I Hate Exercise. Honest.

A lovely friend posed a question on a Facebook post of mine earlier today, and it really threw me for a loop.  I don’t think I’ve been earnestly asked this question before, and I had to think about this one for a bit…

How long did it take you to WANT or LOVE to workout?

So, here’s the honest truth–I don’t. *GASP*

Pick up your jaw.  I’ll explain.

When that alarm goes off every morning at 4am, my first prayer before I open my eyes and my feet hit the floor is simply this, “God, I submit myself wholly to you today.  I desire to be obedient to Your great will for me–guide my steps, my choices, and my thoughts in alignment with Your plans.  Help me to be a reflection of You in all I do.”

Sounds great, right?  Probably the most formal and eloquent prayer I ever pray each day.  I know I fall short of it often, but it’s also the most sincere prayer that I ever pray as well.  But once these words are uttered, it’s game on–it’s not my show anymore, the day is an act of obedience.

This is no different than that day when I submitted this whole journey to God, when I came to my breaking point and begged Him to show me what was going to change in my life–but I knew something was.  I never anticipated weight loss, endurance sports, healing of my mind and heart, and spiritual growth and stretching beyond my own human comprehension….kind of like God’s version of, “Here, hold my beer.”  (groan…terrible joke)

My life right now is made up of goals–minuscule and momentous, every single moment is dedicated to taking the next right action–putting one foot in front of the other.  When I started down this path of healthier habits, it started with better eating habits–exercise didn’t even enter the picture at first.  Remember, when I started to exercise, I couldn’t even walk to the end of the street and back without wanting to die.  It was just obedient actions…they just happened.  I can’t explain it.  They just did.

Now fast forward a couple years to the point where I’ve reached a point of questionable sanity (HA!) in my endurance goals…I can honestly tell you, I still don’t like to workout, but I love it.  I realize that makes absolutely zero sense at all.

I’m a lazy person by nature.  I’m not a morning person–like, even a little bit, yet, I willingly, without complaint (most of the time), get up at 4am and engage in whatever is assigned on the calendar for the day that is preparing me for the next event or goal that I’m aiming for.  Why?  Well, obedience as outlined, but also–I’ve found a passion I’ve never experienced before outside of music when I was in high school/college.  I have a drive and a love for running/triathlon disciplines and to go further and farther that I can’t really put words to.

I have come to believe that the passion I’ve found in running/triathlon disciplines is the blessing of my obedience on this journey.  I’ve been faithful every single day.  Some days better than others, but I submitted myself to God in a very raw way that I never have before.  I asked Him to work in and through me because I was at the end of my knowledge and strength in so many different areas of my life, and at the risk continuing to go overly spiritual here, I had a very real encounter with the Holy Spirit in which I haven’t often experienced in my faith walk but a few other times of extreme certainty–mostly around my calling to full time ministry and my relationship with my husband.  This passion is my reward.

Working out–exercising–is an act of worship.  Some days it’s fun, some days it’s a learning experience, some days it’s painful, some days it’s therapy, some days it’s anger management, some days it’s communion with God, and some days it’s my opportunity to express my frustration with God and hammer things out.  But at the end of the day, none of it is about me–I asked God to take over a long time ago.  He has, and I’m just enjoying the ride.  And it is pretty darn cool, I’m excited to see where it goes next!

(…and I still don’t think I’ve made a lick of sense, LOL)

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I Am The Storm

I already told the story on how my bike named itself Storm, short for “I am the storm,” the moment I made contact with it…but there’s more to the story than that.  This whole process of change since I sat in this very chair on January 23, 2015, and cried out to God in desperation that something had to change in my life has been a whirlwind–I feel like some days I can’t even catch my breath.  I didn’t know at that point what those changes were going to be, what it was going to look like, but I was going to do was give up control (something I DO NOT DO) and go with it, because I was out of answers.

I have learned beyond volumes in the individual areas of my life physically, spiritually, and emotionally the last couple years, and obviously, there’s been YUGE document-able change there (‘cuz, #igotgoals), but what’s even more fascinating to me is watching the these three distinct areas of health intermingle together and how they play with each other.  This is where the further identifiable growth keeps spurring me on to greater goals.  It’s also pretty amazing to see the ripple effect of how working on all of these very deeply personal areas of my holistic health have had great impact on I would safely venture to say every single other area of my life–in relationships, professionally, etc.

I understand that people only see the public snapshots and what I choose to share, because in our line of work, I just can’t lay my day-to-day dealings and feelings out on the line.  So, pretty much y’all get to see the insanity that is my physical goals (and honestly, the breadth of it–you don’t even know what I’ve got in my head and on paper.  I am capable of more than I think I’m capable of) and a few other bumblings here and there that I throw in as I can.  And that’s okay.  More shall be revealed.

Life is life right now.  All I can sit back and say is that God has a really good sense of humor to find even more mind blowing situations to continually bring me back on my face before Him.  And that’s cool.  I need it.  I need Him.  He knows I’m going to fight Him, I’m going to wrestle Him, I’m going to get angry at Him, I’m going to get knock-down-drag-out-royally-pissed-off-even-though-there’s-not-a-darn-thing-I’m-going-to-do-differently-but-submit-and-obey-anyway-two-year-old-tantrum-upset at God…and it’s all going to be okay.  Could I handle life with a little more grace right now?  Sure I could!  These are all emotional reactions to life…they don’t change my spiritual relationship with God.  God is still God.  But these emotional reactions are having an effect on my physical self–and this is where I need to check myself.

My last couple long runs haven’t just been a representation of lousy summer weather, but especially this last week, getting my head and heart into focus wasn’t even a minute possibility–an activity that brings me such sheer joy and bliss even when it’s hard and requires work was basically sucking my will to live with every step I took.  I was physically fine (except for a pulled muscle in my torso…genius here forgets to stretch when swimming), but I hurt from head to toe and there was not one thought in my head that could connect in a way to propel myself forward–not even the fact that I’ve got a race coming up and I gotta get my rear in gear.

I suffered through longer than I expected to this last week, I think I got 7 of the 12 miles I was scheduled for, but I don’t find anything acceptable in that place of defeat where I’m fighting myself constantly not to quit.  And then the other key in this crazy puzzle too, is when I get into this place in my mind, it can also be a grey area for me to start justifying emotional eating choices that aren’t necessary or beneficial to my body.  That’s a disturbing head space for me to be, because it starts to feel like (feel, not actually be…let’s make that distinction right off the bat) my former self–the one stuck on the diet cycle, that would always quit, start again Monday/tomorrow/New Years/etc and then it would never come.  That scares me a lot.  I’m totally okay with the fact that the path is not straight and we take curves along the way–let’s put it this way: bikes don’t go in reverse.

Thankfully, it’s not a me-game anymore.  I’ve got other people to pull me out of my head too. Hooray for accountability on all fronts!  By the end of the day, I had other scenarios go on that got my head out of my rear, and I had been reassured that regardless of my interpretation of the numbers, a couple bad runs aren’t going to bomb my next race and into my hands (well, kindle), was placed a phenomenal book, “The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion” (Marshall/Paterson).  First of all, where was this book when I took psych 101 during my undergrad?  I might have passed it the first go ’round then, LOL.  Amazing stuff.  I’m re-reading several sections of this book, and I’m positive will do so many times.

Part of this growing and changing stuff is relying on other people.  I’ve talked a little bit before on some of my emotional goals in the area of developing confidence/self-confidence, and I’m coming to realize, I can’t do that in a vacuum…this one isn’t really just a God and me issue, this one takes a village.  I have people, I just don’t always use them well.  Trust is hard for me.  Better than it used to be, but it’s hard.  I can place my confidence and faith in others, but I very much still have the cognitive disconnect in place when it comes to myself.  I intellectually realize this fact, but it doesn’t change the issue at hand.  Prime example, I asked someone last night about my ability to tackle a cycling event I was interested in–they countered with asking why not bump up to the next category.  Asked another person the same question this morning and they told me an out of the park answer, but that individual forgets I have responsibilities beyond my health and wellness goals and can’t spend my life training.  I underestimate myself constantly.  I’m not sure what the answer is yet…but it will come.  I do know in that finding whatever this confidence is, it comes with a voice–something I’ve never had or used before.  I can’t say I’m always using it the best as I’m learning along the way right now, but I’m using that voice, and that’s a new experience.

For now, I rest in that it will be okay in just where I’m at right now, in the chaos of it all and savoring the time I have in the moments for the next several weeks.  Looking forward to the adventure of race day, the excitement that it brings, and also a little bit of a break from reality if just for a few days.  It will be good.

Retraining the Brain

I repeat, once again, the most complex part of this holistic wellness journey and the goals that I am working towards is the emotional/mind health…specifically, rewriting those negative lies in my head that I have believed as truth for so long that have gotten me nowhere.

On several occasions this week, both in small groups that I’ve led and in situations of accountability, the discussion has turned to the ways in which we speak to ourselves, negative self-talk, our perception of ourselves, how we treat ourselves, lies we tell ourselves, and self-fulfilling prophecy.

All I’ve got to say is: Ouch.

This is a hard one for me.  I’m in an interesting place where I am aware of the negativity in my head–I have the awareness of the (let’s be honest here) crap I’m telling myself, yet I’m not always consistently putting in the intentional effort to change it.

Did you catch that?  The intentional effort to change it.  It takes work.  I know what needs to be done.  It’s not a magical prayer to God to remove this thorn–believe me, I’ve asked.  I know this is an area of my life that requires discipline, practice, and intentional effort to transform my thoughts and renew my mind.

I am a person that’s very hard on myself by nature.  I have higher expectations of myself than I do of those around me, and I don’t offer myself the same level of grace that I would offer anyone else.  Messed up, right?  Thank God that He’s got the grace for me in spite of myself!  I also have the propensity to speak to myself and about myself in extremely negative ways and tear myself down at every opportunity.  I would never speak about another person the way I speak about myself in my mind, yet I do it anyway.  It’s rather disgusting.

It’s not as bad as it sounds though–remember, I’ve got a couple years under my belt now chipping away at my goals.  I’m a work in progress–always will be in this area.  I’m certainly not as bad as I used to be, but there’s still light-years worth of room for improvement to really embrace that level of healthy self-worth and true confidence without faking it (and boy, I fake it well some days, because if you think I’m sure of myself in many areas, you’ve got another thing coming!).

Today was a day of forward momentum in this area.  As I was out on my long run, I noticed I was really starting to rag on myself, things like “shut up legs” being probably the only family-friendly phrase I’d be willing to admit on this public forum…but my head can get pretty dark and inappropriate, and rather un-Christlike, trust me.  I became aware that I was doing this, and it annoyed me, which only perpetuated the negative messages in my head.  Then I got to thinking (always scary) and starting to try to dissect this, and questioned why am I really saying these things to myself.  Well, I’m frustrated.  Since I had my surgery and haven’t been strength training as hard due to restrictions, my running times have suffered.  It’s also hot–and it’s scientific fact, studies show that running speeds suffer in summer heat.  I know these things are both out of my control, and I’m not a super competitive person in the first place…I haven’t really come to the conclusion why the timing is bugging me, but it is.  I’m also experimenting with some different changes with my running that while I can see there are improvements in performance, feel, and recovery, it is not yet reflecting in the numbers…I “know” to trust the training, but it gets frustrating.

So, I get to the point a couple miles into this internal dialogue to where I need to figure out what action am I going to take…am I going to spend the next 60-90 minutes ticked off and ready to throat punch the first person that I happen to come up on, or am I going to do something to work on remedying the situation?  Well, luckily I chose the latter…and I didn’t come up upon anyone until less then a mile from home when I encountered the back of the back of a cycling group that didn’t see which way the rest went and I directed traffic with a smile (except the one rogue cyclist of the group who thought I was full of it and whizzed past me…whatever).

Practice.  Transforming negative self-talk into something constructive.  We’re not talking fluffy-glittery unicorn affirmations, because that’s just not my style, and it’s not authentic or believable.  But what I can do is take the specific negative statements, identify the lie in it, and state the truth.  So, “shut up legs,”  translates to, “1…2…3…4…1…2…3…4…the top of this incline is coming.  One foot in front of the other.  Keep going.”  Because you know what comes at the crest of a hill in Havasu?  The victory dance.  (Yeah, it’s a good thing that I run in the wee hours of the morning and there’s no one around. No one needs to see all that goodness, LOL)  And then after the victory dance–comes the downhill, where you feel like you’re flying, like nothing else in the world matters, and where you’re completely invincible.

It’s not impossible to transform my negative self-talk and my perspective of myself–it takes awareness, intentional effort, and consistent practice.  God will honor the effort.  It’s not my work in vain, and I’m not alone.

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Encouragement and Accountability

I willing to bet that not everyone’s doctor comes in the room with a smile on their face and gives them a giant hug.  Mine haven’t always either.  In the past, it’s always been along the lines of, “oh, you have a sore throat? Lose weight.” “You broke a bone? Lose weight.”  You get the idea…never much support.

Over the almost two and a half years, my primary doctor and a few medical pros I’ve enlisted have become my cheerleaders and a source of accountability for me.  I keep regular and consistent appointments with them, have regular lab work and other metrics that are measured and that we compare and discuss.  Keyword–discuss.  It’s not a one-sided deal.  They want to hear from me and I want to hear from them, this journey is a two-way street.  They don’t have all the answers and I don’t either, but together we can come up with a pretty decent game plan for my overall physical health.

They offer me perspective and bring me back to reality when I need it–I can be harder on myself than I need to be.  For example, you’ll hear in the video below that I speak of perfect blood work.  Doctor’s words–not mine.  I went in to today’s visit with my checklist if highlights on my results that I wasn’t satisfied with and had to be reminded of why those numbers are the way they are, that they are totally out of my control.  For example, there’s one panel of blood work that looks completely ridiculous when you look at heavy metals in my body.  My body doesn’t absorb or store them, it’s due to some some bunk body parts that work against me and won’t be solved until I (stop dragging my feet and quit firing specialists…) schedule a hysterectomy.  It’s not my fault–I beat myself up over this every time, but the doctor was able to give me the ah-ha moment today and break down the numbers to prove it’s not my fault.  She showed me I take in the proper nutrition that provides those nutrients to my body–the numbers show that, they just also show my body can’t do anything with them, and that’s where I pay the consequence.  And that’s just life.  If the professional is telling you you’re fine and totally healthy, at some point this has to sink in and become reality.

No, a doctor’s office is not a glamorous place–but it’s what you make of it in the relationship you establish with your provider.  I’m blessed with a D.O. that believes in my same perspective that health is a whole person issue, that it’s not just eating well and exercise, but that it is emotional and spiritual health too.  It’s important to me that we’re on the same page and have similar beliefs so that decisions are made within those values.

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Not going to sugar-coat it, it’s been a rough couple of days with a few things that have popped up, and I needed something good today.  I miss my husband greatly and have felt very lonely–I can’t wait for him to come home tomorrow (I’m not sure who’s more excited, me or the dog!), life is being life, and I’m pretty weary…watermelon became an acceptable lunch over the weekend, and the other night popcorn was an acceptable dinner choice.  It happens.

Don’t discount the places where you find both encouragement and accountability—they aren’t going to stand on the corner with a neon arrow flagging you down, you have to seek them out.  But the effort pays for itself in dividends.

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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