Age 5: healthy weight
So, I've been running and doing other exercise for the past six months. Actual running has been involved for a little over five of those months. Reliable sources have led me to believe that if a person sticks with something for six months, chances are good that she will stick with it for much longer, possibly even the rest of her life. That's cool, reliable sources, but I'm hedging my bets by paying for races that require training. I've also added running with friends to the equation like an extra layer of protection. Better safe than sorry, I say.

Anyway, the real point of this post is that, as I run and do Pilates and practice yoga and lift weights, I'm getting thinner. Because I didn't weigh myself at the start and have only weighed myself twice since (most recently on Labor Day weekend), I don't know how many pounds I've dropped. I do know that pants that were embarrassingly tight in July are now comically huge on me. Form-fitting clothes, which I would have avoided as recently as September, feel good and look flattering today.

Not only has my body gotten smaller, it's become less jiggly. When I walk or run, I can feel muscles flexing and relaxing instead of an extra layer of insulation wobbling. (It could be just a dream but, if it is, it is a good dream.) Bones that used to be entirely hidden by extra flesh are now peeking through, promising to become even more prominent (in a healthy, not a disgusting, way) as I keep up the good work. Muscles that once needed much coaxing to appear hard and toned, now look flexed and ready to go when I'm just sitting or standing around.

There have been so many other benefits, too. My balance is much better - I don't spend half an hour after waking each morning trying not to trip over myself as my muscles get used to this whole moving thing all over again. My lungs don't scream from walking up one flight of stairs. My body is actually tired at the end of the day and, as a result, I sleep soundly and wake refreshed.

But, let me tell you a secret, for all its wonders, my changing body is a little scary, too.

I've been a "large" woman my whole life. I've seen pictures of a five-year-old me, in which I'm a healthy size, but I can't remember what that felt like. There were a couple times in high school and one time between college and grad school that I lost substantial amounts of weight. Most of those occasions involved either very little exercise at all or a staggeringly limited array of exercises (30-60 minutes on an elliptical every weekday for eight months and nothing else). Diet helps shed pounds but you can be thin and still jiggly. The elliptical helped somewhat with the jiggle but I'm surprised I kept up with it as long as I did since it was SO BORING.

After 25 years identifying as the fat girl, no matter how slender I become, she will always be a part of me. I know how to be the fat girl. In very many ways, it's comfortable to be her. This new, thinner, decreasingly-jiggly body is a strange land for me. Judging by the clothes I'm wearing, I'm about to enter territory I've never traversed, having mostly stayed around the borders of the land of Healthy Weight. It's going to take some time to understand the ways of the people here and become fully assimilated.

I will continue to question whether that size medium actually fits or if I should try to cover up the lump that just won't go away with something a little baggier.

I will be surprised when I see someone who weighs 150 pounds pack away half a pizza.

I will be self-conscious about (while, at the same time, proud of) the stretch marks that will remain on my arms, stomach, and thighs, no matter how much weight I lose.

And I will notice every bump or lump or bulge that might mean it's all coming back - maybe not forever but for a long time to come - because it always seems to happen slowly, when you're not paying attention.

I'll get there. Staying there, taking up permanent residence is the scary part.

They're Everywhere

You know how when you get a new car, you start noticing that EVERYONE has the same car you do? Well, since I began running, I've started noticing that runners are EVERYWHERE. I see them in the morning as I walk in to work, in the afternoon as I'm leaving work, along the road as I drive. Where I never see them is in my neighborhood where I run.


I think I'm jonesing for a running buddy. Any slow pokes out there in Baltimore want to jog with me once or twice a week?

Go Away! (Wait! No! I Don't Mean You.)

This morning, I was contemplating whether I should do some yoga. Almost immediately, what I'd like to call the Gollum-part of my brain began questioning why I would want to do something so silly. After all, yoga makes me hot and sweaty, sometimes I look silly or fall over while I'm doing it, and it fatigues my muscles.

For most of my life, I've identified as "non-athletic" and let myself off the hook for most non-required physical activity. And, as we all know, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. The longer I rested, the more reasons/excuses/justifications the Gollum-part gave me for continuing to do so.

But now, even though I know that I enjoy moving my body, that Gollum-part, full of reasons, excuses, and justifications, still makes a valiant effort to derail me from every workout. With the advent of my adult-onset athleticism, it has even added a few new lines to its repertoire.

"You ate so well today, you don't need to exercise, too."

"You ran 6 miles last night. Sure, yoga will stretch out your sore muscles and strength training will help you run faster next time but YOU RAN 6 MILES LAST NIGHT."

"Look how far you've come. Isn't the point you've reached good enough? Why don't you just take it easy? Forever."

Etc. Etc. Ad Nauseum. It's nasty little voice tries to soothe me into complacency.

As I listened to this script playing in my mind today, I felt disgusted that I was still listening to the Gollum-part. Then, confused by how my mind continues to fight something I know every bit of me enjoys. Finally, I made a decision.

From now on, as often as I remember, when the Gollum-part speaks up, I'm going to respond, "SHUT UP! You don't speak for me. I'm going to see what my body can do today. It might be a little. It might be a lot. But it's going to be something. Go away and NEVER come back!"

And, some day, just like in the Lord of the Rings, the Gollum-part WILL go away. Only, in my world, he'll never come back.

It's an imperfect metaphor. So sue me.

My First Official Race Recap (5K Edition)

I heard somewhere that there are more races run in the USA on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. After all, what better way to assuage one's guilt for eating a ridiculous amount of calorie-rich food than to run hard before the marathon of eating begins?

Yesterday, I took part in this glorious tradition by running my very first race ever. I was looking for a 5k in November and, when I discovered that one of my running friends was, too, I decided to join her in whatever local race she undertook. So, Stacey and I ended up registering for the 40th Annual Millersville Turkey Trot.

I was feeling some race jitters the night before we ran. Falling asleep wasn't a problem but I woke up around 3 a.m., then again at 5 a.m., and, though I was able to doze off, I had a nightmare. My clothes were too small. I couldn't find the start line. My ID was missing! It was a mess. Fortunately, the actual race went very smoothly.

I arrived at packet pick-up around 8:15. There were a lot more participants than I expected. Last year, there were just over 500 finishers. This year, there were over 900!

When I got into the packet pick-up line, there were only about ten people ahead of me. By the time I got my t-shirt, there were about eighty behind me. Timed that right! Almost as soon as I had my shirt and bib, I turned around and saw Stacey. She helped me find the bathroom and showed me how to put the timing chip on my shoe (a process I somehow made ten times more difficult than it should have been).

We got to the start line in plenty of time but, due to the large number of participants, the race started about fifteen minutes late. While we waited in the crowd, we overheard a guy behind us complaining about how slow people and children mess up races. I started cracking up as he informed his friends that, from now on, he was only going to run "serious" 5K's. I sort of wanted to punch this guy's pretentious face, but I was also a little sad that he couldn't just relax and have some fun. I understand the desire to do your best but, holy crap, don't be a douche about it. (Btw, I abhor the word "douche," as an insult but, if you had heard this guy, you would have realized he was the reason it came into common usage.) Do they publish a list of "serious" 5K's? If so, I want to get one so that I can run slowly with an empty stroller in front of that guy.

Anyway, once we started, it was great. I felt like I was going my normal pace but, at my first split, I was only at a little over ten minutes. For me, that's phenomenal. There were some hills, so I tried to make myself slow down and I even took a couple short walk breaks, but at the two-mile split, I was at an 11-minute/mile pace and still feeling great!

I was amazed by the people I was able to pass or stay with through the entire course. My thoughts were not judgmental just rather amazed at how far I've come in three-and-a-half months. Just goes to show that fitness cannot be judged by looking at a person.

As I drew nearer to the end of the course, I desperately wanted to put on some speed but I just kept my pace until I knew I could pick it up and finish strong instead of pooping out just shy of the finish.

I crossed the finish line at 35:16, beating my goal time by almost a full minute. I was giddy! I grabbed an apple and hunted for Stacey's red shirt among the crowd. We posed for the picture above and then I spotted another friend, holding his daughter, among the spectators, looking for us to finish. He'd missed our triumphant jogs across the line but it was still great to see Stu and Isabelle and hear Isabelle say, "Good job, Kate!" (even if it wasn't until hours later).

Only the first 100 finishers got ribbons but I wore my new race t-shirt (after I took a shower) for the rest of the day and was proud to answer people's inquiries about how it had gone. I'm constantly amazed at and grateful for how interested and supportive people are of this new pursuit.

Now that I've officially "competed," I can understand why runners do this often and why they go for longer and longer distances. It's so cool to take part in an event with so many people doing an activity that can be very solitary. It's interesting and fun to push your limits and realize how much more you can do. But it all went by so quickly - that 35 minutes passed in the blink of an eye - so it makes sense that people, especially people who can finish 5K's in 15-25 minutes, would want a greater challenge, something that lasts longer, after putting in the hours of training required.

The verdict: I'm glad I've already got some other races on the docket. Woot! Can't wait to run with (or behind :) Danielle, Katie, and Rebecca in the coming months!

Races I'm Going to Run

08/17/13 - River Valley Run 10k - Baltimore, MD
09/01/13 - 1812 Challenge - Watertown, NY
09/14/13 - 9/11 Heroes Run - Arlington, VA
10/05/13 - Houghton Fun Run 5k - Houghton, NY
10/12/13 - Baltimore Running Festival 5k - Baltimore, MD
10/19/13 - Runner's World 5k AND 10k - Bethlehem, PA
10/20/13 - Runner's World Half Marathong - Bethlehem, PA
12/14/13 - Celtic Solstice 5-Miler - Baltimore, MD
04/08/14 - Hot Chocolate 15k - Philadelphia, PA
05/03/14 - Frederick 5k - Frederick, MD
05/04/14 - Frederick Half Marathon - Frederick, MD

I Love My Thighs

Never in my whole adult life have I been able to honestly say that I love my thighs. They and my upper arms have always been the two pieces of my body that I wanted to hide under clothing as frequently as possible.

But now, I'm saying it, loud and proud, "I LOVE MY THIGHS!"

Let me be clear - these parts are still wobblier than I would like. I'm working on that, not because I feel ashamed but because I want to see what they can become.

I love my thighs because they move me.

When I look in a mirror as I'm walking past, they don't jiggle. They are becoming more and more like the thighs I so admire in swimmers and runners that flex powerfully with each step.

These thighs of mine are evidence that I'm changing from the inside out and I'm proud of them and me.

I love that these thighs are one of the things that will carry me through my first race - this Thursday in Millersville, PA - hopefully, in a time I can hardly bring myself to believe is possible.

What's your favorite of your parts?

My Apologies (Sort Of)

I know, I talk about running incessantly. You're starting to get bored and annoyed with all my chatter. I'm sorry in the I'm-sorry-you-feel-that-way way not in the I'm-sorry-I'm-doing-it way. It's not going to stop. I've already got races in mind for the next eleven months. If I make it through all that, I can't imagine I'll give it up.

Some reasons I'm going to keep running AND talking about it:

1) I've never felt this good about myself in my entire life (except maybe when I had 4.0 semesters post-high school). Running has given me an amazing sense of confidence and accomplishment that is dependent only on what I do or don't do, not on what other people say or think about me.

2) I can't remember a single time in my life that my body has felt better than it does now. Even with the seemingly inevitable aches and pains of running, I feel strong and energetic most of the time. And, when I am tired, I sleep great! It's not just my muscles and lungs that are working better, it's everything. A few people have even said my skin looks clearer and it was pretty clear to begin with.

3) Running is fun! Sometimes it's the most fun when it's over but, unlike any other exercise I've ever undertaken, running gives me a joy, a feeling of freedom, like I can do anything I want to do. Knowing what my friends say about racing, I think beginning that part of my journey will just add to my already significant enjoyment of the sport.

4) Every run is a triumph. Every time I go out there, I remember that, as little as three months ago, the thought of moving my body seven miles without a car felt impossible. Now, every time I go a little further or faster, it's like I won another prize.

5) Through running, I learn something new every day - about the sport, about other runners, or about myself. I love learning! I've even had opportunities to share my knowledge (possibly giving unsolicited advice - I'm actually sorry about that if it annoyed anyone) and I love teaching as much as learning.

6) I'm an inspiration. I'm not being prideful - people have told me I have inspired them. It's amazing and humbling and touching to know that something I'm doing (that can sometimes feel totally selfish) is inspiring other people to make decisions and take actions toward bettering themselves. That's definitely something I'm not planning to throw away anytime soon and I hope that my perseverance will only serve as further inspiration.

So, I'm going to keep talking. I hope you'll keep listening and responding. But, if you can't take it, I'll understand. :)

Diving In

Before you read the following, I have to let you know that everything I'm about to say makes me feel like a complete poser.

I'm making a plan - a race plan, that is. These are words I never thought I'd say. Before starting C25K, running a race wouldn't have even crossed my mind.

But NOW, now that I'm thinking about it, the thought loops through my mind all day long. And I spend time almost every night looking up races near people I would like to visit.

I've got a 5K coming up next month (November 22 - Millersville Turkey Trot - Millersville, PA) before I stuff myself with Thanksgiving yummies! I'm hunting for a 10K in January or February. AND... dah dah dah DAH... I've chosen my first half marathon (April 28 - Flower City Challenge - Rochester, NY) and will be running it with (behind...far behind) one of my lovely college roommates, Rebecca, and possibly one of my favorite co-workers, Karin. In May, I'm running a Warrior Dash here in Maryland - mostly because I want a fuzzy viking hat.

After that, I'm considering doing The 18.12 Challenge, which starts in my hometown and continues for 18.12 miles to a battle site from the War of 1812 on the shore of Lake Ontario in Sackets Harbor. Seriously? Seriously. And, several friends have already noted, an 18 mile race in September puts me in pretty good position for a marathon in the fall. I'm not planning on that yet.

Phew! Even thinking about it is exhausting yet, somehow, completely exhilarating at the same time.

So, I'm going to start training. That word - "training" - intimidates me, makes me feel completely out of my depth and, as I mentioned before, like a total poser. But I'm going to do it. Until now, this running thing has been all about getting fit and losing weight and feeling better about myself. Those goals still apply, but as I'm getting closer to reaching some of them, it's becoming more about pushing myself, improving my time, increasing my distance, setting a goal and crushing it as often as possible.

Anyway, I think once I run 13 miles at a go, the occasional poser-y feeling should wear off.

Feel free to offer any advice as I begin my training journey.

Races I've Run

07/20/13 - Hot Buns Run - 31:51 (5k PR)
06/15/13 - 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut - 3:02:29
05/18/13 - Warrior Dash - 1:28:47
05/11/13 - The Color Run - untimed
05/05/13 - Frederick Half Marathon - 2:29:53 (HM PR)
04/28/13 - Flower City Half Marathon - 2:39:14
03/09/13 - Georgetown Ten-Miler - 1:56:18 (10-mile PR)
01/27/13 - Penguin Run 5k - 32:42
11/22/12 - Millersville Turkey Trot 5k - 35:16

Under Pressure

Okay, I'm willing to accept my share of the blame for the people around me jumping to conclusions. Apparently, when you write "Marathon?" on Facebook and suggest that possibly, just maybe, you will run a marathon at some time in your life, that means you are intending to run a marathon in 6 months to a year.

If I'd only known before I posted it! But I didn't and now that cat's out of the bag or something.

So, my lovely, encouraging friends are talking to me about doing a marathon and saying, "I'll run the first mile with you!" and "Let's do it!" The problem is that I am still actually undecided about this. I don't know if a marathon is a goal I'm interested in setting. I don't even know for sure if a half-marathon is in my future.

Mostly, the issue is that I'm a little bit stubborn. I don't like to do things because other people think I should. I want to do things because I want to do them. I don't want people to have expectations and goals for me.

More importantly, I don't want people to be disappointed if I don't live up to their expectations - and running 26.2 miles is a pretty big expectation.

This running thing - it's all new for me. I'm still not sure how far my mind and body will let me go. And I'm a bit overwhelmed by what it means to TRAIN for a marathon. There's so much to think about and plan.

And, I have this little thing inside me saying, "If you want to do it, you can't just do it, you have to do it well, you habitual over-achiever." And that little thing is not interested in watching me slog through a marathon at my current 13.5 min/mile pace and it has absolutely no confidence that I will be able to reach the 9-10 min/mile I'd prefer.

So, "Marathon?" really is a question in my world, not a vague and sneaky way for me to wave my arms and say, "HEY EVERYBODY, I'M GOING TO RUN A MARATHON!!!" I promise, when I make that decision, I will wave my arms and shout "WATCH ME! WATCH ME! WATCH ME!"

In the meantime, I am so grateful for everyone's encouragement (so keep it coming) and boundless confidence in my ability that I sometimes lack. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Am I Serious?

Baltimore Running Festival
On Saturday, I spent half the day at the Baltimore Running Festival. I didn't run, I was there to cheer on some friends and co-workers

We cheered from two different locations. Our first observation point between miles 15 and 16 was a bit subdued - populated only by those who knew a friend would be coming down the road. The finish line was a completely different story. There were hundreds of people, lining both sides of the path, cheering everyone who passed. Running through that line, feeling those encouraging vibes in the last two miles of the race would set me up for 2 to 3 months.

Less than three months ago, I was still telling myself, "Running is boring and painful. Why would anyone want to do that for 5 minutes, let alone 4-5 hours straight?" Even a couple weeks ago, my opinion still went something like "Running can be fun but I still don't understand long-distance running." My time at the running festival opened my eyes - just a little bit further.

I'm beginning to see the attraction - the satisfaction in training, the energy during the race, and the sense of accomplishment at the finish line. I'm even beginning to believe that, with sufficient training, I could do it.

Does that mean I'll be running a marathon? I guess we'll see.


Most of my closest friends live far away - some farther than others. At times, this fact is sad and distressing, almost a cause for despair. However, in the past year I've realized that it can also be a cause for rejoicing.

Though I miss living daily life with my friends - facing the mundane details side-by-side with my people - there is something to be said for having every visit be an occasion. When I want to see most of my oldest and dearest friends, I have to plan and coordinate to make it happen.

While the need to plan can sometimes be frustrating, it also means that when I'm with my friends, the time is for us to spend together. It doesn't matter what we do, we are more focused on enjoying one another than we might be if our visits were easier and more frequent. We know that our time is limited and I (I assume, we) cherish even the time spent doing nothing together.

And, as a bonus to all the amazing friend time, visits to my people can also be amazing retreats.

I get to spend hours reading at a friend's cabin.

Or watch the mist rise over a lake in early autumn at other friends' lake house.

Or write in my journal with only occasional (welcome) interruptions from little people.

My friends' homes are places full of good times and good people but the fact that I must travel to see them gives me the chance to get away from my normal life on a regular basis. It's beautiful. And, no matter how much I would love to be nearer my dear ones, distance has its benefits.

I'm a Runner

The title of this blog may make you think, "Duh." Maybe a few of you even said it out loud. After all, even to me, it seems like running and exercise and diet are all I ever write about on here (and on facebook). But, I didn't realize how true the statement "I am a runner" has become in my life until today.

The last time I ran, before today, was September 1. That's when this stupid pain in my foot kicked in. I've been exercising since - aerobics, strength, flexibility, yadda yadda yadda - but it has all been in service of the ultimate goal: once again lacing up my running shoes and hitting the streets.

Having been pain free for more than a week, I decided to take a calculated risk and go for a jog this morning. I got up around 7, dressed in my decidedly non-fancy running duds, popped in my ear buds, and headed out the door.

Even as I started, I was thinking I'd just walk. Then I opened my C25K app, regressed to week 6, even though I was only one session away from week 8 when I got injured, and pressed "Begin Workout."

I was a bit nervous when I started jogging the first time - completely tuned in to any warning signs from my foot. My stride was clumsy at first but it smoothed out more quickly than I expected. Everything felt great.

When the C25K coach told me to begin walking, I was a little disappointed. I felt no need to rest but I followed her instructions. Throughout the second jogging section, I was thinking, "Maybe this foot injury isn't really a problem. This feels good! I LIKE RUNNING!!!"

That's when the thought hit me - I'm a runner. An injured, newbie runner, yes, but a runner nonetheless. I think I even had a tiny runner's high.

It was during the third jogging section that I got my first twinge. I kept going for a minute or so, feeling it out. When the pain didn't subside, I slowed to a walk - a very disappointed walk, I must say - and finished my trek home. I was nearly 2 miles into my run before I felt any pain at all. AT ALL.

The moral of this story is that, whatever the doctor recommends (we've been playing phone tag for the past couple of days), the ultimate goal of any treatment plan for my foot will need to be getting me back out running with the fewest number of invasive procedures possible. After all...


Broken Foot (or Complain, Complain, Complain)

Usually, when I go to the doctor, I leave feeling better. Maybe not 100% better but, at least, confident that there is a direction that will lead to healing. Didn't feel that way so much leaving the podiatrist today.

Today, leaving the doctor's office, I felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me. For nine weeks, I had been on track, holding steady, taking control of my health, and really beginning to enjoy running. Even after her initial assessment, the doctor seemed confident that it was probably just tendinitis. She had x-rays taken just to be sure it wasn't something with the bone.

Well, it was something with the bone. I saw the x-ray and thought, "What is that extra joint doing there?" Turns out, it wasn't an extra joint but an old fracture that had never been properly diagnosed or treated and had, therefore, not properly healed. In fact, the bone that broke didn't heal back together at all. You can clearly see the split in my x-ray. That means, that one of the bones in my foot is not bearing any weight at all - so the other bones and my muscles and tendons have to take up the slack. Which has led to tendinitis and the pain I've been experiencing. The doc hopes we can treat this with orthotic inserts but, if that doesn't work, surgery may be the next logical step. Surgery! On my foot! And I didn't think to ask whether she thought the inserts would be enough to get out running again or if that was just a measure to make me comfortable.

On the way home from the doctor, I started crying in my car. They were tears of anger and frustration. Some of it was frustration that I can't do what I want to right now, which is to exercise pretty intensely on a daily basis. Most of it was anger, though, that when I was fifteen, my mom had to consider her pocketbook when deciding whether I should receive medical care... anger that when I was fifteen, I knew how tight money was, and felt like I should downplay my pain to not stress/worry my mother... anger that whatever has to be done now to fix it will likely cost much more that it would have and be far more painful than it would have been to get it treated right away.

I know there are alternatives - I can find other activities to do - but right now it feels like they all involve gym memberships and/or expensive equipment that I can't afford. Running only requires a good pair of shoes and almost everything else is optional for the distances I can do. And aerobics requires a good floor space and a few DVDs borrowed from the library.

There are certain to be positive developments in this situation and I know there are lots of worse things that could have happened but, for today, I'm feeling down and I won't apologize for it.

The Anxiety of Rest

Last week, I was on vacation. It was truly lovely to visit one of my best friend's and her beautiful family but, while there, I experienced unexpected anxiety.

I've been at this exercise thing for two months now - twice a day, six days a week. I know, it sounds crazy but it makes me feel good. While I was in Houghton, I wanted to ease off a little, enjoy some rest and relaxation. I still worked out most days, but only once. I even got a really great run in with my amazing marathon-training Rebecca. I ran two whole miles without stopping - two runs in a row!!!

On the days I didn't get up in the morning to work out right away, I noticed that I spent many minutes throughout the rest of the day feeling anxious that I was losing momentum until I did some sort of exercise. In the back of my mind, there was (and is) this voice reminding me of the times I've started and quit in the past.

It taunts me, whispering, "Ha! This is how it happened before - you were going to take it easy for a week or you got sick or your muscles were extra sore and you never started again. You're a looosssseeer."

And, now, after a couple really great runs in Houghton, I'm injured. There wasn't a moment when it happened, so the diagnosis isn't obvious, but walking and running make my left foot and ankle hurt and it's a bit swollen. The pain is dull and achy, gone when I wake up but returning as soon as I've walked for a few minutes.

So, wisdom and running friends tell me that I shouldn't run on this foot. I probably shouldn't do aerobics on this foot either. If it doesn't go away in a few days, I'll need to go to the doctor. If it's the stress fracture I fear, it could mean 3-4 weeks of "rest."

And, I think I'm getting sick (sore throat and all that jazz), which is another good reason to rest and recover. But...

I DON'T WANT TO REST! I don't want to sit around. I want to run and do aerobics and practice yoga and lift weights. I want to finish couch to 5K and move on to 5K to 10K. I want to keep moving in the right direction, not stagnating on my couch. Most of all, I don't want to quit. I don't want to quit. I don't want to quit!

Please, dear God, don't let me quit.

This Always Happens

I've been eating more responsibly since near the end of April.

Now I'm tired of it.

I want to eat great big bowls of spaghetti covered in meat sauce and cheese. After that, I want cinnamon rolls or apple crisp with piles of whipped cream, not just one serving but two, maybe three.

This time ALWAYS comes. It's fun to eat right...for a while.

Some of you may be wondering if I just need to relax on the food, give myself a break. The thing is, I do. And, when I do, it just makes me want to "cheat" even more.

I'm okay with the way I need to eat to be healthy and fit until I let myself have sweets or french fries or pizza or any of the other things that used to make up my entire diet.

Old habits are fabled to die hard, but I think mine only suffer temporary defeats, after which they go into hiding to gather their strength and prepare for a new attack.

I guess it's time for me to prepare a counter-attack.

Die, habits, die!

Advice gladly accepted.

Dog Days Are Over

Florence + The Machine is one of my favorite bands these days. AND they happen to have written one of my favorite (running) songs.

Here are the lyrics:

Happiness hit her like a train on a track;
Coming towards her, stuck still, no turning back.
She hid around corners and she hid under beds,
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled.
With every bubble, she sank with her drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink.

CHORUS: The dog days are over
The dog days are done.
The horses are coming
So you better run.

CHORUS 2: Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers.
Leave all your love and your longing behind,
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive.


And I never wanted anything from you

Except everything you had and what was left after that too, oh
Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back
Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that

The dog days are over

The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
'Cause here they come

and CHORUS (X2)

A couple of weeks ago, I was running in the rain, and this song came on my iPod. Those of you who know me, know that I'm pretty good at keeping emotional demonstrations in check but I couldn't stop myself from crying as this song played and I continued to run. (Like the Everly Brothers before me, "[I] do my crying in the rain.")

I was completely overwhelmed by the idea of happiness coming after me, seeking me out, insisting on being a part of my life. And I had this revelation that by running (and practicing yoga and eating right and spending time with people and the list goes on) I'd stopped running from happiness, joy, love, and lots of other good things.

There are a lot of interpretations of this song and most seem to have the common thread of running from an abusive relationship. Perhaps that's a proper interpretation but it doesn't ring true for me; I just hear the "warning" that happiness is coming - whether I like it or not. I think I'll like it.

The dog days are indeed over.

Brooks = Commitment

Brooks Adrenaline GTS12 - 11.5D
It's been a long time since I bought new sneakers. I can't even remember when I purchased the pair of Adidas that will be on their way to a donation bin shortly since they are a size and a half too small and far too narrow for comfort. The price I paid for them also escapes me, though I'm sure it was probably pretty cheap.

A couple weeks ago, after having completed two weeks of the Couch to 5K (C25K) program, I knew that the hiking shoes I was wearing wouldn't cut it as the jogging time in the workouts increased and the walking time decreased.

I had a decision to make. I'd flirted with running in the past, purchased cheap-ish, ill-fitting shoes from the clearance rack at DSW, and given up before I'd even really gotten started. I had to decide whether this was another flirtation or if I was ready to make a commitment to running.

About a week and a half ago, I headed to Fleet Feet in Pikesville for a shoe fitting. The woman who helped me, did an analysis of my gait, took several measurements, handed me a pair of socks to use, and then dragged out a pile of shoes for me to try on. She gently placed each pair on my feet, tied them, and then let me take a lap around the store. The Brooks Adrenaline were the third pair I tried. Another woman came into the store as I was trying them; she was wearing the same pair. She didn't even ask to try anything else, she just asked for another pair of Brooks. None of the other pairs I tried even came close to the comfort I felt with the Brooks on my feet; it was as if I wasn't even wearing shoes.

We tried a few more pairs, making forays into men's footwear since my feet are so big and wide, but there was always some part of the shoe that pinched or rubbed or just felt wrong. The salesperson had me try the Brooks on a second time, just to be sure. I was.

With my Brooks on, I was ready to make a commitment: Running is now a part of my life... least, until these shoes wear out.

Crazy Dance

For the past year, once every few months, I've had the opportunity to join my friend, Kris, on a trek up to her family's house in the woods. Others have come along on one or two of the trips but we get along fine with just the two of us.

It's a haven - a place where I can do almost anything I want to and that usually includes a whole lot of reading, talking, eating, and sleeping. This time, it also included some running, cardio, and canoeing.

The canoe ride was lovely. We saw two great blue herons up close, plenty of fish, some turtles, and a really excited kingfisher. We even brought our lunch and ate it on the water.

After our outing, I was waiting by the canoe while Kris went to get her car. Suddenly, I felt a sting on my back. I tousled my shirt and a horsefly half the size of my pinkie began flying around me. It landed and stung again.

The horsefly and I proceeded to dance. I picked up a paddle, flailed my arms, grunted and shrieked, and did everything else I could think of to get that blood-loving insect away from me. During this whole amusing scene, I didn't even notice that I must have looked like a crazy person to all the people waiting to put their boats in the water. And, even when I did notice, I didn't care.

Despite the fact that my "dance" must have made me look insane to those watching, it made me realize that I want to live my life not caring what people on the outside of my life care about my actions and choices - as long as I am making the best choices I can.

I love the Buchs' house in the woods. I always learn something while I'm there.


I've heard a lot of different rules of thumb about how long it takes to form a habit - estimates vary from as few as 18 to as many as 254 days, with the average being about 66 days. Apparently, there is a link between practice and progress (go figure). It seems that to actually form a new habit, though, you have to be ready to make a two-month commitment, at least.

As I was contemplating this information after my walk/jog this morning, I began to think of it differently. It may take two months to make a habit but, for me, it takes about one day to break it...maybe even one second/one decision that cascades into another decision and another. I am a champion at demotivating myself and, if I convince myself not to do something one day, it becomes that much easier to shrug it off the next.

So far, I have coaxed myself out of bed sixteen days in a row to work out - not including Sundays, which I've set aside for rest and recovery. Most days it hasn't been much of a struggle. In fact, I'm finding that morning exercise fits my motivation level and I enjoy the energy boost I feel from being active first thing. And, if I work out shortly after rolling out of bed, I don't have the whole day to talk myself out of doing it when I get home. An added benefit has been avoiding being outdoors in the heat of the day, which has been considerable for the past month and a half.

But, I have done this before. I haven't been a yo-yo dieter, with my weight bouncing up and down regularly, but I have been at this point before. I've gotten excited about exercise and healthy eating and even stuck with it for eight months or so two times in the past. Each time, some circumstance has given me a convenient reason to stop and I've climbed back up to the weight and down to the level of un-fitness I was before - a fact that can be incredibly discouraging to think about.

What I've realized, though, is that letting the baggage of the past weigh me down isn't going to help. I don't know how long it will take before I get to the point that I've truly formed a habit and it's harder NOT to exercise - maybe never. But, I'm committed to taking it one day at a time and not letting one bad day or one bad week or one bad decision derail my efforts permanently.

And I'm sure I can count on a little help from my friends if I do start slipping up.

It's My Body

It started in May. I had one last concert with my church choir and I needed to find a white shirt to wear. I don't like white shirts. I don't like clothes shopping. And I don't like buying clothes for specific events - it seems silly.

Anyway, I went to Target the day before the concert and found a top that fit. It wasn't ugly but it was sleeveless. I don't talk about it often (because I never want to be one of those girls who's constantly complaining about her body) but I've hated showing my upper arms for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, wearing swimsuits was a trial because I knew everyone could see my flabby upper arms and upper thighs and the stretchmarks that felt like a 10 foot high neon sign screaming "FAT." (If you've ever wondered, it's terrible for a kid to grow up worrying about such things.)

I bought the top, knowing that I'd only have to wear it for a few hours and that I didn't want to spend anymore time than I already had searching for a piece of clothing I'd be unlikely to wear again.

On the day of the concert, I reluctantly donned the top and packed a t-shirt so that I could change immediately after we finished singing. As I was driving, a funny thing happened. I don't know where the thought came from but, suddenly, I heard myself saying (OUT LOUD!), "They're my fat arms!" And, just like that, a weight dropped from my shoulders.

They are MY arms and why should anyone else's negative thoughts about my arms impact how I feel about them? My arms, however large or small, let me do a lot of amazing and important things that help others and bring joy into the world. They're my arms.

Then, a month later, I went to Wild Goose. (You might be asking yourself, "What does that have to do with anything?" Well, I'm going to tell you.) I went to Wild Goose... in North Carolina... in June... and it was HOT. I had dragged along a couple pairs of ill-fitting bermuda shorts but the heat and their largeness made wearing them unbearable so I went to Walmart and got some shorter shorts - shorts that might slip up a let people glimpse my flabby upper thighs. And I wore them without a moment's hesitation.

And, the best part of all...

...No one noticed or cared! Then I realized, they're MY legs!

There were explicitly body-positive messages at Wild Goose but it was the overall feeling of acceptance of people as they are that reinforced the things I'd already been thinking and feeling about MY body.

It wasn't long after Wild Goose that I started getting up in the morning to exercise. I've taken ownership of my body and now I have a different motivation to take care of it than I have in the past. So, now, here I am - loving my body for the amazing things that it can do instead of hating it for how it doesn't conform to artificial standards of "normal" or "beautiful." Why, just this morning I did the advanced level of my yoga workout with no problem. Yesterday, I walked/jogged 3 miles. And, a few days ago, I got through an intense Pilates workout without having to stop at all.

It's my body and I want it to last for a good long while even if I never get rid of the flabby bits that used to embarrass me.

My New Crush

It's not what you think, reader. This is not to be a gushy post about the new man in my life.

Over the past few weeks, I've developed a new crush. It's not on any man or woman or even a fictional character or inanimate object. My new crush is...


That's right, I said it. I'm crushing on exercise.

You remember what it's like during those first few weeks or months of a budding attraction...

It's like stepping into a whole new world. It's invigorating and intense. And just like every other time, this time feels different - fresh and bright.

My schedule doesn't matter to me, what matters is seeing my new object of infatuation. If that means getting up at 6 a.m. and going to bed before 10 p.m., I'll do it with no argument.

There is no limit to how foolish I'm willing to look in pursuit of this new beau, either. I'm even willing to sweat and that's asking a lot.

I want to talk about exercise all the time. Most of the time, I hold my tongue but I honestly can't understand why the rest of the world isn't as fascinated as I am.

There have already been some ups and downs and a little pain and I've wondered several times whether this growing attachment would blossom into long-term relationship.

Does exercise like me as much as I like it?

(So far, I think so. :)