Back to Life

Today started out unlike most days: I woke up and wanted to run!  And not just ‘wanted to want to’ or ‘want to but can’t’, I wanted to run and could!  No barriers!  So by 8:00 this morning, Bradley and I hit the streets for an easy walk-run that turned into a just run.  You see, it’s been a while.  I let myself completely let go of my fitness in light of this wild ride called teaching that I’m on this year!  It been well-documented that I’m pretty drained, so to feel this good and this whole is such a blessing!  I fault the sunshine, largely.  Boy, I have missed her!  It’s been so nice to feel the healing rays, to squint into the blue sky, to earn an accidental sunburn on my milky skin after having it covered for six months.  It’s been one heck of a sunless winter, and saying goodbye to that old man puts me back in the mood to go outside and run with my hubs and pupper through some pink petals!

A really nice byproduct of taking time off has been a pretty close to perfect heal on my body.  My hips and knees have been hurting from the start of my running career.  When I started running I was a slow, heavy 250 and hadn’t done much of anything in a long time.  I have to imagine I went through a level of joint shock and bruising as they strengthened up and acclimated to being more active.  Taking the past six months so easy, and especially the last two months, has meant that I’m fully healed.  I feel amazing!  Today on my run, nothing hurt.  After wards, now, I’m not sore at all in my joints.  I feel so happy and great!

Lots of good things to think about:

  • Dietbet is going so well!  It’s not too late to join!  I’m about halfway to my goal already, but now is when the real work starts.  It’s funny how much it is keeping me on the straight and narrow at just the right time.
  • I got the mural going that is a legacy panel from my class to our school.  It is turning out beautifully!
  • It was teacher appreciation week and one of my kiddos kept making sure I knew he was thinking of me every day.  The kicker was when he made the chocolate bar superheroes in the likeness of Bradley and me, but also my intern and her husband!  I felt the love and it was so nice! ❤️
  • My intern is doing an amazing job.  It’s wonderful when you see someone you believe in display even more incredible virtues and skills than you even expected.  Just wow.
  • There are 37 more days of school.
  • I’m off of diet soda!  I read an article that directly linked it to strokes and dementia…  that was all I needed to hear so Bradley and I dropped it like a hot potato!  I have a crutch I use infrequently of carbonated water with a splash of real sugar Pepsi in it.  It doesn’t taste good enough to build a habit, doesn’t have enough calories to kids my diet but it fulfills the craving for a Diet Coke when I want one!
  • The garden got planted last weekend and with this crazy week of storm, thunder, lightening, pouring rain and mixed in with the beautiful, sunny, warm and lovely summery weather and I already have things bursting from the soil!  Love it!
  • My husband.  Sheesh.  I know I’m lucky, but sometimes…  boof- right in the heart.

Blasting Off

I needed DietBet!  Holy cow, people!!  It’s like, all of the sudden, paying 25 bucks makes me accountable and committed to myself and my nutrition like a boss.  Somehow it’s not hard right now.  Well, that’s not all true, but you expect it to some degree.  I suppose a lot of my success this week is owed to the fact that I spent last week prepping for this week by building better habits.  I finally signed up for Habitica.  It’s an app or online site that allows one to make todo lists, daily things one must do and habit building tasks to help build a better you:

As I check off tasks, I earn points.  What for?  Well.  I’m a ‘healer’ in a tribe with my family and I get to buy clothes and stuff for my avatar.  Ridiculous?  Yep.  Effective?  Ridiculously so!!  I find myself watching the clock every night, making sure that I can check my boxes for ‘don’t eat after 8:00’ and so on.  By doing that for one week, I accidentally lost a pound and built habits that propelled me to better success this week.  That said, I was pretty hungry on Monday night after reintroducing a diet rich in raw and plant based nutrients.  That night I was bit by the sugar bug, bad, but I made it through the night and have been pretty solid ever since.  The best part?

I went from 211 on April 29th to 207 today!!!  I am loving this trend!

A Return to Diet Bet

I found myself curling further and further into myself.  I tell you what, this year has really taken some of my sauce: my sass sauce, my awesome sauce and my energy sauce!  Sheesh!  I find myself in a constant state of recalibration, trying to ‘adjust my dial’ to keep moving forward on my personal health projects.  Last weekend I gave up and gave in.  I decided that I just don’t have time for this, at all, and my psychological balance is so brittle and fragile right now that pushing myself and relying on determination to drive me forward is making me a nervous, anxious, panic ridden mess.  I started failing in the sleeping department, and prior experience tells me that when sleep goes, I’m at the end of my rope: I’m over-stressed.

All week long I sat with that idea: just let it go.  Pick it back up in July, after this crazy school year, after the last day, when I’ll have time to run and weigh food and sleep without the structures of work.  

^Thursday, the day of reckoning.  Not pregnant.  Just filled with jelly beans and deviled eggs.

And then.  On Thursday.  I got dressed and my stomach stuck out farther than it has in a really long time.  Nothing I put on would disguise it, so I owned it.  I made a Facebook post asking anyone and everyone to join in with me on a diet bet!  I realized that I really don’t want my muffin top this summer.  As much as this is all about health, I also want the hard work I do to be reflected in my appearance!  Especially when all the layers come off!   I’ve worked too hard to let this all go because I have the most challenging year of teaching in my career, so far!  I needed to take control, but I needed help.  I needed transparency and I needed to externalize my motivation.  I am lucky because I received over 50 responses on my Facebook post from friends and family who want to jump in with me.  Wow, right?!  It got me a little jazzed, I must confess.

Knowledge is power, right?  Sometimes I hate to admit that, but it’s true.  Denial is easier, sometimes.  🙃 Once I know how much I weigh, I’m much better about keeping things in check.  On Friday I braved the scale.  Fully dressed, I weighed 213.  Undressed I was 209.  While I’m not thrilled to be back at 209 for the bazillionth time, I was sincerely thinking I had blossomed on up to the 220’s, so 209 was a relief.  It just makes things feel that much more accessible and achievable.

Today I created my first ever diet bet and invited anyone who wants to join a place at the table.  It will start on May 1st and will last for four weeks.  As soon as I created it, I got all kinds of excited to get rolling. When two people joined in right away, raising the pot to $75 in the first few minutes, I really got motivated!  If you want to play along, flow the link:

Tamara Shazam’s Spring Diet Bet

Gently Stepping into Spring

Breaks are a time of reflection and regrouping for me.  As a public school teacher, breaks are worked into my year at the behest of the district, not my preferences, so I am often in the position of having all the time in a day and nowhere to go.  It’s obviously a nice issue to deal with as my vacations are rarely impacted with flight schedules and missed connections, plus, I have time to heal.  It sounds odd to talk about restoring myself so intentionally after a few months with kids, and usually it is something I need to deal with, but this year is a horse of a different color and, boy howdy, do I ever need my weeks or days off.  While children invigorate me with their energy, their neediness and self centeredness often leave my bucket empty.  Add to that bonafide challenges children face outside of school that impact behaviors inside the classroom and I am leaving school and immediately flopping onto my bed, shoes and all for 20 minutes, before I can even consider doing anything here.  

Working out has become so hard, as I’ve said a few times this year.  Keeping my nutrition in check is a joke.  My knees have been bad, my hip has been throbbing and all of the sudden I’m feeling sick in that way that doesn’t feel like sickness but more like a biproduct of living an unhealthy lifestyle lacking proper nutrition and exercise.  I have to do this, just like in the beginning, no matter what.  When I started reflecting on this, I got mad at myself.  Disappointed that I’m failing and I started bullying myself to get off my tail and start doing it!  I realized that I tried that in February, though.  I succeeded with small goals in January, lost ten pounds, trained well, then upped the ante in February.  I missed the goals the first week, felt like a failure then hid out from myself for a few weeks.  It’s not always a choice.  It’s not always about my effort or determination.  Sometimes life is insane to the point that you have to dial things back or fail in a bigger way, mentally, and getting my head back in the game after too much anxiety is way harder than getting back on the weight loss wagon for me.  I need to grant myself some grace and gentleness.

I really hate feeling out of shape now and I miss feeling like a superstud, so I decided to look at my dial again.  Clearly, my dial is still turned up too intensely.  I can’t keep up with the simple plans I’ve had, that signals a need to dial it back and simplify, asking what CAN I do when I return to school tomorrow.  In other words, what can I promise myself that I will do?  What is so easy that if I fail I will feel foolish and know that I just didn’t put enough effort in?  I came up with this list:

  1. Track my food in myPlate to learn more about my actual intake, then post it here on tamarashazam.  Make adjustments as I notice things, but don’t worry overly much about it.
  2. Keep it in my head that I’m suggesting going to go for a walk every day. I will keep in mind that I can say no if I want or need to.
  3. A short run on a sunny day is fun. Maybe give that a try one day this week.
  4. Run at least once on the weekend.
  5. Magic Wish Goals

  6. Lose 20 pounds by the end of the school year.  I’m hovering right around 205 and my summer clothes look soooooo much better sans muffin top and weighing around 195.  The Neil Diamond and NKOTB concerts will be much more fun with less to shake!  LOL!!
  7. Run 3 days a week and be in condition for 10-15k runs by school’s last day.
  8. Lift 3 days a week.
  9. They’re magic wishes because I’m not going to put pressure on myself to achieve them right now, but it’s good to keep them in mind.

So, this is my week as I get back into the swing of teaching.  There’s something like 55 days of teaching ahead of me.  I’m coming into the home stretch and am excited to rebuild my spirit and body this summer.  If I can start moving forward on my project, great.  If not, it’s a good thing I have July and most of August off to get going!

Super Selfie

Today when I went out running I had to bring an extra phone to capture the moment on a camera since my iPhone camera is currently having issues and won’t work.  I felt a little ridiculous at how important is felt to document this run!  I’m embarrassed by the selfie movement and how it turns the focus onto the self, so much, when we really need to be turning our focus on building community, compassion, relationships and empathy.  In my humble opinion, that is.  

Midrun I started really considering this: when I was first considering getting healthy through a nutrition and activity shift, the whole thing was overwhelmingly complex.  Only people with superpowers could do that shit, and that was not me!*  I decided if I were going to take this on that I would have to forgo shame, embarrassment and modesty.  Success was going to have to be public.  Transparent.  Visual.   So was failure.  I was going to have to prove to everyone that I could do this ‘get healthy’ thing while I also convinced myself that I could do it, because I honestly felt that I couldn’t.  I was destined to be bigger for life.  It was in my genetics and , frankly, on my body.  I needed to be able to look back at my story to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream.  

Furthermore, we take pictures to capture moments in life.  Moments of happiness.  Moments of fun, friendship and pride.  We take pictures of the moments we would like to have last beyond that moment.  During a run, I feel invincible.  I’m doing this thing that requires grit, dedication, endurance and hard work.  I feel like a superhero!  The same can be said after I finish most runs!  I’m glowing with self respect and unabashed admiration of myself.  I feel strong and beautiful.  I feel healthy.  I look like a hot mess, but I’ve come to realize what strength and beauty look like on me, and right after a run is when I feel and see that most.  Of course I want to capture that!  I don’t feel like that most of the time!

Today was a success.  We ran just a little shorty, but it was enough to feel out my knees and know I’m going to be alright.  My knees don’t hurt, my hips feel normal and any real pain or swelling I was feeling seems to have gone away.  I may have caught a problem, stretched and healed it before it became a real issue.  Phew.  Deeper explorations didn’t turn anything up so I’m just going to train, listen to my body,move forward, be cautious with my training and return to my Dr. if anything else comes up.  She did mention that I’m 43, after all.  Who cares?  I’m itching to be in good condition again.  

Both taken in the same few seconds.  I find it interesting how my body mass shifts to give the impression of being heavier or lighter depending on if I’m in the jump or land of a run.

*I’m the kind of girl who loves a well placed swear word and this is the first time I’ve used one here because that is how difficult the concept of exercise and diet were to me.  Insurmountable.

George Michael

On Sunday I mooned about the house, watching various George Michael interviews, listening to his music.  I’ve said before that I’m blessedly ignorant of authentic, deep loss.  I’ve lost pets but I’ve been lucky enough to go through life with those humans who are closest to me enduring and thriving in life.  2016 was somewhat notorious for lobbing so many barbells at so many people.  For the most part, the Lj’s dodged the tough stuff until the end of 2016 when school started again, Trump won the election, then the world seemed to go crazy on its ear with violence and nonsense.  And, to add to the craziness, we lost people who mean everything and nothing to the world.  Carrie Fisher was a big deal.  Prince.  Bowie.  Cohen.  But then George Michael.  Oh my goodness.  George Michael.  He’s what finally made me sink.
Wham: Make it Big was my first album, like, ever.  I loved that Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go song.  I bought the record at the Pay-n-Save in north Everett along with Whitney Houston’s first, big album.  I felt so grown up.  I memorized the album, loved it, danced around to it in my room a lot, but didn’t think too terribly much of it, even when my friend Tricia got on the bus one day after school, bemoaning the tragedy of Wham’s breakup and whatever was Andrew Ridgeley to do now?  

George knew.  He recorded Faith.  I bought the cassette at the Payless in the Marysville Mall, and afterwards studied it at the nearby Dairy Queen.  It was soon after stores started putting cassette tapes into these huge plastic cases to make stealing the music a challenge and the cashier didn’t remove the case so it looked like I stole it.  I think.  Because a cop, eating his food in the next booth, came up and started questioning me about my tape, accusing me of stealing it, telling me he knew I was a thief, threatening to take me back to the store to return the stolen property and call my parents.  I was horrified.  I produced the receipt but even then he continued called me a liar.  I felt dirty and persecuted.  Misunderstood.  But more than anything it made me really curious about this music and more determined than ever to give it a listen.

A kid named Ricky lost his copy, once, in 8th grade during our choir trip to Leavenworth and tried to convince me that mine was his, loaned to Steve by him and from Steve to me, but no way.  I fought a cop for my copy.  I stood up to a cop.  This was MINE!  It was sacred by then and by that time it was too late: I was in love that voice.  Ricky was going to have to buy a new copy because mine wasn’t going anywhere.

If Faith was when I fell in love with George, Waiting for Time made my love for George eternal.  I received it in my stocking, Christmas of 1990.  There’s this crystalline moment, right after Christmas, during my senior year, where that album played in my ears and became a permanent part of my life soundtrack.  We were cross country skiing through the Wenatchee Forest with snow falling thickly, piling up on my hat, hushing the entire world around me.  It was holy in and of itself, but then Something to Save came on in my ears and it remains one of the most pure, joyful moments in nature I’ve ever experienced.  Every time I pop my earbuds in and go for a hike or jog, I’m chasing that moment.  

I never turned on George like I did the New Kids.  Weeks before I left for Europe for a several month journey abroad, I bought the newest album, Older, and brought it along.  I also had other, cooler music and I really debated on whether or not I should bring George along.  However, on the night in Paris when my boyfriend broke up with me, I didn’t turn to the Pixies or James or Red Hot Chili Peppers or even the Indigo Girls for comfort.  I wanted George.  I sat on the balcony of our little hostel room, overlooking the lights of Paris, with George Michael in my ears, nursing a broken heart and a bottle of wine with his help.  

When I was pregnant, I convinced Bradley that George was amazing.  We drove around for nine months in our 1979, buttermilk colored Volvo station wagon listening to his greatest hits album, his cover album,Older, Patience,  to his older stuff.  When I was in labor with Guinevere, my favorite, most serene, most memorable moment is holding Bradley’s hand, breathing through a contraction and hearing I Can’t Make You Love Me in the background.  Beautiful.  

And scandal schmandal.  I could give a fig about his public-private life and when it happened it just released him to finally be who he really was.  That is what life is for.  I was glad for him.
I never loved George like ‘that’.  I never wanted him for my own.   He was never my crush, but damn if I didn’t love him.  Losing George has been hard in a surprising way.  It catches me off guard and suddenly there I am, crying over a man who I didn’t know at all but somehow knew very well.  He was there reliably for many important moments in my life.  The world was lucky to have him.  I sure miss him.

I wrote this shortly after George’s passing, but today, as he was laid to rest, it seemed appropriate for me to finally say goodbye, too.❤

Tamara SHA-zam!

I have just loved dedicating my spare life minutes to myself over the past few years.  Duh, right?  But seriously.   Any stress I felt feels like it was centered around my drive to eat better or hit my workouts more cleanly.  To go faster or farther.  That is fun stress to have!  (I’m certain it wasn’t the only stress…  lol). It’s productive and when I get home after a good workout- I feel alive and full of beautiful, clean energy!  I love it.  Then hitting the kitchen afterwards for a terribly delicious, run-hunger driven meal.  And if runger isn’t the best seasoning I don’t know what is.

I miss knowing I can run for a really long time.  Right now I know I can run about 3-6 miles if I need to, but my training distance is around three miles and  my push is around five.  My knees are bruised purple and swollen, lately.  I’m a little worried that crawling around on my knees over the past two weeks at school on kid projects caused some serious damage.  On Friday they were purple with little tennis balls puffed up over the top of each one.  I rested them up a lot over the weekend with ice, heat and rest, and they look and feel much better, but I’m concerned that maybe  I have real damage now.  My hip hurts, my shoulder hurts and my knees hurt.  Are longer distances still in my future?  I think it’s finally time to ask hard questions of my doctor.

I want to run right now.  I want to hike.  Spring has sprung and I want to run like a jackrabbit along with it right up the mountainside.  I’m cautious about working out over spring break, but hopeful that I can make something happen that will help me to remember myself and start moving forward, back to my fit, active self, once again.

Hot Chocolate 15k 

Man-oh-man!  When I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k I kind of thought that I should push for the farther distance because I could always walk if I had to.  Boy, am I glad I gave myself that leeway!  I have not trained as much as I have in past years this year.  I don’t run during the week, I exercise very little except on the weekend and I am just not in the shape I was last year.  So I walked.  I walked more than I have at any race and I was totally okay with that.  I decided that of the nine miles that make up the race, I think I walked about a mile of it.  That mostly came at the end when my thighs started cramping and my hips were screaming for me to be done already.  Turns out that even walking that distance without enough training hurts, too.  Nevertheless, I persisted and LOVED IT.

Last year, while I was very critical of some aspects of this race, after a year of races I realized how well organized, how well staffed and how beauful this race is.  Once again, I ran through the streets of Seattle, past Pike Place Market, across the Aurora Bridge and almost to Woodland Park Zoo.  This year I did three things different to make it better:

  1. I decided to pony up the extra cash to have the swag bag and bibs mailed to us.  It wasn’t cheap, but by the time I added up Seattle parking and gas money, it was a pretty even trade (14.99 shipping each).  Plus I didn’t have to manufacture a family event around going to Seattle to pick the silly things up or waste the whole weekend driving back and forth to Seattle for this race.  I heartily suggest anyone get the delivery to dial back the stress.
  2. Last year my jacket was too big so I hated on the race for that.  Silly, huh?  This year I ordered a smaller jacket and I loooove it.  They have the best running swag from almost any race (My Better Half and the Iron Horse shirts are a close second).
  3. I brought a friend: Gigi!  After the race it was so nice to see my girl at the finish line.  Then we collected our chocolate cups, our medals, our water and pictures together.  After that?  We regaled our glory tales about the race to one another while we slurped down our hot cocoa and noshed the banana, together.  And climbed the parking garage stairs together….  well.  Not really.  I was way slower than her!

The best moment came when we were driving home, though.  Like last year, I made sure to head home via the very bridge we just ran over.  There’s something powerful about taking the bridge by foot and then seeing it through the windows of your car that is absolutely delicious.  As we crossed she turned to me and said that she loves running.  She said that there’s something powerful and deep that happens when you run that makes you own a place differently.  She said she felt more connected, somehow.  She owns our city, now.  Like I own it.  As she said this to me I felt tears rush into my eyes: she knows.  She’s in the club.  This is her city and my city, now, and we will be running that race again, next year.

Shhhhhh…  for the next couple of weeks it’s ridonkulously cheap to sign up.  Never to early to plan your fitness and health!

A return to Zumba and Variety

It’s been eye-twitchingly overwhelming lately. Literal eye twitch happening as I write this. Life. I haven’t been taking care of myself in the way that I have over the past few years this year. I mostly attribute that to my job right now. I’ve alluded and implied that I have a particularly heavy caseload of students this year and it’s finally gotten to me to the point that it’s pretty much all I have the energy to do: work-mom-wife. Running is something I get to do on the weekends but because it’s only once a week it feels weird. I worry that I’ll injure myself if I push too hard without the consistent training, everything has been dialed back. I’m not eating clean or even close.

Last night two things happened: my son had a birthday party laden with sugar and my bag of summer clothes arrived from Old Navy.  This morning I woke up bloated from a salt and sugar binge, tried on my new clothes and declared that it’s time. I worked too hard to let my belly start poking out again.  Furthermore, I feel kind of sickly and gross.  Unhealthy.  Gigi mentioned that she’d like to work on a six pack for summer and Bradley has built a bigger circumference than he likes.  We all want to tune up for summer and it feels so good to have a team.  I’ve been approaching my project from my own perspective and no one else’s for a long time now.  It’s been my schedule, my exercise, my food choices that heave lead our family’s health for a while.  It’s nice to have the input of others for a change.

Gigi asked if we could do a workout video today and it actually sounded like a lot of fun.  I was thinking a Pilates video or Jillian michales kind of thing, but once we started looking around, we realized what we really wanted was Zumba!  She told me that she loved dancing with me last year and wishes we still did that.  I’ve been so focused on running that I totally forgot Zumba.  It’s not always the best for certain injuries I have, but today I realized how flexible and limber I was when I was doing Zumba.  Throughut the duration of our workout, I felt uncoordinated and have forgotten how to flow as a dancer.   I also remembered how much FUN I have doing Zumba and realized how much I miss it.  
Then I realized how much diversity in fitness is a bit necessary for me.  I need variety: running, hiking, lifting, dancing and any other thing that seems interesting.  This awful, wet, Washington weather is keeping me inside and making me cranky.  I don’t mind rain but all the slick mud is too much for me, so remembering Zumba is such a gift!  I can do quick videos!  I don’t always have to go for a full tilt run.  Variety!

The following is most of the workout Gigi and I did today.  We did a few more songs than this, but we didn’t love the routines so I left them off.  But these?  Have fun!