Just Not 40 Anymore

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I’ve been blogging for 10 years! Hard to believe.

In less than 6 weeks I’m turning 50. It is supposed to be traumatic, turning 50, but I’m actually kind of excited about it. It seems cool to me that I’ve lived this long and I get to look back on all that I’ve accomplished. I’m in better shape at (almost) 50 than I was at 40, 30, or even 20.  I can run farther and faster than I ever imagined I could.

Being excited about being 50 might have something to do with how I feel about my health and my body right now.  If my 40’s taught me anything it is:

  • I love my body; it can do amazing things
  • If I treat my body like I love it; it will love me back

fitfatrunIn fact, there is only one thing I don’t like about turning 50, and that is that I feel it is time to give up “fatnforty” as my twitter and blog name.  I tried an experiment to see if I could get the “40” to mean something besides age, but after a few weeks that plan fizzled, and I realize it wasn’t meant to
be.  So now I’m officially closing this blog and changing my twitter handle.  After much debate I’ve come up with a new name: FitFatRun.  I will post re-directs to my new blog for a few weeks, but then will most likely archive this site.

Thank you so much for all who have sent words of encouragement or posted your own inspiring accounts over the past 10 years.  I hope you like the change and decide to follow me on my new adventure:

 

 

 

 

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A New Year Start

happy new year2015 was a great year for me, health wise:

It may be the first time in my life that I maintained my weight (staying within 5 lbs) for a solid year. No drastic ups or downs – just clean eating (mostly) and pretty relaxed about diet.

I learned a lot about accepting my body this year. I’m appreciative of my health and not so wrapped up about my weight.

It was definitely a banner year for me in terms of meeting my fitness goals:

  • I ran over 1,000 miles (1,023.3 to be exact) and walked over 4,000,000 steps (4,361,000, but who’s counting?)
  • I completed my first half marathon in under 3 hours (2:35:58)

2015 running monthlyI have to be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to make the 1,000 miles. The last few months the only thing that got me out running was the fact that I really, really, wanted to hit the 1,000 mark. It took me until late December, but I’m so happy I did it!

My third goal for the year was to write weekly about things I’ve learned. That didn’t quite happen. I used this blog quite a bit to get ready for the half, but then life, work, and other things took precedence, and I haven’t posted since September.

In all, I only wrote  9 truths and with only 14 weeks until I turn 50, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to (or even want to) meet this goal anymore.  I am going to re-read the ones I did write, because I think it will help me get back into that head space.

The thing about meeting (or not meeting) goals is that you always have to set new ones.  I can’t just repeat my goals from a previous year. Where’s the challenge in that? So here they are, my official 2016 goals for the year:

  • Run 1,250 miles because I totally have to up the ante, and I want to commit to running at least 100 miles each month.
  • Finish a marathon in less than 6 hours which sounds both totally doable and completely insane.
  • Complete 50 hours of yoga because I see that my body needs more than just running, so this works out to about an hour a week.
  • Grow something to eatThis one is a little bit out there, and was inspired by a cool blog post (10 Food Resolutions That Don’t Involve Body Shame). I do not have a green thumb, I never grow things, and I rarely cook, but I thought this might take me out of my comfort zone a little and I like that idea quite a bit.

So there you are! What are your goals for 2016?

Be Competitive…With Yourself

32 weeksThe other day I was doing one of my long runs (over 13 miles) and feeling great. Nothing was hurting (unbelievable) and my pace was decent compared to recent runs. About 4 miles out a woman passed me as if I was standing still. For about 20 seconds my heart sank. I’m too slow, I thought and it took a lot of effort to get that thought out of my head.

flowerbloomsI spent the next 2 miles telling myself:

You aren’t competing with her;
       you are competing with yourself.

This is a difficult lesson for me.  I don’t think of myself as very competitive, but I guess at some level I am. When I look at other runners (strangers, friends, family) I always feel like a failure. I’m too slow, it takes me forever to improve, blah, blah, blah. But when I look at myself and how far I’ve come and how much better I am than I was, I can’t help but feeling like a superwoman. Obviously I’m better off focusing my energy inward, don’t you think?

dontlookbackIn High School we were supposed to run a mile for gym class and I could barely walk it. Only a few years ago I periodically needed a cane to walk. I remember walking over the Brooklyn Bridge with my family and being totally crippled by the task. When I first started running it took 14 or 15 min to run a mile. The idea that I would ever run a half-marathon was inconceivable, but  I’ve already run over 13 miles (twice and counting) and my regular pace fluctuates around 11 min miles (12 or 13  min miles on those really long runs and under 10 in my last race).

And I’m not done improving. In 32 weeks I’ll be 50, but I’m faster, stronger, and braver than I’ve ever been in my whole life. And I got this way– not by looking at other people– but by constantly competing with my old self.

Tissue Paper Skin

tissue paper

The more I laugh, the more lines I see. How can that be a bad thing?

I took a selfie today with my very dear friend that I’ve known forever and immediately posted it to Facebook. On my phone I thought we looked lovely together, but when I looked later on my computer, the picture was larger and my first thought was “Where did all those wrinkles come from?” My gut reaction was to take the picture down and I seriously had to talk myself out of it. I’m pleased to say I didn’t take much convincing.

What I thought about was how the wrinkles on my face remind me of my grandmother. When I was younger I used to think that my grandma’s skin looked like tissue paper. I thought it was so lovely, like a present waiting to be opened.  When did we as a society decide that aging was a bad thing? As my grandma used to say, “Getting old isn’t so bad. It sure beats the alternative…” So I’m looking at those wrinkles differently now.  I’m seeing how lovely the lines outlining my smile look, and how you can tell I’m smiling just by looking at my eyes.

twainThere is something wonderful about aging that our youth-oriented culture seems to forget. Growing old is an accomplishment. It is a win. As I’ve grown older I’ve learn to value life more, think less about what other’s think, and take better care of myself. Truth be told, you couldn’t pay me to be young again. I was so messed up back then.  I’m enjoying my life so much more now that I’m old.

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.

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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.

It’s Official – 134 days 23 hours 15 minutes to go

The Inaugural Suffolk County Marathon and Half MarathonThis morning I took the plunge and officially signed up for my half marathon. I’m excited! And scared. (Well, excited and scared!) I’m thrilled that the proceeds for marathon is going to benefit the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, which is dedicated to providing local military veterans with services and programs. Not only is this an important issue, but the benefits are for veterans who live right here in my area.

Before I registered, I did all the things you probably do before signing up for your first half:

  • I checked out the route on the map. (I’m familiar with the area so I’m comfortable that it is mostly flat and pretty scenic)
  • I downloaded advice from Runner’s World for first time marathoners. (Some things I knew, but there was really good info here.
  • I put in for time off for the day before and the day after. (I think I’m going to need a buffer!)
  • I checked the Frequently Asked Questions and was pleased to see I could change from half- to full-marathon if I change my mind later. (Hey, you never know?)

Then I signed up. Only there was a funny thing on the registration. It asked me for my “weight class”. I had never heard of this before in running. Sure, there are weight classes in boxing and wrestling, but running? Apparently for men, they call the heftier runners “Clydesdale” (OMG, really?) and the more zaftig women “Athena.” I had to check this out. Is this  really a thing?

Her time might improve with proper footwear.

Her time might improve with proper footwear.

Yes, apparently it is a thing, (although much more prevalent in triathlons) and I guess it makes sense biologically. All things being equal, a person carrying around an extra 50 or 100 lbs of weight is expending more energy. From my research, it isn’t about fitness or fatness. You can be heavy and short and not make the “Athena” cutoff weight. You can be very thin, fit, and tall and still qualify.

Generally speaking, having a larger build means you must expend a greater effort to get the same result.  Take running – if all other fitness factors are held constant, a 6’4”, 230-pound guy will struggle to run as fast as a 5’10”, 180-pound competitor, simply because he’s hauling more weight. [link]

I was shocked by the weights they consider “heavy”. It seems like there are variations from race to race as to what constitutes an “Athena.”

weightclassFor my race, they have two divisions; I am, of course, in the higher division – I guess you could call it Athena-plus! Even if I lose 15 lbs between now and race day, I’ll still be in the highest category. Here’s the thing: at my absolute thinnest (in my 30s) I was about 145 lbs and a size 6. I can’t imagine ever as an adult being under 140 unless I had a serious disease. I’m tall, but not very tall, but I do carry more weight. I’m one of those body types that defy BMI (and proves BMI is junk-science).  Mostly, I am concerned about what this might say to people who are much heavier. I would hate to think that someone would be discouraged by this and not want to run.

Anyway, the weight division is optional; you can choose to participate or not. After looking at a lot of websites that discussed pros and cons [here and here, for example] I decided to do it. The only person I’m interested in competing against or comparing myself to is me. I have my own personal goal (I’d like to finish in 2 hrs. 40 min) but even just finishing would be great. Still, I always like to see how other women my age do in races, and it might be interesting to have another point of comparison (i.e. weight).

I’m just really, really glad I don’t have to be a Clydesdale. That is the worst name ever.

Happy 1st Anniversary

happyanniversaryI know it is three days early, but I’m too excited to wait. Happy Anniversary to me. It has been one full year (shy three days) since I completely changed my life and began my pursuit of health and happiness. It is one year that I went cold turkey on foods that bring me down (especially diet foods, that are super insidious). One year since I committed to fitness for fun rather than for losing weight. One year of deciding to accept and even love who I am in the moment (still kind of working on that one). One year of not saying “diet.”

It totally started as a lark, an experiment, a moment of desperation. However, after a year I’m happier and healthier than I think I have ever been. So here are some of the things that have changed in my life over the past year:

  • I rarely have food cravings. The other day I did a presentation in front of a plate of cookies and platter of bagels and muffins. These foods were in front of me all freakin’ day and I never even thought about picking one up until the end of the day when someone said, “Are you going to throw those out?” I did have some food cravings over Halloween, but I blame the candy corn and pizza, which triggered the cravings. Once I got “clean” again, I was fine.
  • I’ve lost a lot of weight. I know I keep saying it isn’t just about weight loss, but I have been tracking my losses. To date, I’ve lost 88 pounds and dropped 12 sizes. I no longer have to shop in plus size departments (except for bathing suits  and some fancy dresses apparently). At first weight loss was part of it. I wanted to be under a 100 pounds. Once I got there, I stopped weighing in so regularly. I might step on a scale once a month at this point, just to make sure I’m on track. I’m assuming when I get to a certain weight the losses will stop. If I ever feel I’m getting too thin (not an issue yet) I will think about adjusting my foods.
  • These are the badges I've earned since getting my Fitbit® in Jan, 2013.

    These are the badges I’ve earned since getting my Fitbit® in Jan, 2013.

    I have walked/run an amazing 3,348,000 steps or approximately 1,540 miles. (Not to be confused with the 3,000,000 steps for this calendar year.) Getting in my 8,000 steps/day is a habit, and I rarely let anything, including weather or bad moods, keep me from doing it. I park at the farthest parking spot when I shop. I take the stairs over the elevator. I walk to local businesses rather than drive. I don’t even think about it now. I just do it.

  • I run faster than I ever have in my life. A year ago my normal run was between 1 and 2 miles and I was running 15 min miles. I had one fast run that month (13:37/mile) and one long run (3.5 miles). Now my runs are usually between 3 and 5 miles, with longer runs every other week. My pace is usually in the 11’s with some fast runs in the mid-10’s (twice this month I ran 3.1 at 10:20-something pace).

2e57b67b41c1c5ce75ee3ae8e19621ffSo here I am, 48 years old. A year ago I felt old. I felt tired. I had lost my spark.

One year later I feel more confident in myself. I have some sparkle again. I feel younger than I have in years, and more capable. I feel like I’m falling back in love with myself and it is giving me more energy than I’ve had throughout my forties.

My choices might not work for everyone. In fact, they might not work for anyone but myself. But that is okay, because it is totally working out for me. I have a year of proof!

A Case of the “Nevers”

First, I’m stealing this blog topic (and title) from another blogger that I recently started following. pscapp probably thinks I’m a stalker because I “like” every single blog post, but there is something about the writing that gets me thinking, so if you are looking for another blog to follow, I recommend this Reading, Writing, Running, and Rhythm

later-means-never-greenIf you read that post (no seriously, go back and read it) it is about turning 50 and realizing there are many things you always thought you would do, but now you realize you are never going to do them. I’m getting close to that age myself, and I recognized my own thoughts in those words. Where as once I had ambitions for myself, I now have ambitions for my daughter, who is 20 and still has plenty of time to achieve her dreams.

But at the same time, it is hard for me to realize I’m not 20 myself. I still kinda feel like my whole life is ahead of me and I have plenty of time to do the stuff I want to do. Don’t I? Do I?

And the thought keeps coming back, why can’t you do it? What’s getting in the way.

Well obviously my life is getting in the way. Turning 50 (I’m still over a year away, understand) is coming up in my thoughts again and again. This “milestone” birthday seems bigger and more significant than previous milestones. I don’t even remember turning 30. I was a single mother with a two-year old (undiagnosed) autistic child. On the list of things I cared about, my age was way, way, down the list. I kind of wanted 40 to be a celebration. I was in a relationship. My business was going well. I had lots to celebrate. But we got busy and it passed by without too much notice. I tried to have a party for my 45th. I got very, very sick and missed my own party. (I have bad karma when it comes to birthday parties. I have promised my family never to plan another one. But that’s a post for another blog.)

My new hero: Sister Marion Irvine. She was overweight and had never regularly exercised when she started jogging in her late 40s. By her 54th birthday she qualified for the US Olympic Trials.

My new hero: Sister Marion Irvine. She was overweight and had never regularly exercised when she started jogging in her late 40s. By her 54th birthday she qualified for the US Olympic Trials.

So what are my nevers?  And how many of them are really off the list? Which ones do I still have time for?

  • Get my black belt in karate.
  • Get my doctorate degree.
  • Write and publish a book.
  • Run a marathon.
  • Travel to Africa and Asia.
  • Learn another language.
  • Learn to play the guitar.
  • Sail the Caribbean and/or Mediterranean.

This is kind of a bucket list, but the nevers are a little different. As we grow older, we recognize that some of the things we always thought we would do are off the table for good. For example, I’m pretty much resigned that I’ll never be blackbelt. I did karate a lot in my 20s and tried to go back at one point in my 30s. However with two very weak ankles, it doesn’t seem like something I will get to do again. Probably. I’m not totally giving up on that one.

And others are only off the table if I don’t do something about it.  My grandfather was in his 60s when he learned to play the piano. He was so good, he taught many of his grandchildren, me included. And I’ve been researching the internet for people who were “late bloomers” making their most serious contributions after they turned 50. For example, Laura Ingalls Wilder published Little House on the Prairie when she was 65, Julia Child was in her 40s when she left her Intelligence Career to attend Le Cordon Bleu and 49 when her first cookbook was published, and Grandma Moses was in her 70s when she started painting.

Don't let her smiling fool you. This cardsharp pretended to be confused about the rules and then soundly beat me 10 out of 12 games.

Don’t let her smiling fool you. This cardsharper pretended to be confused about the rules and then soundly beat me 10 out of 12 games.

I’ve been talking about going back for my doctorate for about 10 years now. Time and money have always gotten in the way, but I feel like that is just an excuse. If you want something badly enough you have to work for it, make time, and find a way.

My grandmother passed away fairly recently. She was 103 when she died, and fairly active almost up until the end. She played golf and drove well into her 90s. I have good genetics and take care of my health, so I try to think about it as if I’m only about 1/2 way through with my life.

At the same time I know that I probably will not do all the things on my list. That’s what a “case of the nevers” means. I have come to grips with not doing some of them. Others, however, I don’t want to give up on just yet.

 

Before and After Pics

So I get asked a lot if I have before and after pics. And I always think “before what? after what?” Because of course this life is a continuous journey. There is no stop and start, except the first and last one. Yesterday is before. So is last week. Or last month.

I know that when they ask this they are thinking about before I started on my food plan, but what does that mean?

I’m going to see a doctor next week that I haven’t seen before my 2/2013 operation.  I know she will be pleased that I’ve lost weight, but she won’t know how much because since I last saw her I gained about 40 pounds and then lost over 70. In her eyes, I’ve lost about 30 lbs, but that is just a tiny part of the picture.

And then in September, I’m going to a high school reunion. Now that’s a funny one. I’m about 15 lbs heavier than I was when I graduated high school. I’m about 30 lbs less than my 10 year reunion. About 30 lbs heavier than my 20 year reunion. About 15 lbs less than my 25 reunion. You know what is funny and sad: That I remember my approximate weight for each reunion. What a waste of brain cells. So are people going to look at me and think “Wow, she got fat” or “Wow, she got fit?” I guess it depends on what version of me they remember. Actually, chances are they are going to be thinking about themselves and if they look fat, or bald, or old, or whatever.

My before pic. Yes, rocking' the double chin, but I make it look good.

My before pic. Yes, rocking’ the double chin, but I make it look good.

My after shot is actually a projection. I'm not there yet, but someday...

My after shot is actually a projection. I’m not there yet, but someday…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you think nailing down a before is hard, how will I ever come up with an after? Obviously I would like to freeze time at that most perfect moment of fitness, when I’m at my lowest weight, but my best strength. How will I know when I get there? And what about the minute after that? And the day after that? And the month or year after that? I’ve lost over 100 lbs before. It didn’t make me happier. It didn’t last.

Here’s the thing: There is no after. There is no before. There is only now. I can only change the decisions I’m making now. Do I run or not? Do I make sure I eat my breakfast or not? Do I have popcorn and beer for dinner or not? (It’s a thing, really)

I can’t change what I did or didn’t do yesterday. That is done. I can only plan for what I want to do or not do tomorrow, but until tomorrow is now, I can’t know if I stuck to my plan or not. The only thing I can change is right now. This minute. Today.