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

What does it mean to be a runner?

I have been hit with this simple question and yet continue to come up with complex answers.  Does it mean you simply put one foot in front of the other? Does it mean you are dedicated to pushing your limits? Does it mean you are running from something or toward something?

I have been tossing this idea around in my head more and more in the last few months than I ever have before. You see, I am a fairly new runner. Maybe I am not as new as I think, but it all still seems new to me. This could possibly be because I just started taking my running seriously 6 months ago.  I started attempting to run on December 28, 2014 as part of a challenge from a wellness group I was in.   The challenge was to do a 5k over the weekend in any form, run, walk, bike, or swim, as a way to say “see ya later” to the past year.

My past year had been a rocky one, finishing grad school, moving back home, on a desperate hunt for a job that just wouldn’t come.  I woke up early from another sleepless night and decided to just give it a try, what was the worst that could happen? I told myself that I could turn around and go home whenever I wanted.  And I debated it every half mile. I ended up completing the 3.1 miles in just under 50 minutes in a walk/run fashion and felt accomplished. It didn’t matter what was going on in my life that was bringing me down, I had just completed a goal that I set out to do, despite wanting to turn around the entire time, and nothing could get me down.  Yes, it was tough, but I did it, and no one could take that away from me.

Though the feeling of accomplishment was amazing, I did not run for another week due to some travel.  And when I returned to it, it was for a different reason, no longer to just feel the sense of reaching a goal but to try and find value in someone else through running. To say the least, the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 was a rough week.  Running just seemed like a way to make the pain go away.  If I could prove to the person that hurt me that I was capable of something challenging and have them find value in me through something like running, then I could make the pain go away.  We all know that this is not the case, but this is how my running story began and I am forever grateful for this rocky start, because without it I would not be where I am today.

Fast forward almost two years and I have now completed a half marathon, countless other races and many miles. I have found strength within myself to be a runner.  But I am still conflicted with what it actually means to be a runner.  This is something that I have never viewed myself as, so how is it possible that others view me as it now?  Yes, I run a few days a week and participate in races, but does that qualify me as a runner?  Is it enough to just put forth effort to try and run that qualifies me? This is a journey of new discovery as a runner, no matter the road it leads down.  My story to becoming a runner and my journey in this realization is just a part of the wonderful process better know as “Am I Really a Runner?”.