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I am a fitness loving, home schooling, running when and where I can kind of mom...I love my kids and husband, and life itself!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Of trials and tragedy

     The past few weeks, heck, even the past few months have been very trying on my patience.  Lately, running has been a challenge due to some breathing issues.  Essentially I have been ignoring my symptoms, passing them off as allergies, when I knew for a fact that asthma had reared its annoying head again.  One of the Pastors at my church, who is an avid runner as well, joked that I was behaving like men do when they are sick.  Okay, I'll give him that, he was right!   But when I could no longer run, or even breathe comfortably on a regular basis, I finally had to break down and see a doctor.   I'm doing much better, now that I am treating the symptoms with an inhaler.  With any luck, systems will be fully restored soon.
     And then it hits me that I can recover.  It hits me that I can work through this to get back to regular running, and training.  There are those, sadly, that can not say the same due to some pretty cowardly acts in Boston.
    When you are runner, you almost feel like you are part of this fellowship.  I've noticed it often when I run at the park, and I come across another runner.  We give this knowing grin and nod of a head as if to encourage one another.  I've also come across this bond at work, where a lot of runners use our track, and we often discuss the joys and frustrations we all face.  We throw tips and ideas back and forth,  We encourage each other over this shared love of running.
    So when the bombs went off in Boston, a part of me hurt along with all those who were there that day.  Every story I heard about someone killed, or hurt in turn made me really appreciate this community we have.    In the aftermath, it just amazed me to see people come together to help those affected by the bombings. I was particularly touched by the tales of men and women who ran straight through the finish line, and to hospitals or blood banks to donate blood.  Basically, we acted like a family.  Which, to tell the truth, we are family.  We don't share common blood, heck we don't all know each other.  We just all love to run.
     But we can look past the fact that there are quite a few people that lost their ability to run that day, either to death or injury.  Sure, some may find ways to come back, but not all of them.  Some of them may find a new love or hobby, but not all of them.  In essence, the bombings took more than life or peace of mind....it took away the JOY of running.
    When your feet take to path and pavement, you can let go of everything.  You can go into your own world, and leave behind all the frustrations and worries you feel.  It is great sense of freedom.  But they nearly ruined it by making people afraid of losing life or limb to something that should bring happiness.   It saddens me to think that this sport that people once loved may now bring them pain or fear, when it should ease those emotions.
    And to think I was upset because I had a small issue breathing, something that is easily fixed with medication.  I appreciate my running even more now, and encourage others to do the same.  Acts of terror, which I think is good description for the Boston bombings, are not simply attacks on people, but on ideals.  This was very much the case with Boston.
   Still, they cowards that did this over looked an important fact.  I do not think they understand that they attacked a very stubborn population of people.  You see, runners have to fight through quite a lot. Our bodies are not exactly meant to run in the way we demand they do.  But we run anyway.  We push through injuries, aches and pains, physical limits, and so on. In other words, we seem to all enjoy breaking past obstacles.
      I used the word stubborn, but perhaps a better term would be driven.  We are a driven group of people.  I have to believe that the injured will find a way to come back.  I believe that those who were emotionally hurt will find solace again, if not in running, than in other means of finding peace.  And I believe the rest of us, who were only distant witnesses to the attacks on our brothers and sisters, will continue to encourage them in their recovery.  That is what families do!
     Nothing will stop us, be it a small thing like asthma or a tragedy like the bombings.  Runners, like any athlete, do not give up.  We may slow down, we may catch our breath, but we do not stop.


Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm Baaaaaaack!!!!

   What a crazy past few months!!!  I hate that I have not been able to really post in such a very long time.  Life, unfortunately, has made that a bit of a challenge.  Thankfully things are settling down now, so that I can get back on track with both my weight loss and my blogging.
   We've been busy trying to finish up and get settled after a fairly big move.  We are officially out of apartments, and in to a nice rental house.  The down side of that, though, is that we are still without internet service, hence why it has not exactly been easy to post blogs.
   The kids are just about to finish up their first round of C-Sports at church.  My babies are T-Ball players!  When did they get old enough to play a sport, huh?

    I'm still working at Christ United with the recreation ministry.  It takes up a few evenings a week, and pretty soon it will take over my Saturdays this summer.  It may mean more hours, but I certainly can not complain about the boost in pay!  Unfortunately, it makes it hard to find time to run.  With any luck, once dance settles down, it won't be such a challenge!  After all, I have to be ready for my half marathon in January!  Thirteen miles....have to say, that is a little bit intimidating!
    Hopefully my posts will become regular again, assuming things continue to slow down.  I have a few that I have written over the break that I have been unable to post due to lack of internet, but I will have them up soon.  


Friday, March 1, 2013

A wise investment

    Life is full of wise investments, like a new home, or a reliable car.  Your health is one such investment.  As I myself have learned, poor health can have a negative impact on all parts of your life, not just physical well being.  However, there are long term details that often go ignored when you consider obesity and fitness.  In the long term, people who are obese generally suffer more health issues than those who are fit.  The cost of treating illnesses like heart disease and diabetes is overwhelming, and the earlier you develop such a condition, the longer you will have to treat it.  Not to mention, the mental and physical toll those illnesses take on a person can be devastating.  But when you stay fit, and keep yourself healthy, you do your future self a favor.  You can prevent weight related disease, spare your joints, and generally just feel better.
    So what exactly does an investment into health take?  Well, here are a few investments to consider.

1) Invest your time.
    This one is pretty obvious, since getting healthy takes time.  You have to set aside part of your day to exercise and get active.  It has not always been easy for me.  It took a long time for me to be able to see my work outs as free time, instead of taking away free time.  It also means getting up early on days that I will not have my evenings free, robbing me of that oh-so-precious sleep in time. I would be lying if I said I enjoy getting up early.  I have never been, nor will I EVER be, a morning person.  However, if I want to reach my goals, it is a sacrifice I have to make. But your work outs are not the only thing that require time.
    When you start, you need to invest time in to research.  First, dedicate some of that investment into researching different work outs you want to try. It will require a few rounds of trial and error to find workout or athletic activity that you really enjoy and will stick to, so do not get discouraged if it takes a while.  Once you get that settled, take time to research any equipment you will be using when you exercise.  Sometimes the best way to find out how worthwhile a piece of equipment is, is to read up on the opinions of those who actually use it.  You can ask around to family and friends, or go online and look up ratings and reviews for the item to help you in your search.
   It is also wise to invest time in to creating a weekly menu with healthy meals, and looking up healthier ways to cook some of your favorite meals.  This also means trying to create typically store bought foods from scratch.  You will be more likely to stick to healthy eating when you have a set menu for each week.
    Most importantly, invest some time into meeting with a health care professional.  Go in for a basic check up so you can have your blood pressure taken, and cholesterol levels looked at. This way you, and your doctor, can keep a record of how your health improves as you get in to shape!  Your doctor will also have a good idea of what your physical limits are, and together you come up with work outs that will not only help you achieve the goals you want, but will also keep you safe while doing so.  Not to mention, a good doctor will be a cheerleader, and give you some support along your way to a healthier you!

2) Invest your money.
    This one can be a challenge, specially considering the current economy. Truth be told, you really do not have to invest a lot of money to get healthy.  A walk at the park or around your neighborhood is free.  But there are some things that you would be wise to spend a little money on.  The first would be a good pair of shoes, if your workout of choice requires it.  Be sure to go to a store that has trained staff to help you find the type of shoe that your feet need.  That staff member should take the time to discuss your current level of activity, watch you walk (or run, if you are running), look at the shape of your feet, and take in to account any health issues you have to help you find what you need.  The $115 investment I made in to a good pair of New Balance running shoes made all the difference in the world to my knees, ankle, and back.  Not only was I less sore after a run, I was able to increase my distance by quite a bit!  If you want to find a store that DOES assist with shoe selection, I highly suggest McCoy Outdoor.  They were very helpful, and we found the perfect pair of shoes after only two tries.
    Go ahead and set up a good budget if you do not already have one, because fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooking from scratch can cost more than buying processed foods.  To save money, we often shop at farmer's stands and the Flea Market for our produce.  Most of it is locally grown, which drives the cost down, allowing us to eat healthier on a tight budget.   Also, part of weight loss means you should eat out less, which will save you a fair chunk of change.  Use the money you save from that towards your healthier menu. 
     Now that you have done your research in to any equipment you may need, be it fitness gear, braces and supports, or clothing (specially for women, a good athletic bra will save you a LOT of pain), you can start making purchases. While price may not always reflect quality, do not be afraid to pay a little more for something that you really like and works for you, or that you read good reviews for. If you are interested in joining a gym or finding a personal trainer, the same advice applies.  Research, budget, and go for it!
    Also invest in a decent music player if your phone does not already function as one.  I will be the first to admit that a good play list can make or break my workouts.  A basic Ipod shuffle will run you about $49 these days.  Simple mp3 players can start at $29, and go up from there.  If you will be using your phone, you can use a variety of music apps like Iheartradio, Slacker, or Pandora.  Personally, I enjoy Pandora's work out stations.  Though it takes a little tweaking, Pandora usually plays a good song rotation for me. In addition to a music player, try to find a case with which to carry it (I need to take my own advice on this one).  Look for ones that have adjustable arm bands, and are water proof so that sweat, rain, and humidity won't damage your phone or music player. Now as far as head phones go, that is all a matter of opinion. I prefer a cheap pair of gas station ear buds, because they are easily replaced and stay in my ear better than other types of head phones!

3) Invest blood, sweat, and tears.
   The biggest thing you need to invest in to your health is dedication.  Like most things in life, you get out what you put in.  When you give your dedication and hard work, you will enjoy many wonderful benefits.  As tempting as it is to give in to quick weight loss diets and miracle drugs, they generally do not work. I can not say it enough, you get what you give.  All these programs promise results with little effort, but to lose weight, and keep it off you have to put in the hard work. On top of that, while they may help you lose weight, only exercise and good nutrition will make you fit. Smaller numbers on the scale do not automatically mean you are healthy, which is why I try to emphasize the importance fitness in addition to weight loss.
    I can truthfully say that I  have invested my blood, sweat, and tears into my transformation.  I've had a few injuries here and there.  Blisters, Achilles pain, damaged toenails...and let's not go in to the acne that has decided to return.  It would seem my skin does not realize that I am twenty-six, not sixteen.  I suppose I can't complain too much about that!   I most certainly have sweat, as evidenced by the sweat stains on some of my clothing.  Speaking of which, I do believe I have some laundry that needs to washed.  And I have cried.  I've shed tears of pain and frustration, but also tears of relief and joy through all of this.  The good tears definitely make up for the sad ones!

  4) Invest faith
    No matter what belief you follow, faith will get you through.  For me it is faith in God, faith in myself, and faith in my purpose for doing this - my family. When you hit a bump, or when you find that plateau and you want to give up, don't. So often people give up when they have even a small struggle with a life change.  But it is those times when you should fight even harder. In doing so you overcome another obstacle, and you will realize just how strong you are.  You just have to believe in something.  Above all, though, believe in yourself.

As much as I have had to sacrifice, it has all been worth it.  The investments made have paid off beautifully.  Like with any investment there are risks.  Without a doubt, though, the benefits outweigh those!  Good luck with your own investments and life changes, and may they grant you the returns that I have found!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nerves of steel...abs of, well, not steel.

   Anyone who has followed my posts and photos or who sees me on a regular basis can tell you that I have gone through a massive physical transformation.  However, I have only posted photos of me with clothing on, hiding the still embarrassing state of my stomach and abs.  That is going to change.  This certainly will not be an easy post for me, considering my natural tendency is to HIDE my stomach.
    My pregnancy gave me a wonderful gift, in that I was blessed with a beautiful son and daughter. I would not trade motherhood for anything.  But my pregnancy also left me with something else, something I am not very fond of.
    When I got pregnant, I was already pretty overweight at 250 pounds. During the course of the eight months I gained another forty-five pounds, which was actually right where the doctor wanted me.  Then I went to what would be my final pre-natal appointment, feeling that something was wrong before I even went in.  The swelling that had plagued me the entire pregnancy just about doubled the day before that appointment.  When I stepped on the scale at the doctors, I had gained about 12 pounds in a little under a week, putting my weight gain at 57 pounds total. The weirdest concentration of fluid was actually at the bottom of my belly, creating what would become the apron that I have now.
    It was little surprise that I was diagnosed with pre eclampsia.  I was sent right away to USA Children's and Women's.  Originally the plan was to induce me, starting that night.  However, my health necessitated a different route.  My blood pressure continued to rise, despite the large amount of magnesium sulfate they gave me, and then my kidneys had trouble functioning.  It was at that point that they decided we would have to do an emergency c-section.  While I do not regret the surgery, it too contributed to the current state of my stomach.
     To give you an idea of why things look the way they do, here is a photo of me at about 32 weeks, about three weeks before I delivered.  I actually got bigger than this, if you can believe it!

     So , after my pregnancy, and weight gain, and everything, my stomach was left looking less than pretty.  I had, and still have, an apron of fluid and skin that actually extends to my hips.  Despite all the weight I have lost, it has yet to go away.  If anything, it actually has grown worse.  On top of that, I have a "mommy pooch" from the pregnancy and c-section that is being less than cooperative.

  The next photos are back from when I started. It's hard to believe how big I was!
260 pounds, size 24/26

   These are the most current photos of me at the 168 pound mark.  Same sports bra, by the way!  It's hard to believe how different I look now, from how I looked then.  Almost embarrassing really.  But I am so proud to see how far I have come in what really is a short amount of time.  I still have a long way to go, but it is wonderful to see my progress!

  These photos I took yesterday really show the apron.  Like I said, it's going to take a lot to correct it, but I think in the end it will be worth it.  

   So here it is.  My abs may not be rock hard, but my nerves certainly are!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Learning from the past

    I had the chance to read something today from a person who battled anorexia, and it brought up some memories of my own.  While I can say that I was  fortunate to have friends and family that knocked sense in to me before I went too far, it is scary to think about easily I fell into that state of mind.  It started off with the simple desire to be thin. Looking back, I know now that it was anything BUT simple.  And it was the wrong desire.  Sometimes I wonder that if I had focused on getting healthy, not being thin, that maybe I would have avoided the trap I fell in to. However, I am glad that I did experience what could have easily led to anorexia. It taught me a great lesson, and helped me stay in a healthy state of mind as I spent the last year working to lose weight.
     I still wonder why it was so easy to get into a pattern of skipping meals. I knew then, as much as I know now, that you have to eat to lose weight.  At first, I was going about the weight loss in a healthy way.  Instead of eating the cafeteria food (specifically the pizza), as was my usual habit, I started bringing healthy lunches like Tuna with celery or fruit salad. I quickly began to lose weight, but it was not quick enough.  Tuna and celery quickly became a slim fast bar and a piece of fruit.  Still not fast enough.  It became just the slim fast bar. Then half a bar, then nothing.  It was not long before I started skipping breakfast too.  If I did eat during the day, it was usually nothing more than celery, maybe a bite of a Slim Fast bar and a couple of grapes.
    The weight fell off of me, and I enjoyed it. Yet it didn't matter that my size had gone down drastically, I still felt very fat, and that I needed to lose more weight.  It did not take too long for friends and family to start realizing that I was not healthy.  I was having dizzy spells, and fainted quite a few times.  I actually skipped periods occasionally.  I couldn't focus at school, and I was always moody and miserable.  In fact was as miserable when I was skinny, as I was a year ago when I was severely obese.
    I had support all around me thankfully, and they all saw how quickly I was letting myself go down a very bad road.  But the person who really helped me the most was Ben. He stuck with me through the whole thing.  We had not even been together a year, and yet he made it his goal to help me get past that bump in my life.  See why I married him?  He is an amazing person!
     Ben spent every day telling me how pretty I was, and how much he loved me.  He would make sure I ate my lunch, and fuss if he found out I skipped breakfast or dinner.  As much as I hated gaining the weight back, over time I began to understand the risk I had faced.  In only a few months I had lost close to 60 pounds.  That doesn't sound like a lot, unless you consider that I was not really THAT heavy to begin with.
    This time, I am so glad I was able to lose the weight in a healthy way.  I would be lying if I did not say that I am occasionally met with the temptation to skip a meal again, or fall back into old habits.  Running has certainly helped with that.  My runs suck if I have not had enough calories during the day.  Let me tell you, few things irritate me more than a bad work out, and skipping meals will pretty much guarantee that your workout will not go well.  Having set for myself the goals of running a 10k and a half marathon, not eating is certainly out of the question!
    As much as I would like to say that I regret that part of my past, I can not.  It taught me far too many valuable lessons, and it has made me the person I am today.  The same can be said for the bullying that led to the disordered eating, I wouldn't change it.  Hard as those times were, they are an important part of who I am. If my experiences can help even one person that reads this blog, then I am even more grateful for that part of my life.

   I know that some of my friends have experienced, or are currently experiencing, the same fight to varying degrees.  And it is for them that I wrote this. For every person like me, who was able to stop, there are at least two others who are unable to.  I'm thankful for my family and friends, and I often thank God for giving me an awesome boyfriend that stuck around through a very rough period to become my husband. Without them, I do not know what would have happened.

    If any of you are fighting this frustrating battle, just know you are in my thoughts and prayers, and that you do not fight alone.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I just gained back 90 pounds!!!!

   Ben got the idea tonight to try an experiment with a couple of back packs and some of the weights we have around the house.  We slipped 80 pounds of weights into the bags, and then had me put them on.  Needless to say, it was an eye opening experience. In the past year, I have lost 90 pounds.  So putting on the bags with close to that amount of weight really made me understand just how much I have taken off of my body.
    Simply walking around the living room for about two minutes was hard.  My knees felt sore, my breath was shorter, and I couldn't even do three squats.  I have no idea how I functioned on a day to day basis back then, when I weighed 260 pounds.  Well, to tell you the truth, I didn't function.  I just existed.
    It is always an eye opening experience when I look at my old photos.  I realize how miserable I was and how horrible I looked and felt.  It was embarrassing when we moved in to our new apartment with a stair well, and I had trouble going up and down the small flight of stairs.  My knees would ache, and I would find myself out of breath at the top landing.
    I have to sit and ask myself WHY I let my body to get to that point.  I think, honestly, I let it go because I did not see what I had done.  More accurately, I did not WANT to see what I had done.  I did not want to see that my poor choices had caused me to experience health issues that no twenty-six year old should have to deal with.
    So tonight, as I tried to walk around the living room with the added weight on my body, I found myself thankful that I finally did something.  Thankful that I finally took back the health that I had so easily tossed aside.  I never truly appreciated what it meant to be born with a healthy body, until I no longer had one.  It is amazing what we take for granted, until it is gone.  I never want to go back to that place again, now that I know what healthy feels like.  Though it may be hard to believe, I did not realize how poor my health was, until I began to experience what it meant to be fit and healthy.
     After my experience tonight, I want to try something.  I want to find a weighted vest, one that hopefully can bring me close to my old weight.  And then I want to spend a day or two trying to go about my normal routine with it on.  Just basic things like doing laundry, playing with the kids, teaching a lesson, doing this or that at work.  I hope to record my thoughts and experiences on here if I get the chance to do it.  Putting on the weighted bags tonight truly made me appreciate the changes my body has gone through in this past year. I know that I'll appreciate the changes even more when I try to go a day or two with the weight back on my body.

Amazing what can come from a little bit of inspiration!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The extra mile...and a little insanity.

    So I can not deny that I have been slacking a little bit on my running. I'm trying to adjust to my new work schedule, dance is picking back up, and trying to run outside during the short daylight hours reminds me of that scene from the Mummy Returns where Rick is trying to run Alex into the temple before the sun hits his bracelet...only I am racing the sun set! This means I am trying to find ways to squeeze in work outs, while still having time to do housework, take care of the kids, and maybe even relax!
   I think I am finally getting a good schedule down, now, though. And I have slowly, but surely, started to work my way back up to where I was back at Thanksgiving, when I ran the Turkey Trot.  As of right now, I can officially say I am training myself up to run the Azalea Trail 10k!  I had a bit of a shocker the other day.  I looked on the calendar to the day of the race, March 23, and realized that it looked a LOT closer on this side of Christmas.  Time to get my butt back in gear!
    Tonight I finally had a little bit of free time, after my dance class, and went for what I had planned to be a short three or four mile run tonight.  Let me tell you, by mile three, I was ready to give up!  Something pushed me on, and I managed to fight my way to that fourth mile.
    I sat on the bench at the track, and stared at my phone.  It was still pretty early, and I had managed to push past my wall, and I decided to go....

Duh Duh Duh!!!!!


     If you had a tape recorder of my thoughts for that mile, I'm sure it would make for a very amusing clip to listen to.  No two runs are ever, mentally, the same for me.  Going in to one, I sometimes have no idea where my thoughts are going to take. As I started out on my fifth mile, my mind grew more and more entertaining to listen to.

Lap 1-
   The song "I feel good" is finishing up. I quietly mouth the lyrics, while doing a little dance.  I have the track to myself, no one can see me! Oh crap, I forgot about the cameras.  Oh well, who cares!

Lap 2-
   Oh man, I'm hungry.  I can't wait to get home and have some of that chicken, coated in Sweet Baby Ray's.  Hey now stomach, no misbehaving, we aren't home yet!  I wonder if we have any King cake left.  Oh come on Kristina, one slice of that will totally ruin this run.  But the cream cheese precious...it's cream cheese!  No! *gollum gollum* No cake precious....

Lap 3 and 4-
   Ooh, Sandstorm.  I like this song.  Hey, wait, where is my Darude CD?  Oh well, I'm sure it's around.  I wonder if they'll play this at the Jag's games again this year.  I hope so, I can't stand that other song.  Oh man, I miss football. Well, sort of, it is nice not to have to pack up the kids every dang Saturday and haul all that stuff to the jags games.  Aww man, I missed the song. Shut up brain!

Lap 5-
    Oh Lord, why did I decide to run five.  *Insert cartoon angel and devil on my shoulders*
 Devil: If you stop at six, it will be close to five miles right? Come on Kristina, just be bad tonight.
Angel:  Now, now Kristina.  You want that race right?  Keep on going, you are almost to six laps.

Lap 6-
   A commercial....go figure. I start to mentally sing a really annoying intro song for Inuyasha.  Why, Lord, why?  I hate this song, why am I singing this.  That's it, I've gone crazy.  This extra mile has stripped my sanity.

Lap 7 and 8-
Me:  I'm not gonna make it, I can't maneuver
Gold Five: Stay on Target
Me: So close...but so far
Gold Five: Stay on Target!
Me: Loosen up Kristina...

Lap 9-
   Mental image of the death star blowing up....yay!!!

Lap 10-
   I have so much to do tomorrow.  Groceries, pick up apartment...oh look, the lights got turned off.  Hey wait, I'm still up here.  Oh wait, never mind, the track lights are still on.  I'm good.  Ignore my girly scream.

Lap 11-
   I like this song, it makes me happy..."I feel so close to you right now, it's a force field."  Wait...that doesn't make sense.  Isn't a force field supposed to keep things out, or away?  This guy obviously is NOT a sci fi nerd.  If he was, he would know better than to use force field.  It should be tractor beam you idiot!!!!

Lap 12....
   *Insert chariots of fire theme*  Five miles, yeah buddy, I did it!!

  Thus ends the strange perspective of Kristina's thoughts while running.