Find Joy in Exercise

36 weeksI’m not sure when it happened. I hated running. I always hated running. Didn’t I?

It was kind of a gradual thing for me. It evolved over time. Now I really love running.  I really would rather run than walk most of the time. I like the feeling of pushing myself, and the little adrenaline rush I get from running. running joyI actually even like the sweating. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. I also feel empowered by running. Like I’m getting stronger with each step, even when I’m tired or in pain. It’s a rush.

The first thing that usually happens when I tell someone that I run or about a run is that they tell me why they can’t run. “I wish I could run but…” sentences. Here’s the thing, me telling you about my run doesn’t mean I want you to join my running cult (and, yes, it is a cult). I really just want you to find your own joy.

Running means getting back that feeling you had when you were a little kid, and it was just about the wind rushing against you. I only get that feeling about 5% of the time but I live for that.

Running means getting back that feeling you had when you were a little kid, and it was just about the wind rushing against you. I only get that feeling about 5% of the time but I live for that.

I’m also really getting into yoga. At first it was because a running podcast suggested that runners who do yoga once or twice a week can improve their performance, but now I really love going to yoga class. Unlike running, where I think every single step (sometimes composing these blog posts), yoga pulls me outside myself. I focus on breathing and stretching and trying not to fall over. (I really do kind of suck at it).

If I had any words of advice for anyone trying to learn to love themselves is find something that you love that gets you moving. It doesn’t have to be running or yoga. It could be dancing, weight-lifting, walking, biking, swimming, or anything. As long as it give you joy. That is the only exercise worth doing.

A Magazine for Me

womens-running-august-issue-coverWhen I saw the cover on this month’s Woman’s Running magazine, I immediately went out and purchased a subscription! Why? Because I felt so validated and inspired. This month’s cover showcases the beautiful and strong Erica Schenk.

I don’t think I look that good running, but this is way closer to me than any other woman I’ve ever seen on any other magazine. There is this myth out there that only thin women run. Or worse yet, that if you were really running regularly, you would be thin.

I don’t care if this is a stunt, or pandering, or whatever motivates a magazine to do something. Someone pitched the idea of a plus-sized model for the cover and other people said, “Yeah! That’s a good idea!”

Better than that, when they interviewed her they asked her real questions. “How did you start?” “Where are your favorite places to run?” “What gear is always in your gym bag?” In fact, only one question focused on her body size, and Erica’s answer nailed it:

WR: Too often people equate “runner’s body” with “super skinny.” How do you think that affects runners?
ES: Some women believe that since they have curves they can’t run or shouldn’t run. Running is for every body anytime. (Read more)

I believe in showing support with $$. This is a subscription I'm happy to pay for!

I believe in showing support with $$. If I don’t like your company, I won’t buy your product, no matter how good it is. This is a subscription I’m happy to pay for!

Don’t Get Hurt

37 weeksI am almost 50 (37 weeks shy, to be exact) And here I am training for a half marathon. What if I get sick? What if I get hurt?

ankle2One thing I needed to learn (and I keep having to relearn, because, hey, I’m a slow learner) is that you can’t help yourself if you hurt yourself.  Negative self-talk is one way to hurt yourself emotionally, but in this instance I’m  talking about physically getting hurt. Sometimes you can’t help it (a car comes out of nowhere or you get sick or you trip on your own feet), but many times injuries are a function of overdoing it. Running too much and not taking rest days. Running in the dark. Running on unmarked trails in the woods. (FYI: I’m completely guilty of doing all of these, even though I know better.)

When I had my serious operation almost two years ago (which eventually became the catalyst to my transformation) I let myself heal slowly. I did a little bit more every day and worked my way back to health. It was a good plan.

yogaIf I got sick like that today I would have a much harder time being patient. I would want to rush my recovery (I see this every time I get sick) But time and again my experience has shown me that long-term results depend on short-term patience. And listening to your body. When something hurts, aches, or twinges – do something: Rest it, ice it, heat it, or get it treated!

My new rule is “If my mom or daughter told me these symptoms, what would I tell them to do.” And then I do that. Because I know I would give them the best care possible and the best advice possible. And I deserve just as much.

doit

Nourish Your Body Well

38 weeksIt’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.

Come on. We’ve heard that one before. I insist that my eating plan is not a diet, but many people argue with me that it is. lifestyle changeIn some ways my food plan is much more restrictive than any diet I’ve ever been on. In other ways it is so much more freeing for me than any plan.  If you are interested in the origins of my “cold-turkey” food plan or want more details about what I eat, you can check out the links.

The point is that my plan is about how I feel about food, not how much weight I lose. If I never lose another pound, I would stick to this plan the rest of my life because it feels good.

Through trial and error I found foods that nourish my body well, and when my body is well nourished I don’t have food cravings. Also, I can do wonderful things with my body, like run thousands of miles or walk millions of steps.

Nourishing my body means:

  •  lifestyle change2Feeding it regularly and never starving myself. No matter how much I ate yesterday, I’m not going to make up for it by not eating today.
  • Feeding it real, whole foods always. Nothing with preservatives or artificial crap. Organic when I can.
  • Feeding it nutrients it needs. Getting over my aversion to fats (I cook with olive oil). I eat whole grains. Plenty of protein and all the food groups.
  • Not feeding it trigger foods. For me that means no wheat. No bread, no pasta, no cereal. Those foods cause me to want to eat more and I lose control.

When I do all of this, I find it is much easier to stick to my plan, feel good about myself, and not feel deprived. Food cravings are the worst thing about dieting. I will do anything to avoid those.

Note: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or psychologist. Everything on this site is based on my personal experience and research and is my own opinion, not fact. My words should not be a substitute for your own research and experience and should never, ever take place of the advice of a professional.

Admire Your Reflection

39 weeksI used to only look in the mirror to do a cursory check. Is my hair brushed? Is there anything in my teeth? Are all necessary parts covered? I didn’t like looking at myself because the mirror meant seeing what I wasn’t, not what I was. mirrorwarning

One thing I’ve learned recently is that if you want to learn to love your body, you have to start by looking at it — I mean spend some time really looking. The more you look, the more you can find what you love about yourself. When I first started I only looked at the parts I liked – my hair, my eyes, my calves…

But over time I found that there was beauty everywhere: In my scars, my stretch marks, the fine lines forming around my eyes. Even in the flap of skin that hangs over my stomach. Even my birthmark. I needed to learn to fall in love with myself, and that started with taking time to look.

Like a self-esteem version of the John Legend song that goes:

In the Harry Potter books we learn that the happiest person in the world would look in the Mirror of Erised and see a reflection of them, exactly as they were.

In the Harry Potter books we learn that the happiest person in the world would look in the Mirror of Erised and see a reflection of them, exactly as they were.

‘Cause all of me- Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

(Listen to my daughter cover this song here)

Someone said to me recently that I look in mirrors a lot more now that I’ve lost so much weight, but the truth is they have that completely backwards; I started looking into mirrors more and that helped me get to a point where I could lose weight. The cart can’t come before the horse.

Goals Update

tryharderI missed making a New Year’s resolution this year, but in April I Dusted Off My Blog and set some serious goals for 2015:

  • One: Run a half marathon (Suffolk County Half Marathon in September) in less than three hours. (Note: I added the time limit after I signed up for the race.)
  • Two: Run 1,000 miles this year.

This past week I added a third goal:

It’s hard to check my progress on goal number three (being as it hasn’t even been a week), but I thought that since half the year is gone I should check in on goals one and two.

Goal number one is going pretty well. I’m officially signed up for the marathon and I’ve been clocking in some good runs. In June I ran my longest run (11.2 miles in 2:02:19) which makes me think that if the marathon were tomorrow, I could totally rock it. What I need to do now is maintain my current enthusiasm, and not get hurt!

miles_runGoal number two is where things look a little -iffy. In order to run 1,000 miles in one year, I would have to run at least 85 miles each month. Unfortunately June was actually the only month where I met my running goal of (I ran 102, actually!) At this rate I will have to run 102 miles (my best ever) every single month for the rest of the year to make my 1,000 mile goal.

Last year I found myself in a similar situation with my step goal during the first few months, but by the time July rolled around, I had bounced back and was confident I could make it (which I did!).

believe-quotes-11I guess there are two ways I could approach this. On the one hand, I didn’t make my 2015 goal until April, so I could technically make it 12 months from April rather than a calendar year. Totally legit, justifiable response, right? Or….

Or I could just suck it up, and try to hit more miles over the next six months…

If you have been reading my blog and paying attention I think you know which one I picked…

I’m totally going for it! 

You Are Fat. Own It.

40 weeksBefore I could even begin working on changing any part of myself, I learned that I had to love the person I already was. That meant learning to love my fat. Nothing else has been so important nor so difficult.  I started reading a lot of fat acceptance blogs and looking for motivation and inspiration from activists like Jess Baker and Ragen Chastain. Also people IRL, like my sister Nuchtchas, who is who she is every day.

LoveYourBody02smA few things I’ve learned about fatness and being fat. First, fat isn’t a four letter word. It isn’t something ugly to be hidden under oversized, tent shaped tops. It can be beautiful, sexy, and brave. It can even be healthy. 

The worst thing I have ever done is to try to not be fat. I’ve risked my health, my happiness, and my sanity trying to be not fat. I’ve tried diets, pills, any crazy idea that I thought might work. Some did (briefly) but weren’t sustainable.  Others made things worse. None made me happy.

In fact, even when I lost weight I realized that being not-fat didn’t change who I was.  I’m still me and at any weight, I’m still fat.

So now I embrace myself as a fat person. Regardless of my weight or the size pants I wear, I am a fat person and will always be a fat person. Once I own it, and can embrace it, I can move on. This is the heart of my self-acceptance program (and I’m still working on it) that allows me to be a better, richer, fuller me.