Monday, April 11, 2011

5am Running Queen...

Yes, I actually did it. I got my butt up out of bed at 5am (well, it was more like 5:10am) and I did my ENTIRE 5k run. I will admit, those first 10 minutes involved me laying there in bed and doubting whether I could do the run this early, and if I even wanted to. But there was a distinct point where I just said to myself, 'what the heck? I got nothing to lose here, might as well give it a shot...' AND I DID!

I don't know how stupid or crazy this will sound, but I swear to you, this morning's run was almost spiritual in a way. I stepped outside and immediately noticed a slight fog hovering just over the roads. As I descended the 3 flights of stairs and walked to my 'starting point', my stomach was in knots. There was this eery silence that hung heavy in my ears. The fog was more dense than I thought now that I was at ground level, and noticing this filled my stomach with excited butterflies. I turned on my beats (Kid Cudi to be exact) and began my 5k loop.

It was as if the entire city was still asleep. I would look up and see the houses that I was passing and I noticed that they were still dark inside, no one was awake. But there I was....running....just me, my beats, and my feet hitting the pavement at a steady pace. I will admit I ran at a much slower pace today. Could have been because it was so early and I'm not used to being up at that hour, but I like to think it was more because I was thoroughly enjoying this run and really taking in my surroundings. For the first time ever, I was just reveling in 'the run' and not worrying about beating a time.

There's a certain road on this 5k run that has a big field on either side of me and woods at the edge of the field. The fog was just lifting and a beautiful scene of nature appeared to me. I even passed some street lights just as they were turning off because the sun was now starting to peek its little rays through the fog. When I tell you that I have never had such an amazing run in my life as I did this morning, you can TOTALLY believe the truth in that statement.

This must be what it feels like to be at peace. Although my heart rate was pumping and I was (obviously) sweating, I was happy....I was confident....I was not worried about anything other than the steady 'thudding' of my feet against our solid earth. And for the first time, I smiled while running. I think I may have smiled for the entire last 2.5 kilometers. Before, I used to think of my running as something new to accomplish, just another thing I can become "good" at. Today changed that way of thinking for me. I now realize that my running is more for sanity, it provides peace of mind and clarity of thought. And that makes me truly, deeply happy.
Today WILL be a great day.
Yep, just call me Julie 'Prefontaine'.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

5 days later....

Yes, its five days later since my last update and a lot has happened. I'm still without a car, but the good news is that the car IS getting fixed WITHOUT any charges to us! (Whew! I cannot tell you how much I was worried about the costs of this repair). The mechanic at the dealership was telling me that normally, this repair would cost upwards of 3,000 dollars! Can you believe that?!?!?! And luckily, since this repair is not due to any vehicular abuse or neglect on our part (basically, the engine was not properly put together) this repair will be covered under our basic PowerTrain warranty. The only shitty part? That basic warranty does not include a clause for a rental or loaner to save a few bucks, I'll be sitting at home and hitching a ride with Rob to classes for the next week or so. I'll be sure to keep you all updated on any changes with this situation.

Now that we're all up to speed with "The Saga of the Car", we can now move on to health and fitness. After all, thats what this blog is supposed to be about...right? Lets first talk about my running. I am SO PROUD of my running abilities and how far I have come. One thing you have to appreciate and understand is that I've never really been a great athlete. I mean, yes I played basketball, volleyball, softball and even ran track in High School, but I was never really the best or particularly talented in any of those things. They were more activities that I was apart of because all my friends played those sports, so I thought what the heck, I'll play too. No, the "Athlete Card' in my family definitely went to my brother. He was ALWAYS the most athletic and VERY skilled at all sports he committed to. So for me to now sit here and say, "I'm a runner." is something that I NEVER thought I would be able to say. Ever.

Whats even crazier is that I never thought I would be the kind of person who ENJOYED exercise. But its so true, I DO ENJOY IT!!! I LOVE going for a run outside, I LOVE hitting the gym and working it hard. I LOVE when my muscles are sore and tired from a lot of hard work. I LIVE for those endorphins at the end of each workout. (Side note: Can you get addicted to endorphins? Is this becoming a problem?)

I cherish days like this when I get the chance to sit back and think about how much I've changed. I've seen a lot of people on Youtube making videos about where they want to be (weight-wise) and what they want to accomplish (like running a 5k or becoming a regular runner, swimmer, etc.) Its a funny thing when you sit back and you realize, you've accomplished what you set out to do in the first place! When I first started this journey, I didn't know that I was going to fall in love with running, but I knew I wanted to become someone who enjoyed working out, who enjoyed their workout time. I knew I wanted to become someone who was aware of what they were eating. I wanted to become someone who already knew what a correct portion size was. And guess what? I'M THERE! I have accomplished all of the above, and the only things left for me to achieve are actually running a 5k race (which I'm researching today where and when they are in my area) and of course the biggest goal I still have left is getting to my Goal Healthy Weight.

But Julie, what happens when you reach those last two goals?

I've been contemplating this very question as well. It wasn't until watching a good friend's video ( that the answer became apparently clear:
To me, this is the most beautiful thing about life. The fact that you can ALWAYS do more. You can ALWAYS strive to change, and push yourself harder and harder. So, once I run that 5k, then I'll start training for a 10k. After that 10k, I'll train for another race and another and get the idea.

See? Its not about reaching a certain point and then just saying, 'Okay, thats it! Pass the chips this way, and where's my soda!' NO! Thats not it at all. For me, this process or journey has been all about CHANGE. Its been about CHANGING my bad habits and CREATING LIFELONG NEW ONES!!! So, I think its important for all of us to realize, once you decide to begin this process or journey, there is no 'stopping'. You just keep going. You just keep succeeding. You just keep living your life, but in the healthiest way possible.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Rainy Day.....

Its another cold, rainy day here in Southern New Jersey. I find that with rain comes some much needed time for introspection and deep thought, while being stuck indoors. So here I sit, a warm cup of freshly brewed coffee to my right, and the baby watching his morning cartoons to my left...and here I go with my thoughts and my computer.

I've been watching quite a few videos this morning from some of the people on YT that I'm subscribed to. I've been seeing one central theme: Depression and Confusion. Its rather obvious that the Depression is coming from a halt in their weight loss progress and the Confusion is coming from them asking themselves, 'Why am I not losing? Why am I remaining stagnant? Why did I let myself get to this point in the first place?' And that last question is one I'd like to address in today's blog.

How did we get to this level of overweight or obesity?

The answer to this is different for everyone, but still there is one central truth. There is some sort of a vicious mental cycle that we all went through that made the weight problem get progressively worse and worse and worse. I'll tell you what happened with me. I became very aware of my weight issue when I lived in Florida my junior year of High School. I was surrounded by these tiny, tan, and cute girls my age who were 'bikini ready' at any time of the year. I....on the other hand.....definitely was not. I always knew that I was a 'bigger girl' than my peers, but I never had it thrown in my face before like I did when I lived in Florida. I came from Michigan where the uniform of clothing was ripped jeans, tshirts and hoodies....these all provide for optimum "flub coverage" as I used to call it. So when I came to Florida (which is the land of shorts, skirts, mini's, and tank tops) I couldn't hide anymore. Here enters my vicious cycle. I would see all these pretty girls around me, I would then compare myself to them. I would get depressed, I would get angry, and then I would turn to food to comfort me. The funny thing is, that food was the VERY THING that put me in that 'overweight' situation in the first place!!! So, now you know what I mean by "The Vicious Cycle". Before I knew it, I was graduating High School at over 215lbs.

Recently, I've been sitting back and thinking, whats different now? Why has this idea of weight loss and fitness and health seeming to "stick" now? Why? And even sitting here typing this...I can't put my finger on exactly why I've had (and am still having) success with losing weight and becoming a healthier more active person. I would like to say that maybe its because my life is at a certain point where I can dedicate a lot of time and energy to it and really focus on it. But then again, I don't want to admit that because.....what happens when I get my degree and I start work in a law firm working 60 hour work weeks (or more)????? Will health and fitness just "not fit" into my lifestyle anymore? Will I gain it all back?

This has all really got my mind churning this morning. I'm now trying to focus most of my energy on TEACHING myself how to ALWAYS make the healthier choices. I need to find ways to get extra exercise in FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Recently, I've realized how much I enjoy running and I've been thinking....maybe becoming a marathon runner or a distance runner or just your 'every day jogger' is something I can do for the rest of my life. I love the clarity of mind I get when I'm running. I just focus on one foot in front of the other, I focus on my breath and all the other thoughts and frustrations seem to melt away. That is DEFINITELY something I want to keep enjoying for the rest of my life.

So, to those people that made those vids in the YT community (you know who you are)...I'm sorry, but I don't have a magical "answer" to help you out of this rut. I can only tell you this: I've been in the same "rut" before. I STILL get into I'm only human. The main truth is that only YOU can pull yourself up out of a slump. Only YOU can force yourself to be accountable and to stop whining and to START WORKING. "No one ever got ahead by sitting on their behind". Corny saying? Yes. Is it true? Absolutely. You can't expect to get anywhere if YOU'RE NOT PUTTING IN THE EFFORT. A rather well known Youtube Vlogger said it the other day in her "comeback video". It works if you work it. I hate to hear people say, "I've tried everything! I just can't lose weight!" Why do I hate that? Because I used to be the person that said that! (lol haha) It wasn't until I actually sat back and was honest with myself that I realized...yeah, I gave those things a try...but I never committed. I was never truly focused. I was never really dedicated. I was doing everything half assed. And until you sit down and 'be real with yourself' in that manner, you'll just continue to lose and gain and lose and gain and lose and gain.

This entry is not to say that I'm perfect; its not to say, "Look at me, I'm having success so do what I do..." NO! No no no no no A THOUSAND TIMES NO!!! All I'm saying is this: Make the decision that you're going to get healthy. Wake up every day and remind yourself of that decision. Choose what avenue you want to lose the weight, AND JUST DO IT! Everyone knows themselves and knows what will work best for them. And if you don't know, then thats all the more reason to get out there, research these things, and give it a try!

Consider this:
"Determine that the thing can and will be done, and then we will find the way."
-Abraham Lincoln.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Scale Hath No Power.....

Lately, I've been hearing the same thing from people in my life: "Oh my gosh! You're looking so thin!". I always react with confusion and genuine disbelief. Why? Because the word 'thin' has never been an adjective that anyone has ever use to describe me. No, the adjectives that best described me in the past were: thick, chubby, full figured, etc. And whats funny is, I began to accept those words, and I began to think for a long time that, thats just who I am. Boy, I was wrong....I was SO wrong!

I have to address first, the reason why I react with confusion. My confusion is genuine, and it comes from the fact that I don't see this "thin" me, that others seem to be seeing. No, I don't see myself as fat or grossly overweight, but I just see......"Me".....the same old Jules thats always been there. I don't feel that I look drastically different. Its not like I jump in front of the mirror and say, "EVERYONE! COME SEE HOW GOOD I LOOK!!!!" lol (sorry, shameless Ron Burgandy quote there). But, in all seriousness, when I look in the mirror, I still look only to the problem areas that need more attention during my workouts. However, there IS a difference with how I regard my reflection as of recently.

I took the advice of my Dad and stopped looking so critically at myself in the mirror. Instead, I simply use the mirror as a guide to see if my shirt looks okay, or if I look presentable enough to go to class like this, etc. There are times when I stand and point out my imperfections or "problem areas" but the difference is, now I don't look at those problem areas in disgust. I don't see them and hate myself or get angry...I simply regard them as more work to be done. I use those problem areas to remind myself that this journey is never over. No matter how physically fit you are, no matter what size pants you wear, there is always room for improvement. Maybe not in your appearance, but in your physical fitness abilities. We should always strive to better ourselves and perfect our human characters, after all, isn't that the point to this crazy whirlwind we call life?

I also firmly believe that my renewed state of mind and happier outlook on things has come from my discontinuation of weighing in everyday. In the beginning of my journey, I felt like I HAD to weigh in everyday. I felt like it helped me to know where I was at when I started my day and where I was at when I ended my day. And ya know what? It worked beautifully! But there comes a certain point, when you're rounding your goal weight, that you start to get frustrated with the scale no matter what it says. Its no secret that the last 20 or so pounds is nearly impossible to get off, and you might only lose an ounce or so each week, so it can be maddening and defeating for those of us who have worked so hard and gotten so close to our goals, to see this when we wake up. Stepping on that scale started to determine my mood for the day. If I got on, and I liked the number, I was happy. If I got on and the number was not what I wanted, I was depressed. If I got on after a binge and saw I gained, I was angry and lashing out at those I love. THIS IS NOT A WAY TO LIVE! It is important for us to remember that although the number on the scale is a good "mile marker", if you will, IT IS NOT WHAT DEFINES US. I started to feel like all my accomplishments didn't matter if the number on the scale wasn't going down. And nothing could be further from the truth.

I think I'm starting to win this HUGE mental battle regarding how far I've come. I'm now realizing that its really not about that number anymore. Its about all the things I can do and that I have accomplished, that I never would have even dreamed of when I was overweight. When I was at my heaviest weight, my world was full of: "No's" and "I could never..." and "I can't do that!". Now, my world is full of: "Bring it on!" and "Okay, let me give it a try". But most importantly, my world is full of happiness, love and positivity. Yes, I have my gloomy days when everything is going wrong and I'm overwhelmed and stressed and feeling a bit defeated.....but I have to say, those days are becoming few and far between.

Its so random that I'm remembering this now, but there was a girl in my High School Calculus class my senior year that started to lose weight. At this point in my life I was probably over 200lbs myself, so of course I noticed her success and complimented her on it. I remember her saying this to me, "If you don't like something about yourself, then change it!" Wow. That speaks volumes to me now. How right she was, how right she was. Thats really all there is to it. Like I've said in some of my vlogs, "Losers whine, complain, hope, and wish. Winners? Winners just DO IT!" This goes hand in hand with what that girl was saying in that calculus class. I now understand that her message was this: Don't sit there and complain about how much you hate yourself and how you wish you could look and feel differently. Instead, get up with purpose. Decide to change something in your life for the better, and work towards that every day. Even if the day ends up in failure, you still gave it a try which is better than what you were doing before, which was nothing.

When I meet new people on Youtube who watch my vlogs, they often ask me if I had one bit of advice for anyone who wants to start losing weight, what would it be? To them I say this:
Never Give Up. It seems simple, but its the key. We're humans and we're not perfect. We will all screw up in the journey for health and fitness. The key to success is not giving up. Do you know how many times I binged on junk food? Do you know how many times I failed at exercising? I can't even count how many times I've screwed up along the way. So, why have I had so much success with losing weight? Its because I refused to give up on myself. I refused to let my weaknesses win. I'm stronger than that. I can be a runner. I can be a healthy food-ist. I.CAN.DO.IT!!!!!! Every time you fall down, pick yourself back up again and fight the good fight. Do this over and over and over again if you have to. Just don't give up. Just keep going. Just keep doing. Love yourself enough to try, try, try again. Believe me, you owe yourself that much.