But I Do Have It All

I received an email from Weight Watchers the other day with the subject line “Jennifer, you can have it all in 2017!” and it rubbed me the wrong way.  Honestly, I have no idea how I ended up on their mailing list and I have needed to remove myself from it for years.  But like many of you, I am just accustomed to deleting these emails and moving on.

Let me tell you why I do not like this subject line of this email.  They are assuming that I do not have it all in my life. It appears that they are trying to tell me that in order for me to have it all in my life that I need to join their program and lose weight. I will be the first to tell you that years ago I bought into this thinking and mentality.  It is so easy to buy into the marketing of companies telling you that you do not have everything you could in you life and that one of the biggest pieces of this is that you are overweight.

I am one of those lucky ones, the ones that was able to get the help needed to realize that even though I am over weight, I have everything I could every want or need in my life and I am capable of doing so much, regardless of the size of my body.  Is it easier to do the things I love now that I have lost over 50 pounds? Yes, but it does not mean that I was not able to do the things I love before, just like I am learning that I can find new things to do and love that will eventually get easier over time.  The things that I love to do right now, like running and hiking, were things I loved to do years ago.  I was able to feel like I was flying with each run I took, regardless of the pace I went.  I was able to experience the great reward to reaching a mountain top and taking in the view, even if it meant being the last one to reach the top and slowing down those who were with me.

I am learning with each new day that I am capable of more and continue to have it all.  Last weekend I hiked Lake 22, just north of Granite Falls, WA, in the snow and ice. I ran up half the mountain because I realized I could, and that meant having it all in that moment.  On Wednesday I worked out with November Project Seattle and engaged in conversation with people I have never met before all while running over 3 miles, and in that moment, it meant having it all.

Don’t believe the marketing that is trying to tailor itself to make you think you are not worthy or capable until you lose weight or make a major change in your life.  You are worthy. You are able.  You do have it all! You just have to be willing to look around your life to realize it.

-Be fearless, go boldly.

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It’s All For Fun!

15317906_1329109193787348_5928349443145603619_nTossing out the idea of doing a Christmas 5k to my roommates seemed like a bit of a stretch.  Would they want to join me? Would the promise of ugly sweaters, fun hats, and Christmas cheer be enough to convince them? Tossing this idea out to my life group seemed like an even bigger stretch, but anyone can do a 5k. Right?

 

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It’s amazing what happens when you just toss an idea out there.  What started out as just my roommates joining turned into a group of 14 of us doing the Ugly Sweater Run.  I won’t lie, this race is my favorite out of all the races I have done this year.  I have completed 10 races since June, (I have an addiction to racing!) including my first half marathon, which was an amazing experience. I didn’t get an PR’s or PB’s on this race and I hit a few rough patches along the way. But this race tops all of the race highlights of other great races because it is one that I go to share with my favorite group of people.

 

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Why are these people some of my favorite? Because these are the people that have stood by my side since I started my fitness journey. They are the ones who have constantly been asking me how it is going, what things they can help with, finding new ways to support me, being constant encouragement for the various challenges this journey has brought me, as well as celebrating in the joys.  These are the people who watched me train for a half marathon, who surprised me with signs and celebration at the finish line, and asked what’s next? These are also the people that I get to do life with on a consistent basis.  I see them at least once a week, checking in with how their own life journey is going, seeking ways to encourage them and pray for them.  We’ve got one another through thick, thin, and silly 5k races.

 

49593160_race_0-951139763494703-displayI would highly encourage doing a fun run with a group of friends. Any one can do a 5k! It can be a contest to see who has the best outfit, a battle of runners and walkers, and a way to cheer one another along when you run past each other on the course.  Running should be fun, so why not share that with those who you like to have fun with?

 

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I mean, look at these photos and try to tell me we did not have fun! We were filled with excitement, energy, and Christmas cheer. So, go out, grab your friends, and signup for a FUN race. You will not regret this choice!

You vs You

“You have to remember how far you have come. You did not get here overnight. This is days, weeks, months, and years of work. Each day is another step forward to where you want to go and another step away from who you once were”

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This is what filters through my mind with each workout I do. Every run, stair climb, NP workout, and fitness class. I am constantly trying to remind myself that I am not who I was a few years ago. I am working toward a stronger version of myself each and every day.

But I also have those days where all I can think about is how I am not as strong as I would like to be. I still cannot run up the entire length of the Howl Street Stairs (honestly, I might never be able to do this…), I still struggle to find my balance on some exercises, I still find myself taking walking breaks during my runs when I know I can keep going.  These are the tough days, the ones where all I do is question why I am not doing as well as I think I should be doing.

And this is where reality hits me. When I realize that though I am not as strong as I want to be, I am stronger than I used to be.  I used to not do all that I do now.  I would never have thought I’d be running stairs at 6:15am on a Tuesday six months ago.  I didn’t think I would ever complete a half marathon a year ago, even though it was my “lofty dream”.  I didn’t think I would be able to run a mile in 10 minutes and 37 seconds.  I stared at my PT in disbelief a few months ago when he told me I’d be running between 9-10 minute miles by January, yet now I believe it fully.

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I think the hardest reality check has been my mental game.  I am realizing that you are the only one who can decide what you are going to do.  And this is the thing I need to keep in mind.  I get to pick each action I do, no one else. It’s the battle of what I can actually do versus what my mind tells me I can or cannot do.  It is a constant battle, one I am facing each and every day. But each day gets a bit easier as I start to accept what I can do compared to what my mind keeps thinking I can’t do.

For now, I am going to keep picking the things that are going to push me forward. The ones that keep me encouraged, motivated, and filled with joy. I am going to keep reminding myself that I am capable of hard things. It might not be easy some days, but I know in the long run it will be worth it.

Until next time

The NP Tribe Changes You

Waking up at 5am has never been easy.  The sheer thought sends people into a tailspin.  But once you realize what is waiting for you come 6:29am on a Wednesday morning, everything changes.

I did not sleep the night before my first November Project workout. Could it be from nerves, excitement, or the dread of an early wake up call, I still do not know.  I do know that come 5am on that strangely rainy day in the middle of July I forced myself out of bed, tossed on some workout gear, brushed my teeth, made a cup of coffee, and headed out the door.  I showed up not knowing a single person, just an encouragement from some runner I follow on Instagram to “Just Show Up” and I do not regret it one bit.

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The people I have met are eager to give a hug, say good morning, and get a good bounce going before our fearless leaders when it’s too cold to stand still.  These people have become my tribe. They are the ones who see me struggling to complete the 10th burpee or run up the hill again with an achy hip, cheering me on the entire time. They are the ones that push me to be better, get stronger, and encourage everyone I pass, regardless of what day of the week it is.  As I have gotten to know more people at each workout, I realize the true sense of community each one of us feels. It’s not very often you meet a group of fellow enthusiastic morning people who love to work out in the dark, so you hold them close.

To my NP tribe, you are amazing and I am forever grateful to be in your tribe.  You’ve helped me realize that I can do more than I ever thought, simply from telling me “keep going,” “good job,” or giving me a high five.  The community, the energy, the workout, and the surprises are what keep me coming back week after week.  I am like a kid on Christmas Eve with the anticipation of Santa come Tuesday nights. It is hard to go to sleep because I know that I get to see the tribe in the morning, while getting my butt kicked.  Thank you NP Seattle for making Wednesday my favorite day of the week.

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To those who are curious to what November Project is or are interested in joining, JUST SHOW UP. Stop thinking about it. Stop questioning what takes place or if you can keep up.  Put yourself out there. Give your best effort and find your tribe. You will not regret it and it will change your life in meaningful ways.  I know it has changed mine.

Here’s to a damp,
cold winter filled with amazing Wednesdays (and Fridays). #Justshowup

The Identity Crisis

Near the end of September, in the middle of the tapper for my first half marathon, I encountered an identity crisis. After feeling, seeing, doing, and accomplishing so many amazing things in the span of four months, I was hit by a brick wall of awakening.  I call this awakening, because it felt like I had been woken up from a great dream to a bleak reality.  The kind of thing that makes you stop dead in your tracks because the thought of who you are is lost.

Six weeks later and I am still trudging through this identity crisis.  Clearly this is not a quick thing to get over or go through.  Though it has been a process, I have begun to realize a few things and process what this feeling really is.  One thing I realize is that I have people identifying me as a runner/athlete/fitness person.  If you should know anything about me, it is that before April of this year, I was NONE of these things. Yes, I would go run a bit here and there because I enjoyed it or I would do a random sporting activity with a group of friends, but I was no where near an athlete, runner, or fitness junkie.  Maybe I was a runner, but I was the type of runner who would only run when everything “felt right”.  In middle and high school I was the kid who was trying to get out of doing things in gym or doing the bare minimum in the sports I played.  I had no desire to do anything fitness related in college.  I participated in my first 5k because it was an event I put on for work my senior year of college.  I was nothing near an athlete or fitness inspired person.

After college and into grad school I would occasionally go walk/jog around my neighborhood to process the many different things happening in my life.  Nothing was set to a schedule or consistent, just simply as something to do to clear my head when my life was crazy.  In November of 2014 I had a realization that I needed to make a change in my life. Being 275 pounds and living a life I did not enjoy was weighing down on me and I needed to put an end to it. I signed up for a 2 month wellness challenge group with someone I followed on Instagram and started a health journey on December 9, 2014.  I only began thinking about trying to run at the end of the first month when I participated in a group challenge to do a 5k over a weekend. And after that weekend I only kept trying to run to gain worth from someone else.  And somehow two years, an injury, and many races later, I am a runner who runs for pure joy of running.  People I know look at me and say “you are a runner,” or “you are so dedicated to fitness,” or “you are an inspiration to me,” and it blows my mind. How did I become an inspiration to someone just by doing something as simple as running? Do these people not realize that I am not that inspiring? Do they realize that I am not fast or that some days I just don’t want to run?

Another realization in my identity crisis is that my physical body has gone through a drastic change over the last two years.  I have lost over 50 pounds, I no longer recognize myself in pictures, and I am constantly shocked by what I see in a mirror. When I started my health journey, I read a few blogs from people who had lost a significant amount of weight. Each one of them talked about what it was like to not recognize themselves in the mirror or believe the size they actually were.  Of course, I read these blogs thinking it would never happen to me… and yet here we are!  Maybe I should stop saying never, because it seems to have the opposite effect on me.

I realized today that a small part of me will not accept the current physical state of my body because it is waiting for it to revert back to how it was. Every time I step on a scale I think I will look down to see it read a higher number than it actually says.  My mind just can’t fathom the reality of what size I actually am.  The crazy thing about all this is, in order for me to revert back to the size I was two years ago, I would have to undo hundreds of habits and choices that I have made.  So in all reality, I need to realize that who I am currently is not going to change.

Another part of me is upset with how this process makes others view me.  I am constantly given comments by people about how “skinny” I look or have comments made about my weight loss.  Don’t get me wrong, weight loss is great and all, but I do not want to be told I look skinny, or good, or any other comment people feel they can make about my body.  I am not doing this to look a certain way or to gain these ridiculous comments from people. I started this journey to gain my health back, weight loss is just a side effect.  I want people to tell me that I look strong, that I look healthy, or that I look happy and joyful.  I want our society to realize that being beautiful is not being a certain size or weight.  Being beautiful is about who you are as a person. I was beautiful two years ago and I am beautiful today, I just don’t physically look the same.

In all honesty, I think that this identity crisis is something that will be around for a while, in some way, and at times it will be minimal and at other times it will be to big to handle. I am forever grateful to the tribe that stands behind me and consistently reminds me that I am still the same person I have always been. They are the ones that let me ramble on about various things and always encourage me to push through. They remind me that as a person I have not changed and still have my foundation of identity.  I just have added a few extras that are a bit harder to accept, but with time they will be added to my ever growing identity.

Until next time friends!