Part of finding wholehearted wellness is devoting time to things that align with my values, goals and overall life desires. I want to be a published writer. It is the only vision I’ve ever clearly seen for myself when people ask what I would do if I could do anything. I’d write and people would pay to read my writing. And there would be a home office with a wooden desk overlooking lush, old trees.
When I was in high school and college I found a talent for writing personal essays, a skill that translated well to the adaptations of the internet and blogging. I get to write micro-essays. However, I have a heart for fiction. People may consider me patient while I contentedly wait in lines or traffic, but all the while I’m making up stories in my head. Sometimes they are about me — around Oscars time they tend to involve me winning an Oscar and hob-nobbing with my new celeb besties (they are just like everyone else!) and sometimes they are about the people around me.
My problem with fiction, other than sitting down and just writing, has always been plot development. I just don’t know what to do with people sometimes, though I seem to be good at figuring out movie and book plots. Go figure. I decided to work on this challenge by not working on it. Instead, I’m going to focus on writing regularly and creating characters. I figure if I birth interesting people, a story might create itself.
So, good luck to me. I’m starting with a character profile of me. Or maybe a space princess. I guess we’ll see who wants to come alive.
I can’t wait to tell you what I’ve been up to lately. Aside from dropping in to experience the shopping event known as Lilly for Target — just for kicks — I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing bits of my house. No pressure, just small bits. Well, I started with a biggish bit; tackling some bothersome issues like dirty toilets, litter boxes and my kitchen sink (which by-the-way looks brand new again now that I scrubbed it.)
I guess this sounds pretty ordinary and maybe not any bit impressive to most people. That’s okay. When I’m depressed and bathed in anxiety I have no will to care about most things. I drop out of life, lose focus, and hunker down in some deep part of my brain. The mere fact that I not only care, but that I’m acting, well…that’s a really good thing.
I’m not entirely open with people about how deeply affected I am by mental illness. I share articles on Facebook, but I never say, “I loved someone who suffered. I am someone who suffered. It’s been around me my entire life.” I told you that I’m getting help. Finally. Really aggressively, seriously trying to recover. My mental illness and shame has manifested in several ways. One way was drinking. I no longer drink. I’ve also struggled with disordered eating and an eating disorder since I was a young girl. Those behaviors are proving challenging to change. But, the progress I’m making with my depression and anxiety is helping and giving me hope that I can recover. I am working with a counselor, an MD, and a registered dietitian. They are good people and I feel safe with them.
I tell you, I was so resistant to medication for so long. It frightened me. Dependency, bottles on bottles on bottles, false hope. I tried medication after medication when I was in high school. It was terrible. I watched my mom try medication after medication. It was terrible. But I decided to try again at 33 and 11/12ths. I was getting worse. I could see the cycle happening. And the thing is, it’s working. It’s helping. But it’s not just the medication. It’s the help too. Anyway, I’m feeling good.
Also, on Saturday I went for a consultation for the tattoo I talked about a couple years ago. It’s going to be a little bit different than what I described that day, but I’m finally taking action. I’m exited but also kind of scared and anxious. I’m supposed to go on May 7th to get it inked on my right forearm. I’ll show you when it’s done.
So, I guess that’s it for now. I just wanted to say hi, see how you’re doing and let you know what’s new.
I watched two Brené Brown TED talks last night. My body tingled; my legs went cold though covered in a blanket and my heart starting thunking loudly. After a spirited conversation with myself, I got off the couch, put on my flip flops and went for a walk. (And my feet now have blisters because I no longer have flip flop calluses.)
Two geese flew over my head while I flip flopped down the sidewalk. I was transfixed by deer across the street and so busy mindfully breathing the air that I didn’t notice the geese until their butts swooshed over me. Thank goodness they didn’t poop on me! So aware in some ways and so oblivious in others.
Here are the two TED talks I watched — I highly recommend watching them. They were over before I knew it and I wanted more. Brene’ Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
I have a habit of buying notebooks. I don’t know what it is, but I love a new notebook – all those blank pages ready for thoughts, scribbles, lists, dreams, drawings and plots. Tonight, I opened one of the several that was sitting on my desk at home. My plan was to draw out ideas for my wrist/arm tattoo on the blank pages. The tattoo is meant to remind me of a few things: my mom, my spirit of hope and fire in my soul, my connection to nature, the connection between body, spirit, thought, and emotion. It’s a lot to for a few lines of ink on skin. But I know I can do it.
Anyway, I grabbed a green composition book with a pen clipped to a page with a mundane note about a wireless key. As I walked back downstairs I scanned the pages and noticed pages and pages of words I’d written about myself while doing exercises from “What Color is Your Parachute.” This was a notebook from the end of 2011. This was from a transformational period where I was job hunting after leaving my job of 6 years. This was a notebook from the last few months my mom was still alive. (A side effect of my mom’s passing is that I tend to measure time in “when Mom was alive” and “after Mom died.”)
The words are quite different from what appears in my current journal. There’s a page with values. Those are the same. There are lists of goals. Boy, I have a tendency to expect a lot of myself. There is a list of commandments I wrote after rereading “The Happiness Project.” Still relevant.
I have deep ruts created by the repetition of negative thinking and habits born from shame and unmet needs. In January, I reached out for help. While I’ve written privately, finding out how to share more publicly has challenged me. Embarrassment, shame, and fear have kept me from being open about my life over the last couple of years. I’ve known for a long time that something about how I feel isn’t quite “right.” Though, right and wrong isn’t really a good way to view feelings. I’ve worried that people will treat me differently. I’ve worried that people will worry. I’ve worried that I will feel worse. I’ve worried that it will impact my work, though my anxiety and depression already have. These are only the beginning of the worries.
The truth is, I’ve lived with anxiety and depression, self-harming behaviors and thoughts for a long time. Cycles and patterns, I could make a quilt.
I am still me. That has not changed. I still cherish animals, adore my nephew, believe in kindness and truth, compassion and love. I still love jokes, smiles, and laughter. These other voices inside of me are tricky and persuasive. They offer comfort in their harm. But I am finding the other voices. The voice that wrote the values. The voice that wrote my talents. The voice that’s warm as sunshine (trite, but work with me here), and playful.
Impish, spritely, gentle, and strong. Silly, caring, serious, and funny. Inquisitive, thoughtful, spiritual.
I’m working on a new internal infrastructure to fill the ruts and build new roads. (Do NOT insert overused Robert Frost quote here.)
I am still me.
[Did anyone read this and think I was about to come out as a lesbian? Because when I proofed it I could totally see that. But, I’m not; just plain old mixed mood disorder, terrible body image and disordered eating- though girls smell better and have nice hair and shoes.]
I need to make it known that I am super lucky. You’ll read some examples below, but I have to call it out before I relay any bit of my marathon recap. I have an amazing group of family and friends. They waited on cold corners, ran with me on a torn up street and hugged me after I’d been running for over 5 hours.
I was bright and shiny and excited when training started. “I’m training for a marathon! Gummi bears and rainbows and wings sprouting from my feet!”
A strange thing happened about 5 days out from the race: I became slightly absent-minded and try as I might, I found focusing on anything (other than the race) for more than 20 minutes at a time to be quite a challenge.
By Friday when G and I went to the expo and packet pick-up, I was feeling pretty calm. Sure I was indecisive, “Should I get more than one shirt? Should I get the bling?” but overall, I was in a good mental place. Something was so wrong with me. I am not the type to be in a good mental place. Maybe it was all the carbs?
And then I tried to start my car to leave the expo…and…nothing. My car was dead in the expo parking garage the day before the race. And I was…calm. I’d planned to spend the day on my couch eating carbs and my plans had just changed to fixing a dead car in 30-something rainy weather the day before running a marathon. [When I say “fixing” please note I did none of the fixing. Bob did all the fixing. I mostly stood around and wondered why I’d never become a responsible car owner who didn’t let her battery become corroded and die at important life moments, thus having to rely on the fact that I have an awesome stepdad who will do unpleasant things to help me — like wandering around in cold rains.]
I’d stashed some carbs in my purse on the way to the expo (duh!) so I wasn’t starving by the time I got home, but I was definitely behind my fueling schedule. After shoveling my face full of more carbs (and pickles!) I got to put my feet up until Bob showed up to trek to the auto parts store. Once the new battery was installed, I made a celebratory dinner of pasta and bland homemade tomato sauce. I was still alarmingly calm. This alarming calmness never dissipated. What the? Who was I?
Being that I had to eat ahead of the race, I set my alarm for 3:51 and fell asleep. I woke up a couple times, but I went right back to sleep where I dreamt that I had to run through a parking garage. When I awoke it was 4:24. How did that happen? Why didn’t my alarm go off? Generally, when one sets an alarm one intends to go off in the morning, it’s helpful to set it for AM and not PM. Regardless of my alarm oops, I still got my toast and coffee and was ready to leave on time.
The day started chilly, only in the upper 30’s. Thankfully, the starting line was near Crown Center and thousands of my closest friends and I got to stay warm while we waited to get the race underway. Also, we got to use real toilets instead of porta-potties. It was an unexpected race day treat to pee in a real toilet after 10’s of my closest friends who may also have used Body Glide in…areas.
The first 2 miles flew by except for the part where I was pooping Shot Bloks from my FlipBelt (don’t try new gear during a race) and before I knew it we were climbing the first real hill: Kessler. I tuned everyone out and just kept up my light, quick, short step turnover and made it to the top feeling good. We had a quarter mile to half a mile of basic flatness before the short, steep Wyandotte hill and I opened up my pace a little bit, but wanted to stay conservative. After taking that hill the same way I’d silently dominated Kessler, I was feeling confident. Bob was right at the turn from Wyandotte to 31st and I got to wave and smile and mean it!
The next few miles were uneventful rolling and pretty gentle. There was a girl who came charging through singing and dancing to Roarand shortly thereafter was “stretching” (posing, she was posing — you don’t wear a flower in your hair for a half marathon or marathon if you don’t want attention), we hit a nice little shady downhill from Westport into the Plaza and my pace picked up naturally. I was feeling really good. I heard my name and Carolyn was soon beside me looking happy and strong. By this time, I was paying attention to the mile split times on my pace band and trying to hit them so I could make my sub-5 hour goal. I just needed to average an 11:27 pace.
And then…Mile 8. The street was torn up and we were running on the ugly, angry underbelly of the road. It was here that I slowed again and decided to hit the next porta potty. Guys, I never pick the right check out lines or porta potty lines. When I got out, the 5:00 group that I’d been well ahead of passed by. It was much harder to keep running consistently after this stop and I spent the rest of the race alternating between running and walking. The thing is, walking hurt as much if not more than running by Mile 18. My lungs and heart were not exploding. It was truly a mind game and I wasn’t doing so great. Somewhere in the midst of slogging though my run/walk in Brookside Sarah and Tammi were waiting with signs and cheers. A very good pick-me-up that kept me going.
By the time I rounded the corner back toward the Mile 20 marker I realized we were going to have to run on that rough patch again. It hurt more the second time but a friendly face – Cheryl- was waiting to run a bit with me. She was in one of the worst parts of the course (and I’m pretty sure she had a cold); not only was the road destroyed and desolate, but she parked on Troost. You may know Troost as the “just keep driving street” from the cute KC YouTube video. We parted ways and I turned into the neighborhood west of Troost. I kept moving with my walk-waddle-run through Gilliham and passed our family’s first Kansas City apartment. And then the 5:30 pace group passed me and I wanted to cry a little, but mostly, I wanted to finish. The last 4 miles were where I started to get myself straight again. Enough walking, I needed to finish this thing. I have NO idea what pace I was running through the last few miles, but I only allowed myself to walk through the water stops.
Just as I saw the blessed next to last turn from Paseo to 18th Street, I also saw familiar faces. My cheering squad had traveled! Strve even joined me for a few strides. It was just the boost I needed to get through the last mile and change. From there, I was able to tick off street names and each block was one closer to the 26 mile flag and the finish line. The last .1 of that race was the longest .1 I’ve ever experienced. It was uphill into a headwind and it after 26.1 miles of feeling all the emotions. As I sprinted to the finish line (who knows what pace my sprint was at this point — I would know if my data would actually finally transfer from my Garmin) I saw G, Carrie, and Andy who’d already completed their races and then I saw my Aunt Jean and Uncle Mike and sister-in-law Beth with Baby Henry, Bob and my brother, Brian. I raised my hands in the air, screamed something and ran across that finish line in search of water and that damn medal. Then I hugged people and ate an apple.
I want to do another marathon. I am not a one-hit wonder kind of girl. First up, using the rest of the year to work on slimming down more and building a faster base.
My body is amazing. It is not perfect. It does not look like Jennifer Aniston’s – that’s impossible because I am not Jennifer Aniston. My body looks like it’s mine.
It has soft spots and bumps, knobby bits and scars. Slender wrists and crooked toes.
And it is all amazing.
It woke up at 4am and carried itself 15 miles (of mostly running – it needs fuel and I failed to provide it.) It walked and stood and squatted and reached for 4 hours working at the gym after running 15 miles.
My body is special. It is amazing – glorious. Though not visible, it has strong abs.
Though it looks kind of flat, my derrière houses powerful muscles that allow me to run faster, squat deeper, and withstand hours of impact.
My eyes are different shapes. My dimples – well, there’s just one. My face is not perfect, but it is mine.
I don’t have to be sexy or sultry, taut or tiny. I just have to be me.
For the past month or two I’ve really been thinking about adding meat, eggs, dairy and seafood back to my diet. I started with dairy in the form of yogurt and then finally added cheese last week (but in very limited quantities.)
Last Sunday, I ate chicken. It was in my burrito bol from Chipotle. It felt strange, but it tasted pretty good. “Okay,” I thought, “I can do this. I can eat chicken sometimes.”
However, today when I tried to eat chicken on my salad it was not the same. I had about 2 bites and I didn’t like the taste and I didn’t know why I was even trying to eat it. I still don’t like the idea of an animal dying to feed me. I don’t need help increasing bad cholesterol, I don’t like the idea of animals living in captivity or factory farming and blah blah blah everything most vegetarians and vegans will spout and everyone will tune out (including the spouter.)
What was really unsettling to me was why after over a year of no meat I was suddenly thinking about adding it back in when none of my core beliefs or feelings had changed.
Today with fork to mouth it clicked in my brain. I’ve been depressed. My mood has been out of control up and down, but for the most part, I’ve been pretty down all the time. That leads to feelings of indifference. Which can lead to no longer caring about things you once cared about — like say, animals dying to feed you.
Secondly, I’m tired of feeling different. Maybe no one cares. But it gets tiring to be the special diet restriction person. “Grabbing a quick bite” doesn’t really exist for me. Part of that is my choice, but a big part isn’t. LORD, I’d LOVE to be able to just go eat without caring. Or eat without getting sick. Grab a sandwich or a taco or a burger. But food is more than just tasty stuff I put in my mouth. It’s ethics and feeling shitty and nutrition. I can’t eat without thinking about nutrition any more. Sometimes that leads to over-indulgence because it gets so tiring to try to be so perfect all the time. I try to thnk about all the things I CAN eat. And there are tons and plenty. But add in social dynamics or lack of money or time and it just spirals into a web of indecision.
My problem with eating for nutrition is that I also eat for pleasure. Food has always been something I could enjoy. My escape. Comfort.
We recently had an ice cream sundae bar at work and instead of my usual non-participation, I had a scoop of ice cream with half a banana and some Hershey’s syrup. And someone of course commented. “Hey, Katie is eating what we’re eating!” I do usually have something in those settings, it’s just not usually what is being provided.[ Generally, that’s due to the whole no-gluten thing. Lately, I’d even been thinking about testing the gluten thing again. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was all in my head. I mean, that’s what the media wants. And then I accidentally ate carrot cake with whole wheat flour and DEAR LORD did I feel like hell. I didn’t know what it was at first, but once I realized what it was, it matched up perfectly based on timing of consumption and symptoms. Dumb.]
The other part of the equation is weight loss. I am FREAKING out on some level about my body and my weight loss. Even though I see messages every day about loving your body and accepting yourself and I know I’ve lost 90 lbs, I am still unhappy. I still only see a fat blob. I have freaking acne that won’t go away and a protruding belly that I fear will always be there. After losing 90 lbs and running 4 half marathons — I’M STILL FAT. Not only am I still fat, but acne covered and homely. I haven’t worn makeup in ages (partly because my skin is so sensitive and partly because I’m lazy.) I just don’t feel attractive on any level. Yay depression?
With the depression has come a real struggle to avoid emotional eating and make good food choices. I thought if I could make myself eat things like chicken, I could help my weight and fat loss. People always talk about lean protein. Maybe I could do a week or two of lower carb and high protein and drop some weight fast! Yes! That’s the ticket.
Any how, I’ve been trying to deal with the emotional roller coaster and I’m lucky because I have good friends who have been there for me when I’ve vacillated between wanting to lash out in anger at people and when I’ve wanted to put my head down and cry. I’ve honestly just kept expecting to wake up and suddenly feel okay again. That hasn’t happened. It doesn’t work like that. Not really. I’ve added on to this taking “THE pill” for the first time in 16 years to help with some issues and so far it’s just exacerbated most of the demons. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll normalize in less than 3 months. There are other factors that are large contributors to my stress, anxiety and depression but I have word-vomited long enough for now. Just please know, I’m not being a nancy-pants. There are real things, valid things, to be causing my feelings. And even if there weren’t; even if I just felt this way with no reason to which to point (and part of it probably is that) that would be okay. (I have to tell myself that. I still have trouble believing it.) So, thanks for reading if you did.
Experts always seem to recommend having more than one goal when you start training for a race. That way, you aren’t totally and utterly crushed with crippling depression if you don’t meet your goal.
For me, my primary goal with my upcoming race is to finish. It’s my first marathon and even though I’ve done 4 half-marathons that doesn’t mean I know anything about surviving the twenty-six point two. Experts also say that it is okay to have a very loose time goal and that you need to be realistic. There are calculators and charts (so many charts!) that try to help you determine what is realistic for you given recent race finish times.
So, yes, my main goal is to finish, but I want to do so in under 5 hours and somewhere around 4:45:59. According to all those charts and calculators THIS IS NOT A REALISTIC GOAL. However, I am following the Run Less, Run Faster training plan. The training paces I’ve been using as part of that plan have not made me feel like I was dying. On the contrary, they have made me feel more alive and connected to running. More flying, more exhilaration, more YES, this is why I’m doing this. Instead of struggling with faster paces, I’m enjoying them*; however, I’m now finding it more challenging to run at long run pace and to actually you know, do my long runs. Some of this has nothing to do with running. It’s just current life circumstance shtuff.
These are not newly publicized goals. In addition to the goals I’ve already mentioned in previous posts, I have a super secret goal. My super secret goal that I’ve never said out loud or told anyone: I want to get my 5k PR under 30 minutes (a 9:40 average pace.) For some that’s a piece of cake. But you have to remember, as a somewhat new runner who is only recently no longer listed as obese (being overweight never felt so great!) it’s no small feat. But I believe I can do it. I believe in myself. Partly because my training paces are putting me in the zone.
*Ask me how I feel about the faster paces after tonight’s track workout — 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 (200 RI)
I sure do like those monthly challenges! So, for June I decided to go completely vegan. I’m already a vegetarian and have basically given up all animal products except dairy and honey (and occasionally eggs.) But after picking up a copy of a book about another vegan ultra runner I decided I should try a full on plant only diet to see what happens. Ultimately, I’m hoping to feel better, look better (my skin has not been a fan of my poor choices aka sweets and cheese) and maybe lose some body fat before I start hardcore marathon training. I felt rough in the last couple miles of the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. I know I have to run some of those same streets in October. Less body fat = faster.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
The other part of this challenge is NO PROCESSED FOODS! I think this is actually going to be the big key to feeling better. I noticed my reliance on processed foods increasing over the last few months and as that happened I felt less awesome and my progress seemed to falter. Additives, sugars and gunk in my food meant gunk in my body.
GOODBYE GUNK! SO LONG JUNK! *awkward hula hoop dance*
So how did I do with my May challenges and goals?
My list of May challenges and goals:
Reduce my reliance on peanut butter. This means limit myself to one serving per day, at most. I ended up running out of peanut butter a few days before the end of the month so I made my own nut butter (which ended up really being nut paste.) So far, I’ve only used it a few times in my oatmeal and never more than 1 tablespoon at a time. It’s a proprietary blend of plain old peanuts, almonds and a teaspoon/tablespoon of coconut oil. NAILED IT!
Because I obviously didn’t change my habits, continue with my sugar challenge. This time, I’m not going 100% no sugar, but I’m putting boundaries on my “treat” consumption. No more than one treat per week. I’m also still going to avoid foods with added sugar (except for an occasional Chobani because those are delicious or protein bar.) I generally feel gross if I eat foods that are packaged or processed and oh, I’m in major budget mode, so I need to limit my food spending and processed foods are spendy. FAILED THIS ONE SO HARD.
Decided yesterday: I’m going to do a plank a day. I think I should work on building up the time. I had to do 3 this morning as part of my workout and I should have asked how long the holds were. Probably a minute. When I started they were 15 seconds. I know I can hold longer than a minute, but I should set a numeric goal to hit by the end of a month. TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THIS ONE AND THEN JUST DECIDED TO SKIP IT.
And the funnest of the fun, a group challenge! Cheryl and Jason decided to do 45 minutes of cardio 6 days per week for 4 weeks and if I succeed at this also, I get a free session! Most of my workouts in April were at least an hour, so I have a good base. ANOTHER LOSS. I WAS ON FOR A COUPLE WEEKS AND THEN DROPPED OFF. IT DID MAKE ME MORE MINDFUL OF DOING CARDIO AND I DID STILL ADD MORE THAN I WOULD HAVE HAD I NOT COMMITTED TO THE CHALLENGE.
I’ve spent the last few days feeling very unmotivated and far from my “I want to hug the world” self. This generally happens once a month (ahem) but differs in intensity. This month for whatever reason is one of the more intense months. My irritability is near the surface and my attitude in the pot. I can usually hold back on food cravings during this week unless the emotional side is off kilter. So this week I’ve had gelato, candy, macaroons and accomplished none of my chores!
The only thing that seems to excite me is the anticipation of a new running route. The only time I’ve run through downtown KC was for a race. The streets are closed down and there’s hundreds or thousands of other runners. It feels safer. You don’t have to worry about traffic so much and you can just go. Tonight’s run is a different story. I’m setting out on the streets of downtown Kansas City because they offer a challenging terrain (hills) and a change of pace (ha!) My next two major races also start and end in downtown KC (Hospital Hill Half Marathon and Kansas City Marathon) so I need to get some practice running in the area.
I’ve been feeling pretty negative about my running lately. After my non-stop workout challenge I had some pain in the back of my leg (still feel it in the morning) so I decided to take a week off of running. When I did run again, I felt so slow and off. Flashing back to my training the last few weeks, months whatever, and honestly, I haven’t logged that many running miles. I’ve been doing tons of cross training: yoga, Pilates, personal training, elliptical, spinning. While these are all great for overall fitness and I truly enjoy them, I know that to improve in running and get past some of the blahs, I need to actually RUN.
Anxiety has been playing a part in my performance. As has negative self talk (why are you so slow? so-and-so is better than you. is that my fat bouncing? gazelle, you are not.) Instead of enjoying the challenge of running, I’ve been indulging in the darkside of running. The doubts. The fears. The lazy. (Okay, I know I’m not “lazy” — but I’m not dedicating myself as much to running.) I dread my long runs. DREAD. Hours of boredom. Alone. Where will I run? Having to drop water. (I might get a belt but as a gal with a sizable midsection, belts are pretty unappealing.)
Anyway, this post is dripping with negativity and I know I need to KNOCK IT OFF. I still enjoy running. I do! I hope switching it up today will be a good step towards getting back into a routine. Hospital Hill is only 2.5 weeks away! And soon after, I need to start my training schedule for my first ever full marathon! I mean wow. I’m still excited and hopeful about that so not all has been tarnished!
P.S. Somehow I was lighter on the scale this week when I totally expected to be the same or heavier (after all that eatin!) Bodies are weird.
P.P.S. I said this stuff to someone today and I really need to take my own medicine:
“At least you got out there. Some day you will look back and realize how far you’ve come. Never feel bad about your stats. They just are. They reflect the workout not you.”