February 27, 2017

Questioning my identity as a runner

Lately, Michigan weather has been CRAZY. We had a couple of days last week that were up to 73 degrees and sunny! I was able to drive with my windows down and wear short sleeves... in February. And then it got down to 30 degrees, overcast, and windy. And yesterday, we had some freezing rain in the morning.

A week of Michigan weather (not sure who to credit for this cartoon!
If you know, please let me know so I can give credit)

So, my last post was my Wednesday Weigh-in. I feel like I've been writing so much about my depression lately that I've just been avoiding writing any more because I'm tired of talking about it. After several hours of phones calls to the doctor's office and the insurance company, and jumping through many hoops, I was able to get my insurance to approve my new antidepressant. I am going to stay on the waiting list to see a psychiatrist, though, just in case this new med doesn't work out.

I'll keep this brief, and then hopefully as this new med kicks in, I will be feeling better and depression won't be such a huge part of my life at the moment--and I'll write about happier things! ;)

I started taking the new med on Thursday, and the initial side effects are a little annoying. I've found this to be the case with other antidepressants as well, though, and the side effects usually go away after a couple of weeks; so, I'm not really worried about them. Right now, I'm just having a lot of ups and downs with my energy level (sometimes I have lots of energy, other times I have zero), and I am having a hard time sleeping at night.

The hardest part for me has been when I'm lacking energy, especially because I'm training for Indy right now. Yesterday, I was supposed to do an eight mile long run, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't blame the medication entirely, because I still haven't gotten back my running mojo, so it's been hard to make myself run at all for the past several months.

I did bundle up for a walk with Andrea at the State Park yesterday, though, and I realized just how much I love walking. Running is something that I love when it's over with--it gives me that "runner's high" and that's a great feeling. I usually don't get the runner's high anymore unless I'm doing a really tough workout. But walking... I actually really enjoy going for walks.

I don't want to make any decisions yet, but I was thinking that if my running mojo doesn't come back, I might choose to walk the Indy Mini instead of run it (or maybe do a run/walk method). I think I feel like my identity is tied to being a runner, especially considering the title of my blog; but I've declared the year of 2017 my year of giving "zero fucks" about what others think of me and doing what makes me happy. So, if I would be happier walking the half, then that's what I'll do. But if my energy picks up in a couple of weeks, I may still choose to run it--we'll see.

It's interesting how much my running lifestyle has changed in the last seven years:

Beginning: Didn't feel like a "real" runner, but was getting there. Excited once I ran my first race.
Then: After my first race, I was hooked and couldn't get enough. I wanted to keep increasing my distance and my pace.
Next: Run ALL the races, get ALL the medals.
Then: Focus on one distance or one race, to become a better runner overall.
Next: Burnt out, deciding to try running "for fun".
Finally: Feeling like maybe there is more to life than just running, and it's okay to do other things ;)

Recently, I've been thinking how nice it would be to really expand the different activities I do, and focus much less on one particular exercise (running). My friend Andrea really likes to do water aerobics and aqua jogging, so I'd like to do that with her at least once a week; I miss riding my bike, so it'd be fun to do that 1-2 times a week, when the weather is a little warmer; running is an efficient way to keep in shape, so I could do that 1-3 times a week; and then I can use walking or other activities to fill in the other days.

When I told Jerry about possibly walking the Indy Mini instead of running it, I felt almost ashamed for a minute; then I realized how ridiculous that is. I remember reading Andie Mitchell's story about how she just gave up running one day because she really didn't want to do it anymore, and you know what? Her life went on and she was happy. I don't want to give it up completely, but to cut back significantly (at least for a while) sounds nice.

Basically, my overall fitness goal is to stay active and healthy doing things I enjoy. The activities I enjoy:
  • Walking (especially with a friend)
  • Running 2-4 miles at an easy pace on a nice day
  • Leisurely riding my bike
  • Hiking (I've only gone a few times, but I LOVED it)
  • Kickboxing (I used to do this in college, and it was super fun)
  • Strength training with machines (again, I used to do this in college, and I actually took a course to become a certified personal trainer; I'm not crazy about free weights, but I do like machines)
  • Racquetball 
  • Yard work with the family on a nice day
  • Cleaning the house with loud music playing
  • Kayaking (I've only tried it once, but it was fun and I'd like to do it again)
Some of those are a stretch (like cleaning) but for the most part, I wouldn't have to talk myself into doing any of those things. The things I don't enjoy:
  • Forcing myself to follow a training schedule on days that I just don't want to do it
  • Long runs (occasionally, I do enjoy them; but I don't like making myself do it to follow a schedule)
  • Riding my bike solely for exercise (trying to get my heart rate up high)
  • Aerobics classes
  • Swimming (although, I'm learning to like it more now... I'd like to keep trying it)
  • Body weight exercises like squats, plank, push-ups, etc.
  • Sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball, etc.
This year, and possibly last year, has been kind of odd for me because I am liking the cold weather less and less. I used to LIVE for the cold weather for my runs, but now it's very hard to make myself go run when it's cold. 

I've very aware that my attitude toward running right now could simply be my depression talking--and maybe once this antidepressant starts working, my mood and ideas will change. That's one of the reasons I've been avoiding writing--because "Depressed Katie" is not the same as "Normal Katie". I'm more pessimistic, and I don't find joy in things that I used to (including running). I think this is the longest depression episode I've ever dealt with, and it's been frustrating. I just want to feel normal again! I am feeling better than I was a couple of months ago, so I'm hoping that trend continues.

I'm also being more proactive at feeling better. I've been making tons of plans with friends and family so that I get out of the house and be social. This weekend was super busy, and I had a lot of fun! Friday, I spent the day with Andrea; Saturday, I had a fun afternoon date with Jerry; and yesterday, Jerry and I took the kids bowling with Brian and Becky. I always enjoy getting together with them, and I love that they live just 30 minutes away now (as opposed to Minnesota). 

I got the most random email yesterday from someone who coordinates Ariana Grande's tour, and she invited Jerry, the boys, and me to Ariana's concert on March 12 (including a backstage tour)! How crazy is that?! I'm really looking forward to it, because I've actually NEVER been to a concert in my life. My kids haven't either, so this will be quite the experience. Jerry screamed like a 12-year old girl when I told him, hahaha. 

Another thing I'm looking forward to is a local meet-up that I planned for From Fat to Finish Line peeps on March 18. Of course, any of you reading this are more than welcome to come as well! We are going to go for a 5K walk/run at the State Park and then go to Cracker Barrel for brunch afterward. I was expecting maybe 2-3 people to respond, but surprisingly, there are 12 people who said yes, and 6 more who said maybe! After having met so many nice people in California, this was something I really wanted to plan. 

The following weekend, I'm hosting a game night with friends at my house. I expect my belly to hurt from laughing so much as it usually does when I hang out with these people, so I can't wait for that!

Overall, outwardly, things are looking good... and I hope my mood will soon follow suit! Hoping all of you are doing well :)  (Did I say I was going to keep this brief? Haha!)

February 22, 2017

Wednesday Weigh-in: Starting Anew

This week has felt so messed up. My kids didn't have school on Monday for Presidents' Day, so that made yesterday feel like Monday. I was so sure it was Monday all day long! But today feels like it should be Friday ;)

Eli had an appointment at Children's Hospital in Detroit yesterday, so he got to play hooky from school. I was concerned about his legs, because he has joint pain, so I took him to a pediatric orthopedist. The doctor said he has tight hamstrings and cords, and pronated feet, so he's going to do physical therapy and get orthotics. Thankfully, it wasn't anything serious. 

I'm still battling with insurance to get started on another antidepressant. I'm amazed at how much of a process this is. The main problem is that I'm not under the care of a psychiatrist right now--my general practitioner has always prescribed my medication. So, my insurance company apparently wants me to see a psychiatrist, which is fine--I'd like to see one! The problem is, after calling literally a DOZEN psychiatrists, I still can't get an appointment. 

They either want me to quit my current therapist and establish a therapist under their practice before deciding if I even need to see a psychiatrist; or they are not taking new patients; or, there is a nine-month waiting list. I know I need to be on an antidepressant, and I really like my current therapist. Why would I quit after having built a relationship with her? I'm supposed to hear from my doctor today about what to do next.

Anyway. Jerry was off work on Monday, and since the kids were off school, we decided to do something together. We had planned to go to Canada for the day, but the weather wasn't great, and I was hoping to do the riverwalk. So, we decided to put off that day trip for another time when we have better weather, and we took the kids to Barnes & Noble. Doesn't sound very exciting, but considering there aren't many real book stores around anymore, we don't go often. When Jerry and I were dating, wandering around the book store was one of our favorite things to do.

We spent about an hour in there, and I never even made it out of the bargain books section (clearance books)! Haha, I could browse all day. When we got home, I realized how funny Jerry's and my book picks were...

I don't think I have to explain that Jerry's are on top ;)

I'm excited to read The Happiness Project! I started it once before, but in my usual fashion, abandoned it after a chapter or two. My attention span is terrible when it comes to books! That's why I made it a goal to read one book a month. I really need to get moving on February, because I just haven't felt like reading.

So, today was my Wednesday Weigh-in. I hoped for any number other than 158.0, because that's what I've been seeing for over a month now. And the result?

Seriously! I started thinking hard about what is so different about what I'm doing now versus what I was doing a year ago. My diet is actually a lot healthier now than it was then. I did notice one big difference, though--I'm eating much fewer carbs now than before. It's not intentional (I love carbs!); but, I haven't been wanting anything sweet in the mornings, and it's hard to find a non-sweet breakfast with carbs. And then I've been doing my salad challenge for lunch (eat a salad every day for February), and the salads aren't exactly loaded with carbs, either.

So, my carb intake is a lot lower than before; and from experience, I've learned that my body functions best with a high amount of carbs. This could contribute to why I haven't had any energy recently, too. So, I'm going to start making sure that I increase my carbs this week, particularly for breakfast and lunch. I'm curious to see if that will make the scale move. I would be thrilled to see anything under 158 next week.

From Fat to Finish Line recently started a series called "Start Anew Sundays" for people just like me--who have lost weight, gained some back, and are getting back on track. I don't want to put pressure on myself to get it off in a certain amount of time, but I am motivated right now to work on it. My food tastes have changed so much recently--I can't even stomach the thought of eating the same things I ate last year when I got back down to goal. So, I'm just going to do some experimenting and see if I can find what works. Basically, I'm going to follow my own advice ;)

It's been helpful to see others who have gone through or are going through the same thing with their weight. Angela, the producer of the documentary, shared her story the other day, and it was such a great post! You can find it here: Saying Goodbye to Idealistic Expectations. It's a very nice read!

February 20, 2017

Motivational Monday #138

Happy Motivational Monday!

It's been a long time since I've done a Motivational Monday post, so I'm excited to bring it back today. For a while, I wasn't getting many submissions anymore, even though I was getting a ton of feedback from people saying they loved Motivational Mondays. So, I made the decision to stop doing it (I didn't enjoy scrambling to put something together each week). So, we'll see how this goes...

I was excited to kick off today's post with three very motivating stories! I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did :)

This first email is from Theresa--she and her daughter Lindsey reached a pretty impressive goal!
"Ever since my first marathon at  age 53 in 2011, my daughter and I had toyed with the idea of running an ultra. It was on my daughter’s bucket list and I wanted to help her out, so I suggested to her in May 2016 that there would be no “good” time – we needed to just do it!  
It was the culmination of 21 weeks of training (500 running + 147 walking miles). We ran and ran all summer, but didn’t see the course until 3 weeks before the race. We intended to do our last long training run there, but were so unprepared for the hills! After only 3 miles, we felt defeated and walked most of the way back. We expected some hills, but nothing like that! We live on the flats, so had NO hill training. My butt was so sore from only 3 miles… how in the world would I ever survive 35 miles of hills?  
When race day arrived, we were nervous, we were excited, but mostly terrified! The weather was gorgeous, but the hills were killers (lots of them and many were HUGE) along with the other obstacles of some narrow, bumpy and rutted paths, twigs under all the leaves, many low, mud-filled areas that muddied up our shoes and took some maneuvering to cross. We stumbled, but never fell; not even on the log balancing act! We were determined to finish even if we ended up last. We weren’t last, but at 10.5 hours we definitely got our money’s worth from our entry fee!"

Pam, below, has been on her weight loss journey for about the same time as I have, and she's gone through several ups and downs, too. She has been "following" me since SparkPeople in 2010, and I just adore her! I am super proud of her (how many people in their 60's take control of their weight and lose 168 pounds with good old diet and exercise?!! She's the only one that I know.) :)
"On April 15, 2011, I hit my original goal weight of 160 lbs. which was a loss of 168 lbs. from my all-time high weight of 328 lbs. in July of 2009. I maintained at around 150 lbs. for several years before a 35 lb. gain starting in late 2013. I got that gain back off by Christmas 2014, but ended up going off-track once again, and before I stopped I had gained over 50 lbs. back, topping out at 203 lbs. in October 2015.
Your talk about goals really hits home with me. My son was getting married in October 2016, so with that GOAL in mind (I'm with you--goals are GOOD!), I joined Weight Watchers online in April 2016, weighing in at 185 pounds (my half-hearted attempts had led to an almost 20-pound loss in the months between October and April), and by that wedding last October, I weighed in at 149.4! I consider 150 my "happy weight," and felt so good about myself. I had taken a picture of myself in the dress I bought for the wedding when I got it in April. Then I took another picture at my goal weight and was amazed at the difference that 35 lbs. made. After losing 178 lbs., I really thought 35 pounds didn't make that much difference. but it sure does!! The dress still fit okay, but it looked so much better at 150 lbs., than it did at 185 lbs.  That is the picture I attached..... 
Now I need to find another goal, because once again I have regained a few pounds.  Like you, coming to the realization that summer is your regain time, I have decided the holidays and winter is my regain time. Hopefully I can continue to get back on track once again and get back to my happy weight. I need to set a new goal--obviously!!!"

Finally, this last email is from Rhonda, who I am looking forward to meeting in Vegas! (I love your husband's comment from the starting line, by the way--haha!)
I always enjoyed the Motivational Monday postings so am excited to see you bringing that back to the blog.  Like you, I also do best when having goals “Out there”.  I set a goal a few years ago to run a Half Marathon every month.  I felt this goal would keep me focused on my running and training consistently.  I don’t necessarily set speed goals for myself as speed work tends to bother my hips… so I’m basically a turtle and am in it just to finish.  This past weekend, I ran the Heart Breaker Half in Hillsboro, Oregon and that was my 24th consecutive month running at least one Half.  There are a few months in there where I ran two!  The weather was cold at the start (30 degrees) but fortunately no wind.  My husband (my biggest supporter) walked with me to the start line, and as we were shivering, he turned to me and said, “Why can’t you have a normal hobby like knitting or something like other women?”  I’m still laughing over that one.

Ladies, thank you SO much for sharing your accomplishments! I love seeing stuff like this in my inbox again :)

If you have a story you'd like to submit for next Monday, you can check out how to do so here. Thanks!

February 16, 2017

TUTORIAL: How To Design and Hand Paint a Wooden Sign

I promise to try to get started next week with posting more regularly--the themed posts I mentioned in my last blog post. Now that I've been feeling better, I've been trying to catch up on things that I had lost focus of for a while. It's been nice getting back into the groove, and feeling excited about things again, but I've been busy! I've put the blog on the back burner, but I hope to put more focus on it soon.

I recently made a gift for John and Ric (whose house I stayed at in San Diego) as a thank you for hosting me.

John and Ric host people a lot, and they are truly just the kindest people. A few years ago, their friend broke her leg, and couldn't drive back home to L.A., so she ended up staying with John and Ric for several weeks. She told her mom that she was at the "Sanchez Hulsey Brothers of Mercy Recovery Center" (Sanchez is Ric's last name, and Hulsey is John's). Even though it was a joke, her mom then sent a care package addressed to the recovery center.

Since then, John and Ric "check in" to their house on social media as the "Sanchez Hulsey Brothers of Mercy Recovery Center". And it was very fitting for me, then, when I went there to take a breather from my depression. I literally felt like I was going there to recover--like rehab, but without the addiction part. So, you can see why I made this gift, then:

It's just a simple wooden sign that I painted blue and then lettered in "Sanchez Hulsey Brothers of Mercy Recovery Center" with white. I love how it turned out!

Making it wasn't nearly as easy as I'd hoped it would be. My original thought was that I would use stencils and spray paint. But I would have to make a stencil first, which would be the hard part. I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials, and was totally overwhelmed. I bought the stuff to make the stencil, and it wasn't working out very well. First, I had to design it in a Photoshop-like program (I use one called Gimp). I had to adjust it to be just the right size, which was harder than anticipated, because the sign was larger than your average 8.5x11 sheet of paper.

Once I started cutting out the stencil, I had so many problems with it that I just gave up. I started researching ordering a sign online, but I knew it would mean more to John if it was handmade. I looked up how to paint a wood sign on YouTube, and watched several tutorials. I finally decided to try one that seemed really hokey, but I was desperate. And it actually worked!

You need just a few simple things to make it:
  • Computer and printer (you could freestyle it, but my writing isn't that neat)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil and sharpener
  • Piece of wood for the sign (I bought a plain piece that was shaped already, but not painted or stained or anything like that).
  • Spray paint for the background
  • Small bottle of acrylic paint for the lettering
  • A tiny paintbrush (I had to use a very small one in order to keep the letters from blending together)
  • Masking tape, or other gentle tape

First, use the spray paint to paint the entire board. I set my board on a piece of cardboard and brought it outside. I sprayed two coats, and it was dry within minutes.

Next, you need to measure your sign and make a template on the computer. You could use Word or some program like it, but I chose to use Gimp. Design on the computer to make it look how you want it on the sign. When choosing a font, you might want to think about how easy it will be to paint. If there is a ton of very tiny detail, it'll be more difficult than a font like Impact, for example.

Once your template looks how you want it, then print it out. If necessary, you can cut the words out to arrange them on the board. Just make sure you leave enough space around each word to work with.

When it all fits on the board how you want it, turn the papers over and scribble with the pencil all over where the words would be. You don't need to cover the entire back side of the paper; but make sure that the pencil covers the whole back surface of each letter. (You may have to sharpen your pencil a few times). It doesn't have to be dark scribbling--a light touch worked surprisingly well.

Once the backside of the template is covered with pencil, flip it back over and set it on the board in the exact spot that you want it to be. Use a few pieces of masking tape to keep it in place.

Using a sharp pencil, trace the outline of each letter (again, you don't have to press hard). What this does is use the lead scribbling as a "transfer paper"--so, when you trace those letters with your pencil, the lead from the scribbling gets transferred to the board.

When you are done tracing the letters, you can take the papers off of the board. You'll notice that you have the outline of each letter on the board!

From there, you can take your time dipping the paint brush in a little bit of paint, and carefully tracing and filling in the letters with paint. If you have a steady hand, this will be no problem at all (my hand is terribly shaky, but even I managed to keep the paint in the lines). It took me a couple of hours, but I was thrilled with how good the lettering turned out! I NEVER could have done that freehand.

This was actually much easier than using stencils, and I enjoyed it more, too. I sat down and watched a movie on Netflix while taking my time painting. I am thrilled with how it turned out. And it was so fun that it makes me want to make more now, too! haha.

I've been excited for John to get it so that I could post about it here. Thankfully, John and Ric really liked it, so I'm happy :)

February 13, 2017

Big goals and plans!

Why, oh why, is the time going by so quickly?! I cannot believe that it's been a week since I've been home from California. I don't feel like I've been insanely busy, but looking back over the week, I guess I have been.

I've been doing really well as far as my depression goes. I still feel the effects of it, but I am actively working on making plans and doing things that will make me happier in the long run. I know I've been writing a lot about my depression lately, but it felt like it was all-consuming for a while. There are a lot of people who have expressed that they are grateful that I've been openly discussing it, so I wanted to write candidly about it. Now, I am hoping that I'll be writing more and more about feeling better and getting back to the "normal" groove I strive for.

I've been thinking a lot about what exactly caused this tailspin last year. I felt on top of the world a year ago, and everything took such a drastic turn. I was at my lowest weight (about 121 pounds) a year ago, and I was training SO hard for my 10K. I was regularly running sub-8:00 miles, and feeling fantastic about it.

I don't write this now to dwell on the changes, but rather to hopefully see what happened to cause the change. I've finally narrowed it down to my first therapist. I started therapy last spring, because I was having panic attacks almost daily and my anxiety was terrible (the depression was almost nonexistent a year ago). I ran my 10K in April, crushing my goal and finishing in 49:03. Then, I had no idea what to do next.

I did it!! Now what?!
I mentioned to the therapist that I have always been a goal-oriented person. I set a goal, and do my best to complete it--and I love setting goals! The therapist told me that I should try to be content with my life without always having a goal. She said that I needed to learn how to just be content as-is, because what if I can't set goals one day--would it send me into a tailspin?

Well, in retrospect, I should have listened to my gut feeling and continued to do what worked for me for so long. There is nothing wrong with having goals! By not setting any new goals, I felt lost and unmotivated. I started skipping more and more runs, simply because I wasn't training for a race or anything.

I kept hoping that I would eventually feel motivated to take care of myself even without having a goal of some sort, but it never happened. I put on a lot of weight very quickly last summer, but without a goal in the fall, I had no plan in place to take the weight back off.

One thing that I am very grateful for is that I had an epiphany about my summer weight gain. I no longer feel ashamed of it, and I don't panic about it. I'm not embarrassed to to post photos of myself at this weight anymore. I don't enjoy being a higher weight, of course, and I'm actively trying to take it off; but, I don't feel embarrassed or ashamed anymore, either. I'd say that's a big improvement!

Anyway, I think the therapist's advice to stop making goals was definitely the wrong plan for me. I know what she was going for, and she had good intentions, but my personality thrives on goals. So, I started a bullet journal for my goals and to track my way back to goal weight and being in shape. (My current therapist agrees that goals are the way I get things done, and I thrive that way).

Since I am SUPER excited about going to Vegas in November to meet up with a ton of From Fat to Finish Line fans, my main focus is to be happy with my appearance and my physical condition when I go on the trip. There are 38 weeks until the Vegas trip, which is plenty of time to accomplish this. Ideally, I'd like to weigh about 125 for that race (I'll be running the half-marathon, and while I don't care to set a time goal, I'd like to feel great during the race).

I weighed in on my fancy new scale Wednesday:

I've been at this weight for about a month now, I think. (In case anyone is wondering, the new scale is the Health O Meter Professional 349KLX digital floor scale (Amazon affiliate link). It was definitely a splurge, as it was pretty expensive--but considering how much I use it, and that having a nice one would make me more motivated, it was worth it. I love it! And I'll never have to buy a scale again.)

So, my "if all the stars align" goal is to weigh 125 by November 9th. That would mean losing about 0.87 pounds per week, which is totally do-able. Of course, all the medication changes lately could have any number of consequences on my weight, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. My actual goal weight is 133, and not 125, but I've realized that I do better when I aim bigger than when I aim smaller. So, even if I "only" get down to 140 or 135, I will still be very happy with that.

Right now, I am training for the Indy Mini (13.1) in May. Once I finish that, I will pick another race to train for, just to keep myself going with goals. Indy is 12 weeks away, and training starts today! I'm following my own "Finish Strong" plan, which is a good choice for my current goal and situation.

I set up some pages in my bullet journal to get me started and motivate me to focus on my goals.

A little visual to see as I lose weight--I'll color in each
square as I reach that weight
To keep track of my weigh-ins, I like to do something that I did when I was losing the weight in 2009-2010. I calculate how much I need to lose each week in order to hit a goal by a certain time frame. Then, when I weigh in, I look to see how close I am to that goal number. I would ideally like the difference to be 0 or a negative number each week. On March 1, for example, if I weigh in at 154, the difference would be -1, because the goal for that date is 155 (meaning I'd be a pound below my goal for that date). Anyway, this is where I'll track that. I am also going to keep track of my weekly calories again. That was helpful last year when I needed to make adjustments. 

This is for a loss of one pound per week
Another reason I like to list a goal for each week ahead of time is so that I can see, "Hey, if I stay on track, I can be in the 130's by June 21!" or things like that. It helps to look ahead--kind of like on My Fitness Pal, when they tell you what you would weigh in five weeks if every day were like the current day.

I also wrote out my entire training plan for Indy, so I can color in the squares as I finish each workout. The goal is to have ALL the squares colored in, with the exception of four days that I'm allowing myself to play hooky.

Finally, I'd like to maybe do a couple of consistent blog posts each week as well. Would anyone be interested in the Motivational Monday posts again? I miss seeing all of the success stories in my inbox! If you're unfamiliar, I used to do a series on my blog called Motivational Monday. Each Monday, I would share a paragraph or two from someone who wanted to brag about a race they completed, a new PR, weight loss, trying a new activity, eating better, etc. Anything at all (health or fitness related) that someone wanted to share was fair game.

So, if you'd like to share, please send in a submission to me at MM@runsforcookies.com (MM for Motivational Monday). Please send one photo of your accomplishment, as well as 1-2 paragraphs telling us what you're proud of accomplishing. Depending on the response, I'd like to start next Monday, so please get them submitted soon! (Here is another explanation for submissions)

In addition to doing the Motivational Mondays again, I'd like to pick a couple of other consistent posts to do each week. On Wednesdays, it would be nice to get back to Wednesday Weigh-ins and a weekly recap of weight loss related stuff. I was thinking on Sundays, I could post a recap of my training/exercise for the week. Finally, I thought of doing something called "Foodie Friday" or something like that, where I will share a new recipe or food product and write a little about that.

I think by having series of different posts, I won't feel so lost as to what to write about. Having been blogging for so long, I feel like I've said everything there is to say! So, by having a consistent topic, I won't feel like I'm being redundant.

Wow, this post is much longer than I anticipated! I am feeling very excited about setting new goals and making plans for reaching them, though. I think this will help my depression a lot. Now, I'm going to head out to do my 40-minute run. I think I'll go to the state park. It's nice and sunny today!

February 10, 2017

Plans for the year

Okay, so now that I am back home from California and I've had a few days to settle in, I need to make a plan for this year. Going on the trip made me feel excited about things again--and I haven't felt excited in a long time. I'm not saying that the trip totally cured my depression (I've done a fair share of crying the last couple of days), but it gave me hope and that's what I needed more than anything.

I went to the doctor yesterday to discuss medication again. As I wrote about a month ago, I started an additional antidepressant. I really didn't feel any different after three weeks of taking it twice a day. I was really questioning if the medication I was on for the last 15 years was even working, so I decided to stop all medication and see how I felt (fully expecting to feel worse before getting better).

I quit cold turkey, and I thought I'd have a terrible time with it, but I honestly didn't notice any change. I felt exactly the same! So, it seems that it quit working some time ago, probably because I was on it for so long.

My doctor agreed that it was time to try something new. So, as soon as it gets approved by my insurance, I'll be trying another medication. (Last time I wrote about trying something new, I got a lot of emails asking what medication I'm taking... I'd prefer not to share that, simply because I don't want people to think they should take what I'm taking. Medication is so individualized that it should really be up to our doctors to decide what we should try. Also, I don't even know if it's going to work yet.)

Anyway, going to to San Diego and hanging out with lots of From Fat to Finish Line peeps made me change my attitude a bit about running. I'm not really interested in getting faster right now, and I want to enjoy running as much as I can (for as long as I can). I did Hansons' Half-Marathon Method for a couple of weeks to start training for Indy, and I was already feeling burnt out.

I decided that I'm going to follow my own half-marathon plan (the "Finish Strong" plan). It's perfect to prepare for a half-marathon, but the training isn't crazy intense and it doesn't have so many miles that I will lose my mojo. And it starts this Monday (12 weeks out from Indy).

I changed the days of the week, so that I'll have Wednesdays and Saturdays off (I'm used to always having those two days off). So, the weekly runs will look like this:

Monday- Easy run (30-45 min)
Tuesday- Speed work (1-5 min intervals)
Wednesday- Rest
Thursday- Easy run (30-45 min)
Friday- Easy run (30-60 min)
Saturday- Rest
Sunday- Long run (4-12 miles)

I think this will be good to get me back in the routine I prefer (running five days a week, with Wednesdays and Saturdays off, and having some short runs in there). The training plan is 12 weeks, and I'm going to allow myself four "free days"--where I can decide not to run for whatever reason and not feel guilty about it. I just can't use it to skip a long run! (I have to be prepared for Indy).

As far as racing plans for the year, I don't have many. I plan to make Indy my "comeback" half-marathon, but I'm not going to be racing it hard. I want to just run for fun, maybe with a couple of people who I'm meeting, and just enjoy the race.

I would like to do more local racing or join in on some group runs. We just got a running store in my hometown, and they have group runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays (ha! My two rest days). I'd like to step out of my comfort zone and go.

I also want to focus less on numbers. Obviously, I still need to get in mileage to train, but I'm not going to worry so much about heart rate or pace. I'll just run "slow" when my schedule calls for an easy run, and "faster" when it calls for speed work. Simple!

Going to California also made me really want to travel some more. I'm going to start cutting back on unnecessary spending in order to save up money to travel more. This year is already pretty booked.
April 21: Boston to visit Caitlin
May 5: Indianapolis with Jerry and to meet up with about 15 blog readers!
May 26: Portland to visit Thomas
June 30: Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my parents and siblings
November 9: Las Vegas with Jerry and From Fat to Finish Line!

All of Jerry's vacation time is already in the books, so there won't be other trips (not that five isn't more than enough already). My sister owns some property in the far northwest part of Michigan, so we're going to stay there with her over the fourth of July. I'm really excited about it, because I love spending time with my family. And, Joey gets to come with us! Jeanie's got an enormous area (several acres, I believe) that is fenced off for her dogs, so Joey can come and hang with us.

Thinking about traveling and visiting friends has been very helpful in improving my mood. Whenever I start feeling down, I've been trying to think about a trip that I'm excited about, and it helps so much. It's funny, because I used to HATE traveling before I got over my fear of flying; and now, I look forward to it!

As far as my weight and diet, I haven't really changed plans. I'd like to get back down to my goal weight, but it's not at the top of my priority list. I'm pretty happy with how I look and feel right now, and when I saw the pictures of me in San Diego, I wasn't horrified or embarrassed ;) This is totally new to me--I always used to feel like a failure when my weight was up, but something happened this past summer that made me realize that my weight just isn't that damn important (assuming I'm still healthy and not gaining 10 pounds a month or anything! ha).

Basically, I don't want to always feel like I'm waiting to start my life until I'm at goal weight. I can do everything at this weight that I could when I was 30 pounds lighter (well, except fit into size 2 jeans!), so I might as well just live my life now. Hopefully that makes sense.

This week has flown by. I was working on a project as a gift for someone, and the time went by so quickly. I'm hoping to get it mailed out tomorrow, so once the person receives it, I will post a photo. I'm pretty excited about how it turned out! (I had to watch YouTube tutorials to figure out how to do it).

Jerry's off work tomorrow, and we are going to see a comedy show at our favorite dive bar. They've never done a show there, so I'm interested to see how it goes ;) Have a great weekend, everyone!

February 07, 2017

California therapy

Holy smokes. What an adventurous weekend!

I will start by spoiling the ending, and saying that this trip was EXACTLY what I needed for my mental health. The day before I left, it was like a bunch of stress accumulated and came to a head, and I just had to do something. I felt like I wanted to just go to sleep and wake up a couple of months later--just put everything on hold for a while.

Of course, avoidance doesn't solve anything, but I was worried I was going to have some sort of breakdown if I didn't get a break. Thanks to a buddy pass from my brother, hopping a plane to San Diego at the last minute was a possibility, and it ended up being just what I needed to destress.

I left off my last post on Saturday morning, when we were getting ready to drive up to Huntington Beach for the Surf City Half.

Since my trip was so last minute, none of the other people going to HB knew that I was going. There were a few fans of the film that were going up for the race, and John was really excited for them to meet me.

It was fun to surprise Colin on Friday night, and he was going to be picking us up from John's. While we waited for him, Shawn showed up. Shawn is a big fan of the film, and I saw a post she wrote on Facebook that I was on her bucket list of people to meet. How fun to get to surprise her, right? ;) So, she came in to John's house, and we chatted for a little while before Colin picked us up.

Shawn is amazing, and I'm thrilled I got to meet her! She does a lot of fundraising walks, including Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. For Relay for Life, she walked 55 miles around a track in about 23 hours. I can't imagine walking that far, but to do it around a track?! Just wow. Anyway, I was so impressed by her endurance.

Colin picked us up at John's, and then we drove up to Huntington Beach to meet up with everyone else (Angela and Jennifer, the producers of the film; Nora, who works for the FFTFL company; and Teri, a fan of the film and part of the FFTFL community). Everyone kept telling me that Teri was going to be crazy excited to meet me, which made me a little nervous (I always hope that I meet people's expectations of me!).

They hadn't arrived just yet, so Colin, Shawn, John, and I grabbed a quick dinner at Quizno's. Surprisingly, I've been sticking to my challenge of eating a salad every day! I had a Caesar salad and soup at Quizno's (which I later regretted because we went out to dinner with everyone else at a really nice place and I wasn't hungry!).

We went to the hotel, where we waited for the others in the lobby. It was super fun to surprise them, and I was excited to get to meet Nora and Teri. I always love seeing Angela and Jennifer, too.

Packed into the elevator at the hotel
The eight of us went to dinner at a place across the street. I didn't order anything, but I tried one of Colin's frog legs because I'd never had frog legs before (it was surprisingly really good). The owner came over and chatted with us, and we learned that he, himself, had lost 100 pounds! He was in REALLY good shape, and I never would have guessed he was once overweight, but he showed us his before picture. Very inspiring!

Dark photo, but: John, me, Shawn, Angela, Teri, Nora, Colin, and Jennifer
On the walk back to the hotel, I got a chance to talk with Teri, and she is super inspiring. She's lost a lot of weight (I can't remember exactly how much--but I want to guess 80 pounds?). She showed me her "before" picture, and I didn't even recognize her. So amazing!

Teri and me (my hair is enormous from the "heat" in California--60's, haha)
The next morning was the Surf City Half. I had been hoping to walk the race, but it was too late to register and we couldn't transfer a bib to my name. Colin wasn't doing the race, and was planning to just run eight miles on the boardwalk while the others were walking the race, so he said I could join him. That sounded like a good back-up plan to me!

I was really hoping the sun would come out for me, but
it stayed cloudy the whole day. Bummer!
We stayed at the starting line until John, Jennifer, Shawn, and Nora started the race, and then Colin and I walked to the boardwalk and started our run. Colin does heart rate training, so he runs at a pace that keeps his heart rate under 150. He guessed it would be about 11:30-13:30 pace, which sounded perfect to me. The scenery was gorgeous!

We ran an out and back right along the beach, and we discovered early on that the boardwalk was a big part of the marathon course (it was still open to the public, despite the race). It was fun that we were able to run the course, but without having to run a full marathon ;)

We were wearing From Fat to Finish Line shirts, and I was so excited because people actually recognized me from the film! How crazy is that?! There were some guys who set up a Beer & Bacon Station (not part of the race, but just for fun). I think this should be part of races all over! I did have a little beer, because I was thirsty and I obviously wasn't going to take anything from the water stations on the course without being part of the race. Beer always tastes so good during a run!

Chatting with Colin made the time go by really quickly, and before I knew it, we were back at the starting line/finish line. We did 8 miles at a 13:00-ish pace. Lots of fun with this guy!

We met up with Angela at the finish line, and I was on the lookout for Martine, who I asked to come meet us as well. Martine is a reader of my blog that I've gotten to know through emails. She always used to leave the nicest comments on my blog when I had the "Anonymous" option for commenting, and then she'd sign them "Martine". When I turned off anonymous commenting, I felt bad that she'd no longer be able to comment, so I emailed her to let her know my reasoning and to apologize for it. We then started emailing pretty often, and when I decided to go to San Diego, of course I wanted to try to meet up with her. She came to the finish line, and I was happy to see that she is just as delightful in person as she is in her emails!

Martine's gorgeous smile
We hung out at the finish line to wait for our FFTFL crew to come in, and we saw lots of inspiring people! The "back-of-the-packers" are our kind of people, so we enjoyed cheering for them. There was one large group of people that came through, walking, wearing matching shirts. They were celebrating the 90th birthday of the woman walking in the center of the pack for the half-marathon!! How amazing is that?

Although, I do want to say that this particular race is NOT good for walkers or back-of-the-packers. I was shocked at all of the faster finishers who were taking huge armfuls of food and drinks at the finisher's chute, and then there was nothing left when the 3:00-4:00 half-marathoners came through. After our FFTFL people finished in 3:55, there was nothing for them to eat, and there were still half- and full-marathoners on the course! I think it's terrible that people would take so much when there were still people on the course. The race was not set up for slower runners or for walkers, unfortunately.

Nora, Jennifer, Colin, me, Shawn, and John
Anyway, we were all starving by that time, so we walked to a little restaurant near the finish line for lunch. I had chicken tortilla soup and a salad.

After that, I really had to figure out my plan for getting home. I had been planning to take the red-eye from LAX on Sunday evening, to arrive home on Monday morning. However, Becky called to tell me that the flight filled up, so I needed to do a different option.

Flying stand-by is great when you want to take a last-minute trip, but it's kind of a pain because you have to watch flight availability and your options are limited to what's available at the last moment. I thought about staying until Tuesday and leaving from San Diego, but I really needed to get back home to my responsibilities. There was a direct flight out of LAX on Monday at 6:50 AM, so I ultimately decided to get on that flight.

Martine ended up driving me (in her little BMW roadster!) to Angela's house in L.A. on Sunday evening. Angela, meanwhile, was staying another night at the hotel in Huntington Beach. I wished I'd have had time to plan an adventure in L.A., but going up there was so last-minute. I didn't have a car, so from Angela's, I walked down the street to a Carl's Jr. for dinner. I'd never tried Carl's Jr. before, so I actually looking forward to it.

I got a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun (I figured I should save calories wherever I can) and it was really delicious. I wish we had Carl's Jr. around here! I was surprised at how much I liked the burger without a bun, too. I have nothing whatsoever against carbs, but hamburger buns seem like a waste of calories because they are just used as a tool to eat the burger without adding any flavor. I'm going to do the lettuce wrap whenever I can from now on.

Anyway, I walked back to Angela's house and just had a relaxing evening. I went to bed early, because I knew I had an early flight to get up for. I'd never used Uber or Lyft or any sort of service like that before, so I was nervous to try it! But it ended up being super easy. I had Lyft credit from someone handing them out near the race course, and John told me if I use the option to share a ride, it'll be even cheaper (whether someone shares the ride or not).

I requested a ride at 4:00 AM, and Tris, my driver, showed up in about two minutes. I was worried about safety, but the app shows a picture of the driver, a picture of the car, and the license plate number. Tris was super nice, and we chatted the whole way to the airport. The ride was 25 minutes, but only cost $9! I wish we had services like that around where I live.

Thankfully, I made it on the flight without any problems, and I even had a window seat with an empty middle seat next to me! Jerry and the boys picked me up from the airport after school.

I am SO so so grateful that I was able to go on this trip! I feel rejuvenated and ready to make some changes for myself that will be good for me in the long run. I realized that even though I'm an introvert, it's worth stepping out of my comfort zone to meet new people and make new friends. I loved every single person I met this weekend, and they're so inspiring.

Anyways, I'm home now, feeling a million times better than I did just a week ago, and motivated to move in a positive direction. Hope everyone else had a good weekend!

February 04, 2017

The most spontaneous thing I've ever done

Hola from San Diego!

This trip was decided on Thursday morning, and I was on a plane Thursday night. Crazy, right?! I had a string of bad days as far as my depression goes, and I really just felt like I needed to get away for a couple of days. I thought about driving out to my sister's with the kids, or something like that. But then I had the (insane) idea that maybe I could visit John.

John is a friend of mine that I met through my blog and SparkPeople, and then asked to join my Ragnar Relay team. He was Runner 12 for the Florida Keys Ragnar, so you can see him in the From Fat to Finish Line documentary. Then, in 2014, John and I captained another Ragnar team, Strangers to Sole Mates.

Anyway, John is very understanding of depression, and I knew talking to him would be therapeutic in itself. As a bonus, he and his husband Ric live in San Diego! Could there possibly be a better place to escape from Michigan for a couple of days, considering it's February and 12 degrees at home? I can't think of one ;)

When I asked John about it, he said the timing would be perfect for a visit, because he's walking the Surf City Half on Sunday and Jen and Angela will be there. Jen and Angela are the documentary's producers (and Jen is one of the runners in the film). It'll be fun to see them today when we drive up to Huntington Beach!

Anyway, John was thrilled for me to visit (John and Ric host people at their house a lot--otherwise, I don't know that I would have asked). My sister-in-law, Becky, listed me on a flight Thursday night using a buddy pass from Brian (Brian was on a trip in Paris). Without a buddy pass, the ticket would have been $1500! There is no way I'd have been able to go without the buddy pass. The flight had 40 open seats, so the chances of getting on the flight were really good.

I made it onto the flight and arrived in San Diego late Thursday night. Yesterday, I got in 15,424 steps while walking around San Diego! John took Ric to an appointment in the morning, so I walked Ruthie, their dog, around the block (she doesn't like to walk far); and then I walked on my own for a few miles to just get some sun. I was amazed at how good I felt--the change of scenery instantly made me feel better.

John, Ric, and I went to the beach where I walked out on a pier, and it was amazing. It was fun to watch people surf.

Me, Ric, and John
We went to Hodad's for lunch, which is a burger place, and the atmosphere there was awesome! When we were leaving, I saw something lying on the sidewalk--and it ended up being a fairly large amount of marijuana. Haha! I felt like I was on a hidden camera show.

Then, we went to Cabrillo National Monument, where I saw the most amazing view of San Diego. I took a photo, but photos NEVER do sceneries justice. I couldn't get over how gorgeous it was!

I was cracking up at all the people wearing winter coats. It was in the mid-60's, which is shorts and t-shirt weather in Michigan! I was wearing jeans, but wished I'd brought shorts because I was really warm.

Then Ric dropped John and I off at a fun bar for afternoon margaritas. We were able to catch up with everything, and it was awesome.

I also got to meet Colin, who is a fan of the film. What a nice guy! He's lost 100 pounds and is training for his first triathlon--an IRONMAN. He is going to be going up to Huntington Beach for the race as well.

Colin, me, and John
The three of us were chatting at John's, and I literally fell asleep on the couch at 7:30. The time change is definitely an adjustment! It was 10:30 at home. But the long day with lots of walking tired me out.

Anyway, I can't believe I didn't think to do this sooner. This trip has been so therapeutic and I know I am going to go home in a much better state of mind. I'm really grateful to my family for being so cool with this, too. It's amazing what nice weather and great friends can do :)

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