Guilty Pleasures

I really appreciate the comments on my last post about the issue with my son’s friend. After talking to Carlos we have decided that it’s obviously best not to have Dave over anymore. I have not spoken to Dave’s parents nor do I plan to. My son goes to a very small school. He has a total of 26 kids in his 1st grade class and only 13 in his actual classroom. I know I seem like I have no backbone, but I don’t want to create animosity between myself and other families at school. I can keep Carlos away from Dave outside of school. If there are issues that occur in school then my husband and I will handle it appropriately at that time.

On a different note, I wanted to share some things I’ve been enjoying lately.

1. LG Tone Wireless Headset

This isn’t quite what you think of when it comes to guilty pleasures, but it’s become a favorite gadget. I have had this headset for a while now. I love it. It allows me to listen to music while I’m running, movies and podcasts while I’m cooking in the kitchen or cleaning around the house. I can answer the phone, change the song or pause what I’m listening to with the touch of a button on the headset. I typically hate earbuds, but these stay put accept when I have an exceptionally sweaty workout then they slip out at times. The buds are also very easy to clean as well.

I find the sound quality to be acceptable for my purposes, but I’m no expert on the subject. When I use the headset to talk on the phone I’ve been told it sounds a bit like I’m in a tin can. Oh well you can’t have everything!

LG Tone Wireless Bluetooth Headset

LG Tone Wireless Bluetooth Headset

 

2. Cuddlduds Fleecewear

I’m cold All The Time! My Mom got me a set of the Cuddlduds Fleecewear and they are the best. They are soft, warm and cozy. I wear them to the skating rink on Sundays for Carlos’ skating practice. I wore them skiing. I wear the top to bed often. I will probably get more next winter if I’m still living in the godforsaken north.

Cuddlduds Fleecewear

Cuddlduds Fleecewear

*I do not look nearly as cute as the model, but I am smiling when I wear my Cuddlduds!!

3. Drop Dead Diva

I don’t watch television. In fact I rarely even go in my living room. It’s pretty much a man cave! I’m ok with it. I gave up on television in nursing school. However, from time to time I throw something on Netflix while I’m cooking or cleaning. Over the last year I’ve watched the first 4 seasons of the Lifetime show Drop Dead Diva. It’s about a lawyer, Jane, whose body becomes inhabited by the soul of a fashion model. It’s not mind blowing or intellectual. It’s a fun show and there are some really positive messages about body image.

Drop Dead Diva

Drop Dead Diva

4. Scandal

While waiting for the new season of Drop Dead Diva, I discovered Scandal (thank you Amelia!!). The show features Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a Washington D.C. political/legal crisis manager aka a “fixer” of all problems. I actually just read an article in the Miami Herald about the woman who inspired the show, former deputy press secretary to President George H.W. Bush.

Can I just say, Kerry Washington is one stunningly beautiful woman. The show is gripping, smart and well…scandalous!

Scandal

Scandal

5. Music

My running playlist needs a major revamp, but here are some of the new tunes I’ve added recently.

  • Monster by Eminem
  • Can’t Remember to Forget You by Shakira and Rhianna
  • Love Me Again by John Newman
  • Love Don’t Die by The Fray
  • Burn by Ellie Goulding
  • How I Feel by Flo Rida

What are you listening to? I love to run to music that is really upbeat and fast tempo.

This brings me back to the Love Your Body Challenge. I’m moving through it very slowly, but I’ve found that as I write about these topics I am looking at myself and my body in a new light.

Reason #7 To Love Your Body 7.

Because it can experience pleasure.

Mantra: ”I love my body. It has the ability to bring me immense pleasure in many ways if I can slow down to recognize it.”

Action Step: Take 5 minutes to write down a list of the pleasures, big and small, simple and complex, that you get to experience on a daily basis, while thinking about your mantra.

OK at first I wasn’t going to address this here on the blog. Then I got to thinking about what it really means to have the ability to experience pleasure. As a nurse I am witness to so many people who are unable to experience pleasure. I am so very lucky and grateful to be healthy, mobile and have the ability to use all of my senses.

I am so blessed to have the use of my legs to experience the pleasure that comes from running and exercising. Though I joke sometimes that it might be better for my weight if I had no taste buds, I am grateful for the pleasure that comes from the ability to taste delicious healthful food. Nothing pleases more than a giant hug and snuggles from my son. I feel safe inside the warmth of my husband’s arms. I close my eyes and savor a head massage each time I go to the hair salon. I love the feeling I get on a cool day when the sun’s heat touches my skin. It pleases my eyes when I am treated to a scenic landscape on a hike, a drive or while exploring a new place. The pleasure of scent is taken for granted all too often, but how pleasing to smell the blooms of spring, the crisp fall air, the spicy scents of Thanksgiving, the fresh pine smell of Christmas trees, sheets hung out to dry, my husband’s cologne, and my son all squeaky clean after a bath. My ears perk up when they hear my son’s voice after a long night at work or first thing in the morning. I enjoy the sound of my favorite music, the birds chirping outside right now, babies giggling and waterfalls rushing downstream and the quiet calm of nature on a hike.

This activity reminds me of how often I take the simple things for granted. Life moves so quickly. It’s important to remind myself of all I have to be grateful for and to stop and appreciate it.

Kid Quandary

I could use a little help. I’m have a real quandary right now. Let me preface this by saying that my child is far from perfect. Carlos’ school friend, I’ll call him Dave, was over for a play date this afternoon. The boys have been friends since preschool. This particular friend was a rough kid at age 3 and is even rougher at 7. By rough I mean he punched me in the stomach once last year at the playground in front of his mom, the kids and other parents. There was no reason for it. He just ran towards me and launched his fist into my stomach. I gritted my teeth in surprise and embarrassment and waved off any concern.

Dave has always been rough and tumble with my son as well. Boys will be boys they say, and to some degree I agree. My son can wrestle and play tough like the rest of them, but overall he’s not an aggressive kid. Dave, on the other hand, has been known to pin kids down on the ground including my son, he gives extremely hard “bear hugs,” and he is destructive.

This afternoon while playing outside Dave “accidentally” pulled down part of the trampoline frame. There is no trampoline liner because of the winter so all that remains is the frame. I specifically told the boys not to play on it, but that obviously fell on deaf ears. My husband seems to think it can be fixed. I hope so.

Then the boys came in and Dave took his muddy shoes off and threw them down on the floor with a thud. A little while later the boys went back out to play and I caught Dave running and jumping into the fence. Now fences are not cheap and this is not a crappy chain link fence around my yard. Having had it at this point I went out and sternly asked Dave to stop jumping into the fence. He mostly complied, but I did see him do it a few more times slightly less aggressively so I let it go.

On top of the aggressive behavior this boy has a very fresh mouth on him. The second he got in my car he started with Jesus Christ (the boys go to Catholic School!) and dammit. OK not major swears, but not words I let Carlos use. On one occasion when Dave came hiking with us, as soon as his mom dropped him off and left he said Shit and Fuck (excuse my language!). Seriously?!

My last straw was the ride home. I agreed to bring Dave home because he has two sisters and I figured it would be easier on his mom. I really try to make playdates convenient and hassle free. The boys were talking and joking in the back. Suddenly Dave started screeching loudly at Carlos, “I’m going to kill you” over and over. After a few times I said, “that’s not a nice thing to say.” He suggested that he was saying it because Carlos was joking about him being a farmer. I told Carlos to stop. Dave then continued with his screaming chant “I’m going to kill you.” Only this time I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw his hands around Carlos’ neck. I turned around and told him to get his hands off of my son’s neck immediately. Dave did what I asked, but it was all I could do not to hit the gas and get this child home as quickly as possible.

We pulled into his driveway and I instructed Carlos to stay in the car. Dave tried pulling him out despite what I had said. I told Dave to stop and he relented, turned and ran into the house slamming the door in my face. I was not surprised, but in that moment I didn’t know how I was going to stop the annoyance from showing on my face. I softened my mouth and eyes into a smile and opened the door praying I would not show signs of exasperation. Dave’s mom came into the entryway and I handed her Dave’s things. She asked how he was and I softly said “the boy’s had a fun time.” We chatted for a minute and then I left.

Carlos and I talked about the play date in the car. Despite his friend’s behavior Carlos was respectful all afternoon. He tried to convince Dave to behave a few times. Now believe me when I say Carlos can be fresh and gets into trouble at home. He’s not the best at sharing. He can cop an attitude. However, we deal with his behavior at home and hope and pray that he never misbehaves at other people’s homes. If something does come up about his behavior elsewhere we are on top of it. I will not tolerate disrespectful behavior. I know a couple of his friends’ moms very well and I know for a fact that they would tell me truthfully if he were a handful, rude, disrespectful, destructive or aggressive.

I want Carlos to feel comfortable about having his friends over and I want his friends to feel comfortable coming over. I’m just not sure how to handle things if Dave comes over again.

On a different note, I always feel badly when Carlos friends over because we live in a small home. Carlos doesn’t have a play room nor does he have an abundance of toys. Our office/spare room has been taken over by Legos which is fine. Our back yard is boring by comparison to other kids who have the large wooden playscape swing sets, really big trampolines, battery operated jeeps and lots of outdoor toys. I worry that our home is boring to his friends. I often try to plan things out of the house to make it more exciting or interesting for the kids.

I would love any advice or words of wisdom.

 

Road Race, Lessons Learned and Day 6

I ran the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race today for the third year in a row. For more details on the actual race find previous year’s recaps below:

2012

2013

I am currently training for the Vermont City Marathon in May. My long run this week called for a 14 mile run. My schedule was a little out of whack this week so I didn’t get my long run done on Friday like I should have and I was hoping not to have to push it to Sunday because I had other plans. Despite weather reports of impending doom and gloom this morning I saw sunshine! Sometime after 9:40 I hit the road and pounded out my 14 miles. I’m running slower than I would like. Some of that has to do with the viciously hilly routes I have been running and the winter road conditions. Some of it is probably from my lack of outdoor running this winterI selected a mostly flat route for my run today, but I was still really disappointed in my slower than usual splits as I was supposed to run miles 4-13 at marathon race pace. Nonetheless I was happy to be outdoors running with hints of sunshine along the way.

I returned home shortly after noon just as it clouds covered the sky and rain began to fall. I quickly changed in preparation for the Road Race. Orlando was ready and waiting when I got home, a bit nervous for his first 10K.

The race starts about a mile and a half from our house, but you have to cross a bridge to get to the start. The traffic is horrendous and parking is nearly impossible. The luck of the Irish was on our side and we found a great parking spot with little effort. It was still raining as we began our walk to the starting line, but it wasn’t pouring. As we joined the sea of nearly 6,000 runners with less than 15 minutes to start the clouds parted ways and the sun beamed over us. It was so spontaneous and unexpected people actually applauded. The temperature warmed to 60 degrees during the run and got almost uncomfortable.

This wasn’t my best race. It definitely wasn’t a PR. I didn’t even beat last year’s Road Race time. It took me all afternoon to acknowledge the fact that I ran 20+ miles today and that is an accomplishment to be proud of. Not every race is going to be a PR.

My husband had an awesome race. He tried to run with me, but I knew that was becoming an unnecessary challenge for him so I waved him on to go ahead of me. I never saw him again until after I crossed the finish line. He finished in 51:10 and I finished in 59:06.

Tonight I was reading Carina’s post with a link to a list of books for runners. At the bottom was a slide show of lessons learned from running. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Every run is different. You can run the same loop at the same time two days in a row and feel like the queen of the world one day and the scum of the earth the next. It doesn’t say anything about you as a person — except that you’re normal.
  • There’s something magical and indescribable about a comfortable pace and a good playlist.
  • Running is all about you. You determine your own goals. For some, that’s a marathon. For others, it’s making it around the block.
  • The best way to explore a new city or learn a new route is on foot.
  • Sometimes the only thing holding you back is your own mind.

Some of the lessons I’ve learned from running:

  • You really don’t know what your body is capable of until you push it out of its comfort zone.
  • Running does not necessarily promote weight loss.
  • It is a really cheap form of therapy. I work a lot of things out during my runs.
  • I’m fiercely competitive…against myself!
  • Everyone has the capability to become an athlete no matter what you were in high school.
  • It’s so important to listen to your body. Don’t push yourself if you feel something is off, sore or painful. It’s better to take a few days off than to be forced to stop running for months.

______________________________________________________________________________

I’m also throwing in the next installment in the Love Your Body Challenge. This one was much easier and more positive than the last.

Reason #6 To Love Your Body

6. Because it’s served you well.

Mantra: “I love my body.  It may not be 100% perfect, but it’s served me well and it deserves love and compassion.”

Action Step:  Take 5 minutes and write down a list of all of the things that you love that your body allows you to do. Write them down, and for each one, consider how you would feel if you couldn’t do that thing.  Sit with that feeling for about 5 seconds, and then focus on the fact that you can.  Allow yourself to be consumed with gratitude.

My body definitely has served me well. It allows me to:

  • run
  • chase my son
  • play with my son
  • hike
  • cook healthy food
  • stand on my feet for long periods of time at work
  • hug my husband and my son
  • maintain a clean home
  • lift weights
  • try new physical activities
  • dance
  • do yoga

In the past my body allowed me to:

  • carry a baby for 9 months
  • deliver that baby via C-section and recover fairly easily while caring for a newborn
  • heal quickly after breaking a rib
  • cross the finish line of 3 marathons, a 50K race and many other races

I’m sorry that I’ve needed reminders to be thankful for this healthy body. It is the only one I have and it is up to me to treat it right.

Beauty within

That last post has been stuck in my heart, mind and soul since I hit publish. It came from a deep place and putting those feelings into words was difficult. I wanted to erase it from the blog instantly, but I knew I needed to say those things. I can only learn to love myself once I learn to accept myself, good and bad.

It has always been easier for me to acknowledge my flaws and shortcomings. It’s much more challenging to list the good and positive qualities about myself. After ripping myself up one side and down the other to demonstrate my ugliness, I felt empty and weak. I also wanted to retaliate against my thoughts and show everyone that there is another side to me. I’m in constant conflict with myself. It gets confusing sometimes.

I’m not one dimensional nor am I quite the evil monster as I portrayed myself in that post. I am wonderful things as well. I am a loving mom who would do absolutely anything for my child. I adore my husband and cherish our marriage. I am a nurse who cares for challenging patients without judgment, but rather with a gentle, kindness because no matter what obscenities they are yelling at me or difficulty they present with they are human beings and deserve respect and empathy.

I donate money and time to great causes whenever I can. I’m a loyal friend. I am extremely reliable. I can keep a secret. I offer an empathetic ear for friends and family whenever they need someone to talk to. I am the “there for you when you need me” person.

These are beautiful qualities.

Love Your Body Challenge Day 5: Beautiful

I’ve fallen behind in the Love Your Body Challenge, but I’m going to continue writing my responses because it’s helpful for me. I’ve created a tab at the top of the blog to organize these posts and I’ve changed the titles to make them easier to skip over if it’s not your cup of tea. I know they are a bit wordy so don’t feel compelled to read them especially if you’re here to read about running.

Speaking of running, I’ve got the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K road race coming up on Saturday. Marathon training is in full swing. Last week I made a novice error due to schedule changes and tried to accomplish my long run the day after a strength training workout which included lots of lunges and leg work. My 16 mile run on Saturday was slow, painful and an important reminder about training wisely to avoid injury. I took a much needed rest day yesterday.

Reason #5 To Love Your Body: Because it’s beautiful

Mantra: “I am beautiful, on the inside and outside, and I feel especially beautiful when I ______.”

My mantra: I am beautiful, on the inside and outside, and I feel especially beautiful when I am taking care of myself by eating healthy, exercising, doing yoga and meditating.

I’m not going to sugar coat this exercise with a lot of nonsense. I have never felt beautiful, not even on my wedding day (well actually wedding days since . I occasionally look in the mirror and like certain things about myself. However, I definitely don’t consider myself beautiful on the outside. Beauty is only skin deep though. As unattractive as I find myself on the outside, I’m more concerned about the kind of person I am on the inside.

The truth is I haven’t been a very beautiful person internally. I have been quite ugly as a matter of fact. This is harder to admit to than announcing I have issues with binge eating.

I was a pretty happy kid as I recall. I think my ugliness began to rear its nasty head in my early teens. I’m not going to psychoanalyze here and try to lay blame for my behavior. I’m just telling it like it was as I remember it. I was overweight, unhappy, lacked confidence, didn’t fit in with other kids and felt alone as a result. I internalized absolutely everything. I assumed people disliked me and now I can see that I assumed that others felt the same way about me as I felt about myself. I did a job on my own self-esteem and by the time I finished high school there was not a drop of it left.

I always had an angry edge to my tone of voice. I became increasingly more defensive and difficult to talk to. I assumed that almost everyone was “against” me and thought I was as irrelevant as my opinions yet I was argumentative and fiercely opinionated. I felt look down upon and judged.

I had few friends and often lost friends most likely due to my sharp tongue and negative attitude. My relationship with my sister and mother have suffered the most. Anytime I felt badly about myself (which was frequent) I took it out on them because I was jealous of how slender, beautiful and well liked they were. Of course people like them, they are friendly, kind and easy to be around.

In the throes of jealousy I behaved like a child even well into adulthood. My go to coping mechanism when I was jealous of others was to stop talking to them and act like nothing was wrong. Wicked mature, I know!

My biting sarcasm and stand offishness was clearly misunderstood, I thought. “No one gets me!” They got me alright, they just didn’t like me. And by they I mean just about everyone I came in contact with including my family.

I can honestly say that I have never intentionally meant to hurt anyone with my words or behavior. For some reason unbeknownst to me there have been people along the way who have blessed me with their unconditional friendship. I know these friends and my family have seen other qualities in me which makes them love me anyway.

I have apologized for my behavior ad nauseam. I always know when I cross the line and say the wrong thing in the wrong tone, unfortunately once the words are out you can’t take them back. Though my apologies are always sincere I have realized that saying I’m sorry means nothing if I don’t learn from my mistakes and change.

Changing such negative, ugly behavior isn’t easy. For so long I kept a defensive, sarcastic, angry wall up around me just in case anyone wanted to criticize me. Turns out I am the most critical person in my life. I feel like I’ve come a long way from that mouthy, irritated, know it all, but I know I still have a lot of work to do to change how I feel about myself on the inside.

While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Love Your Body Challenge Day 4: Purpose

In day 4 of the Love Your Body Challenge the goal is to determine your purpose. This is a hot topic in my life right now. It’s something I’ve been pondering for months now. I want the easy way out though. I want someone to come to me and say “Aimee your purpose is ______ and this is how you are going to make it happen.” Since this hasn’t occurred it’s up to me to figure it out. I’m hoping this activity gets me a little closer to realizing my purpose in this world.

Day 4 Mantra: “My existence is a miracle.  I am not here by accident.  My life has purpose and meaning, and that purpose and meaning is_______.”

My Mantra: My life has purpose and meaning, and that meaning is to be the best me I can be.

Of course I feel that one of the most important reasons I’m here is to be the best mother possible to Carlos. I am not perfect, but I do work hard every day to be the best mom I can be.

However, when I read this I instantly thought of my career or work purpose. When I was in high school I was adamant about becoming a cosmetologist. Even though my mom wanted me to go to college she didn’t dissuade me from pursuing my dreams. I was very interested in make up application, facials, cosmetic products, herbal remedies and ingredients in cosmetics. In my junior year of high school my mom took me to a cosmetology school in Boston for a tour and an informational session. I thought I was so serious about pursing this path until my friends all started applying to college and then as many teens are known to do I followed my friends. I applied to traditional colleges and declared I was going to major in Biology with the intention to go on to one day become a Dermatologist. Although I knew a dermatologist was a doctor I don’t think I fully understood that I, myself, would have to go to medical school.

I went to a small private Catholic college in Newport, Rhode Island for my first semester. One of my first orders of business was to denounce my aforementioned goals and study political science. I cannot even remember where that idea came from. I lasted only a semester at Salve Regina University. Not only did I not fit in to the socio-economic profile of the student body, I was not exactly a practicing Catholic. I stupidly transferred to another small private college for literally 4 days (long story for another day!) before ending up living at home and attending a local community college. While at community college I decided that I would study history. I went on to UMass Amherst where I graduated with degrees in History and Spanish with a concentration on Latin American studies. Whenever anyone asked what I wanted to do after college I replied, “join the Peace Corps.” Oh how young and idealistic I sounded!!

I honestly never even gave a career a second thought. I have worked consistently since I was 14 years old. Yet I never truly thought of myself as having a specific career. I wanted to travel and see the world. So I did what a lot of young people with little money and a philanthropic heart do…I joined the Peace Corps. I remember sitting in the office of the Peace Corps recruiter in Boston for my 3 hour long interview. He asked me if I had a preference in countries. Obviously I wanted to go to Latin America. However, he explained that since I had no specific skills I was most qualified to teach English and there were no English programs in Latin America. The only requirement to teach English in the Peace Corps is that you speak English! He sat back for a moment as if he was deep in thought and then he asked me very seriously if I knew how to bee keep. Um no?! He lamented that it was too bad I didn’t because Bolivia had a bee keeping program that was in need of volunteers. In the early days of my English teaching experience in Mozambique, where I eventually ended up serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, when I was frustrated and overwhelmed by dealing with the bureaucracy of the educational system I used to think, really how hard could it be to bee keep.

I was high school English as a Foreign Language teacher in the Peace Corps. This means I taught people to speak English rather than English literature. When I returned home to the U.S. I was daunted by the requirements to teach in the public schools and the lack of jobs for ESL teachers at that time was discouraging. While living in Mozambique I had become very interested in public health, the study of disease and educating people on how to prevent and treat illness.

I contemplated going to graduate school for a degree in public health. I had fleeting thoughts of becoming a nurse, but working in a hospital, dealing with bodily fluids and cleaning people was frightening. Plus I never thought of myself as someone who would work in healthcare. However, upon returning to the U.S. as a newlywed with an immigrant husband and very little money (Peace Corps is truly a volunteer agency!) post 9-11 as the economy was taking a swift turn for the worse, I quickly saw the benefits of becoming a nurse. At that time nursing jobs were plentiful and supported a decent living. After losing my job as a program director for a Department of Welfare supported teen parent education program to state budget cuts, I enrolled in a nursing pre-requisite class at a local community college. I went to nursing school at night and worked as a waitress, a nurse’s aid and even as a dispute resolution coordinator for my mother at the Better Business Bureau.

I got my Associate’s Degree in Nursing. The 2 year RN program (though it’s more like a 3 year program because of all the prerequisite courses you have to take) made more sense at the time because it was the least expensive, quickest option. I was growing anxious to buy a home and start a family at that time. Of course now I’m wondering if I should have just gone for the Bachelor’s Degree.

As a new nurse I decided to work on a general Medical-Surgical unit. I gained valuable experience working on the Med-Surg unit. It is fast paced and unpredictable. You see a little bit of everything from GI bleeds to COPD, appendectomies to chest tubes. It is on Med-Surg that you learn how to prioritize, organize and delegate. From Med-Surg I transferred to the cardiac unit. It was a new challenge and truth be told, one I never felt all that comfortable with. You must be able to think on your toes and act quickly, no second guessing yourself. Critical care is no place for a person who lacks confidence. I worked on the Intermediate Care (Cardiac) Unit for over a year, but eventually found my way to a more suitable position on the Psychiatric unit at the same hospital.

The longer I work within a westernized healthcare system the more I dislike what I do. I don’t regret my decision to become a nurse. I am so grateful for the lifestyle it affords me and my family. I love offering caring and compassion to others. Despite my fears about bedside nursing, I actually consider myself to be quite adept at basic patient care and find it enjoyable to help others in need.

I have come to a professional crossroads. For several years now my attention has turned towards diet, nutrition, spirituality and physical fitness as a means to change myself and become a healthier person in all aspects of mind, body and soul. As I’ve shifted my diet from almost entirely packaged and processed to a mostly plant based diet, I devour information about nutrition. When I took up running I also began to explore the idea of fitness for mental health as well as for improved vitality and physical health. I have only recently tapped into the healing powers of yoga and meditation in my life. I love the idea of spreading wellness holistically to those that are ill rather than simply medicating the symptoms.

Having been overweight since I was a child and having struggled for as long as I can remember with weight loss I would also love to inspire other’s to embark on their own weight loss journeys through sustainable dietary and lifestyle changes. I want to teach others how to eat healthy on a budget, develop a lasting fitness routine within the constraints of a busy lifestyle, prepare home cooked meals with little or no experience in the kitchen and introduce them to the idea of alternative therapies that might work in conjunction with western medicine to more effectively manage disease.

I get really excited whenever anyone wants to discuss nutrition with me. I get almost giddy if someone wants to talk running and fitness. I am all ears when I learn that someone uses alternative therapies along with western medicine. I truly want to be there for others struggling with weight loss because I’ve been there too. I want to inspire, encourage and motivate them to move forward.

I don’t know exactly what my purpose is, but I know that I’m not doing exactly what I’m meant to do. I’m not sure how to get to the place where I will finally be able to pursue my dreams. I know that I need to work on my own self-confidence. I also feel that I need to realize an end to my own weight loss journey before I can help others. Something has been holding me back, but I hope to be able to soon let go of my fears and move closer to finding my purpose.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Love Your Body Challenge Day 3: Strong

Love Your Body Challenge Day 3

Mantra: “I am strong enough to______, and I am proud of that.”

My mantra: I am strong enough to know when I need to ask for help, and I’m proud of that.

Action Step:  Write down one way that you demonstrate incredible physical strength, mental strength, and emotional strength.  Let yourself relish in the memory of the last time you did each of these things, and feel incredibly proud.

Physical: I continue to improve the amount of weight I can lift in the gym and the length of time I am able to hold yoga poses. My running pace has improved as has my ability to run longer distances. Excelling at physical fitness makes me feel strong. I do not compare myself to anyone else so my progress is based on where I started, not who is standing next to me at the gym or on a race course or a yoga mat.

On Thursday I went to my usual Vinyasa class only my instructor was out. Another instructor taught the class in a very different style. It was so challenging and pushed me way out of my comfort zone. We held poses a lot longer than usual. We also did a few very new to me poses that were difficult to get into never mind hold for a few minutes. I struggled, wobbled and longed to press back into child’s pose, but I stuck it out and felt amazing at the end.

Running this winter has been frustrating. The treadmill has become a life saver during and after major snowstorms even though I dread the thought of running indoors. I try to get outside as often as possible to run. Last Friday I had a 14 mile training run on the schedule and I really hate to do long runs on the treadmill. I bravely bundled up and hit the road around 8am despite a temperature of 8 degrees outside. The roads and sidewalks are still littered with ice and snow. My route took me to some of the hilliest parts of town because I decided to explore a new area. I felt like the wind was in my face the entire time. I dodged ice patches, cars and puddles. My face was numb. My hands were cold and my legs felt so heavy from all the hills. I was wearing my warmest running pants, but the extra insulation in them makes me feel like I’m running in a diaper. My miles were very slow.  It was miserable, but I did it and damn was I proud of myself when it was over.

Mental: My mental strength allows me to do my job as a psychiatric nurse. I must constantly think one step ahead of the patient. I must quickly assess a person to determine the best way to handle their needs. If I inadvertently do or say something to even slightly cause a patient to react in a negative way then I have to reverse it immediately if possible to avoid a power struggle or unpredictable behavior. Sadly, in recent months I’ve also had to employ mental strength to deal with miserable, negative, complaining co-workers. It’s a stressful environment to work in if you allow it to be. I’m very proud of the resolve I’ve shown and my ability to stay focused on being kind, caring and compassionate amongst very disgruntled colleagues and mentally unstable patients. I have vowed to leave work feeling positive about the job I do. I am not changing or saving lives, but at the end of the shift I need to go home with a smile on my face so I can enjoy my day, be a good mother and maintain my own mental health.

Recently a very difficult patient requested medication from the charge nurse at 6:50 a.m. She immediately gave him attitude and insisted that he would have to wait until day shift came out of report because we were getting ready to leave (this meant the patient would have to wait at least 40 minutes for a medication nurse to help him). I could see him clenching his fists and rocking back and forth. I grabbed the medication room keys and told the patient I would get him the medication. I could see the disapproval on my co-worker’s face, but in that moment I was more interested in avoiding any explosive behavior from the patient than I was in stepping on my co-worker’s toes. At the med room the patient used some choice words to express his disdain towards the other nurse. I offered him some suggestions on how to handle this kind of situation in the future and told him he could always seek me out for medication. I gave him a little TLC and the medication to decrease his anxiety. He said thank you and returned to his room. My co-worker said thank you when I returned to the nurse’s station though she did express her opinion that patient’s shouldn’t expect us to jump when they say jump. I didn’t pay her any mind and walked out of work that day feeling proud that one little act helped avoid a potentially disruptive situation.

Emotional: This one is tough for me because I’ve always felt very weak emotionally. I’m sensitive especially about things people say to me. I have a very hard time hiding my feelings and everything shows on my face. For so long I was a very negative person. I wanted so badly to be pretty and thin. I never felt particularly smart or good at anything. I was the epitome of average. I didn’t quite fit in with any group. I was awkward and self-conscious. My moods were unpredictable and I took everything personally. I think my emotional strength is that slowly but surely I’ve been able to learn from my mistakes and continue to improve myself. I am a work in progress.

I just happened to read this post on Mind Body Green about How to Stop Being So Reactive All the Time. I have a long history of being an overreactive person. I’m infinitely less reactive now than I have been for much of my life. I’ve learned a lot and heeded much needed advice over the years to change my behavior. I was so bad in my teens and early adulthood that I often reacted even before people finished their sentence.

The article offers 6 pieces of advice on how to stop negative reactions. I found the second suggestion very applicable to my history.

2. Evaluate your beliefs.

What do you regard as truth in this lifetime? Do you feel unworthy and therefore think that everyone is critical of everything you do? Are you convinced success emboldens people to look down on everyone below them? We have to take responsibility for our own frame of reference. Sometimes we can project that onto something that isn’t there.

I think this would have been a very helpful suggestion for me in the past. I have always felt as though I was being scrutinized with a critical eye. To this day I still feel as though I am not as good as others. I often feel “small” and insignificant when I’m in a group. I generally think people are judging me and therefore I  mistakenly assume their comments and even tone of voice are meant to belittle me. Ridiculous right? I know it makes me sound paranoid. More and more I am beginning to realize that I have been my own worst enemy.

I’m going to end this post with a quote I saw on Roni’s Weigh this morning. I think it applies to everything above. Part of going through this challenge is hopefully to help me start developing some confidence in myself.

“It all comes down to confidence: your body can do great things only if it believes it can accomplish them.”~ Georges St-Pierre

Love Your Body Challenge Day 2: Capable

Where do these stories we tell ourselves come from? As I try to make sense of how I came to feel such disdain for my body I am reminded of how I was acutely aware from an early age that my body was different than other girls. I also decided that I wasn’t capable of being athletic presumably because of my bigger body.

I remember vividly standing in line in my elementary school gym waiting to hang from the pull up bar. It was part of the Presidential Physical Education Challenge. I was so nervous. Finally it was my turn. I grabbed the bar, held on for dear life and lasted probably less than 20 seconds. That part is a little hazy, but I remember even back in grade school accepting the fact that I simply was not athletic.

My Junior High school housed the swimming pool so we were expected to take swimming as part of gym class in 8th and 9th grade, quite possibly the pinnacle of awkward body image issues for prepubescent and pubescent teen aged girls. I feigned pink eye (spray Aqua Net near your eye or rub something near your eye), headaches and menstrual cramps to get out of the dreaded swim class. And when I didn’t have a physical ailment I could complain to the school nurse about I simply “forgot” my bathing suit. I mean really, are you freaking kidding me? You want an already self-conscious overweight teen to strip down in an open locker room amongst her female classmates, get into a bathing suit and then jump into a pool full of boys. Um no!

The only penalty for not attending swim class was to stay after school one day a week and make it up. The make up class was simply swimming laps. I was a strong swimmer and that was a piece of cake, plus I was usually one of the only people there while the swim team practiced in the other half of the pool. The best part was the gym teacher didn’t care if I wore a shirt over my bathing suit after school, but during school we could not. So I would swim my laps effortlessly and still received credit for gym class. On two occasions I was approached by the swim coach to try out for the team. I never did and I kick myself now thinking back. Not only would I have made friends, I probably would have lost some weight naturally from the increase in exercise. I also may have realized my athletic abilities a lot earlier.

I was a dancer and took dancing lessons well into my teen years. However, I didn’t equate dancing with being athletic. I loved dancing, but shied away from ballet which I considered to be for petite slender girls not big clunky girls as I thought of myself. I took jazz and tap instead. I loved dancing, but never felt graceful and elegant as I dreamed I should.

And the list goes on. In my head I’ve always been the “big” girl and therefore I was not meant to be athletic. By college the only physical activity I did was to walk to and from class. During serious attempts at weight loss walking was my go to exercise and I could walk for very long periods of time at a good clip. It was just walking, though, I told myself.

Ironically each year on the third Monday in April I would tune into coverage of the Boston Marathon, reduced to tears as the winners and those to follow crossed the finish line. Never once during those broadcasts did I consider running myself.

As part of the Love Your Body challenge today’s mantra is: ”I am capable of _________, and that’s awesome. In fact, I am capable of anything I set my mind to, that I am willing to work for. “

My mantra would be: I am capable of being an athlete, and that’s awesome…

Today’s action step is a choice between:

1. Engage in the activity that you talked about in your mantra if possible, and if it makes you smile. Remember to repeat the mantra while you are doing it.

2. Think about something that you’ve been wanting to do/learn/practice/master for a long time, and set yourself a reasonable time limit to achieve it. Reasonable is the key word here. Keep repeating the mantra to remind yourself that you can do anything that you set your mind to as long as you’ll work for it.

I’ve done both. This morning I attended my usual Vinyasa yoga class, but there was a substitute instructor who had a totally different style than my instructor. I was challenged from beginning to end. Of course I also went for a run today, but not just any old training run. I’m running with a friend as she prepares for her first 5K. She is doing an incredible job training. She is super motivated. She is losing weight naturally and healthily. She is also loving running and pushing herself to go a little further each time. We ran almost 4 miles this morning on a rather hilly route. She didn’t back down once. I’m so excited for her and thrilled to be a part of her training. We will run a 5K at the end of April and she is already talking about doing my favorite 10K this summer.

As for the second option above I have hinted around the blog that I’ve been thinking a lot about running an ultra marathon. I did the Fat Ass 50K back in December and although that is technically an ultra it was a torturous 10 redundant loops through and around a paved park. I would really like to experience a 50 mile ultra marathon on trail. I’ve come along way from the “big” girl who wasn’t meant to be athletic. I’m truly in awe of what my body has accomplished in the last 5 years. It’s time to see what else it’s capable of accomplishing. So on my 13th wedding anniversary I will be running the Vermont 50! In preparation for the 50 mile race I will be running the Vermont City Marathon on May 25th, ironically, the same day registration opens for the Vermont 50. Training started about a month ago. I’m happily settling into a routine with a very new style of training plan. I have a few other races planned and a goal or two I hope to accomplish along the way.

I’m not sure how my story started, but I’m so glad that I decided to change how it ends.

40th Annual Jones Group 10 Miler

“From here on in I will no longer sell myself short with negative self-talk. I will not underestimate my abilities. I will continue to train hard some days, run for fun other days and always trust in my progress.” 

This is a quote from the end of my post last year on this exact same race. I ran the Jones 10 Miler again this year on Sunday, 2/23 and had a completely different experience than last year. This race figured in nicely with my marathon training so I registered for it a few weeks ago. Suffice it to say had I taken the advice I wrote in last year’s post I may not have tormented myself on race day.

I started this blog to talk about running and inevitably it has at times been a place where I discuss weight loss, body image and my longtime struggle with both of these issues. Oh how I wish I could say the struggle is over, done with! I wish I could write right now that I’m in love with my body, I feel amazing, and when I look in the mirror I see a beautiful person.

Getting dressed for the race, I felt heavy, my legs seemed infinitely larger and I was immediately uncomfortable in my body. My running pants are all basically the same so instead I tried on numerous tops trying to “feel” smaller or look lighter. Eventually I gave up, threw on something comfortable that I’m used to running in and headed out the door.

I stood at the starting line that morning feeling a myriad of things, namely fat, lonely and pessimistic about the race. There were numerous running clubs around me. Everyone’s shirt seemed to match someone else’s shirt. It was honestly the first time I felt really alone at a race. I have always run alone, but I think more and more I am beginning to wonder what it would be like to run with others, to have a sense of camaraderie and the support of a group of like-minded people.

I resigned myself early on to running the 10 miles without worrying about time. I was fairly confident that I could run at least the same pace I ran last year if not slightly better, but I grew angry at myself because I didn’t feel that I could run it as comfortably thanks to the few pounds that I have put back on. I berated myself silently for smearing too much peanut butter on my traditional pre- long run banana suddenly feeling it deep in my stomach. As I obsessed about this minutiae the horn sounded and we were starting to run.

If you read my post from last year you will read about the challenging course. It was altered slightly this year, but really only the starting and finishing points. The race in between was the same uphill battle it has been for many years. At least the weather cooperated. Despite a chance of rain the course stayed dry and overcast with temps in the high 30s/low 40s. It was perfect running weather.

The hills came and went. I pushed myself up each one. They were difficult, but they were just hills. I run hills all the time. Sure I thought about how much easier they would be with less weight, but I pushed on. My mind worked much harder than my legs during this race. I vacillated between negative self-talk to making plans of action. My lips quivered at times as I brushed back tears from my eyes.

As I neared the 5 mile mark I could see the time clock up ahead. After a little mental math I realized I was running on par with my recent training paces. I was poised to come in slightly ahead of last year’s time. This put a little spring in my step and lifted some of the heaviness off of my shoulders. My internal talk shifted to a more understanding, more empathetic conversation, but deep down I could not shake the negativity. I plodded along totally alone for most of the race

I finished the race with little fanfare. I literally crossed the finish line and continued jogging to my car. Carlos had soccer practice and skating practice so Orlando took him while I ran. This is not a big spectator race so there were few people at the finish line. My official time was 1:34:55 almost a minute off last year’s time of 1:35:54.

Ironically as I revisited my post from last year I also looked back where I used to track my weight and noticed that I was actually almost exactly the same weight a year ago. Weight loss is only one piece of this puzzle. Self-acceptance is another.

This was a tough post to write because it is a departure from my typical upbeat, excited race recaps. In many ways this race was a turning point for me and revisiting last year’s post was eye opening. I have some big spring running plans including another marathon. I have some lofty running goals this year. I’m working hard to shed those extra pounds and lose the last 10-15 pounds.

As I mentioned yesterday I’m also taking part in the Love Your Body Challenge by Molly Galbraith. Day 1 (check out the post if you have time. It shares the stories of real women coming to terms with their bodies.) is today for me. The Action Step for the day called for doing something nice for yourself while repeating the mantra: ”My body is my home. It’s the ONLY place I have to live.  I will treat it with the care and respect it deserves.” 

I did a little root touch up on my hair to tide me over until my salon appointment and I applied a banana coconut deep conditioning hair masque after the color. I love when my hair feels soft and the gray is hidden. As for the mantra, well I like the sentiment, but I forgot to repeat it over and over. I remember hearing something similar years ago from Madonna when she was getting into Kabbalah, yoga and other spiritual practices, but it struck a chord then though I couldn’t quite seem to put it into practice. It’s so true though. Our body is our temple. Why then do I mistreat such a sacred place, my sacred place?

Love Your Body Challenge: Self-Acceptance

I’m beginning to rebound from months of battling to maintain my weight, dealing with binge eating episodes and really unhealthy negative self-talk. I’ve fought through it by reading, researching, trying new things, even bringing back old coping skills while continuing to journal my food and exercise. Even in my darkest moments I knew I would eventually come out on the other end better for it.

Despite losing over 70 pounds since 2007 and maintaining that loss for over a year I still have a very skewed image of what I look like. My goal is to one day celebrate my healthy body and really love the person I’ve become. I want to talk to myself the same way I praise and compliment my beautiful friends. As I work towards this I’m going to participate in the Molly Gailbraith’s 28 Day Love Your Body Challenge.

photo (32)

The Pre-Challenge activity was to answer the following questions and tally up the score.

1. How do you feel when you think about how your body looks?
(1 = absolutely terrible, 10 = freaking awesome)

3 – I still feel like I have so much work to do especially on the lower half of my body. I get so frustrated when I see my legs in the mirror. I also hate buying pants. Nothing ever fits properly because of my shape.

2. How often do you think about things you’d like to change on your body?
(1 = constantly, 10 = never)

3 – It is near constant, but there are rare times when I don’t think about it. Every time I get dressed I think about how I would like to have smaller legs and a smaller butt. I struggle to appreciate how far I’ve come.

3. How often do you look in the mirror and think, “I look really awesome!”
(1 = never, 10 = always)

1 – This is sad right? I just feel so awkward in the clothing I wear. I have no sense of style. I know that part of accepting my body is learning how to dress properly in clothing that actually fits me.

4. How confident do you feel when you’re in a swimsuit?
(1 = not confident at all, 10 = extremely confident)

In a tankini – 4
From the waist up in any bathing suit – 8
In a regular bathing suit 1 piece bathing suit – 1 (I’ll use this answer in the tally.)

5. How confident do you feel about your body during intimate moments?
(1 = not confident at all, 10 = extremely confident)

8 – I’ve got a wonderful relationship with my husband. He’s never made me feel badly about my body. He’s always loved me but he certainly appreciates the changes.

6. How often do you catch yourself saying/thinking negative things about your body?
(1 = constantly, 10 = never)

3 – I’m so hard on myself. If I happen to be retaining water for some reason and it makes me feel fat I begin to think really negative thoughts about my body. The negative thoughts are also prominent whenever I’m around certain people like my much thinner sister.

7. How often do you catch yourself saying negative things about your body to other people?
(1 = constantly, 10 = never)

10 – I used to make negative comments about my body, but since I had Carlos I have stopped doing that. I vowed to never make my weight issues a burden on my child. He shouldn’t hear me speak negatively about myself because that might make him feel badly or it might make him think he can speak the same way about me or others.

8. How well do you receive compliments from others?
(1 = not well, 10 = really well)

7 – In line with my answer for #7, I’ve learned since Carlos was born to just say thank you when someone compliments me whereas before I would negate the compliment with some kind of snarky remark. I assumed compliments were just a person’s way to make me feel better, but not necessarily genuine. I don’t think that way anymore.

9. How often do you have feelings of shame in regards to your body?
(1 = constantly, 10 = never)

3 – I’m ashamed to admit this actually. The shame I feel with every binge is so intense I can barely look at myself. I feel shame that I haven’t been more successful in losing the last 10-15 pounds. Weighing myself and seeing the scale at a stand still or up a little bit immediately causes me to look shamefully at my body.

10. If I told you that you could drastically change your perception of your body in 28 days, would you believe me?
(1 = absolutely not, 10 = no doubt about it)

2 – I’ll believe it when I see it! I’m open minded  thought.

Total = 41

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