Thursday, January 29, 2015

Signs 7 (A Pictorial)

This was supposed to be a wordless Wednesday post, but I forgot to hit publish.  And then, up where we are visiting Verizon lost all service, so I was without the internet until just now.  So it's wordless Friday....

Often we spend so much time wishing for signs that we forget to open our eyes, look around, and see that the signs are already there just waiting to be seen.  

Be a superhero with the powers you choose.

Be someone

It's true.  You are.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

People Watching

Forget malls and airports. There is no better place to people watch than a gym. 

Gyms are full of all types of characters.  There's tattoo guy, stinky guy, sweaty guy (sir, your sweat is literally flinging on me from two machines away), out loud singer girl and guy, treadmill dancing girl (okay, so sometimes that's me).  There's the yeller (I think it's too heavy, dude).   There's chatty Cathy (that's never me).  There's that person in class who doesn't care what moves the rest of you are doing, she's going to step-touch her way through the entire class.  There's the guy that insists on turning the TVs to FoxNews.  There's the dude in sunglasses and there's the girl who talks on her phone the entire time (my friends would kill me if I called them that early in the morning).  There's the couple in the group fitness room giving each other full body massages while laying on top of one another.  There's the guy who doesn't care that the elliptical is broken and making a terrible screeching noise with every stride.  He's not stopping to switch machines, so you'd better turn the volume up in your earbuds.  There's the dude working out in jeans and the guy silently passing gas on the machine next to you.  There's the picture taker (me).  There's the guy who stops to talk to everyone as if he's running for President of the gym.  There's the trainer who comes up to comment on your form at least once a day.  There's the guy who is going to sit on that machine checking his phone no matter how long you circle waiting to get on.
Have you heard the phrase, "it takes all kinds?"  Well, the gym is truly a world in and of itself made of up all sizes, shapes, and personalities.  If you are looking for some entertainment, just head to your local 24 Hr. Fitness.  The funny thing?  All these people have one thing in common.  We all love to sweat (some more than others).  We get the importance of physical activity.   We want to do our bodies good.  We love to move.  You should join us.  It won't be dull.
***Bonus story:  About a minute after I snuck this pictures, a man walked up to the woman and asked if she was an Indian.  He said her headwear made him think she was an Indian.'s a bandana.  What?!?!  I love gym people.

Who are your favorite gym people?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Weighing In

I try not to talk about my weight.  I fail more often at this than I succeed, but I try really hard not to talk about my weight or my struggle with body image and self esteem.  I try really hard not to talk about this stuff because I want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  I want to inspire other people to have all of the confidence in the world no matter what their shape or size.  I want to prove that we can do anything we set our minds to, even when our minds tend to be the enemy.  I believe in the phrase, "fake it 'till you feel it."  I try really hard to spend my time and energy focused on anything other than my body.  I don't want to promote the weight/appearance obsession of our society.  I want to rebel against the notion that we all have to look a certain way in order to be perfect.   

But, today I am going to break my rule.  Today I'm going to talk about my body and my weight issues.  Why?  Because I want you to know that we all have them.  Not only do I not want to talk about my weight or body, I don't want anyone else to either.  Let's stop the obsession of bodies.  Ours or anyone else's. 

Some people see me as very small.  Other people see me as not-so-small.  And some see me as very out of shape.  What I'm trying to say is that I know how you see me might impact how you take what I'm about to write, but I hope it won't.  I hope you can see what I'm about to write as totally unrelated to my actual body size/type and more about what I see and how I feel.

I obsess over my body.  I have been obsessive over my body for as long as I can remember.  Mostly, I obsess over what I consider to be flaws in my body.  The main "flaw" I obsess over is my belly (but my butt, arms, and chin don't escape that easily, they get the third degree too).  I stare at my body in the mirror at least three times a day.  Willing it to shrink in size.  Sucking in to see what could be (if I had no body fat or organs).  I breath out looking at what is.  I weigh myself daily.  I let that number effect how I feel about myself each morning.  I spend each day feeling either good or bad depending on how tight my pants are.  When I feel fat, I feel unhappy.  That's the ugly truth of it.  How "big" I feel is a huge determining factor of how good I feel. 

I'm not proud of the fact that this is how I feel.  I am actually horrified by it.  I spend a lot of time and energy fighting all of these negative thoughts.  I also spend a lot of energy hiding these thoughts from other people.  Intellectually, I know I'm not fat.  Intellectually, I know that even if I was fat it shouldn't change how I feel about myself.  Intellectually, I know the crazy is all in my head.  Intellectually, I know that I am right where I need to be on the BMI scale and that I am fit and strong and healthy.  Intellectually, I know it's insane for me to hate my body.  I know all of these things.  And that's why it is such a struggle to fight how I feel.  Because most days, I feel pretty terrible about how I look. ***Wait, maybe I'm being too negative here.  I think the more accurate way to put it is that 9 days out of 10 I am hyper aware of the size of my body.  Even if I'm not feeling badly about it, I am feeling something about it.
But here is why I am coming clean with this embarrassing and way-too-personal confession:  I want you to understand that you have no idea how someone feels about themselves just by looking at them.  I want you to know that when you decide to weigh in on their weight, you have cannot imagine the damage you can cause

The other day, I was approached by what I would call a gym acquaintance (you know, that guy who always comes up to talk to you when you're in the middle of a sprint on the treadmill and aren't in the mood to chat at all).  And, he approached me for no other reason than to tell me that I am really filling out now that I'm not in training for a race.  He said "filling out" while motioning to his face/chin and making chipmunk cheeks.  This one unsolicited comment sent me running out of the gym and sobbing in the car, in the shower, and finally on my husband's chest.  I couldn't stop crying over what he said.
A couple of months ago a girl I had always been friendly with spent an excruciatingly long time telling me how much weight I'd gained since she last time she saw me, noting that I really had  put some "meat on my bones."  She went on to say that she barely recognized me since I wasn't skinny anymore.  Her words, no matter how ludicrous, stung like crazy.  They still do. 
And I've had it the other way too.  I've been told before that I looked so skinny I needed to go to the doctor immediately.  I've been told that I really need to eat at least a couple hamburgers.  In my entire adult life, my weight has pretty much fluctuated within ten pounds and the majority of the time it's hanging out between the same four pounds.  Think about what that means.  In just ten pounds (at the very, very most), I go from being called sickly thin to unrecognizably fat.  How can I, someone who already struggles with body image, take anything from that other than I am a total failure at looking "good?"  I'm either too thin or too fat.  How am I supposed to live with that?
Here is the deal: I work very hard at keeping the crazy at bay in my own head.  I work very hard to find the positives in my body and to not really let all those negative thoughts win out.  Some days I'm better at it than others.  But for the most part, I've become good at recognizing an obsessive thought for what it is and trying to move past it.  But, when other people start chiming in and echoing (and in turn, validating) the thoughts I've worked so hard to lock down ("you're too this" or "you're too that"), I have a really hard time not letting the crazy thoughts run wild.  This is why what other people say can be so damaging.
I have no idea why people feel comfortable approaching me to tell me what they think of my body.  I wish they wouldn't.  I really, really wish they wouldn't.  I can only think that it's because we have all become so obsessed with body and weight that we can't think of anything else to talk about.  I truly don't know.  What I do know is that we have to stop.  We have to stop commenting on each other's size and shape because we don't know what is going on in someone's head or with their body.  Who knows why that person has gained or lost ten pounds?  Who knows how they feel about it?  Maybe they are happy with how they look.  Or maybe they are really, really unhappy about how they look.  Either way, it's not really our place to weigh in on it.  Seriously, we give ourselves a hard enough time as it is.  We don't need to hear it from other people.  Please people, STOP WEIGHING IN ON EACH OTHERS WEIGHT.
**This has taken me days to write and I am still having trouble with the thought of publishing it.  No one wants to let the world in on their deep secrets and thoughts.  But, I also feel it's important to put this out there.  I truly don't think that all of the people who have told me this and that about my body meant to hurt me (okay, maybe one or two did).  I think they just didn't know the damage they could cause.  So maybe, just maybe, this little confession will make one person out there stop and think before they comment.  And if that happens, then maybe it's worth exposing myself like this. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

M.I.A. But Thinking Of You

Sorry, guys. I know I've been a little MIA this week. I've temporarily traded in my running shoes for these guys. 

Do you think these miles count?  Pretty sure I've logged quite a few of them if they do. 

I just wanted to take a second to tell all of those Houston Marathon runners that you are on my mind. Looking like it's going to be good weather down there for a PR. You all are totally going to kick this race's ass. You've got this. Now just stay off your feet today, carb load (if you have trouble with big pasta meals, I'll go ahead and do a little carb loading for you myself - I'm really giving like that), lay out all of your race day gear, make sure all of your gadgets are charged, get a good night's sleep, and TRUST YOUR TRAINING!!

Remember, every step you have run until now has prepared your for your next steps. 

My virtual race signs:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Eyes On The Prize

Now that I'm officially old, I've started listening to podcasts on my way to the office instead of pop radio (I'm pretty sure "talk" radio is the official sign of being a geezer).  I came across this TED Talk the other day and I really wanted to share it with you.
Click Here to read or listen to Emily Balcetis' TED Talk about why some people find exercise harder than others. 
It's a great reminder to all of us runners the importance of keeping our eyes on the prize.  When training is hard and miserable, look towards the finish line and know that it's not as far as you think. 
And, more importantly, for all of us it's a reminder that life is all about perspective.  Life is how we see it.  If we keep focused on our goals, the road to get there doesn't seem so far.  It's only when we get distracted by outside obstacles or inside deterrents that the finish line feels so unattainable.  We must keep our eye on the prize.  We must live with purpose and intent and not let anything sway us from the path we are set on.
Have you set your goals for 2015? 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Saturday Rambling

This is what my winter weather running looks like these days:
I have many fond memories of bundling up on Saturday mornings and going for really cold weather long runs. But, with no race to train for, my runs are gonna be done in the warmth of a gym in tank tops and in front of a row of TVs.  

Isn't this the absolute worst?  Girl runner problems. 

Do your kids really watch this show?  From the treadmill and without sound this show looks insane and kind of disturbing. 

I really need to clean out my front seat. This is pretty much what it looks like all of the time. More runner problems. 

The Houston Marathon/Half Marathon is next weekend.  

I made an intentional decision not to run it this year. After having run the half marathon and full marathon of this race for several years, I think we need a bit of a break from each other. That said, as the race approaches, I can't help but be a little sad that I won't be participating.  Thinking of all the runners who are spending this weekend tapering for the race and wishing everyone lots of luck next weekend.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Twitter Wisdom

I came across this tweet recently and haven't been able to stop thinking of the wisdom contained in this one simple sentence, so I want to share it with you. 

Always run the mile you are in. Do not look forward in anticipation of the miles that lay ahead. Do not look back at the miles you have already run. Be present, aware, and appreciative of the mile you are running.  You can't enjoy the run if you never experience it. 
The same is true in life.  Too often we spend our lives so focused on the future or enveloped by the past that we miss the actual living part.
I don't believe this was actually said by the Dalai Lama, but that is completely unimportant.

I will admit being present is easier said than done.  We cannot successfully go through life with no plan for the future and we certainly must to look back at our past experiences in order to learn from our mistakes and heal our wounds.  But, we can't live there.  We can't live in the past or the future.  Life exists only in the exact moment we are living it. 
When I am racing, of course, I set out a plan for the entire run.  I plan how I will start, when I will accelerate, and how I will to close the run.  The plan helps me feel secure and confident.  Having the plan allows me to relax in the moment and experience each mile. But, once the plan is made and the starting gun sounds, I run only the mile I am in and I enjoy (or don't enjoy, as the case often is) each step as it comes.  Being present during the long run allows me fully appreciate the experience.  I cannot think about the miles ahead or the miles behind without losing sight of the race I am in. 
Life is meant to be experienced.  Life is meant to be felt and savored and lived.  When we aren't present we are wasting our lives anticipating a moment that has never been promised and squandering the moment that has already been given to us.  Each breath we take is an opportunity for an experience.  We are not given an infinite number of breaths in this life and the key to living, really living, is to take it all in, feel it, breath in it, and just BE in it.  Each breath is a gift and we must not waste that gift worrying about something that may never happen or tethered to something that already did. 
We must live in each moment and run only the mile we are in.

Monday, January 5, 2015

For The Glove Of Running

One of my Christmas presents this year was a pair of fancy new running gloves.

I decided to give them a go this morning as I set out running in the 40 degree winter weather (yes, 40 degrees is extreme winter weather in Houston). 

Now, I'm not normally a glove girl.  My hands are usually the first thing to heat up on a run and I find myself wanting to rip my gloves off about a mile or two in.  At the beginning of winter I usually buy five or six pairs of gloves from the Target $1 bin and use them as necessary and toss them in the trash cans along the trail as soon as I get sick of wearing them. 

But, I'd never had a pair of gloves specific for running so I was excited to try them out.  Half a mile in, the usual happened and I was sick of the gloves. I made my mind up to tell The Hubs we needed to return them. 

And then my foot clipped a crack in the sidewalk and down I went. Hard. I caught all of my weight with my hands. This was the result:

I guess the gloves came in "handy" after all...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Fail

You guys, 2015 has not got off to the greatest of starts. I'm beginning to believe there is something to the whole black eyed peas and cabbage thing, which I skipped this year for some yummy Cajun cooking in New Orleans. I now see that this was a big mistake, because my loved ones and I have really needed some better luck so far this year. Is there a January 3rd lucky tradition??  If so, tell me what it is.  I'll do it. I would do anything to get this year moving in the right direction for everyone. 

The running hasn't been so great either. This is how my Brooks spent the first two days of 2015:

I swear I had the best of intentions packing them for our trip. I really planned on ushering out 2014 with a run and ringing in 2015 with a run. Alas, neither happened. Mostly I drank and ate 2014 away and guzzled and gorged 2015 in. 

But today was the day I swore I was going to brush the cobwebs off and turn this new year around. I was going to run the bad off and welcome the new in. But, then the weather looked like this and I'm sick to death of being cold. 

So, I loaded up and headed to the gym for a 2015 date with a treadmill. But, then I got here and realized I didn't have any headphones with me and this gym plays no music and well, silent treadmill running just isn't my thing.  So, here I am.  I'm really close to the treadmills but hanging back on the arc trainer.  Maybe tomorrow...

You know what happened as I was typing this post?  I realized that it's only been 2.5 days!  I can't really complain about 2.5 days being crappy. There are 362.5 days to turn this ship around. 362.5 days left to have an amazing year.  Instead of focusing on the not so uplifting start to the year, I'm going to get excited about the uphill swing we're surely headed for.
And things are already looking up. Some girl just came by and gave me some free protein bars. 

Of course, she called me ma'am as she gave them to me, so there's still that....