Monthly Archives: April 2013

Getting back to normal…. in more ways than one.

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A group run in honor of the Marathon bombing was just what I needed to remind me that I am not alone – and how much I love the running community.

This past week I have been all over the place, to say the least. The tragedy that happened at the Marathon left me feeling pretty uneasy and emotional (And if you don’t know me personally, I’m already a pretty emotional human being to begin with) and so I spent a lot of the week working through what I was feeling. I guess part of me originally thought that life would just continue on as as normal- but my week was anything but.

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Needless to say- the last thing on my mind was training, weight loss, or my usual routine.  So I did what felt right at the moment.

I ran simply to run- without any goals in mind. I swam- but spent most of the time slowly doggie paddling and going over the events of Monday with a friend who was also there that day. Some days I had no appetite and skipped meals, and some days all I wanted was comfort food. (For all you MFP friends- Panera Bread’s Mac & Cheese? 980 calories of absolute comfort. I don’t even regret it happening.) I shopped (because yes, material things make me feel better), and purchased an ADIDAS Boston Tribute Tee and a “United We Run” Sweaty Band (Which by the way, 100% of the proceeds from these items go to the OneFund so feel free to partake in a little “retail therapy” yourself!). I also finally gave in and purchased a RoadID. After being harassed about it for several months I finally realized that as safe as I think I am- there are events that are out of my control and I don’t want to end up as one of those “if only” situations. So mom and fiancee- you’re officially responsible for me 🙂

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My new RoadID… because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Waiting for me at the end of this roller coaster week was the wedding of one of my best friends- an event that I had already been looking forward to, but even more so now. Getting away with some of the most important people in my life to celebrate such a joyous occasion was exactly what I needed. For two days I didn’t think about working out, worry about what I was eating, or think about what I had experienced earlier in the week. I simply enjoyed the time with my friends, being in a beautiful coastal city, and dancing my heart out. Want to know what made the weekend even better? For the first time (for as long as I can remember)  I felt completely confident and happy with how I looked. The smile on the outside was a pure reflection of how I was feeling on the inside. For so long so much time and energy has gone into worrying about people noticing how much weight I had gained, wondering how big my ass looks, or being miserable in a pair of Spanx to hold everything in. And finally this weekend it all finally rang true… those past worries had completely vanished. The effects of all the hard work that I have put in day after day for the past year of my life are suddenly very real. And it feels great. Fantastic. Out of the world. Liberating. Goodbye self-consciousness, hello confidence! 🙂

I came back from our trip feeling refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things. I spent an hour at the grocery store restocking our fridge so that I could get back to my normal foods, threw in an extra run, and I worked really hard at the pool. I’m back in action- and ready to give it my everything again. Because in case you haven’t heard, I’ve got a triathlon to conquer….in just THREE MONTHS!

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There may have been some drunk flexing at the wedding this weekend. I don’t regret it one bit.

 

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Why I will never stop running.

Today’s blog post wasn’t going to be about weight loss, or calorie counting. I wasn’t going to talk about triathlon training, or swim class either. Today’s post was going to be a recap of an incredible weekend celebrating athleticism and how great it is to be a runner in Boston. I had plans to talk about my first trip to the Marathon Expo, about getting the experience to take a right on Hereford, left on Boylston in the B.A.A. 5K, and about watching my friends cross the famous blue and yellow finish line after conquering 26.2 miles. But unfortunately- the finish line is where my story takes a terrifying turn of events.

After following our two runners throughout the course, my friend’s father and I made our way to Boylston Street and pushed our way through the massive crowds towards the VIP bleacher seats. We were lucky enough to have scored a pair of passes the day before and were so excited to see them end it from there. After spotting their running singlets we proudly cheered and screamed, and I snapped a picture of them as they took their last exhausted steps towards the finish line. The time clock in the picture eerily reads “4:04:38”.

Excited that they had finally made it we bounced down from the bleachers and began to make our way to the family meeting area. What should have happened next were joyous hugs, “Congratulations!” and “I’m so proud of you!” and lots of pictures of them holding their medals proudly. I don’t have any of those pictures.

As we made our way to meet them we stopped to quickly use the porta-potties. Standing inside, I suddenly heard this awful boom that sounded almost like a clap of thunder. The entire porta-potty shook, and I remember thinking that someone must have jumped on top of it. I heard a second boom, followed by screaming. A man’s voice started yelling at me to get out (my friend’s dad) and I opened the door to a cloud of smoke and the smell of burning. He told me that we had to run and grabbed my arm. I remember almost stepping on a little boy as I flew down the concrete steps, the police telling us to “walk slowly and calmly”, and the echo of sirens off the buildings. I remember dropping my friend’s inhaler, and having to make a quick decision on if it was worth it to go back and pick it up. We sprinted to the family meeting area and as I tried to catch my breath, I anxiously scanned the crowd, trying to find our runners.

What I’m sure was only a few minutes felt like the longest hours of my life. I’ve never known relief like that until I spotted the two faces I had been praying to see. What should have been a moment of celebratory hugs and pats on the back became a terrified embrace. We were all alive, and we were together. With what little battery I had left in my phone I was able to text my mom, dad and fiancee with the two words I hope to never have to use again: “I’m Okay.”

I think that I was in shock until I got home later that night and started to decompress. I took a hot shower, and sat on the couch with wet hair watching the news clips. As horrific images flashed on the screen, the actuality of what had happened that day hit me like a bag of bricks. An attack happened not only happened to my beloved city, but just feet away from me. I could have lost my limbs. I could have lost my friends. I could have died.

A lot of “what if’s” have been going through my head since then. What if we hadn’t had those passes to the bleacher seats? We probably would have been on the other side of the street- right where the bomb went off. What if my friend’s mom had had the day off from work, and they took the passes …and I was on the other side of the street with my fiancee instead? What if my friends had slowed their pace down, had stopped to stretch, had made their way to the finish line just 5 minutes later?

After a terrible night of little sleep and a lot of staring at the ceiling, I finally let myself get up once the sun was up. I felt confused, terrified, angry and upset. I needed to run. So I laced up my sneakers and I headed out towards the beach.

I wasn’t sure how running was going to make me feel. Part of me was worried that the events of the last 24 hours would take away what running had just so recently given me. But as I made my way down the familiar streets I felt my heart beating, I felt my breathing become a pattern, and I felt so, so incredibly lucky. Lucky that my friends crossed the finish line when they did. Lucky that I left the bleachers when I did. Lucky that I was inside a smelly porta potty and didn’t actually see the explosion. Lucky that I was with someone who stayed calm and got me somewhere safe. Lucky that when my phone finally regained power, I had multitudes of text messages, voicemails, and Facebook messages from people who were so worried about me. Lucky that I was able to come home and kiss and hug my fiancee so tightly. Lucky to still have legs to run with. Lucky to be alive.

I was afraid that the tragic events that happened at the Marathon would ruin running for me but in fact, it has made my love for it that much stronger.  The running community has taken me in with open arms,- with tips and training, with inspiration and guidance. To stop running now would be to let them down in some way. All of the participants in yesterday’s Marathon, whether they were able to finish or not, are absolute heroes in my eyes. They set out to do something that only a select and special few are actually able to complete in their lifetime.

Just a few months ago I learned the symbolism behind the Unicorn in the Boston Athletic Association logo…“An ideal: something to pursue, but which can never be caught. In pursuit of the Unicorn, however, athletic competitors can approach excellence (but never fully achieve it). It is this pursuit to push oneself to his or her own limit and to the best of one’s ability which is at the core of athletics.”

What happened at the Boston Marathon has changed all of our lives in some way. But it doesn’t have to all be negative. And it shouldn’t be, for that would be letting the enemy win. I’m taking the feelings that I have from that day, and using them in a positive way to better my running. I have always said “I have absolutely NO interest in EVER running a marathon.” And now? I can’t say that it will definitely happen…but I can’t say that it’s completely ruled out either. I’m gonna add it to my bucket list and think about it. What I’ve experienced in the last few days has given me a new perspective and drive and it just might someday lead me towards that Unicorn.

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Chapter 2: “A is for Athlete”

I’m happy to say that I am still riding out the high of my One Year Anniversary from last week. While I didn’t go rent a hall and throw a big bash (The thought crossed my mind- I won’t lie) I did spend a lot of time thinking about all that happened in the last year.  I constantly compared myself now to how I felt a year ago starting out. The conclusion? I feel happier, healthier, more confident… I feel like a totally different person. I AM a totally different person.

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Nothing says “Happy Monday” like a nice little run around Castle Island 🙂

“Anniversary Week” began with a nice little Monday holiday and I found myself with a day off and beautiful spring weather. Apparently, spring fever got the best of me because I ended up spending the day with a double session of bootcamp, a swim AND a run. Looking back, maybe not my smartest decision (My little arms were pretty damn tired by the time I got in the pool), but it felt great to go to bed that night and say “YUP, I did all that. Take that- half ass 😛

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How lucky am I to have this waiting for me when I get up on Thursdays?

Waking up the morning of my official anniversary was like waking up on Christmas morning. I jumped out of bed, threw on my running clothes, and pretty much skipped down to the beach for my interval run. There’s no way this won’t sound incredibly corny- but as I watched the sun rise over the water I couldn’t think of a better way to start such an important day to me. I felt alive, I felt inspired, I felt unstoppable. I wish I could bottle up the feeling I had that moment and save it for the days when I don’t want to get out of bed, or groan at the thought of another pushup. If someone could figure out a way to synthetically create that feeling and pump it through the vents of a gym- no one would ever leave. The world would be perfectly fit and everyone  would wake up foaming at the mouth to get in a 12 mile run.

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Yup, haven’t missed those 60 pounds. Not. at. ALL.

And if you haven’t gotten enough cliche sappiness for one post- the celebration of my anniversary continued at bootcamp. Where I once sat wide eyed and anxiously nodding my head to every question, I now spent among friends- laughing, sweating, belonging. I walked into that building a year ago feeling insecure and anxious and this night? There was no where else I’d rather be. The crowning moment of my day was when I put the weight “back on” to do some squats. I don’t think I ever really knew how weighed down I had been until I put it back on my body. It was a pretty surreal moment. It made me appreciate running, jumping, walking…just BREATHING more than I ever have before. I don’t ever want that weight back on my body… unless it’s in the form of a vest of course 😉

Year Two already feels so different. I spent a whole year of my life trying to dig out the body underneath all that extra weight, and in turn- trying to find the person inside. And now I just want to use it and celebrate it in any way possible. While there’s still about 5 pounds I’d like to lose, they’re not all I think about anymore. I want to focus on running further and faster. I want more muscle, I want more strength. I want to conquer this triathlon. This past year I felt like I was always “borrowing” everyone else’s hobbies and now- I want to make them mine. I want to feel like an athlete. It’s time to take this girl from a half ass, to a bad ass!

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How do you measure a year?

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Today marks an important day for me. One year ago today I decided to stop being afraid. I decided to put on my big girl panties (uhh, literally) and face what I had been avoiding in mirrors and pictures. I decided that I wanted better for myself… that I deserved better for myself.

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I will never forget the night A Healthy Balance and I finally met face to face. (If you came here from my rockstar blog you’ll remember that this was my second attempt after blowing off my first appointment). But this night- there were no more excuses: it was now or never. Even though it has now been a year, I still remember everything about that day. I remember constantly checking the clock, the nervous knot growing in my stomach. Telling myself “It’s just a consultation- it’s not like I signed up for anything yet.” Sitting in the waiting area while some poor soul finished up her training session, folding and unfolding my intake form which suddenly had a weird stain on it (Ugh why didn’t I take the time and just reprint it? ) “Come dressed for exercise” the email had said – terrifying. I absolutely hate wondering what people think of me and I knew that the next hour of my life was going to be my judgement day.

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But much to my relief- I wasn’t judged. (At least that I know of). Instead I was welcomed in and listened to. I wasn’t scolded for my past choices but directed towards some healthier ones. I was given a brochure of overwhelming options and in my head I thought “Can I take them all?” Sure enough, I did. Here I am today- 12 months, 365 days later and still alive to tell my story. I made it! I did what I said I was going to do… and so much more.

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There is so much that I would want to go back and tell that chubby girl sitting anxiously in the waiting room. I would tell her that there are going to be some scary moments ahead, but that they’re only scary because they are the unknown. I would tell her that the feeling of pride in doing something you never thought you could do is going to be SO worth the 5 minutes/days/weeks of nervous butterflies. I would tell her that there are going to be tears, the inability to get out of bed the next day, and a WHOLE lot of sweat. Oh and there will be burpees, lots of burpees. But there will also be smiles- for both tiny victories and amazing accomplishments.

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I would tell her to appreciate every new face that she comes in contact with. While untrustworthy strangers at the moment, these people will become her support system, her library of knowledge, and her cheering squad. They will be there not only to celebrate her successes- but more importantly to guide her back to the path when she gets lost. They will without a doubt, change her life forever. I wish I could tell her just how much these people will mean to her in a year’s time.

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I would tell her that while right now she feels incredibly insecure and embarrassed she will eventually get over it. That she will gain the courage to share her story with A Healthy Balance, and eventually- continue telling it on her own. That she’ll be recognized on a popular weight loss blog, and be featured on Boston.com – heck, she’ll even become a Pin. I’d tell her that her story will reunite her with old friends, and help her make new ones. All of this coming from the girl who just didn’t know how or where to begin.

I would try to put into words the indescribable feeling of crossing your first finish line, of seeing yourself go from the “overweight” scale to the “athlete” scale. How it feels to have your fiancee being able to pick you up and spin you around the room, to finish a 5K without stopping, or having to exchange a dress because you actually need it in a size small. I’d describe trying on the wedding dress of your dreams, and staring in disbelief at the girl looking back at you.

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I would tell her that food doesn’t have to be an enemy- that there doesn’t need to be a constant battle between overindulgence and restriction. That eventually it will stop being a diet and just become a way of life. That she will learn how to eat to fuel her body so that it can do amazing things such as running and biking, swimming and snowboarding. I would let her know that she’ll acquire 6 race bibs in the next year and discover a true love for running. And there’s no way she’d believe me- but I’d tell her that she’s going to train for a triathlon, and that at some point the idea of running a half marathon WON’T even seem that outrageous to her. She wouldn’t believe any of this, in fact she would just just roll her eyes and say “Yeahh, okay.” (Trust me- I know this girl pretty well.)

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I wouldn’t want to go back and be that girl starting at the beginning again. But I don’t regret being her- and I’m not embarrassed to say that I was her. In fact, I’m proud to be her. The experiences I’ve had this past year have been both challenging and inspiring. I’ve learned that thinking you can is half the battle, and that having people behind you who believe in you can lift you to a place you can’t even imagine. More important than the pounds and inches I’ve lost this year is the self respect and love for my body that I have found. I think that in some ways I needed to have this journey in order to discover just who I was meant to be.

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It is truly amazing what you can accomplish in a year. But after a year of hard work this is where my journey REALLY begins: keeping this a part of my life forever, and pushing myself towards new and exciting goals. Bring on Year Two and all that is has to challenge me with… I’m more than ready 😀

photo (2)A Year In Numbers

61  pounds lost.

5Ks run.

130 bootcamps I’ve sweated through.

40.35 inches that have disappeared from my body (still unclear as to where they go?)

12.5% is the difference in my body fat percentage from when I started until now.

2 pairs of Brooks Running sneakers in my closet.

16  “real” pushups I can do in a row.

??  money spent spent in race registrations (shhh we won’t go there!)

??  money spent replacing my wardrobe (we won’t go there either)