Hello 2018

The new year is an exciting time for everyone. We get to clean up our lives and start new again. Or, at least, that is what it feels like. We pack away Christmas, maybe reorganize our homes, set new goals for the new year, and try to make the impossible happen.

A few years ago I decided to do away with New Year Resolutions. I realized that they did not really work well with me, that I fell short to the statistic of dropping them come the end of January. And for my mental state, it was not the best thing to do. So I decided to select a word to describe and shape my year. And it ended up being the best thing I could have done.

The first year I did a word was in 2016. I pondered for a few days what would be the word to shape my year. I’d spent 2015 working on my health, recovering from an injury, working on my mental state, and trying to understand why certain events unfolded the way they did. A day into the new year and I realized the word for 2016 would be STRIVE. If I could strive to be better, do more, and make a difference, I would like up to my desire for the new year.  Honestly, I had no idea how this one word would effect my entire life. I traveled the world, faced a near death experience, ran my first half marathon, and started to question if I was a runner. I lost more weight and became the strongest version of my self. I started co-leading a small group through my church and realized the great things God had in store for my life. All of this may have happened regardless of my New Years resolution or word, but I would like to believe that it all happened because I chose to make an effort to let a word shape my life.

After an eventful 2016 I found myself sitting at the end of the year wondering what 2017 would be like. I already knew I had big things lined up (hello NYC half marathon and Chicago Marathon!) and the scared the living daylights out of me. I was continuing to struggles with my identity in the running community and questioning if my heart would ever feel whole again. While out running one day in late December I passed a tree filled with wishes, a typical thing done in Seattle in December. The first one I looked at said “I wish to live a fearless life”. And it struck a cord deep within me. I had lived in fear of so many things for so long and I realized that if I was going to do big things in 2017, I couldn’t let fear stand in my way. Que the year of being FEARLESS. I lived my life apologetically, writing what I felt was needed to be said, sharing my faith more openly, allowing God to move in ways I couldn’t comprehend. I went into a season of hard running goals knowing that if I could either let them destroy me or change me. Letting fear get in the way would have let these goals destroy me, so I chose to let these distances change me. I spoke to more people, chased the seemingly unobtainable, and made the year of being fearless the best year yet.

So here I sit at the start of another New Year. 2018 has been setup to be a solid year, regardless of what I actually do with it. So I figured why not make it the year I challenge myself in what I believe. Yes, 2018 is the year of BELIEVE. It’s time for me to believe in myself and the things I am capable of doing, even if it scares me. It is time for me to believe in the truths and promises that God has set before me. It is time to believe in the goodness of others and the ability to make a difference in a world that can often seem bleak. I can tell you right now that I will not be racing as much this year but I will be putting in a greater effort to be stronger and faster. I might not get to write as much as I would like to, but the things I write will be filled with truth and a hope to reach more people. I might not understand the ways in which God will challenge me this year, but I know that it will be for my good and for His greater plan. My greatest hope for this year is that I believe in the power of change and how we can all be better if we want to.

As we set sail full force into 2018, my wish for you is to have a year that will change you in many different aspects. Wither its setting a resolution or selecting a word, do the thing that makes you happy and want to be the best version of yourself. Know that you are loved and cared for, even when the world seems dark, I am here for you and so are many others. Take a moment to reflect on the good things of 2017 and set a course for 2018. Let me know what your desires are for the New Year. Then go out there and change your world.

Until next time,
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

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Perspective

The way we view things is so unique to each and everyone of us. Each experience we have, regardless of who we have it with, is going to look completely different depending on who you ask. My view of the Chicago Marathon is so very different from the thousands of others who ran it. And that is special in its own way.

I have spent time discussing what has happened to me in the past, the way someone walked out of my life without a single word or reason why. How I am searching for how to move forward, even though it can seem impossible. But I know I need to pick up the broken pieces and really begin putting everything back together, or at least complete the puzzle of my heart that is sitting three quarters of the way fixed.

Reaching out to him has not been an easy thing to do. Since the first time in June, every time I hit send my heart starts beating a million miles a minute. Each response sends a whirlwind of emotions and another round of heartbreak as I realize that he just does not care. The final time was a few weeks ago. I finally explained that I needed some form of closure, that I had written a few pieces about what happened but that I didn’t just want to drop a link. Three weeks went by without a response, even though he read the message right away. The realization again that he just did not care. So I finally just sent the link.

The response made me realize that his view is so very different then my own. Where I saw us in a complicated relationship, he saw it as simply a friendship. But his unwillingness to bring up the past made me realize that there was more to his view then he was willing to admit. But then again, he is entitled to have his own view on what happened. But it still does not explain why everything happened the way it did or how he would just cut off contact for years the way he did.

I guess in the end, none of it matters. What matters is how I move forward and keep trying to make the most of each day, of chasing the goals and dreams in front of me, and making my heart whole again. When I look back on what happened, I will always remember first the good times, because regardless of what happened I am human and will always think of the good times first. But I will also look back on how what took place set my life in motion to be a better, holistic person.

Moving forward in any regard is difficult, wither it is from a person or an incident that took place. Some days will be good and some days will be challenging, but regardless of what happens, moving forward is the best thing to happen to me.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

Why I’m done with the scale

I am at a point where I am completely sick of the scale and the ways it is causing havoc on my life. It seems that regardless of the effort I put into losing weight I am faced with the same results. Not only is this frustrating, but I have an added pressure to get the number down and I have just had enough of it.

When did we start correlating a persons worth with the number on the scale? Since when does how a person performs in their sport have a direct representation to how much they weigh? I can tell you that I am a person who is worthy of love and kindness, just like everyone else. I can also crush the goals set in front of me regardless of “needing to get the number down”.

I am beyond sick of people trying to tell me how I should live my life. From being a kid and hearing that I need to control my weight, to being on a journey to better health and only hearing the positive comments about how much weight I have lost, I am done with this number. I am also done with people turning to body fat percentage, seeking the need to know the answers to what the scale isn’t showing. Can we just accept that everyone’s body is different? That we all carry weight in different ways? That we all have different goals and regardless of where we stand, our weight shouldn’t dictate our ability to keep chasing our dreams?

You might be reading this and start to think that I am a hypocrite. I don’t blame you, I mean, I do post photos of what I used to look like compared to where I am today, as well as sharing that I have lost 75 pounds. But over the last three years I have learned that life is about so much more then the amount of weight I can lose in a set amount of time. Its about the things I am able to experience, the way I am living, and chasing down dreams that I never thought I could do.

This is why I am throwing weight loss out the window. It’s no longer my goal. In fact, it hasn’t exactly been my goal for about a year now. I’ve spent more time learning how to properly fuel my body to be able to perform for running, seeking new goals to accomplish, crushing PR’s and getting stronger in the gym. My life can’t continue to revolve around the number on the scale if I am choosing to live in the world of endless possibility.

The only possibility the scale provides is a high when the number goes down and an extreme low when it goes up. I can’t continue to subject myself to the heightened emotions that come from this kind of cruelty. I can only live in a world where hard work pays off, my passions are driving my accomplishments, and where I am in control of how my emotions are played out, regardless of how much I weigh. For this reason, if you suggest a new diet for weight loss, tell me I need to reduce my mass, or even mention needing extra help to work towards a ridiculous goal that I myself have not set, I will redirect your thinking. If this is going to be a positive change in my life, I have to work on it myself and on the comments from those around me.

For those of you on a journey of your own, remember that the scale is only a measure of your mass to the gravitational pull of the earth. Nothing more. You are more then the number you see. You have value and worth, regardless of what others say. We are all in this to live the best lives we can, regardless of what that number says. And if you find something you love and it happens to influence a loss or gain on the scale, keep in mind that what you are gaining from your new passion far exceed the shame that comes with the scale.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

Letting Go

How do we let go of what has happened in our past? To set a new course, to continue moving forward without holding on to what once was. Is it that I actually miss the person or the idea of the person? Do I feel some sort of resent towards them and what happened or am I in need of actual closure and an opportunity to thank them for redirecting the course for my life? Can I let the events of the past help shape my future in a positive way or hold me back from being the best version of myself?

As you can tell, my mind has been going in circles for a few weeks now. And I am realizing more and more that I am holding back on even more opportunity for growth in my life because I am holding on to one thing in my past. My desire for closure is far exceeding my need to keep moving forward.

As I keep turning over in my mind, I am realizing the reality of this and how the simple act of letting go is far more difficult then we ever realize. When we let our hearts go towards something or someone that was never meant for us, we go through the process of letting go that puts its hold far deep within our souls. We yearn for what could have been instead of reaching toward what will be in the future. And it is crazy to me how this can play out with people and decisions in our lives over simple things.

How do I let go of a bad race day? How do I move forward from the person I thought would always be there? How do I make peace with myself over a decision that completely altered my mind? Each day of our lives is filled with small decisions that lead to larger choices. Its through these little choices that we finally make headway toward moving forward, forgiving, and finding peace.

I am very much still in the midst of finding balance in the small choices I make each day. I know that these little choices will effect that larger decisions in my life. I am starting to become more aware of the small choices and how they are affecting me currently. If I don’t like something, I begin to determine the process of changing it. But one thing I can’t seem the change is the thoughts of what could have been. That is, until today. I am working towards reworking my thoughts. Think about what could have been and shift it to what is actually happening. Think of how I could have made a different choice and instead think of the choices I have made that have brought me to today. It’s a small step in a large process that is going to lead to a lot of growth.

Maybe I will be further along in a few weeks on this process. Maybe my mind will shift if I can receive the closure I so desperately want. But what will I do if God has a different plan and I don’t get what I want? What do I do then? Do I continue to think about the past knowing that it is hurting my future or do I pick up the remaining broken pieces, glue them back together, and finally move on with my life?

I guess time will only tell. But my hope is to start moving forward in ways that I have yet to do. Because I know I am better off now then I was years ago.

Three Years Later

It is hard to believe that today marks three years of my fitness/health journey. Three years ago I stepped off a flight from Santiago, Chile, and ventured right into the unknown. I took a leap of faith on myself, with the help of a stranger on Instagram, and hoped for the best.  What has happened over the past three years is nothing short of incredible. A true testament to the work God is doing in and through my life.

I have days where is it hard to remember my life before I made the change. But I also have those days where I feel like I never changed at all. I have learned so much about who I am, what I love to do, and the things I am capable of doing. Numerically I have lost 75 pounds, run over 30 races, logged about 800 miles this year alone. I have run races I never thought I would be able to do, met people who have changed my life, and started to share my journey.

I learned about the things the do not tell you about extreme weight loss, like lose skin, mental changes, self discovery, identity crises, and finding a new normal. I have learned about balance, true friendship, and the meaning behind community. I have had a “near death” experience, pierced my noise, overcome an eating disorder, and even gotten a tattoo to represent everything this journey has taught me.

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And I keep coming back to the same spot every time I think about my journey. I think about how grateful I am to have had an opportunity to change my life. I had no idea what I was doing when I started. I just knew that I was fed up with the way I was living and feeling. And it forced me to reach out to someone I did not know for help. I did not know if I would be able to commit fully or make it through more than a few months, but I knew I needed to try. I took in all the things I was taught and worked through them. I made the mental changes needed and really put myself first in every circumstance.

I think back to the frightened young women and I am so thankful for what she did. And I remember the amount of bravery it took to have the courage and faith to make the change, even if it wouldn’t work. This journey is easy in explanation but so challenging in reality. And I am forever grateful to 26 year old me for choosing to change, regardless of what anyone had to say.

My life is drastically different today. All because I took a leap of faith. Trust the process of the journey you are on. Know that you will make mistakes. You will fall of the wagon. But if you get back up and keep moving forward, you will find power within yourself and your choices. You can do anything you set your mind to. You just have to believe in yourself and take that first step into the unknown.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

When a good thing crosses the line

I have been doing a study with my small group called “The Gospel Treason”. It’s an in depth look at the idols of the heart and how we place various things before God. There is a fine line between something being a good thing and something taking the place of an idol within your heart. One of the fastest ways to tell if something has taken the place of an idol in your heart is to ask yourself the question of “Am I willing to do anything (sin) to get this one thing?”.  The question that stopped me in my tracks the other day was “Do I arrange my entire schedule around this one thing?” and “Do I get angry when it is messed with?”.

Honestly, the thing I struggle with most is control. As someone who has no control over many things, I found running to be one of the few things I could control. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted, for as long as I wanted. I can have total control over it. Except when my body fights back and I realize I actually do not have control over it.

You might be asking yourself “Jenn, why is this so important?”.  I have come to realize that I have let running shift from a place of being a good thing to being somewhat of an idol in my heart. My entire week has been built around when I could run for well over a year. I turn down plans, put people off, and ignore people just to get a run in. I get upset and angry when things are changed in the plan I have set for my running. This one was made very clear to me two weeks ago when I had a complete breakdown over a new training schedule. My body is working fine, but in order to be a more efficient runner I need to take an off season and work on strength. One of the biggest pieces of this is not running as many days in a week and focusing a lot more on my stride instead of distance. Cue the mental breakdown.

You may have discovered through my writings that running is a very emotional thing for me. Its the thing that got me through a time when didn’t think I could make it, it restored my faith in society, it helped me realize my own strength, and it helps me be a pleasant person to be around. When things are going sideways in my life or my family is driving me nuts, or something is going on within a relationship, the easiest and fastest way for me to work through it or handle the situation is to go for a run. But my reliance on running has turned from something that I do to the thing that I am. And that is where the problem lies.

If running were to be taken completely away from me tomorrow, I would crumble as a person. It was partially taken away from me as I have been placed in an off season (though some would beg to differ) and I broke down. How could I make it through the day, let alone a whole week, without being able to run? The answer is simple: You keep living your life. But the reality of going through the motions is so much harder. And this is where the problem lies for me currently.

Running is this amazing thing. It has given me a second chance at life, one where I am active and living it to its full potential. It has opened up doors that I never thought possible. But the fact that my live now revolves around it instead of it being an aspect of my life is causing a problem. It’s time to start working through what has caused this shift. Why have I placed running at the forefront of who I am? How can I get back to the place where it is simply something that I do and love, not everything that I am? Just as identifying as a runner has taken a lot of time, I think that sifting through this placement of running in my life is going to take a bit of time. Some days are going to be better than others. I may feel like I have this under control and then lose it completely with a change of the wind. But one thing I do know is that God is going to walk with me through this and show me far more on this rabbit trail then if I continue on the path I am on.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

When you struggle with worth

I’ve been avoiding writing for the last two weeks.

It’s not that I don’t have things to write about, in fact I have a list of about 15 different topics. I’ve been avoiding sharing the actual struggle I’m going through and sharing my heart with you all. The exact thing I set out to do when I started this blog.

Truth is, I still feel unworthy of this title of being a runner. I still struggle with accepting the various opportunities that are coming my way. I feel like I don’t deserve the amount of effort that others are putting into me and helping me to be better. This has nothing to do with anything I or others have done and everything to do with my minds ability to not accept anything from others and myself. One of my faults that I’m still working through.

I’m constantly being reminded that I am deserving of the things I am receiving. Not just because of who I am but because of the work and dedication I have put in to get to where I am. It’s not easy to do a 180 on your life, re-establish your identity, and desire to chase the impossible that is put before you. Yet, somehow, that is exactly what I have done.

I keep thinking back to what my life was like 3 years ago. I only dreamed of being where I am today. And after failed attempt by failed attempt, something finally clicked for me. I was able to face an eating disorder, find some form of activity that I absolutely love, and dare to chase things that seemed impossible. I praise God daily for letting me live the life I have lived, because without the willingness of the person I was three years ago, I would have never made it to where I am today.

And a huge part of this all was willing to put my trust in where God was leading me. It’s not easy to be broken down to rock bottom and be willing to reach your hand out towards something you can’t physically see or touch. But my willingness to do so has allowed God to walk me through an incredible journey that has lead me here. To be able to write about running, identity, body positivity, weight loss, and self discovery.

I know that sharing the dark side of my heart is terrifying, but doing so is another aspect of what I’ve been called to do. I’ve been given this gift of writing and a platform to be able to do so. And I am so honored by those who read this little corner of the internet and allow me to speak light and positivity into your life. I’m hopeful to push through this roadblock and get back to writing more soon. It’s just taking a bit more time then I realized to re-establish what normal looks like and what this next layer of being a runner really means.

Until next time

-Be Fearless, Go Boldly