Falling For Christmas

Okay, so, I never expected a Hallmark-like Christmas movie to teach me some lessons that I needed over the last couple weeks, but if you’re in the mood for a predictable Christmas romance with a side of sports psychology, Falling for Christmas on Amazon Prime has your name written all over it.

So let’s recap the last month.  A month ago tomorrow I had a hysterectomy (and the peasants rejoiced!  Best decision ever–long overdue, I’m beyond pleased with the choice to have had this surgery).  Because I don’t make any choice lightly, I knew all about the recovery going in…that I’d be going from full throttle to zero and having to build up again.  Looking at the calendar and hearing the words, “you won’t be permitted to WALK any distance until Thanksgiving and don’t even think about getting on your bike or swimming until Christmas” stung a lot.  It also made a lot of sense too because with the workload this time of year, I could be easily distracted in other directions to hold off from the depression of not engaging in the stress-releasing activities I’ve come to love and crave.  I put the plans in place.  I built up the mental arsenal.  I surrounded myself with the people I needed to keep me sane and positive in the recovery process–to remind me of the end-goal.  I was ready to attack this new training, if you will.  “I got this.”

Face Palm.

The best laid plans.

Don’t get me wrong.  Surgery went off beautifully, sans an allergic reaction the night following surgery from some latex products and adhesives used.  But was I prepared?  Kinda…

First of all, I’ve decided never listen to a man when it comes to the initial stages of healing from a gynecological surgery.  No offense guys, great surgeon and all, I chose him for a reason (because I fired more than one before settling), but…just…no.  Thank goodness I’m not stupid enough to have just one professional on my team and my surgeon isn’t the “lead doctor” I deal with anyway, so, I was able to get some other care as needed, but let’s just say it was rough.

Based on the recovery timeline I had been given, I anticipated being in less pain, more mobile at home, and more “with it” sooner than I was…not the case.  I also managed to bust open one of my incisions less than a week post-op because instead of traditional sutures they used dermabond (basically surgical super glue.  Dumb.).  As I was barely transitioning back to the office for just a couple hours at a time (all I could handle with the fatigue), I was hit with intubation-induced bronchitis from my weakened immune system (shout out to you, valley fever!) and just within the last couple days have been okay to shed the super attractive medical mask that I’ve had to wear in public to protect myself.

At my first follow-up appointment I was cleared to start walking short distances as I felt up to it (ahead of schedule mind you, because my physical healing was looking good), but this was smack in the middle of the bronchitis, so I wanted nothing more than the coughing to stop so I could sleep more.  I think I’ve slept more in the last month than I have in the last six combined.  Didn’t start walking until a few days later, and let me tell you, I almost cried…it was tortuously beautiful to move my body after being in bed and barely moving for weeks.  You don’t realize how you take movement for granted until you truly can’t do it.

Eating was another awful challenge.  It has only been in the last week that I have really had a regular appetite again.  I really had no hunger sensation, nothing sounded good, no cravings, and it was so hard to figure out when and what to eat initially after surgery.  Then once I got sick it was worse because I just felt so miserable!  I got really concerned because I was losing weight quickly which didn’t make sense because other than working in my office, I was in bed close to 20 hours the majority of days.  It’s still messing with my head because even though I’m moving again and up a bit longer these days (hey, I can put in six hours now, eight on a split shift with a nap), and my body/abdomen is still swollen from surgery for likely a few more weeks, I’ve lost upwards of twenty pounds.  That took a LOT of talking down from one doctor and my sports registered dietitian to understand it was normal and okay!

Fast forward to today…I’m really pleased that I’m able to move more as it brings a lot of relief to the discomfort that I still feel.  Sitting upright for long periods of time is very hard on me physically and makes me quite fatigued as well.  Naps are still my friend.  Walking really helps to stretch out those uncomfortable areas and I’m able to walk once or twice a day a fair distance…time to build stamina again.  I’m also able to do some very modified strength and yoga workouts (have to be careful of my 10lb lifting limits, not engaging my core too much yet, and twisting).  Next week starts a new phase of recovery/PT that will incorporate some new workouts to help with all that jazz.  Itching for my bike desperately…but I’m listening, and won’t ride until I’m told…but I’m certainly weighing the options on what Sufferfest ride will be first!  Swimming, eh, no love lost there…it’ll still be there when I’m ready and cleared for it, especially with my immune system right now, I want to be 100% positive all is healed and okay before getting in the pool anyway.

Also, I’m beginning to see some of the intended benefits from surgery start to peek out despite recovery not being as linear as I had hoped.  There are several conditions linked to my overall health and wellness, and some other concerns that spawned the final decision to finally bite the bullet and have this surgery (it’s been a long time coming), and again, so glad I did.  As I continue to recover, build my strength and stamina, and enter into my next racing training cycles fully healthy, I am extremely interested to see some of the changes and new surprises my body will have in store for me.  It’s exciting.

I’m not a new year’s resolution person.  We all know I’m a calculated and systematic goals kinda gal, but mark my words: 2020 is going to be a year like no other.  Buckle your seat belts, friends, there’s so much more to come. Stay tuned.

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Failure, You Don’t Own Me

Well, the song goes a bit differently…

Music is one of those things that soothes my soul, makes me tick, heightens my awareness, engages my brain, transports me to another place, and everything else in between and so much more than that.

I go through cycles with the songs that really hang heavy in my mind and heart…it might be the lyrics that speak to me in a way that nothing else can, or the music itself provides something that words themselves cannot.  Whatever it is.  Music is an essential part of my everyday life.

So, the song goes, “Fear, you don’t own me/There ain’t no room in this story…Telling me what I’m not/Like you know me well guess what?/I know who I am/I know I’m strong/And I am free/Got my own identity” (The Break Up Song, Francesca Battistelli)

I have a lot of fears in life.  I’m scared of a great many things.  Many things.  I have often been scared of failure…but, I’m learning maybe, just maybe, that in the failure comes the building blocks for so much greater potential.

It’s no big secret this year has not gone my way.  I had plans and goals, and well, life had other plans.  Valley fever wreaked havoc on my body in more ways than I possibly could have imagined, including having to rebuild my lung capacity and now going to have to completely revisit my endurance fueling plan because I’m having a lot of problems being able to take in anything after a certain point without becoming ill and also suffering a lot of dehydration that I’ve never experienced, even from perceived “easy” efforts. (As I sit here on the couch after yesterday’s 50 miles that for the majority was well executed, and an absurd amount of fluids taken in through recovery thus far, and still very much in the throes of severe dehydration and extremely uncomfortable).  I overextended a tendon in my ankle back in August that still isn’t pleased, and I have an ongoing ITB/psoas issue (possibly linked to my old SI problems) that I need to get looked at…all on the docket to get addressed in my “abundance” of time.

I’ve had a few finishing lines this year, but I’ve had more DNFs than I’m pleased with.  It’s been frustrating to say the least.  More tears of anger at myself than I care to admit, and that I’ve shared with others.  I’ve had to learn the limits of my body.  When to push, when to stop, and how to accept those limits.  I’ve never had to do that in my life because I’ve never actually HAD the desire to push my body to the brink–to see what I am fully capable of.  And I’m BEYOND tired of platitudes and sad faces on social media to the point that I’ve contemplated more than once trashing those mediums, even with a tighter circle on some platforms.  Thank goodness for the few I trust that can reel me in…I know many don’t understand that haven’t been in my position, so shares are perceived in many different ways than actual intent.  It absolutely kills me when people have the expectation that I’m “supposed” to be upset when I say I’m fine or say “it’s okay” when I say something otherwise.  No, it’s not okay if I’m not okay.  I’m entitled to how I feel…anyway, different soapbox for a different time.

But, even in failure, I’m still breathing (an amazing Green Day song, BTW), and have accomplished a few things this year that I can be proud of:

  • Lower Body Fat Percentage/Higher Lean Muscle Mass: Dude, my body is WEIRD! I don’t know myself anymore and that is one of the scariest things in the world.  I have shapes in places I’ve never had shapes, muscles popping out from the padding protection program (I’ll never have six-pack abs, nor do I desire to be ripped, but hey, I’ve got a little baby four-pack and it’s so cute!), and some definition in some areas despite others.  Don’t get me wrong, I still HATE so much of my appearance–the sagging skin on my upper arms is ridiculous, it actually sags further than the probable circumference of my arm.  Gross.  And the loose skin on my thighs…it just gets worse the stronger my legs get, and so the pooling at my knees is even worse.  Nasty.  What blows my mind is the majority of my clothing now is L/XL.  It’s not about the tag in my clothing…but dang, guys, I used to wear a 5XL.  Insane.
  • Higher average cycling speed:  I can blame the fancy new wheels all day long, but…my tri coach won’t let me use that excuse anymore.  I can deny it all I want, apparently I need to admit I’m improving.
  • Strength and flexibility like I’ve never had before: I won’t bore you with the recent stats, but dang…my leg power is pretty impressive.  Upper body, no surprise, I’m not becoming spiderman anytime soon. And flexibility? I’m a pretzel baby! Other than my neck to the left, range of motion on my body is pretty stinkin’ great except for the hindrance caused by the excess skin from weight loss (gag).

I was reminded this morning in some reading that I was doing of this quote by Jennifer Dykes Hensen, “If you want to get healthy, you can’t focus on just your physical body. You can’t focus on just your mind or emotions either. Every part of your being is intertwined with every other part. Complete health will remain elusive until you take a holistic approach and address your entire self—body, mind, emotions, and spirit—as a whole. That said, your spiritual health is the foundation on which a life of wholeness is built. If you aren’t spiritually healthy, you will always struggle with your body, your mind, and your emotions. To get from where you are to where you want to be in any and every area of your well-being, you have to engage with God and take responsibility for your spiritual health.”

This is what I’ve been saying all along.  It’s not just about the physical.  This never started out to be a physical journey.  I’m down to single digit days now in counting down to evicting the babymaker and I’m going to be entering my first “off-season” of movement since I started all of this.  Not gonna lie.  There’s fear.  Not in the surgery (I’m actually morbidly excited for this because of everything it’s going to improve–literally the doctor ran out of room on one form for the laundry list of diagnoses necessitating the surgery on the consent forms last week.  It’s time, lol), but for the downtime.  It interrupts the routine.  I like my routine.  I like the comfort of routine.

But, in God’s infinit wisdom, it’s time to shake things up…change.  I HATE CHANGE.  (We all know this) So, it’s back to the drawing board–but, I have my foundations.  I have my firm belief that being whole requires strong spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical health.  And in building that foundation the last several years, I’ve got the people, places, and things that are going to get me through.  There’s a plan. (And probably a few friends I’m going to whine, cry, and breakdown on in the meantime too, HA!).  I’m going to physically heal.  I’m going to focus my time and energy in some other areas and my body rests and heals, and personally and corporately/within the Body of Christ–God’s doing some big things too.

Not going to lie, this “season” scares me a bit.  Okay, a lot.  But the anticipation outweighs the fear.  I’m ready to hit it square in the face and take the bumps and bruises along the way.  Things will physically ramp up again after Christmas, but there’s a lot to look forward to non-sportswise too.  God’s been working on me in a big way, and it’s time to shine off the race course.

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I want the badassery (#sorrynotsorry, there’s really no christianized version of that word) that I feel when I kit up to translate over to everyday life.  There’s a confidence, clarity, and freedom I have when I’m out training/racing that I want to shine through in the daily.  I’m going to start fighting for that to come out of myself.  I’m not “just a…”  I’m worth more.

“And all those things I didn’t say/Wrecking balls inside my brain/I will scream them loud tonight/Can you hear my voice this time?/This is my fight song/Take back my life song/Prove I’m alright song/My power’s turned on/Starting right now I’ll be strong/I’ll play my fight song/And I don’t really care if nobody else believes/’Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me” (Fight Song, Rachel Platten)

I Want To Be Brave

(There really is a race report in here if you read long enough)

The last few weeks I’ve been reminded as to what bravery looks like.  And it’s not the usual images we imagine of people performing great feats of strength and bounding over buildings in a single leap.  It’s people getting out of their comfort zones and sharing the deep and scary stuff–the things that we believe no one else in the world can truly understand, and if anyone else ever knew, they couldn’t possibly love us if they found out.  But those people stand strong and share their truth, and that’s brave.

I share a lot of things.  There are many things I’m a complete open book about, sometimes to a fault.  Yet, there are an equal, if not greater number of things, I play pretty close to the vest that only a fraction of folks that have earned trust in my cold dark heart learn about.  It’s a hard thing to open up to people, to be raw and vulnerable, and lay it out there not knowing how someone might respond to our biggest hurts, fears, insecurities, etc.  When you find those that listen and love you without judgement–that you can call on without hesitation, and they can call on you–hang on to those people, God brought you those relationships for a reason.

So, about a race…

It all started at 3:30am Saturday morning.  I got up to head to a tri club open water swim clinic at Lake Mead (exceptional!) where I got some really great pointers on some things I struggle with in the water, especially on siting with my RX goggles and some siting wonkiness that I run into.

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After that I headed into Las Vegas for the day to spend some time with a friend that I finally got to meet face-to-face after well over a decade!  Through the miracles of modern technology we “met” prior to entering seminary and were in the same class, just in different territories in the USA–she enjoys a good racecation too and had decided on making her 3rd marathon out here in Vegas, I couldn’t pass up the chance to hang out!  I wasn’t up to run a marathon this year, but I told her earlier this year I would do the half marathon race.

Oh, did I fail to mention this race was at midnight? At Area 51?

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Not joking.

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of the entire 13.1, because, boy, it was U-G-L-Y.  I’m not exaggerating.  Results-wise this was absolutely my worst race ever.  However, I’m extremely proud of this race because I didn’t quit.  I had several opportunities to quit, but I didn’t–I crossed that finish line with 13.1 miles under my feet that were physically and mentally finished.

How can I be proud of something that was so completely awful?  Because of everything that I overcame.  Let’s break it down:

  • By the time the race started, I had been awake for almost 24 hours (except for an hour nap).  I had gotten a pretty decent swim at the swim clinic, and had been out and about a bit in the sun through the day hanging out.  This had been calculated–I had weighed it out with my coach on the pros and cons of doing the clinic knowing the race timing, and we were curious of my body’s reaction of putting race stress on it sleep deprived to get some working knowledge for going forward into the future (we have a lot of knowledge to work with now!)
  • I’m used to pre-fueling for races in the morning after sleeping and breakfast, not after a full day of activity.  While I had eaten good, filling, full meals and even added some snacks I didn’t count on, it wasn’t enough to put my foot on the start line appropriately.  I’ve had running nutrition dialed in for so long, I forgot what it was like to bonk on a run…and it was bad.  Like, thought I was fine at the finish line but grabbed a banana and some chips and was stretching while waiting for the bus and started seeing stars kind of bad.  Behold the revitalizing power of a coke and a chair.
  • I win the award for poor sportsmanship for the evening…I’m so sorry to all my fellow racers.  By the end of the first mile, I had to turn my head away from every single person near me and I couldn’t utter a word for fear of puking.  I’m not a fan of headlamps and they were mandatory for the race…but the bouncing, moving lights made me beyond nauseous.  Since I run just by the glow of my noxgear vest at home (sadly my night vision is better than anything else) in the dark, I took off my headlamp and just shoved it in my pocket.  I couldn’t even look or speak to anyone I was so ill from the lights–and that didn’t help my fueling case either.  This issue with the lights makes me a little nervous for my future dreams of ultra running as that whole running in the dark thing around people with headlamps will have to get sorted pretty darn quick….but that’s another issue for another day.
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  • Last week I believe I earned the clutz of the year award.  On my short run, I turned my ankle stepping off the asphalt.  While it didn’t hurt or swell at the time, it stuck in the back of my mind….and came back to bite me in the rear early in the race with a throbbing/stabbing pain with every single step that continued to shoot up through my calf and shin as well for extra fun.  The same day a pole driver fell off a table on my other foot–it caused a bunch of bruising and pain, but I didn’t think I damaged anything.  Then that evening on the same foot I bruised, I dropped the gallon of almond milk I was pulling out of the fridge to make my evening protein drink directly on the top of my foot as well.  So, that foot decided to be extra painful with each step after a few miles to make the other one feel less lonely.
  • I was wearing a newer pair of shoes that doesn’t have a ton of miles on it and got a blister in a new place that I never have before–on my heel.  I’m thinking it wasn’t my shoes or socks though, but rather the bottom of my leggings, as I ran in full leggings and I think they rubbed and there’s a mesh panel at the back/bottom portion of the leg and I haven’t worn them before for this distance.  But, I did employ a good technique to push that one out of my mind from something I remembered from Deena Kastor’s book, Let Your Mind Run, that she learned from a coach about blisters, that “it’s just skin,” and it totally made it easy to put out of my mind and forget.
  • From said swim, and the earlier swims in the week (I had one angry swim where I just booked it on Thursday morning…It was my best swim yet since valley fever), my neck and shoulders decided to speak their mind.  That did zero for my running form, or my attitude.
  • I just couldn’t get into the zone.  I’ve found for long runs that music isn’t my thing so much, but I just couldn’t handle the audiobook I normally check into for running races this time, so I switched to music, but that wasn’t helping the nausea, so podcasts it was, but that got tedious, so switched to some backup playlists I keep on my phone of church hymn accompaniment tracks in case our pianist is out and that worked until I got to mile 12.8…then it was Eminem’s “Til I Collapse”…because, well, appropriate.  I’m dying to see my finish line picture.  I’m pretty sure I looked ready to collapse.
  • I employed every single mental strength technique that I could recall from every book my coach has had me read over the last several reads.  God Bless Coach Bill.  They all worked for fleeting moments.
  • This was an exercise is let’s see how far outside my comfort zone I could throw myself.  It’s summer.  In the desert.  I ran in just a sports bra.  Around other humans.  Sure, I’ve done it before in the comfort of my own neighborhood–but that’s running at home before Jesus wakes up that the only people that are out then are the cops patrolling that know I’m the crazy person that’s out before Jesus wakes up and maybe one or two cars.  I’m 99% sure the time I spent crying was not over the pain, nausea, or hunger I was experiencing, but rather over my severe self consciousness.  I’m amazed I’m alive, but I survived.
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  • Altitude.  Hey, yeah…that whole valley fever thing.  I still don’t have 100% lung capacity.  I tested at 83% yesterday.  Running at altitude was kind of like having a vice around my chest for several hours.  I don’t recommend it.

I’m sure there’s more that I’m choosing to blank out, and that’s okay–it’s not about the negatives, it’s about the lessons learned and the end result: I didn’t quit.  I don’t want to be the girl that quits.  The weekend prior, I had a crappy bike ride with a friend…more than just a training ride, it was nice to to get out and blow off some steam.  However, I failed to mention some important facts about my physical state that day, and again, probably could’ve/should’ve quit because when I got into trouble, I couldn’t find the words to describe what I was feeling was wrong with me. No good.  I know better than to do stupid crap, but I’m tired of falling short–and I feel like that’s all I’ve done in so many things this year across every arena.  I need some wins.  I want to keep pushing.  I want to be brave.img_4339

Yet.

I have a Specialized bikes poster on my office wall that a friend gave me shortly after I got my bike that always seems to catch my eye when I’m dying another death standing at the scanner wasting my life away–it’s not necessarily the strong women cresting a climb on great bikes that draws my gaze, but the collection of words that sets my mind in motion.

Every time I set my eyes on this poster, my mind seems to come away with a different thought, inspiration, or motivation that gets my wheels turning.  Yeah, we all know that can lead to trouble–HA!

In an effort to calm some of the stressors of my day, actually take a conscious break during the day at some point instead of plowing through (unless I actually go out to lunch with someone or have a lunch meeting, I continue working straight through the day–poor habit), and work on some recovery and flexibility more consistently, my coach and I have agreed to add in some short midday yoga.  This gives me a chance to close my office door (gasp!) and have 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to focus on my body, how it feels, and moving it in ways that feels good and to make it feel better.

Yesterday as I was doing “Yoga in Couchlandria” (gotta love The Sufferfest), I gazed up at that poster from my position on the floor (yes, you can do yoga on the floor in dress pants!), and what jumped out at me from that poster on the wall was the word YET.

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I don’t why this word took my breath away.  No, I’m not being dramatic, like, literally took my breath away.  I had to sit there for a second and bring my wits about it, wrap it up in a pretty package, store it away, so I could unpack it later.  I’ve sat with this a bit and while initially it was a disconcerting idea, I kind of like this little three letter cheerleader.

As a conjunction, the word “yet” means “but nevertheless.”

In other less tactful terms, “haters, pull up a chair and get comfy–I’m not finished.” (But since y’all know me, you there’s a timeline 😉 duh!)

It’s been a roller coaster few months with so much more than I publicize on social media personally and professionally.  Don’t believe your perceptions either…not 100% of my social media, strava, or garmin is completely public either.  Filters exist for a reason and I’m happy to chat about those various reasons at any time–I’m completely open about it, 99% of the time it’s simply out of self preservation from the keyboard warriors I have zero tolerance for (and in the case of strava and garmin, I don’t post 100% of my workouts because they are not my creation.  Buy a training plan, get a coach, or create your own).  Life happens in the midst of our best laid plans and we roll with it.  The things I can control, great, do it.  The things I can’t, adapt and conquer.  I’ve got finish lines to hit, baby!  LV tri 70.3, Goldilocks 100 both this fall…oh, and Oceanside 2020 is locked in–I’ve got unfinished business with that red carpet.  The rest of 2020 is going to be pretty epic too…there’s going to be two more jaw-droppers in there too, still working the logistics out there before I post the race schedule–stay tuned!

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Food, FAQs, and a Tangent…

Not sure what the deal is…I’ve had a number of things pop in my path connecting thoughts to finish some unwritten pieces and other ideas just need to come out, but I’m not arguing with the need to get more thoughts out–I know I’ve neglected this blog and I miss writing.  It’s a place of centering, learning, and good self review.  Wherever the inspiration is coming from, I’m not arguing.

I came across this blog post earlier this morning as I was hitting my various headlines across my different readers for the day: https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/how-identifying-as-an-athlete-changed-my-relationship-with-food/

As bizarre as it sounds, I appreciate reading other people’s journeys with food.  It helps me to realize that even the most “normal” and “popular” among us have had to come to terms with food, eating, nutrition, nourishment, fuel, satisfaction, craving, satiety, and so much more on their own terms (and YES! all of those things are VERY different things!).

My journey with food has been a rocky one…obviously.  You don’t hit massive weights well over 400-some-odd pounds because you and food have a good relationship.  I’ve spent a lot of years thinking I was “correcting” that relationship through dieting, when in effect I was further harming not only my body, but my mind as well.  Once I realized the problem, however, it didn’t mean then I was able to fix it…I’ve had a diagnosed eating disorder for 12 years and have pursued professional care for it the last ten years off and on.  So why is it that it takes until January 2015 for me to realize my life was a mess?  Well…I can’t answer that question.  It is what it is.

God works in His timing.  As my husband says, He’s the perfect gentleman.  God isn’t going to force anything on us that we’re not ready for, willing to pursue, going to carry out, or follow through.  I don’t have regret for the past–absolutely not–the past creates who we are, but I do realize the amount of pain that I still carry around and the enormity of so many different past events, situations, relationships, and facets of life that collided in the perfect storm at just the right time to create that sense of urgency in my complacency to seek out the journey of change that needed–and will need to continue ad infinitum–to occur.

So what does any of this have to do with food? So much!

If you’ve paid attention for all of five minutes, you know by now my tolerance level for diets is nil the more I dig deeper into evidence-based science (my brain hurts a lot, medical studies are really heady to read–but if you know me I’m not spouting anything I got from realfarmacy or any other clickbait).  I ascribe to a mind-body health approach called Intuitive Eating, coined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.  It is NOT a diet.  It is NOT a weight loss program.  It’s essentially trusting your body to let you know what it needs. And that’s about the furthest explanation I’m going to launch into in my own text outside of actual face-to-face conversation because I don’t want my words twisted–this concept gets soooo misconstrued, misunderstood, and turned into something it’s not.  I beg of you, don’t Google it–go to the original source: https://www.intuitiveeating.org/what-is-intuitive-eating-tribole/  (or actually read the book, Intuitive Eating, by Tribole and Resch–the workbook is amazing too, or get your information from an actual certified IE practitioner).

Intuitive Eating is hard.  It’s not a perfect equation.  I have over 30 years of screwed up diets in my head (remember, I was 5 when I was put on my first diet) to deprogram, so it’s extremely hard for me to trust what my body is telling me.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I realize how messed up it is to say that I can’t trust what my own body signals are telling me.  A lot of that is the mental component of my eating disorder that still plays havoc in my head.  It is embarrassing to admit that at almost 40 years old I have to place painstaking intentional effort in identifying the very basic ideas of if I am hungry or satisfied or what my body might need at a given moment because I was so checked out of it for soooooo many years.

Food isn’t just about eating–it’s about emotions, situations, life, relationships, people, and so much more.  It’s messy.  You have to muck through a lot more than figuring out how to simply sustain your being.  While working on my relationship with IE, I was blessed to stumble into a year-long course with an amazing certified IE practitioner that encompassed a lot more than just that into her curriculum, and I continue to remain active in that community.  Support and accountability are important.  But, eating disorders are tricky wickets…I can eat intuitively all I want, but there will always be triggers to those behaviors waiting in the wings to strike.  I need to be aware of that and how to cope, deal, manage, and get past it so it doesn’t envelope me–but life happens, it’s not perfect.

Now, throw endurance sports into this mix.  That’s where this article above got my wheels turning this morning.  Athletes have to be so hyper aware of their bodies and how to fuel it for performance, and at the purest form, just to make it go!  This is something that as I’ve increasingly bumped up further into the big leagues, I’ve slammed my body into even bigger walls.  Praise Jesus for pros that I’ve been able to trust with my journey.  I’ve been able to develop relationships beyond the surface so these people not only understand the variables that affect my performance, but they know the why that creates the variables so it’s never dismissed as something irrelevant.  I’m seen as a person.

I often get DMs and emails because people can’t wrap their minds around the whole picture (heck, some days I can’t) that I don’t diet yet I can be an athlete conscious of how I fuel my body.  Please keep asking me questions–I am a (relatively) open book and I will answer to the best of my ability, or send you to the best sources of the answer that I know!  But here’s some of the most popular questions I get to hopefully make some of those ends meet:

  • How can you eat intuitively if you have people telling you what to eat?  No one tells me what to eat.  I eat salad.  I eat cheeseburgers.  I eat fruit.  I eat cupcakes.  I have a triathlon coach and a sports RDN (who specializes in intuitive eating) and we all work together.  I do not follow a “meal plan.”  I choose my meals, I do the grocery shopping, cooking, eating, and even the dishes!  One of the ten principles of intuitive eating is gentle nutrition, but there’s no guidelines, there’s no written food rules.  My coach and my sports RDN work with me on helping to make decisions on eating foods that make my body FEEL good each day WHEN I NEED HELP.  They also are helpful in specific areas of training on what I need in times of recovery, high volume training, what helps to sustain me better on this day vs day–as a team they can help me see trends that I can’t see on my own.  Teamwork is dreamwork in this case!
  • Do you track your food?  Yes and no.  RED ALERT: this is a very hot button issue and a very big diet culture issue.  “Me, myself, and I” do not track calories and blah, blah, blah, BUT I do keep a food journal of meals (not every single bite I take, and not necessarily every snack I have).  My coach and sports RDN have the password and access to this app and they are the ones that analyze this information–it is helpful in knowing consumption of various macro ratios, especially during high volume training times.  None of us get hung up on this, and there are days where I don’t record a thing, don’t open it, could care less–and that’s okay.  Tracking food is NOT an intuitive eating behavior–please do not be mistaken there!  This is not a behavior I recommend for just anyone to engage in without cause, purpose, or followup.
  • Why do you read so many diet books?  First, you have to look at your definition of “diet” books.  I don’t own a single one.  I do read a TON of books, articles, journals, and studies on intuitive eating, body positivity, Health At Every Size, the obesity epidemic, and other medical issues.  I also read both sides of the issue because I’m not 100% sold on any of those given topics (and some I’m even still a super skeptic)–I’ll play devil’s advocate with you all day long.  I want every angle and as much information as I can get my hands on.  Yes, some of my favorite books have some diet culture buzz words…the sports world has not caught up to weight neutral language.  I’m sorry.  My favorite cookbook–Racing Weight, books like Roar, etc all have that diet-y undertone in the title/byline to them when in actuality they are totally innocuous.
  • Are you trying to lose weight?  This is a paradigm shift for me–was I trying?  Yes.  Is it an active pursuit?  No.  Am I losing weight?  Yes.  Will I continue to lose weight?  I don’t know.  Here’s the deal:  by nourishing my body with what it needs when it needs it and remaining active through endurance sports, my body continues to change and become smaller.  I don’t believe my body has reached its set point yet due to a lot of different biological indicators (read Linda Bacon’s work to get into that), but I don’t have a crystal ball to know for sure.  My goal is to be as healthy and active as I can be with the body that I have–and I’ve got big goals to achieve with this body!
  • Why did you become a certified personal trainer if you aren’t doing it for financial gain?  Two reasons: Personal enrichment.  The education I obtained in studying for my certification exam is priceless in enhancing my connection to my own body and my personal advancement in sport.  It has helped me to better understand the various systems of the body and how they work together, how training plans are developed and executed, and it helps me to have more informed and intelligent discussion with my triathlon coach, chiropractor, doctor, and other allied health professionals.  Second, it has enhanced my ministry in current programs that I lead and am a part of so that I am able to ensure the safety and health of all participants, and that accurate information is disseminated to the group.  Also, it provides me credibility in leadership of those programs.  I am also currently pursuing my fitness nutrition certification for the same reasons above to satisfy the continuing education to maintain my personal trainer certification through the accrediting body that I obtained it through.  Why fitness nutrition?  Because after extensively researching the program, the accrediting body I am working through does not take a diet-centered approach to fitness nutrition and I felt very comfortable that their curriculum aligned with the IE principle of gentle nutrition without a weight loss focus.

Wow…this post really went out into the weeds.  Let’s see if I can circle back (probably not, but let’s give it a shot).  We all have our unique struggles with food beyond controlling the end of the fork–it’s not that simple sometimes.  In my last post I talked my gratitude for the people in my path, and I guess as those faces were filtering through my mind I was thinking of all the tangible folks that I see/chat/talk with on a semi-regular basis…but I have to think here about all of those that have an impact of just this little part of it all and how far reaching they are–from a different part of the state to literally each corner of the nation, and they are all there for support, love, and learning.  They see things in my that I cannot see in myself to help bring out my best self–the person that God created me to be.  Just as the author above was changed by the word athlete…it’s not absorbed into my mind wholly, but I get that.

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(Who doesn’t like bacon?)

Six Degrees of Tony Stark

…Because why Kevin Bacon when you can have RDJ? Mmm…

I’ve voluntarily picked up the phone today to call some of the very small list of people my cold, dead heart (actually, more appropriately phrased, social anxiety) allows me to carry on a coherent conversation of longer than 30 seconds with and all I’ve gotten is voicemails, so I’m feeling a bit, well, eh…so instead of actually finishing some of the half written rants I’ve got saved here in my blog drafts, I’m going to flip it around a bit.

We all have some concept of the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” (if not, Google is your friend), or in this case, RDJ, because he’s just way hotter, but I digress.  As I’ve walked this journey the last few years, the people that God has placed in my path is absolutely not by coincidence.  Granted, I’m no closer to being chummy with Tony Stark…or am I?  Mmm… but…the people that have come into my path are nothing short of one of my greatest blessings.

I’m not a joiner.  I never have been.  It’s not in my DNA.  At the outset of this journey I made the commitment to God that it was wherever He led, I would be obedient.  Now, I never promised it would be without any kicking or screaming, but I would be obedient.  There’s that quote that “growth never happens inside your comfort zone.”  I have no idea where my comfort zone even exists anymore because I’ve been out of it for so long, I forget what it feels like!  However, outside of my comfort zone has brought me to groups, people, and relationships that I have never before experienced in my life and I absolutely contribute their impact on my life to the growth and changes that have occurred.

So how does this happen?  Sure, I had to take the chance to show up initially–whether it was a service club or networking event or support group or whatever–but just like those small goals I pursue daily have a snowball effect, all of those little actions and relationships have a HUGE ripple effect.  I tried to chart it out (yes, linear thinker, sorrynotsorry) and actually count the people that have made an impact on me in some way the last few years–big or small–and I had to stop because it became so overwhelming because of how one group would splinter into another group or relationship with another person or contact and the tangible impact on my life professionally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and/or mentally is completely beyond what I can wrap my mind around.

The gratitude I have for these people can’t possibly be put into words.  They are people that would have probably never crossed my path in any other way unless I took the first step, but the relationships that have been formed are without question some of the most meaningful pieces of my life.  Not only have many of these people contributed to my life in great and small ways, made me think, learn, and grow in ways I never have before–but they have been there as a listening ear and people I’ve been able to be transparent with, and share those parts of me and my story that few know.  They listen.  Some pray for me.  And in return, I’m blessed with those relationships that reciprocate too and I get those bits and pieces of their story.   I am trusted with their struggle.  I don’t take that trust lightly, as I know how hard it is to trust.

As one of the most introverted people in the world, I often “feel” lonely.  There’s a lot of barriers inside my head to get past to reach out and ask a question, ask for help, even just talk.  I “know” all of the people that are there, I do, but sometimes opening my mouth (or message) is the most difficult move to ever make.  However, several years ago I never would have even had these people in my life–I would have pushed them away, or never even had the exposure to create the relationships with them in the first place.

So…I may not be best buds with the original Ironman in my pursuit of 140.6 (the irony is not lost on me), but if you know RDJ, I wouldn’t be opposed to a meet and greet–in the meantime, I’m just going to bask in the gratitude I have for the relationships I have that surround me today.

o0didpukwzonvcvrv6osLet’s just take a moment to appreciate Tony Stark, shall we?

Nike Didn’t Get It Right

Nike has been in my social media feeds a lot over the past week, and several people have sent me the various articles excitedly asking me, “have you seen this?!” like I’m supposed to be happy over the perceived bone Nike has thrown fat women.

At first, I was neutral on the matter.  If you have no clue what I’m talking about, you can google the articles on your own, but I’m not linking any of them because all that I’ve read have some form of bias I’m not totally comfortable linking to myself, but essentially Nike has gone and unveiled plus-sized mannequins in their stores.  Big deal.

Sorry, I can’t get excited over this.  It’s not a sign of solidarity, it’s not a movement of inclusion, it’s not a signal to the market to say, “hey, we see you and we’re going to do better”–nope, it’s just a flashpoint marketing scheme to drum up a bit of business and will die away soon.

Remember how excited everyone got back when Nike announced they were releasing extended sizes in their sportswear?  Uhhh….have you actually looked at what portion of Nike’s sportswear collection those extended sizes encompass?  Sure, there’s some extended sizes in Nike that women can obtain, but you can’t walk into a Nike store or go online and simply find the vast selection of sportswear lines you are seeking in a variety of sizes.  Shallow promise at best that Nike was going to “do better for women.”

Now that this newest revelation with the mannequin has been released out into the market, we of course have those coming back with backlash articles spouting trash like Nike is promoting obesity, that “why would someone that size even want to dress like that because they wouldn’t have the mobility to even run” (paraphrased, but that was a quote from an article this morning), and other not so eloquent language used toward fat women.

See, while I think this whole move by Nike was simply a marketing ploy for a teeny tiny part of their market and I don’t particularly care to feed into that side of it (but sadly am by the sheer fact of saying anything), the backlash is the part that butters my biscuit.  People come in all shapes and sizes.  That’s just a reality of life.  At the end of the day, no matter how much weight I lose or don’t lose/my body changes in size, and how toned my body gets, I will never be a size 2.  It’s not how my body was created.  Sure, I’ve got a smaller upper body, but sweetheart, I’ve got thighs and booty for daysssss and that’s life.  At some point the world is going to have to release this stronghold of thin privilege and realize that it’s not obesity glorification, but simply an acknowledgment that there might simply be someone out there that doesn’t look like YOU, and that not everyone has to look like you in order to be “healthy” or “fit.”

Clothes are designed to fit bodies.  ALL bodies in some manner.  It shouldn’t be a chore (and boy, let me tell you…it’s been an adventure) to find the appropriate sportswear to fit my body at all the sizes it’s been so far–because why would someone when they were over 435lbs need sportswear that’s moisture wicking?  (Dude…I seriously worked out in cotton clothing until I lost my first probably 50-75lbs because I couldn’t find anything appropriate several years ago.  OUCH!).  Gratefully, I’m able now to have done the footwork so I can send men and women of all sizes in the right direction so they don’t have to be as frustrated as I was finding the clothes to fit their bodies to be able to the things that they want to do.

I don’t need a mannequin in a showroom to show me a limited line of clothing–what I need is more inclusionary clothing for men and women on the market for all sizes and price points so people aren’t so paralyzed in taking the next step to move their bodies in whatever way feels good to them.  Sorry Nike, I get it, you tried…but not quite.

Rant Over.  Oh, and Happy Monday!

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