My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Racing and shoes

I never realized just how many walk/runs there are each year. Even in my small area, there are quite a few. There are 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons. I’ve even seen odd number ones, like 4k, 7k, 8k. Some races even have 1k or 2k options for kids. And there are themed races like The Colour Run, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and a few different zombie ones. I bet there is at least one race just about every weekend throughout most of the year. And I think it’s great! I did one race last year and it was tough. I nearly didn’t finish. This year is different though. I’ve already done 2 (one 5k and one 10k), and I plan on doing at least 2 more. That’s right, I said at least 2 more. I may do more than that. I’m not sure when or how I became this person. But I’m beginning to like being her. The people who do these races are like a special little community, a little family. It’s pretty awesome. Even though I’m fairly new at it, I feel like everyone has accepted me into the fold. I love how everyone seems to support each other, how they cheer each runner/walker on, down to the very last person. It’s really amazing. I love being a part of that. And even though I often doubt myself, I’m looking forward to the next race, the next challenge. I want to keep doing them. I want to keep challenging myself. I want to keep getting better.

And I want to get a really awesome pair of running shoes. Okay, that might seem like a silly thing to say, but I’m serious! Right now I run/walk in my cross trainers. Not the best footwear for this kind of thing. I need real running shoes. Ones designed for racing. Don’t get me wrong. I love my cross trainers. They are good for my regular workouts in or out of the gym. But if I’m going to be serious about racing, I need serious footwear. I won’t have them in time for my next race, but hopefully before the summer is half over, I will have some. I have really wide feet, so I hope I will be able to find ones that will work for me. I think trying to find the perfect shoes will be an interesting adventure. I wonder if it is like that for all runners. I mean do all runners go on a quest to find the perfect shoes for them? They probably do. I still think it will be fun. I can hardly wait to post that I’ve found them.

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Chandler Relay for Life

This year, I had the honour and privilege of travelling to Arizona to participate in the Relay for Life with my friend Jeff and his family. This is the story of that amazing experience.

I’ve participated in the Relay at home for several years now. Jeff and his family have done the Relay near them as well. Last year, Jeff and I half-jokingly said maybe next year I’d travel to Arizona to do their Relay with them, and he’d come to Canada and do mine with me. The more we talked about it, the better the idea sounded.

I arrived several days early, partly because that was the best travel day for me and partly because I wanted to get myself used to the hotter weather. I’m glad I did. While I adjusted to the time change easily, it took a day or two to get used to the weather. It gets pretty hot in Arizona, and I’m not used to it being hot this early in the year. At least they have very little humidity.

I had met his parents, Alan and Marion, many years ago, although they didn’t really remember me. They are wonderful people. So nice. And they happily welcomed me. A few members of Jeff’s family came in for the Relay as well. His Aunt Judy and cousin Kevin arrived on Wednesday. His Aunt Eileen and cousin Barry arrived on Thursday. His family is a riot! They had me laughing so hard at times, I could barely breathe! They made me feel like I was a part of the family. That really meant a lot to me.

Friday morning, Jeff and Kevin went with Alan to help set up stuff at the Relay. The rest of us had lunch and then met up with them before going to the Relay. The Relay was held at a local high school. The teams sites were on the inside of the track. Our site was pretty much in front of the stage area. It was a pretty good spot. We got our site set up, then waited for the festivities to begin.

I was anxious to see how they did things compared to how we do things at home. It started pretty much the same — speeches, prayer, national anthem. Then it was time for the Survivor Lap. Everyone on our team is either a survivor or caregiver, so we were all out there. I proudly wore my purple survivor t-shirt. There was so many of us. It was awesome to see so many purple shirts. As we were walking around the track, the announced that there was one person who is a 43-year survivor! Incredible!! We finished the lap and the Relay was underway.

One of the best parts of the night was seeing so many kids there. I was told a lot of high school students take part in the Relay every year. I’m not sure I’ve seen as many kids at home. And many kids serve on the committees as well. That’s so amazing.

I was trying to take in as much as I could. I was taking note of the things they do differently. I was extremely impressed by how well run the Relay was. I think they do an amazing job. And I got several ideas to suggest back home. I told Alan about a few things we do differently, and he seemed really interested.

I had a goal for myself for the evening. I wanted to walk 50 laps. It was a goal I set at the beginning of the year. I did 35 laps at the Relay at home last year, so I thought I should be able to do 50 this year. I took an extra pair of sneakers, just in case. I’m glad I did too, because I had to change shoes around lap 10 or so.

Early in the evening, there was a dinner for survivors and caregivers. It was provided by a local restaurant. What a great idea. We got little gift bags too. After that, my real walking began.

When the sun went down, it was time for the luminary ceremony. The luminaries were lined up along the outside of the track. They went around and lit all the candles. Then handed out candles to everyone there and they were lit as well. Someone gave a little speech about the ceremony, and the overhead lights were turned off. Then everyone silently walked around the track with their candles in hand. It was beautiful and awe-inspiring. I’ve never seen it done like that before. I loved it.

I walked mostly by myself. Jeff and his family walk a lot faster than I do, but that’s ok. I didn’t really mind walking by myself. I had my phone with me, so I had lots of music to listen to. I tried to walk as many laps at a time as I could. I think I was doing at least 10 laps at a time. I’d walk until my feet hurt too much, then I’d sit for a few minutes before going out again. A few times people would cheer me on as I walked by their sites. A couple of times people would slow down and walk with me a while and chat. One guy would ask me what lap number I was on as I walked by. Late in the evening, a woman offered to buy me a coffee. I gladly accepted it. Another guy asked me if I had stopped at all because every time he looked up, I was on the track. I said yeah, I’ve taken a few breaks, but I was trying hard for 50 laps, so I wasn’t stopping for too long. I got a lot of positive feedback from people. It was pretty awesome.

Throughout the evening, there was something called the “spirit stick”. Someone would carry it around the track, then hand it off to someone else and ask why they Relay. I thought that was pretty neat. Someone hand it to me late in the evening, or i should say early in the morning. I carried it around for 2 or 3 laps. A guy walked up beside me and asked if he could walk with me. He said he really wanted at least one more lap and he had seen me walking throughout the night. He was impressed by how much I was walking. His name was Will. We had a nice chat as we walked. As we neared the stage, someone with the microphone asked me to come up since I had the spirit stick. They asked my name and my team name and why I Relay. I said, “my name is Jennifer and my team is Allie’s Army. I relay because I can. I’m a 3 1/2 year survivor, I lost my stepdad to lung cancer, my husband lost his father to cancer, and I have friends fighting the fight. I Relay because I can.” They thought that was a great answer.

I handed over the spirit stick and kept walking. It was early morning and people were starting to pack up their sites. I was very tired and my feet hurt, but I kept going. At lap 46, Marion stopped me and said things were winding down. They were getting ready to start the closing ceremonies. I could have kept going, but I decided to stop. I slowly walked to the bathroom. Then waited while things finished up. We packed everything into the cars including ourselves, then headed home to get some much needed sleep.

In the end, I walked 46 laps, which is 11.5 miles or 18.5 kilometres.

I didn’t make my goal, but I’m not upset about it. I did the best I could. And in the end, I still walked more than I did last year. I’m pretty proud of myself.

And besides, I have another chance at 50 laps next month when I do the Relay at home.

I want to thank Jeff, Alan, Marion, Judy, Kevin, Eileen, and Barry for allowing me to be a part of their team. I had a great time. And I hope to do it again next year.



“Never again”

On my anniversary with Tyler, he surprised me with a beautiful plaque engraved with the words “Never Again”. It was a gift from him as well as other members of our gym. He said it was in honour of our first year together. I was overwhelmed. No one had ever given me anything like it before. And, of course, I cried.

I have it sitting on my desk where I see it every day. It’s beautiful. And every time I see it, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. I have great friends. They are the greatest support to me, and I appreciate them more than they know. It reminds me not to give up, especially on days when I’m struggling.

You’re probably thinking, why those words? Well they have special meaning to me.

Never again.
Never again will I be the size I was.
Never again will I be the meek person I was.
Never again will I think of myself as weak.
Never again will I treat myself the way I did for most of my life.
Never again will I be the shy fat girl that I grew up as.
Never again.

I’m becoming a different person … a better person. Each new thing I’m able to do, each goal I demolish, each milestone I reach is leading me to a better life. And I’m excited to see where this all takes me.



My first 10k

Well I did it. I participated in and completed my first 10k event. It was one of my goals for the year. At the beginning of the year, I made a list of 4 things I wanted to accomplish and I’ve already done 3 of them! I’ll have 2 chances at the 4th one, but that’s a post for another day. In the meantime, here’s how today went …

I’m awake earlier than I need to be. I’ve been nervous for 2 days. Second guessing myself about doing this 10k. I think I’m a little crazy. I’ve only walked this much twice before. Am I really ready? Will I be able to finish? What happens if I can’t? I get up, shower, pick out my race gear, get dressed, and head downstairs to make breakfast. I opt for my usual smoothie and turkey bacon, and add whole grain toast with a little peanut butter for extra carbs and protein. I head down to my computer to kill some time before heading out. I’m trying not to think about the race. I’m excited because a bunch of my friends are participating too. I love seeing them. Such cool people. Liz, Aidan, Andreas, Karen. Tyler will be there with Jim, Morgan, and Jay. Others may be there as well.

Anyway, I finish my breakfast and play a few computer games before heading out. Dan drops me off at the event on his way to work. I’m early because I haven’t actually registered yet. I see Liz first. I’m glad to see her. I bring her some of my homemade protein balls. She loves them. Now that I’ve arrived, the nerves really kick in. I get myself registered and start pacing around. Soon others start arriving. Good to see everyone. And some seem as nervous as me, which makes me feel a little better. Tyler comes in and I chat with him for a bit. He can see my nerves I think. My friends and I decide to go outside to wait for the start. We don’t have to wait long. Everyone lines up at the start. A few words are said, a moment of silence, then we are off!

I think I’m crazy for doing this. I’m slower than everyone. I’m trying to walk a good pace, but I’m not sure how well I’m doing. I try to jog a little. My left foot is not liking it. I swear I heard it say “oh no no no. If you want to finish this 10k, then we are walking it!” And I’m pretty sure I heard my right foot agree LOL. So I switch back to walking. I’m still trying to keep a good pace. But everyone is pulling farther and farther away from me. I’m alone. I have my music playing on my phone which helps. I’m trying to keep the negative thoughts out of my head. Not an easy thing, especially today. But I keep moving, determined to finish no matter how long it takes.

I think most of the people are doing 5k today. A bunch of those are already on their way back. I’m cheering them as they pass me. Some are cheering for me too. I get a bunch of high fives. It’s nice to have the extra encouragement. I need it today. At the turn around for the 5k, there is a water station. I’m pretty sure the people there expect me to turn around. I tell them I’m doing the 10k. I grab some water and continue on. More cheers and more high fives. All my friends are on their way back now. I continue on just hoping to be able to finish, but having my doubts. There are cops and volunteers all along the route, making sure the runners and walkers are safe. A few of them ask me if I’m okay. I say I’m fine, just slow.

I’m still not at the turnaround, but everyone has long ago passed me on their way back. I finally get to the turnaround. One of the cops there says that if I need a ride back, just let them know. I say thanks, but I need to cross the finish line. As I start my way back, he pulls up along side me and says the other cop will follow me back. Nice. Feels like my own personal police escort, I chuckle to myself and keep going. A car pulls to a stop a little ahead of me. My friend Karen gets out. She’s long finished, but came back to help me finish. I’m glad to see her. I’ve been struggling for a while, questioning whether I can finish or not. Having her there is a big help. I think she can tell I’m struggling. Every once in a while she asks how I’m doing. My feet hurt, but otherwise I was fine. She keeps me chatting, keeping my mind off my sore feet. We crack a few jokes. Occasionally we say something to the nice cop following us. I want to get his name because I want to thank him. I think he’s going above and beyond today. And I appreciate it very much.

We finally make the turn into the parking lot. We’re in the home stretch. Only a couple more turns to the finish line. I ask Karen to go up ahead and take pictures or video with my phone as I cross the finish. She takes my phone and trots on ahead. A few people who finished honk their horns as they leave or are standing on the side of the road and cheer for me as I pass them. Nice. As I near the finish, I can hear my friend Liz cheering my name. I love her. I cross the finish and I’m so glad. The race officials record my time and get my name. Almost everyone has left already. Everything has been packed up. Liz and I sit for a few minutes before heading home.

I never did get the name of the cop.
And I never got my official time.

But that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is I finished.
I completed my first official 10k event.
And I’m proud of myself.


My friend Liz

I truly believe that everyone in your life is there for a reason. Sometimes it’s because you need them; sometimes it’s because they need you; and sometimes it’s because you need each other. If you’re very lucky, the universe will send you someone like my friend Liz. I’ve mentioned her briefly in a couple of posts, but she deserves a whole post of her own.

I met Liz last year, the first day of the first season of Quinte’s Biggest Loser. We both attended a nutrition class they were offering at the hospital. We happen to sit near each other and we struck up a conversation. It was as easy as that. What I didn’t understand then was the universe decided to give me one of the most amazing, funny, smart, lovable, beautiful, down-to-earth, crazy friends a person could ever have! Liz is the type of person that lights up a room as soon as she enters it. Feeling down? Liz knows just the right thing to say to bring you up. Got a problem? Liz has a way of seeing things that you may not have thought of. Need to relax, let loose, and/or maybe do something a little crazy? Liz can help with that!

Liz is a blogger as well. You can read her blog here. She writes about, well, everything really. And she’s one of the best writers I know. I aspire to write like her. She writes with such passion, such emotion. It’s simply beautiful. No other way to describe it really.

I’ve been a bit stressed out lately. I’ve had a lot going on. And lucky for me, Liz has been there to listen to me complain and offer some friendly advice, along with plenty of laughs. Just being around her makes me feel better, makes me feel like things will get better. Everyone needs a friend like that. I don’t know if she realizes that impact she has on others. She truly is a special person. And I’m honoured to call her my friend. My life … heck, the whole world is a better place with her in it.

Thank you Liz for everything, for all that you are, and for being my friend. You rock socks. Rock. Socks. 😉



Kind words

Never underestimate how powerful words can be. Everything we say has an impact, whether we realize it or not. We may not intend to hurt someone, but sometimes saying the wrong thing can do just that. On the flip side, when someone is down, saying the right thing can bring them up, sometimes to a place they haven’t been before.

Being overweight almost my whole life, I know how bad words can hurt. I was bullied and made fun of since I was very young. I was constantly torn down, and hardly ever built back up. The few friends I had tried their best, but their kind words were often overpowered by the negativity of others. Consequently, I grew up with low self-esteem and very little self-confidence. I started to get a little bit of it in my 20s, but it was a very slow process. I think my biggest gains in both self-esteem and self-confidence didn’t come until I hit my 40s. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years, although I know I have a long way yet to go.

As I navigate my way through this journey, I realize more and more the impact kind words can have. When I’m having a bad day, a simple “you’re doing great” or “keep up the good work” from anyone can really help. When someone who hasn’t seen me in a while tells me how great I look, I can’t help but stand a little taller and smile a little bigger. When someone stops me to tell me how proud they are of me, my heart just melts. And when I feel like giving up, someone is there to say “you got this” or “I know you can do it” or “I believe in you”, and I keep going.

These things may not seem like a big deal to most people, but they mean the world to me. And each kind word helps build my confidence, tells me that I’m on the right track. The more I hear how well I’m doing, the more I want to do. The more people say how proud they are of me, the more I want to keep going. Every kind word inspires and motivates me. I know I’ll still have my bad days, but when I do, I’ll do my best to remember the good things people say to me and about me. And maybe, in the future, I will have fewer and fewer bad days.

So to all those people who have offered me their kind words, I thank you. You may think it’s a simple gesture on your part, but it means everything to me.