Almost a year later and adjusting my diet is an ongoing process. I have taken strides using available resources to better understand how and what I’m eating and every week learn something new to ponder. I still have problems eating enough, to say nothing about eating enough vegetables specifically. But I’ve also learned quite a bit. With the help of a recent trainer, I’ve learned different ways to approach my eating deficiencies (problems?) and how to solve those issues without feeling guilt that I’m either not getting enough nutrients or just plain enough food in general. For the most part I’ve found my issue is mind over matter. Or health over stubbornness really. My personal big roadblock is effort in relation to results. My mind can’t see the results even though they’re evident so it resists the efforts I try to make. Or I just plain get lazy and it bites me in the ass. I’ve learned that, for me, hunger comes in the form of tiredness and/or grouchiness. Still I’ve learned and tweaked and learned some more. I’m also getting really tired of salads. :p
I’ve learned things like that Soybeans have become a genetically modified super crop here in the US that rivals corn and it’s many Frankenstein like variations. I’ve been on the fence the whole time about soy mainly because it’s such a large part of an Asian diet. Thankfully there are substitutes like Coconut Aminos that mimic the taste of soy sauce that I enjoy. Sadly, this might also means that edamame is firmly in the do not eat category because of it’s GMO status. On the upside, I’ve learned to enjoy Kombucha, and added many things like Flax seed, Parsnips and Celaric to my diet. I’m still on the fence about Chia Seeds and Spirulina though.
I’ve learned more about the eating habits of people in general that keep me constantly reminded that what I’m doing is a good thing for me despite the naysayers in my life. People who don’t understand or for some strange reason just plain don’t care about my health. It saddens me, but since I can’t do much about it I move on. This all started with Is Sugar Toxic? A news article by Gary Taubes that talked about the negative effects sugar has on our systems and examined the history of our eating problems as a nation. Then it moved to Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead which focused on grossly overweight and sick people, moved to programs like Food, Inc that focused on where food in the United States is coming from and other programs such as The Weight of the Nation that focused on how we as people are dealing with our health. There are still so many other programs that I’d still like to watch and/or read. Things like Why we get Fat: and what to do about it, Forks over Knives, Fathead, The Paleo Solution and others. It’s scary to say the least. What have we done to ourselves for the sake of convenience? For the pure hedonistic pleasure that taste gives us?
Whatever the reason is, I’m choosing healthier options for a healthier me. It’s not an easy course to take though. I have to change my mindset on what “fast food” or “quickie” meals are. I can’t run to McDonalds for a 40? Piece box of Chicken Nuggets (seriously? WTF?) and a milkshake. I can’t stop at Top Pot doughnuts on a Sunday Morning for a box of fresh backed doughnuts and a Latte. Making juice for a party is no longer dumping a bottle of syrup into a cooler of water – it’s flavoring the water with natural fruits and vegetables. They just aren’t the best options out there. I have to remember that grabbing a salad is just as quick. I have to remember that it really doesn’t take that long to cook a meal if my kitchen is clean to begin with. I have to remember that I can prep my breakfast and lunch for work before going to bed. I have to remember that fresh fruit makes a great dessert. Now if I can just remember to do my laundry…
“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”
~ Kara Goucher
Thanksgiving Weekend, I did something different with my running. Instead of being the athlete digging deep trying to reach a goal, or beat a PR time, or even just a race distance I was the athletic supporter helping others dig deep. Helping others reach a goal. Helping others finish a race they weren’t entirely sure they could complete. My friends and family and the internet in general has heard me go on and on about Team in Training and how grateful I am to have them in my life. They’ve helped me reach goals that I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted when I started. Goals I truthfully said offhand with very little thought as to how I would accomplish them. They’ve helped me realize the world is bigger than me and the problems that I feel could end the world. They’ve helped me realize that there’s so much more I could do for others that I haven’t yet begun to help with. They’ve helped me realize I’m just a bit more stubborn than I let myself believe I am.
Because of that, I wanted to help give back and show others how awesome this opportunity is. I can talk and email and Facebook on and on about it, but it truly doesn’t show as well as I would like. So I volunteer my time. I mentored other runners with goal, I helped support practices by being there for Waterstop support on multiple occasions and I’ve donated time and money where I could. Thanksgiving weekend, I went out and supported the TEAM yet again. This time I purposefully walked most of the race to find our slowest Half Marathon participant and ensure they finish. We found her and let her set the pace all while reminding her that we were there for her. And I was inspired. Inspired by Dianne, the participant we found who we saw visibly dig deep within herself to find what she needed to keep going. Inspired by an elderly man waiting for his wife. (They were in the event together and he would run a bit then wait for her to catch up. He was a cancer survivor who didn’t understand why God did bad things to good people.) Inspired by the group of ladies who were walking because one of their group had injured herself and could only walk. They brought cheers and chatter that I’m sure inspired the crowds around them if not at least a smile. These are all things that inspired me to keep going with this new season of fundraising. Inspired by how supportive our coaches were of all our people. Inspired by how well those coaches knew the participants they helped train all season. Inspired by the people around me. Inspired by the people who believe in me enough to make a donation to my fundraising efforts.
It’s the end of the second week of November and my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter stream is full of “Today I am thankful for” posts (More prominent now that the political posts have died down). While I’ve seen this in my scrapbooking and memory keeping communities for years, it’s the first time I’ve seen it so widespread across a wide variety of communities. For the past few days I would read each one and smile gently to myself. It’s cute that it’s catching like wildfire and those people who aren’t doing it are wondering where it started from.
It’s something I don’t normally post here. I have tons and tons of things to be thankful for beyond the mudanew praises for having a job, a home with heat and locks, food to eat and the blessings of love from people I care about in return. And yes there are days that I’m blessed to feel angry and outraged at others who choose to lead their lives differently. There are so many people with bigger worries than mine! But late last week something happened that reminded me how precious life is and how we need to hold it close. To make each of those memories last because time is fleeting.
Today a friend returned to work to say hello. She’s been gone the last few weeks following a tragedy in her family and I have no doubt spent time searching her soul for an answer. While the visit was brief, it reminded me how easy a life I have. Yes, I do indeed have a house with lock and heat. (Something many people on the East Coast are now without) I have a job that while I’m not completely enamored with the environment, is rewarding in it’s own sense for what we do. We make lifesaving tools for lifesaving teams. I have bills. Yes this seems like a weird one to be thankful for, but it means that I have money and I’m comfortable enough with what I earn to be able to spend it as well. (Not everyone has that ability and are barely able to make ends meet.) I have a loving family who can be trying at times, but they’re here and all I have to do is reach out and they’re there for me. I have my health when so many others do not. (I am continually hearing stories of people falling victim to disease or poor health. Mine is not the greatest, but I’m thankful it’s not worse than it is.) Most importantly, I have a wonderful man in my life who loves me even when I’m my most grouchy, whiny, bitchy self. Who reminds me of what is important in life and what really is just fluff.
This is the man who, when I first met his parents (virtually via Xbox’s Kinect system) responded to my nervous text of “What if they don’t like me?” with sweet words of “I can’t imagine anyone not liking you”. Who showed up to surprise me at the finishline of my last race in an other state because he hadn’t been able to be there for me at other races near and far, short or long this year. I’m told time and time again by my friends that this one’s a keeper and I certainly think so. I just wish I made a point to show him more often. (Yet another thing to be thankful for…)
It’s now less than one week to race day and there’s a lot I have to do. For one, I need to finish unpacking and doing regular household chores left and/or created since I returned from San Diego. The cat seems is also sick again so the fun of pet worries abound. Joy. Also, poor kitty!
Some of you are waiting for race reports from Portland and San Diego. Yes, I PR’d both events and was extremely joyful about both experiences. I learned a few things about myself in the process!
Last night, however, I realized I wanted to talk about something else today. I was doing laundry so i would be able to actually run when I want to make the effort. (all my running bottoms and bras were dirty) As sometimes happens I found the drawer full of running gear a bit overflowing and made the time to sort through singlets, shorts & self wicking socks to remove the winter gear into storage. I also moved a growing stack of memories to the side. Bittersweet memories running through my mind that brought up thoughts of 7am mission moments that moved me to tears as I learned of how cancer changed a child’s life from one of playgrounds and hopscotch to chemo and blood counts. Thoughts of heart wrenching emails from afar describing the pain and loneliness of undergoing clinical trials. Memories of the smiles and laughter of loved ones taken by cancer. But mostly it brought back thoughts of how much cancer affects all of us and how far we are from eradicating these diseases. It brought home how often the word comes up every week without a reference to the word “Cure”.
When I say the drawer overfloweth, I’m not joking. The only thing that gets folded is socks so that I can grab a pair quickly and go. Everything else is a jumble since what I plan to use is mood and weather dependant. (Because, you know, Snow in April…). I pulled these memories out of the drawer and neatly folded them for the shelf. I thought of each of these lovely people added to my jersey hours before race time. Each served as an inspiration to me not just on race day, but the entire time I’ve known them. Liz and Sweetie were the first one. My first race, my first half marathon my original inspriations. Two beautiful women who inspire me to be more. Sadly one was taken by Thyroid Cancer, but the other lives with a Joie de Vivre that serves as an inspiration to others around her. Six months later Liz told me about her friend My Tam who was beginning her battle. A beautiful woman with a love for words and creator of delectible image and dishes, she is also thankfully beating her cancer. CURE! is a word that can be applicable to her life. JOY! is another applicable word as it always seems she lives her life filled with it. Another six months passed and my aunt was taken from me. Darline was a beautiful person in life who taught her kids to live with joy. Lung Cancer was the villian that took her too soon. Cheri has been the latest. her name adorned my jersey in “Sunny” San Diego a few short weeks ago. And I say Sunny tounge in cheeck because there seemed to have been a perpetual cloud our entire weekend there. Only to disappear shortly after we flew out. Normally I’d say “What the hell?” but really it helped. I digress though. Cheri I met a few years ago. Like many of my other inspirations, she was full of joy and an eagerness to learn and experience. No small feat given that she was french. Cheri was the mother of a friend of mine and it was shocking to see what cancer did to her. I can say I wish I had spent more time with her, I wish I had known her better, but the truth is that she was put into my life at the exact moment I needed her. I thought about her a lot in San Diego….
Race day, as I said, is now upon us. Emails fly back and forth between my friends and I as we coordinate race day details. Where to meet, who’s carpooling with who and such. It’s a crazy time of chaos which leads me to thoughts of that bottom jersey. It’s blank because I haven’t chosen my inspiration yet. it’s not a methodical choice, nor is it instant. It’s just one of those inherent things that “come to me” when the moment is right. I told someone earlier today that after doing 2 12K “practice” runs and 2 half marathons (complete with PR’s) in the past month and a half, at this point, I hope to just finish as healthy as I started, completely inspired by my team of purple warriors out there beating the road down for a cancer cure.
I’ve been struggling with my goals this season. Both in running and fundraising. I started the year saying I wanted to PR all my races this year and I would spend the time in road to make sure that it happened. (This means to beat all my current records) But once January waned like many resolutions, my resolve slowly melted away.
I can make lots of excuses as to why. The weather was wacky enough to keep it bone chilling cold. (and it’s hard to run outside in weather like that). No gym membership meant that I had no treadmill alternative to use. My normal cohorts, Michelle and Teri, both got busy with life and were difficult to schedule weekly runs with. and I just plain didn’t want to get out of bed to go to a 30-40-60 minute run a half hour away in the rain. wha wha wha. lots and lots of whining. But some pretty miraculous things happened lately that made me realize how thankful I should be.
First, Carol Toro called and asked me to do a mission moment for a team run. She said that she found me to be a great inspiration and she wanted me to share my TNT story. (So I told the story of Jimmy, a SURVIVOR of childhood AML) Second, a gal I know via Twitter and the general interwebs of Seattle, decided with her family to form a team and walk Relay for Life. She does this because her mother and cousin are both battling Cancer in their own way. A family of fighters and survivors to be sure. Third, another local Seattlelite tweeted/facebooked his wait from the OR waiting room while the love of his life lay on an Operating Room Table having Cancer removed from her breast. All these things are singularly breathtaking in their own right. You (or at least I) feel emotion when I read these words. They were all great reminders of how thankful I am to have the life I have.
So back up on the horse I got today. With diffuculty as my boyfriend Justin will tell you. He almost had to push me out the door. But out I went for 40 minutes on a day that would not normally be a run day. Alone as I haven’t done in quite a while. And I thought about these people and how lucky I am to have them, even peripherally, in my life. How I am thankful to have my friends and family share time with me day after week after month. How lucky I am to have my health. I think about how cancer tried to take loved ones away from one gal and how they told Cancer to EFF OFF! How wonderful it is to see their family bond as a unit. (Because not every family does or can). I thought about that guy and his wait and how happy he was to have it over. Most of all I thought about how important those 40 minutes were today and the 40 I have planned for tomorrow. For each of those minutes will help fight cancer through donations from my friends and family. And if you donate 10 cents or $10,0000 I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And let me not forget to say Thank You. Thank you to my family and friends for loving my crazy self for exactly who I am. For being exactly who you are & being right where I’ve always needed you in life. Thank You to my co-workers and customers for keeping me more humble than my family does and reminding me day after day to be thankful for the gift of life. Thank you to the regular readers to my not so regular blog for sticking around and listening to the ramblings of a slightly neurotic woman. Thank you to my twitter friends for just being you. I’ve learned so much from just listening in on your conversations. Thank you for just being you.
At just past 3 weeks in I lost about 7 lbs. One of the most popular questions I’ve been asked during these past few weeks is about cheat days. Do I have them? Days when I can eat and/or gorge myself on whatever I want so I can make it all the way through to my goal? My answer has been an unwavering no. I have always thought that cheat days were counter productive to the purpose and when I started this mission I decided against them. I don’t plan them into my schedule so I can look forward to Spaghetti night (I miss Spaghetti) or a big bowl of fried rice. (Miss that too). I can’t say that some days haven’t been hard, because there have. Times when I whined via text and IM about how yummy a piece of Bananna bread sounds. Or a few cookies. While this hasn’t been as hard a journey as I thought it would be 20 some days ago, it’s definitely not a simple one. There have been many, many times where I have been tempted. Like when a coworker brought a COSTCO sized Red Velvet cake to a potluck. Or when I went for chinese with my aunts and favorite dishes just didn’t taste the same without rice. But like with my Marathon running, I have discovered that I am more stubbon than this diet is hard.
There’s still lots of things to read and research. Paleo Hacks has seen me to be a constant visitor as has Punchfork via their iPad app. I’m learning to move past the anxiety attacks I was having in the first week or so when I didn’t know what to cook or what sides to make with my hunk of meat. My broiler pan and frying pan has gotten more use in the past few weeks than it has in the year prior. It’s also now easier for me to eat less fruit than when I started. It was suggested to me that using Mark Sisson’s website Mark’s Daily Apple, but I decided the primal format he suggests is too loose for me. Not enough structure and too many opportunities to cheat and fail.
What am I making? Simple sides like Carrots and Cabbage sauteed in Butter with a dash of salt and pepper. Simple, yet so so flavorful. I’ll also sautee just the cabbage and use it as a presentation background for my meat. After adding random veggies to the plate, it finishes out the food trifecta I always try to have. (For some reason I have it stuck in my head that there should be three things on the plate). I’m learning to pre-slice the carrots, peppers and cabbage so all I have to do is toss it into the pan or the salad or where ever I want it. I’m still learning to get off my but and do that. Roasted brussel sprouts are another favorite in my house only to be made more yummy when we discovered a yummy recipie for Brussel Sprout chips. (Again at Nomnompaleo.)
But I won’t lie. There are still many, many days when I feel lazy. Days when I don’t want to cook, much less clean up the mess from the night before. There are also nights when we commit ourselves to events with friends. Part of dieting is not just to hibernate yourself until you’re at the weight you want. It’s learning how to make those same choices in public. Thanks to the internet, it’s possible to plan ahead for ideas of what you might want to eat later. Giving you more time to make your menu decision as it were. Doing so has made eating out fairly simple. Still, there are occasional hiccups. Like going to a baby shower and feeling pressured to eat a cupcake becuase a well intentioned attendee is pushing them on you. Or making a restaurant choice with out actually reviewing what your choices are only to find there are no feasible options other than not eating. And most especially, not carrying around snacks that I know are acceptable to help in those situations.
Tonight’s Mega pot jumped up to 640+Million dollars and the US is abuzz with excitement. Constantly questions are flying around like “Did you buy your ticket?” “What would you do if you won?” but the question that weighs heavily on my mind isn’t so much “What would/could I do”. It’s more like “How do I say no, IF I won?” A few weeks ago, I posted a question on my facebook page asking people what they would do with a free $500, no strings attached and it was interesting to see the responses.
Personally, I haven’t played the lotto, much less gambled at a casino in many years. Mostly because there were many points where I was having trouble making ends meet. Ensuring that those few dollars went where they were most useful every month gave me a sense of control that helped me handle those lean times. After that, not playing was more because I never really thought about it. The constant flutter of conversation around me though has me thinking twice given the size of tonight’s pot. Do I play? More importantly when family and friends less fortunate than I come asking for assistance, how do I hide tell them no?
Like many people, I know which charities I want to support. I have a basic idea of how I want to pay my parents back for all the trauma joy of raising me. And yes there will be frivolous spending. But what do I do when my friend in North Dakota pings me asking for a little help to send jr to fat camp. Or when my sister who doesn’t like me to begin with suddenly becomes the best friend I never had in grade school? It’s easy to say that you’ll be able to handle all the attention and new and charity requests for your time and new found money. But when family and friends are the ones approaching, how do you say no? Do you say yes all the time? My parents taught me growing up to not take anything for granted. To do for yourself and value the dollar you earned today because not everyone has that ability. How do you stay generous and loving and help others learn that same lesson?
Into this world, you brought beautiful children who have enriched the lives of everyone they touch. They smile brightly and you can see the joy behind their eyes when they smile and laugh. You taught them this. To enjoy life and do everything with joy. They are inquisitive creatures who are very rarely afraid to move forward into new areas. You taught them to be bold and sure of themselves in all they do. To be confident and staunch in their beliefs. They are thoughtful souls who know how to show affection for those they care about, and exhibit morals that many people fear are missing in today’s society. You have a bright brain that thinks fast. You are opinionated and not afraid to show that. You’ve past all these traits onto your children who continually amaze those around them as they accomplish new things.
You have learned, over the years, to cook delicious food. At the elbows of your elders, you’ve learned to craft ethnic delicacies and everyday comfort foods. You’ve had some hiccups in the learning process, but it’s never stopped you from moving forward and trying again. And again. And again. Whether it’s the enjoyment of a good meal or getting the satisfaction from knowing that your hands crafted something that made people happy, it’s a task that never disheartens you. Friends, family and acquaintances know how you enjoy the art and make no qualms of showing their appreciation.
With all of this, I never fail to be puzzled at your insecurities. Why you distrust those closest to you and the disbelief that those same people will be there should you need it. Why you feel you need a mate to lean on and show you affection that is showered on you from so many other directions. Why you don’t believe enough in yourself and your abilities to let your strengths shine through. I believe in you. You are so akama’i with brains to spare. Even if you don’t believe it, I do. I think you hide your intellect behind your fears and wish you wouldn’t. Others believe in you and the things you can do. I won’t dwell on shoulda-woulda-coulda’s. Your life hasn’t been the easiest, but did what you could with it. Maybe it’s those hardships that waylaid you on your intended path. Maybe the choices were too hard and when you need help the most you either didn’t know how to ask for help or recognize the help you were getting. You did what had to be done because there was no other choice. Whatever it was, that’s the past and we can’t change it even if we wanted to. What you can do is move forward. Make informed choices and be the person we all know you can be. Be as strong as we know you can be.
This was supposed to be a post first 16 mile run report. Talking about how great it felt and how I finished. But instead, I let the demons in my head conquer me and didn’t run. I have lots of excuses – Doing my assigned waterstop as a mentor meant that my time got pushed off. A visit to my regional passport office AFTER that left me frustrated. I then had to deal with extra traffic due to a bridge closure that had me even MORE frustrated because on top of that I realized that I’d needed to pee for three hours and hadn’t eaten anything substantial yet (at 3pm). All while the idea that I had to run a 4.5 hour practice long run all by myself floated in the back of my head. Being upset and the anxiety issues I had dealing with my passport left me exhausted by the time I got home. I went in, ate something with the thought that I was still going to do it. I was going to lace up and hit the trail. After I ate so I was properly fueled. But the reality in it was that I was afraid and let it conquer me. Justin sympathized with my day and told me that it was ok. Just run tomorrow (Sunday) which made sense. I could do that and still be ok. But Sunday came and went. We got home from our morning plans and I sat on the couch and hyperventilated. I was afraid again. More excuses ensued. My running partners were all busy, the planned route was actually shorter than I had thought meaning it wasn’t going to simply be out and back. I’d be playing loop de loop. I would be out there on my own, despite my preference for the cooler weather and I was afraid. Afraid of the distance, afraid of being alone and all of those everyday frustrations of life that runs help with heaped on top of it. Justin was great. He poked and prodded and kept reminding me that I needed to go run. That time was running short for when running outside for that long would be safe. He even volunteered to meet me at my half way point to be waterstop in case I needed extra. He later revealed that after doing that he had planned to go run out and grab me a special dinner to surprise me.
But this morning, I sit here at work hoping that no one stops by and asks with a smile how my run went. I sit here without the painful, yet happy aches that comes from accomplishing something great. I sit here without the smile that I get from reading the likes and comments that come from posting a great weekend long run from my compadres on Dailymile.com, Nike+ and Facebook and I castigate myself. I still feel that anxiety in my chest that comes with the fears of a long run that I’ve not accomplished. I’ll try again tonight for a good long run and hopefully the happy cheerful chants from my coaches will echo in my head. They believe in me, why can’t I?
I didn’t write a “where I was” post for 9/11 this year. I didn’t write one last year. On that note, I also was not alive when Kennedy was shot or when the Atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima so I have no good point of reference for those events. I remember where I was, where I was going and the events from that day. I understand, in theory, why we use this point of reference for momentous events like this. But my mind doesn’t work like many people. I don’t connect where I was and what I did with the emotions I felt at that time and how this humongous event affected my life. I read with slight irritation every year for at least the last five when people post where they were.
I don’t fault them the emotions they feel though. The sadness and remembered anguish from loved ones lost, the relived relief at hearing of bare misses because of the quirks in time and scheduling that allowed friends and family to not be in places that they would have normally been, the imagined fear of what could have been had our way of life changed more than it has or has their loved ones been lost in those instances by putting themselves in another’s shoes. I’ve been unfortunate enough to be faced with tragedy and seen what it can do to seemingly strong people. It’s not a pretty sight, so I don’t begrudge them that opportunity. However a quote came across my Facebook stream this weekend that best summed up how I felt:
Do not ask me where I was on 9/11 for that is not of importance to me. Ask instead if I have made the world a better place in the days since. Ask if there were tears for those I never met and prayers for families I do not know. Ask if I had faith in spite of the fear. Ask if I support the heroes, the warriors, the survivors and the ones still in the fight. Do not ask the “Where”. Ask instead “Who” I have become.
If you’ve been reading my blog with any regularity during the last year, you’ll see that I feel strongly for many people I’ve never had the privilege of meeting. (and regularity is obviously a relative term given how often I’m able to squeeze time in to write) These people are near and far and most of them have been Cancer patients or their relatives helping loved ones battle their way through the horrible disease. I honor their lives through running because the rigors of training for a endurance events like marathons and half-marathons are nothing compared to what they see in their day to day life. But I digress.
What have I done to make the world a better place? I could answer simply by putting the old adage of do good unto others into action on a day to day basis, but that’s definitely too simple for the actions necessary. Instead, I will say that I’ve made my life richer, not only by doing more, but by being open to more. By taking chances that ten years ago (heck, two years ago!) I would have been to afraid to make. By making a point to take time for those around me and by learning that the action or non-actions of others do not always reflect on the person I am. By cutting the histrionics from my life and dis-allowing the negativity of others to affect me. And by taking the time to smell the flowers and enjoy life. To write more, to play more, to love more. Because time is short and you never know when and where your next adventure will come from. As Albert Camus once said, “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.”