My body...

So many things change when you lose weight. Especially when you lose a significantly large amount of weight. No one can really prepare for these changes. They go far beyond anything the scale can show you. I can write this post and try to paint a picture of my experience, but it really won’t do much. 

I was in the shower last week (cue porn music) when I reached behind my back and felt something funny…it was sticking out and had a curve to freaked me out! What was it? My shoulder blade! I had completely forgotten what it felt like to feel my shoulder blades in that matter…or to be able to actually bend my body like that so I can.

Shaving my legs is like going through a whole new terrain. Muscles that I have built…muscles that I have forgotten about. My strong calf muscles that almost roll like hills. I have knee caps again! I have ankle bones! And did they get longer?! I swear it takes me twice as long to shave now. ;)

I have elbows! I have a collar bone! I have hip bones! Who the hell knew I had all these bones in my body?!?!

It’s not about the bones though…it’s about the shape. The shape of my body that these bones create. I shape that was long forgotten about when I regained the weight. I forgot what all of these things felt like. Sometimes I will rub my arm and feel something and think there’s an issue. There’s no issue…it’s just my body expressing itself in a new way. It’s not being hidden under excessive pounds of my own gluttony.

One of the biggest times I notice the changes in my body is while I am running. The way my arms don’t rub against my hips. The air between my thighs...I mean they still rub together, just in a different way. The weight I lift off the ground feels different so therefore my form has been different. This is something I have needed to stay aware of while I run.

I’ll be honest and just come out and say it (Grandma, don’t read this part…skip to the next paragraph)…sex has changed too….with and without my husband, ifyaknowwhatimsaying, LOL!! #brownchickenbrowncow Obviously my confidence level in my appearance has greatly increased, but also the way my body moves…the way it feels…the way it reacts. Now I’m not saying it’s any better or worse than it was at my previous weight. I mean, skill is skill…but…it has been something that has been noticeably different.

Then there is the fact that I can cross my legs again. I think this is something most women forget about when they gain weight. I think I definitely took it for granted last time. I realized about a month or so ago that I could indeed cross my legs again. Eat your heart out, Sharon Stone! I don’t have to question whether or not I can squeeze between those cars (unless you park like a total jackass). I don’t have to worry about whether or not the towel will wrap around my body. I don’t have to worry about not fitting into the movie theater seat. The knuckles on my hands…the length of my toes...the shape of my jaw. My face! My face is so different and I have talked about this on my Facebook page. I think out of everything this is something that I've had to adjust to the most. And I still am adjusting. That change brings a lot of emotions with it.

Look, I’m not bragging here. I’m still overweight (though happy to announce to that I am no longer in the obesity category!). But maybe because I had lost/gained/lost all within such a short period of time I noticed these changed to strongly this time. I remember the feeling of being able to wrap a standard size towel around my body…but this time it just felt different. The feeling of joy was stronger. Maybe because I don’t take any of it for granted. Maybe because I never want to go back to NOT being able to wrap a standard size towel around my body.

I wish that I had paid a little more attention to my body in this way the first time around. I think we get so caught up in the scale and numbers and goal weight, maintenance weight, Points, calories, Activity Points, miles, ect. that we forget one of the biggest recipient’s to receive the bounty of our hard work with weight loss…our physical bodies. No matter your size, I encourage you to really take inventory and learn the map that your body creates. You are in this body 24/7. This body LET'S you lose & gain & maintain. Learn it...accept it.  

Catching the Excitement Bug

Excitement is a very contagious emotion. At least for me it is. When those around me are buzzing I tend to start buzzing as well. I can easily get caught up in the excitement, not really paying attention to if it’s the right thing for me to be excited about or not.

A good example was this past weekend. Here in Syracuse we have a 4 mile run called the Tipperary Hill Shamrock run. Pretty much every single person I know who runs in this town was going to be there running this past Saturday. I myself have never ran it…even years ago when I would run most local races that are 10K’s and under.  But I have just never had any interest. Though the after party always sounded nice, the hills did not. It’s in an area I’m not familiar with and while my Irish blood loves a good shamrock themed run, it just didn’t appeal enough to me.

But hearing everyone talk a few days before about the race and seeing everyone post their excitement on Facebook about it got ME excited. I contemplated signing up. Even though in my head I told myself no because A.) Hills and B.) The post party does not interest me any longer, obviously and C.) I had planned to have my own running adventure the next day, when the weather would be a bit warmer.  But all of a sudden I was double questioning myself and these plans. Maybe I really did want to run this race.

No…no, I didn’t. I just caught the excitement bug.

I’m glad I didn’t run that race. Because the day after I went out on my own adventure and ran a glorious 10 miles. I even tackled….HILLS!! I even did…HILL REPEATS!! Who am I?! It was a great run and I had a really great time. Those 10 miles were completely unplanned and spontaneous. I ran those 10 miles like I had hoped to run the Lake Effect ½ marathon….and how I hope to run the Syracuse ½ in 2 weeks (seriously...PUUUUHLEAAASSSEEE let me have a run like this during a race...I can't handle another struggling race.)

Running with the Lake Effect Run Club has been one of the best things to come into my life. The friendships I have made and the support and encouragement is like nothing else I have ever experiences before. It’s very similar to a Weight Watchers meeting…but I’d even go as far as saying a bit more intense & involved. But I don’t need to do everything that the club does. I don’t need to run every race that most of my friends are running. For one, I can’t afford it and also, not every race is for me. That doesn’t make me less of a runner or not as dedicated.

Listen…I love running (mostly after I am done actually performing the physical motion of running). I don’t dedicate my life to it. I don’t consider myself a “fanatic” of running. I don’t live in running clothes (hell I don’t even wear sneakers other than when I am running) and I don’t consider half marathons to be something that I can do in my sleep…and that’s A-OK.  It doesn’t take my miles away from me, or weaken the heart that I put into running. 

I have to remind myself that I run for *ME*. I should be signing up for races because *I* want to run them. I have to be careful to not get caught up in others excitement and put myself into situations that maybe are just not for me. There will be many other races coming up this year where I will feel like I should be there. Maybe some of them I will be, but there will be plenty where I wont...and that's OK. That’s not to say that I shouldn’t get inspired or challenged by their enthusiasm. But I should always be keeping my own goals in check.

This really goes for anything…whether you’re wanting to lose weight, enter your first race, start a family, try that croissant/donut hybrid love child…you have to choose to do something *when* it is right for you and because it is right for *you*. Let others excitement inspire you to reach for greatness within might not always be the same path, and the details may not be the same, but in the end it's all for the same outcome...and that's to be a stronger version of your current self. 

Lake Effect Half recap...

It’s taken me some time to write this, as it’s been hard to go back and emotionally visit. This has been written in bits and pieces so hopefully it will make sense and have some sort of flow to it…
Sunday, February 22nd was the Lake Effect ½ Marathon. This would be my 3rd time signing up. But it would be my first time finally running it. This race was a BIG DEAL for me. This race was pretty much me coming full circle in what has been an amazing year for me. For the first time ever I actually followed a training plan and ran consistently (minus the 2 weeks prior to the race where I would nurse a calf injury).

This race was the hardest ½ marathon I have ever ran. Both physically and mentally. And that doesn’t seem fair.

I’ve been trying to write my recap but it’s been very difficult. There are emotions here that I honestly just don’t want to revisit. I’m not going to go into every detail.

The weather was not great, but not AS bad as we have been experiencing. The temps were in the high teens/low 20’s and while it wasn’t snowing during the race we did get some significant snow the night before. While some parts were clear, others were slushy, slippery or just down right snow covered.

My struggle started at just about mile 3 and it never stopped. It never let up. 

The terrain of all that slush and trying to avoid bothering my calf or falling and slipping in the mess us runners were creating was a challenge and it was tiring. But my main issue was that I could not keep my heart rate down. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath and for the life of me I could not get a steady breathing rhythm. This wore me out the worst. Thankfully my friend Mary had an inhaler so on the turnaround I was able to get a puff off of that. It helped a bit, but not for long. The air, while warmer than the negative temperature we’ve had, was still cold. Especially coming off of the lake…yes, the entire course takes place next to Onondaga Lake.

My lungs were begging for mercy. Also, I have never, ever been so thirsty in a race. I couldn’t get enough water. And I was plenty hydrated. I will forever be grateful for my friend Lauren who came out to cheer us runners on, as gave me her water bottle when I was complaining of thirst.  As I would run past a fire hydrant I would envision hooking up a hose and drinking out of it. Yes, I was THAT thirsty.

The course loops twice. This course is also the same place I run almost every time I have ran in the past 5 months. It’s been either at the parkway, or on my treadmill. To say that it was boring was an understatement. I expected that to be a problem, and it was, but I had bigger problems that were craving my attention so I didn’t dwell on my surroundings too much.

My calf was surprisingly OK. It didn’t bother me too much.  But my legs were tired and my quads were on fire. You definitely run different in conditions like those that we faced. You could see the physical struggle on the faces of many runners.

I did not imagine struggling so early on in the race. I really expected it to pass. And when it didn’t, when I couldn’t even get my breath steady, I instantly felt like a failure. I can’t remember the last time I was that mean and negative towards myself. I thought awful things. On the first turn around I saw my husband and I went over and threw my Yaktrax on the ground by him. I remember starting to cry and seeing my friend Brandi and my Uncle Timmy there. I didn’t want them to see me like that. Frankie told me I could stop…all I remember next is taking back off onto the course.

It would only get worse from there. The mental aspect of this race was the hardest part. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought that many negative thoughts about myself. It’s a place I care to never visit again and every day I fight to stay away from it. But Sunday I could not escape it. The one question I kept asking myself over and over again was “Why?!?!”….why was this happening?! I had trained! I was smart! I was prepared! WHY?!?!?! I was berating myself with every step. I hated myself and all I wanted to do was bury myself in the snow. I felt like a failure. Even after I finished I felt like a failure. I couldn’t get that feeling to go away. Not during, not after…and honestly, I am still fighting with it today.

I wanted to drink. I wanted a beer so ‘effing badly.  There were so many moments when I thought “screw sobriety”.  I had honestly convinced myself a few times that I was done being sober and that I was going to drink. And it wasn’t going to be one beer…it was going to be ALL THE BEER!!  (Side note: this right here is why I need to stay sober…there is no “one” beer with me)

I was embarrassed, and I hated feeling embarrassed…it’s not an emotion I am common with nor one I care for at all. I run for me and only for me, yet I felt like I was running for everyone else and that I was letting them down. I hate this feeling probably most of all.

On the flip side…I am damn proud of myself. There were so many times when I could have given up…I could’ve quit….I could’ve stopped trying all together. But I didn’t. I finished! I got my medal! I added another 13.1 to my list! I didn't back down. I knew I fought a good fight when my husband gave me a super strong hug at the end. I’m happy though to put this race behind me. I’m happy to say that I signed up, showed up and finished it up.

 *I have to give an extra special shout out to all of my Lake Effect friends….for your support on and off the course. And to Brett, for not only crushing that course on his own, but coming back out and running it with me to make sure I crossed the finish line. I couldn’t have done it without out. You showed me that day what true friendship really means. Thank you.*
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