My First Half-Marathon

This weekend I ran my first half-marathon and it was SO MUCH FUN! Now here is a little recap:

If you have been following my Instagram account for a while you know a couple things about me: 1) I LOVE to run 2) I ALWAYS get injured running. So when I spontaneously signed up for a half marathon 5 and a half weeks ago (when I was only running 3 times a week for like 3 miles each time), I set some pretty achievable goals (for me).

GOAL 1: Finish the race without injury.

GOAL 2: Finish the race without walking.

GOAL 3: Finish the race in 2 hours 10 minutes.

Now before I say how I did with those goals (although, TBH, you probably already saw how I did on Instagram), I have to say this thing was exciting for me. I have tried training for a half about once per year for the last 7 years… each time ended with injury.

I will admit, I made A LOT of mistakes in that time. And I truly believe that some of those injuries were for the best- I had a lot of unhealthy habits/ mindsets around undereating and over exercising that a bad injury snapped me out of and lead to the adoption of the healthy, balanced lifestyle I maintain now.

Okay, enough of the serious stuff, back to how it went! With the help of my incredible physical therapist (who is the reason I came back from running after a year of being plagued with injuries), I accomplished goal 1.

I came up with a pretty great expedited training plan to accomplish Goal 2. The mantra being “Slow and steady finishes the race.” And I am proud to say, I did not have to walk at all.

Now for Goal 3 (you should know I have a big ole grin as I type this), I sort of blew that time out of the water. I know I set a goal time that was really achievable for me, I trained by running between 9:30 and 9:45 pace. But I had no intention of breaking 2 hours.

Then the race started and I felt this unbelievable adrenaline rush. Seeing all these people getting out and running for the sake of accomplishing a goal or just staying active is so beautiful to me. Then to see everyone cheering for their family and friends along the course gave me this unparalleled energy. Before I knew it, I was not just on pace to break 2 hours, I was on pace to break an average 9 min/mile pace.

I ended up finishing in 1:55:53. The happy high I felt throughout and after the race made it one of my favorite experiences. I cannot wait to get out there and do it again!

Thank you to the Phoenix Marathon for the best first race experience I could have asked for, I already plan on signing up next year!

Moral of the story (because I love those)- sometimes the odds get stacked against you, but that does not mean you need to give up.

img_5930

Moral of the story #2: my boyfriend, though awesomely supportive, is not great at action shots and therefore I have no presentable shots from the race… but I am not the prettiest runner so that is probably for the best.

 

 

Her lean legs are not like mine.

I have done a really good job being happy and trying not to get down about myself or how my body looks in the last year. However, I do still struggle. As I said a couple days ago, I made a new year’s goal to continue to seek out my happiest self. I also made a New Year’s goal to run 1000 miles this year, nothing to ambitious, but something I would like to do. On New Year’s Day I woke up with my hips aching, which caused numbness in my thighs. I think it spawns from a spine deformity I have, but I am not sure and I feel like, though I could run, it would make things much worse. So on day 3 of the New Year, I have already slipped up on one goal. But this morning, after breakfast I slipped up on another one.

As I mentioned earlier, I still struggle. I don’t think about some things I used to struggle with as much. For instance, when I started eating more, I would panic each time I went to Einstein Bagels because I was so used to only get a fruit cup and coffee/ latte there (what used to be all I ate the first half of the day). But now I barely think about it when I order a bagel with cream cheese or a breakfast sandwich.

But there are other things that get to me. They get to me when I feel like I am failing or am anxious. I was feeling like a bit of an anxious failure this morning, because I was overly upset about not being able to run and because I am so anxious over my professional exam that I am taking Friday.

So as I was walking out of Einstein after breakfast, I saw a long lean girl in runner’s clothes. She had the ultra slim legs that I used to have. She may naturally have a slim figure like that, but I know I had to nearly starve myself to achieve the look. Either way- I was instantly aware of the size of my legs. That they have grown. That they are not sticks. That they have fat on them.  And as I passed the girl, she looked at my legs.

And for a moment, I was so ashamed. Why did I let my legs get so big? Why did I eat that breakfast sandwich? Why did I not run this morning? One irrational, angry question came flying into my mind, accusing myself for being healthy.

So I stopped it. Something I was never able to do a year ago and something I am very proud of. I turned the point of view from me to that girl.

What if she was looking at my legs out of insecurity? What if she struggled with what I used to? So I re-evaluated the situation, smiled at the girl, and walked out with my head held high.

What did that girl see? She saw a confident woman, with long non-stick legs, smiling and happy with all life has to offer her.

Her lean legs are not like mine. We are different. I am proud of who I am. And my legs are part of me, so I am proud of them too.

It’s okay to struggle, but don’t forget to stop and remember all the blessing in the life. Put your health and happiness first. And don’t forget to smile.

“A Smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.”

A Recap Of 2014

photo

A little recap of the time between Jan 1st (left picture) and December 21st (right picture):

On January 1st, I made a 2014 goal to be happy. To actively pursue happiness. Things didn’t always go my way this year, but I was happy. Really, really happy.

I can’t even begin to express how much I’ve changed in the last year. At the beginning of the year, I was still working on getting myself to an appropriate amount of calories. I had already made the big jump to the 2000s and was gearing up for 2200+. Of  course my ultimate goal was to stop counting, but that was something scary to be conquered later. Today, I am no longer obsessed with numbers. I eat what I want, when I want- while emphasizing a healthy balance.

In the left picture, I worked out about 5-6 days a week. I ran some days and was really making huge progress with my weight lifting. I haven’t been working out a whole lot lately (seriously, only about 50 body weight squats a day) and that’s okay! I know I need to start working out again, because I feel so much better when I do, but my focus the last couple weeks have been to study and when I have a free moment, to spend it with family and friends.

In January, there were so many things I wanted to change about myself, but more than anything, I wanted to learn to love my body. Today, there are things I want to improve on (such as entering the gym again), but I’m also very okay with who I am.

In January, my body image was terrible on days I went off my macros or didn’t go to the gym (see the banana incident here), but I learned from those days (see pretty much any of my prior posts). Now, I have bad body image days, who doesn’t, but when I do I certainly don’t starve myself or take any extremes. In fact, it has been 1 year and 9 days since I intentionally went to an extreme just because of a bad body image day.

I transformed more mentally this year than ever before and for that I am grateful.

I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my happiness.

And I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life that have supported me throughout this journey to regain my health and who I am (I am looking at all of you awesome people!).

2014 really wasn’t about the physical changes, it was about my mental transformation. A transformation I plan to embrace and adapt with for the rest of my life. If my goal for 2014 was to be happy, then my goal for 2015 is to stay happy, to spread happiness, and to continue to seek out what it means to be the best version of me.

It’s Better on the Other Side

I can’t tell you how to get better. Whatever it is that’s holding you back, I can’t tell you how to overcome it. I can’t convince you to stop your unhealthy habits- that’s all is up to you. What I can tell you- is no matter how hopeless your situation seems or how much it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble to “get better”—it is better on the other side.

That being said her is a little recap of my past couple of years:

I am naturally thin but my weight has gone through a 25-pound yo-yo since I was 16. The lows and the high within that range were usually when I had some pretty unhealthy habits.

[October 2012] Almost two years ago, I hurt my knee and without running and other high-intensity cardio, I snapped. It was not just my inability to run though—it was that I felt lost. I had friends and a job and I have a great family. But I did not like who I was. I have always disliked little parts about myself (sometimes I disliked myself more than other times), but something in me just boiled over and everyday I began to loathe myself more and more.

I started to become obsessed with getting smaller. I began to crave the feeling of hunger, it was like some challenge that kept me engaged in my life and before I knew it I had dropped down to the size I was when I was 14/15 (I was 19 at the time).

I knew what I was doing was wrong, but part of me just didn’t care. Part of me was proud of how I could shut up my voice of reason for the sake of being skinnier.

People say that this kind of obsession is about being able to control something in your life, but I think its the opposite—its about surrendering control of your life to an evil little voice in your head. I think because I always felt like I had to be in control that I just wanted something else to “take the wheel” for a while.

I relinquished my emotions- I smiled, but I wasn’t happy. Bad things would happen, but I Wasn’t fully sad. I was kind of just numb.

[January 2013] I got to a point where it is not an even a debate of “should I eat this”, because that voice had already told me “no.”

I remember not wanting to gain control back over my health and happiness because it was so much easier being wrapped up in the sick numbers game of “how low can you go.”

[May 2013] But then there was the “bright light” in my life (here I get a bit cheesey)—my boyfriend. I had been dating him for few months and began to fall for him more and more. He made me feel like there was so reason to care. I didn’t want him to worry about me not eating enough or not being able to enjoy the little things like splitting a sundae.

I started to see that there was to life than being numb to the world. Did I really want to be so cold all the time? Did I really want to have inverted boobs? Was I really okay with letting my body waste away?

I wanted to be happy. I was with someone who actually made me forget about the little voice in my head and I was ready to take advantage of that.

[October 2013] Skip to last October, I had gained some of my weight back and was starting to get a little bit healthier physically and was starting to gain more control mentally. I found all these girls on instagram who had changed their life for the better by restoring their metabolism through reverse dieting. They all seemed so happy and I wanted to be like them. But I was scared. I did not lift weights, I ran. And Lord knows I was not comfortable with eating more than 1500 calories a day (still an enormous leap from my 600 calorie days). I tore three muscles in my right quad and decided that was a sign to turn to weight lifting and to begin my reverse diet.

[December 2013] The first couple months were a struggle, but around Christmas time it hit me—I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with memories of how I dreaded holidays because I had to avoid all the food and questions from my family. That is not how you make good memories. And starting that Christmas, I started to feel free.

[February 2014] I stopped counting macros in February. I made the conscious decision to focus on all the wonderful things in my life. Sometimes I would still stress about hitting my untracked macros and some days I would track again- but it slowly became less and less important to me.

[October 2014] In the last 8 months I have changed my workout routine more times than I can count. Sometimes I work out a lot and sometimes I workout a little.

I no longer fit in the same clothes I did when I was in high school, but I am okay with that because I am happier and healthier than ever.

I realized there are so many wonderful things in life and there is no way I am going to let a voice diminish all the wonderful experiences I will have.

I know I could never let a voice of negativity take over my life again and that is a feeling of happiness and a freedom that I wish anyone who feels trapped in an emotional, or otherwise negative, situation could feel.

If you feel you aren’t worth the change for the better- trust me you are.

If you think it isn’t worth the fight for your happiness- it is.

We all struggle through things, but it is through those struggles that we can appreciate the greatest happiness.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

image-3

Setting Priorities and Enjoying Vacation

This will probably be a part 1 of 2 thing… BUT here it goes!

In three days I leave for a cruise to Mexico. In order to prepare, I have admittedly been eating less processed foods and working out a bit more than I had been a month ago. I was just trying to peak on my confidence in a bikini. I wanted to be as “firm” as I could when I went on vacation. And this thought has me torn. Do I not think I look good enough in a bikini now? Is it some crime against humanity to have a little meat on my bones? Why did I instantly think “vacation- oh better slim up”?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with what I was doing physically (If you want to eat a little healthier to firm up a bit before a beach vacation then great- just don’t kill yourself doing it), it was more of the mental pressure I was putting on myself. I hit a breaking point when I went bathing suit shopping and all the bathing suits didn’t cover any of my butt and pinched at fat I didn’t want to believe I had (seriously though, why is the bathing suit trend to have 75% of your ass hanging out? I don’t get it…) and I started crying. In a target dressing room. Definitely not my proudest moment. 

So I called my boyfriend that night and let it all out. I said I hated that nothing fit and that I work so hard and my hard work just doesn’t show. I said I was dreading getting in the bikini and that I had initially wanted to get a “cute poolside bikini picture” but now that was out of the question. And here is what he told me: “Do you think Beyonce or J Lo fit in those itty bitty size bikinis?! Do you think they can get just any old pair of jeans or bathing suit bottoms? They are not the smallest women, yet they have some of the best bodies in the world! They have fat and muscle and look AMAZING! And so do you. Plus who says you have to be an extra small or a small to wear a bikini?! Just go up a size! You look incredible and you are healthy.” My rebuttal was that he was right, I just wished my size was more muscle and less fat. 

Less fat for this vacation. Looking firmer for a picture. Becoming “bikini ready”. And now I am sitting here thinking, “who the heck am I trying to impress?! Am I trying to get an effing swimwear modeling contract on this boat?!” Uh no…

So now I am re-evaluating and putting things in perspective. I have fat, but really nothing even close to excessive… just a healthy amount. I am also happier than I have ever been. I also am going on this vacation to have fun with my boyfriend, who thinks I look great in a bathing suit. And why did I want a poolside picture? To post on Facebook/ instagram- BUT WHO THE HELL AM I TRYING TO IMPRESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA?! Nobody. That’s who. I need to not focus on impressing others and just focus on having a great time.

The only reason I want pictures now is to remember this amazing weekend. And if I post them awesome! If I don’t who cares?! I am happy, in love, and going on a cruise with my favorite person… that’s a whole lot more important than having a poolside pic that shows off a six pack (that I most likely will never have-but I am cool with my tummy as is it because it isn’t half bad).

NOW WITH THAT BEING SAID, this is how I plan to enjoy my vacation:

Phone off and away

Working out ONLY if I want to

Eating what I feel like (without over-doing it- no tummy aches from over-eating!)

Enjoying poolside drinks

Dancing my heart out at night

Putting away school work 

Not giving a flying f*ck what anyone else thinks (except my boyfriend, but he loves and supports anything that makes me happy- so I don’t need to worry about that)

ROCKING THE HELL OUT OF THE BIKINI BECAUSE I SAY SO AND NOT BECAUSE I FIT SOMEONE ELSE’S STANDARDS

Building Foundations

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

I posted about the importance of healthy foundations on my instagram a few days ago, but I feel the need to expand and emphasize exactly how important it has been for me to create a solid foundation on which to live your life.

Our foundations will all be created in different ways, but our foundations are what can stabilize us in the most critical conditions. The stronger you build your foundations, the more you can withstand. Never neglect your foundations, when times are good focus on strengthening yourself (body and mind alike) because that will contribute to those foundations.

Last year, I neglected all the positive things in my life and focused on all that was negative and as a result I let my foundations kind of crumble down, so when additional challenges were added to my schedule I sort of fell through the cracks (more so than I ever had before). Climbing out from that mindset was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My mentality caused me physical pain and suffering because I classified everything in the wrong way (for my post on how I try to reclassify my struggles click here).

The past three months have been a full dedication to being truly happy and healthy and focusing on all the blessings in my life. The combination of eating a healthy amount, working out to get stronger (not to get skinnier), smiling more (and meaning it), and taking time to look around and be thankful for all the positivity that I am surrounded by (everything from people to weather, my puppies to my education) have resulted in the strongest foundation I have ever built.

Exactly what does this mean for me? It means that when I spent all of my spring break working then got the news that I was missing two classes I needed to graduate this May—I didn’t panic (well not for long). I did everything I could to remain calm and find a solution. Did I handle it perfectly? No. But did I let it break me? Definitely not!

Now I am: enrolled in 21 credit hours (including one Master’s level course), completing my thesis, organizing a student leadership day for junior high student, working 5 days a week (I take two days off because I am at school from 7:30-5:35 on those days), and dealing with the never ending stream of tests, case studies, and miscellaneous other responsibilities. I am lucky to workout three times in a week.  But- I am still eating over 2000 (mostly very healthy) calories a day. I am still staying positive. My body is hardly changing. And I know that when my schedule opens up, I will get to go back to my beloved workout routine.

Until then, I am resting easy on my strong foundations.