Aunt Flo is My Gurl

So… This post is allll about periods. Mine, mostly, since I’m an expert about mine over any other shark-week sister, but there will be other menstrual madness as well, so please, if you just don’t want to know all of this, you might want to skip this one post…

 

 I’m going to talk pretty openly about the progression of my period, so here we go, back to that fateful November day in seventh grade, at the tender age of 12, when I felt super gross and sticky and the thought crossed my mind in choir class, “Maybe I’ve started it.” I wasn’t excited at all. And when I went to check in the bathroom during gym, the evidence was laid out in my underwear. Still, though, I was in denial for the entirety of that first cycle that maybe it would stop or maybe I could hold it in, so I didn’t tell my mom and just raided the emergency supply of pads that had, one day, suddenly appeared in my closet. It wasn’t until Easter, at my grandmother’s house in Oregon when the triple threat of stomach flu, diarrhea and menstruation hit in one night and I had to tell my mom that I had started that damned thing a few months ago and I needed help!

  

As soon as my period hit, so did my weight. If you look at my school pictures from seventh grade to ninth, there was a significant jump in my weight. I went from looking like a 12 year old to looking like a staff member in one year, and it was all because I got fat. I probably went from a decent 130 pounds to 190 pounds by the end of 8th grade.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been bitten by the PCOS bug. In fact, I was on a timer from the moment I was born. My period began, I started gaining weight and my period started letting its pattern known. I would get it about six-eight times a year. We assumed this was just teenage irregularity, but it never fixed itself and I just continued to gain weight until I was weighing in at and 240. I lost weight through a starvation diet when I was 17 and just as quickly regained it, finding myself soaring above 250 in my mid-twenties.

  

It was my former sister-in-law who finally figured out what the doctors couldn’t from a magazine article. I had poly-cystic-ovarian-syndrome, more commonly known as PCOS. As I started looking into my family history in my 20’s, I started seeing a pattern of childless aunts as well as grandmas and aunts who had long spaces between babies, implying irregularty or difficulty conceiving for one reason or another. When I looked a little deeper, I saw my symptoms as well- whiskers, weight gain with difficulty losing and diabetic tendencies. (I have never approached these aunts, cousins or grandmas as these topics make people squeamish and, frankly, talking about someone’s infertility is never something I would ask for. My own journey to having children was peppered with infertility heartache -which we obviously persevered through- and I’d never want to revive those feelings for anyone else.)

   
When Bradley and I got together we did the same thing most couples do- we enjoyed life, enjoyed food and gained weight.  By the time I was trying to conceive my first baby, my periods had completely stopped and I had ballooned up to a startling 340 pounds.  I had read online a little about how weight and PCOS would pair up to make pregnancy difficult, but I think anyone would prefer to blame anyone or anything but themselves.  We beat around the bush and paid doctors for years, and never once did anyone ever suggest me to lose weight.  I knew it would help, but the doctor didn’t say I needed to, so I medicated myself until, finally, my gorgeous daughter was conceived and I had a textbook, healthy pregnancy.  Like many heavy women, I lost weight while pregnant and dropped down to 290.  I felt absolutely skinny!  But again, I gained it all back.  Then, two years later, we wanted a second baby.  The medications and tricks we took before weren’t working and I was rapidly approaching the dreaded age when pregnancy shifts from the perfect thing for your body and baby to a risky pregnancy.  

   
One day in January of 2006, we were at the end of our rope.  We were sitting in the doctor’s office reviewing our options for conceiving this baby.  My doctor was wonderful and sensitive, kind to a fault, and he turned to me and said that even losing as little as 5% of my body weight could make a positive difference.  I was chagrined- there it was.  My demon.  The hardest thing.  My scariest opponent- fat.  Believe it or not it was a hard decision to make.  On one hand, I loved my life.  I was happy, loved and fulfilled.  On the other hand, I wanted a second pregnancy, a completed family, a sibling for my daughter.  I had to choose family over fat and it was a terrifying choice, but I did it.  Within a few weeks I had devised a plan to slowly make shifts.  I decided to lean hard on diet soda, sugar free chocolate and Splenda.  I decided to walk every day, and bit by bit I lost a little here and there, and by the time June rolled around I weighed 280 and in July I became pregnant, just as we were on the eve of our final try.  I often say that Jude was the best surprise-planned pregnancy that ever happened!

  
Once again, as soon as my pregnancy ended, I started gaining.  Pregnancy is kind to me- it pumps me full of hormones that otherwise get absorbed in my fat, preventing me from ovulating and the rest of the menstrual cycle that comes with it.  Regular cycles are healthy.  They are a symptom of being healthy, so as they started to go away again, I became alarmed.  I finally made the connection that when I have my period, when I have hormonal health that is symbolized by menstruation, I lose weight, feel better and am healthier.  As I passed 300 and started to climb up to 310, I freaked out.  There was no way I was going to get that big again, so I became determined.  If you know my story, you know I started out slow.  So, very slow.  I was terrified of failure so I only did what I could.  Reasonable to me seemed like losing a pound per month.  I made the rules, so that’s what I did- what felt safe.  I was successful for years until I finally decided to vanquish my fat for once and all and waged a serious campaign against it.  I had the confidence and have been really successful so far in my project.  I’m meeting my goal to get healthy and feel amazing.

  
My barometer through the whole project has been Aunt Flo.  After so many years of having my period be A symbol of the sad, sick and unhealthy state of my body, I almost thrill at having her visit.  I know it sounds cheesy, but my monthly visit is a testament to how far I’ve come with my health.  I was so sick, so heavy, so far off the path that I couldn’t complete my primary directive as a human being which is to procreate.  My body literally shut down, and as soon as I got my health back I also got my period.  While I don’t love any of the inconveniences shark week brings, I glory in what it means!  Aunt Flo is my girl! I joke, now, that had we not chosen to get my tubes tied off during Jude’s birth that I’d probably have six more kids- one for each year since he’s been born!  LOL!  This infertile chick totally flipped that.  

  So those of you who are struggling with weight and infertility, take heart.  If you’re working toward your health, you may very well be working toward your family, too.  I only needed to lose 15 pounds before things got interesting and a year later my son was in my arms.  Those of you who hate shark week, remember that while you may hate it, it means, HEALTH!  :)

Greenlake

 I’m from the greater Seattle area- I live within 20 minutes of downtown Seattle. It should be a given, then, that I regularly run around Greenlake. Everybody runs around Greenlake. It’s what is done if you run at all and ever happen to be in the Seattle area.  It comes standard with the area, right?  But I had a secret until today: I’ve only ever visited Greenlake once. It was in 1996 and I had just purchased rollerblades. I went around one time, fell and decided roller blades were not my thing. It was a lot of work!

{I thought this statue was really cool- it was made from running medals (or castings from medals)!}
Today started out with expectations, my friends.  The Brooks company (the shoe and running gear company) sent out an email advertising an exciting event: there was to be a discount and swag if I went and signed up for my race in the store!  They showed a picture that looked similar to an after running tent-booth-a-Rama, and I’m all interested in samples for figuring out my on-run nutrition options.  I’m a thrifty gal and running gu, bars and gels are not cheap.  It’s worth a little adventure downtown for freebies of this sort, and I had a bit of a secret agenda to run Greenlake.  Anyhow, I arrive at the place and it was three women standing behind a table.  No brouhaha.  No booths.  Just three nice ladies and my family in a store.  So then I tried to sign up for my two marathons and the Brooks race but they didn’t sell it there.  I thought I’d get a discount for signing up for the half marathons in a packages, but I misunderstood and could only sign up for the 15K.  Boohoo, right?  Anyhow, I placated myself with my secret mission to run at Greenlake, which was the next stop…

  If you’ve never been to Greenlake, I think it is what Central Park must be like except on a much smaller scale.  Like, just the lake part that you see in movies, not the rest of it.  There’s a three-mile, paved loop that goes around the lake.  Along the way there’s a playground, a theater, a stadium and a bazillion people walking, pushing strollers, rollerblading, drinking coffee and chatting to break up the monotony of having to look at a gorgeous lake.  It was a lot like running a 5k with all the people we got to dodge around.  It was a gorgeous run with pretty solid times!  Anything under a 12 minute mile makes me smile, under 11 makes me thrilled!  I’m not trying for faster, it’s just happening! My best time in a long time and what a privilege, again, to run with that girl of mine.  

  
I want this as a tshirt.  This little meme got me laughing so many times this week when I needed it…  Sometimes it’s the little things, amiright??

Nutrition was bad this week.  I’d kill it all day and then I’d make dinner followed by cleaning up dinner and nibbling on leftovers which lead to just needing a little something sweet followed by salty then another little sweet and a slug of diet soda…  I’ve been going to bed at night feeling just gross and full of food.  I need to knock it off.  I suppose it only makes sense that my goal for this coming week is to get that back under control.

Mission Report Cards: Accomplished!

Even though it was a crazy report card week, I still managed to get two Zumba workouts and one run in.  Even though it unexpectedly and prematurely turned into shark week, I still managed to meet all of my steps- except day one when I let myself lay low (butmadeitupthenextday).  I didn’t get all of my running miles in yet, but I still have the weekend…  The best news, however, is that I finished my report cards and stuffed them all into envelopes by the time I left on Friday!  I love the feeling of being done with the reports- it’s so freeing!  

  
{This was the Tuesday Zumba crew.  We move the desks, turn up the music and I project shinedancefitness.com to the screen.  I would take a picture of these powerful women every time, because I think it’s worth celebrating and recognizing the accomplishment of hard work and sweat every time, but I hate to be ‘that guy’!}

We decided to change our schedule a little bit for Zumba.  On Wednesday I sat in my classroom, hoping against hope that no one would come to dance.  We had worked out the night before, I was all crampy and really not wanting to dance.  Really I didn’t want to move much at all.  Lol!  The only person who came also needed to take her dog to the vet, so I packed it in by 3:40 and lit on home.  We postponed for Friday and I was lucky enough to host six dancers then! Afterwards I headed to Chuck E. Cheese’s for a school event.  We used to take Gigi there when she was little, but I hadn’t returned in years.  We managed to find the only table free in the joint, next to the basketball hoop game and skeeball.  After an hour of yelling across the table to one another my voice became hoarse and we finally managed to find a place in a quieter corner.  That place is something else!  Ha!  It’s definitely a kid’s place…  I’m glad we went, though.  It was so much fun to see so many of my students at the restaurant.  :)

*I’ve actually learned to love day one of shark week because it’s the one day of the month that I actually let myself off the hook for working out and allow a little bit of comfort snacking.  I know that people say that working out during ‘that time of the month’ can help with cramps, but I also think it’s ok to hunker down and take a day to myself every 28 days or so.  TMI?  Aiyiyi.  LOL!

Saturday 

  
It was a day for circles, again!  I’ve become a pathetically fair weather runner.  Today I felt lazy and going outside seemed miserable for no good reason.  The sun was out, the air was balmy, no rain…  But I didn’t want to.  I wanted to watch Gilmore Girls with Gigi while she and I ran nice and easy circles in our kitchen.  I was planning on running three miles, then I bumped it up to five in order to get my 10,000 steps done in one go, and then Gigi begged for a 10k. We didn’t quite make it to 6.2, we were just a hair under six, for some reason, but I’m going to go ahead and count it.  ­čśë   It was ever so pleasant to run with my girl, too.  Nice and cozy, in our very own home.  

I can’t believe it but I forgot to celebrate the anniversary of starting my body project with the annual Runs For Cookies virtual 5k!  I’ve done it every year and honestly feel sad that I forgot.  It took place on 1/25, but I did secretly run it today in my kitchen, too.  It wasn’t timed, but it was done.  

After our run we headed to the Goodwill.  Originally Gigi and I were planning to run the My Better Half 10k as Daphne and Velma from the Scooby gang, but we were looking for race costumes on Pinterest and she spied Russell and Kevin from the Pixar movie Up.  So, guess what we did?  Shopped for costumes!  While we were there I decided to prove to myself that I’m really a size 12 now.  I grabbed a couple of pairs of size 12 jeans from the rack and, while the jeans didn’t fit me with a flattering cut, they did fit.  I’m kind of in shock that it’s really true.  I keep metaphorically rubbing my eyes in disbelief.

Finally, I hopped on the scale after breakfast, expecting to weigh around 196, and was pleasantly surprised that I weighed 192.6!!!!  I’ve really been working out and applying myself both physically and nutritionally.    I’m eating tons of veggies and whole grains, I’m getting a solid cardio workout around six days a week, I’m hitting my step count of 10,000 or more per day and you’d better believe I’m sleeping hard!  I feel my body changing, stronger.  I feel so stinking good.  I’m excited to feel this momentum building.  I think it means good things are in store for me in 2016.  Perhaps I might finally make my goal weight!

  
“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” …..Mark Twain

Report Card Day

  
Hello.  My name is Tamara and I Zumba in my classroom by myself sometimes.  Mostly it’s on report card writing days.  You see, when I have the marvelous opportunity to assess and report on my students, I find myself getting squirrelier and squirmier by the second!  By the end of the day I’m usually going stir crazy while also feeling overly tired and disinterested in working out or doing anything other than drooling mindlessly in front of the screen at Camp Netflix!  Today I was determined to be a little different.  Instead of just planning on sitting at my desk writing nonstop with brief breaks between 7:30-3:15 like I usually do, I decided to break my day into chunks of activity and socializing.  Not, like, overly much as to be a distraction, but the right amount that would keep my brain active and my feet from bouncing out of my shoes under my desk!  I started out with a morning meeting with a colleague followed by in depth report card writing.  Then I hosted a Zumba class for a half hour with four other dancers before lunch, but some of us continued into the lunch hour and got all hot and sweaty.  After lunch, I got back to report cards, but I punctuated my work with Zumba breaks.  Yep.  I’m a big dork who dances alone and takes selfies of it now.  When I’d finish a section in the report cards, like reading or science or whatever, I’d reward myself with a body break!  I streamed a tutorial video from shined ancestress.com and practiced a few steps for ten minutes and then I’d get back to he reports.  I even picked up a few walking laps around the building as some of the Zumba crew was getting their steps in to break up report card writing as well by taking quick walks.  I finished my grading and number grades today, and while I still have my comments left I had the best report card writing day ever!

  Earlier this week I got home after feeling ridiculously hungry all day.  After dinner I entered my day’s diet into my system and discovered that I had eaten 1400 calories.  I exclaimed this to Bradley with disbelief that I was dealing with a growling stomach and still had eaten a gigantic 1400 calories!  Bradley looked at me, perplexed, and commented that I certainly should be hungry!  It was like a wake up call!  Hello?  1400 calories is low calorie diet mode!  It’s not eating a lot!  I had totally lost perspective of what a normal caloric intake looks like.  Sheesh.  It was a good moment, though.  I don’t need to be so hard on myself.  I lost another pound this week…  Little by little I’m edging toward my 170 pound goal!  

  
I’m not a fan of the look on my face in either of these pictures, but I love seeing the progress!  What a difference a four years and a whole lot of sweat can make!  

Power Poser 

  
Welcome to the most embarrassing set of selfies I’ve ever taken…  And here they are, all for your purview!  I got home after Zumba the other day and had to go all power pose!  I’m just so proud of my Zumba crew and I’m so happy that we are making it work!  We are meeting on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in my classroom to dance.  I came home so excited this week and started snapping away and then kind of forgot how to selfie and it just went bad.  Does that ever happen to you?  Angles get weird and you catch your double chin overly much?  Anyhow…  When I look at these I just feel so happy!!!  Last week I shared the classroom dance floor with one other person, the next day we had a total of three dancers, this most recent Tuesday we had eight dancers and today we had four and so many of them are people I’ve never danced with before!  It’s so exciting to start the music (at shinedancefitness.com for $10 a month!) and let go so soon after the work day.  It’s so fun to dance in such a safe, free and dark environment.  I sweated it today, again, and my arms and legs are so stiff and sore.  There are a couple of intense routines…  

I just keep pinching myself in disbelief that it’s working!  I like hosting because it keeps me accountable.  If it’s in my room then I’m not going to miss the workout unless I’m sick or something.  It also guarantees that I’m invited!   It’s funny to me that people keep thanking me for hosting, but the only reason it’s in my room is because I have a loud speaker system.  And cuz I looooove it!  I really hope that we continue. I really hope we rock it like we did last spring and people continue to show up and support one another. I hope my abs and shape get even more toned and I hope that I remember to take a group shot sometime so I don’t have to post more awful selfies!

 I found these outfits under the hashtag of #zumba on Instagram.  I can’t imagine wearing anything like this to dance Zumba in!  Wow!  You really have to be a tight and dedicated Zumba princess to wear one of these!  And, while I love my Zumba and I love to wear fun exercise clothes, I know that this is just not my kind of outfit.  I think I now have a dream that one day one of my coworkers/Zumba compadres shows up in one of these numbers.  It would make me so happy (though I’m not sure a workout would happen!)

Zumba Madness and the Real 12

  
We worked it out today in the comfort of our very own rumpus room.  Ever since I started dancing Zumba I wanted to get all the Lj’s onboard.  At first that just meant Gigi, but over time I wanted Bradley to experience the wonder that is Zumba as well as Jude.  So, today, we logged into our Shine Dance Fitness account to try out our first family Zumba date!  Half of us loved it, meaning Gigi and I.  We loved it.  The boys were done after 30 minutes ;). Gigi and I were sweating and really digging it up until about the 50 minute mark, after we had a killer lunges and thigh routine, and then we were tuckered.  At that point, we stopped the 60 minute class and just did a few favorite songs like Shake it Off, All About the Bass and Time of Our Lives.  I loved it.  The whole time.  I think Zumba is just so much fun.  I grin like a fool, move a lot, get sweaty and have a great time, but I understand that it’s not for everyone.  ­čśë  Crazy people…

Oh my goodness.  I extra love Shine Dance Fitness- I just found a New Kids on the Block routine!  Remix(I Like the)…  Oh my.  Be still my beating heart…  LOL!  

I guess it should be noted, as well, that I managed to go for a two mile walk afterwards and then ate white bread with buratta cheese and olive oil.  It’s good that I follow up my workout with healthy food choices, wouldn’t you agree?  Oh my.  It just looked soooo good!

Anyhow, this was a great week for working out.

  • Monday I ran 5 miles
  • Tuesday my friend Julie and I tried out the Shine Dance Fitness Zumba at school to see if it might work.  It does.
  • Wednesday we had four dancers for a whole entire hour class of Zumba from Shine Dance Fitness in my classroom.  We danced in the dark and we all loved it!  We decided to dance every week on Tuedays and Wednesday’s.  
  • Thursday I zipped over to a different school in my district where a friend of mine teaches a hula hooping class.  It’s a shockingly good workout!  It’s also where my Daily 5 came from in the collage.  After that I went to my school’s skate night and held hands with kids as we went round and round and round and round…
  • Friday night our kids had a sleepover so we went on a date to the mall where we managed to achieve all of our steps while looking at bedding, food options, clothes, calendars and all kinds of other things that we didn’t need to buy.  ­čśë
  • Saturday was lazy and eventually lead to running a quick 5K around my kitchen island out of necessity while the kids watched a movie.  Bradley and his split, big toe joined me for the final mile.  Started my health journal (as seen below).

 
On Friday one of my colleagues gave me a compliment telling me that I look really good, lately.  She asked if I’m losing weight, to which I answered, “Eh.”  I think I grunted something else out, too, but I didn’t know how to respond!  On 1/1. I weighed in at 199-200.  A week later I dropped down to 194.  Two days later I weighed 199.  Then 200.  Then 201!  I was working out like a madwoman, being mindful of my nutrition and I was making smart choices!  To gain weight was insulting!  I had to cinch in my belt in another notch and successfully tried on a size 12 pair of jeans (OMGoodness- size 12 pants fit me?!?!?), but still was weighing in around 198-200.  Talk about annoying.  But, even if the scale is being a big, giant party pooper, at least I’m a size 12 now!  Today I weighed 195, so hopefully that’s a good sign…

We went to Ross after we’d, perhaps, had a little bit of the rare, fancy, adult-variety beverage on our mommy- daddy date night and decided to wander so we could drive home safely (one beer- we weren’t wasted or liquored up, mostly just wanted a shopping excuse).  Wandering around aimlessly turned into a passion, nay, need to find some new jeans, so we each went off in our separate try-on rooms with our arms loaded with jeans.  I chose mostly size 14’s and one size 12 that didn’t come in a 14, so I just decided to give it a go…  The 14’s I tried on were actually sloppy on me.  Not huge, by any means, but not fitted.  I slid into the 12’s like they were made for me.  I was shocked.  I remember when I went from a 14 to a 12 when I was 17 years old, too.  I was shopping for my prom dress and the 14 just fit a little odd.  The sales lady suggested a 12, to which my mom and I may have actually laughed, the idea was so far fetched.  But again, When I tried it on, it slid on like it was made for me.  I still have it in my closet…  Perhaps I need to try!  ­čśë

  
 Oh my goodness!!!  Lol!  I did it!  Does it fit?  NO!  But can I shimmy into it and hold it pretty much closed?  Yep!  But it is a bit tight in the front.  Clearly I didn’t have all the belly flop when I was 17.  Now I accomplished a rare feat of having so much of said belly flop that a camel toe that is visible through my dress.  But seriously!  I’ll chalk this up to a victory!  I never thought I’d be even close to wearing that dress again!  Wow.  Through the course of writing this I discovered something pretty awesome!  I’m a bigger-sized size 12 now and can almost, kind of fit back into the dress I wore when I felt the very best, ever in my life!  Woot!

    MLK

      
    Today I wanted to be selfish and go for a looooong run.  Not a longer five or six mile run which is my somewhat normal long run distance, I wanted an eight or greater.  I think I wanted the sense of accomplishment because, Ta-DA!  I woke up with depression again today!  Wheeeee!  Are you sick of reading about depressed Tamara?  Because I’m sure sick of being her.  Holy cannoli.  Today it hit and I was like are you serious?  Again?!?  I just got outside of this!  That’s the stupid thing, though, is that depression just doesn’t care that you recently beat it away.  It comes right back for no reason.  So I geared up to face it, to fight it, again, because what else is there to do?  I ate healthy food, I loved on my people, I shared my emotional state with my people, I walked my dog and my family and then I just let myself go.  Or at least tried to.  I get to five or six miles and I start to feel selfish.  I feel like I have another three miles in me but I start to worry that my family needs me for one thing or another, that I’ll get behind in my tasks for the day…  I come up with lots of reasons.  Today, somehow I knew that once I got to my house I’d be done, so I did my best to turn up bunches of cul-de-sacs, to explore new roads I’d not turned up before and wove back and forth along the roads as I made my way home.  The best part of my run was the healing that took place.  I recently got a new-to-me Pitbull album and this was my first time I got to listen to it.  I reveled in the opportunity to do something as simple as listen to an album from beginning to end and over again, returning to favorite tracks as I wanted…  It was luxurious.  It’s that luxurious feeling that turns to guilt that makes me turn home sooner than I should.  I think I need to make it a goal that next weekend I take a long run.  Not necessarily just for training purposes, but also for the healing that happens when I give myself the therapy of nothing, meditating, listening to music time.  I came home a different person than I left it.  Running around my neighborhood clears my mind and freshens my heart; the world often looks different after a good run.  Today I outran my depression and it didn’t walk back through the door with me.  That felt pretty spanking good.  :)

      

    Tummy Tales

     When I started this whole weightloss-get-healthy thing, one of the primary motives for me was the prospect of a tummy tuck.  I was such a defeatist during prior attempts that the thought of losing a bunch of weight only to lug around 20 pounds of loose skin, aka a 20 pound scar, for the rest of my life, then why bother losing weight at all?  I’d still look chunky.  I wanted to be healthy, yes, but I wanted to project the image of a healthy, capable body, too, and that meant tone, not a bunch of wobbly skin hanging around my middle.  When I decided to get the surgery and Bradley agreed that surgery would be a good way to spend some of our money, I jumped with both feet into this project!  

    I quickly discovered the joy that is compression camisoles on my way down the scale.  Some people call them shapewear or girdles, I prefer to call them compression wear.  I call them that because I don’t use them for looks, I also use them to keep all of my extra flesh in control and benefit in the looks department.  Think of what boobies do when they are left to their own devices during a workout, then think of a boob the size a watermelon and you’ll have an idea of what I deal with during a workout!  If weight loss breasts are grapefruits in the end of socks, then my stomach is a cantaloupe in a hammock!  On a run, it goes everywhere and nothing is left sacred as it flies up, exposing the expanses of stretch marks and my sports bra above my waist, then sagging way down, highlighting its flexibility and length as it flashes pale and white below my waistband.  Sexy.  On top of that, I get nauseous from all of the tugging and bouncing as it jostles my actual stomach, so I have to control it for more than just vanity purposes in tight, corset-like clothing.  For running.  And working out.  In the summer it sucks big time, adding a layer of rubber and polyester to seal my bouncing self inside of my clothing on a nice, warm, humid 85 degree PNW day.  In winter, however, it’s great and helps keep me warm!  :) 

    Flash forward to today…  I very rarely go without a compression tank.  As I said, my stomach skin goes everywhere and hangs out of everything, so a few years ago I simply adopted them as daily wear.  I don’t wear them with pajamas, but that’s pretty much it.  Today, however, I just didn’t want to.  We decided to do a family workout in the spaceship (garage/gym) when I was getting ready to run on the treadmill.  I happened to walk past the mirror and did a double take.  You know how I’ve said a bajillion times that I don’t see myself.  I really have no idea how attractive or unattractive I am, how skinny, fat, muscular, flaccid I am.  Most likely it’s because I want to see progress so bad that I caution myself to be overly careful at what I will allow myself to see, as I have to see myself honestly, and, anymore, that’s pretty mixed-up because I think I look okay but I also think I should lose a little more weight to be capital H-Healthy which makes me see flaws and fatty spots and there I go again…  And most people will tell me I look amazing, which even I’ll admit is true because  just by virtue of having lost 150 pounds I look way healthier, so thank you, don’t try to convince me, it’s just my weird, altered version of reality…  :)

      
    {Please forgive the smug, weird look on my face.  I wasn’t paying any attention to it when I took the picture and ended up with derpy pose pics of the day for you.  And that window does nothing for the lighting!  Sorry!  LOL!}

    So anyway, I was walking toward the mirror and was surprised to notice that I couldn’t even really see a belly roll through my shirt.  I could see the top of my pants, where they made an indent and stopped, but not a big, round two-liter burbling over the top.  My shirt just dropped, pretty much, straight down.  Granted, my pants are higher waisted, but I wasn’t wearing any compression gear because I just didn’t want to wear it today.  I looked at the camisole and it had the rare appearance of a torture device to me; I just couldn’t put it on, so I was acutely aware of its absence when I turned past the mirror.  It was nice to see that this thing I’ve invested so much time, worry and potential money in just kind of became a non-problem all on its own.  That doesn’t mean that I’m skipping surgery or anything or shelving the idea, but I’m pleased that, given time, my body seems to be taking care of itself better than I expected.  :)

     
    After I got an eyeful of my non-bumpy belly I started stretching out for my treadmill run, and all of the sudden I realized I could share my routine with the world!  LOL!  Seriously, though, these are the five I routinely run through twice or three times before any run or exercise routine.  If I skip the stretch, I pay the price in tight joints and muscles so tense that they feel like they’re going to snap.  I have one other one I do on the floor that opens up my hips a bit.  I’ll do that one soon to share it, as well.  I am not as good at stretching after a workout but I’m getting better at it.  Post workout stretching helps with soreness tremendously! 

    Beginning 

    Remember back when I started running?
    Yeah.
    Remember when you had all this wisdom for me?  You’d be all like ‘yeah it was that way for me when I first started’ and I’d get all annoyed at you?  
    Yeah.
    And then you’d offer me advice on how to make my run easier?  I’d think that you totally didn’t get it.  That you were in shape already, or close to it when yo started running, and there was no possible way you could understand what it was like for me, at 250 pounds, to be a runner.
    Yeah, I remember that.  You didn’t say it, but I felt it.
    Well, I get it now.  It was just difficult to listen and believe that you really knew where I started.  Thank you for your patience.

    That’s an imaginary conversation that I had with Bradley a few minutes ago. I don’t need to have it in reality, but it was nice to reflect, a little and realize what difference has transpired in the last few years. I know that I am constantly looking at the before and after contrast of my life, but today I went on a run with Gigi that really made me consider what I was like when I first became a runner because that’s kind of where she is at. The compare and contrasting behavior serves to remind me of who I am now (a strong, capable, healthy person) versus who I was then (a weak, insecure, sick person) and helps me to continue to make wise choices that keep me on track.

      

    Guinevere is blowing my mind, lately.  Her New Years Resolution was to run more often.  Her goal was to run once a week, and she asked to sign up for a few races this year in order to keep training at the forefront of her mind.  Kids say stuff like that but the follow through is not always there.  I expected the same kinds of behaviors as previous years: a commitment to run followed by a series of offers to run met with guilt ridden excuses as to why she couldn’t.  Why would this year be different?  But with the age of 12 also seemed to come a new sense of independent responsibility, kindness and aspiration.  She clearly sees herself on the precipice of adulthood, is making plans about the kind of adult she wants to be, and the kind of adult she has decided to be is a healthy one who can get around like a bada$$!  Today she ran six miles.  Six miles!  I never ran more than a mile until I was 38, and even then, it was one, tortured mile in ninth grade.  She’s out tearing it up!  But what I am really loving about watching her begin to train in earnest is seeing, now through experienced eyes, the life of a beginning runner!  Here are some of my observations of her running today that were also true for me when I just began:

    • Distance is intimidating and impressive.  Running a distance that you’ve never run before is alluring and terrifying.  You want the bragging rights of mileage but you’re pretty sure you’ll fail, so you don’t get past a certain distance without a push.  Gigi wanted to run a 10k in the worst way today.  She wanted the sense of accomplishment, but also worried that she wouldn’t be able to make it back.  I just assured her that we could walk or call Daddy at anytime to pick us up if we needed.  We made it back just fine.  Of course.
    • Running far is hard.  I’ve often said I can run forever if I just run slow enough.  To some degree, after the half marathon, I can say with some level of confidence that it’s a little true.  But after 13 miles I was so worn out that I couldn’t imagine going further.  Gigi has no problem running a mile or two, but she hadn’t pushed herself past 3 miles until today.  Like me, she assumed that her legs would carry her with confidence for all six miles, and she even encouraged me to make the run longer.  Well, we live on a hill and by the fourth mile she was done and irritable but still wanting to make 6.2 miles.  By five miles she asked to go straight home with no more side streets to add mileage.  Whatever we had completed at this point was plenty to her!  She learned that endurance is built step by step and being able to run a specific distance doesn’t necessarily mean you can double that mileage easily.  Training is authentically important. 
    • What is a snot rocket?  Mommy blows snot rockets.  Today I cleared each side three or four times.  It’s when you hold one side of your nose down and blow all the contents out over your shoulder into the grass or bushes, preferably when you’re as alone as possible.  Running in the moist PNW air means that the humidity breaks down everything in your sinuses and it all comes rolling out during a time when you generally don’t have tissue boxes nearby.  I’ve used hankies, sleeves, wrist bands and more, but nothing cleans me out like rocket power.  Today I taught Guinevere this disgusting skill.  And modeled it.  Lucky kid.  She didn’t foresee a use for the skill, but I know.  When you run farther than three miles, the rocket can be your best friend.  
    • Why don’t we run in the deep grass on rainy days?  The deep grass is often where the muddiest and nastiest water is.  Especially if it borders a puddle.  She learned this lesson almost exactly at 3.0 miles, halfway, today.
    • Don’t talk to me anymore.  I’m tired.  During the last 1/4 mile Bradley used to ask me about dinner.  What should we have?  White rice or brown?  What do I think of this or that or anything?  I would get so annoyed as I was pulling up the last of my reserves to make that last bit of mileage.  By then, my lungs were burning, my heart was racing, my legs exhausted and my body was stressed!  Not the time to think.  I find that near the end of an arduous workout that I can’t do math easily.  My conversation comes out in odd fragments with the wrong words.  I’m literally exhausted, worn out and ready for a break.  I can’t think!  Gigi was the same today.  I was chattering on, giving advice, sharing stories, asking questions and , in general, trying to keep her entertained when I saw an expression of absolute irritation on her face.  I suddenly realized that I was doing that same thing to her that Bradley used to do to me!  I immediately shut my pie hole and let her just RUN without my yammering!!!
    • Unknown paths can be unnerving.  Near the end of the run she started freaking out about when we were getting home.  The adventure of the run was fun until she was worn out.  When I first started running I would go around and around the same loop, over and over.  I didn’t want adventure, I wanted security and predictability, and my little mile loop was predictable, close to home and therefore super safe.  She started panicking about when the run would end at around four miles, then we turned the corner into our immediate neighborhood and it was alllll good.  She smiled and finished the six miles strong.
    • Races and events matter and motivate regular training.  When I really pressed her about why she is dedicated to running, she cited the races that are scheduled and promised.  She’s running the Better Half 10K, the Autism Awareness 5K, the Bubble Run 5K, and as soon as registration opens, were signing up for the Beat the Blerch half marathon.  She doesn’t just want to finish, she wants to compete and compete well.  That’s why she’s running.  I find that I’m extra motivated to stay in condition, too.  Having public opportunities to fail (and I use that term loosely as I see no shame in walking if I need to) really help me to stay focused.
    • Running is boring.  Music helps.  Eating gels mid-run is mind-blowingly interesting (seriously, give it a try!).  Having a friend to chat with is the best.

      I saw this today and felt like, yup.  No excuses, Lj.  Run or something.  Oh my…  LOL: