Monday, May 19, 2014

Wandering towards The Middle Way

I have never been one to traverse the elusive "Middle Way", no matter what the topic is. I like black and white. I like defined and delineated. I thrive on planning, clear direction, and goal setting. Many times, professionally and otherwise, this mindset is an asset. However, it has contributed to a lot of pain and heartache in my personal life. 

Being physically active and eating healthfully without being crazed; Still working on it every. damn. day.

Let me illustrate: For me, “I think I’ll go out for a run” is two quick steps from “and why don’t I just train for my first Marathon!” I have this quirky all-or-nothing mentality that has caused me a lot of trouble, anxiety, and needless stress.

Looking back at where I was a year ago, in May 2013, I can see more clearly than ever the un-healthiness of the “Healthiest I’ve Ever Been” status I’d achieved. I was at my lowest weight - a weight that left me feeling cold even in the heat of summer, and having very low-energy, even for daily activities. I was physically active for at least an hour most days- to the point of it interfering with other life stuff.  I consistently tracked every calorie that went into my body, and rated each and every thing on this self-imposed scaled of whether or not it was a “good” food or a “bad” food. Of course, I was not allowed to let any “bad foods” enter my system.  I had essentially turned being thin and fit into a religion, one to which I was an enthusiastic convert, diving headfirst into orthodoxy.

Now, I’m reformed my worship. I’m still practicing in the temple of Fitness, but I am fitting it in to my life where it belongs. It’s a component of a well-rounded, happy me; it’s not all-consuming, it is not ME. Throughout the last year since my "turning point", even within all these struggles with food, nutrition, feelings, cravings, sadness, and exercise, I have been building a more resilient self. Deconstructing the tough, hardened, rigid self I had created and taking pieces to form a flexible, adaptable, authentic me.

What this looks like for me: the ability to exercise frequently or even participate in races without having to train for the Olympics. The ability to eat healthfully and nourish my body without going on a Whole 30, Paleo-inspiried elimination diet. The ability to get to a place of fitness where I feel comfortable, energetic and active without feeling like I’ll be PERFECT if I just loose those last 2 lbs.

I’ve been working hard at this elusive destination- this Middle Way of health/fitness. I’m moving towards it. Heck, I guess that being on the path to the Middle Way essentially means I am already traveling the Middle Way. Now if I could only quantify where the true Middle is? ;) Just kiddin'.

In the midst of all this flailing about, there is a LOT to be proud of:
  • I continue to flail. I fall and fail on a weekly basis, but I get back up. Each time, I am a bit better at picking myself up, I fall a little less far, and I can rebound more quickly.
  • I’m consistently making it to the gym several times a week- I have successfully cultivated a Gym Habit- that’s a big deal!
  • I’m still un-packing my eating issues. Overall, I am more relaxed with eating what sounds good to me, without a lot of restriction.
  • I've continued to take whatever action is available to get my elusive menstrual period back ,and most days, I can stop myself from flipping out that I haven't had it in more than 1.5 years. Most days.
  • I am working, with the support of counselors, through a lot of the emotional issues that put me in this mindset in the first place. Counseling is painful, terribly slow, and helpful. Also, sometimes it’s the worst.
  • I am falling back in love with exercise, for the simple pleasure of it. I have continued to run 2-3 times a week for fun, I am getting back in to yoga, and I’m thinking about a 10k race here in a few weeks.
  • I’d still REALLY love to become a Spinning Instructor, and I’m planning on registering for a certification course for the end of June. 
The gift of honest self-reflection is priceless. It's a gift that I try to give myself in the toughest times, because a little stumble on the path does not equal a back-breaking tumble down the hill of the Middle Way. As the amazing Cat Stevens would say,  There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

13 Races in 2013- Recap + Plans for 14 in 2014!

I've achieved a whole lot in 2013, if I do say so myself :) I finished the 13 in 2013 challenge, which means I completed:
  • Five 5Ks
  • One 5 miler
  • Two 10Ks
  • One 15K
  • Two Half Marathonsas 
  • One 18 mile Bike race
  • One unofficial Thanksgiving Day family run
For a total of 13 Fitness Events in 2013!! Hot Damn!! Here are some picture highlights:

Commitment Day 
Superbowl 5k
Corktown 5k
Falcon 5 Miler
Dexter-Ann Arbor 10k
Labor Day 30k bike ride
Heroes on Hines- 1st Half Marathon!
Detroit Free Press- 2nd Half Marathon!

In 2014, I have a few overall goals I'd like to knock off the check list:

  • a Trail Run
  • a Mini Tri
  • my first Marathon

and I've set my sights on completing 14 races in 2014! Now that I've done a year of racing, there are a few races I know I'd like to repeat, some I could live without doing ever again, and a few new exciting ones I didn't get to this year. They're listed in chronological order: 

Draft 2014 Race schedule (repeat races are underlined with notes)
  1. 1/1/2014 Commitment Day, Farmington Hills - 5k Run (w/ Mike!)
    • A REALLY fun/COLD way to start the year off right!
  2. 2/2/14 SuperBowl 5k, Novi - 5k Run
    • This is on Superbowl day- a great way to manage calories for an otherwise wreck of a day!
  3. 3/2/14 Fight for Air Climb, Detroit - 70 flights of stairs!
  4. 3/16/14 Kona St. Patrick’s DayPlymouth - 10k Run  (w/ Mike!)
  5. 3/22/14 No Frills All Thrills, Brighton - 8k Trail Run
  6. 4/12/14 Martian race series, Ann Arbor  - Half Marathon
  7. 4/11/14 Falcon 5 Miler, Bowling Green OH - 5 Miler
    • It was about 35 degrees this year. A nice outdoor Spring race to prep for a longer Fall race
  8. 5/4/14 Kalamazoo Marathon, Kzoo - Half or Full Marathon (w/ Mike!)
  9. 6/1/14 Dexter-Ann Arbor Race, Ann Arbor - Half Marathon
    • I did the 10k this year and enjoyed running a local race. Looking to do the Half this year.
  10. 7/4/14 Volkslaufe, Frankenmuth - 20k Run
  11. 8/13/14 Triceratops Tri, Brighton - .5 Swim, 12.4 Bike, 3.1 Run
  12. 9/6/14 Hippe Half @ Run Woodstock, Pinckney - Half Marathon
  13. 9/30/14 Labor Day 30k, Milford - 30k Run
    • Did this 18 mi bike race w/ my fam this year- will run it as mileage build up for a  marathon.
  14. 10/5/13 Sleeping Bear Marathon, Empire - Marathon
Overall, I'm trying to scale up my race distances month by month. I'm not sure if I want to try for a Spring Marathon, or one in the Fall? I did several Halfs this fall, so it shouldn't be out of the question to complete a Full in the Spring, right? I have taken somewhat of a running hiatus, but I'm beginning again this week and it seems that I'd have 20-21 weeks to train and build up my mileage.

The second big question is "Which Marathon should I choose?" I'd like to do a Michigan marathon for my first one, since it's my home. Right now I'm thinking about the Kalamazoo Marathon or the Sleeping Bear Marathon. Kzoo is in early May, and Sleeping Bear is in October. We're headed to for the Kzoo set of races either way- I think I've convinced/encouraged my hubs to do his first Half Marathon this year, and we've chosen to make a trip out of the Kzoo Marathon/Borgess Health Half Marathon. SO I could either train like a boss for May 4th, or I could make that a Half, and do several more halfs in prep for the Sleeping Bear Marathon in October.

Any thoughts from you runners out there? 

What races are missing that I shouldn't leave out? 

Is a Fall Marathon "easier" to train for than a Spring one?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Well-worn Road of Health and Fitness

Hi friends,

I have had a tough couple of months here, although I think I am turning a corner, finally.

This has been such a year of Highs and Lows. On the High side, I've learned and thought a LOT (too much!) about healthy eating, clean eating, Paleo eating, high-fat low-carb eating. I've hit some great physical benchmarks- completing my first and second Half Marathons, finishing 12 (will be 13) races in a year, loosing over 30 lbs, squatting more than my body weight. I've developed a regular gym habit, which I've sustained for over a year.

I have also struggled with a lot  of Lows this year. Over the past 12 months I have struggled with loosing my period (in February of 2013) and going through a series of tests & doctor visits to try to figure out what is going on, Getting down past my "Goal Weight" to a place that was not very healthy or realistic for me to maintain, a very tough transition of leaving a job at an organization I thought I'd be with for the next 5 years, intentionally having to gain weight back (and then some) in an attempt to regulate my period, and trying to make the transition to this new, great job as a normal, functioning employee who feels valued and respected. On top of all of that, I'm feeling ready and excited and even anxious to start a family with my hubs, yet I cannot do so because of the lack of a menstrual cycle.

The past 5 months, particularly, have been pretty low. Feeling like I have lost a lot of the physical progress I made due to intentional weight gain and then emotional eating. At first, I was gaining weight back to be at a body fat % where my period might return. Now I am definitely in a safe zone there, and probably heading back into the overweight category without successfully regaining my period. This has been a huge blow to my self-confidence and self-esteem. I'm now in the process, with the help of a counselor, of building my self-esteem back up.

I have learned some truly life-changing thing about myself in the past 12 months:

  • I have huge issues with  burying feelings that I can't manage and "dealing with them" through emotional eating. This "coping" mechanisms has been super destructive to my life in the past several years. 
  • I withdraw from friends and family when experience severe emotional distress, rather than reaching out, which is silly!
  • I have really missed music and  involvement in the Jewish community, two things I gradually, unintentionally stepped away from. I don't know how I became so disconnected from them, but I need them as a emotional and spiritual outlet.
While these two things are hard truths to bear, they will help inform my focuses for next year:
  • Reach out, connect, and put myself out there
  • Open myself back up to exercise- I can still have exercise goals without heading down a Disordered Eating pathway again.
  • Accept what comes next- if I get my period back, great! If not, we'll continue down the adoption path
  • My body is capable of amazing things- Running farther than I ever thought possible, lifting heavy things, and functioning on high efficiency when I treat it well
The summary of all this craziness is this: I can't and WILL NOT let fear and anxiety run my life any more. The best way for me to respect myself is to treat myself well. Fuel my body with whole, nutritious foods (with some treats in there too!), Get out and be active most days, and Continue to build and grow my awareness of myself and others.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this roller coaster of a ride! I'm looking forward to 2014 and renewing my commitment to this fulfilling journey I have started.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Race Recap- Detroit Free Press US Half Marathon 2013

Sunday, I ran the Detroit Free Press US Half Marathon the racing event I've been training for for the better part of a year! It was amazing, and lots of fun. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a well-organized Half in a big city that's lots of fun. I though I'd share some pics before I do the full recap, since I'm short on time tonight.
Here's me inside Cobo before the start of the race, getting all my gear on.
The US Half started at 10am, but it was still pretty cold outside as I was getting ready!
Hubs told me to do some poses- he specifically requested Reverse Warrior.
This is a conservative, non-race bib-ripping version of it.
There's me cruising through the start- right under the banner.
Can you spot me?
Action shot, right around Mile 10. Lookin' good!
I don't have pics of me at the actual finish until the official photos are shared.
Here's me at home right after the race with my bling!
Me and my love :) Freep 2013!!
I finished in 2:09:23- nearly 10 minutes better than my Heroes on Hines time of 2:18:10. I'm still on a runner's high from this race! More details and pictures to come in the next few days. Thanks SO much to my hubs, my mom and dad, and Mike's Uncle and Aunt who came out to cheer me on- you guys helped keep me moving :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Race Recap - Kensington Challenge 15K

This past weekend I competed in my longest race to date- the 30th annual Kensington Challenge 15k race at Kensington Park! I registered for it several weeks ago, as I had begun to panic about when I could fit in a longer practice race to gear up for the Freep.

The Kensington Challenge was a really nice course this year- somewhat hilly, which was tough, but a beautiful course though! It was chilly that morning- I must have taken on and off my top layer 10 times, trying to decide whether or not to race with it on. I opted to leave it off, which was a good call in retrospect.

I tried to start off the race at an intentionally slow pace, aiming for a negative split in the second half. It was a tough mental feat to talk myself through those 9.3 miles- that's quite a distance to run without a race buddy! I eyed several potential people and finally settled on a couple of fellow runners with a similar pace to me to be my secret pacers.

Once I finished the first 5k, I was feeling pretty good. When I finished the 2nd 5k, I was just focusing on finishing strong. At mile 8, I tried to kick it into gear for the last 1.3, and had a strong finish, coming in directly behind my anonymous pacers- thanks guys!!

My finishing time was 1:29:59 - an average of 9:40 minute mile. I'm really happy with the time! My main goal for this race was to run the entire thing, no walking breaks, which I did!

I'm glad I did the Kensington Challenge. I feel much more prepared for my half marathon now! I still have a few other races coming up in between; the Heroes on Hines half on October 5th, and Run Scream Run 10k on Oct 12th. I'm looking forward to each one, and hopefully bettering my times!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections on my Fittest Year (so far!)

Sept 7th, 2013 marked what I consider to be my 1 year Fit-i-versary:
On Sept 7th, 2012, I had my first fitness assessment at my gym. I had just joined the previous week, and I had barely begun my journey towards health and fitness.

Looking back, 2012 me would have been shocked by many of the things 2013 me has accomplished: 

  • Picking up running & ENJOYING it
  • Completing 9 fitness events/races including a 5k in under 26 minutes
  • Finishing my first Whole30
  • Hiking 13 miles in one day on the Appalachian Trail
  • Loosing over 25 lbs (& maintaining!)
  • Squatting 125 lbs
Even the fact that I've fit in a workout 4-6 days a week EVERY SINGLE WEEK for a year just blew the socks off my 2012 self. I've achieved lots of the short and long term goals that I set, and even knocked some things off of my 2013 "Bucket List".

Ringing in a new 'year'

I celebrated my Fit-i-versary of Sept 7th in a way I feel was very appropriate- giving a bit of my time to some truly inspiration athletes trying to achieve some of their own amazing goals. I spent the wee-early hours of Saturday morning at Run Woodstock, a weekend-long series of running events here in S.E. Michigan. I wanted to be a part of this awesome weekend, and I decided to volunteer as a Aide Station "Roadie" on the 50 K/50 Mile/100 K/100 Mile course. To see these incredible folks giving 125% effort was SO inspiring. 

Let me paint a quick picture:

I woke up, got dressed, made some oatmeal, and headed out the door around 4:40am on Saturday. I drove 40 minutes to get to Hell Creek Ranch, near Pinckney, Michigan, where the Run Woodstock weekend was being held. It was still dark when I arrived around 5:20am, and I could see lots and lots of stars in the sky! I parked, checked in, and drove with a new volunteer buddy to Gracie's Aide Station, where we'd be spending the next 6 hours helping race participants. It was really neat to see the runners, most outfitted with headlamps, trucking down the trails. At this point (6am), the 100 Milers and 100 K'ers had been going since 4pm!!! the previous evening, and the 50 Mile/50 K folks were just starting. 

Over the next 6 hours, I saw runners in elite form, and others who looked like this task was quite a challenge for them. I saw runners who looked amazingly unfazed by an 100 mile distance, and others who stumbled to the aide station and could not take another step. I saw a pencil-thin woman with a knee-gash get bandaged up and continue on the trail. I saw a father encourage his son, despondent by the distance he had yet to run, that he could and would finish. Many of the runners seemed to be over 40, if not over 50, which was an awesome surprise. 

I was really thankful to have had this experience, and to support fellow athletes in this way as I myself celebrated quite a year. As I drove home around noon, I spent some time reflecting on the key fitness lessons I've learned over the past 12 months.

Lessons from a year of Fit Living

Get Moving, and Keep Moving

It really is true- If you can make it to the gym, or to the start of your workout for the day, whatever it is, you're 90% there! Getting out 4-6 days a week and being active has been key for me; not only has it helped me to move to a healthy weight, but it's also been a stress-reliever, and allowed me to compete in 9 fitness events so far this year, a huge source of pride and accomplishment. If I feel like shit tomorrow, I'll still go to the gym. If I only do 30 minutes of cardio, no problem. 9 times out of 10, once I start my workout I feel better and I'm able to knock out a kickass session, whether that's 30 minutes or 90 minutes!

Eat to Fuel movement, not Move to justify Eating!

When you're looking to loose weight, you do need to create a calorie deficit somehow. This usually involves eating less calories than your body needs. Now that I am where I want and need to be, weight-wise, I have realized that I need to switch my mentality from working out so I can burn "enough" calories to one of "eating enough to fuel the awesome things I want to do". True athletes eat LOTS- enough so they can power through their practices, games, and events. There's no reason why it should be different for us everyday athletes; we need enough fuel to power our bodies and recover for another hard workout tomorrow!

It's all about Feeling Good

The biggest thing I've learned this year is that health and fitness are all about feeling good. Eat what makes you feel good. Occasionally, this could mean taking time for a cookie or a special treat. Most often, this means eating whole foods, saying no to processed junk, and eating until you're full; not less, and definitely not more. 

I learned that the same thing goes with weight- the weight you feel physically good at is better than the one where you look like a supermodel and can't make it through the day because you have no energy. In February, once I hit my goal weight, I just kept loosing weight. If I'm feeling and looking great at 110lbs, wouldn't 105 be AMAZING? I got down to 105 and found out that the answer is No; for me 105 or even 108lbs was not a sustainable weight. When I hit 106lbs and 17.5% bodyfat, I felt a little leaf, about to be knocked over by the wind. I was cold all.the.time, and I didn't really have enough energy to fuel myself. By all accounts, women can get down to 12% bodyfat and still be in a healthy range, but for me, this is not the case. I looked fit, I looked skinny, and I did not feel good. It wasn't worth it, and it took me some time to recognize those feelings.

I'm now at about 110-112 lbs, which is just fine with me. Not sure what my bodyfat % is, and I'm not sure that I care to know right now. I am learning to trust myself and my body. I have the knowledge and skills to make good food choices, to move and exercise in a way that will keep me at a healthy weight for me.

In Conclusion..

Lots of good things achieved, but I'm not done yet! This weekend, I'm headed to the Kensington Challenge for my first 15k, October 5th I have a "practice" Half Marathon at the Heroes on Hines race, all to prep for a MAJOR challenge- the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon on October 20th! I'd still like to take the Spin Instructor Certification this year- there's a class coming up in November so stay tuned for that! Thanks for your support and encouragement through my journey so far!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weekly Goals - wrapping up August!

It's time for some motivation and inspiration, in the form of Weekly Goals!

Here are my goals for the week of 8/26-9/1

  • 3 weights sessions, 45-60 mins each
    • Monday, Wed & Fri
  • 3 runs, including a 9.5 mile long run 
    • Tues (soccer), Thurs (long run), Sunday (short run)
  • At least 1 outdoor workout
    • Milford 30k Ride on Saturday
    • Hiking on Sunday 
Food prep:
  • Seasoned ground chicken for lettuce wraps
  • Ratatouile
  • Turkey Chilli
  • Hummus
  • Chopped veggies for nori wraps
  • Freeze bananas for smoothies
  • Eat enough! 1400-1700 cals, depending on the day and the activity level
  • Make sure to eat enough at breakfast so future meals are not rushed or too far between
  • Modified Whole 30, Week 3-
    • Try to fill more of daily calories with actual meals and not snacks (even healthy snacks)
Let's hear your weekly goals!