September 5, 2017

The Pursuit of Happiness

(...continued from my previous post, Ten Months of Depression)

In my last post, I wrote about a major depressive episode that I had in 2016-2017. It wasn't until I was able to get in to see a psychiatrist, come to terms with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and start the correct medication that I started to get better. And since then, my life has done a 180 as far as my mood and outlook on life.

In a recent interview with Heather for the Half Size Me podcast (my most recent interview isn't released yet), I discussed the changes that have happened since my diagnosis--including several aspects of my life, such as my diet, exercise, daily routine, focus, and major goals. This affects my blog in many ways, so I thought it would be relevant to share here. One of the questions Heather asked me was where do I see Runs for Cookies going in the future, and it's something I've been thinking a lot about lately.


So, here is the story...

Right around the time of my bipolar diagnosis, I also made a pretty big breakthrough in therapy. I'd been seeing my therapist for nearly a year, and I really loved her (still do). She gives fantastic advice in such a gentle way, and it's very easy and comfortable to tell her anything at all. One thing that I really wanted to work on was to figure out where my binge eating stemmed from. I'd been binge eating since I was a kid, and I had no idea why.

A lot of times, you read about people with weight problems (or binge eating) that started as a result of childhood abuse or neglect. In those cases, there is a very clear connection of the abuse to the resulting binge eating/weight gain. For myself, however, that wasn't the case. I was fortunate to have had a great childhood--living with both of my parents in a stable home, no abuse or neglect in any way, and just a fairly "normal" way of life. I felt loved and cared for.

So, it was driving me crazy for years as to why I started binge eating. I finally decided that it was just because I enjoyed food and that sometimes I would binge when lonely or depressed in order to make myself feel better. Through therapy, I discovered that it was actually deeper than that, and when I learned what it was, I finally felt the weight lifted off of my shoulders and it was wonderful.

It's a rather long explanation, and quite personal, so it's kind of difficult to share. However, I think it's important to explain because it's the reason for the huge change in my life recently. The gist is that I've never really felt like I fit in with my family--in a family of six made up of extroverted, social, active, outdoorsy people, I was the polar opposite.

I was introverted, very shy, enjoyed reading more than socializing, preferred the indoors to camping, nature, and beaches. Where my family enjoys being in the sun, I prefer cool and overcast. They like camping; I like hotels. They like beaches; I prefer cities. They love parties and get-togethers; I prefer to spend time with a few close friends or family members.

I mean, look at those nerds... I was clearly the cutest sibling! ;)

Because I was the only one in my family like this, I grew up thinking that the things I enjoy are "wrong" somehow, and I felt bad about it--and bad about myself. My family never did or said anything to make me feel this way--they never even knew anything was wrong!--but I could see how different I was, and I didn't want to be.

So, I spent my life trying to be someone that I'm not in order to fit in. As a shy introvert, I try to avoid conflict as much as possible; so, I would go along with things that I didn't always enjoy or agree with rather than voicing my opinion. I kept my thoughts and opinions to myself.

Trying to be someone I'm not took a huge toll on me. I wasn't doing the things I enjoyed; and when I did, I felt like I was doing something "wrong" in some way. I didn't like being the oddball in my family, and I was worried they wouldn't like me if I was my true self. As you can imagine, this led to quite a bit of anxiety. I was always worried about disappointing people or doing/saying the "wrong" thing. (I now know that I wasn't wrong; I just had different thoughts/feelings than my family.)

I discovered early on that eating was a way to escape the relentless anxiety that I felt. My biggest fear was being a disappointment to other people, and the food made me feel better in a way that wouldn't hurt anyone else. My family never criticized or made me feel bad about my weight or eating habits, so it felt like a "safe" way of doing something that made me happy (at least in the short term).

(I do have to stop here for a moment and say that my family is amazing. I don't think I ever realized just how amazing they are until I was an adult. When I broke my jaw, especially, they all stepped up and did everything they could to take care of me, Jerry, and the kids. Whenever we've needed help with anything at all, I've been able to turn to them. I feel so lucky to have been born into this family, even if I am the oddball!)

I love this picture! I just wish Becky and Luke were in it. 

So, all of that backstory leads me to the present and future...

Since learning that about myself, and having my therapist explain that my thoughts/feelings aren't "wrong" in any way, I've felt an enormous sense of freedom to be myself around everybody--including my family--without being apologetic. After my bipolar diagnosis, I wrote a letter to my family explaining exactly what bipolar is and how it describes a lot of my behavior while growing up (as well as in my adult life).

By having the therapy breakthrough and diagnosis happen at the same time, the changes in my life happened pretty easily. With the correct medication and the newfound freedom to be myself, I felt like a whole new person. I started thinking about what would make ME happy, and what I wanted out of my life. I wanted to stop trying to please others by being someone that didn't feel like me, and start living for myself.

Thus began my pursuit of happiness...



The first thing I did was stop making myself run. I was dreading it all the time and I didn't get joy out of it anymore. Even though I was a little worried about how my blog readers would react (considering my blog is "Runs" for Cookies), I chose to do what would make me happier. I still don't know if I am done with running for good, or if it will just be a long-term break, and I don't feel like I have to answer that right now. It feels nice not to put pressure on myself!

Instead of running, I've been staying active in my day to day activities. I discovered that I love cleaning (thanks to being on the correct medication, I now have the desire and the energy to do so). I have been picking projects around the house that need to be done--closets that need organizing, or clothes that need to be donated, etc--and I've been working on them one by one.

Previously, I would have been in a hypomanic state and started a thousand projects at once, and then never finished any of them. This time, I'm working on one thing at a time, staying focused, and finishing what I start.


Cleaning keeps me active (I know it doesn't seem like "active" is the right word, but when doing heavy cleaning, I sweat and use muscles that I feel like I've never used before, so it's pretty active in my sense of the word).

I've also gotten enjoyment out of going for walks with friends (and/or Joey); playing with the kids (yard games, water balloon fights, fishing with Eli, etc); coaching cross country; meeting and catching up with friends; spending more time with my family (which is especially nice, now that I feel comfortable being myself); and several other things.


In addition to activity, I've changed my diet to make me happier as well. I don't use food to change my emotions--I don't eat to ease my anxiety, or relieve my loneliness when Jerry works nights, or even to celebrate things. Yes, I will eat at celebrations, but I don't see eating as celebratory itself, like I used to. I don't binge eat anymore. I'm not sure exactly what made me stop, but I think it's because my mood is so stable that I'm not looking for ways to self-medicate (something I did with food).

I've all-but stopped drinking alcohol. I am not anti-drinking, nor do I judge people who do drink. I've just discovered that it doesn't mix well with my new medication (even a drink or two causes very short-lived hypomania, followed by a few days of depression). I have to really weigh whether the consequences are worth it, and most of the time, I choose not to drink. It was tough at first, especially in social situations, but it feels easy now and the desire is completely gone. I never expected that!

Because my mood has stabilized, and I am able to focus on each task I start, I started a budget for my family to work on paying off our credit card debt. Even this has affected my eating habits! We have a very modest food budget each month, so it wouldn't be fair for me to spend a chunk of money on binge food for myself, or even to overeat the foods we have. I have been very reasonable with portion sizes due to our budget.

The budget has helped my anxiety in a huge way as well. We are finally ahead in our finances by doing the zero-sum budget, and we don't have to worry about having enough money to pay our bills each month. We've put a large dent in our credit card debt, and should be debt free in about seven months. Without the mood stabilizing medication, I never could have focused on (or maintained) this budget for any length of time.

These things that I mentioned have all contributed to my being happier: not forcing myself to run when I don't want to; having a clean, organized house; not self-medicating with food; spending time with and being active with my family; socializing with friends; being ahead on our finances; and most of all, being able to be myself without feeling apologetic for who I am.



I've started voicing my opinions, and I love it. It's a relief not to feel worried or guilty for expressing who I am. The people who cared about me and loved me still do--I don't know what I was so worried about all these years! I have discovered (by accident, and through therapy) that the road to happiness starts with being able to be myself and feeling good about who I am.

As far as the future of Runs for Cookies...

I'm going to keep my blog name. I considered changing it, but there is a lot that goes into changing something like that, especially when it's been so public. Having been in the From Fat to Finish Line documentary, and in several media outlets, I've become known as "Runs for Cookies", and it would be hard to change that. And who knows, maybe one day I'll run for cookies again; but right now, I am enjoying cookies without running, and it feels great ;) (Only instead of 10 cookies, I feel happy with just 1).

Weight loss and maintenance is still a huge part of my life, so I will continue to post about it. I don't expect to be struggle-free in maintenance (as you know, it's never been easy for me!), and I expect to continue the ups and downs (hopefully less frequently). I have found blogging about it to be helpful in getting and/or staying on track. However, weight loss won't be the main focus of my blog.

Going forward, I would like to write more about the discoveries I make in this "pursuit of happiness". I've enjoyed writing about budgeting/paying off debt, so I will continue to do that. Maybe I'll post about recipes that we've been trying (not "health food" recipes, but just food we enjoy). Activities that I try for the first time or do regularly. Projects I'm working on. Being an auntie to the happiest baby ever. Even just things I see on a day to day basis that bring me joy.

I almost feel like I am saying goodbye in some ways--at least to the old me. I'm excited about these changes, and I'm finally on a path that makes me feel happy about who I am currently--not who I hope to be someday. So, if you decide not to continue reading, I totally understand that! I thank you for following along. And if my current pursuit interests you, I welcome you to continue reading. And perhaps share your own path to happiness! :) xo



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56 comments:

  1. I wonder if you can spin the running and cookies to something more pertinent to where you are now. Like "running" or just chasing "cookies" or happiness. Something to ponder. Anyway, congrats (if that's the right word!) on your journey and path to where you are now! I'm sure it was hard and sometimes painful, but the end result is so worth it!

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    1. Or "running errands" (to the grocery store to buy some cookies! haha). Thank you :)

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    2. Exactly what I went to comment as well! "runs" doesn't have to be literal running.

      All the best Katie xx Can't wait to get inspired by your pursuits!

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  2. So happy for you! I am also excited to continue to follow your journey on your pursuit of happiness!

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  3. This is so interesting. I really appreciate you sharing this experience and how it is changing your life and your perspective on your life. Good luck.

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  4. You are amazing :) Before, during, after all of these discoveries ;) So very happy that you have found peace and balance <3

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    1. Thank you so much! The peace has been wonderful :)

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  5. I enjoy following your journey. No matter the topic, your style is very relatable and I'm so happy for you that you're finding your happiness.

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    1. Thanks, Chris! I'm glad that you find me relatable. It's nice for me as well to relate to others that have similar experiences.

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  6. Wow Katie, what a revelation! You must feel so at peace right now with all of your decisions. Thank you for that insight and for being so upfront about life, always :)
    Michelle (teacher from Irvine)

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    1. Thank you, Michelle! Yes, I am loving the peace that I feel. And the more I share, the easier it gets. Thanks for reading! :)

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  7. I'm so happy to see you in such a good place in your life! I've been reading your blog for years, and I was just trying to remember how I came across it but I honestly have no idea. I only started running myself a little under a year ago, and whilst I have wanted to want to run for ages (I just didn't actually want to until recently, if that makes sense!), I can't imagine that I started reading your blog for the running aspect. In any case, I will keep reading as I really enjoy your blogging style, and I'm excited to see where things go for you :).

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    1. Thank you for being such a loyal reader, Jenny! I appreciate your support :)

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  8. Dear Katie, I come from France and have been reading your blog for a while now. Felt like commenting for the first time. Thank you so much for this post. Im sure its like a relief. I have been through the same kind of path (without the bipolar disease but with the child abuse) and feels much better today. I have gone through ups and downs and my relationship with food was passionate and destructive, same as it was with running. I was very unhappy with the person I was. Today Im at peace with myself, with food and aslo with running. Once again thank you so much for sharing this very intimate part of you...Not that introvert anymore :)

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    1. Thank you for commenting! I am so happy that you found peace with yourself--it must be such a relief to you. And finding peace with food and running is great! So many of us work for years to get there. Best wishes!

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  9. It's so good to read about your progress. It is only natural that as you go through life you will evolve into a new person. I personally love all the changes and plan on following your blog as long as you keep posting!

    I agree with the poster from France above. You are not a shy introvert anymore! Doing what you did, going on national TV, being featured in a documentary and visiting with fans of your blog require a lot. You are an amazing inspiration to all of us that follow your blog!

    I was fascinated when you said you like to clean. Cleaning and decluttering are very hard for most people and bringing organization to chaos is such a useful service. I was wondering if you ever considered starting a business as a professional organizer and declutterer? You could offer your services to private individuals and companies and could schedule your work around your kids and family.

    I hope you continue to discover your joy and I will eagerly follow all your posts on your pursuit of happiness.

    Best wishes from Norway!

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    1. Thank you for reading! Honestly, I still believe I am an introvert (and shy). It was SO very hard to do the public things I've done--I really like to avoid the spotlight when I can. I know it looks like the opposite, because of my publicity, but I'm still very much the shy homebody I've always been ;)

      It's so odd that I've found joy in cleaning, of all things! Hahaha, I never expected that. But there is something so satisfying about having a clean and organized house. I never thought about a professional organizer, but I suppose that would come in handy for people! Thank you for being such a loyal reader :)

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  10. Thanks for sharing!!!! I appreciate your honesty and I am glad to hear that you will continue blogging!!!! 😊
    Did you blog about the air show and I missed it? We saw some of the jets fly pretty close to my mom's and it was impressive, I bet being there would have been fun!!

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    1. I haven't posted about the air show... yet. I'm going to try and do a catch up post today!

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  11. You have become an inspiration to me. At first with your weight loss, but now more for your journey to happiness. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much for saying that--I appreciate knowing that there are people out there who find something useful in what I have to say ;)

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story! I'm so happy for you and your newfound freedom to be authentically you! Brene Brown has some awesome stuff on authenticity and vulnerability: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr3XIBco3u_O3RZGLeWaFPyZ6WhL8v86D

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    1. I actually just started reading The Gifts of Imperfection a few days ago! It's what inspired me to finally publish these two posts--I'd had them in my drafts for a bit, but was nervous to share something so personal. After reading the first chapter of the book, I decided to finally post them! I'm loving the book so far :)

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  13. As long as you blog, (and for as long as I'm able--I AM 66!) I'll keep reading every word you write! Glad you've found what makes you happy!

    I am still astonished that it takes so long to get help with mental health issues. There is something wrong when a supposedly great country like ours hahas such a shortage of mental health practitioners that people who need help can't get it for almost a year. That worries and scares me.

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    1. It really is terrible that people with mental illness can't get help when they really need it. It makes me wonder how many tragedies could be prevented with the right help in a timely manner. Thanks for always being you, Pam--you have been so supportive since the beginning!

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  14. I am so, so happy for you. I have been on a journey of my own this summer...completely different set of circumstances than you, but nonetheless have found that I am finally (at age 42!) owning who I am, learning to be healthy, and generally enjoying life. Like you, I have always struggled to feel like I fit in, and I understand the freeing feeling that you have in just being yourself. I will definitely keep reading, and am so excited for you to see why lies ahead in your pursuit of happiness! Meanwhile, I will be on my own pursuit! :)

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    1. Isn't it so great to feel so free after all those years?! I keep wishing that I'd gotten this all figured out sooner, but then I don't know that it would have the same effect. I think I needed to go through all I've been through to really appreciate the freedom I feel now. Thank you for reading!

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  15. Thank you for the very intimate posts about your current discoveries. I'm so glad you are in a good place now. I've been reading your blog for years. I love how you document your journey through life. As I've said before, you're an amazing writer. I'll continue to read your blog for as long as you graciously share your life!

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    1. Thank you so much, Tina, for being such a loyal reader! I love to write, and thanks to blogging, I am able to do that with such freedom. I appreciate your taking the time to comment :)

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  16. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so, so very happy for you!!

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  17. I've been reading awhile and I love your posts regardless of what they are about. I have had family and friends that struggle with depression, anxiety and quite possibly bi-polar. Your posts really help me to understand them better and be a better friend and support system so I thank you for that so much!
    I am so very happy for you and I look forward to hearing all about your pursuit of happiness, it is what everyone should strive for and do all while feeling completely free to be themselves! I wish you nothing but the best. I'm also a numbers nerd and love your posts about budgets and numbers as I love that stuff too! Just keep doing what your doing as the new or true YOU and you'll inspire people along the way and help them by sharing!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! One of my goals with posting about mental illness (of any kind) is to help other people understand it from other perspectives, and hopefully dismiss some of the stigma surrounding it. "Mental illness" sounds so scary, but there are SO many people with various forms of it and they seem to be ordinary people living ordinary lives. There is really nothing to be scared of, and I hope to help people realize that. I really appreciate the comment!

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  18. I've read and loved your blog for years. I'm an avid runner, and that's why initially I started reading your posts. Really though there are thousands of running blogs out there, and the reason I continued to read is because of your honesty and relatable personality which shines through your writing. I am so happy you are finding peace and happiness, and you definitely have not lost me as a reader just because you are no longer running!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Staci! I'm glad that you think I'm relatable. Being honest about things I'm going through (weight gain, depression, bad runs, etc) can be really difficult sometimes, but I always feel better after posting about it--mainly because of the support of readers like you!

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  19. "I don't use food to change my emotions--I don't eat to ease my anxiety, or relieve my loneliness when Jerry works nights, or even to celebrate things." This, this is exactly what I struggle with at times and I love that you're overcoming it!

    I love everything about this post. I can literally feel the winds of change in your words. I can feel the relief in your writing, too.

    My friend shared a quote the other day, "'Heal the trauma to change the behavior.' Ask what happened to you vs. what's wrong with you. Create a shift to make a difference."

    Even if it wasn't a "trauma" that caused your binge eating, it seems like taking the effort to identify the differences from your childhood has healed and helped changed your behavior.

    I am so proud of your courage to share all of this and, your courage to pursue your own definition of happiness. I will read as long you'll write, running or not, that's not why we're here. It's you! Keep being you! :)

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    1. So many people (myself included, as I mentioned) use things like food, alcohol, drugs, and other addictions to change their emotions/feelings. It's a very quick (although temporary) solution, but it really causes so many other problems. For my whole life, I used food to make me feel better, and all it did for me was make me obese and unhappy. This breakthrough with the therapy and correct medication has made me see that there are other ways of making myself happy! Thanks for reading, Kay. xo

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    1. I honestly don't know--it just happened! I think it was a combination of all the changes I've made. My bipolar medication makes me less impulsive, so it's easier to think of the consequences before doing things (like bingeing). I don't drink, and drinking was always a trigger to eat. Also, the therapy has helped a lot! One of the biggest things is that I stopped caring about my weight so much. I started focusing on other things, and it made me stop thinking about food/binge eating all the time. I've been staying busy, which has also helped. It's hard to pinpoint anything, because I think it's a combination of it all.

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  21. I don't remember how I found you but when I read your blog, I feel like I am reading a letter from a friend.
    I am excited to find out where you will "go" with this new you.
    And, hey, want to come organize my house??!! LOL
    You could visit Montreal! ;)

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoy reading :) If Montreal was a little closer, I just may have taken you up on that! haha

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  22. This makes me so happy that you're happy!! And I will keep on reading as long as you keep posting!! I love reading what you have to say. This may sound cheesy but I think of you as an online friend, even though we've never met. Its easy for me to relate to you and what you have to say. Just keep on being you! <3

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    1. Amanda, you have always been SO supportive and kind... I can't tell you how much I appreciate that! I consider you an online friend as well. Thank you for reading! xo

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  23. I'm definitely going to keep reading your blog. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

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  24. Wonderful! I've followed you for years and will continue to look forward to your posts. I, too, am on a similar pursuit and I wonder if it has something to do with our ages (I'm also in my mid-30s). As someone who has also struggled a lot with anxiety, and binge and weight issues, but also came from a wonderful family, I feel like I'm finally getting a grasp on life and starting to be more comfortable in my skin. I feel like I have enough "street cred" to go after what I want.

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    1. It's fantastic that you are starting to feel more comfortable being yourself. Maybe our ages do have something to do with the newfound freedom. Thank you so much for reading!

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  25. I have been reading your blog for a couple of years and I will continue to do so in the future. I am glad that you are in a good place. In the end being happy is what all of us want, right?

    I take no issue with the name of your blog even if you've decided to stop running at this point in your life. I can relate anyway! In many ways we've followed a similar path, what with the binge eating, running then not running, yo-yoing weight, mental health issues, etc., all the while trying to keep our lives on track. We can only do our best and, as you've said, what matters is doing what *you* feel is right for you.

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  26. Thank you for sharing your story Katie. And yes, you are saying goodbye. But this was also an awesome hello! I've enjoyed reading your blog for many years and hope to keep doing so for a while longer. No matter what name you use!

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  27. I would read anything you choose to write about! You're engaging, interesting, funny, and thoughtful. I think it's great that you're sharing your journey here; I don't have the same struggles, but I think the way you talk about them makes me look at my own life and how I can use some of what works for you, work for me. I look forward to continued posts!

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  28. As a long-time reader, it's clear just how happy you are now :) I'm super stoked for you, & excited to read about the adventures (whether big or small) your pursuit for happiness takes you on :)

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  29. Congratulations on all these self discoveries! It's so great to hear you are so happy!

    And I don't care a whit if you run or not!

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  30. Glad you are evolving and always improving yourself in all ways...to not move forward is dangerous...don't care about the title or what you post...as long as you realize you are good enough, just as you are. Blessings!

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  31. I came for the run(s) and weight loss stories and stayed because you are wonderful. I'm crying of joy for you when I read you being so well off on your path to happiness.
    I wish you the very best.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)