t the medicine I needed.

What I need is a huge bottle of joy. And running, to be completely honest, isn’t bringing me joy right now.  Saying that actually brings me great relief, because I think I’ve been running from accepting that for at least a few months. I’ve tried to enjoy running again, tried to seek out and rediscover my happy pace.  But with every run, walk, or mixture of the two…. something was missing.

Joy. In particular, my joy.

I don’t blame the sport for that.  My joy has been missing for a large portion of 2016 as I’ve faced various challenges that have tested me (some tests still in progress) on many personal, emotional, and spiritual levels. But when lacing up and putting sole to pavement was therapy, in this season of my life… it’s not.  This year my health, overall, has taken some steps back.  I’ve gained weight, lost endurance and strength, and struggled mentally. As each day passed and I tried to convince myself that I just needed to “suck it up”, I began to dread it more than anything, not to mention the thought of training for 13.1 miles. I continued to beat myself for not being in better shape, training better, and feeling motivated about all of the above.  Plus, I am a race ambassador this year. Of all the years for me to struggle! So many questions went through my mind as I struggled with this – Am I letting the race organization down? What message will this give others?  What will people think of me? “Go figure, the fat one gave up.”  Those thoughts alone made me feel guilty for even contemplating dropping out. But then I started to realize that all those questions and thoughts were the answers I was waiting for, because it solidified that joy wasn’t present within me.  So last week, as if the skies parted and God was holding up a large poster board with neon bright wording, I realized and accepted that running this race this year is not what’s best for me. And I knew it was the right decision because as soon as I made it official, I felt the weight of the world fall off my shoulders.

Will I miss toeing up to the starting line with thousands of other brave, bold runners on a chilly, EARLY Sunday morning in October?  I really will.  Will I miss running across the beautiful Ambassador Bridge and seeing the sun rise over the Detroit skyline?  Gosh, yes.  Will I miss hearing the cheers from all of the Canadians during miles 4-8?  YES.  Those Canadians are fun.  I love our friendly neighbors across the river. Will I miss running through the only “underwater mile” and finding myself back in the great U.S. of A once I exit? Oh yeah. For sure.  Will I miss the challenge that the last few miles of the half provides as I mentally remind myself that I can do hard things?  Absolutely.  And will I miss finishing that last stretch on Fort as I run among the crowds and cheers and think to myself… THIS.  This is MY moment.  And I did it?  (damnit, I’m crying now) Without out a doubt.  I will miss that the most. Not having a Detroit half marathon medal to hang among the others this year will be bitter sweet, but I have to remind myself that when I look over my medals and don’t see one for 2016, it won’t be a reminder of what I didn’t do or that I failed.  It will be a reminder to me that that was the year I overcame other hurdles and made choices necessary for me that will end up making me stronger in the long run.

It’s OK that running hasn’t been my thing this year. It really is. It just means that something else is… and it’s my time to find it. I accept myself where I am, adjust my sails, and charter a new path for the season I’m in right now… and I have total peace with that. 🙂 This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on running, weight loss, or my health/wellness altogether. Not even close. It just means I am choosing to turn a new page. And what does that new page look like?  Whatever I want it to look like.  Just like I’ve been spending time coming to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to participate in the half this Fall, I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about how I move forward in my health journey.  To be honest, I don’t have a set plan, and that actually excites me.  And while I’m probably supposed to write down a list of goals for myself so that I feel motivated to get this weight back off because “no excuses”, right?  Nah.  Wrong.  My only health goal moving forward is this…

Do what brings you joy, Heather.  Because love is full, and you are on empty.

If one day that means walking or running and one day it means yoga and one day it means Zumba and one day it means strength training and one day it means rest – then that’s my plan.  As far as the nutritional aspect, that’s a little bit trickier. I mean let’s keep it real, brownies, tacos, Chipotle, cake, pizza…. those foods bring me joy because I like them.  A lot.  But that is not exactly what is best for me and my health all the time.  God and life experiences over the last couple of months have helped open eyes and my heart to just how important my health is and how much food and my relationship with it plays a part. So one of my biggest focuses, not because I want to be skinny but because I want to live healthy, will be my nutrition.  And because I battle with PCOS, emotional/binge eating, and probably a few other dragons needing to be slayed, I will approach my nutrition in a way that is healthiest and most meaningful for me.  Not the lady in my newsfeed who lost 56 pounds in four months following a certain program or the person on TV who lost 112 pounds in nine months or any host of examples we see in the media on a daily basis. I am doing what I need most so I can live my best life better and longer than ever.  I want it to last because it means the world to me.

Honestly, I’m kinda over the whole “be a slave to weight loss”, “restrict what you eat or else”, “no excuses fitness” mentality.  Because guess what…. that’s not real life and I don’t care what anybody says, it can’t be sustained. I just don’t find it healthy.  I think for as much as social media has been a blessing for us to be inspired, I think it’s damaged us as well.  My life and my health is more important than a “click”, a “like”, or a “share”.  And so is yours.  Therefore, I’ve decided to cut back on my social media posts for a while.  I love to interact with others, I love to be honest and authentic about my journey, and I love that I’ve inspired many to find self-love and the “I can do it” spirit within.  But right now, social media just isn’t bringing me joy.  I truly believe that God has recently opened my eyes to how important I am and how important my journey is – so important, that I need to keep it more sacred.  I want to live and do and pursue and change and grow and get healthy all in the name of joy.  But I think that requires some privacy and “unplugged” time as well.  What I’ve realized I need most is some time to be authentic and real with myself, not just people on the other side of a computer screen or a smart phone. Maybe I post a little update once a week, maybe I just let myself post whenever I feel it’s most important to. I haven’t decided yet. Just going to “go with the flow”. And I believe in this transition or season of my life so deeply, that I know it’s going to make all the difference. Because if we can do this for ourselves when nobody is looking, we can do it for a lifetime when it matters most.

Be kind, be well, be loved!

And to be continued….

Heather

 

taking a step back, to take a step forward

For about a month, I have been bouncing back and forth with the idea of not running the Traverse City Track Club Bayshore half marathon this May. This would be my fourth time running “Bayshore” (1-10K, 2-half marathons) and it is, without a doubt, one of my favorite races with a LOT of meaning to me and my journey.  It’s where, as a spectator in 2010, the seed was planted. Kinda my beginning before beginning.  Realistically, I have plenty of time to train and could still hold off on making the call whether or not to run it this year, but in my heart I already know that training for this race isn’t the best choice for me right now nor will it be three months down the line. This is one of those classic cases of “the tough choice is the right choice”.  Gold star for me.

So why am I opting out?  Well, to put it bluntly…. injuries (or as I’ve been referencing it lately – the “I’m getting old” aches) and I’ve gained some weight.  Those two lovely combos are about as delightful as taking Metamucil before a long run and have made it really hard to redefine and rediscover my running mojo lately.  And by lately, I mean the last few months.  In late October and right on cue, like all nine of the half marathons I’ve finished over the years, I found myself in a post-race slump that lasted way longer than desired (like Trumps run at presidency). It never fails to find me.  But this time, it hit me harder than the others.  Because not only was I getting over that slump, but the slump was magnified because I was…. well, I still am dealing with other hurdles (anxiety and depression) that have actually challenged me far greater. And there you have it.  The perfect storm for weight gain, lost endurance, injuries that just don’t seem to want to heal and ones that resurface because of the gain, and lost mojo.  Man, this is NOT what I pictured at all after a pretty great, active, momentum gaining 2015.  Anxiety is like the injury that lurks.  You can’t point at it and say “hey, you hurt right there and I know how you got hurt or why you do” or “all I need is a week off from exercise, some ice, and a little KT tape and I’ll be good as new in no time”. Yet it exists.  Some days are better than others.  And very rarely are there days where telling myself “just smile…. don’t worry” works.  These last two-three months have been rough.  And although I take responsibility for the ways I’ve coped with it, it still is my reality.

With that being said, I need to deal with my reality. I’ve been trying to climb my way out of this temporary (because I won’t give it power to be anything but) season, and in doing so, I’ve discovered that I have a lot that needs healing.  Top of that list – my relationship with food.  Clearly, “it’s complicated” isn’t just for Facebook. It’s also for food and I. I have come a long way from the habits of a once almost 400 pound person, but it seems like lately, the mentality of that person is creeping back in.  I need to find out what makes me struggle so tough with it and seek the balance I’m meant to have, that will not only get me past this slump but into a season of continuing weight loss and better health. I need to find peace with food and with myself. And that’s a tall task.  One I absolutely can’t balance with training for a half marathon.  I know myself. I’d muscle through the training and focus more on the miles and less on the food.  And once it’s over, I’d be in the same boat once again. And I don’t want that this time.  I want more.

So I’ve accepted and have embraced that this new season in my life is kind of back to basics for me. I also realize it’s necessary and something I will be grateful for.  My first focus is food and strengthening that relationship, hopefully resulting in losing the 20-25 I’ve gained since October.  My workouts will be a mixed bag for a while. Although I am a far cry from Michael Phelps, I have taken up swimming (or floating/moving in the water) into my weekly fitness routine. It’s a dream for my joints.  I will be doing a lot of walking for a while (which is never a bad thing), mixing it up on the treadmill here and there (some incline stuff, some HIIT stuff, and a little running), and continuing to incorporate strength training that doesn’t put too much pressure on my ankle, knees, or lower back (again, I’m getting old). I know that a lot of those aches are due to my lack of movement and the belly weight that I’ve temporarily allowed to join the party. So with weight loss, I’ll lose some of those aches and rediscover the good feelings I long for again.  It’s not that I am measuring my worth last month, right now, or in four months by what the number was, is, or will be on the scale, and it’s not that I hate myself.  It’s that I love myself enough to know that I deserve more.  And I’ll find out what more is once I make peace with that’s damaged and seek…. allow healing to happen.

And that is why I’m not running Bayshore this year.  Because I need to finally stop running away from the issues and face them.  Binge eating, emotional eating, thinking about food way too much…. I’m sure there are some deeply rooted, personal reasons why I have dealt with food the way I have.  Maybe it’s not so much what I’m eating but what’s eating me. So I’m toeing up to a new starting line right this very moment, “My Bold Quest“, a race I’ve avoided out of fear because it has no finish line. It’s a bold, bold race,  but I know that it will not only make me a better runner (because my eyes are on 13.1 in Detroit this October), but it’ll make me a better person too. I guess this is what it means to truly find my happy pace….

 

But my intentions were good…

Always.  I can’t think of a time my intentions weren’t good.  Ok… maybe I can’t say “always”, but definitely usually.  I mean well.  I do.  But that’s my problem.  I always mean well, but now find myself asking the question – “When do I DO well?”

Saturday night at church, the topic was intentions vs. practices.  The big idea – good practices build an unshakable life. Clearly, this sermon had my name written all over it.  As I’m sitting there taking in the message and the good word, I find myself realizing – my intentions have always outweighed my practices.  Now before you jump in there and say “But Heather no!  You’ve done some awesome things!”….. yes.  I have. And I’m grateful for them.  But if you only knew how many awesome things I’ve imagined, brainstormed, thought about, talked about, wanted to accomplish, said I’d do …. and didn’t.  If you only knew.  Actually, I think I’m maybe the worlds best at having intentions without the follow through .  I’ve been “living with intention” for years!  But that’s part of the problem.

You see, in order to move myself from “intention” to “practice”, I’ve needed to do a little less talking and a lot more doing.  The space between the two is made up of a plan and action.  But when I reflect on where I’ve been and make connections to some of my current situations, I realize – I’ve done a lot of talking to myself.  The words don’t get it done.  Saying what I’m going to, hope to, wish to do is all well and good…. but if it’s not followed up by good practices, it’s nothing.

Some day I’m going to get over this hump and lose another 100 pounds”.
Some day I’m going to save more money and pay off debt.”
Some day I’m going to get organized around the house.”
Some day I’m going to let go of pain from the past.”
Some day I’m going to start writing my book.”
Some day I’m going to _______________________.”

Good intentions + Time = Regret
(a lot of some days + little practice = stuck asking myself the same questions over & over)

What am I waiting for?  Why can’t I do this?  What do I truly want?

Let me ask you the same question we were asked Saturday night – If five frogs were on a log and three of them decided to jump, how many are left?

At first that might seem like a simple math question.  5-3=2 left.  But it’s not.  Because we have three frogs that decided to jump.  Whether they followed through with their decision, that’s unknown.  So until they jump, until they follow through and put action behind their decision… we’re still stuck with five frogs on a log.

Is that you?  Because that’s definitely me.  I’ve decided a million things over the years, including when I was little and decided I was going to run away from home and only pack a disposable camera and a barbie with only one change of clothes (for her, not me). Did I run away?  Heck no! I feared God and my mother and especially the boogie man. But no matter whether they’re logical or illogical, our day to day lives are filled with deciding that some day, oh yes…. some day, we’re going to do that thing that we really want to do. But more often than not, our “some days” are on a continuous loop like the music playing in the fitting rooms at JCPenney. And we refuse, for whatever reason… discovered or yet to discover, to change the channel. Same song.  Same elevator music.  Same ol’ same ol’. That is what has our foundation on shaky ground. I won’t speak for you, but I know that is what has held me back for many years.

Saturday’s church service was truly some much needed and most importantly received perspective for me.  And perhaps, no matter your faith, you can gain from and apply it to your life in some way too.  Health and wellness specific, my intentions vs. practices are, without a doubt, a huge factor in why I have struggled for so long to get over this 300 pound hump.  When I lost my first 100 pounds, it felt easy (even though it wasn’t).  But then I entered a new chapter where I needed to adjust and do things differently; where I needed to put a new plan of action into practice to help my health continue to get better and more weight to be lost.  And although I gave effort and did some awesome things, I think I let my intentions and the thoughts of what I wanted and how I could be more get in the way of actually stepping back for a moment and saying with conviction – here’s what I want, here’s how I’m going to get there, and here’s me DOING so consistently with intention in my actions. Actions. I’m not a bad person for having good intentions.  I’m just not living to my potential without the practices.  And now that I have had this “ah-ha” moment, it’s time to move forward and be more by DOING more.

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I gained weight… and I’m proud

So as many of you know from my post earlier on Instagram and at Finding Her Happy Pace on Facebook, I went back to Weight Watchers this morning.  Technically, I never left because I was still paying for my membership the last two months. However the last time I stepped foot into a meeting was the week before those same two feet crossed the starting line for my Detroit half marathon this past October. So… I’d say it felt like “going back” and “starting again”.

This morning I felt a healthy mix of excitement and nerves.  Excitement because I know in my heart that going back, when I was nearly ready to cancel my membership, is a wise choice for me and because I am anxious to learn and follow their new program that focuses on using calories, protein, and saturated fat to calculate “SmartPoints”. But I was nervous because I had no idea what number that scale was going to say and what feelings, no matter how prepared I would be to tell myself “it’s just a number”, I would feel because of it. And to add to the Nancy Drew mystery, the last few days I have been feeling “huge” – clothes haven’t been feeling right on me, certain areas are feeling a little more “puffy” than normal, and I had pretty much convinced myself that I was up 30 pounds because it felt like it.  Yep, the mental torture had begun. But aside from all of that, I still walked in optimistic and eager. You can’t change what you don’t address – so take those same two feet and cross a new starting line, Heather.  Go ahead, get in the arena.

Since October 14th, I am up 7.2 pounds.  7point2. Seven then a decimal then a 2.  Really??  That’s AWESOME!  Whoa….. take a step back a minute. “Heather, you’re excited to have GAINED weight?”  And to put it simply, yes.  I am excited and I am proud. Really proud.

What I know and what many don’t is that for the last two months, I’ve been put to the test physically and most of all mentally.  A week after my half, I twisted my ankle.  Although it’s functioning now, it still aches and some days a bit more than others.  A little over two weeks ago, I tweaked a muscle in my back.  Putting on underwear has been a bigger challenge than doing burpees on a good day, so needless to say… getting dressed in the morning has been my cardio and strength training all in one. But both of those injuries combined have been small fries (or insult to injury – no pun intended) compared to the last month or so as I’ve been truly battling and, slowly, overcoming a relapse of an old frienemy – anxiety and depression. Honestly, discussing my history with it, how it came about again recently (out of nowhere it seems), and how I’ve been dealing with it (today I feel horrible – oh today I feel a little better – oh no, today I feel horrible… just wait a minute, you’ll create a reason to feel horrible again) is it’s own blog post for another day (soon).  But to wrap it up in a sentence or two – it’s been hell.  And some might say that that is a bad way to describe it since many have gone through worse.  I’ve no doubt that many have gone through far tougher times than I, but knowing what I know about having anxiety and depression and how it’s similar yet completely different for everyone… that’s how I’m describing it for me. A persistent, nagging, logic thrown out the window, covered in a two-ton blanket of worry and sadness, trying to put on a happy face when you’re falling apart on the inside… hell. But I’ve been fighting it, some days with bravery, some days with food, some days with tears, some days with laughter (actually, many days with laughter), some days with fear, and most days with prayer, hope, and trust.  Storms don’t last – I have faith in that.

So yes, I am extremely proud of gaining 7.2 pounds over the last few months.  It could have been way more.  All things considered, it probably should have been way more.  But on the days I could fight, I fought.  And on the days I couldn’t, I just tried to remind myself that tomorrow was a new day with no mistakes in it. And I share all of this not to say “hey, look how brave I’ve been” but to remind you that being vulnerable to and accepting of what you’re going through and brave enough to say “hey, it’s OK – I am dealing with a lot right now, but I’m trying the best I can” is really, really important. In fact it’s crucial.  In a society that wants us to focus on the aesthetics, I’m here to tell you that what’s going on on the inside is far more important and needs your focus the most. Ask a captain of a ship if their decks stay dry while charting through rough waters.  I bet they laugh and say “hardly”. Seas calm, water dries, and you will, like me, manage through the storms.  Be just as proud of those moments as you would all the others.

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