A journey of a thousand miles...sometimes throws you for a loop.

So I write this big long post yesterday about how I'm stuck in the gym for my running cause of my back.

Today I forgot my sports bras at home, so if I wanted to run, I'd have to go back home to get my bras, then go back to the gym.  But I didn't want to go back to the gym.  So I mapped out a 3.5 mile walk.

And then decided to not walk.

I ran on hard ground for the first time in a very long time (since 2006).  (even though it wasn't very fast, it's still running, darnit!)

It wasn't the fastest run.  It wasn't the most glorious run.  And I'm pretty sure that some part of my body is going to be sore tomorrow.  But the point was that I got out there and did something I didn't think I could do.

It still holds true that compression is not good for me, and that I shouldn't run on hard ground all the time, for long periods of time, or in a way that could hurt my back.  But so long as I'm mindful of these things, it's up to me to balance what I want to be doing in my life versus how much life I want to miss out on because of something that will happen eventually in my life.

I talk big game about #GoTheDist and this year's theme ("rebuild yourself") -- but maybe part of it is challenging ourselves to confront what we think are limits are.  I'm not saying we should go out and injure ourselves, but we should aim to discover just how exceptional we each are, how capable our bodies are, and how liberating it is to just let our body determine what it can do versus letting our mind sell ourselves short.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll be a part of a running pack after all.

A journey of a thousand miles....is very boring sometimes.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that my cardio is rather predictable and boring (and usually blurry):

So when @SuzieRobb asked me the following, I wasn't surprised that more people haven't asked me the same. 

The answer?  Yes.  I do get sick of it.  HOWEVER....(and like I said to Suzie), I'm incredibly thankful for my boring, repetitive, locked-in-a-dungeon cardio.

I've written in many other posts about my history of back problems and just how it limits what I can do.  I've also mentioned in many places (in person and on the internets) that I miss being able to box (my doctor doesn't want me to spar, and I'm just a bit nervous about getting back into it).  I also cannot run on hard ground (I'm very jealous of all of you that get to enter races, get fancy tech t-shirts, and medals, and celebratory beers).  Heck, I can't even walk on hard ground (marble floors in museums are MURDEROUS). 

So I do what I can do.  My first few runs after neck surgery were slow, and painful.  (NB:  yes, I know two of you don't like me using the word "run" for what I do on the elliptical.  But since the ultramarathoners and iron men/women are okay with me using it, I'm going to use it.  So :P) I was lucky to get through one 12- minute mile before every nerve in my body told me to stop.  It wasn't just that I was out of shape, but I was scared.  I didn't want to jeopardize my surgery/recovery.

I had to re-learn my limits -- of how far I could go, how fast I could go, what cross-ramp I should use, how much resistance i could use -- and then figure out how much rest/recovery I needed between runs.  Once my doctor cleared me at the 3-month mark to (1) start rehab (2) start weights, I began to work those elements in to my workout plan.

So long story short, yeah.... I'm bored doing the same cardio almost every day (even if I am varying distance, speed, difficulty) and jealous of all you marathoners and CrossFitters, doing all these things I can't do.  But spending those 45 minutes or so on the elliptical, I'm able to meditate on how very thankful that there is this one thing that I can do.

"Jump and the net will appear" ~ John Burroughs (?)

I've met so many people who ask me one question in regards to the whole weight loss/health gain journey:  "Where do you begin?" 

I think people ask that because they're afraid to fail in the early stages of the journey, so they want to follow someone else's path.  That's okay.

In the past, I've said that people should start by (1) building a strong psychological foundation (i.e., dealing with their demons); (2) build a strong educational foundation (i.e., know the numbers and science about their body -- metabolic rate, blood tests, etc.); (3) and build a strong environmental foundation (i.e., making sure you don't have anything around you that can sabotage your success -- cleaning out your fridge/pantry, getting your family/friends/ducks in a row).

But, I think I'm going to have to take that all back.

That's really all after the fact.  The Epiphany has to happen first.
That's a tall order for some people.  Some people need a little help.
They need to hear the words from someone who has been there before, who has done it before, that it is indeed possible.  My dear friend Emily gave me the (subliminal) permission to succeed.  Not only has she given me good advice, but by her own success she has shown me that it is possible.

Think back into your past -- who gave you the permission to take the leap of faith?  Who provided the net? It's like the parent who held the bicycle until you were strong enough and confident enough to say "I've got this now."  You were doing the work, but sometimes you needed to know that someone was there just in case.

Now think about the person that you've inspired, or that you're going to inspire.  Kinda tickles, eh, to think that little old you can be the catalyst for someone to go on the adventure of a lifetime.  What do you want that person to gain from knowing you? 

And I'll call BS right now on anyone who thinks they did this 100% on their own.  Even if you don't realize it, someone showed you what was possible.  But kudos on you for taking the leap.

Spa Day

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My half-year reward for reaching my #GoTheDist goal of 400 miles in 6 months was to book myself a spa day.  Not just a pedicure, but the works.  Thankfully my dear friend Emily said that she'd come with me as we made a day of it.

First stop was Boqueria, DC for a little brunch and an adult beverage to start the day off right.  ZOMG  -- amazing.  We split a few different dishes off of their brunch menu:  patatas bravas (in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with garlic aioli), Spanish toast (french toast with brûléed sugar on top), pan con tomate (like bruchetta), beicon (bacon), mel i mato (whipped fresh cow’s milk ricotta cheese, candied walnuts, berries, local honey) and a nutella-filled churro.

Yes.  You heard right -- NUTELLA-FILLED CHURRO. 

After that, it was a short walk over to Nusta Spa (Yelp reviews here)-- the first LEED-certified Gold (green) spa in the U.S. 

We were greeted at reception and then taken into the women's locker room.  We both rinsed off in their lovely and spacious showers (it's DC, it's summer, you do the math).  We then went into their lounge, grabbed some flavored water and filled out some intake forms.  The benches were not the most comfortable places to sit (as someone with back issues I've learned to pay attention to little things like this).

Emily and I had three services planned each:
Express Body Polish (or as I think Emily may have called it "massage foreplay" -- a "full body exfoliation and intense moisturization treatment" -- I was with Chardette, Emily was with Imi.  It was 25 wonderful minutes of getting all the dead skin sloughed off my sun-smacked body.)

Nusta Calm Massage (Your massage therapist (once again with Chardette) will draw from a range of techniques to help the body release stress, gently loosen muscle tightness and increase your overall sense of peace and well-being) (Emily opted for the Nusta Deep Massage with Imi.) 

Express Facial (Ideal for clients on the go or those who want a quick pick-me-up between treatments. Includes cleansing, exfoliation and a customized mask). 

Overall -- I think we finished our services both feeling very relaxed and pampered.  Though, in the future we might just skip the body polish and the facials and just get extra long massages, especially as the appointments were scheduled right on top of each other (leaving little time to bask in the glow of the body scrub or massage). 

I'd rate Chardette a 4.5 out of 5.  I'd rate the spa as a whole closer to a 3.  They need to pay a little more attention to the details that make going to the spa luxurious. 

We then went to my local nail salon to get pedis -- and I was saddened that Emily didn't get treated very well, and the girl doing my pedicure actually cut my cuticle back too far, to the point that I was bleeding.  It wasn't the standard amazing service that I normally get. 


Go look at the picture of the Nutella churro again. 


She and I were standing around just chit chatting -- she was waiting for her client and I was going to grab my lunch and we started talking.  I like her -- she's pretty badass when it comes to being a trainer.  She's a late-in-life triathlete from Poland.  She doesn't go easy on her clients.   I told her about my BodyMedia Fit, she told me about her recent vacation and how she ran 7 miles and then ate three donuts, and how that was "bad."  I told her how I don't like to talk about food in moral terms (i.e. "good" or "bad" food). She then told me about coming back from the beach and stopping at a Dairy Queen.  She saw two people getting out of a car.  "They were so big that they had to push their seats all the way back. And I wanted to tell them that they shouldn't be eating here."

And then out of left field, she said one of those things you never want to hear from a fitness professional:   "I don't know, I've never been big and I don't have any obese clients.  Are obese people that way because they're just that weak?"

(I'm going to pause here to let you either think about that or hit your head into a wall.)

I've maintained over the past few years that you do not become obese (i.e., over a BMI of 30, but especially for those in the morbid obesity categories of a BMI of 40 and over) without having some sort of trauma in your life (mental, physical, sexual, etc.) that creates a disconnect with how you relate to food.  The magnitude of the trauma is different for every person as everyone has their own threshold.  In some cases (e.g., childhood obesity) it's not the person of the individual, but the trauma of someone close to them being acted out with food.  Sometimes the traumas are very serious -- the kind where people are intentionally slowly eating themselves to death and they don't give two craps about it. 

Now I want you all to think about yourself, or put yourself in someone else's shoes, and think about the strength required not to just live your life with that kind of burden, but think about the strength required to overcome it.  Think about the strength required to walk out of your house every day to face a world that thinks you're lazy, weak, and ultimately unworthy.

You know, I don't want to give her that much crap -- I know there wasn't malice in what she was saying, especially in the context that she said it -- but I did stop to explain this all to her.  I hope that if an obese client ever hires her, that she meets them with compassion instead of alienation.

I hope she walked away understanding that anything over being a few pounds overweight isn't just a physical issue, but it's a psychological issue.  The fear of dealing with what made them obese in the first place outweighs the fear of being overweight.

I think about being 16 and 240lbs, and how miserable I was, how alone I felt.  But even if someone had said "Lose all the weight and you will be popular!" it wouldn't have erased what made me fat in the first place -- the feelings of abandonment from losing my Nana at 8, and then losing my mother at 13.  It was only until I addressed those issues that I didn't feel the need to wear my protective fat suit.  Now that I've addressed those issues and are strong enough as is, I don't need the fat suit anymore and it can't come off quick enough. 

If you had asked me if I was strong when I first started going to the gym, I probably would have said that I'm not.  But now?  I'm still technically obese and I'm one of the strongest fucking people you'll ever meet (pardon the French). 

Half-Way Mark: Re-Resolutionary

Remember that feeling on January 1st, waking up from a champagne haze and promising that this year, this time, things will be different?  Well, 6 months have passed and what have you been up to?  Are you making headway on your resolutions?  (Or in my case, did you even make a resolution?  Whoops.) 

Chances are that somewhere along the line, you've struggled a bit.  Some of us have small struggles (one beer too many to want to get up at 5 am to get to the gym) and some of us have big struggles (injury, illness, life).  It's okay.  If you're still here to read this, you know that you can recover from just about anything. 

But let me ask you this:  is it enough to just recover/to get by or do you want to thrive?  It seems to me that so many of our resolutions are things that we should already be doing to take care of ourselves.  In other words, for many people pledging to take care of themselves (inside and out) has become a once-a-year event that is soon forgotten (kudos to those who are on the ball and renew this vow more often).

Along comes July 1st -- the first day of the second half of the year -- and another chance to state your intentions to the world about what it would mean for you to thrive, to love deeply, to laugh heartily, to live fully.  What have you learned in the first six months that you'd like to improve upon in the next six?  What would you like to change up?  What are you proud to have accomplished? What have you done in relation to the theme "Rebuild Yourself"? 

Kudos to all who have done especially well in their #GoTheDist pursuits -- Jordy (@ItsJordyLive), Cari (@TravellingCari), Sue (@PhoenyxRysyng),  Carolyn, Nate, and Rashaan (@rashaan) -- keep it up!

The moment I knew I passed 400 miles on the elliptical!
I'm proud to say that I met/exceeded (by 10.5 miles) my goal to run 400 miles in the first 6 months.  I was met with a few obstacles along the way:  (1) recovering from my December neck surgery (2) the mystery skin issue and (3) 2 weeks of the flu.

Now that I'm a less paranoid about my neck, I want to get more diversity into my workouts.  I know that I suffer from monotony.  I want to get back to boxing (even if it's just shadow boxing) -- because I loved what that did for my arms, and my mind.  I want to kayak -- it's a great workout, fun to be in the sun, and a social activity that doesn't involve copious amounts of drinking (see below).  I want to try spinning again (**waves to JZ and RevolveDC**).  I've also promised friends that now that my deltoids don't hurt as much, that yoga is now in play. 

My food logging was hit-and-miss, and I want to improve on that for the next half of the year. I find that I would be good at food logging on the days that I was bringing my own food to work, but then would fall off the radar when I would go out to eat and feel overwhelmed by estimating (do you know how many calories are in a serving of shrimp lababdar?).  So I think that means I need to meal plan better (I'm so in awe of you all that do this well) and carry a portable food scale with me. 

I also want to focus on being more moderate with alcohol.  I've been good, but not great, and I see how that affects both my performance and the scale.  So, from here on out, no more than 1-2 drinks a day. 

In terms of thriving -- I want to improve on my introverted nature.  I want to make more "play dates" with friends as well as go on more actual dates with guys.  (NB:  I did go out with a guy from OkCupid last night -- it was rather spur of the moment, but well... he took me to the Old Guard Stables and let me meet the horses of the caisson as well as their friends that were hanging out for the week -- the Budweiser Clydesdales.  We went to dinner after and got talk about life and dating and especially online dating -- and he said to me "I don't think girls get it -- it doesn't matter how much you weigh or what you look like, just be confident with who you are.  Nothing as unsexy as a girl that feels sorry for herself."  Point taken.  I don't feel sorry for myself, but I often fear disappointing people.  No more.  Gunsablazing!)

I also want to honor my inner nerd and take some classes on the things that interest me and/or the things I have put aside since I left college.

So anyways, those are just a few thoughts.  I've also put (actual) pen to (actual) paper and started thinking about a "bucket list."  Next step with that is putting $ to bank to start saving for some adventures!