Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It's All About Balance

This topic may be a little touchy.  But I feel like it's an important one.  It's something I'm passionate about.  I strive to find balance in my life.

In my previous job (same company, different position), my district manager told me, "Now Bridgette, it's very important to have balance in your life.  Now does that mean work 8 hours a day, play 8 hours a day?  Not at all."  He went on to tell me he might work really hard 10-12 hours a day for 4 weeks, then he might take a few days, or a week off.  My previous position, and his, had that type of flexibility.  I don't have as much flexibility in my schedule now, but I still work on obtaining balance in my life.

Before I get any further into this, let's be realistic for a quick minute.  There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 365 days in a year.  That's all we get (yes, except for leap year) and there's nothing that we can do to add to that.  But to me, it's what we do with that time that matters.

Here are my facts.  We do not have children.  I work from 8-5 Monday through Friday with a 35 minute commute each way.  I try to sleep around 7 hours (sometimes less, even though it should be more) a night.  I take about an hour or so to get ready each morning.  I cook dinner on average 3-4 times a week.  We eat out on Fridays and sometimes once more during the week.  The hubby is off on Monday nights and he helps with dinner, and the weekends is a toss up between him doing dinner and us going out with friends.  He typically does the dishes and I do the laundry.  I teach Zumba for an hour two nights a week.  I try workout for at least an hour every day that I'm not teaching Zumba.  Usually more on Saturdays and Sundays.  On Tuesdays, I attend an hour long weight loss meeting before Zumba.  I like to sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays. 

And I am happy. 

Will I ever be accused of having the cleanest house around?  I'd put money against it!  But I promise you, on my death bed, you will not hear me say, "Man, I wish I'd spent more time cleaning my house."  Now when we get the occasional unannounced visitor, sometimes I think that, but it's not the end of the world.  Now, let me make a disclaimer that there is a huge difference in messy and nasty.  We are not nasty by any means.  But on any given day, you will probably see unfolded blankets on my couch, because it's cold in my house and I don't fold them every time I get done using them.  You'll probably see folded laundry sitting on my couch or in a chair for a few days before I put it up.  You'll probably see clean dishes in the drainer waiting to be put away.  You'll probably see clothes that I've worn, but are not dirty, laying on my dresser.  You may see two or three pair of shoes in the living room floor because that's where we took them off.  You'll see the hubby's stuff all over the dining room table because that's where he leaves it.  Sometimes hubs has to tell me that he's out of clean work clothes and needs some washed.

And guess what.  We make it just fine.  This is not an end all, be all for me.  The house is clean when we have company over (except the besties, because you know, they don't count.  And they're usually coming over to work out).  We don't go hungry.  We don't wear dirty clothes.  We have clean dishes.  We work out a lot.  We sit down and watch an hour or so of television together most nights.  We go to bed together every night.  I read when I want to.  Hubby hunts when he wants to and goes to hunting shows when he wants to.

Does my house look like his grandmothers did while he was growing up?  Nope.  I don't have children to assign chores to.  I have a full time job every single day that I must go to.  My health and fitness is important to me, and I'm dedicated to working on that.  I value and need our down time together each night.  And while the house is not kept in the order his was growing up, he's fine.  Yes, there are times he would like it to be neater.  Hell, I'd love for it to be neater.  But I don't have the time.  Yep, I could make the time.  But I chose to use my time for things that are more important to me. 

That's what I mean about finding a balance.  Your thing might not be housework.  It might be cooking.  Or it might be something else.  I know housework and "getting things done around the house" is what I hear a lot of my friends say their husbands or significant others complain about when they take time to work out or do whatever it is they need as down time.  You need to have a conversation with them.  Discuss what is important to you and to them.  Figure out what you can live with and what you can't live without.  You can't do it all in a single day.  You have to have priorities.  And if something is a deal breaker to them, maybe they need to pitch in and help.  Sure, I could give up working out a few days, and I could wake up earlier on the weekends, but I need those times for myself.  Do I dare say that the hubs and I have a perfect relationship and that we have it all figured out?  Not at all!  What I'm saying is that we have figured out, mostly, what works for us and what we can live with and without.  I'm not a perfect housewife by no means.  But in my opinion, those were "ideals" of the 50s and 60s when women did not work outside of the home and honestly, the world was much healthier, so exercise was not as big of an issue. 

As a woman, wife and mother, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of everyone else.  If this means having quiet time to take a bath by yourself, if it means working out, if it means spending a few quiet moments to read each night, you need to do whatever it is to give you balance in your life.  I'm a huge advocate for being phsyically active and working on your fitness, so even if this isn't what you enjoy, I urge you to fit in at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times a week.  If you do not take care of your body, you will not be physically able to take care of others.  And I promise, even if you don't like it while you're doing it, it will change your energy level, mindset and mood.  So, quit reading for now and go find some balance!

And since Mama Laughlin said all good blogs have pictures, here's one of the hubby and me finding our balance by spending time together while working out!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Carry Your @$$ Back to 8 Mile!

*** Side note- this title is what my dad jokingly said to our beach house neighbors, while we were at the beach after my wedding, when the neighbor thought he could out-rap my husband to Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice Baby"... hubby won... Daddy yelled, we still laugh about it today! ***

So, Sunday I ran 8 miles.  I RAN 8 MILES!!!  Did you read that?!  I RAN E-I-G-H-T MILES!!!  And in a few months, I'll be like, "Ahh, 8 miles, that's nothing.  Yeah, I remember when I was excited and happy about hitting that new pr"  But today, I am excited and happy because I freaking ran 8 miles!  Shannon and I are training for the Diva Half Marathon at Myrtle Beach at the end of April, so we're working on building our time and distance and increasing our pace.

Here's how the 8 miles went.  I tried to be one of those people that could say, "Well, at mile 1, I blah blah blah, and at mile 3 this and that happened."  But it didn't work.  While I was running, I was like, "Okay, this is how I feel at this mile" but by the time I finished, I was so focused on getting air in and out of my lungs and getting my legs to carry me to the car before I collapsed, that I don't know what happened at what mile.  But here's what I do remember.

I arranged for Shannon and me to run, and Beth and Debbie were going to bring their families and walk.  My p-o-s computer and my bigger p-o-s phone wouldn't update to add my new songs to my running playlist.  I finally got it to work, but that made me late.  We finally got to the trail and the others were waiting on us.  We planned our course and started running.  Shannon's shoe came untied.  She stopped to tie it and her phone (quite possibly a bigger p-o-s than mine) stopped her run and she had to restart it.  My phone played the wrong playlist when it started.  You know, the one I was late working on that I wanted to hear... yeah, it didn't play that one.  I'm not sure what happened there.  We keep running anyway.  Then, my phone falls out of my running fanny pack "belt" and hit the ground.  It didn't stop but I had to pause to pick it up.  So, I overrode the playlist in my running app with the playlist I wanted to hear in my itunes.  Shannon said, "Mother nature, or life, or whatever is just against us running today!"  I responded, "Yep.  But that's not going to stop us!"

Then... we got a good sign.  We passed a couple walking with their two dogs and the man said, "Y'all aren't training for Myrtle Beach, are ya?"  "We sure are!"  He said, "She is too!"  Now, this race is taking place about 4 hours away from where we live, and there are tons of people that walk and run the course we were on today.  For someone random to ask us if that's what we were training for was quite a coincidence.  So that pumped us up and we kept going.

We started in the middle of the trail, so we had to run 2.75 miles in one direction, turn around and head back to our starting point (to total 5.5), then run 1.25 more in the opposite direction and back (to add the extra 2.5 that we needed to total 8).  Around 2.5 or so, we came up on some construction and a part of the paved trail had been re-routed through the grass (and now mud) for a short section.  We kept going.  We chatted some of the way, people watched and commented on the songs we were listening to.  But we kept going.

After we turned, we passed the same couple that asked about us training and the guy said, "Which one are y'all doing, the 5k or the big one?"  "The half marathon!" we answered!  "Wow!  She's training for the 5k!"  I thought to myself, "The BIG one!!!  Heck yes!  Someone else recognized what we were doing and were impressed by it!"  Then we passed Beth and Debbie and their families around 4.5 miles or so.  They were letting their kids play on the outside workout structures along the trail.  We waved and ran on.  I was still doing pretty good and Shannon seemed to be too.  I ate a shot block at 4.25 and had a little water (from my fanny pack- and yeah, I need to get a new kind of belt because this one holds the water bottle sideways and it flops up and down as I run.  I can't stand it).  We passed our starting point, and I knew we only had a "little" bit left.  We've ran 6.5 before today, and we hadn't hit that mark yet, so I knew I had to keep going.

My legs got tired around mile 6.  I told myself it was only 2 more miles.  I knew (thanks to my Nike app) that my pace was slowing, but I felt like it was all I could do.  So, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I thought about my blog I just wrote on Mind Over Matter and I knew that I could do it.  I just had to get determined.  So we kept going.  At mile 7, I was sure I was going to die.  I thought about quitting.  But I knew that wasn't an option.  I was counting on myself to do this.  And Shannon was counting on me too.  And Beth and Debbie knew we were going to run 8 miles today.  And for heaven's sake, I wrote in my blog that I was going to do 8!  So I kept going.  My legs hurt.  My feet hurt- I have some sort of unsolved arch issues.  My butt muscles started to hurt.  We got to 6.75, our turn around point.  I had ran this part of the course so many times before.  I doubted my abilities before, and I made it then, so I knew I would now too.

My pace wasn't where I wanted it to be, but I was still going.  Around 7 or 7.25 Shannon commented that her arms and shoulders were tingling and it was almost like an electric shock (minus the pain) going through them.  At 7.5 I felt it too.  In my right arm only.  My hand went numb but I just shook my arm out and kept moving my fingers and it eventually went away.  We're still not sure what it is, but we didn't stop, and that was all that mattered.  When I hit 7.75 I keeked a quick video saying that I had .25 left.  It took my mind off things for a few minutes, and I gave it all I had.  Shannon got a second wind and sprinted to the end.  I ran with all that I had left in me, but it wasn't fast!  And then, I crossed the line. 

I just ran 8 miles!  My legs felt like jelly.  I thought I might fall.  But the high I felt was amazing!  I just did something else I never thought I'd do.  I proved I can do something else that I'd doubted before.  And we will continue to do even more.  I believe in myself and I know we can do this.

Here's my thoughts, advice (if I'm qualified to offer any) and concerns about my upcoming half:
- If I can run 8 miles, I can do the half!
- I'm concerned about running the entire half without walking any
- I'm concerned about having to use the bathroom and having to stop.  I feel like if I stop, I will lost my momentum
- I'm still trying to figure out "running nutrition."  I currently use Cliff Shot Blocks- 2 regular ones before starting, and a margharita one after about 45 minutes, or 4 miles, which ever comes first. 
- I want my pace to be faster for the half
- I don't know if my phone battery will make it through the half.  Anyone have the iphone 5?  How does the battery life compare to the 4 (I don't even have the 4s!  Yikes!)

- Get out of your head and believe that you CAN do it.
- I don't carry water unless I'm going over 5 miles.  I don't like holding it or keeping up with it, and as you read, my fanny pack sucks
- I chew gum. It helps me with my breathing and not needing water.  Some of my friends don't like it.
- Make an awesome playlist.  It motivates me when my brain doesn't. 
- Wear good shoes.  Get fitted at a running store.  They know their stuff.
- If you want to run, just run. You can do it. Start out slow and build up. I started with Couch to 5k 3 years ago.

This is "proof" of my run

This is me after finishing

And here's what I found on my windshield after we finished

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mind Over Matter

You hear so many times people say, "It's mind over matter" or "You can do anything you set your mind to."  And this is true.  Sometimes I get this determination in me that I almost can't even explain.  I decide I'm going to do something, and come hell or high water, I'm going to do it.  I started thinking about where this attitude came from, because I certainly didn't always have it. 

I remember the first time I pushed my body beyond what I thought I could do.  My friend Debbie and I were training for our first 5k.  I had never ran anything before in my life, until we started training that August.  I had shed a few pounds, and was seeing the results of my hard work.  I was starting to feel empowered.  Like I really could succeed at this weight loss thing, and heck, I had began to think I wouldn't even die during the 5k!  We were planning on running the whole thing.  We'd practiced for a few months.  It was now October, and the week before the 5k.  It was a Sunday afternoon, and we decided to drive about 30 minutes to Greensboro, to run the actual course, so we would be prepared for the race the following weekend. 

We planned it out.  We had received our race packet (you mean, you get a super cool race packet when you sign up for a 5k?!  Awesome!!!) that had our materials and a map of the course.  We took the map with us.  I pulled out my phone and opened the notes app.  I typed in each road and which way we would turn on the road, so we didn't have to carry the map with us.  Aren't I so smart??!  Who wanted to run carrying a piece of paper for 3.1 miles?!  Not us!  And we needed our phones anyway, so I considered myself a genius. 

So off we ran!  And ran.  And ran.  We were getting close to where we knew a turn should be coming up, but according to my handy little notes app, we didn't see the road name.  We ran up through a school parking lot.  We ran to the stop sign at the next main road.  We KNEW the map didn't have us running all the way to that main road, but we didn't know where else to go.  Finally, Debbie knew we had gone the wrong way and she started walking.  I don't know what changed in my mind at that moment.  It could have been that I knew that I needed to run whether we were on the right course or not.  It could have been that stubbornness in me that wasn't going to give up, just because I'd done something wrong with the map.  It could have just been the mental breakthrough that I was on the verge of in my journey, and it was going to happen regardless.  I don't know.  But I got determined!  I was not going to walk.  And I didn't.  We ran from the main road all the way back to the car.  I don't know exactly how long I ran that day, but I remember it was over an hour.  I have a picture somewhere (at the time, we used a $3 digital cooking timer from WalMart to track our time, cuz we're awesome like that, and knew nothing about running, remember).  That was how we documented our progress- the cooking timer and picture of the timer displaying the length of time we ran each day. 

When we finally stopped running, my legs felt like jelly.  My knees literally buckled and I thought I was going down!  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I had just ran (okay, slow jogged) for over an hour!  This girl that didn't run!  That had never ran for anything in her life!  That was not physically active and that had gained about 30+ pounds in the past 2 years.  I freaking did it!!!  It was such an emotional experience for me.  I proved to myself that I could do it.  I could do what I set my mind to.  I could go beyond my perceived limits.  I could do better than I thought I could.  I beat that voice of doubt in my head. 

From that day forward, when I find something I want to do, I do it.  When I don't do as well as I thought I could or want to, I know it's my own self doubt.  Not my lack of ability.  Or maybe I just don't have the push in me that particular day.  Because I know now that I can do (almost) anything I want to. 

So, today, I plan to run 8 miles.  My farthest distance yet.  As I train for a half marathon.  Something else I thought I'd never do.  But you know what, I'm doing it!  The thought still terrifies me and I feel that self doubt when I really think, "I'm going to run a continuous 13.1 miles in just 2 short months," but I know I can do it.  I know I have it in me.  I just remember that first day when I proved to myself that I can do what I set my mind to. 

So, when that voice inside your head starts to wonder if you really can do something, or starts to compare you to the person beside you, or tells you that you can't do something, tell that stupid little slut to shut the eff up, and honey, GO DO IT!!! 

I believe in you and you've got to believe in yourself.  You will amaze yourself at what you can actually accomplish.  So I challenge you:  This week, push yourself!  Do something you thought you could never do.  Revel in the feelings of accomplishment after you blow it out of the water!  And let me know how it goes!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What's On My MInd

So, this year one of my New Year's Resolutions was to blog more.  And here I sit, Saturday, February 23, 2013, writing my first blog of the year.  I don't know why I suck at it.  Blogging is something that I really want to do, just to keep track of my own life, my weight loss journey and things that are going on around me. I think up until now, I thought I had to have something profound to write about to attract readers. Well, I have decided to write about whatever I have going on at the time, and if people want to read, great!  If not, that's cool too.

I've had a few things on my mind lately, and I write blogs in my head all the time.  I just never actually sit down and do it.  One reason, is when I'm at work (where I spend the majority of my day, in front of a computer), I get "quota" time for "restricted" sites, and blogger is one of them.  So, I get 5 15 minute increments of time to use throughout the day on restricted sites.  And I just don't make blogging a priority.  (Hey, a girl's gotta check out the free books on Amazon ever day!) So, lately, I've been stuck in a plateau in my weight loss journey.  A 3 month one!  And it sucks!  So, I'm back to tracking everything on My Fitness Pal.  And I swear to you, I ate everything I normally do yesterday, and by the pure act of logging my food, my weight was down this morning.  We'll see what happens throughout the week.  I HATE tracking and counting, but I think I need to do it.  I've got a good topic coming to you tomorrow, about determination and beating that little voice in your head.  So stay tuned.

Today, I've had the television on for noise and it's played several infomercials about "healthy" things.  There's been the Body Revolution by Jillian Michaels (my dream trainer), and some kind of blender/jucier thing by the people that make the Magic Bullet.  There was a book about something related to our diet in today's society, and the man made a lot of sense.  He said that foods today don't hold the same nutritional value that they did years ago.  He held up an orange and said that an orange today has about (I'm making up a number here, but it is close to what he said) 1/3 of the nutritional value that oranges did 10-20 years ago.  He said that it takes time for food to develop, and due to the growth hormones and pesticides used today, the foods don't have enough time to fully develop and gain all of their nutritional values.  Farmers don't get paid on nutritional values, they get paid on full bushels.  Wow!  That made me stop and think. It's no wonder we have such an overweight society these days.  Even when people think they're doing the right thing by eating their fruits and veggies, they're still not getting what they need.  So my wheels kept turning.

It's only been in the last 5-10 years that I've had to struggle with my weight.  I never thought about eating healthy, dieting, working out as a child.  This was not the case for my brother though.  My brother is 4 years younger than me and is one of the people I admire the most in this world.  He started out as a chunky baby, but most babies are.  Then he was a very thin child until about elementary school.  That's when he started putting on weight.  He was a very picky eater and his diet consisted of mostly fried or breaded chicken, pizza, and potatoes.  I don't blame this on him.  He was 5 years old for crying out loud!  And he wasn't into sports or playing outside very much.  So the pounds came. 

Now, my parents were very good parents while we were growing up.  They are crazy now (one more so than the other, but not by much), but this didn't happen until I was in college.  Of course, my brother was still in high school and to this day, I wish I could have made things different for him, especially during those years.  But our struggles make us the people we are.  However, I don't see how my parents never saw his struggles with his weight.  Or why they didn't try to help.  I remember two separate occasions, where my brother saved up his money, and purchased things that he saw on infomercials.  First, he bought one of those "fat belts" where you put the jelly on your stomach and the belt sent electric waves to the muscles, to work your muscles and get rid of your fat, while you sat around on the couch.  I don't know what ever happened to that thing.  I do know that he tried it though.  He also bought some kind of fold up, in home, gym/ weight bench/ workout thing, by (I think) Body by Jake.  My dad helped him pack it up and send it back in time for his "free trial" so he could get his money back. 

I wish I would have known then the things that I know now about health and fitness.  I wish my parents would have done something differently to help him.  I feel that they were just as uneducated about health, nutrition and exercise and my brother and I were though.  And I feel like this is the case for most of the country, and I even go as far as to say the world.  It's one of the reasons we have the weight problems that we have today.  Our family meals then consisted of spaghetti with buttered toast; fried pork chops with green beans from a can, mashed potatoes with butter and whole milk, canned corn and canned baked beans; beef stew from a can with peanut butter sandwiches on white bread; hamburger helper with the "vegetables" already listed; frozen lasagna; steak or hamburgers on the grill; breakfast at night; or fast food. We always had a "junk" cabinet full of chips, cookies, candy, whatever we wanted.  We didn't go hungry, and food wise, there wasn't much that we wanted that we went without.  This obviously caused problems for both my brother, and me (later in life).

I know that as a parent (even though I'm not one yet), you want the best for your children.  You try to do the best that you can with what you have.  But I feel like as adults, we have to do better for the kids in our world.  We need to get educated and teach them the right things.  They shouldn't have to struggle the way some of us have had to.  They shouldn't get picked on because of their size or because they're not active.  But to go along with that, they also shouldn't know the words "fat" and "pounds" and "diet."  I remember a good friend in college telling me that she was ALWAYS on a diet growing up.  Kids don't need to feel deprived.  We need to teach them to be HEALTHY.  We need to lead my example.  No child should be obsessed with the scale like we are.  They shouldn't even get on one except for at the doctor's office.  They should not call themselves fat.  I HATE when I hear a child say that.  It means the parents aren't doing something right. 

So, I write all of this to tell you to be the example for the kids in your life, whether your own children or not.  Be active with them.  Teach them about eating healthy.  Show them that they can reach their goals.  It starts with us.

And for any of you wondering about my brother, he didn't fail to amaze me again.  Here are some pics of him:

His prom

My college graduation

Being inducted into the Police Foce
 Earning a medal at a 5k
 Two of the most important men in my life, my brother and my husband, on my wedding day