Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! (City Sports Giveaway Winners!)

Wow! What a turnout!! I wanted to thank everyone that participated in my City Sports Giveaway of $200 in gift cards!  There were 144 entries on the questionnaire, and 119 entries on the Rafflecopter widget for a total of 263 entries!

Drum roll please....
The winners of the 2 RaffleCopter gift cards:

The winners of the Questionnaire portion were chosen at random by Ben Eld (Senior Digital Marketing Specialist for City Sports):

I will send out emails to the winners -- I need a mailing address so I can send out the gift cards.  Congrats!I can't wait to see what you all purchase!

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Said no one ever:
I went to the gas station and got too much gas, so I'm going to drive around for a few hours until I use up all that extra fuel. 
Said no one ever:
I'm going to go on a cross-country trip, but I don't need to put gas in the tank.  I'll run on fumes.
Cause that would be crazy.... right? Sadly, there are people doing this right now, but not to their cars, but to their bodies.  For National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I want to talk about a disorder that doesn't seem to get a as much press as anorexia or bulimia:  Exercise Bulimia (also known as compulsive exercising, anorexia athletica, hypergymnasia, or exercise addiction). 
Symptoms of Exercise Bulimia include:
  • Inflexibility as to time of day and mode of exercise
  • Exercise even when sick or injured
  • Prioritizing exercise over social dates, family functions, work, or school
  • Intense fear at states of rest
  • Intense anxiety at situations where preferred method of exercise is unavailable
  • Intense guilt when forced to stray from exercise routine
  • Refusal to eat if unable to exercise
From Glamour March 2013
Now think about yourself or the people you know and see if the description above rings true for anyone.  This CBS video highlights why it is so hard to determine if someone has an exercise addiction -- exercise bulimia hides in plain sight and our weight loss community encourages each other to push our bodies to the limit (and even beyond)
This first-person narrative really gets to the heart of exercise bulimia: 
But a couple of years after the program, I decided I want to eat [she was anorexic and bulimic]. I didn’t want to be anorexic again and I didn’t want to be bulimic. The only thing I could think to do was to exercise -- that would then give me permission to eat. And that’s when the exercise addiction sort of replaced my eating addiction. In my late 20s and early 30s I became addicted to exercise. It was something I was doing three, four, sometimes five hours a day, doing it for a couple of hours before work and then spending three hours after work at the gym. I realize there are professional athletes and people who absolutely love to exercise. I am so impressed with the fact that they can do this. But I hate exercising because I take it to such an extreme. My body hurts, but I’m not listening to my body -- I keep pushing it and pushing it and pushing it.
This breaks New Rule #2I will do no harm to my body
But this requires you (or someone that loves you) realizing that you're doing harm to your body. 
And nobody said that realizing you have a problem is easy.

I think the important thing to realize is that much like a food addiction, exercise addiction works on our emotions. It plays with our sense of balance and overall wellness. It helps us mask what is really going on. Exercise addiction about control, not balance. 

Many of us have a history of viewing food emotionally (as pleasure, reward, or as something one needs to earn) and viewing exercise as the punishment/consequence for eating.  Food is fuel and medicine for our body.  It is a necessary and proper part of our life and should not be used to soothe emotional needs, nor do you need to "earn" it (it is a basic human right -- see The U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25). 

Exercise is one of the physical ways we manifest the love we have for our own body. Exercise addiction is a manifestation of loathing, not loving. We can get frustrated while working out, or feel tired/sore when doing it, but exercise should always be in the range of joyful and loving, planned and deliberate, and with purpose.

I don't really have any solutions here, just a few thoughts (such as food logging to make sure you eat enough calories to support the amount that you're exercising/not having more than a 1000 calorie deficit on any day), I just wanted to start a dialogue. 
  1. Do you know how much is too much exercise? How do you know?
  2. Do you think the culture of diet/weight loss bloggers encourages/promotes/enables unhealthy habits with regards to exercise?
  3. If you thought you had a friend with exercise addiction, would you try to intervene? 

Didn't get that memo

So...doot da do... Grimmway Farms was AWESOME and sent me some swag as a prize for participating in their #JustCrunchEm chat (emceed by Courney Crozier (BL11) during the Biggest Loser a few weeks ago.
They sent me The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook (2008) signed by Sione Fa (BL7), Felipe Fa (BL7), and Mark *mumbles through his last name* Pinhasovich (BL10) (who are all so very handsome and dreamy).  They also sent me a fancy Just Crunch Em tumbler (that I've already used for my mean green smoothie):

I'm really appreciative towards the gang at Grimmway farms and former BL contestants involved in the giveaway.  However.... I take issue with a few of the things said in the cookbook:

"Don't let meal scraps go to waste.  If your kids aren't going to eat
the leftovers on their plates, can Fido?  Dog food is expensive!
And after all, he's part of the family too.
Why am I not impressed with this?  There are many foods that we eat that are harmful to a pet's digestive system.  And more than that, you should also be mindful of your pet's diet and nutritional needs.  It's just as hard for a pet to lose weight as it is for you to lose weight.

But even worse than that was this little nugget:

First of all, the math is not simple.  This is why I strongly suggest getting a BodyMedia Armband (click here to get 15% off), so you can measure your caloric expenditure rather than just estimating it.   This is the only guideline the book offers in terms of calculating caloric intake.  It says nothing about caloric expenditure/multiplier factors (such as the Harris-Benedict Equation) for people that have active lifestyles or workout. 

Secondly, I'm a voracious reader of all things diet and nutrition related, and most dietitians and doctors agree that people should never go under certain caloric thresholds.  It varies among experts, but it's usually between 1200 and 1400 calories.  This is for two reasons:  (1) it's difficult to get all the nutrients one needs for anything less than 1200 calories (2) the average person's needs around 1200 calories just to stay alive (basal metabolic rate). Eventually, such a low caloric intake will have negative consequences for a person's metabolism.

I'm really disappointed that The Biggest Loser put out a book like this.  I just hope that in the 5 years since the publication of the book that they have addressed and corrected this bad advice.

Do you know your daily caloric intake requirements? 
Do you food log? 
Have you had your food logs analyzed by a registered dietitian? 


Are you just kinda winging it? 
How do you know that your plan is healthy and achievable?

Another form of tracking....

I'm going to try and keep track of where I spend my money at the grocery stores -- will also add a column for restaurants/bars and for "eating out for lunch during the week" if what I bring to work doesn't entice me.

Whole Foods 2/23/13
 I'm also going to try and use what I have in my cabinets before I buy more of it.  It goes back to my 2011 resolution to "Finish what has been started; start what needs to be finished."

The "Fit" of "Fitting In": Part 2

You should always feel like a Super Hero.
Goofing of at Fitbloggin 2011
Last week, I wrote about the struggle it was to find clothing as a plus sized girl that was age appropriate, fit well, and didn't make me feel like a sack of potatoes (delicious as they may be).  As I got older, I could find clothing that was age-appropriate, but had a harder time finding clothing that fit well and didn't make me look like those delicious potatoes.

Exercise clothing was and always has been a special challenge.  As a bigger person, one has specific needs out of the clothing one wears:
  • would it support me? (in the case of anemic 38D sports bras whose straps would slide down or shift when running and never addressed the bounce); 
  • would it help me avoid chafing? (soccer shorts aren't going to cut it; and there seems to be an aversion to fat people wearing spandex/Lycra/performance gear that is ridiculously functional); 
  • would the clothing stay where it was supposed to stay, and keep my body parts where they were supposed to be? (in the case of all the pants that fall down, the shirts that ride up, and things that inexplicably shift); 
  • would I feel good about wearing it? (I want something a bit prettier than sweats)

This is why I am so tickled that Ben at City Sports contacted me to ask me if I'd preview some clothing from the City Sports' CS line that will be branching out into plus sized clothing!

The goods:
CS Sports "Dash" Run Top ($25)
CS Sports "Paramount" Run Capri ($48)
Zippered back pocket with headphone hole!
Yes, those are reflective strips on the shoulders.

Initial Thoughts:
ZOMG the pants are buttery soft and feel like a second skin.  I love that the back pocket zips.  I have a few pair of capris that have pockets that don't secure.  I wouldn't want a key or ID falling out mid-run.

My only complaint about the shirt is that it doesn't magically shrink my midsection (that's on me to fix).  The cut is great on the shirt, and for someone 5'9"--it magically falls at my hip.  This is a very good sign!

The Test:
1 hour Wii Zumba 2 on Medium Intensity

I strapped on my BodyMedia Fit and 539 calories later...
notice, it grossly overestimated the burning capacity of my shimmies and shakes

The Results:

Thanks to the lovely drawstring, the pants stayed up the whole time during Wii Zumba! They moved with me and made me feel sexy while doing it.  Most importantly, the pants wicked away sweat from my lower back (I know, gross).  When I took them off 10 minutes after my workout they were nearly dry.

The shirt has done the impossible -- no gross armpit sweat stain!   Impressive feat considering I was workout out in my apartment without the benefit of air conditioning. 

The shirt didn't rise up the whole time during Wii Zumba.  During shimmies and shakes, the shirt kept me covered!  I can't say that for many tops that I've tried in the past. 

I can't wait to take this outfit on a run with me (once this skin issue clears up!)

I want you all to have a chance to try some City Sports gear, and City Sports wanted to help me with that.  They've given me four (4) $50 gift cards to raffle off.   I will raffle off two for people that answer my Google forms survey, and 2 gift cards for people that use the Rafflecopter form.  Contest will be Tuesday February 19, 2012 at 12:01 am until February 27, 11:59pm.  I'll announce the winners on 2/28!  Have fun and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

100 Days of Running Winner!

In Part I of Discovering Dad, I announced a contest to win 100 days of run coaching from the one, the only Brad Gansberg

It was only fitting that instead of using a random number generator, that I asked Dad to pick the winner at random.  He did not see any of the results beforehand, nor did he know he know anyone that submitted entries.

Which yielded the winning entry: 

Congrats Jessica!!

I wanted to thank everyone who entered.  Your responses were amazing.  I hope you all check out Brad's free running program.  It's not as personally tailored as his $99 basic program, but I promise you that you'll see the benefit!

And maybe since Jessica is local, I'll be able to meet with her and do a follow-up during her program.  hint hint nudge nudge. 

Discovering Dad: Part II

In Part I of Discovering Dad, my very awesome and forthcoming dad talked about his childhood and the attitudes about health that he learned from his parents.  He candidly spoke about his own weight issues and how it affected his own view of himself.  Part II is a little bit more about my dad as head of the household and family man. 

Part II of Discovering Dad

Q6: Mom also had food issues. What was your take on her eating habits? Do you think she had an eating disorder, or did she just have disordered eating?

A6: The latter -- disordered eating.   I don't know what she did when I was not there, but remember I saw her up in weight and down in weight, up, down, just like many who struggle, but no evidence of "disorder" that I am aware beyond that.   She did hide a lot of behaviors, so maybe you have a point but not a provable case, just supposition.  Since she's no longer here, you and I are in same boat as I about many things about your mother. What is clear is that we did not have healthy eating habits and did not teach you or your brother healthy eating habits and exercise and life style.

At her height (5'9"), 145 to 150 was about right.  She could go as low as 130, but not lower, and up to 180, but not much higher.  She was 180 when I fell in love with her in 1971 and her slimmest when she was preparing for the 25th reunion, (the blue dress with white collar pictures-about 130) but generally around 145 to 150 was her normal.

[From my brother -- I don't think she had a disorder with a standard clinical diagnosis.  I do no think she binged/purged, and she did not have anorexia nervosa (psych term) though she often had anorexia (medical term meaning aversion to/failure to eat).  Mom was teased as a kid for being overweight.  When her dad died (she was 16), it caused her to oscillate between under eating and over eating.  Mom got it under control until she went on meds for panic attacks (she gained weight), but then after she changed meds she got thin and stayed thin.  My memory as a kid is of her never eating breakfast, unless we went out for it for a special occasion.  I think she just ate dinner.  At the same time, she had the "finish all your food!" thing that people from the 50s have.  The portion sizes she served were reasonable.]

Q7: Were you worried about either your dietary habits or mom's dietary habits rubbing off on me?

A7: Let me say this. We were very conscious of trying not to make the same mistakes that had been done to us in our upbringing, to the extent we were conscious of them. We made different mistakes and we even made the same mistakes, hence the next topic:

Q8: A little over a month ago, you said to me that as a baby I knew when I was no longer hungry and would stop eating, but that you and mom tried to get me to eat more. could you elaborate on this?

A8:  This was one of the same mistakes that was done to us on the presumption that one had to eat until full to be healthy, and that if we did not get you to finish your portions, that somehow we would be responsible for you not getting what you needed.

In retrospect, it was clear that you had had enough and you were a healthy baby, healthy tot and little girl. I can still see you in my mind, in your highchair at Starrett City and we were feeding you Gerber jarred food and you finished like just half of it and you wanted to get down and back to what you were doing (perhaps harassing your brother?).

We were aghast, we thought we were doing something wrong. We could not just let you eat half of your peas and meat, whatever it was. To be good parents, we had to get you to eat ALL you food. The same crappy myth we had been stuffed with, we perpetrated upon you.

Q9: How did you try to educate me about diet and exercise as a child and teenager?

A9:  When did I ever educate you about health or food (other than making mountains of pancakes, slabs of meat, potatoes, dessert)?!?  When you got heavier, as I was heavier, I failed to see and get us running or exercising, or going together to the gym or anything positive. I recognize that I was a poor role model and I wonder if my depression rubbed off onto you.

Q9.1: I remember you once signed us up for Gold’s Gym, perhaps when I was 16. Why did we stop going?

A9.1:  Knowing me I probably came up with a hundred excuses.  When we signed up for the family membership, that came with one "free" training session -- I got a artificially-muscled steroidal freak who started me off on weights that were far too heavy.  He didn't address the needs and limitations of my own body.  Schedule was also a big excuse too.  I commuted over two hours each way for work, and I would come home at the end of the day tired.  Changing out of my suit into gym clothing was just too much to ask some days.

Q10: Now that we're both adults trying to get our weight in check, do you think it's important that we are good role models and inspirations for each other as well as the rest of our family?

A10:  It would be important if I BECAME a GOOD role model for you. YOU have ALREADY BECOME a good role model for yourself, despite me.

Q11: I've tried to keep this interview brief, but is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

A11: Just an overview, to wit:

My life has been one with a lot of pain and sorrow and loss, and my childhood was not a happy one. Many issues continued into adulthood, and new issues arose. Clearly, I have had an unhealthy relation to food and and other consumables which were bad for me. Couple that with smoking and I have not taken care of myself.  Some people have an innate sense of themselves and take pride and thus make the effort in their health and their appearance. In the course my life, I can not be so categorized thus far. But I want this to be otherwise henceforth.

Dad -- I love you very much too :)

You are so much younger than I, and have, I would say, a much better grasp of who you are and what you are about. You have made tremendous progress and you have an iron will. Now that you are on the mend you are able to get back on track, but more importantly, you can see the path and have a clear grasp of how you want to follow it. What I mean is, you have have seen the issues, and rather than just floundering through it all, being buffeted by the storms, you have put you keel down, you have a firm hand on the rudder and you know your course. This is not saying that life does not have its difficulties or problems nor insecurities, setbacks or doubts and pain, but you ARE taking care of yourself, saying: “ the healthier I am, the better I can handle all the other stuff.”  I am proud of you and love you very much.

Emotional [_______]ing: Part 2

Me:  **knocks on door** Just wanted to let you know that I'm here.
Boss:  Everything okay?
Me:  **fighting back tears** I'm okay, just very, very angry.
Boss:  What's going on?
Me:  Doctors don't listen.
Boss:  Time to get a new doctor.
please ignore leg hair; was
not taking a razor near that
I love my boss for her always-pragmatic, always helpful reactions --
she's a no fuss, no muss, no bullshit kinda lady.

But let's take a step back.

For the past week, I haven't been going to the gym.  Why?  I think I had an allergic reaction to a *ahem* feminine care product.  Immediately after using it, my skin got red, then itchy, then blistery, then the blisters popped, and the skin was painful and didn't want to heal.  That was going on in the lady bits, and spread a little down my thigh.
Please be kind; this is really
hard for me to show.
About the same time, something similar was going on on my face.  I am 100% cognizant that I'm a neurotic skin picker -- but more than that, I try not to be ashamed of it.  I also know that it may be a contributing factor to the skin thinning on my face.

All the same, I have NOT been picking at whatever is going on down in the lady bits.  I've been applying hydrocortisone cream (little relief) and trying to keep the area cool and dry (which means no running, cotton underwear, and quality fleece robe time).

This morning I called a local dermatologist's office to see if they had any appointments, and they had one at 9 am, but they didn't tell me for which doctor.  I didn't care too much, if it meant that someone would help me.  So, I rushed in only to be treated very well by the support staff and nurse, but then dismissed by the dermatologist.   
"I can reduce the redness, but I want you to see a psychiatrist."
"I've done the cognitive behavioral therapy.  I've done the SSRIs.  I have done a great deal of work to reduce the skin picking, but I do it in my sleep.  I can't cure myself 100%."
"I still want you to go."
"And I haven't been picking the skin on my leg or lady bits.  How do you explain that."
"I would like you to see the psychiatrist so we can address this as a whole."
"So you're not going to do anything for my skin ripping and oozing?"
"I'm going to prescribe oral steroids and a topical cream.  But I want to see you again in a month to do a full-body scan."
**thinks** yeah, highly friggin unlikely that I'm ever going to see this guy again.
 And then as I'm coming out of the office, he makes me VERY uncomfortable:  
"It's a cultural thing."
"What is?"
"We see our patients naked and then leave the room to give them privacy to dress.  I once had a doctor with a female intern ask if it was okay that she was present for my rectal exam, and then she left the room so I could get dressed." 
Um. Err. WHAT?!?!? **scrubs brain of those images**

So, I'm going to try and schedule an appointment with another office, who have much better reviews and see what happens.  They might come up with the same diagnosis, but they won't send me out of their office crying and fighting mad.

The "Fit" of "Fitting In"

I love playing softball.  I always have.  However, ever year I played Little League, I dreaded uniform distribution.  Could they find a uniform that would fit me? That day always came with tears.  At some point I outgrew all of the girls' sizes and actually started wearing boys pants.  It was humiliating.

Gym class wasn't any better.  We didn't have a standard gym uniform that we all had to wear, so it was all these tiny girls wearing cutesy short shorts and tight shirts, and me in sweatpants and a t-shirt. This was the time before capris and yoga pants were popular.  Either I could fit into short shorts, or I could have painful chub rub chafing.  I had to pick.

In middle school, we had a pool.  Don't even get me started on finding bathing suits.  I never got to wear a cute training bra -- in 4th grade my mom purchased a 34B compression sports bra for me to wear.  Age-appropriate bathing suits were always hard to find.  I remember being so discouraged about this process that I convinced myself that it was okay to wear a wrestling unitard into the pool.

Now, I love my girlfriends -- they are awesome -- but even I know I can never compete with their gazelle-like long legs and short shorts, but it would be nice to have some options that don't require me checking out the men's clothing.

I've talked about this before -- the hipocrisy between the world telling bigger people that they need to exercise and then not giving us the clothing that will make us feel good while doing it.  No one feels sexy and strong while wearing frumpy workout clothing. 

Give us shirts that don't feel like sausage casings, that we don't have to pull down every two minutes!  

Give us shorts that don't fall down, pants that don't ride up, and maybe in some color other than white, black, or tan!

We deserve performance
clothing too! 
We deserve to look fast, strong, sexy, and capable at the gym.

Well I guess my plea has been answered, as one of my favorite stores -- City Sports -- just let me know (thanks Ben!) that they will be launching a line of extended sizes of not just their own CS brand, but will also carry in the store some of my favorite brands, such as Moving Comfort (check one of their bras in action here)!!  

City Sports has introduced me to some of my now-favorite brands -- such as BodyGlide and New Balance Minimus.  I'm totally excited that I'll be able to walk in the store and find clothing that will fit me! ((I know this isn't an extended size -- but my interest is piqued with these Spanx workout pants!))

City Sports will be sending me a preview of some of the items -- and I hope to share them with you soon, as well as some gift cards so you all can check out their line of extended sizes as well.  So stay tuned!

Discovering Dad: Part 1 and a Contest!

First of all, I want to thank my Dad for agreeing to do this interview with me. I think it's important for my readers to know that it takes a lot of support and understanding to be able to untangle the web of emotional eating and obesity. I also think it's important to show my readers (and my Dad as well) that I'm not blaming him for anything. Unhealthy habits get passed from generation to generation and frank conversations such as this help to stop that pattern.
 Part 1

Q1: When you were younger, how did you learn about exercise
 and nutrition? What were your parents' attitudes towards exercise and nutrition?

A1: As a kid, I never learned about exercise, and nobody knew about nutrition in the 1950s. We were taught to eat everything on our plate. We were told to think about the starving children in China; left overs were a moral obligation to finish. I was 40 pounds as a 1-year-old. My parents would feed me to stop from crying that first year. I then slimmed out. I ran through neighborhood often, climbed all trees available, and from 4 to 5 was the Peter Pan, ruler and leader of the neighborhood kids. I was tall, trim, outgoing, confident, self-assured and active until the summer my mother died, two months short of my eighth birthday. From age 8 to 12, I just ballooned up in weight, lost confidence and really became a different person to that happy kid I had been before my mother’s death. We had conflicting influences, various housekeepers and even sometimes we were left on our own. I don’t remember food being solace during that time. However, there was no overall approach to a healthy regimen of food and exercise and there was, for me, a great deal of sorrow and trauma.

Q1.1: Do you think the “clean plate” mentality your parents had was a result of them living through the Great Depression, or was it some other reason?

A1.1: Not the Depression, it was more a left over from the Victorian Era. I also think that for my parents’ generation slimness was akin to sickliness for some. My mother was as slim as a rail due to her heart defect, and plump cherubs for children indicated in some way that they were healthy.

Q2: Did you play any sports as a kid? Did your parents encourage it?

A2: I played with the neighborhood kids, but I was not acculturated into an athletic way of thinking and eating and training my body. Dad was a Polio survivor, and had no culture of exercise or sports. He also lacked any real skill or time to teach any sports skills. Mom was skinny waif, unable to exercise because of a congenital heart defect in her aorta. In 1963, as a freshman at Brooklyn Prep, I wanted to try out for the football team, but my my dad and stepmom in 1963 wanted me to get a job. Thus I was never on a team. The focus was never health or sports--it was always on working hard in school, learning to be responsible, learning that life is supporting yourself financially.

Q3: I've seen pictures of you as a young man, and you were quite dapper and thin. When did you notice that you were gaining weight? Do you know why you were gaining weight?

A3: Luckily, I hit a growth spurt that allowed me to be 6’2” and 175 at 18-years-old at graduation. I looked good then. Then I gained weight in the novitiate. We had sports, and exercise, but also a lot of other influences. At college I was between 215 and 235, and stayed in that range, mostly till third year of law school between age 28 and 29. Law school was sedentary, driving a cab was sedentary. Eating deli on the run was not helpful either. Thus, I got heavier. From 17 to 29, the lightest I ever was was 185 when I was in Boston. The heaviest was 280-290 when I got married. Since then the lowest I was was 238 in the late 80s. I was 250 when I tore my left ACL in 2008. That injury contributed to going up tp my current weight. But eating out, eating deli, not exercising and unhealthy eating also are huge factors.

Q4: You once said to me that you tried running once, but wasn't enamored because you didn't experience a "runner's high" -- what were you expecting?

A4: Let me rephrase the question. I had to run at times in gym, I also tried to be on track team at some point. Running always was painful in the legs, chest and abdomen and I never experienced a runner’s high, as in the endorphins. I was not instructed on the right way to train, nor did I have anyone to tell what to expect, how to work through it, or anything like that. An example, the track coach put me in a relay once, had to sprint 220 yards, did miserably. All he did was look at me disdainfully. Years later, remembering I said in my mind the rejoinder I should have said then: “don’t look at me like that, teach me.”

Q5: Did you try anything to lose the weight? If so, what? I remember there being one of those thermal sweat suits around the house once upon a time.

A5: The emotional ups and downs of my formative years left me feeling all over the place, without any understanding of myself, my weight, my health. I never had a sense of pride about my body, and not even any perception regarding same. I once did a low fat regime and stuck with it for a good while. I have tried other things with varying degrees of failure, even Weight Watchers.

Q5.1: Not too long after graduating from law school, you had a full-time job as a prosecutor and a young family. Looking back, do you think you lost your opportunity to focus on yourself and your own needs?

A5.1: Yes, but my needs became fulfilling my responsibilities. I did not focus on taking care of myself at all. I have always had a lot going on inside me. be continued...

Dad said above that he wished that his track coach had taken the time to teach him how to run.  I remember feeling the same way in elementary school when Mrs. Simpson chided me for not being able to run the mile (I walked it in 16 minutes).  If only we had Brad Gansberg as our coach.  He wants everyone to know that you CAN run.  He wasn't born running -- he started at 35 and 293lbs.  He knows what it's like to feel like a failure.  He knows how to learn from his mistakes. 

Brad has generously offered to let me raffle one paid membership for his Basic Program (a $99 value!):

Definitions that don't define who we are

When I was in middle school, we held a local event for the Special Olympics.  My school was looking for volunteers -- kids that that would help escort each participant (who were the same ages as most of the middle school volunteers) from event to event, kids to help the adults report the results of the events, and most importantly, kids to help cheer on the participants. 

A few select volunteers got special positions as huggers.  As a hugger, you would be paired off with a Special Olympian for the day, and would be there at the end of every event to either be there to hug them or for them to hug you.  Early that day, a representative from the Special Olympics met with the volunteers and said something to all of us that has stuck with me for a while, something to the effect of "We're all running our own races at our own speeds." 

I've had to touch on this moment many times over the years when I've felt like I'm not "part of the pack" — i.e. people that are out there running 5Ks, half-marathons, marathons, triathlons, ultramarathons, etc. — because my body restricts me to the elliptical.  Many of my wise friends reminded me running comes in all shapes, sizes, forms, distances, and speeds.

The next part of this blog entry comes with a big disclaimer:
I don't want any negativity directed toward the person I'm going to talk about. 
There's no room for that here on FatGirlvsWorld.

Tuesday I posted this picture on Facebook and Twitter with the caption "Eff yeah. Good run": 

A friend of mine replied to the photo, "Isn't that an elliptical?" 

I replied "Yes. So running uphill with resistance. To each their own."  I could feel myself getting defensive and protective of my run. 

She then replied "True. I just feel like actual running is so much harder and a better workout. Better than nothing I suppose!"

**raises an eyebrow and tries to come up with a measured but constructive response**

"Just to be clear, you arent negging my run, right? Running is harder on one's body as well. My spine doesnt need the added compression from pounding pavement or even a treadmill. I burn around 650 calories in 5 miles per my BodyMedia FIT."

She replied "Not at all, the elliptical is a great workout and a good alternative when you have medical issues as you do. I'm just saying it isn't the same thing as running. Which you agree with."

And I said the only defense I really needed to say:  "It is how I run."

Thankfully someone else chimed in and said "It's kinda like running in quicksand. Good work, Robby!"

I understand what my friend was saying, and on the surface running on the elliptical is not the same mechanics as running on the treadmill.  Running on the treadmill is not the same as running on the ground.  Running on the ground is not the same as being chased by a bear uphill without any shoes on.

The whole discussion reminded me of Oscar Pistorius -- the runner who fought to run in the Olympics despite having double below-the-knee amputations.  Some people saw his prosthesis as giving him an advantage, and some people argued that losing parts of both your legs were no advantage.  No one would ever say to him that what he does isn't running because it doesn't fit the definition of "both feet leave the ground" because he technically doesn't have feet. 

I thought about Megan Vogel, the long distance runner, and many others who have helped their competitors (or their loved one) across the finish line when they could not do it under their own power. 

It's been a few days, but I've come to the conclusion that running isn't about the mechanics; it's about the spirit. Running isn't about picking up one foot, and the other foot. Its about moving forward, together, towards our goals and meeting each other at the finish line, wherever that line may be, whatever that line may look like.

Oh, and today's run was fantastic: 

Make no mistake, I am a runner.
No one can tell me otherwise.