"I promised I would never leave you..."

On August 8, 1994, I turned 13.  I shared that birthday with my then-best friend of 2 years C (whose birthday was August 5).  I asked my mom to put both of our names on the cake, and my mom got two nearly-identical amethyst geodes with silver horse figurines on top of them for each of us.

Less than a month later (around Sept. 5), mom would get sick in the middle of the night (vomiting, headache, disorentation).  A little over a week later we took her to the hospital where the doctors figured out that her "sinus infection"/"severe sinus infection" was really a cerebral aneurysm only after she had a seizure and went into a coma. 22 days after that, she would be declared brain dead. 

It's hard for one 13-year-old to comfort and understand another 13-year-old that just lost her parent.  I get that.  But it's not the time to tell the person that just lost her mother that you were no longer interested in being friends (I remember her exact words, but I don't want to repeat them here).  Maybe my mom dying cut too close (C's mom died when C was 3 months old).  Maybe she couldn't deal with it.  (It was around this time that I met Nancy--and I've been friends with her ever since).  

For a long time, I walked on eggshells around people/acquaintances/friends fearing that I would alienate them -- I didn't understand that true friends and family should be able to lean on each other when needed. It took many years to learn that there's an element of grace in both asking for help and giving help.  The bottom line is that I had a fear of abandonment:  if I told someone I needed or wanted them in my life, would they consider that too much of a burden? Would they consider me too needy?

(...Food will never leave me or consider me a burden.  Food will never consider me too needy.  Food is happy to comfort me when I'm home alone after school and miss my mom.  Food will help me miss her less...) 

I find that even as a 31 y/o, it's a delicate balance.  With friends, I often try not to ask too much of them.  If I'm dating someone, I need small reassurances that they're still there (a text saying "Hi, thinking about you" goes a very long way). I can have all the confidence in the world, but this is something that still shakes me.  I'm like a rock climber that is constantly checking to see that the rope is there. It doesn't need to catch me if I fall, I just need to know that it is there.

Also in the category of "things that unnerve me" -- I'm 31 now.  My mom had me when she was 31 and died when she was 44.  I have spent a great deal of this past year thinking along the lines of "if I were to have a kid right now, how long would I be around for him/her?"  It breaks my effing heart to think about things like that.  It's hard to live joyfully if you think you're racing against a clock.

I'm going to leave you with a story and a song.  After my mom's funeral (it was on a Saturday), I came back to school the next week.  Auditions for Select Choir had already taken place (while my mom was sick, but I was spending so much time at the hospital or at my grandparent's house...), but the teacher let me in without one (I'm kind of awesome).  The first song that they had rehearsed in my absence was Billy Joel's Lullabye.  Every single word of that song rang true.  Before it was even over, I ran out of the room crying...sometimes I still do.  

4-Month Checkup

Ortho Resident, my x-ray, my Doctor
Looking good!

When one has a back as...well... special as mine, your doctors aren't just one-time specialists, but are people who will be in your life for quite a long time. As that is the case, it's important to have doctors that you trust and who are personally invested in your long-term care.  Enter Dr. O'Brien. The thing I love best about him is that he responds to my emails if I have any questions/concerns.

Today was my 4-month post-operative checkup, and my neck (both the artificial disc and the scar) are looking good.  I'm still going to take it easy when it comes to boxing (just shadow boxing) and no running on hard ground/plyo (that seems to compress my spine too much anyways).


A Losing Bet

**opinion zone**

I think I've been pretty clear in my blog and in my life that I detest fad diets.  I abhor the idea of "cleanses." 
I'm going to add to the list of things that I do not like:  DietBet.  

Why not?  For one simple reason:  if you do not lose 4% of your original body weight, you lose the bet (except in the case of no one reaching the 4%, then the highest percentage wins). If you lose 3% of your original body weight, you do not get to share in the winnings.  You get nothing.  Even worse, you're out your original investment.  There are a million ways to lose weight in an unhealthy manner.  DietBet does not judge whether you've improved your health or whether you've gained muscle.  You could lose fat and gain muscle and still not get your 4% weight loss! Wouldn't that suck?  Your pants fit better but you'd still lose the bet because of one misleading metric. You could have a horrible case of the flu and not be able to eat for two weeks and you could reach your 4% goal.

DietBet approached me in January and asked me if I'd like to host a bet, and I declined because not only did I not want to take part in a competition where weight was deciding factor, but I didn't want to put that kind of pressure on the people I care about. I still think you're a winner if you don't lose a single pound, but are eating well, exercising joyfully, and dealing with the issues that made you unhealthy in the first place.

To be clear here, I actually don't like most forms of competition dieting.  I think it promotes unhealthy behaviors in the guise of a competition.  It's a very important distinction that I've tried to make with #GoTheDist -- you set up your individual goals, compete against yourself, and your reward is something you give yourself.  It is not based on results, but behaviors.  Did you set out to do what you said you would do?  And a very important question for #GoTheDist is "Can you be proud of your behaviors even if you don't reach 100% of your goal?"

It's so very disheartening to see DietBet's ability to infiltrate the weight loss/health gain community.  People like the idea of getting a cut of the proceeds when they host, people like the idea of splitting the pot, of being in competition.  I understand the psychology behind that.  But I would beg of you to really ask yourself whether weight loss is the only way you could consider yourself succeeding -- or if your success can be measured by other means.

If your success can only be measured by pounds lost, I would then ask "Where is the finish line? Are you sure you'd be happy there?" 

If your success can be measured by other means -- I'd love to hear what metric gets you most excited.

99 Questions, but a Rhetorical Question Isn't One.

I'm unabashedly stealing this from Roni:  

1: Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?
I live in a studio.  I don't have a bedroom door, but I do keep my bathroom door closed because the morning sun will hit the door and go right in my face.
2: Do you take the shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotel?
Only if I really like it.
3: Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?
I'm with Roni -- I don't sleep with a flat sheet.  Just a fitted sheet, a fleece blanket and a comforter that usually just gets in the way.
4: Have you ever stolen a street sign before?
No. But I'm really bad at returning license plates.
5: Do you like to use Post-It notes?
All the time at work.
6: Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?
I don't get a paper delivered to me, so I don't run into this too often.
7: Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of a bees?
This question needs more detail.  Depends on the kind of bear.  A large red panda? Bumble bees? Or are we talking pissed off brown bear and killer bees?
8: Do you have freckles?
A few.
9: Do you always smile for pictures?
I will make a crazy face first.  Then I might smile.

Take Care; Give Care

In bullet-point format because I'm still in no place to write cohesive thoughts:

  1. Wow. That's fucked up. Some people are just horrible, but the perpetrators pale in comparison to all the people that became heroes -- first responders, doctors, nurses, the people that went from the finish line to the hospital to donate blood, people that opened up their homes or gave rides, people that put pressure on wounds, or gave hugs.  We should be like this every day of our lives.
  2. There is so much love in the running community.  Though it's a competition, ask any runner and they'll say they want every last person to cross the finish line.  It's a reminder that running isn't about the speed or form, it's about the heart that goes into it.
  3. I was useless/distracted all afternoon at work.  I came home from work in a daze, did a few chores, and then got into bed with my bear and just cried.  I felt sick to my stomach.  Yes, I'm an emotional, empathic person -- but this just dredged up all of the feelings that I had on 11 Sept 2001, stuck in my dorm room (8 blocks from the White House, with tanks outside) waiting to find out whether all of my family/friends were okay.  I tried to sleep, but I kept hearing the helicopters over downtown DC, the sirens wailing past.  I was overwhelmed by the sense of dread, of wondering why people do this.  All I wanted was silence for both my mind and my heart.
  4. The most important thing I could do yesterday (other than finding out about friends that went to run in Boston) was to tell people that I loved them.  That I'm proud to be their friend, their family.  And I'm honored that for some reason, you love/like me. 
So all I want to say is take care of yourselves.... and give care if you can.  Love the people around you -- both people you know and even strangers.  Be a beacon of light.

Are you sure you want to eat that?

I love loaning books to friends (except if the book is truly irreplaceable).  More often than not they get returned to me.  In the case of The Good Girl's Guide to Bad Girl Sex"--I've lost 3 copies to people who have asked to "borrow" it.  It's okay, though.  To loan a book is good karma. 

I'll stop you right there--it's not some racy manual with positions and tricks--it's more about how our views towards sexuality and sensuality are shaped, and how we/our mannerisms are perceived.  The very first exercise that sex therapist Barbara Keesling has you do is to think back into your past and think about all the times you had a sexual or sensual thought/feeling and someone told you that what you thought/felt (something natural) was bad (something loaded with judgment, and no context/explanation).

I was thinking about this a few days ago as it relates to food and even our own growing bodies.  How many times growing up did I hear other people trying to edit what I was eating:  Are you sure you want to eat that slice of pizza?  Is that ice cream worth it?  Wouldn't you rather have a salad?  Worse off was when people tried to warp how I viewed my own body.  (What? I'm not all va va va voom like Jessica Rabbit?) 

Instead of listening to the wisdom of my hunger and satiety, I learned to let the external voices  dictate the relationship between me and my body/mind and my relationship with food.  Instead of being kind to my body, I let other people tell that I should be ashamed of my body and how it was metamorphosing.  Somehow, they were the experts on what it meant to be Robby and I should listen them.  Yeah, it sounds silly now, but I let them steer me off course.   

The whole point of the book's exercise isn't to blame, but to note, forgive, and move on.  How do you move on?  You learn how to turn up the volume on your inner voice and listen to it.  You learn to honor your body at all times.  To go for that run, to wear the shirt that makes you feel sexy, to surround yourself with positive friends/family, etc.  To not go for that run, to wear the shirt that makes you feel warm, to be alone if you need to be, etc. 

It's not like flipping a switch, it's a process that's going to be easy at times and hard others.  But it's worthwhile.  You are worthwhile.  That's what The Epiphany is.  When we're young, it's easy to suffer the outside influences.  As we're older, we need to be able to honor our bodies for the wondrous gifts that they are. 

And yes, the ice cream is worth it.

96% is still an A in my book...

My Quarter 1 #GoTheDist went well.  When all was said and done, I completed 96% of my 150 mile goal, or 144 miles.  I ran 31 out of 90 days -- and I think this was pretty good considering the 19 days in February when I was dealing with the allergic reaction on my skin, and the 10 days I was dealing with/recovering from the flu (if you're doing the math, that's 29 days or almost a whole month!).

I had one more day to run 6 miles and complete 100% of my goal, but I wanted to prove two points:
(1) that I could still be proud of my effort even if I didn't reach my goal; and
(2) that it wasn't worth injuring myself over.  All-in-all, I think it's fair to say that I'm "on track."

So at Mile 144, I made the conscious decision that 96% was enough and some

My Q2 #GoTheDist goal is 250 miles.  This means I need to run an average of 2.87 miles for the 91 days OR 5 miles on 50/90 days.  Or a little under 85 miles a month.  This is very doable considering I used to run 100-120 miles a month before I injured my neck.  The way I look at the math is that there's plenty of room for balance.

I also want to work on meal planning in Q2.  My dietitian called me a "chaotic grazer" -- that I tend to eat based on moods and availability, not necessarily paying attention to what my body needs.  I'm nowhere near the point where I can be an intuitive eater with any confidence.  I mean, I don't gnaw on the brains of the living, but I don't make meal plans or grocery shopping lists.

Stuck in a Rut / I get by with a little help from my friends...

I knew within the first quarter of a mile that this was a bad run.
I was slllloooowwww.

Not only was I slow (okay, I know that compared to the 15-16 minute/mile "runs" when I was a kid, that this was still fast, but it's not the pace I normally like to run) but I was in a foul mood.  My body could do no right.

I vented/whined/complained on Twitter like a big effing baby.

LUCKILY.... a few friends came to my rescue -- first Martinus/300lbsandrunnin

 And then Renee/Pinkypie chimed in, as well as Sarah/BubblyHeart.
 It was decided among all of us that:
  1. not all runs are good runs
  2. sometimes our mind gets in the way of our bodies
  3. it's okay to have a bad run, so long as you stick with it til the end
  4. (sometimes you need to stop, have a dance party, and try again)

I dismounted the elliptical, used the loo, and put "Sexy and I know it" on my iPod and just danced.  When my mind and my heart was clear, this is what happened:

As I wrote on Facebook:  Friends remind us of how strong we are, and if we don't feel strong they push us across the finish line. And if we can't do that, they carry us.

While talking to Jess/@HalfofJess yesterday, and we were talking about how if you've ever run, or are a runner, you know exactly what I'm talking about -- the disconnect between your desire for a good run and what your body is doing.  All runners have had a bad run at some point.  There are times when we get half way and want to stop.  Where we're fighting ourselves the whole time.

But once we know that (1) we're not alone and (2) bad runs are a common phenomena, it gives us permission to finish in the time it takes and then try again.

And well, isn't that the moral?  Fall down, get back up?