Provision and Perspective

A few minutes ago, I just finished sharing with an accountability friend our daily gratitude, and today’s topic was the provision that we are most grateful for…I’ve shared this before on this platform, but it’s absolutely the ability that we have to (mostly) work out our own schedules.  It is an interesting dynamic with the 24/7 nature of ministry and the fine balance of time with God, work, family, personal time, balancing the expectation’s of others (this is an unfortunate reality when you deal with people as a leader that I’m not expounding on here), and the routines that come along with having multiple staffs in multiple cities that do punch clocks and having to be present for them physically or virtually at varying levels.

Since weekends don’t really exist on our world other than usually just a Saturday filled with the to-do’s, I have promised my husband for years that I would start to take a weekday off. 2018 is going to be that year, and Mondays are going to be my day for consistency sake.  And I already can’t fulfill that promise yet, at least for this week.  I can’t control how life happens.  I won’t work all day, but there’s some meetings and items I have to attend to because of unexpected that cannot be pushed to the next day.  So, we adapt.  I came home a couple hours early yesterday and we had a long overdue date and saw a great movie and had a wonderful dinner together. (We just won’t mention the call that came in that time that necessitates me having to go into the office later this morning to take some action because it cannot wait until Monday…life happens, we roll…)

Regardless of how the chips fall in the hours and minutes of the day, I’m still grateful for that flexibility.  I have a lot of freedom in determining how and when things get done (within reason–there’s still deadlines, accountability, and responsibility), but I don’t have the rigidity of a 9-5 time clock.  I can interweave errands into my day.  I can take a break and go have coffee or lunch and visit with a church member, friend, community member, or someone that just wants to talk.  I can hop on my bike in my office and wreck my legs for a little while to get some frustration out (and now that all the doohickeys have arrived, I think actually properly set up the training sessions!).  I can come in later if I need to–or the crack of dawn.  I can leave early–or stay late into the evening.  It’s all in finding the balance.

We talked in our women’s ministries group this week about different ways of being a witness in our daily lives, and part of my presentation was showing the different ways of showing how to be a light on the internet.  It’s not about filling your Facebook feed with Jesus, Jesus, Jesus 24/7…but living a reflection of Christ.  Being available (and that doesn’t mean dropping everything and come running, always being at home/in your office/physically present every solitary second that someone operates on a whim–there’s a difference).  We spoke of and saw all the different avenues available in person, in print, on the phone, online, and social media to take part in being a witness, but spoke of the importance of what we are reflecting.  Being real and honest will attract far more to the image of God than a feed filled with “like and share if you love Jesus” memes.  And far more of our witness online is what happens beyond the public screen.

When we’re real and honest (no matter how ugly it looks some days), people take notice.  They want to know what is different and they want to know how they can get it in their own lives.  That’s when the door opens.  That’s where the conversations start.  And it’s not in the public comment box–it’s in private/direct messages or emails and then ultimately phone calls or direct meetings.  It’s building upon the seeds that we plant wherever we go.

Balance.  I spend a lot of time online simply because of our work–online databases for social services, reporting, financial programs, etc…it’s unavoidable.  So, the few minutes here and there to break it up is to take a scroll, to make a silly post, to post a picture, to comment…  To be real with what’s going on in my life because maybe it’s going to make a difference in someone else’s.

Do I live under the delusion that I’ve got it figured out, that I’m some kind of example? Pffft. NO! I’m an imperfect person saved by the grace of God.  I’ve got a lot to learn.  I make mistakes. Daily.  I own up to them.  I correct them.  I learn. I live. I love.  And I have fun while doing it.  I endeavor to better myself for the Glory of God in all that I do.  I strive to repair the damage I have done to my body that is not honoring to God’s creation, but only according to His will.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to have my cup of coffee to lick my wounds for missing AM long run to go discipline…maybe if the weather, my sore throat, and the stars align later today, I’ll get to my priorities!

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A New Day

And it so happens to be New Year’s Day.  It’s been a good day–slept in until 8:30am (I know, that’s like sleeping the day away for me since I get up at 4am!), went for a phenomenal short run where I smashed some PRs showing me that I do have the potential for improvement to reach some of my crazy goals for this year, went out for a quick meal with the hubby, and now I’m just catching up on laundry and getting ready for the week ahead.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got a lot of goals that are always in play, so the need for resolutions is moot.  My physical goals are quite real–I’m just over sixty days away from my first full marathon.  I have five big races for 2018 (was six, but Ragnar is back on the bucket list, boo!  We didn’t fill our van from dropouts by the deadline, but I’m going to volunteer at Oceanside 70.3 instead that weekend.)…there may be one or two smaller ones in there.  We’ll see… I have other physical goals too from some of the studying that I’ve been doing in training, as well as several mental and spiritual goals too.  It’s going to be a big year.

It’s been a rough few weeks and there’s been so much doubt, discouragement, frustration, and ugly that I’m not going to elaborate on here that has been stacking on my shoulders.  It’s not really over, but it will get better, one way or another.  God’s got it handled.  Just keep moving forward.  Yesterday in church we spent some time in reflection–looking at the previous year, spending some time considering our intentions for the year ahead, and my husband preached a sermon that really hit me in the gut on finding peace in the midst of where God has us and pushing forward. Good stuff.

I may have my goals and intentions, but God’s in control.  It’s been a wild ride this last almost three years on this journey, I can’t wait to see what’s up next.  I would imagine this year also would include hitting 200lbs (maybe 250?) down, and some growth and development in other ways I can’t even possibly even imagine yet.   There will be more updates, more twists and turns….I’ve got ideas. Stay tuned, it should be interesting.

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The D. Word

I don’t diet.  I’ve said it before, but what does that mean?  Well, it means a lot of things.  I means I don’t stress over new year’s resolutions, “starting on Monday,” “being good,” and worrying about the rules of a plan.  I eat food.  I don’t worry about weight loss.  I live my life according to my goals and the weight is figuring itself out.  Yes, it’s a foreign concept to me to wrap my mind around too—I’ve spent the last year studying it myself, not only on my own, but even in a class setting, and also had some coaching to work on coming into my own freedom with food.  Am I there? Eh.  I don’t think you ever “arrive” with food freedom, but my relationship with food improves every day and is at a much more balanced and less head-consuming place, so I’ll call it a win.  It’s not just a physical journey…the weight will continue to come off, but I can’t will it away.

One of the major concepts I’ve studied is the idea of intuitive eating.  This is not some new age-y concept or diet, but this is actually a mind-body approach to food developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, based on ten basic principles.  An explanation of the principles is found here: http://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/

I don’t 100% ascribe to all 10 principles, but to some degree I can get onboard with them.  I feel like if I had to put into words and try to explain my idea of “I don’t diet” in detail, my take on the ten principles of intuitive eating is it.  Just to be clear—the link above is Tribole and Resch’s definitions of the 10 principles of intuitive eating, below is my take on them.  I am NOT a medical professional, this is solely my thoughts and opinions, and should in no way be construed as medical advice. (just had to throw that in there, ya know…)

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality. I’m all over this! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and continue to say it. I don’t diet.  I’ve been on more diets than I can count since I was FIVE years old.  I don’t fault the pediatrician or my parents, it was the 80’s, the peak of the Jane Fonda era, but diets have led me to lose and regain literally hundreds of pounds in my life.  They’re planned, calculated, structured, exhausting—and something you can quit.  I don’t diet.  Now, people often look at some of my food journaling habits, meal planning, being cognizant of what’s in my food and being conscious of choices as dieting. *insert buzzer* Nope.  That’s being mindful—not in a fluffy woo-woo way, but I do those things for two reasons 1) my health.  I journal my food not for quantity sake necessarily (though it plays into #2), but to look at trends.  It is helpful when sitting down with my doctor and other healthcare providers to set up care plans for managing things like my migraines—it provides insight into triggers and how to better approach care through my habits. 2) Diets control food intake.  Nowhere in my life–my doctors, my coaching/sports nutrition & dietitian folks—anyone, get to dictate a specific meal plan, amount, menu, quantity, etc.  Sure, these people see my journal entries and teach, help, guide, and suggest things to enhance my diet (not “diet” as in a “weight loss plan” but diet as simply the nutrition I take in to sustain life), but they don’t make the choices.  As someone with pretty lofty goals, varied training schedule, crazy life schedule, and a whole heap of other things, it’s very easy for me to overeat or undereat and allow my body to reach a point where it’s not performing at its peak.  The habits I keep are to keep me accountable to my greater goals, but they aren’t diet rules to be broken—there’s a difference.
  2. Honor Your Hunger…And here’s where I go off the rails a little bit with Intuitive Eating, and get a (little) honest. This is an area in myself that’s very much still a work in progress and most of the time can’t be trusted of its own volition.  I have a diagnosed eating disorder.  I’m not at a place YET where I can fully trust all hunger cues.  Some, I can.  Others, maybe.  A few, I won’t even go near.  (And for the record, this isn’t a new thing—this has been years. I have received the proper professional care with the appropriate clinicians and am quite fine and dandy in my recovery—God, time, and heap of work is what it takes.  And that’s about all the elaboration on this particular platform that I’m going to go into on the matter, as per usual, you want to talk, let’s talk).  So, no, I don’t fully honor my hunger at this point in my life because I’m not at a place where I feel safe to trust myself 100% of the time with it.
  3. Make Peace with Food. No argument here. When calling off the diet mentality, I declared nothing was off limits in my life anymore.  I can’t tell you the freedom that comes from no restrictions.  It’s all in the land of choice—and the choice is up to me.
  4. Challenge the Food Police. I think this was another easier one for me to give up over time—at least the food police that exists in my head. The external food police however, not so much. Because so much of the world is still stuck in diet culture, they look at weight loss, athleticism, and being mindful of yourself as a “diet” that I am constantly being bombarded with the “is that on your diet?” questions or “you’re being so good!” comments.  I feel like a broken record some days, and I know for so many people that it really doesn’t sink in, but I find it very important to be very clear on the points that I don’t diet and that eating isn’t a form of punishment or reward—being good or bad, it’s just nourishment.  The foods I eat are just choices, and they aren’t good or bad.  This gets tiring too challenging the food police, because it feels like you’re constantly educating people sometimes.  I don’t mind when it’s genuinely someone that wants to listen, but it’s not worth it when it’s just someone that looks at my weight loss alone and is hungry for the quick fix (pardon the pun).
  5. Respect Your Fullness. This one can be a challenge, but improving. Because of my brain processes coupled with my eating disorder, physical fullness is not something that I can easily recognize.  I do rely on other cues like looking at portion sizes and how much I’ve consumed before consuming more in order to try to hone in on this physical sensation, not from a place of judgment, but from a place of being a “scientist” and gathering data to figure how I physically feel.  This is a work in progress.  I’m learning.
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Food should be appealing to the senses. Sometimes it is worth waiting a little bit longer for something I crave than reaching for the closest food item (ie: going home and cooking vs hitting the drive thru).  When food tastes good, when it is truly what you “want,” then it is satisfying.  Sometimes you eat more of it, sometimes you eat less if it—that’s not the point, it’s more satisfying to eat what you desire.  Sometimes you want a cupcake, sometimes you want a salad.  I promise—your body will not desire cupcakes 24/7 just because you have full permission to consume them.
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Emotional eating has been a big issue for me through the years, I’ve had to find different coping mechanisms not only for emotional eating, but the mindless eating too (you know, the autopilot in front of the TV at night where you have no clue how the chips magically jumped in your hand?). It’s hard but not impossible to change these habits.  This is a lot of intentional action that first starts with awareness and redirection…and a lot of frustration, and sometimes failure.  Also, the recognition that sometimes emotional eating IS okay, but when it’s habit or a commonplace, that’s a problem.
  8. Respect Your Body. I realize that when I reach my goal weight, I will not be a tiny person—it’s not how my body is built. I have curves.  I have a booty.  I have large legs.  Yes, these shrink with weight loss, but they will never be “skinny,” and it’s not a realistic pursuit for me.  I want strong.  I want healthy.  This whole journey started in my realization that I was not honoring God’s creation, and I’ve come to see that I don’t see myself made in His image either…I don’t know what that eventually will look like, but saggy-baggy weight loss skin and all, I know it doesn’t look like some air-brushed Instagram-filtered model.  I feed my body to fuel it.  I move my body to make it feel good and to challenge myself.  I treat my body in such a way now to honor God’s creation to carry our His will.  Case closed.
  9. Exercise–Feel the Difference. Exercise is not my punishment. I don’t get up at 4am as some sort of penance—I do it because I want to.  I don’t exercise to burn what I’ve eaten, I exercise to train to meet my goals.  I don’t torture myself—I want to see the limits of God’s amazing creation and what it can do.  It can do incredible things—already surpassed what I’ve believed possible, so when I dream of the goals that I have, even as simplistic as crossing the finish of a marathon in just a few short months, it overwhelms me to tears because I never believed these feats were possible for me, that these were things just for other people to go out and accomplish.
  10. Honor Your Health–I don’t take my health for granted, and I am responsible in my choices.  By God’s grace, I am extremely blessed to have never experienced any weight-related illnesses, but I’m not naïve enough to believe that I’m immune from disease if I don’t take care of myself.  I have promised myself that I will take care of myself in training to prevent injury.  I have a team of people that keep me well, with regular doctor’s visits, my coach, consults with a sports dietitian.  All know my goals and boundaries and are on my side.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.

So…there ya have it, how the principles of intuitive eating are interpreted for me.  Is it perfect? No.  Is it textbook Tribole and Resch? Nope.  But it’s where I’m at right now that has broken me free from the never-ending hamster wheel of dieting.

Many people couple the concepts of intuitive eating in with the “health at every size” (HAES) movement.  While there are some ideas of acceptance I support behind this movement, my reservations absolutely would stand in the way of me in any way of being considered a proponent of HAES. Maybe I’ll cover that in another post…

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The Run Comes Last For A Reason

I’ll be posting about my experience completing the half at the Ventura Marathon on 10/22 in another post soon (spoiler alert: AMAZING!), and I’ll be posting some links so some of my race reports on Race Everywhere regarding some other recent races as well once I fix a couple kinks, but I wanted to wrap up a few more thoughts that have been in process that came together for me in conjunction with some really powerful teaching we experienced at a conference that I was at right before departing for my racecation in CA.

So, per usual, the head games coming up to race day were running rampant.  Between Salinas and Ventura, the running miles I logged were slim–of course, I fail to remember the fact that I had a stress fracture and was in the sexy, sexy boot, had status quo interrupted and was in the middle of a move that turned life upside-down in navigating new responsibilities, and, oh yeah, let’s not forget swimming and training for that “little” 40-mile bike event since it’s only been 4 months since I got the bike.  Let’s just say the things I was telling myself about my abilities and capabilities the last month or so have not only been not remotely Christlike, they just plain haven’t been nice.

Despite what I was telling myself and the questions I was asking, I kept hearing the challenge to my beliefs.  I was being told that not only could I handle the bike event and half in that time period, that both would be great.  And they were.  My head was telling me I didn’t have it handled, but others were…and I had to rely on their faith in me when mine in myself was short.

I’d have to look back at the dates, it was sometime around the time of WTC Kona, that I looked at some cumulative run miles over a period and said “how in the world am I supposed to run a half marathon when I haven’t logged x-number of miles in x-time period?”  The response I received in return, per usual, referencing my trust issues, stuck in my mind–the run comes last [in triathlon] for a reason.

Now, if you want to see some amazing machines (the pros) and watch the human body be pushed to its absolute but incredible awe-inspiring limits (everyone else), watch an Ironman.  It clearly takes a special kind of crazy to wake up one morning and swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then finish off the day running 26.2 miles.  And I want it–bad.  I can see it, taste it, feel it–I KNOW it’s going to happen to such complete cocky confidence that it’s so flippin’ bizarre because I can’t connect my head to conquer the small.  I have the capability to get there, and my abilities are growing more and more–when I look at the big picture and how goals logically progress, of course it’s going to happen for me. I’ll do it.  But in the daily…inferiority, self, doubt, insecurity, lack of self confidence, and trust cause me to stumble from keeping my eyes fixed on the prize.

And that’s where the balance comes in, this holistic journey that I keep hammering back to–it’s not just physical health.  I have spiritual and emotional/mental goals for making sure that I am living out God’s will and honoring His creation in my body.  Trust is one of those goals that I think has its fingers that infiltrate into everything, and it’s not important why I have struggles with trust, but it’s a learning and relearning experience for me minute by minute it seems, usually in hindsight and by being proven wrong.  That’s one of those places I’m thankful for friends and those around me that keep me accountable who aren’t afraid to tell me, “I told you so.” (Because they know how to tell me in a way that I’m not going to sock them for it, lol)

Trust partners a lot with fear, and that plays too into how I discount myself as well.  Those “I told you so” conversations usually have some commentary that goes a little like this: “Yeah, you did it–better than you expected, which means, you could have done more.”  This looks weird in writing, but that’s not a negative statement–it’s those that I have allowed to speak truth into my life telling me that I’ve discounted myself again.  I placed a limit on myself because that’s how far I thought that I could go.  I allow my misconceptions and the lies that I tell myself to cloud reality.  I still see myself as the complacent woman on the couch–it’s still foreign to hear the word athlete and my name in the name sentence.  There’s so much cognitive dissonance that rules my life.

But, goals.  I’m working on it.  There’s intentionality there.  There’s things I do to work and change those thoughts and feelings that hold me back from my full potential of not only the person that God has created me to be and what He was willed for my life, but the awesome and amazing things that I dream for myself too.  Am I going to hash out what that looks like here?  Probably not, it’s not pretty, but if you want to know more what that might look like, let’s talk.

I’m not going to delve into the whole theme of the (mind-blowing) teaching at the conference we attended last week, but it’s given me a whole new rabbit hole to explore and a different construct in which to view this holistic journey with God that I’ve been on the past few years.  I’ll touch on it here, I’m sure, but there’s a whole host of vocabulary that accompanies it, and I don’t plan on turning this site into a theology lesson…but it’s all good, we don’t have to go there.  But as I’ve talked about before, my bottom line is hope–I’m in the hope business and I desire to always cultivate it in my own, and one of the lists that came out of a session from Dr. Bill Ury that I think is important, for what it’s worth, is this:

How to Nurture Abundant Hope:

  • Failure is not ultimate
  • Circumstances are not permanent
  • Respond to His presence
  • He is always working good
  • Focus on the unchanging nature of God

I can’t argue with any of these points.  Simple and concise.  So…when I put it context, I have to believe that I am fully capable of more than I think I am able of at this given point.  I have to put my faith in God and my trust in others when my small-minded thinking is standing in the way of what can be.  Anything is possible.

And on that note…more later.  I’ve got a PR from Ventura to brag on!

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Who Gave You the Power?

Sigh.  I’m over it.

I’ve had smatterings of this post here in my drafts for a few months, but the last few days have brought it all together, so it’s time to marry these thoughts on my heart, get it off my chest, and let it go.

Over the weekend, in a running community, a woman posted a conversation she had with a friend that escalated into comments from the friend putting down her running achievements simply because she didn’t look like a runner (paraphrasing, it was ugly, and I’m not aiming for ugly here).  Very quickly, the response in this community was one of support in reminding her the very basic premise that if you run, you’re a runner.  End of story.  There’s no speed, size, race, gender, age, or any other specification that qualifies you as a runner.  It spawned flooding this woman’s feed with photos including the hashtag #whatarunnerlookslike.  It was beautiful.  It bugged me, and I got a little rant-y about it and went to my instagram and facebook with it too, because the ugly part of the post really hit me in a hard place and I went off from a place of (somewhat righteous) anger.  Fast forward to yesterday…someone on this forum took all of the photos that this woman was flooded with, and put them together in the video (including yours truly) featured here:

Pretty awesome, right?

Then this morning, as I was watching the Ironman “Anything is Possible” video again as I’m throwing my gym bag in the locker at the gym, another post pops up on my favorite triathlon page.  A woman that is preparing to complete her first full Ironman this weekend shared her story of un-supportive people in her path.

What. The. Heck.

I’m not delusional enough to believe we live in a world where everyone has to agree with one another and be in full support of every person’s decisions, that’s obviously not realistic.  But I am naively optimistic enough to believe that we can agree to disagree, still love one another, still coexist, and treat each other with love and respect in spite of our differences.  In the end, I’m not the one to judge.  That’s God’s job…and it’s wayyyyy above my pay grade.

As to stay out of anything potentially controversial, political, or otherwise inflammatory, I’m going to stick with my own example…because, well, this is my blog and it’s used to (whine) detail my journey anyway and not air any other stance.

Just as the two women above, I know I have my own haters.  Whether they are purposely trying to be covert about it or not, I’m not as dense as I may appear sometimes…I know they’re there.  I know they judge me.  Joke.  Wait for me to fail.  To perhaps even fall into old habits.  What I don’t think they realize is how they benefit my journey.  They illustrate to me how far I’ve come in some of my different goals.  I could easily let them get in my head, under my skin, and consume my thoughts.  In the past, they would have.  But what they don’t realize is that in the work I’ve done on me, their judgments just provide fuel that continues to push me towards me goals.  Bummer.  Their power over me is removed.

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People don’t agree with me or judge me for a lot of reasons.  That’s okay.  They get upset when I won’t even listen to a sales pitch for a supplement or weight loss product.  I’m sorry, those things aren’t part of my life.  I don’t diet, and I don’t intend to start.  People get upset when they ask me what my diet is and why I’ve been successful and I start to explain the concept of balanced eating, exercise, spiritual and mental fitness…a holistic approach to be the woman that God has created me to be.  They get upset.  They want the magic answer.  I don’t believe there is one.  Sorry.  I’ve gotten to where I am through faith, prayer, work, research, experimenting, and finding what works for me.  It may not be the answer for all, and I totally acknowledge that reality.

There’s the flip side of this, I have many friends and acquaintances that do engage in weight loss programs of various credibility, supplements, surgeries, special diets, restrictive plans, minimal exercise, excessive exercise, exercise beyond their ability that is resulting in injury, and the list goes on and on and on.  We all have a similar end game in mind, we just have different approaches.  I know my boundaries regarding these subjects because of how they play in my head, but I understand the fact that these things are important to these people.  I don’t eliminate them as people from my life just because I don’t agree with one part of what they do, nor do I rain on their parade.  I don’t go out of my way to comment on the things that I do not agree with, I simply just let subjects be.  What is the point of arguing with someone who already believes they are right?  Now, if they are truly asking or seeking my comment, opinion, or advice, I’ll be honest–not in an way to tear them down, but to express why their choice just isn’t a choice that’s right for me.  We’re all different, and we all find success in different way.  You do you.  I can still love that person and encourage them for the amazing child of God that they are.  And we sure don’t have enough of that in this world.

I’m not sure why it’s human nature to judge each other…it sure would be nice if we could just knock it off.  It wears thin on me when people look at me and ask is all I do is train.  Um, in a different world…I wish.  In reality, no.  I train anywhere from 45-90 minutes on a weekday and 2-4 hours on a Saturday.  That’s it.  I don’t think people understand how much physical activity has truly become an outlet for me too.  As a person who has always used food as the ultimate comfort, I’ve had to find other places in my life to let that pressure off–physical activity, working on some of my other growth goals, other activities–these are the healthier coping mechanisms I employ now.  Believe me, I don’t think I can express in the stress of our recent transition, maneuvering our new responsibilities, being ten feet apart at the office with a wall separating us and not out in the community as much as we are used to yet, how much that release is preserving our marriage right now to have that stress release! (Know I say that tongue-in-cheek, my husband is a saint, and he’s amazing).  I’m also someone that has pseudo-control of my own schedule, so I get judged a lot on interspersing the work on I do on my personal development and goals with my daily professional responsibilities.  This journey started when I realized how I was not honoring God’s creation, so why not be a living breathing model redemption from sin every day?  I need segments and breaks in my day because it’s a long day–it starts at 4am and goes until 8pm or 9pm, most days up to 10-12hrs of that is spent on “business” whether it’s at the office, home, or out in our community.  I need structure.  I need routine.  So by having all these activities segmented throughout the day, it’s more productive than engaging in my destructive all-or-nothing tendencies that typically results in getting nothing done.  At the end of the day, let’s look at my track record.  I’m running circles of efficiency around my former self (but can we quit throwing balls into the juggling match for a bit, please?)

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I don’t need the judges and haters to keep tabs on me…I’ve talked about accountability before, I’ve got literally a team behind me of people who are in my corner that keep me focused on my goals–professionally and personally.  Colleagues, friends, doctors, coach and sport nutrition professionals, and people that truly have my best interest at heart.  So, before you tell me….or anyone else for that matter…that they’re overdoing it, they shouldn’t pursue that, their priorities are in the wrong place, they don’t “look” like the type of person that does that, or any other generalization that you’re about to make, just think about how you would feel.  If you wouldn’t want to hear it, they probably don’t either.

We need more encouragement in this world.  We need more hope in this world.  It’s something that I work to the point of tears to some days trying to make happen and feel like I’m beating my head against the wall, but I know that God’s got it covered.  I just have to keep suiting up and showing up and following His will.  He’s got the plans, I do the foot work…and do my best to just mind my own business in the process.

I don’t have the magic answer…wish I did, but in the process, let’s just make a deal:  I’m probably just as guilty as the next guy and don’t realize it sometimes.  So, I’ll work to knock off the discouraging behaviors, and you too?

 


Cycling Thoughts Cycling

So yesterday, I did a thing.  I finished what I started, and I’m proud of myself.  I don’t say that often, but I accomplished what I set out to do in spite of my doubts, and that’s worth something.

Capture

40 miles.  On a bike.  Yep, I did that.

It was pretty dang cool.

A few months ago after I got the bike, I spied this cycling event and at first was hesitant to thing about it because I still had Salinas Valley Half Marathon (last month) and my upcoming half marathon at the Ventura Marathon in two weeks that I am training for, but I wanted something too that would help me start to integrate cycling into my training schedule as well.  So, I started looking at Goldilocks Vegas.  They had mileage categories ranging from 20-100 miles.  Since I had just got the bike and don’t have group cycling experience, I figured, okay…20 miles.  But I wasn’t really sure about the course.  I went to three people that I trust their “expert” opinion.  One, had a vested interest, and said, “20 miles–yes, do it.”  A friend that knew the area looked at the course and said, “Yeah, you could do the 20 mile.  But you should go for the 40.”  The third, this person exists to educate and push me, and often forgets that while training makes my ministry more effective, I don’t live to train, and told me to go for 80 miles.  And after I finished laughing at #3, I did think about it for a bit, got the schematics for what the training plan would look like for running and cycling for this couple months for the 20 and 40 mile…40 looked doable…and the rest is history.

Could I have trained better? Sure.  I’m not going to make excuses for life, it happens.  But even in my doubts, I made the decision that I was going to show up, finish if it killed me, and have some fun along the way.  Mission accomplished.

Actually, in the four hours (well, four hours of riding/almost five hours it took with stops), I learned way more than I think I expected to, and not just about riding a bike.  So bear with me here…

  • Open starts are awesome.  I am so happy that it was not required you take off with your mileage wave.  I took off 45 minutes before the start time of mine, which was perfect, because I was able to finish around the same time as everyone else, I didn’t have to start in a tight pack of other cyclists, and there weren’t big packs of riders to navigate.
  • Scenery is a great distraction–stunning course is a great distraction from the fact that you’re still climbing.  Still.
  • I wavered on the idea of an all-women’s event for a few reasons, some of those reasons were completely confirmed, others went to the wayside, but overall, I’m glad I chose it
  • Open course in an area popular with cyclists was pretty awesome, while some of the women weren’t the most sociable and a bit catty on the course (but were awesome at the start/finish…hence my hesitations above proven), other cyclists out for their rides were awesome.  I had one guy slow down to my speed for a couple miles on a downhill/flat-ish section and we had a good chat, mostly about his bike–he was riding a pretty slick tri bike.  I was grilling him on his shifting system…down the line when I’m in the market for N+1, I’m quite curious about the ultegra or di2 shifting systems.  Good times.
  • I got to exercise the full range of the cassette…every gear on my bike got a workout yesterday with the up and down.  And then I ran out of gears…about 1/3 of the way up the 2nd to last climb.  I was really happy here for a few reasons: I didn’t die.  I didn’t refer to the old mantras–not once did I pull out, “shut up legs!” but employed some other different techniques to keep moving forward that I’ve learned recently.  And my worst nightmare did NOT come true–having to walk my bike up a hill, not once–I kept moving and rode the entire course.  That’s huge to me.
  • Fuel and hydration on the course, nailed.  That was a finely honed plan that’s been worked on for awhile.  I’m used to being hungry after a long run or race, but I was not quite prepared for the desire to consume everything not nailed down in the aftermath at that level…I consumed a fair amount of food yesterday, and even so, I still went to bed with a calorie deficit that almost outweighed what I would have normally consumed in an average day.  It seemed like I would eat a meal or snack and then be hungry again soon.
  • I left it all out on the course.  I don’t think I could have pushed myself any harder. The last 45 minutes were brutal.  The gal and I that were leapfrogging each other over the last few climbs looked at each other and practically cried when we passed the sign that it was five miles (literally downhill) to the finish.  No matter what happened out there, I was going to finish or die trying.  But as soon as I rolled over the finish, got off the bike, and pounded down a cold water–I was fine.  Immediately ran errands and went shopping post-race.  Completely fine.  Even today, other than slightly stiff arms and shoulders, I’m fine.  I fully expected to be completely wrecked.  So my head got the better of me, and I started thinking, well, did I really push myself as hard as I could have?  Did I really do my best?  Yes.  Yes, I did.  There’s several quantifiable factors that prove that.  And that’s why I need to listen to the people smarter than me that I have in my life.  I was reminded that the goal isn’t to wreck myself–but look at the potential (and look at the facts that I did my best).  I’ve been cycling for just a few months, and managed to pull this in the midst of my life lately and feel great–so I was asked to put it into context of some of the greater goals.  What can I do?

Well…I can comfortably swim the half iron distance.  So I’m 50% of the way to Ironman.  I feel pretty good after throwing down 40 miles on the bike.  I’m 33% of the way to Ironman.  I can run 13.1 miles. I’m 50% of the way to Ironman.  I can do all of these things (independently of each other) without feeling wrecked.  Once I put it into that context in conversation, it was pointed out that maybe–just maybe–should I give myself some credit?  There’s so much physical training that goes into this journey, but there’s just as much mental training and emotional retraining too.  I may not yet look like a “typical” athlete on the outside, and I may never will, but time and time again as things like fuel, hydration, training, and all sorts of things are tweaked, it keeps coming back to the same idea–I may not be fast (yet), but I am definitely built for endurance.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around that one, but others believe it, and I’m okay faking it until I can truly believe it too.  And speed, that will come.

Cycling?  Yeah.  I can see the addiction.  Very different but equally as consuming as running–different outlet for different purposes.  I’m all in.  Next up?  Not for sure as far as racing, 2018 goals are set but the calendar is still a touch fluid…but there’s some new goals to work on as far as improving strength/climbing, consistent cadence, and speed.  It’s good stuff.

Race report to come on Race Everywhere.  Will post some event pictures when they come in.  I did post a few pictures from the day on my instagram feed that you can access from this site as well.


Doing Hard Things

There’s that mythical statement that gets tossed around that people try to use to comfort folks and say, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” False.  God puts us in situations and gives us more than we can handle constantly! Not as some cruel trick or to play puppet master, but to strengthen our reliance on Him.  And I think too, that extra reminder we need sometimes to put and keep Him first in our lives.

There is absolutely nothing normal about my life anymore, in fact, it’s not even a setting on the dryer in our new home because you’ve got to be a computer genius to even figure out how that silly newfangled machine works!  It’s well established fact that I don’t do change gracefully, but when you take a number my lesser-loved responsibilities, toss on some new ones, and heap on a whole new world of challenges, well, life is going to get a little bit rocky as we navigate back to center.  We have had to make difficult decisions, stand firm, and it’s just no fun being the new guys.  I’m not used to spending all day in the office, but that’s life right now until things get a grip—I’m much more used to being out and about in the community.  It will happen.

And that’s just our professional life!

Then let’s throw in this whole idea of actually giving a rip about myself for once in my life.  Now we’re just juggling chainsaws.  I made the conscious choice that in this transition and moving process I wasn’t going to allow myself the compromise of priorities, and over the last few years, I’ve learned that this pursuit of holistic health is a priority.  It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.  I don’t run circles of effectiveness and efficiency around my former self for fits and giggles, it’s the byproduct of obedience to God’s will for me, and I don’t take a second of it for granted.

There’s been a few wrenches thrown into that mix too…some may or may not be excuses on some level, but they are what they are at this point.  One-weather.  While temperatures don’t vary between Laughlin and Lake Havasu, wind is a different story.  Being a baby cyclist, my level of stupidity really only goes so far, and I’ve tested my limits.  Last weekend on a 30-mile ride, I broke free from my familiar zone and took to the highway—was cruising downhill at over 30MPH in gusting winds that were throwing me around like a pinball.  Let’s just say I decidedly don’t like riding alone (which I find interesting because I only like running alone), but I was grateful I had no one with me to witness the full-on panic attack I was having for that couple mile stretch until I hit flat road again and could safely pull out of traffic and off the road and stop shaking and recover from all of the other panic symptoms I was experiencing.  Needless to say, that trick only happens once.  And I didn’t become roadkill.  Running has been good, all I can say is….hills, hills, hills! I’m going to have some rockin’ legs!  Swimming…well…my wetsuit for open water swimming just arrived yesterday!  Now my husband just needs to come kayak with me as I swim or I need to find another equally as mentally unstable swim partner to go hit the river.  Open water swim, here I come!

Things have been hard on me a bit because I’m playing a really good body vs mind game right now, and it seems like a moment by moment nail biter on who’s winning.  My body has reached critical action time on an issue that I’ve dealt with for many years and have been toying with getting taken care of the last couple, but just haven’t found the right surgeon that I’m comfortable with in their surgical plans.  There’s one more in Lake Havasu I’m going to meet with and I am also going to have a consultation at Mayo Clinic, but it’s time to stop this ferritin storage disorder once and for all, suck it up, and get the hysterectomy to correct the source of the problem.  I’ve had ups and downs over the last couple years with some of my different iron and ferritin panels that I get pulled often, but I’ve never been as far in the tank as I am now, and even the doctor is only using some mega-dosing of some iron treatments vs transfusion right now as a stop-gap to see how quickly I might get in for consultation and surgery.  It’s bad enough I can barely keep my eyes open the moment I wake up in the morning and some other issues…the doctor isn’t quite sure how I am functioning to work and train, and if I keep going, it can have dire effects on not only my training, but my overall health.  But her and I both know the answer to how I’m still going as she’s supported me on this journey too—it’s God.

It would be really easy to take this physical weakness right now and use it as an excuse, but here’s the thing, it’s almost doing the opposite for me and that’s where the big mind game comes in.  I feel terrible all the time right now—I am doing my best not to be a whiner about it, but exhausted doesn’t even seem the appropriate term.  It doesn’t even scratch the surface.  However, when I’m working out, I feel invincible.  I feel strong.  I feel like I could go on forever, and I don’t necessarily want to stop…most of the time it’s dictated by the clock these days, not my want to quit.  My last two bike rides of 20 and 30 miles? They felt like nothing at all…like bafflingly bizarre.  The sore factor just wasn’t there.  Sure, I can see building “some” strength and improving, bbbuuuttttt not like that.  Runs?  I’m not really setting land speed records or anything, but the stamina is there to just keep going.

It’s fascinating to me…I’m not sure how that is playing out for me right now, but it is teaching me something.  I am capable.  I have big dreams.  I have lofty goals.  I want to accomplish a lot athletically and I think (I know) I sell my abilities short more often than not.  I don’t really know where that fear comes from, but it’s there, so I’ll own it.  While I still have some doubts and some well-placed fears for my upcoming cycling event next weekend, I know I’ll finish and it will be a great experience.  I know I’ll have some fun, and I know that I’ll learn a lot.  My upcoming half marathon, I’m actually pretty confident there—the course and training, I’m set up for a decent PR I believe.  It should be good.

We all know I’m good at the mental games, and I would love to say that it stops at endurance sports, but unfortunately, we all know that Satan is a master at kicking us when we’re down and he’s got me right where he wants me.  In the midst of my struggling right now, he’s hit a few targets of mine I’m fighting hard to reinforce the defenses.  Again, in keeping those priorities, is time with my husband.  It’s been non-existent, unless you count conversations regarding the business of our ministry, which isn’t really edifying to one’s marriage in the long run alone.  I was doing the math as I was getting on the interstate back to Laughlin yesterday and realized it had been weeks prior to even moving that we had a night out to ourselves that was just “ours,” a date night, if you will.  I just decided in the moment that I wasn’t cooking dinner and called my husband and told him to pick a restaurant and we were going out to spend time together when I got home.  Our relationship, our marriage, is and always will be a priority.

Another is loneliness.  I was so grateful yesterday to have the opportunity just to send a few messages and receive good advice and have a couple conversations with friends face-to-face.  I won’t even cop to how many times I got back in my car running around town that I burst into tears of gratitude (…and probably exhaustion).  Ministry is not for the faint of heart, and since I’ve been chained to my office, I’ve only had limited chances to get out and meet people and try to make some new friends here—other than my service club membership, which thankfully I get to see those folks twice a week, I just have not had a chance to even take a deep breath of fresh air yet.  For being an introverted person, I never realized how much I value that consistent human contact with so many people that I have come to know in community until I didn’t have it every day.  It’s lonely, and I feel a little lost without it until I get it built up again.  It will happen.

The moral of the story…other than just a giant vent is this: we can do hard things.  God has given me far beyond what I can handle right now, but I am at peace in it, because I know that it is handled.  I am human and can be and am frustrated in different parts of it, but as I continue to look to Him, He continues to show me each next step, each next right action to take.  One at a time.  Just as He’s done all along on this journey so far.  And I’ve got nothing to fear…except maybe a 40-mile bike ride, lol.

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