Finding My Own Brand of Confidence

If you follow any number of athletic, running, or fitness inspiration pages such as I do, some of your social media feeds may have been flooded this weekend with photos and the hashtag #sportsbrasquad.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about confidence, finding peace, (healthy) body acceptance, and freeing ourselves from needless body shaming and ridiculous stereo-typing…but posting a selfie in my sports bra isn’t going to achieve that.

I didn’t participate in this widespread event for a number of reasons–first and foremost, modesty.  While my torso is actually one of the parts of my body I can look at in the mirror and not immediately rag on while topless, the rest of the world doesn’t need to see that glow-in-the-dark pasty white goodness!  Yes, it’s a stigma, but I also feel a person “of my size” probably shouldn’t be flaunting around their midriff either–that’s my personal choice I make.  It’s also an age thing…I’m not a teenager, nor am I in college anymore; I’m a grown and married professional woman.  While I’d like to believe there’s a separation between my personal and professional life, I don’t operate under that delusion in reality, and I realize that I need to be cognizant of the manner in which I appropriately cover my body in a given situation.  And finally, let’s get real…the sweat factor.  It was darn hot yesterday morning on my run–there needed to be more moisture-wicking material on my body to handle the load, LOL.

Don’t misconstrue my point here–I’m not knocking anyone that had the bravery to bare all and share for the world to see.  It takes courage.  It takes confidence.  It takes a level of peace with your body that I’m still on the mats wrestling with in a big way.  I was touched by a lot of the words that many of the women posted with their photos.

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So where am I in this wrestling match?  Well, in my last post I touched on self-acceptance.  This is a long process.  God’s working on me.  Slowly.  It’s an interesting process, but over the last couple weeks I’ve been able to see how the journey and working on myself are chipping away at those hard places on my heart that aren’t allowing me to see my own worth the way that others can.

This week I was listening to a very wise teaching on taking care of yourself and self worth, really breaking it down and honoring yourself in the present moment–not getting stuck in the hamster wheel of “I’ll feel good about myself when…” or assigning a judgement to it, but just truly looking at yourself honestly and wholly for who you are in this moment and appreciating that.  The way that this was presented was highly emotional for me and really struck a cord because I get so frustrated that I can’t seem to bring myself into that truly present moment where my mind and body connect in the same moment.  It seems like the two run independently of each other, and while intellectually I understand the progress I’ve made and can fathom the possibility of achieving the goals I’ve set forth, I still look in the mirror and see the person I was on day one.  I still see the person that trapped in an unhealthy and unmoving body that was beyond miserable and didn’t know how to fix it for herself until she surrendered that part of herself to God fully.  I can post all the side-by-side selfies I want, it doesn’t change that disconnect for me.

I had another moment this week, that I never would have anticipated, that really loosened some of those cogs in my mind and got me thinking a little bit more.  Of all things, it was a bike fitting.  My (early) birthday gift is a beautiful road bike and if we were going to invest in this purchase, I was going to upgrade the fit and have the advanced body geometry bike fitting done–mostly because I’m a data nerd and after reading all the information, I really wanted those stats about my body!

I was pretty nervous (but excited!) going into this bike shop in the first place.  I had already had several conversations with the shop manager that ordered my bike and would be conducting the fitting–she knew what to expect when I walked in the door, and knew my story, but the reaction of the other staff when I came in was a bit comical….kind of like when I show up at a race, that “fat girl gonna do what?!” look.  Once they got clued in to the details on my story they picked up their jaws and thought it was pretty cool.  Anyway…bike fit.

The really cool thing about this is that they just don’t throw you on your new bike and tell you to go for it.  There’s questions, body movement and angle measurements in a lot of different positions.  From the yoga and all the stretching I do, I’m pretty aware of how I can move my body, so it was interesting to apply angles and some math to it and learn how I move is beneficial to cycling and how it affects the fit and comfort on my bike.  The ah-ha moment didn’t strike me until later on, but after having a set of eyes on me and manipulating my body for such a long period of time didn’t bother me–I wasn’t self conscious in that moment, rather in awe of how my body could move and what it could do.  I don’t think like that.  That’s progress.

The self consciousness though, it does come…while I would be capable of joining the #sportsbrasquad, there’s other demons for me to overcome.  I’ve talked about my discontent with my arms and legs due to the hanging skin from weight loss before.  I don’t wear shorts in public…never have, even before losing weight.  Other than my booty shorts I occasionally wear at home, or the appropriate shorts I wear to/from the pool, I don’t wear shorts.  Well, while I do I own cycling capris, it’s hot.  I’ve donned the bike shorts for my first couple rides and while I can’t say I’m accepting of what I see, I passed the mirror today and was okay…I didn’t totally hate on myself.  And that’s new.  That’s finding peace.

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I’m not sure what full confidence in myself, my appearance, my abilities looks like…I believe I’ll get there in God’s time. but I’m learning.  It’s all a process.  There’s people in my path, experiences, prayer, work to be done on my part, patience, time, and most importantly God transforming my heart and mind that will make it happen according to His will.  It’s good stuff.

Oh, and the bike…it’s amazing.  Meet the newest member of the family, Storm.  Short for, “I am the storm,” because once we achieved optimum fit, I can’t even begin to tell you the dreams and goals that clicked in to place.  Stay tuned, there’s more to this story as God writes this one, I’m sure of it!

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Transparency Bites Back

It’s no secret, I’ve made it an aim to share the awesome, good, bad, ugly, and everything in between the last couple years on this crazy adventure for several reasons very important to me:

  • First and foremost, to illustrate through the vehicle of my journey how God has and is working in my life and He can and will do great and mighty things in yours too if you just ask, submit, and obey.
  • To show that pastors are people too.  We are not immune the the struggles of life and should not be placed on pedestals.  Yes, we are leaders, but we are also sinners saved by grace–same as you (well, hopefully you know Jesus and have entered into relationship with Him and know of that saved condition–if not, let’s chat).  We’re human, and don’t have an edge on the game of life–we live, learn, and have to develop our personal faith relationship the same as anyone else.
  • It’s not rocket science.  Yeah, losing weight is a bummer sometimes.  Exercise isn’t everyone’s favorite activity.  But holistic wellness is a marathon, not a sprint–when we are developing our whole healthy self, there’s so much more to it than a crash diet or the latest and greatest.  Simple steps, but not easy.  And it is work.  (everyone’s favorite 4-letter word!) Some days are hard, some days are easy, but the rewards are out of this world.

So a few days ago I was scrolling through some pictures on my phone and posted one on Facebook with a pretty vulnerable post–probably one I should’ve blogged as it was lengthy and clearly needed some expansion in hindsight.  It was a photo that my husband had snapped during a fun time we were having one morning before a conference, we spent the whole morning in a bike shop and I had tried on every cycling shoe in my size in the store to select just the right pair that I fell in love with (and I did!).  I should look at that picture and my first thoughts should be positive, right?  Wrong…

I looked at that photo and saw every flaw that I hate about myself and I expanded on that in my post on the picture…I knew what I was doing in the process and trying to turn it to a place of expression, in that I am working to find self acceptance.  I’m not there…it’s a foreign concept to me, I don’t understand it simply because I’ve never really had it, but I do know it’s something I desire for myself and intellectually know its benefits to my overall well-being.

I missed the mark.

As with anything you put in writing, it gets misconstrued, and I had made a side comment that went off on a bit of a tangent that caused some comments to really fixate on as the main message, which I think I hopefully brought back to the main message of learning self acceptance was priority one…but what I never anticipated was, for lack of a better word, the crapstorm of messages away from the public eye that followed over the next couple days.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the majority of these from people I know well were truly from a place of love that thought they were offering assistance.  I love them for their desire to want to fix and care for what is physically broken…but the “solutions” they were bringing me were anything but solutions–they were things to further remove me from a place of coming into self acceptance on my own and in God’s time.

I don’t follow programs, fast-fixes or gimmicks.  Period.  I have lost my now 170lbs through good ‘ole balanced eating, moving my body, and working on the emotional and spiritual issues that got me to the point of super morbid obesity in the first place.  After two years of homework, research, trying, experimenting, failing sometimes, researching, trying again, succeeding, and repeating this cycle over and over again, I’ve pretty much refined this process for myself.  I don’t have sense of urgency in this either–all of this has happened on God’s timeline, not mine.  Yes, all of my goals are time-based in some fashion, EXCEPT scale numbers.  That’s not a head game I’m willing to play.  I know that as I improve myself and my life the weight will take care of itself.  I have 170 beads in a jar and a new driver’s license photo to prove it.

I’m not saying that some of these different things don’t work–they can and do for people with different goals, different mindsets, the willingness to invest time/money, and a whole host of other things, but they simply aren’t for me.  I just find it a little bit overkill when I go to be vulnerable for a second and end up with 37 (not an exaggeration) solicitations for It Works, Plexus, Beachbody, Medifast, FitTea, Thrive, and even our disturbingly unhealthy local weight loss doctor’s program. (Caveat: I am not a regular Beachbody client, and I do NOT use their supplement products or their nutrition programs, but I do own and enjoy CIZE and PiYo….in the spirit of full disclosure)

I was reminded last week of a saying that I love–you do you.  All of these things above, if that’s your deal, great.  You have your thing, I have mine.  We all make our own choices, and with choices come consequences–good, bad, or indifferent.  You don’t have to sell me on your choices, and I don’t have to accept them–but what I do have to do is come to a place of accepting myself as I am in the present moment and truly learning to see myself as God sees me.  There’s no shake, pill, patch, wrap, or program that can make that happen–that’s the Holy Spirit and me.

I love you all for the concern and perception of what you thought was a need, and your want to be a fixer…I’m a fixer too, I get it, but here’s my promise: I know what you do/sell.  I also research and do my homework exhaustively.  I’m interested in you, but not your product, but I promise you if that ever changes–I will come to you, I know where to find you.

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Focus on the FUN!

In January of this year, I stumbled on an application on a random post to become a sponsored athlete through a page that I follow, a really fantastic race reporting startup, Race Everywhere.  I submitted the application, but honestly was in a state of shock when I was contacted for an interview–after all, a future former fat chick that doesn’t exactly set land speed records isn’t quite the poster child for all things sporty.  But, I met with the founder of the company/site on one of my visits to Phoenix for another meeting, interviewed for one of the sponsorship spots, and got to learn more about the history behind Race Everywhere and the founder’s passion for developing it, his values, and his goals for it–and frankly, I left that meeting wanting this more than I realized I did after learning more about the whole picture, because it’s something that 1) I like, 2) I support, 3) I have a good instinct on the integrity of the company and am willing to put myself up against it.  (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

Cue the longest waiting period ever…if I wasn’t the first interview, I was one of the first.  It took about six weeks to hear the decision on whether or not I had been chosen for a sponsorship spot after my interview.  That was a pretty surreal moment, if just getting an interview was shocking, being told they want you puts you into a totally new league of jaw-dropping.  Enter a few negotiations and decisions (discussion back and forth, lots of research to make sure I wasn’t violating any of our ministry’s policies and procedures [I’m not!], calendar play to make sure nothing conflicted with our ministry, scheduling and receiving permission for some of our personal furloughs around a few races…)

On April 28, I did the coolest thing yet…I signed my name to a sponsorship agreement contract!  It even says it in black and white that I’m an athlete…who knew?!  It was news to me that day!

It’s been a little slow going as things have gotten off the ground as we were hoping to launch things as a group with all the sponsored athletes together, but schedules just don’t look like they’re jiving, so we’ve been hooking up on individual conference calls this week to get started on putting much of our mutual parts into motion.

Yesterday I had a conference call with the founder and the person that will be coordinating the schedules of all of the sponsored athlete’s “stuff”…there’s a lot that’s coming up over the next year–in addition to running my October half marathon in Ventura under Race Everywhere’s name (and decked out in their gear! Can’t wait to get that soon–the first pieces should be arriving soon!), we also have interviews that will go up on the website that feature us as sponsored athletes that need to be completed, we will write some blog posts for the site, interview on some podcasts (sounds like I’ll do mine after my August race in Carmel), write a few race reports, show up on social media in a few places, and I’m probably forgetting some things too off the top of my head.

It’s all fun stuff though, because this would be things I would be doing anyway!  I blog, I post on social media, I run races, I rate races–why not do it in an arena for a company that I can support?  And in return, I get some amazing support too!  Not only do I get race entry sponsored, there’s Race Everywhere branded gear that I was able to select for my preference, coaching (YAY!!!! And talk about a company that knows their stuff–more on Camelback Coaching soon, I’m sure!), probably some other stuff I’m forgetting too (it is almost 3 hours past my bedtime…but I took a 5 Hour Energy while driving to CA…bad move), but there’s the new camaraderie to come of a group of athletes brought together for a single purpose, and that’s pretty cool too.

For something that I submitted on a chance, assuming I wasn’t good enough to be chosen…I’m still pretty blown away that this is my reality now.  This is the fun.  At the end of the day, this boils down to a really amazing opportunity for me to hone in on becoming a better runner and stronger endurance athlete if I pay attention and soak it all in.  I have pretty lofty goals…I’ve said it before, 100 mile ultra marathon.  It’s going to happen.  But I look around now too and start to wonder if there’s other goals starting to creep in too down the line.  The wheels are turning, my mind is mulling over some possibilities.  But for now, I’m just going to be thankful for the opportunities I have and keep going on the goals in the here and now.  Quickly closing in on making a final choice for my spring marathon…my first 26.2!!!

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Learning to Listen

I’ve beaten the dead horse on the severe head disconnect between truly grasping and accepting where I am in this present moment and not living in the headspace I was where I started when I was in such a place of desperation for God in a new way and the need for change in so much of my life, so I’m going to *try* not to dwell on that.  No promises.

I almost feel like some days that this journey is coming back full circle, as I start to have some of the same thoughts that I had at the outset–but this time, the reaction is far, far different.  I’ve shared this before in conversation (not sure if I’ve written it here), but in my initial encounter with God it was the full recognition and confession that I WAS living the life of a hypocrite–that I could provide the advice and godly counsel for everyone else to live a whole and healthy life, but I certainly wasn’t applying 100% of those concepts in my own.  That was a big problem for me, not only as a pastor, but as a person.  That not only speaks to a whole host of issues, but it comes down to credibility, trust, and honor, and the value of a relationship…so many things that I was sacrificing, living in my sin of selfishness and self will.  Thank God that He doesn’t leave us where we are.

I’ve noticed lately that in my conversations with God, I’ve started to see this hypocrite question creep back into my prayer life and it has really thrown the circuits into overdrive trying to process this on where this is coming from–I’ll be very honest in that it scared me, I was afraid there was a red flag somewhere in the mix that I just wasn’t picking up on and was going to be headed for disaster.  Being the impatient person that I am, I wanted answers then and there, and that’s just not how God works…it was several different but recent unrelated situations, conversations, and events that all have connected together to make these thoughts finally collide, but God reminded me to just shut up and wait (in the most lovingly way possible…which for me, sometimes just has to be blunt).

So here it is…

Feelings are not fact.  There is a difference between actually living a hypocritical life as I was, and feeling like I am now.  The feelings that I have now stem from that disconnect in that I very much struggle and accept to see myself in the true and present moment.  I get so frustrated that I can’t reconcile the reality of side-by-side photographs, not only the clear physical differences of what dropping 165lbs so far does to a person, but the hauntingly different looks just peering into my eyes.  I mean, seriously, was I dead inside?  I’m a pretty wordy person…but right now, there’s really only tears, I don’t have thoughts, or feelings, or even grown-up words (well, I do have some “choice” words…) to even start to explain the struggle of marrying the idea of a healthier self-image that is completely new and foreign to me that I have never possessed before with a healthier and smaller adult body that is completely new and foreign to me.  Let’s remember–while there was a brief (fleetingly brief) period that I weighed about 50lbs less than I currently do right now, I wear smaller sizes in clothing than I did at that point in time, and I am smaller right now than I have ever maintained as an adult–I weigh less at this current moment than I did when I graduated high school.  This is stuff I can’t cognitively wrap my mind around.  I see it in black and white, I comprehend the facts, but it doesn’t compute.

I was a hypocrite at the outset of all of this, I’ll own my sin–I’ve confessed it, it’s been redeemed.  I get the chance to continue now in living the way that God intended my life in the first place, in trust and obedience.  As you’ve seen because I have chosen for a great number of reasons to be fairly transparent, He’s done some pretty darn cool things in the process the last couple years–nothing short of miraculous in my book.  But He still gets to lead the way, and nowhere in scripture does it promise that path is paved in sunshine and roses.  Some days are hard.  Learning is a process.

Here’s where the part where feelings aren’t fact.  I may feel like a hypocrite, but that doesn’t make me one.  There’s no facts to back it up.  In the past, I can haul out the laundry list that made it true…I can’t do that here.  It’s just a feeling.  It’s a feeling of discontent and unease trying to reconcile that which I don’t have a solid construct to filter my present self through.  I’m trying to grasp and understand something that I’m unable to do and it’s driving me bananas.  I feel like a hypocrite because I can’t take hold of it and wrap it into a pretty package and move on, but rather it’s in the larger process of God working to slow me down, tie my hands behind my back, and remind me that IT’S NOT ABOUT ME but His work in me and He’s gonna take His time to do it.  It’s not my work to be done.  And it’s frustrating.

I long to continue moving forward.  I’ve learned the true meaning of biblical joy and doggone-it, it’s incredible.  I want to do everything in my power to not only continue to cultivate it in my life, to share it and help others find it within their lives.  This last weekend I heard someone speak about not staying stuck–don’t stay where you are, that you have to go to others and tell your story, tell of God’s power.  I hope that I do that.  I try to be transparent that it’s not about the successes and the good days and the highlights, but that there are struggles, there more times that I care to admit that I can’t look at myself in the mirror and accept myself for the child of God I am right where I’m at because I’m blinded by the negativity that fills me about myself…but even in that, it’s real.  There’s hope.  There’s hope in it because the Holy Spirit didn’t convict me to the point where I was willing to turn it all over in radical obedience with the confidence that God was going to only take me to a certain point…that’s not how it works…there isn’t a finish line in this one, and God’s still working on me.

I realize maybe I need to learn from my own lessons.  I still don’t really know how to let a compliment sink in…but I do receive some feedback from others, maybe someday it’ll get past that hard heart I guard so well, but I hear how my story so far makes other people think or inspires a bit.  Well, maybe I can pull up a chair and learn from my own story too.  Be transparent.  Tell your story.  You don’t know who you may be listening, moreover, who you may be inspiring for greater good.

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The Feels

I’ve been a little all over the map this last week in my head, so I’m going to get a little bit real and lay a little bit of it out here…you’ve been warned.

When looking at the whole self (mind, body, soul), one of the most complex parts of this journey, transformation, whatever you want to call it, for me has been that leg of transforming emotional wellness.  I’m guarded in a lot of ways when I get into this area–sure, I’ll discuss issues of self worth and self esteem–what women (and even men) don’t struggle with those things?  But there’s things too that go a lot deeper than that, and honestly, I don’t talk about it for three main reasons 1) I don’t have the mental capacity at this point in life to even have the intellectual conception of how to put words to it in order to carry a conversation–this is still a God-in-process project. 2) Not everyone would understand the construct.  That’s okay–sometimes life is just a little to real for some, and I’m not at a place where that part of my story makes a difference in the grand scheme of the world, and because of that fact, I’m not going to put myself in a place where my effectiveness is minimized because of it. 3) There is a sad reality that the world doesn’t always see you as a new creation in Christ, that they see you as your past mistakes, the things that you’ve done, or what has been done to you, and place a worth judgment on those instead of focusing on the present and what you can offer in the here and now.

I’m pretty decent at acknowledging other’s feelings and even taking on the burden of feeling other people’s feelings (I’m not sure how I feel about the whole empath deal, but let’s just say I haven’t reached a verdict on the issue–in some cases I’ve experienced, I’m going with plausible), but when it comes to myself–forget it.  I even have a memory of a conversation I had with someone where it was important that I be able to identify in that time what feelings I felt, and we sat in silence for quite a long time until I finally broke down in tears out of mental frustration not being able to put words to the emotions that I felt.  I couldn’t tell the person how I felt–sounds silly, right?  I fully admit that I am emotionally immature in some ways because life being life, but that’s not to say I’m not learning and growing over time, that conversation was what some days feels a lifetime ago and in other ways not, but there’s been good distance and a lot of progress in my life since that point.

This last week has shaken that comfort zone a little bit…which means, more growth.  I was in a class that challenged some of my thoughts on feelings–more specifically, how I “feel” my feelings (which I admittedly don’t have a good perception of) and what I do with that information.  The next phase of this discussion went into that of worth, again, something I can instill and affirm in others–but haven’t really invested the understanding to break through the walls in my heart and mind to fill that emotional bank account to understand my own.

I preach it from the pulpit, I tell people often, I have no problem to tell another person of their great and powerful worth for who they are as a child of God and what they mean on this planet…but here’s the real truth:  I struggle very much in translating that to my own self.  The idea of three simple words, “you are enough,” has the full capability of bringing me to my knees in tears because I truly don’t comprehend.  I can’t explain it.  I just don’t.  People can tell me this until they’re blue in the face–I don’t know why I can’t let it make that 18″ mind-heart connection either and take hold of this one.

It brings me back to the insecurity of the very beginning of all of this, when I was at my complete breaking point in countless areas of my life and cried out to God that something had to change, but that I didn’t know what that looked like (who would’ve guessed redeemed health, weight loss, an insane love of running, incredible spark in so many other things too numerous to even list?! Not me!).  All I knew was that I was living a hypocrite–helping others when I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) help myself.  Quite obviously, that’s not the case any longer as I am so grateful for the great and mighty work that God has done so far and what is yet to come, and that I very much practice what I preach, but–there’s a but.  I’m reminded again that I’m still a work in progress.

I’ve met a lot of goals, but I’ve got a lot still in many arenas left to achieve.  There is work to be done, but God’s brought me to this time and place for a reason.  I’m shaken at this point to tackle these things head on with a purpose–because He’s equipped me for it in His time.  I may not feel secure or strong in my abilities or knowledge of what’s to come in God’s great work in me, but it’s not about my security or strength alone–it’s about my trust in an Almighty God who has called me to be obedient to His will.  He hasn’t steered me wrong so far, so let’s see where the ride goes now?

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“No” is a Complete Sentence

First Lady Barbara Bush had it right with her campaign of “just say no” back in the day, but as a perpetual people-pleaser, that’s been a hard word for me to employ in my daily vocabulary.  As I work on some of my goals, I find the good and bad sides of employing this tough two-letter word.

The good–if there is something there is a legitimate reason that I can’t do something, or something of insignificance that I don’t want to do, I simply can say no.  The world won’t stop spinning on its axis, lives won’t be lost, and mankind as we know it will continue on without me.

The bad–and this is a bit more complex.  First, comes the guilt factor.  Sure, the above, if there’s a legit reason I say no, that’s one thing, but desire–that’s another.  I have to truly examine the motivating factors behind the no.  If it is just because of general interest or knowledge, that’s one thing and perfectly acceptable, but if it’s out of laziness and complacency, that’s a whole other issue, and we need to back up the bus.  Motive is key–Stephanie doesn’t live lazy anymore.

There’s also the hard no to arrive at, the one that I don’t want to say, but I know is in my best interest.  The no’s that hurt the most.  I’m starting to come to a point of maximum saturation where I really have to weigh my decisions against my priorities and not say yes to everything, there simply just isn’t enough time in the day for everything that needs to get done, time spent with my family, time spent on what I want to get done, and other necessities of life like eating, sleeping, sustaining life, etc.  There is always opportunities that come along of things that I want to do, but I just can’t always fit them in, and I have to say no–I have to miss out.

I’ve had to say no a lot lately too as I’ve been recovering from my surgery, and that has angered me a great deal in a lot of ways.  I know that going in to surgery the doctor could not have predicted how extensive it was going to be from a surface biopsy–he didn’t know he was going to be ultimately removing a golf ball from my back.  He gave me guidelines and restrictions for recovery, but obviously, every person is going to handle that differently.  Apparently, I assume I am superhuman and will be fine and dandy the next day, and that didn’t happen…I had to take it much easier than I anticipated and I can’t tell you how humbling it is to follow instructions.  I wasn’t allowed to lift more than 10 pounds when I had the stitches (among a whole list of other restrictions) and I literally stood there and watched my husband and my friend empty boxes from my van so I could put up the seats to pick up kids for lunch–something any other time I am perfectly capable of doing on my own.  I don’t like asking for help.

I got my stitches out this week–hooray!  I should be magically cured, right?  Wrong.  I was told I could go back to running as tolerated, but no upper body stretching and no lifting more than 15lbs for another month and then we’ll talk at my next follow-up.  Okay, so running feels pretty good–made the mistake of wearing my hydration vest, that rubs on my incision and puts pressure on my back (ice is still my best friend).  But after two weeks almost completely sidelined in pain following surgery (I got like 3 workouts in), I wasn’t giving up my long run…in my own twisted way, I reached out for help (because I couldn’t just outright ask for it–still don’t know how to do that so well), and a friend took mercy on me for a hydration stop so I didn’t have to use my vest and could carry a smaller capacity handheld with just minimal water and fuel.

Felt pretty invincible at that point…continued on with that marathon day (no pun intended) and thought I was well enough to work at full speed ahead and I didn’t think about my limits.  I moved in ways I shouldn’t have, I lifted, and I overdid it…and now I’m paying the price.  I’m in pain.  Thank God I didn’t reopen my incision line, but I hurt and I had to say no to today’s run because of the pain.  No thanks to allergies I’ve gotten quite a bit of rest today, so here’s hoping that I’m back on the pavement tomorrow–the road is calling me something fierce!

It drives me crazy when people say that “oh you just need to relax and heal” or “you just need to take it easy.”  No, I don’t.  Those aren’t helpful comments when you never even offered to be of service if it was needed (whether I took you up on it or not is a different matter), so mind you own business.  Stay in your lane.  I’m fully aware of my limits–I may push the envelope, but I do it for a reason, and there’s so few people reading these words that would understand why I would dance that line that it’s not worth expounding on.  I will say this though–at the end of the day, you don’t grow in your comfort zone.  The bad of saying no will always come back to that initial guilt factor for me.  I’m not sure how to get rid of that.  Guilt is a big thing for me, it plays into the people-pleasing, it plays into the constant rumination in my mind, but I think it’s something bigger too.  God and I are in discussion on that one…it’s an interesting conversation.  More on that later.

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It Takes a Village

I was reading a post this morning on a sports training page that I follow about a woman that was so grateful how people randomly chip in to do things so that she doesn’t have to cut corners on her training.  She gave an example how another mom had some time, so she took over carpool for the afternoon so the woman wouldn’t have to cut her run short, and the woman called her son when he got home and asked if she needed to come home to help with homework and he told her that he had it handled, that all she needed to do was continue being awesome on her run.  The woman went on to process these thoughts with such gratitude that it in the times when she feels selfish–the sheer volume of time it takes to train for an ironman–that those around her are there with love to support her in the best ways that they know possible.  They can’t necessarily train and do the hard work for her, but they can pick up the slack in other ways.  That’s pretty cool stuff.

Yesterday, on another platform, I was reading of another woman who is so grateful for her husband’s support in her half ironman training, that she was looking for ideas from the collective on how to show her appreciation for him.  Her husband supports her training efforts in a lot of ways, but also trains for his own crossfit events and some other thing that I can’t remember.  So we were all brainstorming how she could make that special for him.

So, of course, because my brain never shuts down, this made me reflect on my own life.  I am blessed in my activities to have a whole host of support and accountability, lots of people that I can reach out to in different ways.  As I look at training plans for building distance and endurance, ultimately preparing for various races, I have the privilege of flexibility in managing my own schedule that I’m not burdened by punching a time clock (but that also creates a burden of overwork too–another topic for another time), but now I also get the support of a coach (that’s so cool!) for awhile and a the camaraderie of a sponsorship team of athletes.  But most importantly, my husband has always been there.

I totally get where these two ladies above are coming from.  When I step back and look at it, the gratitude is overwhelming.  My husband is amazing–I know I fall short in giving him the credit he’s due daily in all areas of life, and he knows that, I confess that often, but when it comes to our active life–here’s my little ode to him:

My husband is pretty darn selfless.  He puts up with the fact that I get up in the wee hours of the morning to put my time in to train, and how I’ve restructured my days and routine to make life happen without objection or question.  I’m in bed at night early and he doesn’t complain.  He runs a pretty opposite schedule and is a night owl with his training and usually goes out to the gym or bike rides once I go to bed at night and only goes to sleep a couple hours before I wake up–he does his desert runs in the morning with our dog usually hours after I’ve been up and gone so that he trains for his respective races.  Because we work together as a team, we’ve been able to tag team the schedule and make sure that the day-to-day responsibilities still happen at the level of our expectation and nothing suffers, but that our dreams don’t get squashed either–we did that for too long early on in our ministry and it didn’t breed too much good in any arena of life.  We also have made concessions in our personal budget to afford gear, races, etc–expenses we haven’t had before because these things weren’t a priority in our life, but the things we’ve sacrificed for it are worth it, so it’s a win-win in the end.  The quality time that we spend together looks different than it used to and we’re content with that, life and relationships evolve–that’s a pretty cool thing too.  I love my husband more and more every day, there’s no doubt about that fact.

I’m happy to put in the time to travel and cheer on his races, sherpa him with his fuel and things he may need, have all the fun, and celebrate his successes because he’s done the absolute same for me, and quite honestly more.  My husband is my biggest cheerleader in all areas of life and ministry–he’s always been one of my greatest gifts from God, and his encouragement in this area of my life is no different.  No matter the crazy idea I get, he says go for it.  I need people that support the insanity–and I’m grateful for the handful I’ve got around that get it and the strangers that I’ve picked up along the way too.

Support is so important, because there are so many nay-sayers out there.  Those are the ones that are blatant about it–they clearly don’t support your dreams, and that’s okay, they can go merrily on their way of making someone else miserable.  But there’s other discouragers that are a little bit sneakier–they may not even realize they are doing it.  These are the people in our lives that don’t take the time to necessarily understand why our passions make us tick and are constantly feeding us the comments of “slow down” and “don’t you think that’s too much” or “you’re overdoing it” when you’re not–they may be consciously or unconsciously trying to sabotage our goals, contentedness, or happiness.  I’m not saying these people need to be eliminated from our lives–quite often they’re people we love very much–but we have to figure out how to deal with them when their comments grate on every nerve fiber in your body.

There’s a teeny-tiny bit of benefit in the nay-sayers and saboteurs too.  Honestly, some days, they give that stroke to the fire that fuel it just a little bit longer–they help us to push harder, run longer, and kick our mental walls in the teeth.  They may have meant to tear you down when ultimately it fired you up all the more.  God has bigger plans than the trash.

No matter who we are, where we are, what we’re doing, and what we’re striving to do–I think it does take people around us, not only those to keep us accountable in our goals, but the village–not only to be an encourager in the good and rough times, but to occasionally pitch in with the practical stuff, without prompt or request, because help may not even be realized that it’s needed.  We need each other whether we realize it or not.  And this applies in every life!

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