January 19, 2014
I have historically used this space to focus on my struggles and successes with the healthier lifestyle I have been living for the past 2 years. It might be a stretch to some, but mental health is just as important as physical health, and I have a lot weighing on my mind when it comes to recent family events.
It was a very snowy Saturday in March when I was asked to go where no early twenties college gal dare go: Chuck E. Cheese. My then boyfriend (now husband) of a little over a year finally felt okay introducing me to his oldest daughter (his youngest was born 7 months into our relationship; that is a whole other story for another time. All you need to know is I am an intelligent woman who fell in a love with a very wonderful man; who happened to have two kids from two past relationships). She was one month shy of 5 years old and totally adorable. She brought me stickers of puppies and kitties and was pretty quiet. I didn’t know that day how much this little girl would shape me as a person in the following years, inside and out.
The reason he waited over a year to introduce us is important: his ex has never made life easy when it came to seeing his child since their relationship ended, in fact, we have recently learned she hasn’t even been acting with the best interests of their child in mind all these years. My husband waited this long time before I got to meet his daughter, and even had asked his ex’s permission, scheduled a different day, to only have her “change her mind” at the last minute before the first meeting ever happened.
But this isn’t about the ex, this is about the daughter.
Over the following years, I found my place as that loaded word: Step-Mom. After we were married in 2009, my now husband and I struck a balance with things, There were a few road bumps, but we found our groove. For me, step-parenting is always such a fine line. A slippery slope that always feels seconds away from the words I’m sure I’ll someday hear: “You’re not my REAL mom!” My eldest daughter (I hate the step part, I feel like it is unnecessary, I think of both girls as my own, but I never want to offend anyone; be it their mothers or any of the maternal family…it is all very complicated. Let’s call her bonus kid?) has grown into this absolutely fantastic person. I feel so lucky to have somehow ended up as a part of her life. She makes me so proud for so many different reasons; she is an honor roll student who is in band, choir and has a passion for art and drawing. She does baton twirling and volleyball. She is funny and fun to be with and just such a joy to assist in parenting alongside my husband. She has made me want to be a better role model. I try to live my life as a good example of a good person and a good woman all for her. To show her how an active lifestyle is good for you and fun, and how eating a balanced diet still allows for treats, just in moderation. Being a part of her life has made me a better person. Hands down.
My husband had to request a court ordered visitation schedule in July of 2012. After several years of the ex sometimes following their verbal agreement, but mostly dictating when he would get to see his daughter, enough was enough. At a pre-trial hearing they signed to an order to which afterwards she says things like, “we’ll see if this works” and “I’ll just keep saying no to you until I get my way”. The following year she broke the order once, and my husband agreed to the slight change so no action was taken. They swapped weekends and moved on. Then, summer of 2013 arrives and his ex scheduled all their family vacations during time that was supposed to be my husband’s, forcing him to file contempt of court charges against her. The order they agreed upon was written to say specifically, she cannot schedule vacations over his time in the summer. She immediately lawyered up, and filed a motion to revise parenting time, requesting a reduction in summer visits for my husband. She has been granted multiple continuances, dragging out the process. She is on her second lawyer, her first withdrew as counsel on the grounds of “not being able to zealously advocate for Ms. XXXXXXX position on the matter.” She is making our lives a living hell.
She has put their daughter, my bonus kid, smack in the middle of all of this. The ex has convinced her this is all her dad’s fault and the only way to get him to agree to this lessened time and to drop the contempt charges is to refuse to see him. The ex is portraying Hostile-Aggressive Parenting techniques and my bonus kid is showing clear signs she is suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome. To see this child turned away from her dad (and as a result me as well) over the past few months, is absolutely heartbreaking. I am so worried what all of this is doing to her mentally and psychologically.
So I guess this was a little bit about the ex. How can it not be? She’s my bonus kid’s mother. We never wanted things this way. We have said over and over again to each other how we know there are some situations when parents split up and can actually set aside their personal feelings for each other and act in the best interests of the child. We have that with my youngest bonus kid; her mom is great. Her mom can admit my husband is a great father and know it is a good thing to have him in her daughter’s life.
We can’t relent now, because then what’s the point of all this strife? We have to stay the course, but this is by far, the hardest thing I have ever dealt with in life. Watching my husband be told he deserves less time with his child simply because the ex thinks it is just is maddening. He is the best father a child could ever want. He would do absolutely anything for his children. All we can do is everything we are doing, but it just doesn’t feel like enough.
January 1, 2014
Oh hai. Remember me? You can stop assuming that Thanksgiving Day 10k was the end of me….although it definitely slowed me down for a while for about a week afterwards. I am really glad I ran it, but, it was probably the stupidest race I could have done for my first one. Over 17,000 people and freezing cold…I am still not sure why I thought that was a good idea. I finished with a semi decent time (not nearly as fast as my usual distance pace but whatever) and that is all that matters.
I somehow survived the holiday season this year. It felt as if I was being pulled in all these directions when I really just wanted to watch NetFlix in my pajamas. Sometimes I did, but eventually I would have the guilt and feel the need to be around actual people for a change. For the first time in pretty much my entire life I am glad to see the end of the holiday season. I am usually one to leave the Christmas tree up until the weekend after New Year’s but that sucker came down on the 31st with little melancholy on my part…and that was after a solid 5 days of pure procrastinating avoidance like “I should really take the tree down…or I could re-watch another episode of Season 1 of Dexter!” (My husband and I finally finished out that series early December and I think it added to my “meh” holiday spirit. Yes, I just admitted a crappy ending to one of my favorite cable series gave me mild holiday depression. Way to let me down, Showtime, I’ll send you my counseling bills.)
I am lucky enough to have a job where they send us home the Friday before Christmas and we don’t go back until after New Year’s so I have been working out pretty much as much as I want. I would really love for this final 15 pounds to get the f out. I’m attempting to “take it up a notch” with my workouts and actually hold myself accountable for everything I eat. So far I have really awesome days, and then there’s a holiday. Like New Year’s where I pretty much drank more calories than I typically eat in a day. So. Yeah. My emotional well being needed a good old fashioned New Year’s, and now I can safely say I’m ready to do this thing.
Bring it, 2014.
Oh, and I also deactivated my Facebook, because really, it just makes me mildly to moderately annoyed these days. We’ll see how long I last, since it had basically became a small addiction. Maybe it will make me spend more time here? Let’s hope.
November 26, 2013
Two days from right now, I will have completed my first race…which happens to be a 10k. One of the largest and oldest in the country to be exact. I am slightly excited, but mostly, I am super nervous. Mostly because I have never done this before, and a little because large crowds of people are not my favorite thing but I know I can and will do it, and that’s all that matters.
What do you do when you can not run out the anxiety? In the past years, running has become my therapy. When I am running I can turn my head off and just focus on me. Lately that has become harder and harder to do. I have a lot of things going on in my family life, in relation to my eldest step-daughter. Things have never been great with her mother, but in the past year they have become increasingly bad, to the point where we are about to retain a lawyer because there is a full hearing after the first of the year to rule on my husband’s parenting time. The whole situation is very stressful for my husband, and in turn, it has pervaded pretty much the entirety of our daily life. Right before the holidays, no less. I have spurts of time while running where my mind clears and those fleeting moments are what keeps me coming back, even in the rain or snow, for another run.
I run because I can. I run because the feeling of accomplishment I get afterwards is pretty much unlike anything I have ever experienced. There may be a day when I can no longer run, but that day isn’t today, so until that day comes, I will run. I am a runner.
October 27, 2013
Since I began running in 2010 it was mostly to see if I could. I chose to do something I had never enjoyed nor was good at, because I like a challenge I suppose? Maybe it was because I lived in an adorable, progressive town with lovely trails within walking distance? Whatever the reason, I needed to make some drastic changes in my life. I didn’t have a gym membership at the time, so it was a free way to get out and move that required nothing more than some running shoes and work out clothes. I took a try at it; it was hard. I got discouraged and fell back into bad habits. Then in January 2011 I decided to start my weight loss efforts for the very last time. 43 pounds and two years later, I run 4 miles in 40 minutes as I am training for my first 10k…which is also my first race.
I have been running around 3 miles consistently for the better part of this year, so I decided to go a bit bigger for my first race. I’m so excited about it, I am already considering signing up for the 2014 Air Force Half Marathon. I have a few months to decide, since registration doesn’t open until January 1st, but I’m already about 90% sure. The 2014 Air Force Marathon falls on my 30th birthday. It feels like I HAVE to do it because really, how many people get to say I ran a half marathon on my 30th Birthday?!
I was visiting with my 86 year old Grandma a few days ago, lamenting about how I’m going to navigate potty breaks, if I’ll even need one, in the middle of the 10k. She told me,
“Sara Beth (that’s what she calls me) stop and go to the bathroom, they will have porta Johns!”
to which I replied,
“But then I’ll have to to stop! If I am RUNNING a 10k, Grandma, I have to RUN the entire time! If I am going to do something, I have to DO it right.” Which in my mind is as close to perfect as possible.
She then told me that sounded pretty familiar and she wonders where I get that from with a definite twinkle in her eye.
When I do something in life, especially something I am passionate about and voluntarily doing, I’m going all in. Running has given me so much in the past few years. It is my time alone. It is something I can control at least a little bit, when things feel so completely out of hand with everything else in life. It has shown me it’s okay to change your mind about things. People change and grow and that is a good thing. It has given me confidence and shown me I can live a balanced healthy life, which in turn, has completely squashed my biggest fears of becoming a mother…..Okay, wait, now how did we get here? Let me digress…
Being an overweight child was extremely hard for me. I remember being 13 or 14 (or whatever age girls start talking about marriage and babies? I truly don’t remember.) and swearing to myself to never bring a child into this world, for fear that they would suffer the same cruel combination of genetics, slow metabolism and sedentary lifestyle that I did. I didn’t want another child to feel like I did all those years. I may have been extra sensitive, but years of bullying, name calling and self loathing sort of sticks with a person, no matter how “thick” your skin is. Mine was paper thin, so I promised myself this “no babies” rule all those years ago, and if I am anything, I am stubborn.
Looking back, it was so naive, but so “me” to make such a gigantic life decision as a teenager and stick to it for more than 10 years.
Now that I am 29 years old, with two amazing step-daughters in my life, (who have shown me I can definitely navigate parenting reasonably well? Step-parenting is a whole other story for another time.) I truly think I can make the informed, grown up, decision that I have changed my mind on babies. I want to have one.
Hmmm, look at that, people can change, it just takes some of us more miles to get there. For me, it’s been about 260 over the past 2 years.
October 12, 2013
I have began training for my first real race, the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Cincinnati, and because I am crazy like that, my first race is not a 5k, but a 10k. I have been running 5k’s like it’s nothing for quite some time, but was having a hard time pressing farther than about 3 and a half miles, so I took a break and then decided to begin training for this upcoming 10k.
Today was my first 3 mile run and I took a route I have run more times than I can count but after I hit mile 2, it was a struggle. I was totally in my head and already thinking about how in the world I am going to be able to press on thru 6.2 miles in a little over a month.
You see, I have been saying it since I began running, it is SO much mental, almost more so for me at this point, than physical. I get in my head and start saying things like “this is the worst thing and there’s no way I’m going to continue running the entire time and I’ll never be ready in time and ugh I can’t breathe right anymore” then I hit 3 miles and I’m done. Just like that. Today after what felt like the slowest and longest 3 miles I have ever ran I averaged out at 9:56 min/mi. It was one of my best 3 mile times in quite a while.
I blame a lack of new music…because when I keep the playlists fresh, I trot along and get lost in the music and then I’m done and I feel like a million bucks. So. Long story short, I need to invest in some iTunes cards to combat the headgames I’m playing with myself because I know I can do this, and the fact that I ran so quickly this morning shows this training program I’m following (its a mix of comfortable running, cross training days and a once a week tempo run with mileage increasing each week) is definitely working.
Happy weekend, and happy running.
August 28, 2013
It really does make fools of us all.
Time feels like it is rushing forward lately. It feels as if it has no concern for how I need things to slow down. I turn 29 in less than a month. When the hell did that happen? My little step-daughters went back to school in grades 6 and 2. They aren’t so little anymore.
Regardless of the passage of time, I’m slowly progressing on my weight loss. After gaining and losing what felt like the same 5 pounds, I weighed in last Friday at 180. I am a mere 13 pounds from the initial goal I set 3 years ago in January of 167, which is the uppermost healthy weight for a lady standing 5’8″ according to the CDC Body Mass Index chart.
I feel healthier than I have in my entire life; I’m sure I am healthier right now than I have been in my entire life. Two weeks ago I celebrated one entire year smoke-free. I am at my lowest weight since my wedding in 2009. I bought a pair of size 12 pants for the first time in 4 years last week. I am so proud of myself.
And I am so scared. I know I can do this, but there is this huge milestone looming ahead. I have never pushed my body past this current weight. Even losing 1 pound, pushing myself to 179 will be amazing. I don’t work well under pressure.
We almost bought a house. Then, last week it fell through. That was a giant disappointment. I tried very hard to not comfort with food. Instead I listened to music (much too loudly for my age) in the car. I ran on a sore Achilles much too hard for my own good. (It is still a bit sore, but it has gotten both too dark to run before work, and too hot to run after so I have been hitting the gym instead and spending more time running intervals instead of steady miles) I let myself feel the feelings and be sad about it. I did not let myself eat whatever I wanted in an effort to feel better because all that does it makes me feel worse about letting myself do so.
The old Sara would have used this bump in the road as an excuse to completely fall apart emotionally which would have lead to eating anything and everything that I know I shouldn’t and eating it all in excess. I can’t let that happen. That is where new Sara steps in and changes things.
While it feels like a new and exciting chapter of my life is being delayed, again, I am attempting to focus on my health and fitness just a little bit harder, in an effort to push through this last 13 pounds and finally be at a healthy weight for me for the first time in way too many years.
I have let life, once again, allow me to neglect this space. My love affair with fitness has only grown in the time since I last wrote here.
I have never written in depth about how I feel about exercise. I repeat how much I am a happier person because of it ad naseaum, but that only scratches the surface. The gratification it provides to my soul is astounding. I epitomize the saying “Learn to love the burn.” My day doesn’t feel quite right on rests days, or days where life happens and workouts don’t, although those have become few and far between lately. I make the time. I get up earlier, stay up later to get my heart rate up. It makes me feel like I have tiny bit of control of things and for a perfectionist control freak, that goes a long way.
So isn’t it ironic (dontcha think?) that the chubby child turned teen turned young adult (who spent WAY too many years feeling inadequate and awkward and everything else you can feel when you don’t look like how everyone thinks you should look) is now obsessed with fitness? Then again, it sort of makes sense. I started this journey because of simple vanity. I weighed 218 pounds in January of 2012. I wanted to change that number so I moved more, tracked my meals, joined a gym and made fitness a part of my every day routine. It has been hard, but I now weigh 185 pounds. I look forward to the most active part of my day. I live for it.
I just announced my highest weight and my current weight to the internet. Wow, that is liberating. There’s something I never thought I would do. It has become so much more than numbers to me; numbers I have been obsessing over for practically my entire life don’t control me anymore. It has taken me 20 years to figure this out and truly understand it.
I have discovered it is so much more than lowering numbers on a scale. It has become my life and how I spend my time. It’s how I manage the stress and cut through the crap and the mundane days and sleepless nights and everything in between. It is setting goals and meeting them, and creating new ones. It’s going from being a kid who dreaded running the mile in gym class to being a woman who voluntarily runs, sometimes as fast as a 10 minute mile, sometimes before the sun is up because it feels amazing. It’s letting my inner 6 year old (who desperately wanted to be a ballerina) shine every time I step into Pure Barre class. That sense of accomplishment is worth every cent. I can’t imagine living my life any other way from this point on. Whenever life takes me away from my usual active routine it shows. I get cranky and restless and then I remember I call the shots. I make the time for running, or going to the gym, or going hiking or trying a new class. It’s all up to me.
I feel like I have grown so much as a human in the past year. Instead of dwelling on the defeats of my past I look towards the successes of my future. I know nothing in life worth having will come easy, that just isn’t my life and that’s okay because I can do pretty much anything if I want it bad enough. And these are the thoughts I have from 20 pounds away from my goal weight. That is the part that astounds me. I haven’t even gotten there, but I know I will. I haven’t been sure of too many things in this life thus far, but this one I am certain of: I will see myself at a healthy weight in the next year.
The bad days still happen. The old, tired, negative voices that have held residence in my head for the majority of my life will not go silently into the night. But with every step of a run they get quieter and the confident lady inside me is beginning to drown them out.