My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Hoping to find that groove again

When I began my journey to be a healthier me in 2009, I knew it would not be an easy road. I knew I had to take it one step at a time. I had to retrain my brain to look at pretty much everything differently.

The first couple of years were a struggle. Not only was I learning to do things in a new way, I was also learning to live a life after cancer AND dealing with personal tragedies. Eventually, I felt like I had found a groove. It still wasn’t easy and I was still learning a lot, but I was getting better.

There were a few bumps in the road, like when I had to switch gyms and when Tyler decided to give up doing personal training. But I managed to get through them. Then there was the decision to change gyms again, followed by the car accident. While I eventually recovered from the accident, I never did join another gym. I think that was a contributing factor to the struggles I’ve been dealing with since.

As nervous as I was to join my first gym, I’ve realized since then that I seem to work out well around other people, even if we aren’t working out together or even know each other. Maybe I feed off their energy or something. Whatever it is, I just seem to do better with others around.

I’ve tried doing workouts at home, but it’s not quite the same. And I don’t know why. I know a lot of ways to workout with little to no equipment, but I find it hard sometimes to get a good workout in by myself.

I don’t know if it’s lack of motivation or lack of trust in myself or something else. I just feel like something is missing. And because of that, I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost. I know I only have myself to blame. And I know that I’m the only one who can fix it. I need to start making better choices again.

I’ve been talking a lot about joining a gym again. And in truth, I’ve been talking about it for quite a long time. I know it’s something I need. Living in a small town, there are not a lot of choices. And maybe that’s part of why I haven’t done it yet. But we are getting a new gym in town and I’ve already made a commitment to join. I’m really looking forward to it.

But we are getting a new gym in town and I’ve already made a commitment to join. I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully, I can find that groove again. The gym is scheduled to open in about a month. I’m feeling good about it. I’m anxious to see how much I remember.

I know it will take time to get back to where I was and beyond, and I’m okay with that. I’m already working on my mindset. And that’s the first step, and one of the most important.

 

 

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What I found through running

When I started running about 4 years ago, I didn’t know where it would take me. In fact, I didn’t even know if it would last. As I’ve said before, I hated running as a kid, so I never saw myself becoming a runner. When Tyler made it a part of my training with him, I was skeptical, to say the least. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with running. And it happened before I realized it was happening. I think that is one of the most unexpected things is what I found through running.

But let me back up a bit first …

I moved to Canada almost 19 years ago, after I got married. I was born and raised in the United States. I met, fell in love with, and married a Canadian. When I moved, I left a lot behind. I moved far away from my family and friends. I knew no one in Canada, apart from my husband’s family and friends. I moved from a big city to a small town. There was a lot — A LOT — of adjustments I had to make. And it wasn’t easy.

The hardest part was not being near my family.  My family has always been important to me.  I had always lived near at least some of them, so moving over 1000 miles away was difficult. We didn’t have Facebook back then, so it wasn’t as easy to stay in touch. I called as often as I could and visited when finances and schedules allowed. To be honest, it felt like I lost them. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but it’s how I felt. And actually, I still feel like that sometimes. As social media has progressed, it’s made it easier to stay in touch. But I still miss seeing them.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, I felt incredibly alone because none of my family was close by. I told my Dad & Stepmom and one of my brothers over the phone. I was able to tell my mom, one of my brothers and his wife in person, but only because I had a trip planned to see them right after I got the news. In my darkest moments, I would have given almost anything to have them there with me. It was an extremely difficult time.

I was still adjusting to life after cancer when a series of events left me completely reeling. I almost lost my dad, my stepmom died suddenly a few months after that, I lost 2 of my beloved cats within a couple of months of each other, and then my mom died. All of that happened in a little over a year. WTF. I went into a depression that I wasn’t sure I could crawl out of. I felt like I lost much of my world. But I eventually started to feel “normal” again.

And then I joined a gym. It took a few months, but I slowly made friends there. I’m still friends with a few of them. One of those friends was Tyler, who would become my personal trainer.  And less than a year later, I started running.

So back to running…

As I said, I wasn’t sure about running at first. But slowly, I began to enjoy it. And eventually falling in love with it. I certainly didn’t see that coming.

And this is where I found something I never expected.

I found community.

I found friends.

I found family.

I found myself.

I’ve never been a part of something so big before. I wasn’t popular in school. I didn’t have a ton of friends. I’ve always been a bit of an outcast.

I wasn’t popular in school. I didn’t have a ton of friends. I’ve always been a bit of an outcast.

But none of that mattered when I became a runner.

And that’s the most beautiful part.

When I became a runner, I found this great big thing that welcomed me with open arms.

It didn’t matter that I was a beginner and in my 40s.

It didn’t matter that I was/am overweight.

It didn’t matter that I was/am slow.

With running, I found so much more than I ever dreamed possible.

The majority of the runners I know I only know on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But that doesn’t matter. Because we are all part of the same thing.

We’re a community. We’re a family. We are always there for each other. To cheer each other on or pick each other up.

When I go to a race, whether I’m running or spectating, the sense of community is undeniable.

It happens anytime I’m around other runners.

It’s an amazing thing.

It’s a beautiful thing.

What I found through running is a part of me I didn’t know I was missing, a part I didn’t know I needed. And I can’t imagine my life without it.

 

 

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The finish line is a thing of magic

My friend JP recently shared a video on Facebook of a woman finishing the London Marathon. She had lost her husband and son and suffered from PTSD. His comment was ” This! 💙 Running will change your life if you have the faith to invite it in…”

And he’s right.

Running has taken me places I never thought I’d ever go.

I watched the video, and it was beautiful.

My comment on the video was:

“the finish line is a thing of magic. no matter the distance, no matter how long it took to get there, you are forever changed once you cross it. whether it’s an actual finish line in a race or an imaginary one you create for yourself.”

And that got me thinking just how true of a statement that is.

So I thought I’d write about it.

When I first began my journey to be a healthier person, I wasn’t really sure where it would take me or even how I’d get there. I just knew that I needed to begin. I also knew that I had to take it slow, at least at first, or I’d just end up spinning my wheels and would get very far. Baby steps. One thing at a time.

It reminds me of a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

I never imagined I’d end up becoming a runner.

I never imagined I’d love it.

I never imagined I’d start doing local races. And love it.

When I first started working with Tyler, he asked me what some of my goals were. I explained a bit about my journey, and that one of my goals was to walk in and complete a 5k event. I’d given myself a year to complete that goal. With Tyler’s help, I was able to complete that goal in less than 4 months.

It was a very hot and extremely humid day in July 2012. It was a small local race put on by a friend of mine. And I was the only one walking it. A spectator asked if he could walk along with him, and I said yes. I found out his girlfriend was one of the runners. He and I became good friends that day. Not far from the finish, I had to sit down on a bench because I was having trouble breathing. (I had forgotten my inhaler). After a few minutes, I was able to continue. When I rounded the last corner right before the finish line, I was amazed to see so many people waiting. As soon as they saw me, they started cheering, and I’m pretty sure I started tearing up. I remember an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment as I crossed the finish line that day.  It was one of the hardest things I’d done up to that point, and that made that feeling all the more special.

That finish line was a thing of magic.

In that moment, I knew my life would never be the same.

In that moment, I knew that I wanted to do that again.

About 6 months later, I started running. have completed 29 other races.

And since that first race in 2012, I have completed 29 other races. Mostly 5Ks, although there was one 10k and one half-marathon.

And the feeling is the same every time I cross the finish line.

It’s like magic.

No matter the distance, no matter how long it took me to get there.

I crossed the finish line. Every. Single. Time.

In 2015, I took on one of my biggest challenges – completing a half marathon. An incredibly intimidating goal to me, especially considering I’d never done more than 10k before. But I was determined to do it.

I had almost a year to prepare for it, so I did a lot of research to find an appropriate training plan. I eventually found one that was close and adjusted it to make it more appropriate for me.

Every run had its own finish line. Whatever the distance that day, I wouldn’t stop until I reached it. I’d carefully map out my runs to make sure I could cover the distance. I often planned them so I’d end at my favourite coffee shop. As the weeks of training continued, the runs got longer, and I’d have to remap to make sure I covered at least the distance necessary. Often, my runs were a little bit longer than they needed to be. There were days that were hot and humid (even early in the morning), but that didn’t stop me. One of my longest runs was done in the rain, 17.25k, but I didn’t let that stop me either. Another run my back seized up with about 2k to go, but I just kept moving forward.

I trained for 4 months. 4 runs a week. Every single run I did by myself. And some days it was very hard. It’s not easy training alone. Especially for something so big. There were days I didn’t want to run, but I did it anyway. Some mornings I wanted to sleep in, but I got up anyway. I was determined to cross that finish line.

Things didn’t go very well on race day. Things happened that were completely out of my control, but I didn’t let that stop me. I kept moving forward. It took me longer than I’d hoped, but in the end, I crossed the finish line. And once again, I knew my life was changed forever.

Now, when I think I can’t do something, I think about my races. 30 races total. And I have finished every one. Every. Single. One. Often I’m the very last person in, but that doesn’t matter to me. And crossing the finish line never gets old. I get goosebumps every time. I often tear up. Because I’ve accomplished something truly amazing. Every goal I set has its own finish line. Only I can see it, but it’s there. Every time I accomplish something I set out to do, I cross that finish line.

The finish line is a thing of magic. It makes you feel like you can accomplish anything.

 

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Why I love being a runner

I think some people were just born to be a runner. But I don’t think I’m one of those people. I never liked running. In fact, I hated it as a kid.

But I don’t think I’m one of those people.

I never liked running. In fact, I hated it as a kid. Growing up, my asthma was really bad, which prevented me from doing a lot of stuff. Plus I’ve been overweight most of my life.

So exactly how did I become a runner?

That’s a good question.

The answer is I don’t know.  Which I realize sounds funny, but it’s the truth.

When I was working out with Tyler, he had me start running as part of my workouts. I remember early on in our time together I joked several times about how I don’t run.

I remember early on in our time together I joked several times about how I don’t run. I don’t know if that’s where he got the idea, but one day he had me run on the treadmill. I was terrified I was going to fall off. That first run was only 30 seconds, but damn, it felt like forever! It took a while, but I was eventually able to run much longer. And then we moved outside, which I found much harder at the beginning. Eventually, I came to love running outside and dreaded when I had to be on the treadmill.

After Tyler and I stopped working together, I continued to run.

I think that’s when I knew I loved running.

So why do I love being a runner?

That’s another good question.

And it’s a much longer answer.

For one, I find it challenging. I put everything I have into every run. I’m not fast. At all. When I talk about running, I often say that “I have one speed … and it ain’t fast!” There are people who walk faster than I run. But I don’t care.

Which leads me to the next thing. A runner is a runner. It doesn’t matter what you look like, doesn’t matter where you live, doesn’t matter your speed, doesn’t matter how long you’ve been running, doesn’t matter how often you run. None of that matters. If you run, you’re a runner. Period. I love that.

Which, of course, leads me to the next thing. The running community. This might be one of the biggest reasons I’ve continued to run. Runners stick together. A runner supports other runners. No matter what, there are always people cheering me on, encouraging me. Even if, or maybe especially if, we are strangers. Every race I do, there are people waiting at the finish line to cheer for me and tell me I did a great job. I love that. They may never realize just how much something like that means to someone like me. And here’s the thing about the running community, runners are everywhere. So no matter where I go, where I run, where I talk about running, there are runners there. I’ve connected with a lot of runners all over the world through social media. And we support each other because we are all runners. The running community is the most inclusive group I’ve ever been a part of. If you run, you’re part of the running community.  Everyone is welcome. How awesome is that!

Which leads me to the next thing. Racing. I love doing local races. Every race I’ve done so far has been a local race. Some day I’ll expand to races farther away, but for now, I’m happy to do all the local races I can. And doing local races helps support charities and causes in my community, so it’s a win/win really. Most of the time, I’m the last one across the finish line. But I don’t care. The point is, I crossed it. I’ve only been running about 4 years. I’ve done about 30 races total in that time. And I have always crossed the finish line. I’m very proud of that, and I think that it is one of my greatest accomplishments.

I’m sure there are a lot more reasons why I love running, but I think these are the biggest ones.

If you’re a runner, why do you love it?

 

 

 

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Apologies

It’s been a while since I posted anything.

Too long.

I’m sorry about that.

I don’t really have a good excuse for not posting anything lately. I just didn’t feel like I had much to say. And when I tried to write, nothing came together.

I just didn’t feel like I had much to say. And when I tried to write, nothing came together.

And when I tried to write, nothing came together. That happens sometimes. I really want to write something, but it just doesn’t happen. I can’t seem to get the thoughts out of my head.

But I’m feeling better mentally these days, so hopefully, I’ll be able to post things more often. I already have a few ideas kicking around in my head. I think that’s a good sign.

Hopefully you’ll see some more posts soon. And on a more regular basis too.

It’s good to be back.

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