Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shadow Boxing

So, yesterday was a spectacular day to run in Mississippi. I threw on my gear and took off. The sun was shining so my shadow was very clear. As I looked at the girl in the shadow, I really didn't recognize her. A year ago, that same girl was hiding under her clothes, shuffling her feet and willing herself to just make it a few more feet. But not this girl. She was sporting a great pair of running capris with a well-fitting pullover. Her legs were slimmer, there was a defined waist and she had a stride rather than a shuffle. She LOOKED like a runner. Who was this girl trying to cut in on my run? Who did she think she was?

While I obviously see myself in the mirror daily, I am definitely still adjusting to how much my body has changed over the last year. Despite those changes, the mental battle with "the fat girl in my head" has been - and at times, continues to be - my biggest struggle. She was relentless in her efforts to keep me from even getting started (see previous post for her laundry list of excuses!). And she likes to beat me up and tell me "I can't" even though my body (now!) says I can. When I shop for new clothes, she always makes me start with the bigger size even though more and more, I get to return for the smaller one (Take that, fat girl!). It was months before she stepped aside and let me confidently call myself a "runner" - as if I had to prove to HER that I was by some spectacular feat of distance or speed.

So, why is it that I can't kick her out of my head? Why does she still call my head "Home" even after I've lost weight and completed a half marathon? I guess if I could answer that, I (and millions of other women and girls!) wouldn't be battling her daily. I'd be sitting on "Oprah" or "Dr. Phil" talking about my latest psychological "break through" in self confidence and improved body image. I'd probably be a NY Times bestselling author helping millions defeat their own fat girl/guy who has kept them on the couch and out of the gym for years. Or maybe even selling some great workout program via infomercial...ok, maybe not that one.

But I don't really have the answer. So, instead, I'm here - writing this brief post about my own battle for a few hundred people who may be able to relate in some small (or big!) way. And that is one of several "purposes" for this blog! (NOTE: A more accurate title for my blog might have been "Running with Several Good Intentions" but that's not quite as catchy!). I obviously don't know how to permanently move the fat girl/guy out of your head, but I can tell you there's no better feeling than a good beat down on her/him. And remember...

The only thing worse than never trying.

Finally, my "fat girl" needs a name. I'm now taking suggestions and will let the readers name my "fat girl!" Winning name gets a prize (and trust me, it's a good one!)!

Rules (Hey, I'm a mom and a teacher - have to have rules!):
  1. You can submit as many names as you'd like before January 1, 2011 (noon).
  2. You can submit only name suggestions, however, special consideration will be given to entries with explanations (crazy ex-girlfriend, whacko family member, worst teacher, obnoxious neighbor, annoying co-worker, etc...). 
  3. All submissions will be used in a blogpost announcing the winning "fat girl" name on New Year's Day!
  4. Prize will be mailed to individual with the winning submission Monday, January 3. 
So, now I'm going to throw on my gear and go another round with my fat girl. Regardless of what I call her, she's going down, folks! KO, baby!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Moving Past the Excuses

Motivation. For every action we engage in, there's some type of motivation behind it. Whether it is fear or necessity or guilt or any number of other catalysts, something has to motivate us to move - to act.

So, what was my "tipping point" for beginning this journey? What got me off the couch and moving?

You may find this odd, but "The Biggest Loser" was actually my tipping point. I was sitting in front of the television (with a bag of chips) watching the contestants kill themselves in the gym. Then, they would get on the scale at the end of the show and I WEIGHED MORE THAN THEM! It was a sad and life-changing realization (I was about 7 months pregnant when it happened, so I had to stall my plan of action a tad until Eli arrived). But I had to do I (finally!) quit making excuses and did it.

We all have our list of excuses and here are a few of mine:

1. I'm too busy. Wow. If I had a dime for every time I said or thought that, I'd be RICH (like Bill Gates-rich, people!). As a working mom (who's married to a youth minister), I feel pulled in 20 different directions most of the time. I had to prioritize to MAKE time to exercise. I'm learning to "protect" my run time like I would any other appointment on my calendar. That was (and still is!) my first obstacle.

2. I don't "feel" like it. Well, of course I didn't! I was SERIOUSLY overweight and hadn't worked out in years. Trust me, there were lots of days I really wanted to curl up under the covers and pretend I didn't hear the alarm sound at 5 a.m. But once I got my run in for the day, I felt amazingly better and had so much more energy. Ok. So, lesson learned.

3. I'm too old to run. I'll admit, this is one I still struggle with when my knees and hips are cursing me for putting them through a long run. But I'm not, and the longer I stick with this and train my body, the better it will handle the miles. When I started competing in races and seeing how many older participants there were, I knew I had to quit using this one...especially when they were flying past me to the finish line. LOL

4. I feel guilty for not spending this time with my boys. Ok. This is also one I continue to struggle with. Because the boys are in daycare, I feel like my time with them at night is really important. Then I realized, being able to physically care for them is also pretty important. I was headed down a pretty treacherous path with my weight/health and thankfully, I was able to turn things around. I am finally embracing the fact that I am a better mommy when I make time to exercise.

5. I can't afford to exercise/join the gym. Uh...can I "afford" not to? The cost of obesity is WAY more than the cost of getting fit. I didn't want to spend the money on a gym membership because of my crazy schedule and the fear I wouldn't be able to use the membership enough. So I found another way to get fit and now, I buy new shoes every 400 miles (1/2 way to my third pair!) and running clothes that make me feel good. If you feel better about putting on your workout gear, you are more likely to get in it and GET MOVING.

So, what's stopping you? What's keeping you from lacing up the sneaks and hitting the road or jumping on the treadmill or heading to the gym? If you can figure that out, then you can make a plan to move past those "excuses."

And you know that's what they are, right? EXCUSES!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome to my World!

Welcome to MY blog! I am excited to finally have my corner of the Internet to share and write without family being irritated there were no pictures of my sweet boys involved in the post (also pretty excited to use "girly" colors and fonts!).

If you're new to my world, I'll use the next few posts to catch you up on my incredibly wonderful journey. Last January, I gave birth to my second son and before I was even home from the hospital, I knew things had to change in my life. I weighed a whopping 233 pounds when I arrived at the hospital to deliver him! I waited (somewhat impatiently) until five weeks after his birth and then I began running...and I haven't stopped since! I completed my first 5K on April 17 (11 weeks after Eli was born) and just recently ran the St. Jude's Half-Marathon in 2:18:10.

I've lost about 70 pounds and I'm sitting squarely in my "healthy" BMI range for the first time in a LONG time. I feel amazing and love being able to keep up with my boys! 

There were a lot of different motivations for beginning this journey, but here are my top 3:

1. My Dad: My dad (and most of his siblings!) is a Type 2 diabetic. While he has done an amazing job controlling it for over 10 years with his diet and exercise, the best way to control it is to avoid it. Knowing my family history, I had to lose the weight!

2. My boys: As the mom of two boys, I will spend the next 20 years running...I might as well enjoy it! (LOL) I want to be a mom who can keep up with her boys and isn't exhausted after chasing them around the yard. I love being able to run next to Riley as he rides his bike through our neighborhood!

3. Vanity: Ok. If you're female and you LOVE your body, please message me now! I don't know very many girls/women who are completely satisfied with the way they look and I, too, was very unhappy. I had gotten to the point where I hated shopping (Ok. You know it was bad!). Every girl/woman wants to feel attractive and (unfortunately) that feeling is deeply rooted in our outward appearance (more on that in later posts, I'm sure!). 

I certainly don't know everything there is to know about running, being fit or eating healthy - I'm still a newbie! But I know what worked for me, and I am excited to share with others how I've been successful. I am an encourager (so says my spiritual gifts assessment!) thus I am passionate about helping others reach their goals! I will share my highs and lows on this life-long journey and hope they inspire and comfort as you face yours.  

You can also follow me on Twitter @LauraRWalton!