Recovery is hard

Between one thing and another I’ve been barely moving the past 3+ months. It wasn’t just my injury: politics, work, and family have had an impact on my soul, and this my activity level. There was a week/ten day period that I ate like my boyfriend broke up with me (he didn’t; you guess which week).

I’ve lost a lot in that time — self esteem, stamina, identity — but I’m ready to get my fight back. Not just in fitness but all aspects of my life.

The past few days I’ve been re-reading my old workout journals to set new goals. I just need to remember that I can’t compare my progress with where I was pre-injury or I’ll just give up.

img_0120-1For example, I’m only supposed to run 20 min at a time, with 1-2 rest days in between. Today I thought I ran so much better than Tuesday only to find I actually ran only 0.1 miles farther in the same time. I was sooo disappointed till I logged on to my favorite fitness Facebook page and was reminded that this was 20 min more than I could do the past 3 months. Then I logged into twitter and saw how many ❤ my recent posts have gotten. So I was inspired to come back here.

I need smaller goals. I need shorter posts. I need to celebrate my successes.
Thanks for giving me a place to lean.

Best Run in Months

OK, to fair, it’s been my only real run in months.

seldenMy last real run was in August. I did a 6 mile hill run that completely undid me. Since then I’ve  kind of lost myself. I tried a number of programs (weights, biking, yoga), but not with any enthusiasm. I’ve been disconnected, easily frustrated, and a bit lost.  What was supposed to be 6 weeks of PT dragged into 12 weeks. I was pretty faithful about attending PT, but kind of slacked off between sessions, not keeping up on my end of the exercise.
The events of early November didn’t help my already sagging mood. Not to get political, but I have lost enthusiasm for pretty much everything.

depressedThe PT, which initially showed promise wasn’t really getting me where I needed to go. Plus the doctors couldn’t agree on the best way to move me forward. One said I definitely needed surgery and it was a wonder I could run at all. Another said those were old injuries, and if I ran a half marathon last year those mangled bones and tendons couldn’t be the problem now. I went the path of least resistance and got cortisone shots in my heel.

At first I didn’t think the shots helped. I still felt all the pains, just in different places, but I renewed my efforts to work on PT and by week 2 things seemed somewhat better. My therapist said we could try a cautious run on the treadmill in PT. That was Monday. She let me run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, etc.  In all I did less than a half mile of running in 15 min. It was both agonizing and exhilarating.  My body felt free, but also in check. It was the best 15 minutes in weeks.

That was Monday… I rested and tested how my legs felt Tuesday and Wednesday, I did a morning run: A little further and a little faster.  As per my carefully planned out regime, I rested Thursday and woke super early this morning ready for my Friday run. I did 10 minutes straight running, nearly making the mile mark.  When my lovely GPS watch buzzed that my time was up, I almost wanted to pretend I didn’t notice, but I thought about all the months and months of PT and thought, “It isn’t worth it.”  I stopped and walked  the rest of the way home.

homerI have to say right now I’m concerned. My calf is pretty tight right now, tighter than it has been in months. Did I overdo it? Did I not stretch enough after? Am I being oversensitive and overthinking it? Maybe it’s sore because I haven’t run in 3 months??

Having said that, running this morning felt awesome. I got more done at work today than I have in weeks, and the people that needed me to clean up their messes didn’t piss me off nearly as much as usual. I even felt better about how I looked. I mean, that’s crazy right? But I was thinking about it. The past few weeks I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and all I could think is negative thoughts: I’m getting fat, I’m wrinkled, I’m out of shape, I look awful… All my body positivity work from the past 3 years has just deserted me.

i-ran-todayToday, I put on a pair of yoga pants and tight top and thought, “Wow, I look cute.”

Seriously…

 

I’d love to tell you want it means, but right now all I can say is I want to run tomorrow. I’m supposed to rest between runs, but really, how important is that?

(Just kidding: I’m doing stretches and PT exercises tomorrow. But I’m definitely running Sunday.)

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.

TBT: Would You Talk To A Friend Like That?

47f5c4827e3c5ab95de6bb1f9f287719I’m trying a new feature: Throwback Thursdays. As I search to find my way again, I’m going to re-read old blog posts and revisit the themes. I’ll give you the link to the original article, and then some commentary on how my thinking has evolved or gotten tangled up.

I’m picking Would You Talk To A Friend Like That?  from September 2014 as my first TBT article. Two weeks ago was my daughter’s 22 birthday party. At the party someone commented on her body transformation. My daughter is autistic, a struggling reader, and a person who needs support to function in the community. But when asked about her weight loss she spoke about nutrition and exercise as if she were majoring in it at college.

For the past several years she has struggled with various diets and exercise regimes, as I did when I was her age. She’s tried “magic pills,” food replacement shakes, starvation, kick-boxing, etc.

how-to-have-a-beach-bodyMost recently she has been following the “Beachbody” food and exercise plan. I don’t know a lot about it, just what I observe. It is fairly expensive, but she pays for everything herself and I only give her advice if she specifically asks for it. She measures her food using plastic colored containers. And she makes these chocolate shakes which she says helps with food cravings. From my point of view it  seems like she is eating healthy foods and enough calories to not be starving herself (a vast improvement on some of the crazy plans she was following). She wakes up early every morning to get in an exercise routine (DVD).

Physically she is getting the results she wants. She is losing pounds and gaining confidence. She posts before and after pics on Facebook. She is proud of the hard work she is doing an loves getting a chance to share her success with others. In the middle of the conversation she made a statement that made me want to cry:

I used to love going to the beach when I was little, but when I got fat I was ashamed to wear a bathing suit.. Now, I won’t go swimming until I can wear a bikini– not a fatkini or plus-sized bikini, but a real bikini. I won’t feel comfortable until I feel good about how I look.

My immediate reaction is “I’ve failed her.” It didn’t help that everyone else at the party was oooh-ing and ahh-ing over her weight loss. She has told me that body-acceptance is fine for me (since I’m old so it doesn’t matter how I look, I guess) but that she can’t love herself unless she has the type of body that society deems acceptable.

rupaulWhen I started to think about it, though, I realize that I let a lot of that slip into my own thoughts far too often. I continue to have internal thoughts that are negative. I can’t until… I won’t because… I’m too old, too fat, too plain…

Self-love and body acceptance isn’t a thing you achieve. It is something you have to work for all the time. Sooo, I’m re-committing to my relationship with myself. I promise to be a better partner to my body and start treating my body as a cherished friend, not the enemy.

Here is my updated list to help me woo myself:

  • More massages, mani-pedis, and haircuts. (Boy do I need a haircut)
  • Looking at myself in the mirror every day, and looking for what I like best in the reflection. (I’m pretty good with this one most of the time)
  • Letting people take pics of me, taking selfies (it’s not a bad word) with my loved ones, and posting pics on my social networks.  I don’t Photoshop out fat, wrinkles or birthmarks. (I have to do this more. I’m better than I was, but not there yet)
  • Buy myself beautiful clothes that I love, rather than waiting until I’m a specific size, because damn it, I’m worth it. (Do running clothes count? Cause I buy a SL of them)
  • Taking some time for myself every day, even when work is super busy, and my personal life is super crazy. (This. I need to do this more!)

 

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

Just Not 40 Anymore

badge

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:

 

 

 

 

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?

Fat Girl with Thin Privilege

I recently wrote a post about being called “Not fat” (Not a compliment, btw) and it got me thinking, which is always dangerous. I’ve read a lot of interesting articles recently about thin-privilege and I thought it was important to note that even though I self-define as fat, I also have to recognize that I benefit from thin privilege. Here are some ways I personally benefit from thin privilege:

  1. clothes clipartI can shop in almost any store and find something that fits. This is a relatively new phenomena for me. For most of my life I could only shop in plus-size stores or stores with plus-size sections. I appreciate this every single time.
  2. seats clip artI can fit into most seats, on airplanes, at movie theaters, at amusement parks, in restaurants with booths. Sure, some are small and a tight fit, but no one suggests I can’t go somewhere because of my size.
  3. I can run in spandex and tank tops and not get constantly moo-ed at, yelled at, cursed. (girl runningAll these things happened to me regularly when I started running.) I still get yelled at occasionally, but  not so frequently or aggressively. I’m not made to feel that the clothes I choose to wear are an affront to someone else.
  4. cheesecake clipartI can order dessert or any other food I want without fear of aggression. I can’t tell you how many times I would choose not to eat something in public rather than risk a “Do you really need to eat that?”comment (or something much worse).
  5. Resume-ClipartI am not discriminated against at work due to my size. I work in education, a field that is less discriminatory than other fields in terms of size, but I don’t think I would have the job I have now if I still weighed what I did 3 years ago. I know for sure that I’ve been denied jobs and promotions in the past due to my size.
  6. doctor clipartI can visit a doctor and expect to be heard, rather than getting a knee-jerk (lose weight) reaction.  Well, not quite yet. The last time I went to get an annual physical my doctor looked at all my stats. Blood pressure? Perfect. Hear rate? Perfect. Respiration? Glucose levels? Cholesterol? All perfect. So what did my doctor say? You need to lose weight.
    I’m due for my annual again and just don’t want to schedule it because I don’t want to deal with this.

stethescopeIn the absence of any medical issues (other than fat) why do I have to lose weight anyway? What in my health data gives you the idea that I need to lose weight? You know, other than I’m fat… Which is apparently  a devastating medical condition that needs to take up all my time and energy.

Want to learn more about thin privilege? Here are some of my favorite resources:

wonderwomen

Not Fat? That Isn’t a Compliment

fb_williams

Click to read the whole article.

It started with a conversation about Serena Williams.

“I don’t really understand what you posted on Facebook,” he tells me.

“What do you mean?” I ask. To me it’s so self-evident. Serena is awesome. Her attitude about her body is awesome. The way she deals with shamers & haters is awesome. Lots of awesome.  But he didn’t know anything about the media slams and Internet trolls (he’s cute and naïve that way). He was flabbergasted that anyone could look at Serena and think she was anything but beautiful. “Like Wonder Woman beautiful” were his exact words. And this is where the conversation got tricky.

virgieThe reality was, we weren’t exactly having the same conversation. He wanted me to explain how people could look at pictures of Serena and think she was fat or un-attractive. I wanted him to understand that the purpose of my post was that the conversation shouldn’t be what she looks like. This is a world-class athlete. A woman who has redefined the sport. She doesn’t just win Grand Slams, she wins “Serena Slams!” Why do people think they get to have an opinion about her looks?

After a while of back and forth he gets to , “Do you think you’re fat?” Oh boy!

We’ve been dating for almost a year and that one question underlines how badly I’ve failed both as a body-advocate and as a girlfriend. So far I have been completely unsuccessful in articulating to him the following:

  1. When I define myself as fat, it isn’t body-dysmorphia, it is self-empowerment and self-love.
  2. How others define me isn’t as important as how I define myself.
  3. Fat isn’t a derogatory term unless you let it be.
Jess Baker recently wrote an excellent post saying all the things I can't explain about this.

Jess Baker recently wrote an excellent post saying all the things I can’t explain about this topic.

I’m really glad I found someone who sees me as beautiful and sexy. I want him to desire me and get “hot and bothered” when I walk in the room. Telling me I turn him on is a compliment. Telling me I’m sexy is a compliment. However,  when he tells me I’m not fat, it isn’t a compliment. It undermines my self-identity in a way that is difficult for me to verbalize. (Although I’ve tried to here, here, and here.) It makes me feel like he isn’t seeing me.

I can be beautiful and brunette. I can be beautiful and blue-eyed. Why can’t I be beautiful and fat? And, for that matter, why do I even have to be beautiful. Personally, I’d rather be called smart, strong, or kind than be called beautiful.

Some ideas for how to give compliments on things besides looks and physical appearance, from artist Caroline Caldwell

Some ideas for how to give compliments on things besides looks and physical appearance, from artist Caroline Caldwell

Early in our relationship I asked him not to compliment me on how I look but on what I do, but he could never really wrap his head around that concept. I tried giving examples. I can’t even tell you how excited I get when someone says, “I never thought about it that way before,” or “Because of you I understand something I never did before,’ or “I feel very special when I’m with you.” These are compliments.

As our discussion continued I realized that a big part of the disconnect comes from his own body-image issues and experiences.  He wants and needs to be told he is sexy, and handsome, and desired. I wasn’t sure how to get him to understand so I held his stomach with both my hands and said, “I really love your belly. I love this part of you. And if this part gets bigger I will still love it. And if this part gets smaller I will still love it.”

Side Note: It has taken me several hours to write/edit this post. Writing about something so personal is very difficult. This isn’t my normal post about being empowered by running or how I feel about my food. I’ve edited and re-edited the words over and over, trying to get the right tone and be sure I’m saying what I mean. Even then, I’m sure I’m not getting it all “right.” This makes me think I need to forgive myself for not being able to communicate these feelings in a live-and-in-person conversation, where I can’t think about every word carefully, and delete the ones that don’t come out exactly right. Just wanted to add that in.