Monday, July 7, 2014

What's in Your Bucket?

I have always loved fireworks. They are loud, colorful and extremely romantic. They are part of every final Disney love scene and from a very young age every little girl dreams of her own true love firework display. I also love Canada and those who reside there. Canada has provided us with some of the best comedians and has given my family hours of entertainment via Strange Brew (epic flick if you have not seen it). Canadians spell their words correctly (colour, neighbour, etc) and Canadians are friendly folks. I have never been treated with anything other than respect and friendliness while in Canada. We were in Niagara Falls over the July 4th Holiday and everywhere you looked there were Canadian flags with an American flag next to it. I thought their respect for our holiday went beyond simple tourism efforts and nothing reflected this more than their fireworks display! We stayed in the Marriot Fallsview on the 19th floor. My mother-in-law's room overlooked the Falls and we had the best seats in the house for the display. We were enjoying the fireworks when the most amazing thing happened! Suddenly other fireworks displays began in the distance! We watched multiple displays (we stopped counting at 10) across two different countries. It was an amazing experience to watch our corner of the world celebrate freedom.

My question to you today is what have you done with your freedom? We wake up to each new day with the freedom to chose how we will behave, what we will eat and who we will choose to help. Freedom is an enormous responsibility and it is one, I hate to admit, that I haven't always taken seriously. Beyond the poor food and exercise choices are the decisions I have made to treat others unkindly or to be selfish and not help someone else when it was in my power to do so. We have all been given much. Some money, some skills and others have the gift of love, kindness and support. Take what you have been given and find why it was given to you. What is your purpose? Who will you help today? You will find that giving is the first step to helping yourself. For it truly is better to give than to receive.

Week 3 
June 29 - July 6, 2014

Week 3 started quietly and ended with a bang (of fireworks that is!)

I began week 3 still suffering from the self inflicted injury from week 2. Since running was totally out of the question, My hubby and I went to the golf course for a lesson. Who knew that hitting a golf ball on the driving range for an hour or so was so much work! I had soreness in back muscles that I didn't even know I had! Whew! What a workout!

On Wednesday, we left for a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada to fulfill my mother-in-law's first bucket list item.
She looks pretty happy!
This is my second trip to the Falls and it's beauty and power are still an awesome site to behold.
I did not do any "formal" exercise while in the Falls, but I do believe we walked half of Canada while there! The weather was gorgeous and the exercise was exhausting (darn those hills!) but the company was good and we had a lovely time.

Since my knee is still aggravated (I fear an appointment with an Orthopedist is in my near future), my goal this week is to continue swinging my golf club and to walk as tolerated. I also plan to really focus on clean eating this week, because my eating has slipped. I need to hold myself accountable to a calorie focused eating plan. In the past I have been successful with 1600-1800 calories a day of healthy food choices.  So this is my plan.

Have a good week and don't forget to enjoy the journey!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sometimes a Girl Just Needs a Cheeseburger - The Art of the Repeat

This week’s post is not what I had hoped it would become. This week has become a lesson in humility, pride management and plain ole stupidity. Ouch. That was hard to admit. 

Week 2
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

5 minute warm up, alternate 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes of walking with 5 minute cool down.
When I got to the gym today all I could think was: THIS IS WEEK 2! This is so much bigger than week 1. Anyone can do week 1 when the fun and excitement are new, but week 2! This is where it gets real, where the true commitment starts and I will not fail! Looking back, this was somewhat the correct attitude to have, but I really should have listened to my husband. (insert another ouch!) My dear husband, on the treadmill next to me, says: Did you increase your time to week 2? Maybe you should consider repeating week 1 and work into it so you don’t hurt yourself.” Looking back, this is when I should have humbly agreed with him, however, that is not what happened when I opened my mouth to reply. Now, my mother often reminded me as a child that I tend to have the propensity to utilize the open-mouth-insert-foot method of communication. I thought I had really grown past that, but I looked into the eyes of my concerned spouse and this is what spilled out of my mouth: No. This is week 2 and I will stay the course!!!! (I actually used some colorful metaphors but you get the idea).

I can tell you exactly the moment I hurt myself. It was minute 17. I was excited because I was half done and, while this workout had been REALLY strenuous, I was close to being done. It came time for my next 90 second run and 60 seconds into it I panicked. Now, I am not the kind of person to panic publicly and I have a high pain threshold. Having three children virtually drug free taught me that when pain gets out of control and you start to lose command of yourself, the best thing to do is slow down, breathe deeply and focus on something to distract yourself. When I felt my workout getting away from me and I started to panic, I should have immediately listened to my inner self who was screaming SLOW DOWN YOU IDIOT!! I finally did manage to slow down and focus but it was too late. I had panicked. I had run too quickly with bad form and now I am paying the price. My right knee is swollen and painful and I will not be able to complete the rest of my workouts this week because I did not listen to my husband, to myself or to my own body that was telling me to stop.
I started this blog to not only share my thoughts and progress, but to keep myself accountable and honest. This commitment to self-honesty makes this week’s post especially hard, because who likes opening themselves up to the world, right? Well, let’s rip off this band-aid and get it over with. The hard truth is that I have the heart and I have the power to become who I want to be, however, I am starting my journey at the bottom of a very tall mountain. It is no one’s fault that I begin here. I have placed myself here due to years of self-indulgence and neglect (can I get another ouch). All of the passionate speech and encouraging writing does not change the fact that this is damn hard and at times, discouraging work. Most people who know me would say that I am a happy, kind person, but I am here to tell you that there is part of me inside that finds it easier to say “screw you world” and would prefer to depart upon a voyage of self hate and pity rather than be chipper and get on the tread mill. It is so much easier to sit on the sofa and eat cheesy poofs, but that path leads to a dreadful place and I have been there, gotten the t-shirt and I don’t want to go back. So, I choose this day, and must decide each day forward to recommit myself to the correct path. I must decide anew to keep making good choices and to promise to myself that I will never give up. I may break down and eat a cheeseburger every now and again, but I will never give up. Just as the sun rises each morning and commits to a new day, I too must rise each day and commit to my goals.

I want to leave you with this thought. The word repeat has gotten a bad rap in our society. If you fail a grade, you must repeat it. If you do not pass a test, you must repeat it. We call old TV shows repeats and change the station. I am here today to tell you that it is time the word repeat gets a new identity. Instead of viewing a repeat with a negative connotation, I encourage you to see it as a fresh start. How wonderful that child gets to repeat that grade and take the time to learn what they missed. Praise God for repeats on tests!! Be thankful for the repeat TV show that lets us relive the laughter and fun from days gone by. Today is my repeat day. I will embrace the splendid joy of being able to wipe my board clean and start over. I now pass the challenge on to you. What will you do with your fresh start?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Running with Cows

My husband and I travel for work, which takes us to many new places. Some are beautiful, some not so beautiful, but each have their own flavor and wonders to explore. We are currently in the Midwest in the beautiful state of Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border. This is a region of trees, grass, rolling hills and cows.

Here we are rocking our hard hats!
 I have a fondness for cows. They are gentle creatures, you rarely hear of anyone that is afraid of cows, and they like to hang around and observe. They never seem worried or in a hurry and are quite content to stay with their herd. However, every rule has it's exception and every now and again there are those who wish to break free from the herd. On my drive to work this morning, I observed just that.
How sweet are these ladies?!
My drive to work is a pleasant one with twenty minutes of beautiful scenery. My favorite stretch of the trip is a hill, almost mid way from home to work. There is a slight hill with a bend in the road. As you round the bend into the gently rising sun, before you lies a breathtaking farm scene that is the essence of Ohio. Soft rolling pasture, classic 1800's farmhouse complete with a barn, and, you guessed it, cows. Most days the herd is off in the distance, but this morning they were all gathered along the fence line near the road. As I drove by, taking quick glances at the cows, I caught the eye of a young cow. Now, I do not know if this cow was really looking at me, or if she just felt inspired, but something strange happened. This young cow got up and began to run! She ran along the fence line next to my car. As there were no other vehicles behind me, I slowed my pace to match hers and we began to "run" together. So there we were, this sweet cow, who had broken away from her herd, and myself, crawling along in my car cheering like a mad woman, "go cow go!" Sadly, I came to the end of the fence and had to continue on my drive, but I did catch a glimpse of this motivated bovine as she turned the corner at the fence and kept going. “Good for you!” I thought as I returned my vehicle to normal speed and continued down the road. As I drove, I thought a lot about that cow. I will never know what motivated her to break from the comfort of her herd, but what a joy it was to see her run!

I thought to myself, wasn’t I like that cow, comfortable in my “herd”, happy to meet the status quo, afraid of leaving the group, of trying something new; my biggest fear being that of failure. For me, it was freedom from a false medical diagnosis that finally broke the chains of my fear and allowed me to run free from my herd. What is holding you back today? What weighs you down and keeps you lost in the mass of the herd? What will it take for you to break free, to start your journey to becoming more than you ever thought possible?

I want you to know that you are not alone. There are others here who have broken free and have had the courage to run. Were we scared to try? Of course! We may stumble, we may fall. We may even find ourselves returning to the comfort of the herd and need to try again. Do we regret trying? Never, not for a second and we will keep getting up and never stop trying until we succeed. I invite you to join us! Just as I slowed my car to cheer for that little cow, you will find others on this same journey that are ready to slow down and cheer for you as well. So run my friend! Run and never look back!

End of Week 1

Day 1                               Monday, July 16, 2014               
5 minute warm up, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes, followed by 5 minute cool down

My first workout was easier than I expected. The local gym is small and there were very few people there, so that was good for the "oh dear God I am wearing workout clothes in public" anxiety. The 60 second jogging moments seemed to take FOREVER but I finished the entire session and left the gym feeling like the most awesome chick in the world!

Day 2                               Thursday, July 19, 2014
5 minute warm up, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes, followed by 5 minute cool down

This second workout was harder than the first because I was a bit (note the sarcasm) sore (which is why I waited an extra day and did not attempt to complete this on Wednesday. LISTEN to your body!) While this session took more concentration due to muscle soreness, the jogging time seemed to fly by! Before running today, I read Matt Frazier's blog How to Enjoy Running. Matt's site No Meat Athlete is very inspiring and a good resource. I employed (or attempted to) his concept of visualizing while running. The treadmills at the gym face a window and I envisioned myself taking off down the street and running around the corner. Sounds silly, but it was effective.

Day 3                               Sunday, July 22, 2014
 5 minute warm up, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes, followed by 5 minute cool down

I actually waited until Sunday to do this workout because I got my hair done on Saturday. Sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do! I felt very strong going into this workout, but when I increased my speed and began my run, my back was killing me. Our mattress has been silently working against me for a while now. So, we bought a new bed yesterday! Take that mattress! Used more of Matt's visualization today and it does help. I'm looking forward to this next week, but nervous as well because the run time increases.

Things I found useful this week:
  • Dr. Scholl's CustomFit Orthotics
    Dr. Scholl's has a machine in local, large stores that you stand on and it tells you which insert would work best for your feet. My husband and I did this and it was quite fun! I purchased the suggested insert and the annoying foot pain in my right foot was gone! Yay! You can read more about the inserts here.
  • Thirty48 -Calf/Shin Splint Compression Sleeves
    I have read on several plus size running sites that compression sleeves make all the difference. Since the local sporting goods store did not have these, I did some online research and found this pair. I really like them. They fit well (even though getting them on and off is quite a display of determination) and I have had no pain or issues in my lower legs.
  • Candida Overgrowth Syndrome
    Learning about this syndrome was an eye opener for me! I have been taking ProBio5 which is an anti-fungal pro-biotic introduced to me through my friends Josh & Pam White and is available through Plexus. (for more info click here). I must tell you that I had personal confirmation that I did have a Candida issue about a week after I started taking the ProBio5. Apparently these little buggers do not simply die and go quietly into the night! I had a rash on my face and back and a lot of itching that is starting to quiet down now. I encourage you to research this subject and I know the Whites would be happy to answer any questions.
See you on the treadmill!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Bionic Woman Experience

 The Bionic Woman Experience

My name is Wendy, and my story is a unique one. About 5 years ago, I was tested and told I had SLE Lupus. However, subsequent blood work was inclusive and did not support this diagnosis. The medication given to me to treat Lupus made me unable to go in the sun. Being a person who hates to take pills, I stopped taking it and continued to live my life. Fast forward to 2014. My husband's work took us to Midland, Texas. While here, my pain and symptoms of "Lupus" were kicked into high gear. A co-worker told me of a local rheumatologist, so I made an appointment. More blood work was completed and this physician not only confirmed a diagnosis of Lupus, but also added a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I left the doctor with a feeling of devastation and a bag full of expensive medication. The anguish of telling my husband and family left me feeling depressed and defeated. Having had a friend recently pass away from Lupus complications only fueled my despair. I mentally resigned myself to a life of pain, a future wheelchair and an early death.

In April 2014, work took us to Ohio very near the Pennsylvania border. My search for a local doctor led me to the University of Pittsburgh’s Lupus Center of Excellence. The doctor there reviewed my file and ordered new blood work. To his amazement, and mine, he declared, “You do not have Lupus. What you do have is a significant vitamin D deficiency.” I was shocked. The shock led to exhilaration, the exhilaration led to anger at the time wasted by feeling ill, and then the anger led to something unexpected: a complete and utter thankfulness for a second chance. I felt as if I had been given an official pardon from a death sentence and that God had given me a second chance to live my life. I decided from that moment on to life my life with clarity and purpose. I also decided to start running, become a vegetarian and lose 100+ pounds. Go big or go home, right?

I am the textbook definition of free-spirit. I typically live life by the seat of my pants, making it up as I go. However, I decided this time would be different. The first thing I did was Google “running for plus size women.” I was amazed by what I found! So many stories of successful, plus size women who have not only lost weight, but have CHANGED THEIR LIVES! One of the most inspiring blogs I read is written by Katie I highly encourage you to read her story. Her change inspired me to dive deeper into the plethora of Internet blog sites. The next blog I found that really spoke to me was written by Sarah B. I have learned so much about holistic nutrition and cooking for health from her site. It is a must follow. Several of the blogs that I read referred to a running app called Couch to 5K. So, armed with my new information, I downloaded the app, purchased the needed exercise gear and headed out to the gym.

Gym Day 1
On gym day one I decided to follow the best advice I found on Katie’s site: start ssslllooowww. For my first treadmill experience, I decided to do a 5 minute warm up and then “run” for as long as I could hoping to do a 30 minute total run/walk workout. So there I was at minute 4:59, I increased the treadmill speed to an astonishing 3.0 and began to run! It was amazing! My legs pumping, the wind blowing through my hair, Van Halen pulsing in my ears! I felt like Lindsay Wagner…I WAS THE BIONIC WOMAN! The bionic sound filled the room: nananana! I could do this! I was doing it! It was at this moment that my right foot decided that it did not particularly care for being bionic and staged a revolt. OH! The pain! “I can keep going”, I thought. Then my right knee, followed by my left, joined the revolt! It was a full on rebellion! “Surely I don’t have much time left!” I thought as I looked at the treadmill timer. What I saw there shocked me to the core. A whole two minutes had passed! Two minutes??!! Was I distraught? Dismayed? NO! I was ecstatic! I RAN TWO FREAKING MINUTES! I had proven to myself that I could do this! I could propel myself forward!  I could change my stars!

I went home that day with pain in my foot, sweat in my hair, and the knowledge that I could do this, and I would encourage everyone I can to join me! Chunky chicks of the world unite! Life is a journey and the joy of the journey is sharing what we have learned with others. I am not a professional. Do I know the techniques required to run a marathon? Do I know the perfect way to eat vegetarian meals? HECK NO! But I do know that I am learning. I do know that every day that I move forward in a positive way is another step away from that damn wheelchair! I do know that the first steps of change are hard for anyone, but especially hard for the plus size girl. 

I want to encourage you to love yourself today. Look in that mirror and say: I love you enough to change my course and improve my journey! Have enough self love to hold yourself accountable! As first grade teacher Jan Walker always says: “Who is responsible for you?” The answer is always: YOU! No self lies. No excuses. No loathing or self hate. Love yourself enough to make the changes you crave. Do it. Do it now and know that there are other people out here, just like you. You are not alone. It is scary. It is hard. You will have to forget old habits and try new things. You will have to put on workout clothes and be seen in them in front of others. You will be sore, but I also promise that you will improve. The first step is the hardest, but once you take it the anticipation of what lies beyond is greater than your fear. The first time you walk into that gym you will feel like a prize heifer on display at the county fair. Who cares what other people think? I promise you they are dealing with their own issues and probably didn’t even notice you coming in the room. Do not be a martyr. Listen to your body. Slow down, take some pain reliever. If you need a three day break to heal, then take it! There is no perfect formula to follow that will make you an athlete overnight. The important thing is to not give up. We have done that so many times before. We have been down that road, we know where it leads and we know it’s not where we want to go. One day at a time, one step at a time, one good choice followed by another and we will get there. Today I extend an invitation to you to join me on this journey and I am confident that I will not run alone.