Saturday, February 21, 2015

Off To Paradise

So, I'm off to Kona, HI for a week. I lived there with my family for about 8 years through high school and some of my college years. This will be the first time I've been back since we moved in 1996. Almost 19 years. How is that possible? When we first moved, I'll admit I didn't really miss it. I was ready to live in seasons. And tired of what felt like endless long flights back and forth for holidays from college in Indiana. And missing out on seeing my family on the shorter holidays because it was too far to go for such a short time. But in the past few years, I've found myself longing more and more to go back and soak in the warmth, the incredible flower-laden air, the sound of the Pacific Ocean outside my windows. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I leapt at the chance to go. Wishing it was for longer than a week, but I'll take what I can get! The last place we lived there was right across the street from the water and we would take our kayaks across and paddle out whenever we wanted. The cottage we're renting on this trip is by the ocean and has a small beach right outside, so I'm hoping to spend a fair amount of time in a kayak and on a stand up paddle board during my days there. And planning to be active in other ways too. We've been planning for some hiking and I'll admit I've been dreaming of a morning run or two next to the ocean!

As I write this, I'm sitting on the plane, still at the gate, on my flight from St. Louis to Denver. Apparently Denver is on a ground delay as they try to remove the quantities of snow they got overnight. So, we'll be almost an hour late departing here. Thankfully, the ground delay means all the other flights are also delayed, so I'm praying my connection to Kona will be in the same boat. Either way, once we're airborn, I'll be getting closer to Hawaii. And I can't wait!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Day I Changed My Life

Two years ago I walked into a doctor's office and changed my life. Literally. It's something I've been thinking a lot about in the past few weeks and I finally decided to just write it all down in order to help me think through how much has changed. So, this is gonna be a long one. Be warned.

I've struggled with weight for most of my life, trying a wide variety of diets and going through phases when I'd work out a lot. Some of these had at least temporary success, but nothing ever really stuck. So, I suppose in reality I my life changed when I made the doctor's appointment. This particular doctor specializes in weight loss and a coworker of mine had been having great success with them and I figured it was worth a try. Can't hurt, might help, right?!

On the day of the appointment, I'd just come back from celebrating my 40th birthday with a huge group of family and friends in the mountains of Colorado where we spent our time sledding and snowshoeing and playing silly games. It was a better weekend than I could have even asked for. Strangely enough, I didn't even think about the fact that in just a couple of days I'd probably be put on a diet. And on that day, I just walked in like I was going to any other appointment. Maybe it was better that way and maybe it's an indication that I really was in the right frame of mind to start this journey.
Snowshoeing with the family for my 40th.

I will spare you the details of everything we talked about during that visit, but I knew right away that this was going to be different. That I was going to be different. They took blood and asked questions and did put me on a "diet" but all with the focus on making changes I could live with. When I went back for my first follow up, I'd lost 13 lbs. And progress continued from there. Not always in so dramatic a fashion, but a few pounds at a time, day by day and week by week. A metabolic disorder was discovered and corrected, meal plans were tweaked according to what worked and what didn't. And gradually I learned how to eat in a way that is healthy and sustainable long term.

After a few months just focusing on dietary changes, I knew I wanted to also add in some additional activity. I already walked my boxer, Malu, daily, but it wasn't far and it wasn't vigoruos. So, at first, I just started walking. I would go further and further until soon, on weekend days, I was walking up to 6 miles. At that point I decided I wanted to start running. I don't know why. Any of you who know me well will know that I've never been a runner. Hated it, in fact. But I was determined. So, I signed up for The Color Run 5k because I knew I needed the motivation and I downloaded a couch to 5k program. The first day, when it was hard for me to run the 1 minute without feeling like I would die, I didn't think I'd ever make it to that race. But I did. The first time I had a run that was so good that I got what people were talking about when they said they get a runner's high, I almost cried right there, running down the street. I had become a runner. A very slow one, but a runner all the same.

My first race actually ended up being the Lozilu 5k mud run that I did with 5 other women. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Some of those obstacles were pushing the limits for me. But it showed me that I could do more than I think I can and that it really is addicting to conquer something difficult. 

After the mud run

One of the most wonderful things through all of this has been the wonderful support of my friends and family. At our family reunion in August of 2013, a whole group of us cousins and siblings got up early on a few of the mornings just so they could all join me for my training runs. Some of my immediate family even came to St. Louis to participate in The Color Run with me.

With Stella, Michael and Ben

My Mama and I

Even my dad participated in the craziness

With Torsten and Corrie after we finished the run

I've been fortunate enough to have friends who also love to run, and have made others in the process. There are 4 of us who often run races together and then go for brunch and Bloody Mary's together afterwards. Not sure we always run off the number of calories that we eat, but we have fun in any case. Last year, on my birthday, we ran a 6K together in the freezing cold. Who knew I'd ever think it would be fun to celebrate by running? 

Michael, Me, Robin and Nik at the Stan Musial Memorial Bride 6K

And last May, at the urging of my brother, who said he'd run it with me if I was willing, I got to run the Bolder Boulder 10K. I ran it with friends and family and even more family cheering for us. It was a wild and crazy race and we're all signed to rock it again this year. Can't wait!

China, Seth, Me & Shira

Me and Phoebe

All told, I've now run 8 races from a 5K distance up to a 15K. And I'm signed up for a 5 miler and a 7K next month, the Bolder Boulder again this year and planning to register for and run my first 1/2 Marathon at the MO' Cowbell in September. Who am I?!?!

Of course, along with running, often comes the common running injuries. And I've managed to deal with a few of them so far. Shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knee issues...of course, the knee actually originated with a biking incident on the brand new bike I bought after my birthday. Let's just say that my first experience with clipless pedals (why are they called clipless when they actually do have clips???) did not go well. Completely different than clipping in and out of a stationary bike in spin class, let me tell you. And I have the orthopedist bills to prove it. I ended up missing a couple of races all together and having to jump from the 1/2 Marathon to the 5K in another because I just hadn't been able to train enough after recovery. But those injuries have forced me to be creative sometimes to find ways to exercise that wouldn't make the injuries worse. I've discovered that I love spinning. Its a brutal workout but for some reason, I just keep going back for more. And now, I'm loving high intensity interval workouts. I leave the classes feeling like I've gotten my ass kicked, but it sure makes me work harder than if I just trudge along on the treadmill on my own! And while I always enjoyed hiking and walking, I now think about those kinds of activities as a good way to relax and unwind. Vacations aren't just times to sit around now, but opportunities for me to spend more time out and moving. 

When my mom asked me what I wanted to do this summer while I was visiting them, my answers were all involved with hiking and trying out a stand up paddle board and going white water rafting. 

SUP on the Little Tennessee River in Franklin, NC
And for my birthday this year, I thought I'd better carry on the active tradition, since I showshoed 2 years ago and ran a race last year. So, this year, a couple of friends and I went hiking. 

Me, Julie and Jen hiking at Rockwoods Reservation. 
Notice I'm even wearing the lei my parents sent to me for my birthday

Sure, I still enjoy sitting with a good book and my feet up. But now I think about how I can spend a couple of hours being active and still have time for the lazy stuff too. I don't know why the time was right for this shift in thinking. All I know is that when I look back to who I was 2 years ago, I'm amazed at the different mindset. I'll never be the super skinny person or the talented athlete. And I'm perfectly fine with that. I don't need to run the fastest or the longest, but now, I look forward to challenging myself to do a little more, go a little faster if I can, try something new that my put me outside of my comfort zone. And the process, I've managed to lose around 90 lbs! Not too shabby. I've got more I'd like to get off, but it'll come off eventually.

In the meantime, I'm having a blast living this new life of mine. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Activity Log for 2/2-2/8

So, I am going to try to regularly post my workout info here. Mostly just as an accountability tool for myself. So, here goes for last week:

  Walked 1.54 miles on my lunch break at work
  Walked 1.92 miles with Malu in the evening

  Walked 1.54 miles on my lunch break at work
  Shred 415 workout - Butt & Legs (treadmill and weight/floor intervals) - 1 hr
  Walked .76 miles with Malu

  Spinning class for 45 minutes before work
  Walked 2.10 miles with Malu in the evening

  Walked 1.57 miles on my lunch break at work
  Shred 415 workout - Shredded Abs (treadmill and weight/floor intervals) - 1 hr

  Missed my lunch time walk because my boss and employees threw me a surprise birthday lunch.
  Walked 3.27 miles with Malu in the evening

  Spinning class for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the morning
  Walked with Malu for 1.89 miles when I got home because it was too gorgeous out not to.

  Ran/Walked 3.3 miles in the morning
  Hiked 4.02 miles in the afternoon with friends to celebrate my birthday

As you can see, my workouts are a little light on the actual running. The Shred 415 classes involve intense running intervals on the treadmill, but I haven't gotten much mileage just out running, so trying to remedy that soon! I'm aiming to run Forest Park this Sunday. And I may have to do a post about Shred 415 all on its own sometime. Its a crazy workout!

Hello World

I've been tossing around the idea of starting this blog for quite awhile. And who knows if anyone other than me will ever read it, but I think it will serve the purpose, at the very least, of getting all the thoughts that bounce around inside my head on a daily basis, out of there and into a form that will possibly help me make sense of it all. If not, it'll just be randomness, and that's ok too.

I expect this will probably be partly about the fun things I get to do with family and friends and partly running/exercise blog. And, of course, whatever else happens to pop out of my brain and onto this page.

As for the running and exercise side of things, that's a story all it's own and I'll be posting more on that later, as that story has been the driving force behind much of my life in the past 2 years.

Oh, and as for the name of the my life "Wild and Beautiful" all the time? Probably not, but I'd argue that the ups and downs of life are what makes it worthwhile and overall, I think I have a pretty amazing one.

I hope any of you who read this will enjoy being along for at least part of the ride!