Happy Blogiversary To Me

So I’ve been blogging for 11 years!! (Off and on) I’ve grown and changed so much. My first blog started as a weight loss blog before I ever heard of HAES or fat activism. 

11 years ago I was desperately unhappy and thought how I looked and my size were a measure of my value as a person. I thought running was something you did if a bear was chasing you. I thought Forty was really old. 

An awful lot has changed in the last decade plus one. I have changed careers, homes, and significant others. I have changed the name of my blog. I have lost and gained the same hundred pounds over and over. I have run thousands of miles for fun. I have learned a lot and also refused to learn some things I should have. I am happier and healthier at fifty than I was at 40. I’m curious to see where I will be in another 11 years. 

11th Anniversary is “steel” which works for me; I’m made of steel!

Staycation

I’m not having the best week. Work is hard. Working out is hard. Food issues and body image issues that I thought were behind me are creeping up again. In general, life is hard. 

But now I’m taking care of me for a few days. 3 vacation days (plus weekend). Starting now, I’m taking 5 full days where I’m turning off emails, politics, drama. I’m looking to feed my soul. I’m focusing on friends, loved ones, family. 

We aren’t going anywhere. I’m not setting up a “to-do” list. I may or may not run. I may or may not sleep till noon. I plan on having a lot of sex and alcohol may or may not be involved. 


Most of all, I’m taking a vacation from judging me. To celebrate, I’m taking a beautiful sunset walk. Lots of pics. Lots of rests. Lots ofcontemplation and introspection. No thoughts of shoulda, coulda, woulda. 

For five days. Ready? Set. Go! 

Ode to a Bad Run

It’s too early.
I’m too sick.
     everything hurts
It’s too cold.
    too snowy. too icy.
I really dont want to.

OK, I’m dressed.
Are you happy now.
   Two pants.
     Three sweaters.  
        Wool socks. Gloves. Hat.
It’s still too cold. 

One mile.
That’s all I’m doing.
   sore
   breathing hurts
   is that a cramp
How can I run?

…well it is pretty,
I’ll give you that.
But I’m too slow.
I’m dragging.
I look ridiculous.

Isn’t it supposed to get easier? I’m not having any fun. 

One more mile.
I’m not kidding.
that’s it. I’m done. I…
huh? Look at that… 

I’m done
somehow
huh?

I guess it’s better than no run at all. 

Snow Day Workout

cat-in-snow19Does shoveling snow count as one of my weekly workouts? My fitness app doesn’t include it as a setting but I’m seriously counting it.

christmasThursday we got a huge snowfall that kept most sane people in-doors. I looked at the snow and decided to leave it right where it was. I was happy to use the day in the house as an excuse to take down my Christmas decorations (don’t judge, I’ve been busy).

Friday was really cold out. Most people managed to go back to work but I took advantage of my job that lets me work from home. I stayed indoors, drank waaaay too much coffee, and never made it out of the house.  Every couple of hours I checked the weather app that assured me that Saturday would be much warmer, and thus a better day to get rid of the piles of snow. Maybe most of it would melt off. (Have I mentioned I really hate the cold?)

no-appAnd I was right, mostly. It was much warmer yesterday so a lot of the snow melted. Also I was able to work without being so bundled up; I worked in just a sweater, no coat. Also, the ice was easier to dig up.  On the other hand, the snow that was there was very wet and therefore very heavy.

At some point I picked up something the wrong way or moved the wrong way and pulled something.  So now I have this sharp pins-and-needle feeling running from my lower back, down my leg, and into my heel.  It is incredibly painful so I’m skipping my workout today which means I’m not meeting my weekly goal this week.

melting_snowNext time I’m just going to let the snow melt naturally.

Selfishness Required

selfishIn the interest of full disclosure, the title of this post is intentionally “click-bait.” For me, “selfish” relates to your relationship to others (lacking consideration for others). What I’m referring to here is more about “self-care” which relates to your relationship to yourself (providing consideration for yourself).

Sometimes I lament that I didn’t get into running earlier in my life. How much better might I feel (and perform) had I figured out how to take care of myself (nutrition, exercise, empowerment) when I was in my thirties or even my twenties?

But I don’t think I could have done it then, and here is why: Taking care of myself requires a level of self-care that I didn’t possess when I was younger. I didn’t even have a concept for this.

141256472.tiagBCsKI admire women who possess this trait without abandoning their responsibilities – a very tough tightrope to walk. My sister, for example, has 4 pre-school age children (triplets no less), a full-time job as a teacher, is working on her second masters degree and still manages to run regularly and gets in date-night with her husband every week. I’m not sure what she deals with internally to get everything done, but I’m pretty sure it means making tough choices and putting herself first when necessary.

I’ve always struggled with that, frequently working myself sick trying to take care of everyone but myself. The list used to look something like this:

  • My daughter
  • My partner (when applicable)
  • My family
  • My job
  • My family
  • My family (I have a very big family, so there is always someone needing something)
  • My close friends
  • My colleagues
  • Acquaintances, strangers, random people
  • Myself

Sometimes the order changed. There were weeks where my job leapfrogged to the top of the list or when a close friend edged out a family member. What didn’t change is where I was… way, way down at the bottom. Obviously my daughter always came first, but it went so far beyond that; I needed to make sure I was there for friends, family, partners, employers. Often there was nothing left over for me.

 

oxygenBut I’m working on changing that paradigm. At this point in my life I’m willing to put myself first and invest time for myself, but I have to think about it and make a conscious decision to put my needs before others. Of course, even today if I have to choose between something for my daughter and something for me, I will still pick her every time. Luckily I’m at a stage in my life and she is at a stage in her life where I don’t have to pick very often. More than that, I’m learning to say no to family, to bosses, even to my bf, when I have to.

Part of my awareness that I needed to invest in self-care occurred because I got seriously sick. I needed to learn to say “no” just to get through that. It was very freeing, but it may have been short-lived once I got healthy. I actually think the fat-acceptance movement was a very important part of moving me to this awareness long-term.  As I started to come around to a mindset that I was worth something – in spite of being fat – I also started thinking I was worth taking care of.

Consider training for the NYC marathon. I regularly spend 12, 15, 20 hours or more a week. It isn’t just the hour or three of actual running: There is the getting ready to run and the post run recovery time. (I’ve been known to lay in bed for a few hours after a long run – don’t judge). There is the time spent posting about my runs, time spent researching running, reading about running… I’ve probably spent 20 hours researching GPS watches and I still haven’t bought one. And most of the time I feel like I’m not doing enough.

me post run

This is me, post-run. How long I lay there depends on how tough my run was and how much time I have. I always factor the post-run crash when deciding how far to run.

I’ve gotten to the point where I lie about how much time I spend running. They are small lies: “I’m going for a quick run” means I’ll see you in an hour or so. “Going for a long run” means don’t even look for me for the rest of the day. “A short run” can be up to 6 miles and “We can do it after my run” means I’ll probably be late and most likely useless when I get there. I think my BF is on to me. The last time I said “I just need to get in a run first,” he laughed and rolled his eyes. “I know what that means,” he said.

In spite of everything I’ve written here, sometimes I still feel like I’m selfish – putting my own needs above pleasing others. What I’m slowly learning to recognize is that these feelings aren’t true. It isn’t selfish to take care of myself; it’s actually healthy.

Getting Back to Long Run Day

long runToday was a “long run” day, my first in a long time. In fact, it’s been almost a month since I was able to do a real long run. I started the year pretty strong. Everything seemed to come together: the weather was mild, I was accepted to the NYC Marathon, I was turning 50. Maybe I got cocky? Maybe I overdid things. Or maybe if it doesn’t always go well, it helps you appreciate it more?

I’m not sure why, but everything seemed to unravel in April:

  • First there was a sick week, where I was battling flu-like symptoms.
  • Then I unexpectedly hurt my back. (The last time I had back pain it turned out there was a cyst growing into my spine. The operation to remove it almost killed me, so I may have overreacted to the back pain a smidgen.)
  • Then there was a work emergency and I was getting only 2 or 3 hours of sleep per day. I say this with a bit of irony because my job isn’t life-or-death and sometimes I feel that these types of emergencies are made up. Be that as it may, I still had to deal with the drama.

In addition:

  • My bf moved in “officially” and hurt his back (much more seriously than I did) in the process.
  • It rained or was cold nearly every day (most of the runs I did get in were in the gym)
  • I had some serious financial setbacks
  • I turned 50 (which was kind of great, but still…)
  • I wasn’t eating well.
wcf

For the second year in a row I raised over $300 to protect endangered animals. Plus, I got to run at the zoo!

To top it off, on the last day of the month I ran the Bronx Zoo race (5k) for the second year in a row. I was 2 full minutes slower than my last year’s time.

But looking back now, it wasn’t really as bad as it felt at the time. Sure, I only clocked 75 miles (instead of my goal minimum of 100/month) but that’s on par with what I did last April when I was feeling great. Plus, I did get one long run (10 miles) in, which is farther than anything I was able to run last April.

what happensSometimes I can be really hard on myself, but today I feel pretty good. (I mean I’m sore as hell, but other than that…) April wasn’t my best, but I still kept going. I’ve re-adjusted my training schedule and had some pretty great runs this week. I’m learning from my setbacks and moving forward.

And I really, really love my long-run-days!

i_love_my_long_runs

Stuff I Already Know, But Forgot

Yesterday Jess Baker posted this on Facebook:

A lot of my bad body days may just be bad SELF days (brain/circumstantial etc) BUT because society has created such a direct line between “feeling shitty” and “our bodies” I, without thinking, am quick to fall into the path of last resistance and find the flaws in my physical appearance which then engulfs me in the shame I’ve spent my entire life learning how to feel.

Whew! If she can have bad body image days… Well, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. Because for the past few days I’ve been feeling –ugh!– about my body.

lies

13 of the 14 contestants studied regained weight in the six years after the competition. Four contestants are heavier now than before the competition.

A lot of it started with this [trigger warning] NY Times article: After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight.  In summary the article discusses a research study that followed contestants on a weight loss reality show after they lost a tremendous amount of weight in a short amount of time.

The results of this study are consistent with every other long-term study on weight-loss:

  • Dieting doesn’t work for the vast majority of people (typically less than 5% long term)
  • Dieting physiologically changes your body to make it less healthy, less efficient
  • It isn’t your fault that diets don’t work

This isn’t shocking information. I’ve read countless studies before that said effectively the same thing. I know this to be true due to personal experience: I’ve lost over 100 lbs more than once, only to gain back all the weight (plus some). Then I feel like crap because I’ve failed, even though I know that it is a chemical change within me.

And now it is happening to me again. Here are the symptoms:

  • The feeling that no amount of food will ever fill me.
  • Eating to the point of discomfort or pain.
  • Irresistible cravings for specific foods (typically sweets and starches).
  • Feelings that emotional and physical pain can be assuaged with food.
  • Feelings of self-doubt, self-loathing, shame.
  • Unrealistic (or unsubstantiated) body image.
  • Lethargy, depression, anger.

I’m still working out where I got de-railed. It isn’t a simple issue with a single answer. It is multilayered and I have a lot of self-work to do to unravel it all. My primary concern is to stop feeling like shit about myself. This is so  much harder than it sounds.

Yesterday I ran 8 miles and I focused, for the first time in a very long time, just running for the fun of running. Not because I have to, or because it is a training day, or because I need to make up for what I’m eating (all things that have crept into my running lately). I just looked at the ocean, felt the (way to cold) sea air, and listened to my body. My pace was irregular, but I didn’t need to stop and rest. Today I’m working on taking a much-needed recovery day, without feeling like I’m supposed to run.

I’m a work in progress. Sometimes I forget that.

A Time to Blog

It occurred to me today, as I struggled on the last two miles of an 8 mile run that I might need to start blogging again if I want to make it to my marathon. I’ve had some setbacks in my training and yesterday I barely made it through a 5 mile run (and ended up crying after). Today I managed 8 miles (and no tears) but I’m a long, long way from 26.

When I trained for my half marathon, my blog was a key part of my program. It was a place where I explored the emotions of my journey. I need to remind myself of why I’m doing this, what I want for myself, and what I’m getting out of this. I’m starting to recognize my writing here as a key component of the process.

I’ll get to the saga of illness, injury, and personal stresses in a future post. Today I’m just breaking the ice, dusting off the keyboard (so to speak) and making a commitment to myself to squeeze in a blog post now and then. I’m shooting for 3 per week but we will see.

New blog for the second half…

Cloud 2I’ve been blogging under the name fatnforty for the past 6+ years (and tweeting for 8+ years), but as I am about to turn 50 in less than 6 weeks I finally decided it was time to change my name.  It was a struggle to come up with something that spoke to me, but after much discussion (and a failed twitter poll) I have selected FitFatRun.

For me, my forties were about coming to terms with who I am as a person, as a woman, as an athlete. (I can now call myself an athlete without embarrassment). I have learned to love the body I’m in (not the one I wished I had) and treat myself as well as I treat others.  I plan on using what I learned in my forties to make the second half of my life an awesome adventure. My grandmother lived to 102 and played golf until she was about 96, so I fully expect that I have at least another 50 years to make my way through life.

goodstuffI don’t know what comes next for me, exactly, but barring something unforeseen (a car hitting me while I run is not a far-fetched theory) I plan on being active as much as I can for as long as I can. I plan on challenging myself, and trying new things. I expect there will be many things I’m scared to do, but I’m going to do them anyway. I want to learn and grow as a person. I want to contribute to the world I live in.

If you are coming over from my old blog, thank you for your ongoing support.   If you are a new reader, welcome. Please feel free to chime in with comments, suggestions, and your own perspective.

 

 

My Plan Is Not For You

magic_pill

A few weeks back I wrote about (among other things) that people are always asking me about my weight loss. Most of the time I don’t want to talk about what I eat or my exercise program because I feel like people think there is a magic pill and that I’m keeping it a big secret.

If I do actually get into a conversation with someone (a close friend or someone who is obviously in pain and self-doubt) I usually try to steer back to my core beliefs about addiction and self-love. But it rarely goes well:

  • First, they just want to talk about the changes in habit, not the changes in mind.
  • Second, everything I tell them seems to require some type of argument or excuse.

Here are a few examples:

What I say… What they say… What I think…
I don’t eat (wheat, sugar, preservatives, etc.) My doctor told me to eat… or, I have this important dietary reason I can’t eat what you eat…  So talk to your doctor, not me!
I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day I would get bored and give up after 1 week or I don’t like that thing you eat (yogurt, almonds, brown rice, black beans, etc.) I really don’t care what you eat.
I run several times a week I can’t run because of this important physical issue, or I can’t stand running.  Did I ask you to run? Find your own fun.
I use my fitbit to track my steps daily My phone has an app that works better than your fitbit. But it hasn’t changed my habits.  Ummm…..Why are we having this conversation?

There is a sexiness to this one, that isn't overt. Just enough...

It doesn’t matter how many times I say, “This works for me and my body but may not have an impact on you or your body.” It doesn’t matter when I say, “You absolutely should talk to your doctor about what may or may not work for your special physical or health issue.”  And it really, really doesn’t matter how many times I say, “For me it’s about never being on a diet again and just finding a way to be healthy and whole.”

There is no formula. I haven’t invented the next fad diet. I don’t want to convince others to do what I’m doing. And I’m certainly not judging what you are eating or if/how you are working out. I found a way to balance my life and feel strong and beautiful and whole.  You can find it too, but not by looking at me.