Another year down

Some days it feels like just yesterday that I started this health journey. 280 pounds and feeling as though I would never make it out of the state I had set myself in. Diet after diet and nothing seemed to work. When would the moment happen? The click that “they all talk about” when something would finally work?

And yet, somehow, this last grasp for help worked. I say it a lot, but I am still so very thankful to Jen Ramirez for sharing with others what she learned and helping women attack not only the physical but mental aspect of weight loss. That this was a marathon not a sprint. Yet, as a fairly sedentary person, I never fully understood that statement. Now as a marathoner, I understand it unlike I never thought I would.

So why does this year feel a bit more significant then the last few? This last year I turned my focus from weight loss to other things. I can look at you and say “I am exactly the same weight today as I was 365 days ago. But I am a much healthier person and so much has changed.” And know that this is a true statement. I maintained my weight for an entire year. I spent the early part of last year working on strength. And would you believe me if I told you that I gained (at least) five pounds of muscle. I even have the numbers to prove it, not that I need to prove it to anyone.

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I turned my focus from losing more physical mass to gaining strength and running stronger. I accomplished a running PR every single month this last year. I took 47 minutes off of my marathon time, which is rare. Except this types of big PR’s have been my normal this last year. I ran my fastest mile in 8:32 and a 5k in 28:41. Incredible accomplishments that happened once I shifted my focus from weight loss to fitness gains.  You don’t gain five pounds of muscle in a few weeks. I took five months of hard work to get these kinds of results. You don’t get faster in running just by simply running faster. You have to train in a certain way to gain speed or else you will end up getting hurt.

And when I look at the reality that weight loss took a back burner this year, I could not be happier. I have spent so much of my life focusing on a number on the scale when I should have focused on everything else my body was doing. I worked with a new dietitian this last year who is an amazing person and one that I can relate to on a whole new level. And they have helped me see this new aspect of my health journey. We have set up healthy boundaries that allow me to still live my life and redirect my focus where I see fit depending on the season I happen to be in. I don’t think I would have shifted my mindset as much as I have if I didn’t start working with her this past year.

The greatest aspect of all of this is knowing that accomplishing four years of success is just the beginning. I am crossing over to an aspect of this journey that statistics tell us not many cross into. That when you maintain your weight loss for 2-5 years you are significantly more likely to keep it off long term versus those who lose and regain within the first two years. And that makes me think back to the days leading up to this change. When I didn’t know if this would stick, but I was willing to try any way. It goes to prove that if we let the fear of the unknown stop us from taking chances we would never move forward in our lives.

So here I am, four years into this journey. Continuing to put myself first year day before I help others. Finding new things that I love to do and setting goals to accomplish along the way. Knowing that eventually everything about weight loss does stop and the focus shifts. Knowing what the different seasons look like, and when to gain strength and mass for a purpose and when to shift that focus to reach my final goal of weight loss.

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I know that year five will be another great year. It will be one where I go after my final weight loss goal of being under 200 pounds for the first time in my adult life. It will be one where I chase more running PR’s and see how much more I can push my body. And it will be one where I learn more about what maintenance looks like on this side of a weight loss journey. Keeping in mind that I am not alone and nothing is linear. This is a journey after all, and every day is a new aspect of it. But one thing I do know is this: The best is still to come. Regardless of what it might be. So here is to year five, to loving myself more, to continuing to be my best self, and to learning more about what this journey means and the impact it continues to have on my life. Happy anniversary friends.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

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A Season of Intention

What would it look like to be intentional in movement for 30 days? Especially in the holiday season?

I know that many people do what is called a “Run Streak” but to be honest, I am not about that. I know that running each and every day is not the best for me and rest is really important. But what would it look like to be intentional in movement? Going for a run a few days a week and intentionally walking on the days I do not run?

When we run we use one set of muscles and when we walk we use a different set. When we lift we challenge our strength and when we do cross training we are building stronger bodies. And when we do yoga and stretching we are recognizing that we are in need of taking care of our bodies and reflecting.

While being in my off season I have realized that I am not as intentional with my movement as I am during the running season. I don’t run as often as I was. I am attempting to do more CrossFit, but reality shows me that this is limited as well. I am battling a feisty body that has decided to allow certain pain to creep in and come and go. The last few weeks have proven to me that my movement is not my top priority. And for the last few weeks of the year I want to change that.

For the next 30 days I am going to do an intentional movement streak. You might think of this as a run streak, but do know that in no way am I running each and every day for 30 days. I am pretty sure my PT’s will not be happy with me if I attempt to do that. But what I am going to do is be more active. It is easy this time of year to push everything off that I would normally do. To not go to the gym, to not run because it is raining, to not go for a walk because its dark. But my goal is to move. To be present each day for myself. So wither it is running, lifting, swimming, stretching, or walking, I am going to show up for the next 30 days and prove to myself that I can be active in one of the more difficult seasons of the year.

What do YOU think of this? Have you done a streak of any sort? Did you have a good or bad experience? Would you want to join me in this intentional movement streak? See what could happen over the next 30 days?

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

It’s about more than just believing

As October continues to march us further into fall, I am reminded that not much time remains in 2018. A year that start with endless possibilities, and what seems like a few weeks ago, is gracing us with its final presence and my favorite seasons. And with fewer than 11 weeks to go, I thought it was appropriate to check in with how my year of Believe is going.

When I entered into this year, I knew that I needed to make believe my word. I was still struggling with accepting that I was a runner, believing in my abilities and talents, and struggling to see how God could love me, let alone anyone else. So diving into a year of self-discovery within the area of believing felt like the perfect thing to do.

The first thing I did was signup for a class on singleness, because why the heck not!? Little did I know that signing up for this class would change my views on relationships/marriage, my own journey in life, and my relationship with God. It quickly helped me realize that I couldn’t wait for someone else to come into my life to truly live. My life has been in full motion for years, and I needed to realize and accept that fact. I made a list of things I wanted to do in my life- regardless of my marital status. I actively pursued my relationship with God with a fresh perspective and I decided that I needed to confront the past in order to move forward into what possibilities could be ahead. I came out of this course knowing that this life is all that I make it and it was time to fully pursue God’s plan for my life and lean into the unknown a bit.

I decided to take a renewed chance on love. To learn about what could be and how to be bold. I shared a few months ago about putting my heart on the line and sharing with someone how I felt about them. Something I do not normally do. I then put myself out in the dating world and learned some of the most valuable lessons about myself. And regardless of what has happened, I know that its all been a wonderful experience.

I shift my perspective on my health and fitness a bit. I realized that if I wanted to chase the dreams I had, I needed to fully trust those who were in my life helping guide me. For so long I took what they said and only half applied it. But when the opportunity came to be fully involved in my training and welcoming someone into my nutrition, I took it. I didn’t know how it would change my health and perspective on fitness, but it showed me that I am more then running, I am more then the number on the scale, and I am more then my own twisted view of my body. I learned how to make a training plan that worked for me, smashed every running goal I had for the year, learned more about fueling my body for running and performance, and realized that there a seasons for everything- including weightloss.

Reflecting back I know that I fully embraced the word believe within my health and fitness. I know that I can do anything I set my mind on. I believe in my ability to run fast, train effectively according to my own body’s needs, and know how to fuel for various times in my training. I learned how to open up to the professionals in my life in a way that is helping me grow more and I am so thankful for their patience with me through the years. When I say I have the best people in my life, I really do mean it. Without their guidance and insight into my health and fitness I would not be able to do what I have done this year or over the past two years.

I started to believe in my ability to make a bigger impact in this world. I work in higher education and my biggest desire in my work is to help others see how they can make an impact in this world. And through this work, it came to my attention that I needed to help myself see that potential. And I now know that part of that potential is getting a doctorate and pursuing teaching and upper level administration. I know that this is part of my calling in life. And that the world needs more people who want to help others on a larger scale, especially within higher education and the most influential time in someones life. I believe in my ability to make a difference and that I can chase something that seems slightly impossible. Because without chasing the impossible, we would never see what we are fully capable of.

And in the midst of all of this, I have learned so much more about myself. About who I am now, especially as I said goodbye to my 20’s. And about who I want to be moving forward. I’ve learned that this year has been so much more then just about believing in myself. It’s been a huge year of self-reflection and growth. And I am excited to see how the next 11 weeks unfold. Because this year isn’t over  yet and there is still so much left to explore.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

Two Extremes Blended

I feel as though some aspects of my life are slipping through my hands. Its as if I can’t hold on them, no matter how hard I try.

The reality is that as I get older, the more I realize that I cannot control control anything in my life. Try as I might, life will always get in the way. There will always be outside forces that throw off a plan. Days will start off great and occasionally end with fear or sadness. But I have to cling to the hope that I am exactly where I need to be and doing exactly what I am called to do.

As I continue to think over the last month of my life, I realize how different it is today then what I thought it would look like. So much change, from heartbreak to immense joy. It’s this balance that I have never experienced in my life. The desire to cry and smile all at the same time. Being on this emotional roller coaster that shows no signs of stopping.

I’ve experienced a loss that I never imagined I would have to go through or witness. I’ve watched my best friend lose her child and have sat alongside her in the midst of intense grief and sorrow. I’ve felt this grief myself and its hard to shake the very real reality that we will not have this little on in our lives.

I’ve experienced the great joys at the same time. A new start and chance for my heart to see what good things can happen. Continuing to chase a dream and desire to run with my whole heart. To inspire the world around me in the midst of everything taking place in my life. And to reflect the life and love of Jesus in the midst of everything.

And I am realizing how hard it is to juggle. That these two extremes are so blended and embedded in my life that it seems that they will never separate, no matter how hard I try. But it could also be that I do not know how to handle grief. To sit with these feelings instead of compartmentalizing them and pushing them away until they force their way out.

As I continue to sit with these extreme feelings, I can’t help but be numb. Because in some way, being numb is way easier then actually feeling. Feeling so sad that their seems no way out. Or feeling so filled with joy but secretly waiting for it to be shattered. It’s the dark twisted side of my mind that is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the reality to snap me out of where I am. Even though this is my reality and unless I cause a drastic shift, its not going to change.

I have to remember that time heals all wounds. The wounds of sorrow and loss and the wounds of being hurt again. I know that eventually I will be ok with the loss that I’ve endured and accepting of the joy’s that are in my life. It’s just that right now it feels as if it is all slipping through my hands and I can’t hold on to any of it.

I am reminded that I am not along in these feelings. That I am not walking a path uncharted, no matter how isolating it seems. I am not alone and in a strange way it brings me comfort. To know that others can relate. And if you can relate, feel free to reach out. And if you happen to be in the midst of something similar, also reach out. The only way we can get through this is to be here for one another. Because none of us are actually alone.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

To live with intention

What does it mean to live?

To live a life so filled with experiences and joys that you never realize how full your life is until you stop to really think about it. To live with vulnerability, openness, and a love that reaches out to others, regardless of who they are. To be willing to take the first step, even though you don’t know the road it will lead you down.

I’ve started to realize over the last few weeks how I am living my life. How my desire to show others that I care has helped deepen friendships and form new ones. The ways in which my passions have brought new experiences and people into my life. How my desire to live a fearless life has created stories that I could have never imagined.

And then, today, I saw this quote:
“Live your life with intention.
Live the life you’ve always dreamed of;
The life you have always imagined living.”

And it hit me. I had always imagined this life for myself. And up until a few years ago, it was just a day dream off in the distance that I hoped to reach but never thought was possible. That is, until I started living with intention. The ability to chase a dream, the desire to improve my life, the willingness to step off the edge into the unknown and embrace the risk. One day I just decided to change. To take one step into the unknown and see where it would take me.

But it took years for me to realize it. To see how different my world is, how God has walked me through the highs and lows that have brought me here. And the amount of thankfulness I have is indescribable. I am filled with a deep joy. And even in the midst of chaos and difficult seasons or excitement and smooth waters, I know that I am exactly where I need to be and where God has intended me to be.

To be able to look back and see the path that has unfolded around me reminds me of the ever present goodness of God. Someone told me once, “If you knew everything that would happen between today and five years from now, would you still take the first step?”. And it helped me realize that I don’t want to know the future of my life. I want to have goals and desires, but knowing all the steps along the process before they happen would cause me to step back and not take risks. And I would not be thankful for the journey.

Regardless of what your journey looks like, what your life looks like, or how close you are to your goals, take some time to look back on how far you have come. Think back to your first run, that race you accomplished that you never thought you would, the trial you thought you would never get through. Remember how it felt to push forward, even though it was difficult. How the journey has shaped you into who you are right now. And be grateful for everything that has taken place. It’s only in growth from our past that we can push forward into the unknown of our future.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

A follow up

My story started off like a majority of running stories.

Girl falls in love with boy. Boy breaks her heart. Girl is left to pick up the pieces. Boy is never to be heard from again.

The fact that this is a common reality for a lot of women runners says something. There is something about a broken heart that drives you to do desperate things. Things you would never think of doing. Like jumping out of a plane. Traveling the world for the sake of finding yourself. Learning to cook. Moving to a new city where you know no one. Figuring out how to figuratively and literally place one foot in front of the other and move your life forward.

But what do we do when the past catches up to us? How do we handle when the wounds we thought were healed are ripped open again, leaving us with a sting of pain similar to what originally happened.

I am branded by what happened to me. Some days I feel that people can read what happened to me on my forehead. “Ghosted at wedding, never to hear from him again” is what it reads. “Broken hearted but trying to heal”. Looks of sorrow and pity, people taking refuge on you and reminding you at all times to take care of yourself and to allow time for what happened to heal. But I thought I had healed. Why is this something that keeps coming back to haunt me?

A year ago I wrote a piece titled “To the one who broke me”.  A thank you letter to the man who decided that I was not worth his time anymore and ghosted me on New Year’s Eve at my friend’s wedding.  I publically made it known that I cared so much about one person who didn’t entirely feel the same, to the point where he cut off all contact from me for over two years. But in those two plus years, so much happened in my life.

I found who I was. The person God was calling me to be. I learned some of life’s hardest lessons, like patience, healing, self-discovery, and how to forgive. Or, at least, I thought I had learned how to forgive.

When I took a risk recently, all in the pursuit of being fearless and believing that I am worthy of giving and receiving love, all I could think of was- would this person do exactly like the one before did? Would he leave me here waiting for hours, only to never hear from him again? That is a scary thought to think as you are driving to meet someone and share your heart. This is a moment where my past came back to haunt me. Where all I could think about was how one person tainted my entire view of relationships.

You see, in December, I finally got an answer from the man who ghosted me. Almost three years to the day, after a few messages to not much of an answer, I finally got a response. And in no way was it what I was expecting. It was a shift of blame, a best of luck in what you pursue, a door shut in my face for what I hoped would be the final closure I needed to truly end this chapter in my life. I thought I had forgiven him, moved on in a way that seemed best. But, it turned out that all I had done was shifted this chapter to the back of my mind, hoping to never revisit it again.

And that is the funny thing about life. It has a way of bringing you back to the things that you never wanted to revisit. Reminding you that with time, patience, healing, and wise counsel, you will forgive and move on from what took place, no matter how earth shattering it might have been. I can’t sit here and tell you I know what the other side of this looks like. I am still sitting among the pieces, trying to figure out what true forgiveness looks like, how to move on when I know I will not see him again, and how to remind myself that not all men are the same.

I can tell you, that when I showed up to that coffee shop a few weeks ago, I was reminded that good men do exist in our world. That people do hold up their ends of commitments and show up. And even though things did not go as I would have hoped, they went in a direction that is helping me learn to heal. In so many ways. And if any encouragement can come through this, it is: People will continue to surprise you, your heart will remind you what healing it needs, and eventually you will establish a new view of what was once broken.

I am far from being done with this chapter. This seeking of forgiveness, of remaining thankful for what has taken place in my life regardless of how challenging it has been. For now, I will continue to seek God’s favor, to welcome people into my mess without fear, and learn how to let true, complete healing take place in my heart. Only time will tell where this adventure is leading. And I, for sure, am not ready to give up yet.

Embrace Your Body, Right Where It Is At. 

“How to drop 10 pounds fast”, “Do these 3 exercises for two weeks and get a six pack”, “Lose body fat fast with this simple ingredient”, “Get summer ready in 4 weeks!”. Everywhere we look, society is telling women that we need to improve the way we look. Just existing in the world as we currently are is not enough. The work we put in to being out strongest self should be kicked up a notch to reach this societal ideal of what strong looks like.

The latest in conflicting messages is to embrace who you currently are but always continue to strive for your best self. How do I embrace who I am currently when the world around me is telling me I need to lose another 20 pounds to be deemed acceptable? Wither we realize it or not, we have let society tell women what they should look like in order to gain worth and love. When in reality, we get to decide this each and every day.

As we enter into summer, the messages our culture is throwing at us will get stronger. The magazines in the checkout line will scream at you with headlines on how to lose weight, look great in a bikini, burn fat, and more. If you don’t believe me, just take a look next time you are at the grocery store and happen to not be in the self-checkout line. But, when we look to people like Kelly Roberts, Mirna Valerio, and Candice Huffine (among countless others), we are seeing strong women who are embracing their bodies and encouraging women to do the same.

As we march into the summer, I am reminded that it doesn’t matter what society tells me I should look like. My worth is based on how I feel. My body is a machine that is doing amazing things. And when I run a race, in a sports bra, showing my rolls and stretch marks, I feel strong and worthy. My encouragement for you in these summer months are to embrace your body. Each day you get a run in, chase your kids around, eat a delicious meal, or show up for yourself, thank your body for getting you to this place. You are worthy of love. You are beautiful, regardless of your size. And you are strong, even if you feel weak.